ABC films biblical drama in South Africa
American TV network ABC has doubled South Africa for the ancient Israelite city of Gibeah in its new biblical drama Of Kings and Prophets.
Written by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage – who also worked on Ridley Scott’s controversial Moses feature Exodus: Gods and Kings – the Of Kings and Prophets miniseries is set in 1,000 BC and tells the story of the Books of Samuel.
The drama is the first ABC production to film entirely in South Africa and has spent around $30m locally, most of which qualifies for the country’s filming incentive, reports Cape Business News.
A distillery in Stellenbosch outside Cape Town was converted into a film studio for the shoot at a cost of around half a million dollars, while the city of Gibeah was built on farmland in nearby Durbanville.
South Africa does offer a production facility at Cape Town Film Studios, which has four stages and is best known as the long-term home of TV pirate drama Black Sails.
“What we offer now reaches way beyond scenic locations to a genuine depth of production capability,” said Rob Davies, South Africa’s minister of trade and industry, in comments reported by Cape Business News. “This comes from the experience that our crews have had as a direct result of the incentive programme.”
Biblical dramas have become more popular in the US since the huge success of History Channel’s 2013 miniseries The Bible, which filmed in Morocco.
Morocco is South Africa’s principal competitor as a double for Middle East locations. The north-west African country was used for the BBC’s biblical drama The Ark and for the recent historical US drama Tut, which was set in the court of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.
South Africa remains one of the top production hubs in the southern hemisphere and recently hosted the separate UK drama Tutankhamun, telling the story of the discovery of the ruler’s tomb in the 1920s.
For more on filming in South Africa see our production guide.