So much more than just a 'fixer'
As the world film market has developed and regional film industries have grown, film-makers have a choice of destinations across the globe - from desert to jungle - from high-rise cityscapes to pastoral beauty.
In the old days, when Tarzan movies were filmed in the RKO Forty Acres backlot and in Sherwood Forest, filming in far-flung locations was a massive logistical challenge.
Nowadays, the international air network, high-speed communications, and the availability of local resources has meant that not only can film-makers achieve authenticity and added production value, but they can even save money.
Communicating in a different language, dealing with different cultures, and negotiating local deals has always needed a local 'fixer' - a man on the ground who can guide a production through the local system.
Nowadays the role of the 'fixer' has evolved into an industry of well-established and experienced production services companies.
Whereas before, it was common for a film to bring in the entire crew, and rely only on a minimum local team to handle the logistics, nowadays producers find that they can often hire local crew, local equipment, local cast, and even local creative department heads.
The increased responsibilities of the local production service company make it more important than ever to find the right production services company.
Thailand recognised the importance of the role of production service companies, and the Thailand Film Office trains, monitors and regulates Thailand's production service companies to ensure that visiting film productions can expect a high standard of service.
But with over a hundred production service companies registered in Thailand, how do you pick a production service company for your film?
1. It is always a good idea to speak to a number of different companies. Every production is different, with its own set of requirements, its own scale and budget. 'Shopping' for the right match is always beneficial.
2. Find a company that has experience at the level that you are working. Some production service companies specialize in commercials, television, or feature films. Some companies have systems in place that enable them to deal with big-budget productions, whilst others can draw every last cent of value from a low-budget film.
3. If you are using a completion bond, it's important that your local production services company is 'bondable'. If you are working for a studio, there may be a large burden of FCPA reporting requirements. In these cases, you will need a production services company with legal and accounting experience.
4. Financial transparency is an area which the Thailand Film Office has prioritized. You should expect a full, transparent accounting system, which withstands both internal and external auditing.
5. Ensure that your production services company has relationships with a number of different local facilities and equipment suppliers, so that you can get competitive quotes.
6. Find a company that is prepared to give you the bad news as well as the good news! When you want to shut down a main road at rush hour, a production service company sometimes must advise you that this is not possible. But a company who truly understands your creative goal can suggest alternatives.
7. The right company will not just take orders, but will suggest ways to increase efficiency and value. They will understand your vision and work with you to achieve the best possible result.