IPO News from the Subcommittees: January 2021

IPO Input to DSAC Reference Group and Creative Industries Masterplan

Quinton Fredericks, our co-Chair, and has been appointed as IPO representative on the DSAC Reference Group. Subsequently been elected as Chairperson of the Value Chain Committee of the Reference Group. The brief to this committee is to interrogate and identify challenges around the transformation of the Industry Value Chain and to make recommendation on the removal of barriers of entry for smaller, less capacitated suppliers. This mandate includes a review of various financing and investment criteria of agencies such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), National Empowerment Fund (NEF), Department of Trade and Industry, the Small Business Development Ministry as well as the Intellectual Property regimes of the various broadcasters, both public and private.  

In addition, and in support of a detailed IPO motivation submitted to the DSAC RG Chair for increased funding to the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), this mandate seeks to stimulate the development and production of commercially viable local content, which will ensure return on investment, sustainable job creation and the development of South Africa’s creative and producing talent. These are the key elements to leveraging investment from various local and international funding and financing agencies.
Quinton has also been co-opted onto the Finance and Investment Committee of the DSAC Reference Group, and has been invited to speak on these issues at the Policy  and Advocacy Committee of the RG. This committee is  tasked with reviewing all the various policy and regulatory issues pertaining to investment and support for the audio visual industry.  Presently, many of these agencies such as the Department of Trade, Industry & Competition (DTIC), Department of Communication and Digital Technologies, Small Business Development, IDC, NEF etc, have similar but uncoordinated policy mandates with little or no alignment, to drive support and investment to the industry.

A key objective of the DSAC RG Policy and Advocacy Group in relation to the above, is the alignment of various ministerial departmental policy and financing mechanisms so as to ensure a holistic and coordinated approach for the sector in the medium to long term.

These interventions and recommendations speak directly to the intention and strategic objectives of the Creative Industries Masterplan, a Presidential initiative being developed by the Department of Small Business Development. These multiple and simultaneous processes, unfolding in consultation with various industry stakeholders such as the IPO, IBFC, DFA, Animation SA, to name but a few, have identified both challenges and opportunities, including key strategic levers and implementation plans. This is to ensure that the sector may realise its full economic and creative potential.
This so that so that the sector may realise its full economic and creative potential. A detailed submission on the urgent policy, financing and regulatory interventions proposed by the various committees of the DSAC RG, will be presented to the Minister of Arts and Culture in March 2021 for engagement with the various stakeholders in all the relevant agencies. This will be the culmination of a two year process overseen and coordinated by the DSAC. It is anticipated that these plans will be also be presented to the Presidency for consideration after review by the DSAC Minister.
The mandate of the DSAC RG will thus expire after this submission. Suffice to say that this initiative presents the most coherent and commendable effort by our government to ensure both the recovery, transformation and long term growth and development of our sector. Along with the Audio Visual White Paper and the Creative Industries Master Plan, it will set the blueprint for the industry in the most innovate and creative fashion to date.
The South African AV Forum
In a further effort to address the industry’s current situation and its engagement with Government, the SAAVF has been established. This intergovernmental forum, comprised of all relevant government departments and agencies with a mandate to develop and support our sector includes NFVF, DTIC, DCDT, NEF, MDMA, IDC and the various film commissions. It thus ensures a coordinated effort to our industry’s needs and growth requirements, including post Covid 19 recovery and stimulus. Its establishment and composition is therefore most appropriate and welcome.

Broadcast Subcommittee Report

The Broadcast Sub-committee continues its actor contract negotiations with SAGA and the PMA, the editor contract negotiations with SAGE and the writer negotiations with the WGSA.

We were very happy to reactivate our meetings with Multichoice in January 2021 after COVID-19 scuppered meetings in 2020 and are delighted to have Multichoice’s commitment to following up every 6 weeks with an opportunity to openly discuss challenges and align our efforts to empower producers that are creating content for them. The meeting was attended by Multichoice’s Nomsa Philiso and Nkateko Mabaso.

