When Filming in Tanzania

Hoodlum Film Fixers - When filming in Tanzania

Situated in East Africa and bordered by Kenya, Uganda, DRC and Mozambique

Tanzania is a great place to film as it has a everything from famous wildlife parks to unique cultures, from snow-capped mountains to pristine white sand beaches & is known for its coffee, tea, cotton, and spice plantations. Tanzania has facilitated a number of great feature films such as Harari, Independence Day, Baraka, The Bucket List & Congo as well as a long list of wildlife documentaries.

Film locations:

Northern Tanzania

Situated in East Africa and bordered by Kenya, Uganda, DRC and Mozambique

Tanzania is a great place to film as it has a everything from famous wildlife parks to unique cultures, from snow-capped mountains to pristine white sand beaches & is known for its coffee, tea, cotton, and spice plantations. Tanzania has facilitated a number of great feature films such as Harari, Independence Day, Baraka, The Bucket List & Congo as well as a long list of wildlife documentaries.

North-Eastern Tanzania

Dar es Salaam, a commercial commercial port located on the Indian Ocean is Tanzania’s largest city and main production service centre where crew and equipment are based. The city is known for its beaches, islands, seafood, and music. Film locations of note include Kivukoni Fish Market, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and Coco Beach. Mbudya Island, Bongoyo Island, Fungu Yasini Island are paradise island locations near Dar es Salaam. The semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar consists of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. Zanzibar is known for beautiful palm-fringed white sand beaches and underwater photography locations. Stone Town is located in the heart of Zanzibar and features old Arabian townhouses, winding colonial alleyways and a busy port. Pemba Island is home to The Manta Resort, a floating underwater hotel. The desert islands near Pemba Island offer some of the best underwater photography options in the Indian Ocean. The TAZARA Railway is a 1,860km (1,160mi) long railway linking Dar es Salaam to the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. The journey runs through some of Tanzania’s most spectacular landscapes.

Central Tanzania

Dodoma is the capital of Tanzania. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa. Rubondo Island National Park and Saanane Island National Park are located in this region.

Western Tanzania

Gombe Stream National Park is famous for its chimpanzees and the work done by Jane Goodall.Mahale Mountains National Park also on Lake Tanganyika has the largest known chimpanzee population. Katavi National Park is a flood plain known for its hippos, crocodiles, lions, zebras, giraffes, and hundreds of bird species.

Southern Highlands

Ruaha National Park is home to the Great Ruaha River, spectacular gorges, majestic trees, and hundreds of species of bird. Udzungwa Mountains National Park has tropical rainforest, mountain forest, miombo woodland, grassland and steppe.

South-Eastern Tanzania

Selous Game Reserve is the largest game reserve in Africa. Wildlife of note includes elephants, hippos and rhinos as well as buffalo, antelope, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, lion, leopard, cheetah, and hundreds of bird species. Mafia Island Marine Park is known for its coral reef underwater photography, green turtle breeding sites, deep-sea fishing, and diverse birdlife. October to March are the best months for diving photography.

Tanzania Film Location Permits

Obtaining permission to film in Tanzania can be an expensive and time consuming process, so make sure to allow plenty of lead time. The first step is to complete all necessary applications with the help of your Tanzanian production service producer / fixer. Submit your application to your local Tanzanian consulate so that they can complete the application. Once that is done you send the original document back to your Tanzanian service producer / fixer for finalizing with local Tanzanian authorities. This film license costs US$1,000 if you apply 3 months in advance or US$3,000 if you need the application rushed. Additional licenses to shoot in wildlife parks are even more time-consuming so plan your film locations way ahead of your planned film production dates.

Photography of unauthorized public locations is illegal. Penalties may include fines, arrest and confiscation of film equipment.

When To film in Tanzania?

Tanzania has a tropical climate. Coastal areas are hot and humid. Inland areas are warm and dry. Tanzania is suitable for filming all year round although filming is best avoided during the the long rains of March to May. The best time to film the Serengeti Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and eland is as follows. The dry season from June to October is peak season for general migration photography and good weather. Wildebeest usually cross the Grumeti River in June / July, and the Mara River in September. Wildlife concentrate around dwindling water sources towards the end of the dry season making September / October a good time to film prey. From November to May the landscape is lush. This is also the best time to photograph migratory birds. Wildebeest calve from January to February. March to May is the wet season.

Mount Kilimanjaro is best climbed either from June to October, or January to March. The latter is generally colder and there is a higher probability of encountering snow on the summit.

The best time to visit Tanzania’s coast, its islands and Zanzibar is between August and October.

Tanzanian festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

  • Wanyambo Festival in January.
  • Busara Music Festival In February
  • Kiliman Adventure Challenge in February.
  • Mzalendo Halisi Music Festival in May.
  • Mwaka Kogwa Festival in July / August.

Ramadan is widely observed in Muslim areas such as Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, with many services closed during this period.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability, and costs. You local Tanzanian fixer will be able to assist you with these dates.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. The greatest cost is the need to bring in all your film equipment and key film crew but that is offset by the low local costs. The Tanzanian fixers 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 film production in Tanzania.

Film Crew & Talent

Film crews. There are very few locally based directors, videographers or stills photographers in Tanzania. Key film crew must be brought in from abroad. Local supporting crews are able to assist with basic projects. The closest region to source experienced film crews is in Kenya.

Local film fixers have suppliers databases for directors, DP’s, photographers, videographers (cameramen / camera operators), camera assistants (focus pullers), sound operators, grips, gaffers, stylists, hair and makeup, PA / runners, production drivers for your film production in Tanzania.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Tanzania’s African population consists of 120 ethnic groups including tribes of hunter gatherers such as the famous Masai warriors. There is also a small population of East Indian, Arab and Caucasian looks. Zanzibar is predominately Muslim.

Film Equipment  in Tanzania

Film equipment. Basic cameras, grips and lighting equipment can be brought in from nearby Kenya or brought in from abroad. Customs fees for bringing in film kits are around US$1,500.

For clients that are unable to attend the film  set we offer 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 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. Should local supply not be adequate, art department and crew can easily be sourced from neighbouring Kenya

Film studios and backlots. None exist at present.

Post Production. Tanzania has no post facilities. The services can be sourced from Kenya or abroad.

Visas & Work Permits when filming in Tanzania

Most passport holders require a visa to enter Tanzania. Applications can be made at your closest embassy or visas can also be obtained on arrival at the port of entry. Proof of yellow fever vaccination may be asked for if arriving from affected countries. See here for more information on visas to Tanzania.

Tanzania has an agreement with Kenya and Uganda to waiver visa re-entry fees if travelling between the three countries.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change regularly. Contact your local Tanzanian embassy or representative for the latest information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Major roads are paved but once you leave cities roads are slower going. Avoid road travel by night. Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro are the main ports of entry by air. Several international airlines service flights to Tanzania.

Accommodation: Recommended film friendly hotels in Dar es Salaam include:

  • Slipway
  • Coral Beach Hotel
  • The Oyster Bay Hotel
  • Serena Hotel
  • Hyatt Regency
  • CBD Hotel For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.


Safety and security in Tanzania

The country is safe and the Tanzanians are all very welcoming. Filmmakers always receive a very warm Tanzanian welcome.

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Hoodlum Films is a production service facility with its main focus on providing fixing and location scouting services.