Over thirty years we have had several thousand separate crews from forty countries, resulting in one thousand three hundred and fifty finished films or series - and rising by the day.
Founded by Jean Hartley and the legendary Alan Root, the directors include ornithologist extraordinaire Leon Bennun, photographer, anthropologist and film maker Mia Collis and wildlife manager and guide Sajid Darr.
Operating in Kenya, with associated colleagues in neighbouring countries, we facilitate for natural history and documentary film crews from all over the world.
Our service includes the 'normal' fixer things - obtaining all permits, licences and permissions, as well as arranging temporary importation of equipment, transport, hotel/lodge or private camp accommodation, internal flights and air charters, aerial filming, etc. We go the extra mile - logistical challenges are our speciality - nothing is impossible and we never take 'no' for an answer.
"We are apparently credited with having invented 'fixing' as a profession, though whether that can be verified we are not sure." Jean Hartley
ViewFinders Founder Jean Hartley
Jean Hartley was the founder of ViewFinders, based in Nairobi, Kenya, and was acknowledged as being the first to legitimise "fixing" for wildlife film crews. Over the last 30 years, she worked on nearly one thousand three hundred films, the vast majority being about wildlife and nature.
Jean had always been an avid bird and wildlife enthusiast, and in 1986 organised the first international fundraising bird-watching marathon in Kenya, co-ordinating seven teams from different countries and two BBC crews to produce The Great Safari Bird Rally. During this event Jean met producer Adrian Warren, who was keen to secure her as a fixer for his next project, The Great Rift. So, for the next two years Jean dived into organising everything in-country for the film crews working on this three-part documentary, including licenses, permits, accommodation, travel, equipment and insurance etc.
Jean enjoyed the job in hand and saw the potential for developing this as a full time business. She attended the Wildscreen Film Festival in 1988 where she secured her first two clients under her newly founded company Viewfinders Ltd. Both of these projects turned out to be award-winners and from then on Viewfinders has been in high demand as a unique service provider in East Africa. Viewfinders have continued to work with the BBC NHU along with many other broadcasters and independents from all over the world.
Jean was an author of three guides to Kenya and wrote an insightful book called Africa’s Big Five and other wildlife film makers, which features five great film makers who all started their careers in Kenya during the 1950s, legends whom she was proud to call personal friends. Watching all their films, and many more, she became fascinated by the history of film making in Kenya and determined to find out when it all started. She traces the roots of wildlife film back a hundred years, drawing on accounts of the original film makers and the professional hunters who guided those early safaris. She tracks the changes from those grainy, speeded up, silent films through to the technologically perfect High Definition and 3D films that are being made today. Read the book’s introduction here: www.wildlife-film.com/features/Africas-Big-Five-And-Other-Wildlife-Film-Makers.html
Two years ago Jean retired and handed over to Sajid who came in as director. Coming from a back ground of camp and wildlife management, He has been following in Jeans' footsteps keeping Viewfinders at the forefront of fixing wildlife film crews in Kenya. His vision is to see Jeans' legacy grow and to stay true to the ethos of making sure every film crew hosted by Viewfinders keep coming back to show the world the marvels of wildlife and Kenya.
Films produced under the watchful eye of Sajid are invaluable as they inspire hoards of visitors to Kenya, supporting the country’s tourism industry. They come keen to experience the natural history and wildlife of Kenya first-hand after being wowed by the stories and images seen on their televisions or on cinema screens.
ViewFinders Managing Director Sajid Darr
If you’re thinking of making a film in Kenya/East Africa, make sure you get in touch with Sajid early on so as to facilitate your production being as smooth and efficient as possible!