Boost for local filmmakers as State scraps agency licence requirement

Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) acting Chief Executive Christopher Wambua. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The government has scrapped the requirement for film and television producers to obtain a licence from film agents.

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has published new guidelines that restrict the mandate of film agents in issuing filming licences to only foreign filmmakers.

“In a bid to create an enabling environment for the youth to harness the opportunities in the local creative economy, KFCB has resolved to redefine the role of film agents in Kenya with the view of confining the agents’ role to providing international standard services to foreign film and television producers,” said KFCB acting Chief Executive Christopher Wambua.

“The redefinition is meant to encourage compliance with Section 4 (1) of the Films and Stage Plays Act, Cap 222 and will see filmmakers obtain licences from KFCB without having to go through a film agent,” he said.

The new directive comes at a time Kenya’s entertainment industry is enjoying a change in fortunes as global and regional streaming giants invest hundreds of millions of shillings to create original content. Last month, pay-TV service provider MultiChoice Kenya launched Sanura, an original Swahili telenovela expected to run for three years.

MultiChoice has invested tens of millions of shillings in the production that is set entirely in Lamu, hiring dozens of cast and crew from the local community.

Other big names like Netflix and Walt Disney have also set up shop in the country to produce original local content for their streaming platforms that target a growing audience in Africa.

However, local film companies and start-ups have largely missed out on the revenue boon in the tight-knit sector.   

Section 4 of the Film and Stage Plays Act currently obligates filmmakers to register as local film agents or seek the services of registered agents before they can obtain filming licences.