Bruce Lee was consumed with a passion project about the Chinese Tongs (basically the mafia) in 19th Century San Francisco. The Tong Wars were vicious and gave us the term ‘hatchet man’. The Tong Wars lasted until 1921 in San Francisco – but could have lasted much longer except the devastation from the 1906 destroyed so many of their opium dens, brothels, gambling dens and more. Bruce Lee made dozens of notes on the project which was never filmed.
Justin Lin put together the project with Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter. What is interesting about this project?
They plan on shooting in South Africa. That’s right. They would have to build and recreate 19th Century San Francisco there in South Africa. That will require some magnificent set building.
Here is a Youtube video about Chinatown San Francisco set in 1912 – after the major earthquake that destroyed most of San Francisco.
South Africa has Favorable Shooting Conditions
South Africa has a robust incentive program, good to excellent crews and infrastructure. As an added bonus to American financing, they speak English for the most part.
The DTI offers industry-specific incentives to encourage local-content generation as well as attract international productions.
Its film and television production incentives were revised in March 2012.
1. Foreign Film and Television Production and Post-Production Incentive
Intended to encourage and attract large-budget films and television productions and post-production work that will contribute towards employment creation, enhancement of South Africa’s international profile, and increase the country’s creative and technical skills base.
A 20% tax reduction on production expenditure for foreign productions filmed in South Africa with a budget of R12-million (about $1,3-million) or above.
A 22.5% to 25% reduction if filming and post-production takes place in South Africa. Post-production expenditure must be R1,5-million (about $166 000) or above to qualify.
2. The South African Film and Television Production and Co-Production Incentive
A rebate of 35% for the first R6-million (about $662 000) spent, and 25% for the remainder of production expenditure.
Regional film commissions
Four regional bodies – the Cape Film Commission, Gauteng Film Commission and Durban Film Office – have been set up to market their cities as location destinations and create enabling environments for film makers.
The commissions offer a range of help and advice. The Gauteng Film Commission’s support programmes, for example, include assistance with funding and finance facilitation, as well as negotiation of co-productions and partnership projects with broadcasters.
- Cape Town: www.capefilmcommission.co.za
- Gauteng: www.gautengfilm.org.za
- Durban: www.durbanfilmoffice.com
- Eastern Cape: www.ecfo.co.za
The South African Revenue Service, through Section 24F of the Income Tax Act, grants a deduction of the production cost of a film to the film owner. It excludes any deductions for production costs under any other provisions of the Income Tax Act, providing for a film allowance instead. Section 24F also provides that a film owner may deduct a film allowance from his income.
- Website: www.sars.gov.za
South Africa Has a Favorable Currency Exchange
The South Africa currency, the Rand, has a very favorable exchange rate with the American Dollar and Euro. As of today, it was about 12.84 Rand to 1 US Dollar. At one point, it was 16:1.
Check out Today’s Exchange Rate.
With favorable exchange rates, a company can be funded in dollars and get the added benefit of a favorable exchange rate for goods, services, crew rates, etc.,
The Tong Wars Were San Francisco’s Crime Scourge
In San Francisco’s Chinatown district, the Tong Wars lasted until 1921, with the various criminal tongs numbering between nineteen and as many as thirty at the peak of the conflict, but it is hard to be absolutely sure, with such an abundance of splintering and mergers between the various tongs. While a loose alliance, consisting of the Chinatown police, Donaldina Cameron, the courts, and the Chinese community itself tried to stem the tide of the fighting tongs, it was the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and subsequent fires caused by the earthquake that was the death knell for the tongs at least in San Francisco, as it destroyed the brothels, gambling dens, and opium houses that the criminal organizations had used for the majority of their revenue.