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Swaziland (eSwatini)

Swaziland (eSwatini) 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 Swaziland? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in Swaziland

For an introduction to shooting in Swaziland 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.

Swaziland Film Locations

Swaziland is one of the smallest countries in Africa, it is known for its many undiscovered cultural and natural locations. Swaziland is one of the last absolute monarchies in the world. In terms of agricultural locations Swaziland is known for its sugarcane fields.

Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War (2019) and Wah-Wah (2005) were filmed in Swaziland.

Film locations can be divided into the following regions:

Hhohho

The Hhohho region is located in the north of the country.

Lobamba is the legislative capital and home to the Royal family. Locations of note include the Royal Kraal, Parliament Building, and National Museum. The king holds audiences at the Embo State Palace and the State House is used for other state occasions. The Somhlolo Stadium is a major venue for sporting events.

Mbabane, located up in the Mdzimba Mountains is the executive capital. The mythical sacred Mantjolo Pond is located nearby.

Nature locations of note in this region include Malolotja Nature Reserve, and Phophonyane Falls Nature Reserve.

Sibebe Rock is the second largest monolith in the world after Australia’s Uluru.

Lubombo

The Lubombo region is located in the west of the country.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary is home to antelopes and zebras.

Manzini

The Manzini region is located in the east of the country.

Hlane Royal National Park is famous for its lion, elephant, and rhino.

Mbuluzi Game Reserve is known for its birdlife, giraffe, zebra, kudu, jackal, wildebeest, and nyala.

Mkhaya Game Reserve is known for its black rhinos, giraffes, elephants, and hippos.

Mlawula Nature Reserve and Mantenga Nature Reserve are known for their diversity of birdlife.

Shiselweni

The Shiselweni region is located in the south of the country.

Swaziland Film Location Permits

A film permit is required to shoot in Swaziland. See below in the Visas and Work Permits section for more information. 

As for permission to film in specific locations, once you have a film permit most locations are possible given time, money and the right approach. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Climate varies depending on altitude with the mountain region generally cooler and wetter than the rest of the country. Swaziland’s hot, rainy season runs from October to April. The cool, dry season runs from May to September. This is the best time to film for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Events of note include:

• The Incwala Festival takes place in December / January
• The Marula Festival (Buganu Ceremony) season runs from February to May
• The Bushfire Festival takes place in May
• The Batimba National Hunt in August
• The Umhlanga (Reed Dance) takes place in August / September
• The Umtsimba Ceremony is a traditional wedding ceremony performed throughout the year

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

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.

Swaziland Costs & Tax Incentives For Filming

Costs. The local currency is pegged to the South African Rand, which is also widely accepted. Locations, local talent and support crew are inexpensive but since the filming infrastructure is limited all key crew and equipment must be brought in from abroad. Our Swazi 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 Swaziland.

Swaziland Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Swaziland has a very small pool of local directors, videographers and stills photographers. Key crew should be brought in from abroad. Johannesburg is the closest production centre for crew, a 4hr drive away.

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 Swaziland.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Swaziland offers mainly ethnic Swazi looks with some Zulu and white African looks also available. All other talent needs to be brought in from abroad.

Swaziland Film Equipment

Equipment. Basic camera, lighting, grip, and drone equipment is available. Johannesburg is the closest production centre for larger and more sophisticated equipment. For productions looking to bring in film equipment Swaziland is an ATA carnet country. 

Communication. Internet is scarce outside of major cities. There is no data roaming so our Swazi fixer will need to arrange local SIM cards for everyone.

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.

Swaziland 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.

Swaziland Visas & Work Permits For Filming

Film crew travelling on Western passports can enter Swaziland visa-free for periods of up to 30 days.

A film permit is required to shoot in Swaziland. To apply for a film permit, you need to send your local fixer / service producer an application including a project synopsis, dates, visiting crew passport information pages, and an imported equipment list. If you are coming to film with a local organisation you will also need to include a Letter Of Invitation from this organisation. The local fixer will submit this information on your behalf to relevant authorities. Allow at least 2 weeks to process permits. A copy of the processed permit will be emailed to you for presentation at the airport or border.

Note, trying to deal directly with permitting authorities to save money, may be tempting but it’s really risky. You don’t want to find out at the 11th hour that your application was never received. Also, you must be accompanied by a local fixer / service producer when filming in Swaziland. The local fixer is held liable for the visiting productions activities including making sure you observe the conditions of location permits, as well as the nature of the content you are producing. Contact us for Swaziland fixer referrals.

Swaziland Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Main roads are well developed. Airlink Swaziland services flights to and from Johannesburg. If coming in from Johannesburg, allow for at least 4hrs of driving.

Accommodation. Contact us for film-friendly hotel recommendations in Swaziland. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. Swaziland is widely considered to be one of the safest countries in Africa. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Traditional dances and food are the obvious tourist choice but curious storytellers ought to explore the Swaziland archives, just outside of Mantenga. There are many stories to be told about this relatively unexplored kingdom.

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 Swaziland, please see below:

Hire Swaziland (eSwatini) Production Support & Shooting Crew

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

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Swaziland, 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.