What do you do when you're producing a movie on a strict budget that requires multiple, very different locations in the script. Moving cast and crew about continuously is an easy way of using up much needed funds far too quickly. Many savvy producers over the years have solved this problem by choosing Cape Town as a production base.
South Africa's 'Mother City' with its incredibly varied landscapes, including beach, mountain and vineyard before you even leave the city itself, is endlessly versatile. Not only that but its Mediterranean climate and cosmopolitan history, with varied styles of architecture old and new, allows it to double for a wide selection of destinations around the world.
The History Channel filmed many of its historical re-enactments of their epic America the Story of Us around Cape Town in 2009. The city's surrounds yielded locations doubling for the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Great Plains, Utah, the Rocky Mountains and even the bombing of Pearl Harbor. A few hours' drive from the city, the Karoo offers endlessly varied dry landscapes that double excellently for desert landscapes anywhere in the world.
In Lord of War, starring Nicholas Cage, Cape Town managed to act the part of more than 50 different locations around the world, from Bolivia to the Middle East and Afghanistan. There are numerous other productions that come to Cape Town, perhaps needing a cityscape with the feel of San Francisco, or New Orleans, or perhaps a simple European fishing village, a busy port or endless beaches, mountains and vineyards.
Local film production companies have a huge portfolio of filming locations at their disposal. So if a production requires dry, desert landscape one day, cool leafy forest the next and slick urban glamor the next, in Cape Town it can be done. As far as urban landscapes go, Cape Town encompasses historical Victorian architecture, the colored Malay quarter, modern slick glamor, industrial cityscapes and then the grim poverty of the townships, so whether a production needs glitz or grit the right location is only a few streets away.
With the film industry playing a significant role in the South African economy, permits for filming within the city can be processed swiftly and the local production companies have a skilled pool of local crew and technicians to draw upon, as well as first world infrastructure, making productions filmed on location in and around Cape Town run smoothly and professionally. So it's no wonder that Cape Town hosts a multitude of film productions every year, all year round, as more and more producers discover its versatility.