Netflix pledges over R900m to boost SA film & TV industry

Netflix has pledged over R900m to contribute to the South African creative industry between 2022-2023. The announcement was made at the 4th Annual South African Investment Conference. This substantial commitment will cover four productions – one international and three local – which will be filmed in South Africa over this year and next.

These productions, which are just some of the many shows the company is creating in South Africa with local production partners like Film Afrika, Gambit Films, Quizzical Pictures and Burnt Onion, will significantly boost the South African film and TV industry. They will also enable local stories to be developed and showcased on Netflix’s global service available to 222 million members in over 190 countries, creating numerous job opportunities and bolstering the local economy in the process.

South Africa is fast becoming a top global location for Netflix productions, with the country viewed as a go-to location with a robust and talented film industry filled with local creatives to bring international stories to life.

One of the major titles being filmed in partnership with Film Afrika is Project Panda – the working title of an international title One Piece – the live-action series adaptation of the immensely successful manga/anime.

One Piece is reportedly Netflix’s biggest production in Africa to date in terms of scale and budget, covering South African cast and crew, infrastructure, and suppliers. The production is expected to create opportunities for over 50 cast members from South Africa, with over 1,000 full-time crew member jobs (consisting of 67% previously disadvantaged individuals and 46% youth employees). This also includes a mentorship programme for over 30 young creatives and technicians in collaboration with the SA Film Academy during 2022.

According to Shola Sanni, Netflix’s Director of Public Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa, “Netflix is committed to South Africa for the long term and we’re investing in talent both in front of and behind the camera. Since our launch in 2016, we’ve been working with South African creators and distributors to bring high-quality stories that showcase the best of South Africa’s creativity and talent to a global audience – and this is only just the beginning.”

Netflix is impacting South African storytelling in positive ways, working with people throughout the industry to create brilliant content that can find a global audience and generate even more demand for South African content. Local productions put the focus on South African stories, and also serve to showcase the country’s rich social and cultural heritage as well as other tourism assets to a global audience.

Each Netflix production in South Africa supports local businesses. When a Netflix Original is commissioned, there is opportunity for writers, directors, actors, stylists and make-up artists, as well as a long list of industries and trades that make the production of a complex series or film possible. There’s also a multiplier effect with any investment: the economic impact of each of the projects in South Africa is several times greater than the actual money invested.

“Netflix will continue to create new opportunities and help to build up the talent required to support local productions and grow the diversity and variety of stories. Netflix will also develop and work with the industry on more industry development and skills transfer/training initiatives to contribute meaningfully to the South African creative industry’s growth,” added Sanni.

Over the last five years, Netflix has invested over R2bn in South African productions, creating over 1900 jobs in the process. As at December 2020, more than 80 South African films and television series were available on Netflix, and members have been delighted by the ability to experience South African storytelling and culture. In 2021, Netflix estimated that for every one local view of a South African title on Netflix, there were 26 views by households outside of South Africa.