Hotel and film industry work hand in hand

Douglas Allen, director of 15 on Orange and Gavin Levy of Cape Town Productions show off their awards.

Cape Town Productions, which is arguably the pioneer of the film industry in Cape Town, celebrated 29 years since its inception this year.

The company also celebrated an occupancy of 10 000 beds in city centre hotel African Pride’s 15 on Orange, which was where they housed their production crew for four years while filming in the CBD and surrounds.

Director of Cape Town productions Gavin Levy handed over a trophy to African Pride 15 on Orange director Douglas Allen for accommodating them, and Mr Allen handed Cape Town Productions a trophy as well as a charity cheque in the name of Cape Town Productions, at a ceremony at the hotel on Thursday June 22.

Mr Levy said his wife, Denise, started Cape Town Productions in 1988, and were approached by Mr Allen, who was in the process of opening Victoria Junction Hotel in nearby Green Point.

“Before we built a partnership with Protea Hotels, we stayed at the Table Bay and old Nelson Mandela Hotel. Thereafter, Douglas approached us and asked what we were looking for in a hotel.”

Mr Allen said they had approached the film industry to create a user-friendly model for the film industry. And at the time, he said, the film industry was gaining momentum.

“Any new hotel’s occupancy is generally low, so for marketing purposes, we decided to enquire with the film industry.”

And based on the feedback, the hotel became one that film production teams frequented, among other guests and corporates.

“When you are housing 80 (clothing) rails and you are told remove your beds from a room, or deal with a number of hairdressers at breakfast, this is when you know you have become an industry-friendly hotel.

“We even built drawers to store the various keys the production team needed.”

He said when they opened 15 on Orange, just before the World Cup, the city had lent itself to the development of the film industry.

Mr Levy said booking at 15 on Orange was a natural progression, as they had already built a relationship with the management at Victoria Junction.

“The hotels are geared for creatives, and it is helpful for us to have a space like this.” And now, hotels are popping up everywhere in the City Bowl to accommodate the number of activities happening,” said Mr Allen.

“There are more and more clients in the city centre, so the hotel industry has to keep up with the demand.

“Tour operators, those who want to experience the CBD and cultural heart of the city all make the industry thrive. One example is First Thursdays, which highlights this.”

He said while hotel stays at the V&A Waterfront are more leisurely, the city centre’s hotel stays tend to be more business-orientated.

Meanwhile, Mr Levy said the film industry in the city centre had changed significantly since Cape Town Productions first started in 1988.

“Thirty years ago we could shoot anywhere without a permit. And then when it exploded post apartheid, the City realised that they were responsible for what goes on in the roads and recognised a need for permits for filming in the streets.”

He said at the time, the municipality introduced an office to manage filming in the city and even though “red tape is an issue”, the city is buzzing with film production.

“In season, which is from September to August, there are easily about 15 film sites shooting in the City Bowl and the V&A Waterfront alike.

“The Waterfront’s relationship with the film industry has always been good. I think they quickly realised the need for infrastructure as the city is moving forward, and developed an office for photography and filming – and provide extra security on shooting days.”

He said the continuous development at the Waterfront added to its diversity of backdrops for filming and photography.

“The Silo development also makes for new locations and fresh backgrounds.”

However, he said, one of their ongoing concerns was that there were no traffic officers dedicated to the film industry, which would become a problem when roads had to be cordoned off for filming or photography.

“Other than this, the industry is coping really well.”