A Guide to Filming in Guinea-Bissau

Our trusted film fixer in Bissau compiled this guide to filming and production in Guinea Bissau and has all information about processing filming permits, best filmin locations, hiring and operating drones, how to hire production fixers and producers plus all production incentives and logistics.

Guinea-Bissau, located on the West African coast, offers filmmakers a rich tapestry of cultural diversity and natural beauty. With its lush mangrove forests, pristine beaches, and vibrant markets, Guinea-Bissau provides a visually stunning backdrop for a wide range of cinematic projects. From exploring the traditional rhythms of its music and dance to delving into its colonial history and political struggles, Guinea-Bissau offers a wealth of storytelling opportunities.

But filming in Guinea-Bissau has its own set of difficulties, such as poor infrastructure and sporadic political unrest. In addition to collaborating closely with knowledgeable local fixers like us who are aware of the subtle cultural differences and logistical challenges involved in filming in the area, obtaining permits and clearances from local authorities is crucial. Despite these difficulties, filmmakers seeking to portray the spirit of West Africa on screen find Guinea-Bissau to be an alluring destination because of the friendly and welcoming nature of the Guinean people as well as the pristine landscapes and rich cultural legacy of the nation. To find out how we can assist you with bringing your production to Angola, get in touch with us right now.

Do I Need Filming Permission To Filming In Guinea-Bissau

Yes, in order to film in Guinea-Bissau, you definitely need a filming permit. Whether a filming is being done for commercial or non-commercial objectives, the type of filming, the location, and the regulations around filming licences can all change. It is imperative that your fixer get in touch with the relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Communication, Tourism, or Culture in Guinea-Bissau, to find out what licences and authorizations are needed for your filmmaking project.

Give specifics about where you want to shoot, how long it will take, and why you want the footage. While setting in your application, you will be required to share through some documents and paper which is listed here for you.

  • Topic and title of the shoot
  • Filming dates
  • The location you are interested in filming
  • List of equipment
  • Bio data information and passports
  • Any other pertinent information or contacts or host organization in Guinea-Bissau Emergency contacts

Visa Requirements Of Guinea-Bissau

To visit Guinea-Bissau, most travelers require a visa. You can apply for a visa through the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate in your country. Check the official website of the embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements, application procedures, and necessary documentation. Typically, you’ll need to submit a completed visa application form, a valid passport with at least six months’ validity beyond your intended stay, passport-sized photos, proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay, and a return or onward travel ticket. Additionally, you may need to provide an invitation letter, travel itinerary, or hotel reservations.

It’s crucial to apply for your visa well in advance of your planned travel dates to allow for processing time. Guinea-Bissau also offers visa-on-arrival services for some nationalities, but it’s advisable to confirm eligibility and requirements beforehand. Remember to check for any updates or changes to visa regulations before your trip to ensure a smooth entry into Guinea-Bissau. Requirements for this include

Completed visa application form

Copy if passport valid for at least six months

two passport-sized photos.

Sometimes with these visa process it takes time so we advise that you give yourself and the crew ample time to start the process, at least one month is well in advised to avoid any last-minute panic and cause potential delays.

Filming Permits and Location Permissions

To obtain filming permits and location permissions in Guinea-Bissau, you should start by contacting a fixer well in advance of your planned filming dates and discuss the shoot and its requirements. He will Reach out to the Guinea-Bissau Ministry of Communication, Tourism, or Culture for guidance on the necessary permits and permissions and advise you accordingly on your filming project. You will need to provide detailed information about your project, including the intended locations, duration of filming, and the purpose of the footage. The entire process usually takes a couple of weeks to put in place and money since the system is not straightforward and involves several offices to get approvals and verification. Contact us for more information.

Equipment Importation In Guinea-Bissau

Make sure you have all the required paperwork for bringing temporary filming equipment into Guinea-Bissau, such as a thorough inventory list. Arrange for temporary importation by working with local fixers filling out customs declaration forms when you arrive, and bringing in supporting paperwork for examination. Be ready to respond to inquiries regarding the reason for and length of the equipment’s presence. Make preparations for temporary exports and ensure that you follow all rules and procedures related to customs when you leave the nation. Make sure you set up dependable logistics for transportation within Guinea-Bissau and take into account any requirements for non-refundable bonds or security deposits. Maintaining regular communication with local contacts and customs authorities will help guarantee a seamless filming experience.

