Film Locations in Mali
Situated in West Africa ,the north of Mali lies in the southern Sahara desert. The south is the subtropical and savannah zone. Mali is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand. Mali is famous for the fabled Timbuktu and its medieval mosques and tombs. Film locations of interest include the Great Mosque of Djenné, colourful Mopti market, ancient Dogon Cliff village, the city of Gao, the town of Ségou, Boucle du Baoulé National Park, and the Niger River. The Bamako-Dakar railroad offers an interesting train journey through the Mali countryside. Bamako is the capital and largest city in Mali. Samsara (2011) was filmed in Djenné.
Mali Film Location Permits
Most film locations in Mali are possible given time, money and the right approach. Unauthorized photography of public locations such as government buildings or transportation infrastructure may lead to penalties including fines, imprisonment and confiscation of footage and film equipment. The local film fixers are experienced and have over time built up trust with the local shotting permit authorities.
When to film in Mali
The rainy season runs between May and November, diminishing the farther north you go. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common. November to February is a cooler period and best time to film for weather. This is followed by extremely hot, dry weather from February to June.
Festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
- Festival on the Niger in Ségou in February.
- Desert Festival in Timbuktu in February.
- Dogon Mask Festival in April.
- Plastering the Great Mosque. Sometime between April and May, the people of Djenné gather to apply fresh mud on the Great Mosque.
- Antogo Fishing Frenzy, in Koro, takes place around May.
Ramadan is widely observed with most services closed during this period.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs.
Costs & Tax Incentives for film in Mali
Local costs. Film locations, local talent and support film crew are inexpensive but since little to no filming infrastructure exists all key crew and equipment must be brought in from abroad. Local deals are negotiated by the Mali line producers and suppliers are able to provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget. Film crew and equipment can also be sourced from Ivory Coast.
The West African CFA franc (XOF) is the official currency.
Tax Incentives for filming in Mali. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or film production in Mali.
Film Crew & Talent in Mali
Film crews. Mali has a very small local pool of directors, videographers, stills photographers as well as camera assistants, focus pullers, sound operators, grips, gaffers, stylists, hair and makeup, PA / runners, production drivers ect.
Key crew should be brought in from abroad.
Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiated on a personal basis. Mali is made up of a diversity of Sub-Saharan ethnic groups as well as the Tuaregs and Maurs, two nomadic groups living in the north. All other talent needs to be brought in from abroad.
Mali Film Equipment
Film cameras, lighting and grips gear. Bring in all camera, grip and lighting equipment from abroad or your local Mali fixer will source it from Ivory Coast.
Communications. Communication is key. Mali’s agility and global experience allows them to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients who are unable to attend set Mali offers a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple time zones 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 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: Very basic.
Studios and backlots: None exist at present.
Post Production: Post abroad.
Visas & Work Permits for Mali film production
Entry is subject to regulations from country of origin.Film crews travelling on Western passports are required visas to enter Mali. Visitors are required to show proof of immunization against yellow fever. Contact your local Malian embassy or representative for more information.
Transport & Accommodation in Mali
Transportation Infrastructure. Mali has paved roads leading from Bamako to most major cities in the south and east. Road conditions range from fair to very bad with some roads becoming impassable during the rainy season. Avoid road travel by night. Local Malian film fixer organize safe and reliable 4WD transportation. Several international airlines service flights to Mali.
Film friendly hotels in Bamako:
• Radisson Blu Hotel
• LAICO l’Amitie Hotel
For longer stays serviced apartments are available.
Safety and security in Mali
Avoid travel to the northern parts of the country because of continuing insecurity and ongoing military operations. The situation in central Mali – in the Segou and Mopti Regions – is increasingly unstable due to intercommunal conflict and localized political violence, as well as an increasing number of armed attacks.