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Filming in South Africa

Coronavirus Update: South Africa’s production sector resumed in early May under strict new protocols. The Government announced that its borders would reopen from the start of October. Travellers must have taken a negative Covid-19 test before travelling. Those from countries deemed as “high-risk” including the UK and United States are allowed in for business travel. In lieu of a physical presence on set, South Africa’s strong commercial sector has also been carrying out shoots using remote technology. The South African Screen Federation has published a protocol for film and television industry under Covid-19 restrictions. The commercial producers association of South Africa also published new guidelines.

South Africa has long been favoured as a location due to a perfect blend of conditions, infrastructure and expertise. High-end TV dramas are increasingly shooting in South Africa while advertising productions continue to frequent the country due to production value and varied locations.

South Africa’s locations versatility is evident in its past credits. Amazon’s Good Omens filmed lush garden of Eden and apocalyptic desert settings in close proximity to Cape Town. Netflix’s The Crown doubled the country for multiple locations on Prince Philip’s 1957 tour and a state visit to Ghana, and Homeland when it was used for various middle eastern and US locations.

Most recently, Ridley Scott co-production Raised by Wolves for HBO Max filmed on location in South Africa. The sci-fi set on the planet of Keplar-22b and the Western Cape provided rugged settings for the alien planet. Nearby studios were also utilised.

South Africa’s Foreign Film and Television and Post-Production Incentive provides 20% to incoming productions. However, UK TV series and features that qualify as co-productions with South Africa can access the national rebate that stands at 35% on the first ZAR 6 million of qualified expenditure, and thereafter 25%. The agreement solidifies the well-established collaboration between the two nations production sectors that has seen the BBC’s Noughts and Crosses adaptation, Doctor Who and The Widow base shoots in South Africa.

Commercial production remains a strong component of the South African industry.  Global clients including BMW, Porsche, Smirnoff and Mars are attracted to the value and technical capacity and dependably sunny climate year-round.

Cape Town could provide so many different looks in one place. Most of the story took place in Pakistan but we had to show the difference between the modern Islamabad and the older Rawalpindi, which we could do in Cape Town.

Robert Bentley, Location Manager on Season Four of Homeland

Climate

Most of South Africa has a sub-tropical climate but temperatures are moderated by the sea as it is on a peninsula. It also has a higher-than-average elevation above sea level. It is a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm.

Summer lasts from mid-October to mid-February and is characterised by hot, sunny weather peppered by frequent, heavy, tropical storms. The Western Cape, with its Mediterranean climate, is the exception and get its rain in the winter months. As Johannesburg is 1,694m above sea level its summer temperatures tend to stay below 30C.

Autumn runs from mid-February to April. Very little rain falls during these months and it is still warm but not too hot. Cape Town's weather is very good in autumn.

Winter lasts from May to July and is characterised in the higher-lying areas of the interior plateau by dry, sunny, crisp days and cold nights. The coastal regions are much warmer in winter. The hot, humid KwaZulu-Natal coast, as well as the Lowveld (lower-lying areas) of Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, have good winter weather with sunny, warmish days and virtually no wind or rain. The high mountains of the Cape and the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal usually get snow.

The spring months are from August to mid-October. During this season, in the Cape provinces, thousands of small, otherwise insignificant plants cover the plains in an iridescent carpet of flowers.

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