Q&A with Guy Nockels, executive producer at Namib Film in Namibia

Nockels talks about the stunning variety of locations on offer in Namibia 

By Chris Evans 15 Dec 2019

Q&A with Guy Nockels, executive producer at Namib Film in Namibia
Wesley Snipes in Gallowwalker, which filmed in Namibia

Where are the best places to shoot a film, high-end TV series or commercial and why?

 The most popular locations have been the Namibian dunes and desert, which are ideally situated for logistically practical filming, you can be surrounded by dunes one minute and have only a 30-minute drive to a top hotel, hot shower and cold beer.

But Namibia has such a wide variety of different locations, from the Fish River Canyon in the south to the flood plains of the Zambezi region in the north, which are popular for different reasons. For example, the flood plains have played home to a reality TV series, while the very popular clay pan locations of Deadvlei and Sossusvlei attract commercials, music videos and some feature films.

Private game reserves also offer amazing scenery and close-up interaction with the wildlife. 


Can the locations double for other countries?

Namibia has a wide variety of different locations that can double for Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other arid countries. Our famous location known as ‘Moonscape’ [which was formed by the valleys of the Swakop river] has been used for a period religious series and the actual moon. Our wide open spaces can be used for any number of genre films, such as a classical Western or a military film taking place in an arid region.


What international films, TV projects and commercials have you assisted recently and where did they shoot?

Recently we assisted ITV with filming of the first episode of Straight Talking with Ant Middleton, while MTV’s series The Challenge was shot entirely in Namibia and LG shot part of their commercial for the new LG OLED TV at Deadvlei and Sandwich Harbour, both iconic locations.  


Is it easy to get permission to shoot in Namibia? What is the process for applying and who to?

It is easy to get permission to film in Namibia, as long as you are working with a local company such as Namib Film. The Namibia Film Commission has changed their regulations for filming in the country and all foreign productions must work with a local facilitator. The NFC has also formalised the industry with local companies registering with the NFC. Registration ensures that foreign productions only deal with companies that have the experience and skills to facilitate them. The NFC does not want just anybody to do such work, as our credibility as a country is at stake. The NFC can also hold them accountable if complaints come up.

To get a film permit for Namibia takes 3 working days, but once this is issued all foreign crew and cast coming to work in Namibia require a work visa that your local production service company will apply for on your behalf.


 What facilities are available in Namibia (Studios, sound stages etc)?

 There are studios available in Windhoek, our capital, but unfortunately there are no such facilities elsewhere in Namibia. For large productions that shoot along the coast, like Flight of the Phoenix and 10,000BC, large warehouses were used as studios, not sound stages. 

 There is also very limited technical equipment in Namibia as we bring most of it from South Africa.


 Can you provide details of funding/incentives available for international productions that shoot in Namibia?

At this stage there are no tax incentives and very little funding, which is limited to local productions by the NFC. However, VAT on all qualified expenditure is claimable by your local facilitator if they are registered to do so.


How experienced are the local crew? Are there enough of them to handle a few major productions shooting in the country at the same time?

Namibia has a small population of just over 2 million, which means we have a small, but experienced, crew base. If there were two large productions happening in Namibia at the same time we would be stretched as far as local crew goes, but we do have South Africa to draw crew from. We recommend that any production brings their HODs in and we crew as many other positions as we can from Namibia before looking elsewhere. 


What would international producers need to bear in mind when shooting in Namibia?

They would need to find an experienced local facilitator who has handled similar productions before. So if you’re making a major movie, make sure you don’t work with a company’s that’s only handled a small documentary. The local facilitator can then inform the visiting producer of restricted areas, the process for obtaining permission to film in national parks, etc.


For more details on shooting in Namibia, read our forthcoming International Production Guide.

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