Kenya 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 Kenya? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in Kenya
For an introduction to shooting in Kenya 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.
Kenya Film Locations
Kenya is blessed with a diversity of film locations including bustling city streets, snow-capped mountains, dormant volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, lakes, savannah, deserts, fishing villages, and beautiful beaches.
Kenya has hosted productions including The Constant Gardener, Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Sense8, and Out of Africa.
Nairobi is the capital and the main entry point by air into Kenya. The city is a major African economic centre and a hub for filming across East Africa. Within a 1 hour drive from Nairobi you can find a busy business district, industrial neighbourhoods, urban slums, rural areas, farms, colonial houses, and wildlife parks. Nairobi National Park is located on the outskirts of the city. Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi. It offers photographers shots of giraffes roaming a savannah with a modern city skyline backdrop. Giraffe Manor is located nearby, as is the Karen Blixen Museum.
Just north of Nairobi, Kenya’s high hill country is home to mountain peaks, spectacular waterfalls, remote alpine moors, tea and coffee plantations.
Mount Kenya National Park is home to rare species of animals as well as spectacular lakes, mineral springs, deep forests, and snow-capped mountains. Mount Kenya is Africa’s second tallest peak.
Aberdare National Park’s picturesque forested ravines and open moorland are home to a variety of African flora and fauna.
Mount Longonot National Park is home to the extinct volcano of Mount Longonot. A dense forest lies within the crater of the mountain. The park has sweeping views of the Rift Valley.
Meru National Park is knowns for its jungle, rivers, swamp, grasslands, and termite cathedrals.
Mwea National Reserve is a savannah ecosystem home to Acacia and Baobab trees, and a diversity of African wildlife.
Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park is a mountain forest known for its birdlife.
Dedan Kimathi Wildlife Conservancy is located in this region.
Ngare Ndare Forest has an interesting canopy walk and is home to the big five (buffalo, elephants, lions, leopards, and rhinos).
Waterfalls of note include Thomson’s Falls and Fourteen Falls.
Nyanza & Western Regions
This part of Kenya is best known for Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. The densely populated Migingo island is a small fishing village in Lake Victoria.
Other locations of interest to visiting productions include Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Kisumu Main Market, Dunga village, Ndere Island National Park, Ruma National Park, Mt Elgon National Park, Kakamega Forest National Reserve, Saiwa Swamp National Park, and Kit Mikayi which featured in Lupita Ny’ongo’s Vogue USA shoot.
Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to the red-cloaked Maasai people, the ancestral inhabitants of the region. Each year from July to October the Great Migration takes place with thousands of wildebeest, zebra, and Thomson’s gazelle travelling to and from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Lions, leopards, and cheetahs lie in wait.
Amboseli National Park has views of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. Amboseli is one the best places to film large herds of elephants up close.
Other parks of note include Hells Gate National Park and Rimoi National Reserve.
Lake Nakuru National Park is home to thousands of pink flamingos living in its alkaline waters.
Lake Turkana is the world’s largest desert lake. Lake Magadi is a pink lake. Other lakes of note include Lake Naivasha and Lake Bogoria.
Menengai Crater is a spectacular film location in the Rift Valley.
The High Altitude Training Centre is located in Iten.
Eastern & North Eastern Regions
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.
Tsavo East National Park and and Tsavo West National Park are among the oldest and largest parks in Kenya.
East Africa’s busiest port, Mombasa is a steamy, shabby and run down city. Film locations of note in or near the city include Fort Jesus, Old Town, Pembe Za Ndovu (Mombassa Tusks), Haller Park, Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, Nyali Beach, Bamburi Beach, Diani Beach, Shimba Hills National Reserve, and Nguuni Nature Sanctuary.
Lamu Island is an impressive film location known for its winding alleyways, historic mosques, Arab houses, and traditionla Dhows sailing around the area. Settlements of note include Lamu Town, Shela, Matondoni, and Kipungani.
Kisite-Mpunguti Marine National Park and Reserve is known for its colourful coral reefs and diversity of sea life.
Kenya Film Location Permits
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.
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. 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.
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.
Film Crew & Talent
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.
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.
Kenya Film Equipment
Equipment. Kenya 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.
Communication. We organize local cell phones and online communications to help you avoid the high roaming costs of calling to and from Africa.
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. 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.
Visas & 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.
Transport & Accommodation
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:
Please contact us for corporate rates.
For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.
Down Time. Nyama Choma.
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:
Hire Kenya Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Kenya, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Kenya, 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.