Following 15 years of waiting and legal battles, Singh was ultimately given the green light to build a R7 billion project on the old Natal Command site.
“As a filmmaker based in Durban it was, and still is, my desire to create a film production hub in the city, and to bring the significant economic benefits that the film industry offers to Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.
“This has been a protracted process which was subjected to a legal challenge and was ultimately ratified by the Constitutional Court, and we are now thrilled that it is finally a reality,” he says.
eThekwini Film City will be anchored by eThekwini Film Studios and it will comprise of sound stages and production workshops, the Walk of Fame, TV studios, editing suites, a Back Lot set area, Midway Centre and a Museum of South African Cinema.
The film city will also include a creative arts hub with training facilities, which will integrate all disciplines of the arts, including traditional arts and crafts, painting, pottery and music.
It will be the hub for the film industry, providing offices for film production companies and a potential home for the KZN Film Commission, Durban Film Office and other film industry bodies.
“The intention is to provide support for emerging filmmakers in order to empower them to advance in the film industry. There will also be a film school which will benefit from practical training on film shoots in the studio,” he says.
Singh says it is extremely satisfying to see the culmination of his long-held dream of making his hometown a serious player in the global film industry.
“The South African film industry generates over R10 billion per annum. KwaZulu-Natal gets very little of this, and with the studios in Durban, the city and the province would be able to meaningfully benefit from the business that the film industry generates,” he says.
The film studios are set to be a catalyst to develop the industry in Durban and the province, from production companies to writers, actors, and technical crew.
It will also have a knock-on effect on other industries, including the hotel and hospitality industry, catering, carpentry, construction, vehicle hire and a host of allied industries.
“The film studios will be a catalyst to develop the industry in Durban and KwaZulu-Natal and take advantage of the world-class creative and technical talent the region has. The studios will also offer emerging filmmakers in the region opportunities to be integrated into the mainstream of the industry, thereby impacting positively on the transformation of the industry,” says Singh.