GEORGE NEWS - It was through a connection of Philip de Vries from Garden Route Film Studio that investors were found for taking the Destiny Africa dream forward, though under the new name of Sallywood City, as reported in the George Herald last week.
The Chinese group of investors who bought the 437 hectares earmarked for the mega development, came just in time before the development rights for Destiny Africa would lapse in June.
De Vries has a longstanding relationship with Philip Molefe, chairman of the SA Film and Video Foundation, and the latter had been in touch with Swartland Winery chairman William Wu, a member of the investor group.
Molefe became aware of Wu's interest in the film industry after the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) association determined that South Africa should be made a major destination for the film industry as part of a strategy to stimulate the local economy.
De Vries and Molefe contacted Fred Brown, project coordinator of Destiny Africa who had been looking for investors since the launch of the development in 2009. Brown had been experiencing difficulties finding investors for the mega project that requires an investment of over R60-billion.
After learning more about the intended project, Wu and the other members of the Chinese group were interested in the whole project, not just parts of it.
According to Brown, they did a presentation for them in February. "It was a miracle, it was just in time before the lapsing of the environmental and town-planning approvals."
Says De Vries, "We like to think that everything will be working together for good, especially for young people to find a life here. Here are job opportunities second to none."
The vision is to have a creative university tied to the film industry precinct in Sallywood City where training can be provided to people from over the world, and from the most basic skills to the most sophisticated expertise can emerge.
Entrance precinct soon erected
Brown said an entrance precinct and a security and site office will be built soon and formal planning will start in the next month or two.
At last week's launch of Sallywood City, mayor Melvin Naik said his planning department has instructions to fast-track the development because of what it can mean for the city and the region.