Cape Town is a top destination for international film productions shooting on location. Its beautiful beaches, scenic mountains, pristine nature reserves and dynamic city streets offer a huge range of locations, as varied and versatile as a photographer could wish for. You will most likely be entrusting a local production company with the logistics of facilitating your shoot, but it can be helpful to know how long it takes to be issued with a film permission in Cape Town, so that you can plan sufficient time between the location scouting, pre-production phase and the actual shoot.
The City of Cape Town has a very efficient process in place for film permits and expects to process straightforward applications quickly. Depending on the size of the production a time frame of 1-4 days is estimated. However productions with unusual or sensitive requirements can take longer ..
The following are the guidelines for the various types of film activity and apply to stills productions as well as film productions.
Tier 1 film activities can expect a permit to be issued in 24 hours.
This is designated as micro shoots, with 8 people or less and only 1-3 vehicles, and small scale shoots of 9-15 people and 4-6 vehicles. Shoots should last for less than 24 hours and fit in with regular filming times of 6am until 10pm. No road closures should be required, no sets or structures built and no vegetation should need removal. There should be minimum noise and lighting and no special effects or stunts involved. Any location that is classified as environmentally, culturally or historically sensitive does not fit into this tier. That includes most beach locations, green belt and mountain areas and nature reserves. These would put the production into the Tier 3 category even if it is only a small scale production.
Tier 2 film activities can expect a permit within 48 hours.
These include medium sized shoots with 16-30 people and 7-15 vehicles and shots lasting 24-48 hours. Partial road closure is allowed and lighting and moderate noise levels are permitted.
Tier 3 film activities require at least 4 working days to obtain a permission.
This covers large and very large shoots, extensive road closures, shots of longer duration than 48 hours and any shoots that require extension of hours to film after 10pm. Any location that is classified as environmentally, historically or culturally sensitive falls into this category. If sets and structures need to be built, or if there are to be any special effects and stunts or any modification of the landform or removal of vegetation that will also be put the film activity in this tier.
Each application is considered individually according to its requirements. Bear in mind that popular locations may be booked up ahead, so that it makes sense to plan your locations well ahead of you whenever you can. An experienced local production company will be able to advise and manage the whole film permit application process for you.