Marketing and distribution are significant hurdles for SA filmmakers.


Filmmaking is a huge success, but marketing and distribution are still cited as major barriers to South African filmmakers’ profitability and participation in the global creative industry.

The push to find better marketing and distribution platforms isn’t just for traditional value or to generate revenue for a few firms.

Economic impact

The economic impact of the film industry can be used to achieve economic goals. About 70% of the budget for films goes to other sectors.

Furthermore, before the Covid-19 pandemic, the film industry contributed R7.2bn in 2019/20 and created or sustained more than 31,000 jobs, according to the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). 2021 Economic Impact Assessment Study. The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the film industry hard, with turnover falling to R2.9bn in 2020/21 with 12,775 jobs.

However, NFVF data dating back to 2017 shows that the industry has reached a peak in growth – a view supported by UNESCO. 2021 African Film Industry Report.

The report notes that while the film and audiovisual sector employs nearly five million people and contributes an estimated $5 billion to Africa’s GDP, this is still below the sector’s economic potential, which is “largely untapped”.

Film companies can adopt some strategic steps to realize maximum value and create sustainable enterprises.

Increase in demand

Filmmakers need to create content that appeals to both local and global markets.

The significant growth of on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Showmax, Amazon and newcomer Disney+ has left original content competing to attract subscribers.

In the year A 2020 study by Netflix estimated that for every local viewing for a South African title, 26 viewings were by households outside the country.

Additionally, the move to digital terrestrial television in the country inevitably means viewers will have access to more channels and content options. South African filmmakers should be well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for new products.

Explore regional opportunities

South African filmmakers should explore regional opportunities. African countries with diverse and dynamic film industry models offer the opportunity to develop both production and distribution partnerships.

Viewing trends show a growing presence for South African content in African countries, and cross-border productions show great opportunities for original content produced in South Africa.

IP investment

Film companies should adopt a strategy to invest in their intellectual property (IP). Limited ownership of IP means filmmakers cannot fully exploit their products and have less control over distribution.

Organizations participating in the global film value chain study found that by investing in their IP, they are better positioned to take advantage of global opportunities as they make more autonomous decisions about their content. This regulatory element improves their ability to become more profitable players in global value chains.

An introduction to filmmakers

Events like the Durban FilmMart (DFM) are running until July 31, so they’re crucial as a gateway for filmmakers to get their productions onto the screen. At DFM’s annual Pitch & Finance Forum, a panel of co-producers, sales agents, broadcasters and film funders will evaluate 20-30 official African fiction and non-fiction projects.

The forum is an opportunity for African filmmakers to tap into new markets at home and abroad at a time when the digital revolution is pushing audiences to explore new content platforms and growing demand for geographically and culturally diverse content.

In addition to critical product and financial partnerships that result from exposure at festivals and markets.

Supporting policies

Actions taken by film companies should be reinforced by supportive policies.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has helped many companies enter the international market by providing them with financial assistance to attend international film festivals.

However, the revision of the existing DTIC rebate and incentive program to include incentives for marketing and distribution costs will reduce some of the challenges faced by manufacturing companies related to low demand and limited domestic and global markets.

which has the potential to transform the SA economy

As film production and consumption evolve, so must marketing and distribution strategies.

The growth story of the African film industry does not have to end with the increasing number of subscribers to streaming platforms.

Africans are more than consumers; We are creators too.

If filmmakers can distribute their productions to the right audience, our local stories transcend cultural and geographic boundaries, bringing back much-needed revenue and unlocking the film industry’s potential to transform the South African economy.


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