Netflix, NVFV seal R28m deal to support SA film creatives

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US-based streaming service Netflix has signed a multimillion-rand deal with local partners to provide funding for micro-budget films, in an effort to boost the recovery of SA’s creative industry from the impact of COVID-19.

The R28 million deal, signed with the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, will support local creatives to produce six South African feature films.

Netflix, which has been looking to broadcast more African content, says the partnership will see six local films funded, categorised into two streams: four feature films with a budget of R4 million each and two feature films with a budget of R6 million each.

Netflix is on an aggressive content creative drive, and the agreement with NFVF will see both partners contributing R14 million each in support of the production of local films. The deal includes exclusive debuts for the films on the streaming platform.

The global streaming service announced recently in its 2020 fourth quarter results that it planned to release at least one new original film every week in 2021, thereby creating opportunities for filmmakers, including those in Africa.

Over the past year, there has been a clear appetite for fresh African content on Netflix. The streaming platform recently enjoyed success with its first two African original series: Queen Sono, Kings of Joburg and Blood & Water.

Yesterday, Netflix said the funding for the films will alleviate the pressure filmmakers face to raise additional funding and boost recovery of the creative industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, while ensuring job creation.

“The past year has been incredibly difficult with the pandemic hitting so many industries around the world. The creative community, that we are a part of, has supported us through the good times, so we want to help them continue to create the stories our members love through the $1 million COVID-19 Relief Fund contribution we started last year in collaboration with SASFED [South African Screen Federation] and IPO [Independent Producers Organisation] to help below-the-line workers in South Africa’s creative industry, and now, we’re excited to take this a step further with this joint fund with NFVF for above-the-line talent,” says Netflix director of content in Africa, Ben Amadasun.

The NFVF, which is mandated to ensure the equitable growth of the audio-visual industry in SA, says the Netflix partnership will create new opportunities for emerging filmmakers in the local film industry.

“We are excited as the NFVF to be partnering with Netflix and appreciate their investment in local content. The incorporation of digital platforms into our traditional processes can only benefit the industry further. We hope this is simply the start in what no doubt will be a long and fruitful relationship,” comments NFVF CEO Makhosazana Khanyile.

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