Headline: Foreign films can get nod in 3 days

Speedy processing intended to encourage producers to shoot more movies here

Foreign film producers are guaranteed a three-day approval period if their films to be shot in Thailand deal with non-sensitive issues, according to Tourism and Sports Minister Suvit Yodmani.

Suvit yesterday said the ministry would order the Fine Arts Department, the Forestry Department and other related bodies to grant speedy permission in order to attract more foreign films.

The Fine Arts Department and Forestry Department control many venues popular with film-makers and should be able to approve requests themselves, Suvit said.

He said department directors could grant approval to avoid the lengthier process of consulting a minister. However, permission would only be given for non-sensitive movies. "If the film is not bothering our natural sites, culture, heritage or community, we will let them proceed," said Suvit.
The Thailand Film Office will help film-makers to obtain visas and work permits and to bring in equipment from abroad.

Foreign producers have been asking the government to reduce the tax on imported equipment and to provide more benefits.

In 2006, there were 14 foreign films shot in Thailand. One still under production is "Big Hit in Bangkok", a remake of "Bangkok Dangerous" by Hong Kong twins Oxide and Danny Pang. The movie features Hollywood star Nicolas Cage and well-known Thai actors Chakrit Yamnam and Dom Haetrakoon, with an estimated production cost of Bt220 million.

Hong Kong producers have returned to Thailand after a few years of decline because of alternative locations in China.

Two films were recently completed. One is "Secret Action", directed by Yuan Sai Sang and featuring Hong Kong superstars Cheng Yee Kim, Fu Lek and Fung Stephen Gin. Another is "Protg", starring Andy Lau and filmed partly in Chiang Rai.

Although these films were each made on small budgets of Bt3 million, there was a benefit to local companies working with the Hong Kong producers.

Indian producers are increasingly looking to Thailand to shoot music videos featuring panoramic views on beautiful beaches and islands such as Koh Poda, Maya Beach and the Phi Phi islands in Krabi province.
The estimated production cost for each Indian film is about Bt5 million.
The French government has also sponsored a Bt15-million film named "Cargo". The film was shot in cargo boats along the Chao Phya River and Koh Sichung in Chon Buri province.

Foreign film production in Thailand this year will take place in Bangkok, Krabi, Phang Nga, Phuket, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Ratchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The estimated cost of all productions amounts to more than Bt500 million.
Suchat Sritama
Source: The Nation: Fri, February 23, 2007

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