Film­ing by-law set to give res­i­dents a say

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JAN CRONJE

AS CAPE TOWN’S film, com­mer­cials and tele­vi­sion in­dus­try grows, the city coun­cil has in­creas­ingly been hear­ing from res­i­dents an­noyed by fre­quent film­ing in their neigh­bour­hoods.

A new draft by-law seeks to give res­i­dents more of a voice in how film­ing in the Mother City works, by re­quir­ing film-mak­ers to first get the all-clear from lo­cal res­i­dents when they film on pri­vate land.

The draft 2016 Film­ing By-Law will re­quire film-mak­ers to de­liver a “writ­ten no­tice of in­ten­tion for film­ing” to oc­cu­pants of prop­er­ties next to the film site be­fore they ap­ply to the city’s Film Per­mit Of­fice.

The city’s cur­rent film­ing by-law, pro­mul­gated in 2005, reg­u­lates film­ing only on city-owned land, not pri­vate land.

Xanthea Lim­berg, act­ing may­oral com­mit­tee mem­ber for tourism, events and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, said the city coun­cil sought to amend film­ing laws after re­ceiv­ing com­plaints from res­i­dents “af­fected and in­con­ve­nienced by fre­quent film­ing ac­tiv­ity in their neigh­bour­hoods”.

“Some res­i­dents feel strongly cer­tain film­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, on a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty, in­fringe on their rights.”

The pro­posed by-law would, for the first time, in­tro­duce a com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion process.

In ad­di­tion to the no­tice of in­ten­tion to film, film crews and com­pa­nies would have to in­form neigh­bours of the times and dates film­ing will take place.

They would also have to give neigh­bours the op­por­tu­nity to “de­clare that they have no ob­jec­tion to the in­tended film­ing” and ad­vise them of their right to sub­mit ob­jec­tions to the city.

Lim­berg de­scribed the pro­posed by-law as a “trade-off ” be­tween the film in­dus­try – which brings in hun­dreds of mil­lions of rands per year – and Capeto­ni­ans who want some peace and quiet.

“We don’t want to cre­ate an ad­di­tional layer of red tape,” she told Week­end Ar­gus. “This is not in any way to hin­der the film in­dus­try. It is a way to bal­ance the need for the film in­dus­try to be al­lowed to op­er­ate with the ex­ter­nal im­pact of the film­ing.”

Once the film-mak­ers have been given the all-clear, they will need to sub­mit “proof of dec­la­ra­tions of no ob­jec­tion” to the city’s Film Per­mit Of­fice.

The of­fi­cial in charge of per­mits would then have to con­sider “any ob­jec­tions from the oc­cu­piers of abut­ting prop­er­ties” in the de­ci­sion whether or not to award a film­ing per­mit.

The by-law does not say how much weight must be placed on ob­jec­tions, how­ever.

Not all shoots would need to go through the con­sul­ta­tion process. Mi­cro shoots, with eight or fewer cast and crew and last­ing less than a day would not have to sub­mit no­tices of in­ten­tion to film.

Any­one in­ter­ested may sub­mit com­ments on the draft by-law by Au­gust 31. These may be sub­mit­ted at li­braries, sub­coun­cil of­fices, via email, fax and post, or on­line via the “Have Your Say” page on the City of Cape Town’s web­site, where the draft by-law can be down­loaded.


US ac­tor Claire Danes in Cape Town in July 2014 on the set of Show­time’s hit spy drama se­ries Home­land.

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