Hiring Equipment In Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau may have some filming equipment available, particularly in larger cities like Bissau, where there may be rental companies or production houses offering equipment for hire. However, the availability and quality of filming equipment in Guinea-Bissau may vary compared to more established filmmaking destinations. It’s advisable to plan ahead and bring essential equipment with you if possible, especially specialized or high-end gear that may not be readily available for rent locally. Additionally, if you require specific equipment that is not available in Guinea-Bissau, you may need to arrange for it to be brought in from neighboring countries or from international suppliers, which could involve additional logistical considerations and costs.

Hiring Production Support For Shoots

There are extremely few native film crews, directors of photography, and still photographers in Guinea-Bissau. While certain basic support staff can be found locally, more complicated professions require the importation of important personnel from elsewhere. The closest large production center is in West Africa. For your Guinea-Bissau film shoot, get in touch with us whether you need a director, DoP/cinematographer, videographer/camera operator, stills photographer, or any other type of film crew. Buyouts and talent day rates are fair and individually negotiated.

Drone Importation In Guinea-Bissau.

Importing and using drones to film in Guinea-Bissau is allowed as long as you have the required permit.  The drone filming permit is issued out by the Civil Aviation Authority which has to be applied for in advance to the start of the shoot. In order to apply for the permit, you have to write a letter requesting drone importation. In addition to that, information of the drone type, specs and the purpose of filming will be required. This process is very lengthy and tiresome as the application goes through several offices of authority to be granted permission. You need the help of a local fixer to be able to get this done smoothly. Please note that this process can take two weeks and more to be finalised so application has to be done early.

Rules And Regulations Of Drone Filming In Guinea-Bissau.

There are several drone laws and regulations that need to be followed when flying in the country, this laws are intended to regulate and supervise the work of drone operators to ensure that they remain on track and don’t break any laws. Drone Operators should ensure that they follow the drone laws when flying in Guinea-Bissau to avoid any complications with the authorities.

  • Drones must be registered with Aviation Authority before they can be legally.
  • Do not fly your drone over people or large crowds
  • Respect others privacy when flying your drone
  • Drones are generally not allowed to fly above a certain altitude.
  • Drones are not allowed to fly over airports or in areas where aircraft are operating
  • Drone flights have to be operated during daylight hours and only fly in good weather conditions
  • Drones are prohibited in sensitive areas including government or military facilities, military installations, and other sensitive areas is typically prohibited

Access And Affordability

Book flights to Bissau, the nation’s capital. Osvaldo Vieira International Airport (OXB) in Bissau is the destination of most international flights to Guinea-Bissau. Depending on where you are leaving from, you can look for flights from major airports across the world that frequently have layovers in neighbouring African towns like Dakar, Lisbon, or Casablanca. Guinea-Bissau is a small nation in West Africa with a coastline along the Atlantic Ocean to the west and borders Senegal to the north and Guinea to the east and south. Prior to making travel plans, it is imperative to confirm visa requirements and travel advisories, as they are subject to change. Furthermore, confirm that you possess the required immunisations.

The road conditions in Guinea-Bissau can vary significantly depending on the location and the time of year. In major cities like Bissau, you’ll find paved roads, although they may have potholes and uneven surfaces in some areas. However, once you venture outside of urban centers, road conditions often deteriorate. Many rural roads are unpaved and can become impassable, especially during the rainy season when flooding and mudslides are common.

 It is usually advisable to travel with a local fixer who has the technical know-how and will help you deal with the political and social bonds in the country. Using a 4×4 or a vehicle with adequate clearance is always advised.

Filming Locations In Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau offers a variety of captivating filming locations that showcase the country’s diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. Here are some notable filming locations in Guinea-Bissau:

Bissau: The capital city of Guinea-Bissau, Bissau, offers a mix of urban scenes, colonial architecture, bustling markets, and lively street life. Filmmakers can capture the energy and vibrancy of the city while exploring its historical landmarks, such as the Presidential Palace and Bissau Velho (Old Town).

Bijagós Archipelago: This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve comprises numerous islands with pristine beaches, mangrove forests, and traditional villages. The Bijagós Archipelago offers filmmakers stunning coastal landscapes, rich cultural traditions, and opportunities to observe wildlife, including sea turtles and marine birds.

Cantanhez Forests: Located in the southeastern part of the country, the Cantanhez Forests National Park is known for its dense forests, savannahs, and diverse wildlife. Filmmakers can explore this area to capture lush greenery, exotic wildlife, and the unique cultural heritage of local communities.

Orango Islands: Situated within the Bijagós Archipelago, the Orango Islands offer picturesque landscapes of mangrove swamps, sandy beaches, and tranquil lagoons. Filmmakers can document the natural beauty of this area, as well as its cultural significance, including traditional ceremonies and rituals.

