The country’s film industry is yet to rival Africa’s top destinations due to lack of incentives to woo large-budget foreign-based film and television productions.
Film officials who spoke during the launch of the third Lake International Pan-African Film Festival yesterday said the country lacked a film fund or grants for local film makers and could not provide incentives to foreign film makers.
“We currently do not offer incentives but we are considering it. It is an ongoing conversation. A country like South Africa has, however, cut a niche in attracting large-budget film makers by offering them incentives,” said Kenya Film Commission (KFC) CEO Timothy Owase.
Despite Kenya having unique landscapes and scenic destinations that once attracted foreign film makers, South Africa is currently on the list of most preferred filming destinations globally and ranks first in Africa.
Mr Owase, however, said Kenya had never had incentives to promote both local and international film makers.
“South Africa’s incentives programme has continued to profile them internationally while increasing the country’s creative and technical skills base. The Kenyan Government is also considering putting mechanisms in place to establish a film fund to promote local film makers,” he said.
South Africa offers a generous rebate of 25 per cent on qualified spend, a deal that has continued to woo producers from around the world despite efforts by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and KFC to market Kenyan destinations abroad.
KWS officials said famous destinations that were once used in the shooting of renowned Hollywood movies were receiving fewer numbers of foreign film makers.
“Destinations like Hell’s Gate, Amboseli and Nairobi national parks, among others, inspired some best-selling movies. But few foreign film makers are visiting despite us doing our best to market these beautiful destinations both locally and internationally,” said Mathenge Matimu, a KWS representative.
Lack of grants
Film makers raised concerns that challenges in the film industry remained huge due to lack of grants. They accused the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) of being an impediment to struggling film makers.
“Local film makers still struggle without grants even as we advocate for local productions. Worse, KFCB often has inconsiderate regulations that have resulted in the ban of films, including Rafiki, yet production costs remain high,” said Victor Maina.
But KFCB argued that it only regulates explicit content from being aired, adding that film makers should seek external financing.
“We encourage film makers to take loans from financial institutions to expand the industry and produce local content because there are currently no film funds in place. We encourage film makers to take this as a business instead of waiting for grants, which are currently not in place so that we do not let our stories to be told by foreigners,” said Nelly Muluka, KFCB communications manager.
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