A guide to filming in Benin

Benin provides a plethora of cultural, historical, and environmental marvels for film crews to discover while filming. In order to have a successful filming experience in Benin, careful planning and cooperation with local authorities are essential. In order to ensure compliance with local norms and requirements, start by obtaining the required permits and clearances from pertinent government bodies, such as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. To get over logistical obstacles and gain access to special filming sites, work with local fixers like us who are familiar with Benin’s landscape and customs. Respecting local customs and cultures is crucial to the whole filmmaking process, from getting permission to film in local communities to sensitively and authentically presenting cultural behaviors. Furthermore, cultivating favorable relationships with nearby communities can improve teamwork and make filming more seamless.

Once on location in Benin, prioritize safety and logistical considerations to ensure a successful shoot. Plan for varying weather conditions, especially during the wet and dry seasons, and take necessary precautions to protect equipment and crew members. Transportation logistics, including securing reliable vehicles and drivers, are crucial for accessing remote filming locations and navigating urban centers. Consider hiring local talent and crew members to support your production, fostering economic opportunities and cultural exchange. Finally, leave a positive impact by practicing responsible filmmaking ethics, including minimizing your environmental footprint and leaving locations as you found them. We, as local fixers in the country, will help you set up everything in the country and ensure that the shoot is seamless.

Film fixer In Benin.

Would you like to shoot in Benin? We at Africa Fixers are glad to provide a variety of filming services for your next documentary or feature film.  When organizing a shoot, our local film fixer also takes other crucial factors into account. Are you trying to find a Benin film fixer to help you with press passes, work permits, visas, customs clearance for your kit, travel, lodging, and permission to film? You may get the most skilled and dependable film fixers at Africa Fixers, so go there for all your filmmaking requirements.

Obtaining Filming Permission in Benin

For one to film in Benin, you must follow a series of important processes in order to get permission to film in Benin’s urban and rural areas. Find the relevant local authorities first, such as the municipal offices in charge of tourism or culture. Look into any special rules that apply to filming in cities, such as the need for permission to shoot in parks or historical sites. Closely collaborate with the local police force to guarantee efficient operations and handle any safety issues. In order to get the required approvals and handle any cultural sensitivity, interact with the local community. Verify adherence to environmental laws and secure permissions for specific equipment. Getting permission to film in Benin’s cities requires effective communication and strict respect to rules. That’s why its recommended that you contact a local fixer with the country to assist you with making all the required arrangements and provide you with field assistance as well.

Visa application in Benin

Filming in Benin requires one to have a visa which can be gotten from ones embassy or consulate. You must take the following actions to apply for a visa to Benin. Fill out the application as completely and accurately as you can, making sure to include all required information. In addition to the application form, you need to submit the following for your visa to be approved and issued out:

  • Original Passport with at least 6 months validity
  • Passport sized photograph. This has to be a recent photo.
  • Invitation letter
  • Proof of travel arrangements
  • Proof of status such as identity documents and work Identification, school identification.
  • Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.

Do note that the approval process can take some days so it is important to apply several days before your arrival date to avoid any kind of inconveniences or delays.

Importing Filming Equipment in Benin

A few precautions must be taken while importing filming equipment into Benin to ensure that customs laws are observed. You must have a detailed inventory of the specific equipment you intend to import as well as complete information about its value and specifications. Following this definition, a value that must be paid will be determined based on the equipment’s worth. Your equipment can be cleared into and out of the nation once the cost is paid.  We advise employing a local fixer to communicate with the customs bonded agent in order to set up the importation process and ensure a smooth customs clearance. It will be simpler and faster to cross customs if you have assistance from a local fixer.

Hiring Filming equipment in Benin

Hiring filming equipment locally is a good idea if you are looking to film for a short period and do not want to go through the process of customs clearance. Benin has a number of equipment rental companies that can provide the equipment you are looking for. All you have to do is send a list of the equipment you want so that we can source it out for you. Keep in my mind that you have to send in the rental request in time to avoid issues of unavailability.

Drone importation In Benin

Importing a drone for filming in Benin requires you to have permission from the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection. This procedure involves the submission of paperwork detailing the drone’s specifications, intended usage, and operator qualifications. The approval process for drone importation needs a lot of time so application has to be done at least a month before arrival. You are advised to work with a local fixer to arrange and make sure the whole process goes smoothly. When you arrive, correctly declare the drone to customs officers, and be ready for any inspections as set by the law.

Drone rules and regulations in Benin

If you are planning to fly drones in the country, you have to follow the rules and regulations which include the following.