The IPO noted that the Multichoice Local Content webinar held last year provided a useful and transparent resource for producers to interact with Multichoice but questioned the backlog of proposals that have not received feedback. The Multichoice team noted that they are meeting every fortnight to evaluate and they currenlty have 800 proposals in the backlog, but that they have been inundated with proposals in the past year. They noted that the open portal is a great way to hear from a diversity of both established and newcomer producers. We will be discussing ways in which the IPO can foster collaborative pitches from established producers partnered with newcomer producers. Multichoice have also noted our concerns around producer not being able to charge a production fee on recovery line items and budget pack changes and will revert with feedback from their finance team.  

We were briefed about Multichoice’s anonymous whistleblower/ improper conduct line that is administered by Deloitte and available for industry to report improper behaviour such as sexual harassment, unethical business practices or financial misdemenours. However, they stressed  this service should not be utilised to complain about not receiving feedback on your proposals or administrative issues.

Multichoice Whistleblowing Hotline
Free Call: 0800 222 395
Globally: 27 31 571 5301
Free Fax: 0800 00 77 88
Pay Fax: 27 31 560 7395 (Globally)
Freepost: KZN 138, Umhlanga Rocks, 4320
Email: Mu*********@ti******.com
Website: www.tip-offs.com

Department of Labour engagements remain pressing as the industry seeks to find the best way of working with each other and we encourage you to input with our team around your practical challenges in this area. Please email Luke and Katt on br********@ip*.za

~ Luke Rous and Katleho Ramaphakela, Subcommittee Chairs

DTIC Subcommittee update: latest news

The South African film and television industry is heavily reliant on the DTIC rebate incentive. As we grapple to find our feet as a sector in the current climate, economic recovery and the creation and promotion of viable sources of employment, remain at the forefront of the agenda. During these very challenging times, the need for timeous processing, approvals and payments to qualifying productions of the rebate incentive claims, has an urgency beyond what any of us might have anticipated.

The DTIC Subcommittee is committed to proactive and ongoing engagement with the Film and Television Rebate Incentive unit, including the Ministry, to highlight the challenges faced by the sector. Specifically in respect of  the uncertainty around the future of the Rebate Incentive scheme. This approach further informs our efforts to finding solutions on historical issues faced by productions in the processing and resolution of outstanding claims. Similarly, we recognise and acknowledge the enormous pressure on the SA state to deal with the consequences and impact of the Covid 19 pandemic across all sectors of our society, most notably, our economy.   

We therefore resolve to innovative modes of engagement with this critically important element of our film and television financing structures and to retain clear channels of communication to consolidate and strengthen our long standing relationship with the DTIC towards meaningful and impactful transformation and sustainable economic growth of our sector specifically, and the broader audio visual industry generally.

We are aware that some claims have been repudiated due to DTIC concerns around BBBEE status of production companies, SPVs and suppliers. It seems there may have been some instances of fronting which are, unfortunately, putting the entire industry and all claims under closer scrutiny and subjecting claims to repudiations or delays. We strongly urge all members to ensure that BBBEE compliance as recorded in your applications and claims is 100% accurate.

The IPO will soon be sharing a survey and dossier-collating exercise to gather anonymous information from our members to inform our engagements. Should you have any queries or ideas to share, please contact the DTIC subcommittee –  dt**********@ip*.za

~ Layla Swart, Subcommittee Chair

 Diversity and Disruption Subcommittee starts work

It has become clear from our discussions with stakeholders such as DTIC that the slow pace of Transformation in the Film & TV Industry is a matter that government is planning to tackle head on and the IPO EXCO is taking a pro-active posture to address this through the establishment of the Diversity Subcommittee. We are setting up a series of meetings that will result in a concrete road map and will be sharing these findings with members to ensure that Transformation and promotion of Diversity in our sector is genuinely taking place.

In our initial meetings, we also identified a need to consider trends in digital disruption as they impact both established and emerging producers within this Subcommittee’s purview. We would like to implement disruption and design thinking training for traditional and unconventional producers alike  to ensure African storytellers as thought leaders in the digital content creation space. Grasping the revenue potential within digital markets is an arena African creative entrepreneurs cannot be left out of as we collate more knowledge, skills and standardised local and international digital storytelling models. Members of the IPO can rest assured they will be at the forefront of “downloading the data”! 

