Hit international series – filmed in Cape Town ­ screens on M-Net Edge

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Dominion, an epic supernatural drama set in the near future, premiered on 12 January 2015 on M-Net Edge and will screen on Mondays at 20:00 until March.

Shot in Cape Town last year with Film Afrika, the hit series takes place 25 years after an army of lower angels waged a war of possession against humankind. The archangel Michael, who turned against his own kind to side with humanity in the Extinction war, watches over Vega (formerly Las Vegas), the largest of the fortified cities protecting the last human survivors.

A spinoff of the 2010 film Legion, Dominion stars Christopher Egan (Resident Evil: Extinction), Tom Wisdom (300), Roxanne McKee (Game of Thrones), Alan Dale (Lost), Anthony Stewart Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Luke Allen-Gale (The Borgias). South African Carl Beukes plays archangel Gabriel, the villain leading the army of lower angels.

During its initial run on SyFy in the United States last year, Dominion averaged 2.7m viewers per episode and had more tweets than any other Thursday night drama series. The series has now been renewed for a second season, which is currently in pre-production in Cape Town.

“South Africa is attracting more international TV series than ever before, from Black Sails and Dominion to Homeland and Wallander – all using predominantly South African crews and facilitated by local companies,” says David Wicht, Film Afrika’s CEO and executive producer.  “So many of the world-class series filmed here are never seen by local audiences, so we’re very excited that M-Net Edge will be screening Dominion, giving South Africans a rare opportunity to see the level of work being produced here.”

Dominion’s visual effects are created by Canadian company Spin VFX, who also worked on Game of Thrones, but showrunner Vaun Wilmott (Sons of Anarchy) told Collider that a lot of what you see was created on set in South Africa. “That was one of the advantages of going to Cape Town.  The level of crew was really high, in terms of their talent and experience, but also in terms of what we could build and how far our dollars went.”

Film Afrika is also in production in Cape Town on the third season of the double-Emmy-winning Black Sails, Starz’ popular Treasure Island prequel from executive producer Michael Bay (Transformers). If you’ve driven to Somerset West along the N2 in recent years, you’ll have seen the giant pirate ships Film Afrika created for the show at Cape Town Film Studios.

“Long-running TV series like Black Sails create the equivalent of full-time employment in an historically freelance industry,” says David. “When you have a series with an established structure, look and feel, it also makes training, skills transfer and transformation much more accessible. We’ve been able to give more South African crew members opportunities to become heads of departments on TV series than on films.”

International TV series shot here are also creating a higher profile for local actors like Langley Kirkwood, who moved from Black Sails and Dominion to a recurring role in the popular, Emmy-winning American series Banshee.

The episodic nature of TV series enables leading roles to go to SA actors which is, for the first time, creating international South African TV stars, like Langley, Carl, Hakeem Kae-Kazim and Louise Barnes,” says David. “Feature films have a shorter filming period, so are less inclined to take a risk on local actors in leading roles.”

Film Afrika pioneered facilitating international films in Southern Africa after democracy. Recent highlights include Chronicle, which topped the American box office, and the Oscar-nominated and Golden-Globe winner Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

In recent years, Film Afrika has similarly pioneered in servicing international TV series in Southern Africa, including the Emmy-winning Gettysburg and America: The Story of Us, as well as the Emmy-nominated No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Endgame, and Scout’s Safari.

In the process, Film Afrika has played a key role in the creation of one of the fastest growing sectors in the South African economy. The Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) film and television incentives have seen the qualifying South African production expenditure (QSAPE) grow from 1.328 billion in 2008 to R1.952 billion by March 2014 – 9.4% average growth per annum over the last five years.

Taking into the account the film industry’s economic multiplier of 2.892, the implementation of the DTI incentives resulted in R5.64 billion in economic activity for the financial year ending March 2014 alone, a figure that David expects to rise again this financial year.  “These figures don’t include those sectors of the film industry that don’t benefit from the DTI incentives, so the actual value of the industry is even larger,” says David.

For more information, visit http://www.filmafrika.com/.

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