Written by Murray Ashton on Oct 11, 2011. Posted in Interviews

Filming in Cape Town with Location Manager Robert Bentley

Robert has been working as a Location Manager since 1998, first on commercials and then features with big names like Endgame, Rendition and Dredd under his belt.

He works across the whole of South Africa, as well as Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritius and the Seychelles.

In fact anywhere in Africa is good for Robert, but he is now based in Cape Town.

What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews in Cape Town?

The beauty of filming in Cape Town is that within a 50 to 100km radius we can pretty much supply our clients with any type of location - from beaches to mountains, forests to desert sand dunes and vineyards to wheat fields. Of course we also have a wide selection of urban locations as well.

Crews come to film here because of the good weather and fantastic unspoiled scenery. That's why Cape Town was chosen for the History of America - The Story of US series. We were able to successfully find locations to match those that often no longer exist in the US.

In Maputo, Mozambique I was chased out of a police station at gunpoint by a policeman with an AK74.

What are the more unusual locations that you wouldn't necessarily associate with Cape Town?

Again, it's the sheer diversity of what we have on our doorstep. Foreign crews who arrive for the first time are sometimes concerned about what they will find in South Africa. They always leave amazed at what we have, not just in terms of locations but also the local crews and equipment available. The number that come back regularly are a good indicator of satisfaction and value for money.

What has been your most difficult location assignment to date and why?

Every job has one or two difficult locations whether it is a big studio job or a small independent film. Recently The Story of US was challenging due to the sheer number of locations we needed, often at short notice. Dredd was problematic because of the size of the production. Finding space to dress, feed and hold 750 extras and 200 crew, and still be able to get them to walk onto set in five minutes in the middle of a city is always challenging.

Working in neighbouring countries also has its difficulties as they have all sorts of bureaucracy and language issues. In Maputo, Mozambique, I was chased out of a police station at gunpoint by a policeman with an AK74 because I dared to come and meet the local police chief wearing short pants. All in a day's work.

What types of production do you work on and what has been filmed recently in Cape Town?

I mostly work on long format. We get a great mix of everything in Cape Town - feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials and stills work. I've recently worked on Chronicle for Twentieth Century Fox. Before that on Dredd, the first 3D feature film shot in South Africa. Dredd was directed by Pete Travis, who I had worked with before in South Africa on Endgame.

We also have a number of other locations that double well as airports where we can control all the elements.

Is there anything else you would like to share about filming in Cape Town?

The weather is great. We are malaria-free in most areas of the country. English is widely spoken as a first language. We have world-class studios, experienced crew, great equipment houses and a large pool of acting talent. You can even drink the tap water!

Which are the best airports to use to film in your region and who flies there?

We have everything from the large Cape Town International Airport to small dirt landing strips. International airports are always difficult to film in. Again it depends on the needs of the project. We also have a number of other locations that double well as airports where we can control all the elements.

What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels in your region and what and where is your favourite wrap party venue?

Hotels and restaurants in Cape Town are world-class. Thanks to the FIFA World Cup last year there are several new hotels to meet all budgets. Gold is currently my favourite restaurant - it is one of Cape Town's best-kept secrets!

There are usually set costs for Public Liability cover for film units and costs for insuring locations. Can you tell us about location insurance and possibly examples of costs in your region?

Generally ZAR20 million (approx USD3 million) will be acceptable to most location owners.

When you are not location scouting or shooting what do you do when you have time off and what would you recommend film crew and cast to do to relax in Cape Town?

I like to spend my limited time with my family and friends. A good old South African braai (BBQ) is always good. For crew I would recommend heading into the wine-growing region around Cape Town to sample our great local wines and enjoy the great restaurants and views. We are a great outdoors country.

Thank you.

Click here to contact Robert.


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