Film producers always fall in love with Kenya because of its rich history, diverse cultures and natural beauty. Kenya boasts some of the most stunning film locations on the African continent and is a producer’s dream for any kind of film, Reality TV Show, documentary or even just Stills Production.
Hell’s Gate National Park, just two hours drive from Nairobi, is a famous location, yet many people do not know about the acclaimed international films that were shot there.
Here are a few of the most well-known productions shot in Kenya:
- Gun Runners, nominated for an award by The National Film Board Of Canada, is a documentary that highlights the inter-community cattle feuds that have plagued the Northern part of the country.
- Nowhere In Africa, based on the autobiography of Stefanie Zweig, won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
- Sense 8, one of the most successful science-fiction series on Netflix, is shot on location in Nairobi.
- Born To Be Wild, a documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman, sheds light on the efforts at Hell’s Gate National Park to conserve wild animals
- The Rise And Fall Of Idi Amin is a biographical film about the leader of The Republic Of Uganda during his ruling years. Most of the post-production work was undertaken by a film production company in Kenya.
Sometimes , the services offered by African Fixers and production companies in one country can lend authenticity to a film being shot in another country, by providing the film crew with props. The best example is the film Inception, shot in Morocco but focusing on a tribe of Swahili-speaking refugees. To lend authenticity to the script, a Kenyan film fixer provided the producers with information featured in the local Swahili daily ‘Taifa Leo’.
As a result of the many international film producers flocking to Kenya to shoot on location, the government has created partnerships to grow the local film industry and production services. In 2019, the country hosted a Chinese Film Week followed by a India Film Week, at which the Minister Of Youth Affairs and Innovation signed co-production deals with the two countries. The goal is for the partnership to invest in Film Tourism and have five major films shot in Kenya every year. To facilitate this, the partnership has built eight hundred digital villages across the country to accommodate outdoor Filming In Africa Productions. These centers for film producers to access the services of film fixers, film crews and film equipment need to be marketed more aggressively.
In an interview with the newspaper The Standard, Jim Shamoon of Blue Sky Films based in Nairobi highlighted the need for African Film Fixers to promote the abilities of seasoned Kenyan production crews. The hit Television Reality Show Hunting, a product of the Kenya-China Film Deal, has been translated into four languages by Blue Sky Films and has 250 million viewers worldwide. Yet since 2019, when the Kenay-China and Kenya-India Film deals were signed, only eleven films shot in Kenya have been streamed on Netflix.
Jim Shamoon is also the Vice-Chairman of the Kenyan Film And Television Professionals Association and has the backing of the Oscar Nomination Committee. It is therefore imperative that the Kenyan government capitalize on the Kenya-China and Kenya-India Film Deals. In his concluding remark for the interview, Jim Shamoon appealed to film fixers to market Kenya more to film producers:
“Foreigners who do come to shoot films here for the first time are impressed by the amount of local talent available and our commitment to growing the local film industry. We need to do more to make film producers aware that Kenyan film crews have a long track-record of shooting international films with big stars, which is why the Chinese producers of ‘Hunting’ approached us to co-produce the series. “
The relationships and alliances forged between Kenyan production companies and international producers is built on a foundation of strong trust in the ability of Kenyans to handle any job on set.