Founded by American Michael S. Murphey in South Africa in 2002, Kalahari Pictures has developed into one of Africa’s leading production companies.
Michael S. Murphey
Michael S. Murphey is a Cape Town-based American feature-film and television producer with over 35 years of experience. His credits include District 9, Dredd 3D, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddie’s Revenge, From Dust Till Dawn II & III, and the TV series SAF3. The hugely successful District 9 was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar at the 2010 Academy Awards; Dredd was the first 3D feature film shot in Africa and the very first film shot at the Cape Town Film Studios.
Michael first came to South Africa in 1994, where over the next decade he produced several films including projects with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.
In 2004 Michael returned to South Africa and for two years served as the representative of the completion bond company, Film Finances, on numerous large-budget feature films shot in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Now a permanent resident of South Africa, Michael is the owner of Kalahari Pictures, a Cape Town-based film company that has serviced and co-produced a number of film and TV projects in South Africa. Formed in 2002, Kalahari Pictures has grown it into one of Africa’s leading production companies, with a track record that includes global blockbusters, Oscar nominees, and Emmy winners. Michael is a founding director of the non-profit organizations, The Young Filmmakers Programme, which works to support and promote South Africa's next generation of storytellers and filmmakers, as wells as DOCi Emerging Filmmakers Programme, which runs an Introduction to Documentary Filmmaking course in conjunction with the US Consulate and its American Corner. He is also a founder and board member of the Documentary Institute of South Africa.
FILMING IN SOUTH AFRICA
UP TO 25% REBATE / INCREDIBLE CREW / DIVERSE LOCATIONS
DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY REBATE
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Foreign Film and Television Production Incentive offers a 20% rebate with a R50 Million cap on qualifying South African spend.
South African Film and Television Production and Co-Production incentive offers 35% on the first R6 million and a 25% for the remainder on qualifying South African spend.
Post-Production Incentive allows 22.5% rebate with a R50 million cap on qualifying South African spend if more than R1.5 million is spent on post production in South Africa and a 25% rebate with a R50 million cap on qualifying South African spend if more than R3 million spent on post production in South Africa.
South Africa has co-production treaties with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and The United Kingdom, as well as memoranda of understanding with India, Sweden and Algeria. There are film commissions in Gauteng and Cape Town, the main production hubs, as well as film offices in Durban, Eastern Cape, Nelson Mandela Bay and Zululand.
SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCING OPTIONS
The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), a self-financing, state-owned national development finance institution, caps its investment at 49% of the overall budget. The National Film and Video Foundation, the body mandated to grow the local film industry, is another source of funding for both development and production, although its investment is capped at a maximum of R1m. There are also a number of European funds that African cinema can apply for, like The World Cinema Fund, The Hubert Bals Fund, and Fonds Images Afrique.
STRETCH YOUR BUDGET
South Africa is earning a reputation for making films that look twice their budget. Dredd producer Andrew Macdonald told Time that filming in South Africa allowed him to make a graphic novel adaptation “that will look like $100 million” for less than half that figure.
ONE OF THE OLDEST INDUSTRIES IN THE WORLD
South Africa has one of the oldest film industries in the world, dating back to the late 1800s, so the country offers a great value location without the risk often associated with emerging locations.
As the slew of recent Emmy nominations for South African crew shows, there’s no need to import heads of department and other crew when filming here: if anything South Africa is starting to export them internationally. Most South African crew have trained in multiple areas, so they have a unique understanding of other departments. Their high productivity allows for shorter shooting schedules and more value on the screen. They all speak English and aren’t unionised.
VERSATILE LOCATIONS WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY
Without knowing it, you’ve probably seen South Africa doubling as just about every country in the world. As Time’s Alex Perry wrote, “Versatility and convenience of location are keys to South Africa’s moviemaking appeal,” as you can find the entire world within a few hours’ drive.
17 000m² FILM STUDIOS
South Africa’s most talked about new location is Cape Town Film Studios, a 17 000m² complex of four soundstages which opened late in 2010. The Hollywood Reporter named Cape Town Film Studios one of seven “state-of-the-art production facilities giving Hollywood a run for its movie.”
GREAT WORD OF MOUTH
In 2011, Time Magazine called the country “Hollywood’s hottest back lot;” The Hollywood Reporter announced “South Africa has arrived;” The Location Guide hailed South Africa as an “ever-reliable production hub;” and Variety said the country “is currently the most cost-competitive it’s been in years.”
As Michael told Variety, “More important than the rebate, than exchange rates, than co-production treaties is that South Africa is simply a great place to make a movie. Nearly every foreign producer who has made a movie in South Africa comes back again.”