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May 20, 2016
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Sub-Saharan Africa: Studio Joburg Opens at Expo Centre


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The Johannesburg Expo Centre (JEC) is proud to announce the launch of Studio Joburg, a fully-­‐fledged film and television content hub. Based at the JEC, Studio Joburg is the result  of a collaboration between the owners of the Expo Centre and a consortium of leading film practitioners.

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Photo by Freeimages.com/Naheem Mayet

“We believe that this new development will provide a top class facility for the production of content within the film industry,” explains Craig Newman, JEC CEO. “It will also be an important development for the people of Soweto and the surrounding areas in terms of job creation and skills development.”
For many years, South Africa has been a popular destination for the production of filmed content for the US and Europe. Since the creation of the Dti’s Location Film and Television Production Incentive, and the South African Film and Television Production and Co-­‐  Production Incentive, South Africa has become a desirable film location as well as a co-­‐ production partner of choice.

The film value chain consists of several support services that are crucial to the completion and success of each film project. These services include set building, painting, catering, wardrobe, design, and lighting to name a few.

“Each of these support services means several job opportunities for people in the area,” explains Newman. “In other words, this venture will mean skills development, job creation and investment into the south of Johannesburg. People living in Soweto and the surrounding areas will also be able to work closer to home.”
 
Discussions are currently taking place with a film school and broadcaster that could become anchor tenants within the Studio Joburg facility. “The added benefit of this would be the proximity to the potential workforce from Soweto and its surrounds,” explains Newman.

Eddie Mbalo, who joins Newman and his team in this endeavour, is a film and television production expert with over 30 years’ experience in the industry. Mbalo served as the CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) for 10 years, a statutory body within the Ministry of Arts and Culture, dedicated to the promotion and development of the South African film industry.

At the 64th Cannes Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporter in association with Agoralumiere International, honoured Mbalo with an African Vision Award for his role as a creative defender of African Cinema.

“We believe that the Expo Centre is the ideal location for an undertaking of this nature,” says Mbalo. In addition to the sheer size of the venue, it’s extremely practical. There is an adequate power supply with access to plug points all over the venue and a sufficient water and ablution supply,” he says.

The multipurpose facilities of the JEC provide more than 50 000m² of indoor space, more than 100 000m² of versatile outdoor space as well as a multipurpose arena that can  accommodate up to 20 000 people. It is accessible from all major highways and conveniently located 30 minutes away from both OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria Airport. There are also a number of three, four and five star hotels all within 15 minutes from the venue.

The Expo Centre has also proven its worth among film producers in the past, having provided facilities for the famous science fiction thriller, District 9, directed by Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson.

“The JEC was an ideal venue for our production of District 9,” says Michael Murphey. “It worked extremely well as a film studio – the size, the layout, and the location all worked perfectly for us.”

“We believe that Studio Joburg will become an important content and entertainment hub for the Gauteng province,” says Mbalo. “It’s an exciting venture that will benefit in particular the people of Johannesburg and Soweto,” he concludes.


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