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Kenya

Kenya Film & Photography Production Services.

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Kenya? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Kenya? See below for an introduction to Kenya locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Film Locations. Nairobi is the capital and the main entry point by air into Kenya. It is a major African economic centre and serves as a hub for filming across East Africa. Within a 1 hour drive from Nairobi you can find Nairobi National Park, Giraffe Manor, mountains, desert, savannah, lakes, a modern business district, industrial neighborhoods, urban slums, rural areas, farms, and colonial houses.

Outside of Nairobi, Kenya also offers year-round snow-capped mountains, dormant volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, lakes, dry savannah, deserts and beautiful beaches. Locations of particular interest to filmmakers and photographers include, Lamu Island historic mosques and Arab houses, the port city of Mombasa, and Kenya’s many national parks.

National Parks of note include:

Amboseli National Park is crowned by Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro. Amboseli is one the best places to film large herds of elephants up close.

Maasai Mara National Reserve is known for the Great Migration when thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travel to and from the Serengeti. It is home to the red-cloaked Maasai people who live in the park.

Mount Kenya National Park is home to rare species of animals as well as spectacular lakes, springs, forests, and snow-capped mountains.

Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves border one another in the dry landscape of North Central Kenya. Wildlife of note include elephant, giraffe, leopard, zebra, and ostriches. The Samburu people live in this area.

Lake Nakuru National Park is home to thousands of pink flamingos living in the alkaline waters.

Tsavo East (& West) National Parks are among the oldest and largest parks in Kenya.

Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve is known for its colourful coral reefs and diversity of sea life. Traditional Dhows can be seen sailing around the area.

Kenya Film License. A filming license must be obtained through a local, registered production service provider and issued by the Department of Film Services (DFS). The cost varies depending on the type of production and number of shoot days. A film license can take anywhere from 1 to 3 days to process. Once this is processed our Kenyan fixer / service producer can go ahead and arrange all other permits.

Kenya Location Permits. Location permits are issued by the various regional and local government bodies. These usually take from 1-7 days to permit depending on the complexity of the shoot. More remote locations may require the producer / fixer to travel to the specific county to negotiate permission in person. There are very few set fees for locations so a good fixer / producer is essential. Shooting in the Nairobi business district or on city streets requires an additional permit. Shutting city streets requires at least 2 weeks to permit, inform the public and arrange police assistance. Additional clearances may be required by NEMA (Environment), CID (National Security) and other government agencies should you wish to film in sensitive zones and / or use explosives, fireworks, etc. Note, drone filming is not permitted in Kenya. Please contact us for location specific information.

When to shoot? Kenya sits on the equator so it’s never really too hot or too cold in Nairobi. The long rains come in March and April and the short rains come in October and November. Best to avoid planning any shoot during the rainy season if the script is weather specific. The long rains can be very intense with power outages and travel delays common during that time. The Great Migration is best photographed in the late dry season when animals congregate around water sources. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Kenyan festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

• Lake Turkana Festival in May / June.
• Maulidi Festival in May / June on Lamu Island.
• International Camel Derby Festival in August just outside of Maralal.
• Mombasa Carnival in November.
• Lamu Cultural Festival in November.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Kenya.

Costs. Kenya is a relatively cost efficient place to film a diversity of African looks, especially for larger shoots that require an established local film infrastructure. Overall, local costs are comparable to Tanzania. Our Kenyan service producer / fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Kenya is an ethnically diverse country. It is home to 42 different tribes including the famous Maasai. The Kikuyu are the largest ethnic group but only make up one-fifth of the population. Other sizable ethnic groups include the Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and Kamba. Kenya has a wide variety of professional talent. Some Arab and Caucasian background roles can also be found.

Crews. Kenya has a small but good pool of professional internationally experienced directors, directors of photography and stills photographers most of whom have their own gear. Crews are very capable, professional and experienced in servicing visiting productions. Kenyan crews are non-union and speak fluent English. There is enough depth to crew several shoots. For most projects it’s unnecessary to bring in heads of department from abroad.

Contact us if you are looking for a Nairobi based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Kenya.

EquipmentKenya houses all of the modern grip and gaffer equipment you would find in any major production center. Aerial rigs are not typically housed in Kenya so they would need to come in from Europe, Dubai, India or South Africa. Camera equipment including RED Epic, Scarlet, multiple HD kits and lenses are available locally.

Kenya is not an ATA carnet country but importing equipment is very simple. Our Kenyan fixer / producer will require a final equipment list with serial numbers, replacement value, etc. at least 72 hours in advance of arrival for clearing. Their Kenya-based clearing agent will temporarily import your items and ensure that they are cleared once you depart Kenya. There is a clearing bond that is required costing roughly USD500 or around 1% of the value of your equipment. Please note, customs at all Kenyan airports are well versed in recent camera technology, so it would be unwise to gamble and assume a 5D would go unnoticed at the airport.

Art department and set construction. There are some very qualified art department heads of department in Nairobi. There are many skilled craftsmen in Kenya who can deliver tremendous set builds given enough lead time.

Studios and Backlots. No backlots at present with some basic studios in Nairobi. Film Studios have recently partnered with MNET to build state-of-the-art facilities for filming.

Post Production. Best to post abroad.

Tax Incentives. Currently Kenya does not offer any incentives. However, there are some production service providers who are registered EPZ companies and this allows them to waive the 16% VAT applicable to all other service providers. It should be noted that, given enough lead time, most service providers can negotiate with local authorities and suppliers to minimize tax.

Visas and Work Permits. Foreign crew typically enter Kenya on a tourist visa which most nationalities can pick up on arrival. Alternatively crew can apply online for visas in advance. Visas are valid for up to 90 days. Proof of yellow fever vaccination may be asked for on entry to Kenya.

The Kenyan fixer / service producer will organize Special Passes for each visiting crew member which will serve as temporary work permits. These take approximately two weeks to a month to process so the applications must be filed well in advance of crew arrival.

Kenya has an agreement with Tanzania and Uganda to waiver visa re-entry fees if travelling between the three countries.

Similarly, obtaining an East Africa Visa allows travel multiple entry travel between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Transportation Infrastructure. Major roads are paved. Once you leave Nairobi the quality of many roads deteriorates which can drastically affect travel times especially during the wet season. Our Kenyan producer / fixer organizes safe and reliable 4WD vehicles. Several major international airlines fly to Nairobi and we can organize local flights when necessary.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Nairobi include:

Palacina
Fairview
Sankara

Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Communication. Web posted casting, scouting and videoconferencing. We organize local cell phones and online communications to help you avoid the high roaming costs of calling to and from Africa. 

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice. Vaccinations may be required depending on where you are filming. See here for more information.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Kenya, please see below:

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer in Kenya, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.