When Filming in Malawi

WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILMING IN MALAWI, AFRICA

Malawi, landlocked country in south-eastern Africa. Endowed with spectacular highlands and extensive lakes, it occupies a narrow, curving strip of land along the East African Rift Valley. Lake Nyasa, known in Malawi as Lake Malawi, accounts for more than one-fifth of the country’s total area.

Malawi has a sub-tropical climate which is characterized by seasonal changing wet (November to April) and dry (May to October) conditions. The general climate pattern is altered by altitude, relief and lake influence. In general the temperatures range between 18°C and 27°C.

The currency unit in Malawi is the kwacha (MK) and is made of 100 tambala. The ideal foreign currencies to carry with and that are widely accepted are the US dollar, British pound and South African rand.

Malawians are a friendly, welcoming people. Most people live in rural areas giving the country a relaxed vibe. Most visits to Malawi are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect yourself from muggers and bag-snatchers. Most thefts from visitors take place around the main bus stations in Lilongwe and Blantyre. Avoid walking around quiet areas, especially after dark. Leave valuables and cash in a hotel safe, where practical. Keep copies of important documents in a separate place Report any thefts to the police as soon as possible.

Poor roads, underdeveloped freight and rail access, limited air links and poor access to ports represent Malawi’s transport infrastructure. Malawi is a landlocked country and heavily depends on the road infrastructure to support its economic activities.03 Feb 2012

Public Transportation Consists of a Variety of Modes

  • Buses.
  • Light rail.
  • Subways.
  • Commuter trains.
  • Streetcars and trolleys.
  • Cable cars.
  • Van pool services.
  • Ferries and water taxis

Several international airlines run regular services into Lilongwe and Blantyre.

Malawi is a multilingual country. Although English is the official language, the 2008 Census reports that only 26 percent of the population above the age of 14 is able to speak English. Other major languages spoken in Malawi include: Chewa, Yao, Tonga, Sena, and Elomwe.

Recommended film friendly hotels in Lilongwe include:

Sunbird Capital
Crossroads Hotel

There is currently no tax incentives and rebates available to film in Malawi.

WHAT OUR FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM LOCATIONS IN MALAWI, AFRICA

Malawi is best known for its natural beauty and African wildlife. The country runs the length of Lake Malawi along the Great Rift Valley added to its hilly landscape this region offers a diversity of film locations ranging from lush rainforests, to highlands, to plains, to dramatic river valleys.. Lake Malawi is home to more species of fish than any other lake.

Tobacco, cotton, tea, sugarcane, corn, and coffee plantations are on offer as agricultural film locations. Malawi mines uranium and coal.

Malawi has hosted productions including The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019), and Gabriel and the Mountain (2017).

Film locations can be divided into the following regions:

The Central Region includes the districts of  Dedza, Dowa, Kasungu, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Ntcheu, Ntchisi, and Salima with Lilongwe being the capital. Wildlife Reserve in this regions is known for its miombo forests and fauna such as elephants, hippopotamus, baboons, leopards, buffalo and zebras.Ntchisi Forest Reserve is one of the last remaining patches of tropical rainforest in southern Africa. The reserve is home to a diversity of birds and monkeys, and rare flora such as orchids, forest mushrooms, and wild figs.

In the north we have the districts of Chitipa, Karonga, Likoma, Mzimba, Nkhata Bay, and Rumphi. Chintheche has some of Lake Malawi’s best beaches and Likoma Island in Lake Malawi is known for St Peter’s Cathedral.This region also offer national parks which are known for its grassland, forest and wooded valleys which are home to elephants, leopards, buffalos, zebras, and a diversity of birds. The rainy season brings over 200 types of orchid to flower. Manchewe Waterfalls plunge 125m into a valley below.

Balaka, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Mwanza, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe, Zomba, and Neno are in the south.Lake Malawi National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its diversity of freshwater tropical fish and birdlife. Cape Maclear, located in the park is known for its beautiful beaches and resorts.Lake Chilwa is the country’s second largest lake. Its shallow waters are home to a variety of bird life. Other wild life reserves in this region are home to a large numbers of elephants, hippos, crocodiles, lions, cheetahs, giraffe, buffalo, black rhino, lion,antelope and hyena.

Zomba Plateau is a massif known for its cedar, pine and cypress forests, as well as lakes and waterfalls. The sweeping landscape views from the peak can be accessed by vehicle. Nearby waterfalls of note include Williams Falls and Mandala Falls.

Mulanje massif is the country’s highest peak.

Blantyre is Malawi’s financial centre. St Michael and All Angels Church is an interesting location in Blantyre.

The Thyolo Tea Estates are in the area between Mulanje and Blantyre.

WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM PERMIT ,VISAS AND WORK PERMITS WHEN FILMING IN MALAWI, AFRICA

Visas & Work Permits

Crews travelling on passports from Western countries can obtain visas on arrival (with the exception of Irish citizens who can enter visa-free).

Film & Location Permits for Malawi

Location permits authorizations take over a week. For the wildlife parks it is best to plan on a lead period of 14 days. Privately owned film location fees are negotiated by local film fixers.

WHAT OUR LOCAL FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM CREWS,EQUIPMENT AND TALENT  IN THE MALAWI, AFRICA

Malawi has a very small pool of local crew, all HOD’s should be brought in from South Africa or abroad

Its best to bring in all film equipment from abroad

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable.

English and Chewa are the official languages.

The Chewa, Lomwe, Yao, and Ngoni are the largest ethnic groups. Smaller ethnic groups include the Tumbuka, Sena, Mang’anja, Nyanja, Tonga, Ngonde, Lambya, and Sukwa people. There are also small communities of caucasians and Asians. All other talent looks are best cast abroad.