Hollywood has always had a soft spot for Kenya. Classic adventure films dating back to the 1930s such as The Snows of Kilimanjaro starring Gregory Peck and King Solomon's Mines with Stewart Granger were shot on location in Kenya.
To say that Kenya has always been a favorite location for film production is an understatement. In 1985, Out of Africa adapted from Karen Blixen’s classic book was shot in Kenya. The film told the story of Karen’s life in colonial life in Kenya. The lead role was played by the legendary Meryl Streep and it went on to become a box office hit and winning an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film indeed placed Kenya on the international map. The Constant Gardener, the 2005 box office hit was also filmed on location in a small town, southeast coast of Lake Turkana, Loiyangalani.
It has served as a location for various Hollywood blockbusters such as the sequel to Tomb Raider and Nowhere in Africa, a film about refugees struggling to find a new life in war-torn Kenya which was shot in location in Bogoria, Baringo, and Mt.Kenya. It won over 14 international awards including the 2003 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The films shot in Kenya have set the country as an ideal location for film productions and television wildlife productions.
For the filmmaker who intends to shoot their work in Kenya, this is what you should know.
Before you get on a flight here, you will need to apply for a normal visa through the Kenyan Embassy in your country or at the passport control in the premises of the airport when you land in Nairobi.
In Kenya, there are two government agencies put in place for administrative issues concerning the film industry. The Kenya Film Commission (KFC) and The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) are mandated to promote and market Kenya as an ideal film destination on the international stage and regulate the production and distribution of films and issue licenses respectively.
In May 2018, KFCB issued a new directive requiring anyone who wishes to film a video for public consumption must obtain a license from the body. This included videos recorded on mobile phones and published on social media and the internet. The new regulations stipulated that anyone who so wishes to publish any video must pay an annual registration fee of Sh 12,000 plus Sh 5,000 for every 40-minute video produced, a-thousand-shillings a-day for every day the video is shot and the video must be approved by the body before publishing. The commission changed their stance on the tough regulations after Kenyans expressed concerns.
Film agencies or film production companies with equipment, crews, and contacts of people that might be useful to you might come in handy when you visit Kenya to shoot a film. For you to film in Kenya, you must obtain a film license. This license can only be applied through a registered film agent hence the need to acquire the services of a film agency or a production company.
Some of the registered film agencies in Kenya are Ubuni Creative Center, Film Studios Kenya, Media Edge Interactive, One Boy productions and many more. You can access the full list of the film agencies from http: www.kfcb.co.ke
The film agencies may help in your production by offering these services at a price;
1. Extra equipment. This may include cameras, lighting equipment and video equipment and software.
2. Film crew. Production companies have contacts to experienced crews such as camera persons and production assistants.
3. Local transport. They always have tourist vans that can carry equipment and ferry casts and crew.
4. Link to Casting agencies. Incase, you need on-screen talent for your film, they can provide casting services to you or establish contacts with casting agencies.
5. Facilitation of location scouting needs.
Because you need a film license before filming, you must provide the following to the KFCB to acquire one;
1. List of all the equipment that you plan to bring in the country complete with serial numbers and estimate the value of each piece and total value(both in US dollars)
2. Document listing of all foreign crew and talent names.
3. Passport copies and passport-size photos of all foreign crew in soft copy.
4. Copy of Synopsis and Script.
5. Estimated budget to be spent.
6. Schedule for your shoot from flights to end of the shoot.
7. Company letter laying out the intent to shoot a film in the country.
For a plan to shoot in a national park, you must apply for a license for the Kenya Wildlife Film license apart from the one issued by KFCB. Sometimes you may be required to apply for a county film license depending on the location of your shoot.
After applying for a film license, the film agents will apply for short-term work permits for your foreign crew. In this case, they are referred to as ‘Special Passes’ and are issued by the Immigration Department. The pass allows you to work in the country for a short time.
For monetary payments, you can use your card or withdraw any currency from any Visa, MasterCard or American Express ATMs located in banks and shopping halls around the country.
This is a rundown of information on License Application. More at www.kfcb.co.ke
Deadline for submission of applications
Applications to produce a commercial advertisement or documentary are processed on application while applications for drama and feature films are processed in less than 48 hours.
Adverts, dramas, documentaries, short features and still photographs- Sh 5,000.
Full-length feature films- Sh 15,000
Daily filming fees- Sh 1,000
Liaison officer’s services charges
Sh 400 per day for the services provided by a Liaison officer attached to the crew.
Enjoy your filming in Kenya.