WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS SAY ABOUT FILMING ON LOCATION IN TUNISIA
Tunisia is a country about the size of California with a tremendous variety of scenery from forests, Tunisia is best known for its beautiful beaches, desert dunes, otherworldly arid mountain landscapes, oasis, souks, Roman ruins, and Islamic architecture. Despite its relatively small size, Tunisia offers a great diversity of locations. As well as unique film locations, Tunisia also offers locations that double well for other Mediterranean, North African and Middle Eastern looks. Mediterranean Tunisia has agricultural locations including olive groves, wheat and barley fields. Heading inland the landscape becomes more desert and oasis.
There is a solid infrastructure due to the well-developed tourist industry and a small number of excellent crew.
The most commonly used locations are in the South. It is an area of stark, almost alien-like landscapes. It is a place of isolated Berber villages on hilltops and troglodyte homes dug into the ground to protect them against the harshness of the climate. Ancient Ksars, traditional fortified granaries, dot the landscape.To the South and West, the shifting sand dunes take over. The Grand Erg Oriental is a field of sand dunes in the Sahara Desert and is one of Tunisia’s most remarkable and breathtaking settings.
The North is beloved by Tunisians but often overlooked by visitors from abroad. Not only it does have some of Tunisia’s finest and most secluded beaches, but it’s also home to extensive forests, rugged hills that drop preciously into glinting blue Mediterranean and rolling farmland that’s magnificently lush in winter and golden in summer.
Tunis is the sprawling capital of Tunisia. It is the main production service centre where crew and equipment are based. The medina is the centre of city life with its chaotic souks and winding alleys. Other locations of note include the Al-Zaytuna Mosque, Bab El Bhar, and Bardo National Museum.
Film Location Permits
A general film permit per project is required and is applied for by a local fixer/producer. Tunisian’s like to do business in person so often our Tunisian fixer / producer will need to travel to the location to negotiate permission to film
This information can be obtained from the local fixers. Local authorities are very supportive of film projects. A general film permit is required to cover all filming on public property. This takes around 3 days to permit. For larger projects looking to shut streets or take exclusive control of public space, individual permits and longer lead time is required for permitting.
Much of Tunisia has a Mediterranean – as opposed to an African – climate, with summer temperatures in Tunis ranging from 21C to 33C, while winter conditions range from about 6C to 14C. The average annual temperature is 18C. Conditions can be warmer and drier in the central plain, while northern regions are more mountainous with milder winters. Annual rainfall is concentrated during the winter months.
There are no formal incentive programmes in place at present. Significant projects will be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, the Tunisian government will assist with army personnel (extras/workers), army equipment (helicopters etc), the use of government buildings and property as locations and reduced hotel costs. Tunisia is also willing to help out (incentives, rather than cash with hotels, transport etc) on projects that are of proven promotional interest to the country. Please contact the production service company you are interested in working with, who in turn will contact the various government departments on your behalf. The VAT of 18% is refundable on all expenses for feature films. The negative is considered an export, so there are no charges to be paid through customs.
- A VAT exemption for specific expenses;
- Up to 80% off the cost of transport and accommodation. This is covered by the Ministry of Tourism and is subject to conditions;
- Six airports providing regular flights around the world and inside the country;
- Roads and highways, in excellent condition, from North to South;
- Three, four and five star hotels are at very competitive rates;
- Close proximity to European and other African countries;
- Production costs up to 60% less than Europe;
- A variety of landscapes at no more than 500km apart.
Local currency / banking
The unit of currency is the Tunisian dinar (DT) and is the only currency that can be used locally.
Even if you manage to find somewhere exchanging Tunisian dinar at home, don’t take them up on the offer. It’s illegal to bring the currency into the country and no place that’s reputable will sell it to you.
Once you arrive in Tunisia, British pounds will readily be accepted for exchange, as will euros and US dollars. Most other currencies are exchangeable too, but not as widely. If you’re happy to carry your cash on you, a good option is to take your spending money in one of these currencies and exchange it for dinar on arrival.
If you prefer to use your credit or debit card to withdraw money once you’re in Tunisia, that’s fine too as ATMs are widely available in tourist resorts and towns. However, you may be faced with surcharges of around 4% on your card, and you should still take a small amount of cash with you to exchange in case of emergencies or problems with your card.