Film Permits for Tanzania

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Filming in Africa is completely different to filming in the UK…
I’m not just talking about the wildlife; I’m talking about the bureaucracy… Which in other words, means the cost !

One of the elements we didn't truly appreciate before coming to Tanzania was the sheer cost of it all.
Not only do we have to fly all of our film equipment from the UK to Africa, we also have to pay almost £10,000 in import duties to bring the equipment into the country.

But that’s not the end of it…
The logistics behind working in Africa are far more complicated than working in the UK.
In the UK you can walk with your camera where you want to, and film where you want to… Not here !
In the UK you can drive anywhere you want to… Not here !
In the UK you can pitch a tent at the end of a day and safely sleep the night… Not here !
In the UK we do not have to pay film permits (as we are an educational faculty)… Not here !


In the National Parks you are not allowed to step out of your vehicles at any point. Safety is a must in Africa and they are very strict on this subject. The wildlife is ‘Real Wildlife’ and if you get stuck between your Land Rover and an elephant, you will come of the worst. Everyone enters the parks in a vehicle. If you are fortunate enough you will have a ‘pop-up roof’ on your vehicle which will allow you to stand up with your camera and get a completely unobscured view of the wildlife. (or you will be filming though an open window)
However, we use the phrase ‘unobscured view’ quite loosely. Let me explain…

If you are a tourist, you will probably be traveling in a group of vehicles who are all looking for wildlife. Not all of these vehicles will be in your safari group, so the drivers / vehicles are always jostling to get to the front to get their clients the best view. If a vehicle from another safari group stops in the middle of your line of sight, directly between your vehicle and your subject, you may well not be able to film or photograph it. (Beware… this happens a lot)

However, this doesn’t happen when you attend a course with us, as we will have two secret weapons –
•  A ‘Professional film permit’
•  An ‘off-road filming permit’

We have to have a Professional film permit as you are not classified as Tourists. This on the other hand is to your advantage, because as professional this also allows you to have an ´off-road filming permit´ Which is an essential tool when filming in Tanzania.
As it sounds, the permit allows you to drive ‘off road’, but what exactly does this mean…
Well, once everyone else has finished jostling for the best spot to take their photographs from at the side of the road, you are permitted to simply drive off the road, around the front of all of them and stop to film ! Naturally we wouln´t actually do this, as this would just annoy everyone, but…
It also means that when all the tourists in their safari vehicles have to stop at the side of the road and take their photos; you are allowed to drive off the road and follow the wildlife into the bush getting a completely unencumbered time with your subject. No tourist in the background talking away and ruining your audio recording, no cacophony of clicks as a 100 stills cameras take a photo, just you, your subject and the silence of the bush.

All of this comes at a cost though – Shockingly 50% of your film course fees are spent on Film Permits !

There are several types of film permit:
1:   A general permit that allows you to film in Tanzania, which is payable directly to the Tanzanian Film Office. (Both Professionals and Tourist need to have this to film in Tanzania)

2:   Then there are independent film permits set by TANAPA that allow you to film inside their National Parks. Each park has its own individual permit requirement. (Both Professionals and Tourist need to have this to film or take photographs in the national parks)
For example : The permit to film in the Serengeti is $500 a day, per person; making $3000 Dollars of your course fees for this film permit !

3:   Then there is the ‘off-road’ permit that allows you to leave the road in your 4x4 and follow the wildlife into the bush.
Tourists attending a normal safari are not allowed to have this permit
, and therefore are not allowed to leave the road, which as you can imagine can be very restrictive.
(Only professional camera crews are allowed these permits) We will have this permit.

So we would like you to consider all of this information when evaluating our course fees and booking your course with us. Not mentioning the additional logistics costs of a 12 day safari; and a wildlife film course where you will be using over £100,000 of 4k film equipment.


To summarise:
When booking a tourist safari you are not allowed to leave the road, and everyone normally ends up in a long convoy driving around looking for wildlife within 50 meters of the road.

With us you get to drive off the road and into the bush (as far as we like)
This is the difference between a ‘tourist’ film permit and a ‘professional off-road film permit' which if you want to film wildlife correctly in a National Park, is a must.