Cacheu Historic Center: This historic town in northern Guinea-Bissau features ruins of Portuguese colonial buildings, including a fortress and former slave trade posts. Filmmakers can capture the architectural remnants of the colonial era and explore the town’s rich history.

Historical Sites:

With a long history and a rich cultural legacy, Guinea-Bissau is home to a number of significant historical sites that provide fascinating glimpses into the past of the nation. The Bijagós Archipelago, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve made up of several islands with long-standing customs and old archaeological monuments that date back thousands of years, is one such location. The Presidential Palace and Bissau Velho (Old Town), two examples of the colonial-era architecture in the nation’s capital city of Bissau, offer insights into the country’s Portuguese colonial past. Constructed in the 18th century, Bissau’s Fortaleza d’Amura stands as a reminder of the area’s strategic significance during the colonial era. In addition, the Cacheu Historic Centre provides a moving perspective on Guinea-Bissau’s complicated past with its remnants of Portuguese colonial structures and historic slave traffic sites. These historical sites provide filmmakers with a wealth of visual and narrative opportunities to explore the country’s past and present.

How Should One Conduct Themselves When Filming In Guinea-Bissau

It’s critical to act with decency, professionalism, and cultural awareness when filming in Guinea Bissau. This means being mindful of local customs and traditions, getting all required permits and permissions, and interacting with local communities in a respectful manner. Maintaining good relationships and facilitating seamless operations can be achieved by closely collaborating with local fixers or guides who are aware of the subtle cultural differences and practical difficulties. Filming in Guinea Bissau can be profitable and mutually beneficial if safety, environmental responsibility, and open communication are prioritized and one is flexible enough to deal with unforeseen events.

Are There Any Limitations On The Type Of Content That Can Be Filmed In Guinea-Bissau?

In Guinea-Bissau, there are no explicit limitations on the type of content that can be filmed. However, like in many countries, certain sensitive subjects or activities may require special permission or could be restricted. For example, filming in government buildings, military installations, or sensitive areas may require authorization from the relevant authorities.

Additionally, it’s essential to respect local customs, traditions, and cultural sensitivities when filming in Guinea-Bissau. Portraying individuals or communities in a respectful and dignified manner is important, and obtaining consent before filming people or private property is generally expected.

While there are no specific censorship laws related to content production in Guinea-Bissau, it’s advisable for filmmakers to exercise discretion and sensitivity, particularly when addressing topics related to politics, religion, or social issues. Working closely with local partners, such as fixers, can help navigate any potential challenges and ensure that the filming process proceeds smoothly and respectfully.

Best Time To Film In Guinea-Bissau

The best time to film in Guinea-Bissau is during the dry season, which typically lasts from November to May. During this period, the weather is generally more predictable, with clear skies and lower chances of rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor filming. The months of December to February are particularly pleasant, with cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels. Additionally, the dry season coincides with the peak of the tourist season, offering opportunities to capture vibrant cultural festivals and events that showcase the country’s rich heritage. However, it’s important to note that filming during the dry season also means higher temperatures, so adequate hydration and sun protection for the crew is essential.

Language Spoken In Guinea-Bissau

Because of its colonial past, Portuguese is the official language of Guinea-Bissau. But official contexts, government, and administration are where Portuguese is most commonly employed. The nation’s broad ethnic makeup is reflected in the variety of African languages spoken there in daily contact. Indigenous languages such as Mandinka, Fula, Balanta, and Crioulo, a creole language based on Portuguese, are among the most commonly spoken languages. Among many ethnic groups, Crioulo in particular is used as a lingua franca and is frequently used in cities and marketplaces. While filming in Guinea-Bissau, it might be helpful to recognise and appreciate the country’s linguistic diversity as it can promote deeper ties and improve communication with the local people. We have translators that can be hired to assist with the language while on shoot.

Safety Precautions When Filming In Guinea-Bissau.

When filming in Guinea-Bissau, it’s essential to prioritize safety precautions to ensure the well-being of the crew and equipment. Due to occasional political instability and crime, particularly in urban areas, it’s advisable to maintain situational awareness and stay informed about the local security situation. Engaging experienced local fixers and having security personnel can provide valuable insights and assistance in navigating potential risks. Additionally, respecting local customs and building positive relationships with the community can contribute to a safer and more successful filming experience in Guinea-Bissau.

Why Use Africa Fixers For Your Shoot In Guinea-Bissau

Africa Fixers is an African fixing company. We support production companies and filming companies in Guinea-Bissau 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 Guinea-Bissau 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.