Top 5 Tips For Filming Abroad

The original post is by Nia Genelis of Global Media Desk for KFTV

As anyone in this industry knows, filming can be a complex business, with obstacles and hurdles to overcome even for the shortest project. Shooting in another country can present very specific challenges as well as rewards, with plenty of research to be done ahead of time.

When done correctly however, venturing beyond your borders can be a once in-a-lifetime event. So how do you ensure a drama-free shoot in a foreign country? The experts at Global Media Desk have put together a list of tips, tricks and advice to make your shoot a complete and total success.

1. Plan ahead

When arranging crews, permits, visas, travel, hotels and other services, book as far in advance as possible. Booking ahead of time will ensure that you get the best rates and save a lot of money.

Also, don’t forget the time difference. If you’re reading this during the daytime in the United States, it is already evening in Europe. And in Asia, it’s already tomorrow. So, if you happen to be organising a shoot in either of these regions, and you’re based in Berlin, you’re already a day behind.

You can look at the KFTV country guides to find time zones of 149 countries around the world, or visit sites such as the Time Difference Calculator.

2. Things you need before you travel

Some countries require visas to be obtained in advance. This process can take anything from one week to one month to complete. KFTV has details on specific visa requirements and where to find them listed country by country. Or you can refer to VisaHQ.

Another vital point to remember before you travel is that voltage and power outlets vary around the world. You should have the right plug adapters and power converters before setting off. Most plug adapters do not convert the power.

Laptops and video cameras usually have built-in converters, but you will need to buy a separate power converter for all other devices. If your voltages don’t match you could end up blowing a fuse. You can find a list of electrical systems around the world here.

3. Go local

By working with local film crews in the country or region you are shooting in, you end up killing two birds with one stone.

First of all, you reduce or eliminate travel expenses considerably, and save on having to ship in large amounts of equipment. This can often incur customs fees, not to mention the hefty extra baggage charges at check-in.

Secondly, and most importantly, you will be working with people who know the local terrain, language, and customs. This kind of local knowledge is the single most effective way of reducing potential problems, because your locally based team will know how to avoid country-specific risks.

4. Know the local laws, customs, do’s & don’ts

Imagine your reaction if your production had to be shut down because you did not get the right permit, or decided to shoot on a major local holiday when everything was closed? What would happen if you chose to shoot on a forbidden location, or didn’t follow the specific local shooting code?

You can spend quite a lot of time researching the filming laws in your destination country, checking with the local film commissions and other government organisations.  Alternatively, hire a local fixer, scout or production assistant who knows the right people and permits, and who can take care of everything prior to your arrival, thus saving you valuable time.

5. Have fun

Don’t forget what a gift it is to travel and to have the opportunity to discover new places and people. If possible, schedule some time to get out there and explore a little.

Your local crew will probably have some great advice on places to visit in the area. Enjoy yourself; you won’t regret it

Why shooting in Thailand without incentives is still an attractive option

In our last post, we mentioned the importance of incentives and how Thailand loses a lot of potential businesses from the big international studios for the lack of it. Yet, there is no denying that the country is still attracting filmmakers from all over the world who find other factors prevalent in the country to be attractive. In this post we will highlight these factors. 

During the one day seminar of the Thailand International Film Festival 2013, many of the guests agreed that Thailand is one of the best places to shoot a movie and some including Mr. Daniel Zirilli and Mr. Andrew Pfeffer (Bangkok Dangerous, Running Scared and etc.) shared their wonderful experiences of shooting their projects here. During their stories, they repeatedly highlighted some of the factors that make Thailand an attractive place to shoot. In this post, we will detail each of the factors and share the experiences from the filmmakers to illustrate how without the incentives, Thailand is still one of the most appealing place to shoot.

Hard working and experienced crew: Daniel Zirilli recounted an incident on one of his earliest shoots in Thailand when heavy equipment was urgently required for a shoot on top of a hill and it was proving to be difficult due to some unforeseen problems. One of the crew members solved the dilemma by lifting the equipment and went all the way to the top without once complaining. This story is one of the many examples of hard working attitude of the locals who are not afraid of working hard and are always ready to brave any kind of situation. Additionally, with many upcoming film production services in the country, more and more people are gaining the valuable experiences and thus become what one of the guests said “the most attractive workforce for film production in the region.”

Locations: When the Chinese government suddenly revoked the permit to film a week prior to shooting, Weinstein Company’s ambitious project Shanghai ran into trouble. They had to walk away from an expensive set and find a new location in a short time. Fortunately for them, Thailand has the locations that can double up for the historical time China and at a lower cost. In other instances, Thailand’s beautiful (and the popular notorious side) beat out Rio to be featured in Hangover 2; and of course the beautiful paradise for Leonardo Di Caprio in TheBeach. The country is no short of having beautiful locations and has in fact been a favorite for many Bollywood filmmakers who increasingly using it to double up for places such as New York, Bahamas, to name a few.

Low cost of production: Thailand as mentioned above was used to double up for many other locations primarily not only because of its beautiful locations, but also of the low cost of production. The production services down here are not only reasonably priced but other factors including logistics and accommodation are among the best and cheapest in the region. Moreover, sets construction is admittedly by many of our clients one of the cheapest at the highest quality in the region. This all contribute to the lower cost for the filmmakers and thus saving costs to a large extent.

Excellent Infrastructure: Thailand’s infrastructure is undeniably one of the best in the region. Many filmmakers find it easy to shoot in Thailand and easy to transportation of the equipment or the crew to locations quickly. In fact we have had finished shoots that take place at 3 different locations in a single day itself!

Professional Production Services: The guests had praised highly of the professionalism of the production services in Thailand and this made us proud. We at Benetone Films had strive to be the best of the crop and we value transparency and honesty highly when servicing the clients.

Friendly atmosphere: Thailand is popularly known as the land of smiles and this is always pleasant for the filmmakers who come back to Thailand again and again to enjoy the hospitality and joy of working with the locals. Moreover, Thai people are gracious and go out of their way to make sure the visitors are comfortable. Mr. Kulthep Narula representing Benetone Films in fact shared how during the 2010 Thai political protests,  the shoot went on without any trouble a mere distance away from the protests. Moreover the protesters were handling out water or refreshments to the crew.

The above factors are one of the other many others to make the filmmakers choose Thailand despite not having incentives. In the end, we welcome you to experience the country for yourself and for any assistance, please feel free to contact us.

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