June 22, 2019

Namibia: Land of Endless Possibilities

The indescribable desert landscapes of Namibia have made it a top filmmaking destination. Natasha Skoryk caught up with Guy Nockels, CEO of Imwe Holdings, to find out some of the other reasons to base your next project in this beautiful part of the world.

Guy is one of the key figures in the Namibian film industry. After a long career working in sound and as 1st Assistant Director across Europe and Africa, Guy founded his own company in Namibia. Guy’s contacts within the Namibian government and local authorities, as well as his extensive knowledge of filmmaking, ensure he is a major asset to the local industry and to visiting producers alike.

What are some of the top reasons to choose Namibia as a film service destination?

Namibia is a film friendly country and easy to work in if you know the correct procedure to follow and use a Namibian production service company with a track record. The locations are the biggest draw cards for international producers and the close proximity to South Africa (for additional crew and equipment) makes it fairly easy to work in.

What kinds of landscapes can producers and directors expect?

The dunes of Namibia are a favourite for many directors and the easy access to the dunes and logistics, make it a big plus for any producer. For example, you can be on set with 360° of sand dunes and then be back in your hotel with a cold beer in hand within thirty minutes of leaving set. But don’t forget the various different desert landscapes, river canyons, bush veld are also a great attraction. Documentary filmmakers in particular love our wildlife. Many of our game reserves offer luxury accommodation where one can relax after a hard day out in the bush.

Is gear readily available? Must internationals bring their own, or is hiring possible?

The lack of the latest and up to date equipment does make it a bit more difficult to shoot in Namibia and most of the big productions bring their own equipment, especially if they have been shooting elsewhere; for instance in 2017 Transformers shot in the UK before coming to Namibia and brought all of their equipment with them. The MTV show the The Challenge also brought a large amount of their own equipment as they own it and have been using it on previous shows.

What about crews? Are experienced professionals easy to find in Namibia?

Namibia has a limited number of experienced crew, due to the small population and the fact that many productions still prefer to bring their crew with them. Slowly but surely the local crew are getting more and more experience working on the foreign productions and hopefully one day Namibia will be able to supply all the necessary crew for international productions. At the moment, we recommend that a production brings their HoDs in and maybe the first assistants but as you go down there are plenty of willing assistants who want to learn and improve their skills.

Tell us a little bit more about the tax rebates and incentives…

At the moment there are no tax incentives available in Namibia but the Namibia Film Commission is working hard on this issue with the government. Hopefully we will be able to offer incentives in the not too distant future. Foreign productions working through a legitimate Namibian company can get their 15% VAT back on qualified expenditure.

READ MORE: South African Film Rebates and Incentives

What recent projects have you worked on?

Our last production was Season 33 of the MTV reality show The Challenge. They arrived in September 2018 and wrapped in mid-December, just before our December holidays. This was a big production with over 50 foreign crew and 130 local crew involved. The locals gain valuable experience on this kind of large-scale production!

What’s next on the agenda for Imwe?

Who knows! The production service business is very uncertain in Namibia, it is either feast or famine. There are many mitigating factors against Namibia, such as competition from places like Morocco, the Middle East… It is very difficult to predict what will come next, as we all know the industry is very fickle, so hopefully the work the Film Commission is doing will keep Namibia on the map.

Do you feel positive about the future of Namibia as a film service destination? Why or why not?

The Namibia Film Commission is being proactive as far as the international service entities go and hopefully they will keep going to help grow the production service industry, which in turn will grow the local industry. So yes, we are positive!

And finally, what services exactly do you offer?

Namib Film is the oldest production service company in Namibia providing full production services from location scouting, permits, visas, crewing, transportation, accommodation, unit support equipment, catering, etc. in fact everything that a visiting producer needs except post production! So why would any producer not come directly to a production service company in Namibia?  It will work out cheaper in the long run!

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