  • Do not fly your drone over people or large crowds
  • Respect other’s privacy when flying your drone
  • Do not fly your drone over airports or in areas where aircraft are operating.
  • You must fly during daylight hours and only fly in good weather conditions
  • Do not fly your drone in sensitive areas including government or military facilities. The use of drones or camera drones in these areas is prohibited.

Filming locations in Benin

Benin, with its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers a plethora of filming locations for various types of projects. From bustling urban centers to tranquil rural settings, each location carries its own unique charm and character, providing filmmakers with a wide range of options to bring their vision to life.

Porto-Novo: As the capital city of Benin, Porto-Novo offers a mix of colonial architecture, bustling markets, and cultural landmarks. The Royal Palace, Ethnographic Museum, and the Great Mosque are among the notable sites for filming.

Cotonou: Benin’s largest city, Cotonou, is known for its vibrant atmosphere, bustling markets, and lively street scenes. The Dantokpa Market, Fidjrosse Beach, and the Cotonou Cathedral are popular filming locations.

Ouidah: Ouidah is renowned for its historical significance as a center of the Atlantic slave trade. Filmmakers can explore landmarks such as the Ouidah Museum of History, the Door of No Return, and the Sacred Forest of Kpasse.

Ganvié: Known as the “Venice of Africa,” Ganvié is a unique village built on stilts in the middle of Lake Nokoué. Its picturesque scenery, traditional wooden houses, and vibrant markets offer excellent filming opportunities.

Pendjari National Park: For filmmakers interested in wildlife and nature documentaries, Pendjari National Park is a prime filming location. The park is home to diverse wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, and various bird species.

Taneka Village: Located in the Atakora region, Taneka Village is known for its distinctive Tata Somba houses, which are traditional mud-brick dwellings with thatched roofs. The village’s unique architecture and scenic surroundings make it an attractive filming location.

Abomey: Abomey is famous for its historical significance as the capital of the former Kingdom of Dahomey. The UNESCO-listed Royal Palaces of Abomey offer a glimpse into Benin’s royal past and are ideal for historical or cultural filming projects.

Grand-Popo: Situated along Benin’s coastline, Grand-Popo offers beautiful beaches, mangrove forests, and colonial-era architecture. Filmmakers can capture scenes of fishing villages, traditional ceremonies, and scenic coastal landscapes.

W National Park: Shared between Benin, Niger, and Burkina Faso, W National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its diverse ecosystems, including savannahs, forests, and wetlands. The park’s wildlife, including elephants, hippos, and antelopes, provides ample filming opportunities.

Somba Country: The Somba people inhabit the rugged landscape of northern Benin, where they have built fortified houses known as Tata Somba. The area’s unique architecture and cultural traditions make it an intriguing filming location.

These and many more can be added onto your filming locations list when in Benin. Feel free to reach out to us for more information in regards to filming in any location in the country.

How should one conduct themselves when filming in Benin?

It’s imperative to approach the experience of filming in Benin with compassion, respect, and cultural awareness. Before you start filming, make sure you have all the required licenses and consents from the communities and local government. Keep cultural traditions, conventions, and sensitivities in mind when filming, and ask local contacts or fixers for advice if necessary. Always put the crew’s and the locals’ safety and well-being first, and make sure that everyone is working together and communicating clearly. When recording in public or private areas, remember to respect people’s privacy and get their permission. Additionally, to build goodwill with the neighborhood and leave a lasting impression of ethical filmmaking, clean up after shooting and leave the areas just as you found them.

Are there any limitations on the type of content that can be filmed in Benin?

When filming content in Benin, respecting cultural sensibilities is crucial as is staying away from depictions that can be interpreted as rude, offensive, or out of place in a particular culture. Furthermore, without special permission, recording in some sensitive locations or subjects—like military installations or places of worship—may not be permitted. Filming unlawful activity or anything that can encourage violence, discrimination, or injury to people or communities is also forbidden by the law. Acquainting oneself with local laws and practices is essential, as is consulting local authorities or specialists to guarantee observance and a dignified representation of local society and culture.

Best Time to Film In Benin.

The best time to film in Benin depends on various factors, including the type of filming you plan to do and the specific locations you want to capture. Here are some considerations for different types of filming:

  1. Wildlife Filming: For wildlife filming, the dry season (December to March) is generally considered the best time. During this period, vegetation is less dense, water sources are more concentrated, and animals are often easier to spot as they gather around waterholes. However, wildlife activity can still be observed throughout the year, so it’s essential to research the specific behaviors of the species you want to film.
  2. Landscape and Nature Filming: If you’re focusing on capturing landscapes, natural features, and vegetation, the end of the dry season and the beginning of the wet season (March to May) can be ideal. During this transitional period, the landscape is lush and green due to recent rainfall, creating visually stunning scenes.
  3. Cultural Filming: Benin’s cultural festivals and ceremonies are often tied to specific times of the year, such as religious holidays or traditional festivals. Researching the cultural calendar can help you plan your filming schedule to coincide with these events, allowing you to capture vibrant celebrations and rituals.
  4. Urban Filming: Urban filming in cities like Porto-Novo and Cotonou can be done year-round. However, it’s essential to consider factors such as weather, crowds, and local events that may impact filming conditions. Avoiding peak tourist seasons can help minimize disruptions and congestion.

