I’ve really come to like the end of a year. A place where becoming nostalgic over the last years events is acceptable and coming up with ideas of the future year dinner time conversation. Having a hint of optimism in thought brings out the best in us and so our futures seem bright and full of opportunity. Now having practiced some of this rhetoric together with vast amounts of wine “tasting” this past festive season I would like to share my view on what we could expect of 2010 in the context of film making.

The recession is the first thing that comes to mind and the fact that the mini-major is a dwindling business operation. The middle-man it seems is dead although the idea of major studios investing in smaller films is far from it. With successes like Paranormal and even to some extent District 9 the major studios know that there is still great money to be made on film makers with a good idea. Thus the $1 000 000 movie is going to make a come-back. Studios may have sold or liquidated their money spending teen-age studios but that wont deter them from trying to find that golden nugget that will cost them next to nothing and earn them the same as a one of the tent-poles.

This year will be an up for SA films. More being released this year that 2009 for sure! Consider most films produced last year where predominantly funded in 2008 so just before the great depression (sic) and will be coming out this year. Just of the cuff, Nightdrive, Master Harold and the boys, Schuster 2010, Bang-Bang Club and I believe there’s a White Wedding 2 in the making…? This output will either help to increase the long tail productivity of our indy industry with good stories made well or otherwise not do anything and a re-hash of ill-made films will be still be our cross to bear.

The advent of super-success of SA stories globally is giving us a moment in the sunshine. This year more producers will be selling their wares than before. The generation of capitol investment for film will go into up-turn due to some hard selling in the international markets where we (as an industry) have been going for years. This investment up-turn may be small on a local scale as we as film makers try to steal the imaginations and bank balance points of those more “fortunate” than us. However this is still a battle for some years to come. I presume most of the income generation for films in 2010 will come from international sources.

There have been more treaties signed with countries like Ireland and France which will all lead to more options and scope for co-productions. The only potential stumbling block is the R10 mil DTI cap for bigger blockbuster style films. However, this cap is great for smaller films and up-and-coming producers. Relations with SADC is is also becoming a potential gold-mine for investment. New companies like Black Irish in Johannesburg are making their first features on the giant back which is Africa. Even Big World Cinema in Cape Town is making some core business choices to include and produce African cinema.

Government and economic policy is still not clear on section 21 TAX and although producers in SA are doing their best to make it a working system its stays a point of contention. It will still be the DTI 35% rebate that carries most sales and now with an offer of 70% of gap-financing to afford a completion bond the DTI is setting itself up as the daddy of film finance.

To talk about the NFVF only hurts and one line that comes to mind is “good intentions pave the way to hell”. So far their politically charged agendas have done little to create a sustainable, intelligent and entertaining industry. Don’t let that deter you though, they do have a mandate and a budget and if you have the project and the pitch go get yours…

The ex-film schooler will find out that this is a hard nut to crack but opportunities lie in making good content. I hope to see some “bed-head cinema” this year from fringe film makers. I hope to get invited to some screenings in apartments and basement. Films that shock, that are terrible and majestic. This is why the indy-world is so great. Anything is possible.

How will the soccer affect us? I’m not sure. But if you have a soccer film about a young black boy making it and fulfilling his dream (in soccer) despite the obvious obstacles, thats a good place to start.

Enjoy this year of 2010 and keep that slither of optimism about you, its what brings out the best in us after all.