The benefits of Remote Shooting in South Africa

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It has been a different kind of season for the South African production services industry but we managed to pull through thanks to the support of our International clients and world class Remote Shooting facilities. Despite the second COVID-19 peak in January, we managed to service 7 production teams from around the world including France, the UK and USA as well as Korea. 

A definite stand out moment for the MR Filmilia this season is how quickly production teams have been able to adapt to the concept of Remote Shooting. Times are no longer changing…they have changed, and it was only a matter of time before the South African film industry adopted technology into their everyday lives.

We asked one of our senior producers to share her experience from a recent remote shoot that we serviced for an international campaign. The commercial was shot across multiple countries with 1 shoot day allocated to South Africa. The director, DOP, agency and client were all remote.  

How quickly have service production teams in South Africa been able to adapt to the concept of Remote Shooting? 

Service production in South Africa has been really quick to adapt to remote shooting thanks to companies such as Stream VT who offer exceptional remote streaming services. 

In comparison to traditional shooting, what are the major differences / adjustments production teams should consider?

In comparison to traditional shooting,  production budgets need to allow for a connectivity manager and equipment for the remote set up. I would also allow for additional prep days on  local DOP’s. The stream services will need to know the shooting locations in order to make sure there is adequate signal.

What are some of the typical challenges with remote shooting?

Signal can be an issue in some locations and there is not much once can do about it. When this does happen, a quick time saving tip is for the DIT to start downloading camera cards. There can be delays around set up / framing, however this can be addressed during the prep time with your DOP, so as not to delay the actual shoot days.  

Are there any benefits worth noting around Remote Shooting?

Yes. The benefits of remote shooting allows an alternative way for productions to still get serviced. It also saves costs for clients in terms of travel and accommodation. 

What are some of the critical crew requirements when Remote Shooting?

You need a good local DOP of which we have plenty of great options in South Africa. Great connectivity / stream VT operator and a capable DIT.

Based on your recent experience, walk us through what a typical remote shoot day in South Africa looks like? 

A typical day will start with a production meeting over zoom with the international director, dop and local production / DOP to run through the shooting schedule. It is here where we will determine what the day ahead is looking like. This is usually followed with a call with agency and client / internationals to run through the same thing.

Once we start shooting, the stream VT operator will have sent out the live URL link for everyone to log onto (this is a live feed to the main camera). Everyone will be on an app such as discord or slack which allows all parties to communicate within certain rooms, such  as production / agency / account and client. It is also possible to switch between rooms. 

Zoom works in the same way where breakout rooms can be set up for production / agency / client & agency. Approvals of cast will also be done via the live link, as well as everyone who is remote being able to see the live action.  

Remote Shooting in South Africa

South Africa – Safe and Sound:

The infection rate in South Africa is decreasing daily with a 95% recovery rate as of 15 March 2021. For more information about our COVID-19 stats, read more here. Here are a few things you need to know Lockdown Level 1:

Flights: Qatar Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Emirates are flying in and out of South Africa.

Quarantine: No quarantine required providing you have had a negative PCR test 72 hours before travelling

Vaccinations: South Africa is in the process of rolling out their vaccinations to health care workers, and have administered just over 145 000 vaccinations as of 14 March 2021.

Curfew: South Africa is currently in Alert Level 1 (our lowest lockdown level) with a curfew between 12am and 4am. 

Safety on Set: Social distancing, sanitiser, masks and regular screenings to ensure the safety of all crew on set.

Number of Bodies on Set: 100 people on set. Additional numbers can be requested and arranged.

PCR Tests: South Africa has antigen and PCR tests available as well as drive through clinics nationwide. Tests results can take between 4 – 24 hours to receive.

Accommodation: Our hotels and villas are dying to welcome you back. The Nelly is officially back in business as of December and remains a favorite amongst international clients. 

Entertainment: Never a dull moment with Earl and the team. While wine farms, tourist destinations, game lodges and malls are officially open, the highest level of safety is being practised to prevent the spread of infection 

For more information about Remote Shooting or travel to South Africa, give us a heita. Contact our head of production, Kabelo Seane on