Languages Spoken In Benin.

French is the official language of Benin and is widely spoken there, particularly in commerce, education, government, and the media. Nonetheless, Benin has a wide variety of languages spoken throughout the nation, including more than 50 indigenous tongues. Yoruba, Bariba, and Fon are some of the most commonly spoken indigenous languages; each has unique dialects and variants. While French is a frequent language for interethnic communication and engagement, many Beninese people use their native tongues for everyday communication within their communities and families. Additionally, because of its significance in worldwide trade and education, English is becoming more and more common, particularly in urban regions and among younger generations. In general, Benin’s linguistic environment is a reflection of its rich cultural legacy and history of diverse ethnic groups coexisting within its borders.

Accessing Benin

Since Benin is in West Africa and borders Togo, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Niger, getting there usually requires traveling by air or land. The main international entrance of Cotonou is Cadjehoun Airport, where the majority of visitors from other countries arrive by plane. With regular flights from carriers including Air France, Brussels carriers, and Ethiopian Airlines, the airport provides connectivity to key cities in Africa and Europe. There are also land border crossings from nearby nations, the most popular of which is from Nigeria. Because the criteria for visas differ based on nationality, travelers should make sure they have the required travel documents and visas before arriving.

Local Transport Services in Benin

Local transport services are available and reliable for use in Benin. The transport system is very efficient and safe. You have several options to choose from. This choice will depend on your budget, crew size, equipment, and any other preferences you may have. Africa Fixers provides these transportation services with professional and well-versed drivers in the local areas.

Hiring Local filming crew in Benin.

Local crews in Benin might be recruited for filming. Depending on the size and requirements of your project, a number of talents are available for a variety of professions, including camera operators, sound technicians, lighting technicians, production assistants, and more. Developing ties with local production companies or media specialists could be a great method to start your hunt for capable crew members who are aware of the terrain, traditions, and practicalities of filming in Benin.

Projects Filmed in Benin

Several film projects have been filmed in Benin, showcasing the country’s diverse landscapes, rich culture, and unique heritage. While not an exhaustive list, here are some notable projects filmed in Benin:

“Africa, I Will Fleece You” (1992): Directed by Jean-Marie Téno, this documentary film explores the economic and political challenges faced by African countries, including Benin, in the aftermath of colonization.

“Cobra Verde” (1987): Directed by Werner Herzog and starring Klaus Kinski, this drama film is partially set in Benin and tells the story of a Brazilian bandit who becomes involved in the slave trade in West Africa.

“Daddy and Them” (2001): Directed by Billy Bob Thornton, this comedy-drama film includes scenes filmed in Benin, among other locations, as part of the protagonist’s journey to reconcile with his estranged family.

“The Voodoo Message” (2002): This documentary film explores the practice of Voodoo in Benin and its cultural significance, providing insights into the spiritual beliefs and rituals of the Beninese people.

“The King of Masks” (1996): While not primarily filmed in Benin, this Chinese drama film includes scenes shot in the country, adding to the authenticity of the story set in a fictionalized version of Benin.

“Tal der letzten Krieger” (2004): Also known as “Valley of the Last Warriors,” this German adventure film was partially filmed in Benin, featuring the country’s landscapes as the backdrop for a tale of adventure and intrigue.

“Lost in Africa” (2010): This Dutch family film follows the journey of a young boy who becomes lost in Benin’s wilderness and must rely on the help of local villagers to find his way home.

“Boneyard” (2002): Directed by Michael Hollmann, this horror film includes scenes filmed in Benin, where a group of researchers encounters supernatural forces while exploring ancient burial grounds.

Why Use Africa Fixers for Your Shoot in Benin.

Africa Fixers is an African fixing company. We support production companies and filming companies in Benin and other countries that are listed on our website. Over the years, we have worked with many production firms on several projects, making us quite experienced in this area. We manage all fixer services required with our skilled staff of local fixers. We have all required relationships with various service providers and government authorities in Benin to ensure that accreditation and filming permissions are processed fast. For further information and other necessary specifics for a successful filming experience, get in touch with us.