Lights, camera, action’ for Durban Film Studio

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After being frozen for several years, the highly anticipated Durban film studio has risen from the ground, with the ground breaking for construction expected “soon”.

The multi-billion rand project is expected to change the face of the province and make eThekwini Metro the heart of the creative industry. Its cost is estimated at 7.5 billion rand.

But Durban filmmaker Mathew Nkosi said it took a long time for the film studio to take off and its resuscitation brought relief to artists in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The project was proposed 10 years ago, and nothing materialized. If done right, it will be a game-changer for us as emerging filmmakers who have to go to Johannesburg to get our work recognized.

“Durban is an international city, and a project of this magnitude is long overdue. But we are starting to see signs of hope because we have productions like Uzalo and Imbewu, which are produced on our shores,” Nkosi said.

The film studio is located on a prime beachfront site surrounded by Sun Coast Casino, People Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium and the beach to the north.

eThekwini Metro spokesman Msawakhe Mayisela told Sunday World that although the project has been delayed it will “take off soon”, saying it is a key catalyst project for the city.

“The project is envisioned as a world-class film studio complemented by tourism and leisure elements. The groundbreaking of this long-awaited development supporting the film and tourism industry should happen soon,” he said.

Mayisela said the first phase of the project would be a film, media, resort and entertainment district with the potential to create around 4,000 to 5,000 permanent jobs and attract international filmmakers. It’s the brainchild of famed Durban-born director Anant Singh.

The 21 ha land was sold by the city for R15 million, but the deal was legally challenged by late businessman Sunny Gayadin, who argued that the land was worth R71 million.

He lost his candidacy in court.

The site in question was formerly the headquarters of the South African Army’s Natal Command and later occupied by the Joint Operations Division of the South African Defense Force (SANDF).

It had been rented to the underground for the army by the public works department.

The SANDF itself filed a lawsuit, stating that the land should not be sold because it had plans for it. The case was dismissed and the green light was given for the land to be transferred to the municipality.

Around R725 million is expected to be injected into the city’s economy. This includes over R140 million per year, which will be collected through tariffs and other fees.

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