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DRC – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in the DRC? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in the DRC

For an introduction to shooting in the DRC see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

DRC Film Locations

The DRC is an Central African country located on the equator. It is Africa’s second-largest country by land mass, and third-largest by population size. Much of the country is covered by the Congo River Basin, a vast expanse of lush undeveloped tropical rainforest. The Congo Rainforest is the second-largest rainforest in the world. This area is surrounded by plateaus merging into savannas in the south, by mountainous terraces in the west, and dense grasslands in the north. High, glaciated mountains are found in the extreme eastern region. The country also has a very short coastline where the Congo River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. In terms of film locations the DRC is best known for its bustling cities, Pygmy villages, dense jungles, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, volcanic landscapes, and wildlife parks. Many productions come to film the mountain gorillas and eastern lowland gorillas that live in the east of the country.

Agricultural film locations include plantations of cassava, plantains, corn, peanuts, bananas, mangos, pineapples, sugarcane, tobacco, palm oil, rubber trees, coffee, tea, cocoa and rice. Industrial locations include mines for cobalt, coltan, copper, diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, and coal. Timber is widely harvested. Energy locations include hydroelectric dams.

When We Were Kings (1996), Virunga (2014), War Witch (2012), and The African Queen (1951) filmed in the DRC.

The DRC is divided into the following provinces: Kinshasa, Kongo Central, Kwango, Kwilu, Mai-Ndombe, Kasaï, Kasaï-Central, Kasaï-Oriental, Lomami, Sankuru, Maniema, South Kivu, North Kivu, Ituri, Haut-Uele, Tshopo, Bas-Uele, Nord-Ubangi, Mongala, Sud-Ubangi, Équateur, Tshuapa, Tanganyika, Haut-Lomami, Lualaba, and Haut-Katanga.

Film locations can be divided into several regions of interest to visiting productions:

Western DRC

Western DRC is located in the west of the country.

Kinshasa is the capital and main entry point by air. Located on the banks of the mighty Congo River, Kinshasa is one of the largest and most vibrant cities in Africa. After Paris, Kinshasa is world’s second-largest French-speaking city.

Outside of Kinshasa, the landscape is mostly tropical forests and grazing lands.

Western DRC is home to famous waterfalls including the Inkisi Falls, Livingstone Falls, and Zongo Falls.

Lola Ya Bonobo is a sanctuary for orphaned bonobos.

Matadi is the country’s chief sea port.

Congo Basin

The Congo Basin, located in the northern half of the country, is the largest region. It is home to the world’s second largest tropical rainforest.

Garamba National Park, located in the northeast, is home to giraffes, lions, elephants, rhinos, and leopards.

Maiko National Park is home to eastern lowland gorillas, okapis, Congo peafowls, elephants, and chimpanzees.

Okapi Wildlife Reserve is home to elephants, leopards, crocodiles, okapis, chimpanzees, and forest buffalo. Nomadic Mbuti pygmies also live within the reserve.

Salonga National Park is a remotely located park that can only be reached by boat. It is best known for its bonobos.

Boyoma Falls (Stanley Falls) are located in the Congo Basin.

The unique compound of former President Mobutu in Gbadolite is located in the northwest of the country.

Kasai

Kasai is a centrally located region known for its diamond mines.

Katanga

Katanga is located in the southeast of the country. The region is home to many of the country’s agricultural and mining lands.

Lake Tanganyika is located in the east of this region.

Lofoi Falls are a beautiful film location in Kundelungu National Park.

Upemba National Park is home to a variety of bird life, crocodiles and hippos.

Kivu

Kivu is located in the east of the country. The region is known for its spectacular volcanic landscapes and mountain gorillas.

Goma is the capital of North Kivu.

Virunga National Park is known for its mountain gorillas, elephants, lions, hippos and buffaloes. Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Center is home to orphaned mountain gorillas. Virunga (2014) filmed in the Virunga National Park.