The professionalization of our organisation is another key focus area for this Subcommittee who will be updating the IPO Member Code of Conduct and drafting an EXCO Code of Conduct to guide our decision making and ensure that all our actions are aligned with the IPO’s values. To this end we have re-looked the wording of our boilerplate and would value your feedback:

The Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) is a national organisation which represents, protects and promotes interests and needs of independent South African film, television and digital content producers. 

It strives towards creating an empowered, transformed and representative industry, by partnering with key stakeholders towards the advancement of a sustainable and enabling environment for producers, recognizing their role and responsibilities as the engine drivers of work throughout the industry value chain, to creating opportunities for the full value chain of workers across and suppliers to the sector. 

The IPO aims to maximize the industry’s potential to contribute to the country’s economy, and to preserve and promote South Africa’s national identity and stories

2021 is going to be a busy year….. #Hauweng If you would like to be part of our journey, please reach out to us on di*******@ip*.za


Membership Services and International Relations Subcommittee

The IPO Membership Services and International Relations Subcommittee is a newly-constituted workgroup to amplify and enhance incentives for our members, extend relationships with other film and television organisations and host training opportunities for the capacity building of members. Chaired by veteran independent film producer Mike Auret of Spier Films, the group will seek to foster a spirit of connection and information-sharing as this not only strengthens producers in their work, but ensures that they are less likely to be exploited due to being unfamiliar with accepted rates, production processes and contracting terms.

The subcommittee will be reaching out to international film and television organisations to develop mutually-beneficial networks and would value your input. We will also be introducing a series of webinars and welcome your input as to suggested priority topics.

The subcommittee notes with gratitude that, even in these extremely challenging times, almost 70% of our members have committed to supporting our work through payment of their annual subscriptions for 2020/ 2021. We will be issuing the 2021/2022 invoices in April and welcome members to continue to make arrangements for payment plans.

One of the key initiatives that this team will be championing is the introduction of fringing after the proposal was accepted at the 2020 AGM. The IPO has found how sorely lacking a strong Executive Director was during the pandemic. A volunteer-based organisation does not have the capacity to deal with the challenges facing the sector or take advantage of the enormous potential it holds. We hired a temporary Emergency Co-ordinator for the crisis and it became very apparent what a difference that has made to what services and support we can offer our members. This has been borne out in the surge of new members, the protocols developed, the engagements with broadcasters on COVID-19 costs and terms and in many other ways.

We wish to build on this success by capacitating the organisation properly, and given the current environment where membership fees are prohibitive, especially to emerging black producers, we wish to supplement a fees model with a fringing element. This would allow us to hire a full-time Executive Director and ramp up our activities.

Please email the subcommittee on me********@ip*.za

Report from NFVF Subcommittee

The NFVF Sub-Committee met twice – in December 2020 and January 2021. The most important development thus far is that we have submitted a letter to the DSAC Reference Group asking that the NFVF funding be upped to R250 million as we believe that is a far more realistic figure to address the needs of the industry. In the letter we also make it clear what our definition of a grant is – a grant is money that leaves the building and not money spent on marketing as has been the case in the past. 75% of this government funding must be spent on development and production of films – this is based on the NFVF Act. We are going to be asking for a meeting with the Council in the next few weeks and are hoping to motivate that the IPO form an Advisory Panel that will advise Council in matters relating to the industry.

The NFVF Sub-Committee also resolved that engagement with Film Commissions will now also fall under its terms of reference – the Gauteng Film Commission, the KZN Film Commission and the Eastern Cape Development Board – supported by the regional Chairs (Sanjeev Singh – KZN; BusaBuntu Dubazana – Gauteng; Layla Swart – Eastern Cape). As a starting point, we will be requesting transparency in terms of how and on what their monies are spent.
Furthermore, the Sub-Committee is proposing that DIFF should become the National Film Festival & Market, and that an independent NPO be set up to oversee this event. We will soon be meeting with Ismail Mohammed, CEO of UKZN”s Centre for Creative Arts, to discuss cooperation between the IPO, DIFF and the Durban Film Mart.

~ Beverley Mitchell, NFVF Subcommittee Chair