Volcanos in the Virunga Mountains include Mount Sabyinyo, Mount Mikeno, and Nyamuragira. Mount Nyiragongo is home to the world’s largest lava lake. 

The snow-covered Mount Stanley, located in the Rwenzori Mountains, is the highest peak in the country. Mountain gorillas live in this area.

Lake Edward is also located in North Kivu.

Bukavu is the capital of South Kivu.

Kahuzi-Biéga National Park is home to eastern lowland gorillas.

Lake Kivu film locations of note include Idjwi Island and Minova village.

Lake Tanganyika is also located in this region.

Given that most national parks are located in the east of the country, from a logistics point of view, visiting productions may be better off accessing them through Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

DRC Film Location Permits

The Journalist Accreditation Permit serves as a film permit to shoot in public locations across the country. See the visas and work permits section below for more information.

The DRC has no specific permitting system in place so location permits are negotiated on a case by case basis. Unauthorised filming of government buildings, military installations, and along border areas is illegal and may result in arrest and confiscation of film equipment.  Additional permission is also required for shoots that require exclusive use of public space, traffic control, filming in markets, national parks and drone filming. Our DRC fixer will negotiate this on the local level and make sure local police are there to assist. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

As a result of its equatorial location, the DRC experiences high precipitation and has the highest frequency of thunderstorms in the world. South of the equator, the rainy season lasts from October to April and the dry season runs from May to September. North of the equator, the rainy season lasts from April to November and the dry season runs from December to March. The dry season is the best time to film for weather and wildlife. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

The DRC is a predominately Christian country so those holidays are widely observed.

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

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Locations, local talent and support crew are inexpensive but since little to no filming infrastructure exists all key crew and equipment must be brought in from abroad. The poor transport infrastructure means traveling around the entirety of the country can be very expensive and time consuming too. Our DRC fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in the DRC.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. DRC has a very small local pool of directors, videographers and stills photographers. Crews must be brought in from abroad.

Contact us if you are looking for a 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 the DRC.

Talent day rates and buyouts are reasonable and negotiated on a personal level.

French is the official language. Hundreds of local languages are spoken.

Home to over 200 ethnic groups, the DRC’s largest groups include the Kongo, Mongo, Luba, Mangbetu, and Azande people. The country is also known for its unique Pygmy tribes. Kinshasa is famous for its community of well-dressed sapeurs. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.

DRC Film Equipment

Equipment. You will need to bring in all camera, lighting and grip equipment from abroad.

Communication. Internet access is limited to Kinshasa. Regular power outages are a problem.

Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is very basic.

Studios and backlots. None exist at present.

Post Production. Post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Most passport holders require a visa to enter the DRC. Apply for a regular tourist visa at your closest DRC consulate or embassy. As well as all of the usual documents applicants must also include an invitation from our local DRC fixer, as well as proof of vaccination against yellow fever. For film crew travelling on US passports see here for more information. Once you arrive in the DRC, our DRC fixer makes an application with the Ministry of Communication and Media for a Journalist Accreditation Permit for each crew member. This permit allows crews to film at public locations across the country.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Outside of the cities, most roads are not drivable, even with an off-road vehicle. During the rainy season, many roads become impassible. Note, there is no road network connecting major cities and towns so some journeys may require multiple modes of transport including plane, car, boat and train. It is best to avoid travelling at night. Our DRC film fixer organises safe and reliable transportation. Several international airlines service flights to Kinshasa. Domestic flights tend to be on the expensive side. Plan well ahead as some domestic flights are only available on some days. Patience and good planning is required.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Kinshasa:

Grand Hotel

Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice. See here for vaccinations required for the DRC. There are few facilities outside of Kinshasa, so if travelling outside of the city, make sure you are well prepared for all eventualities. To ensure safety on set, our DRC fixer will arrange the appropriate level of local security personnel / police.

Down Time. Dance Congolese rumba, ndombolo, and soukous.

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 the DRC, please see below:

Hire Democratic Republic of the Congo Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

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