Location filming offers several advantages over filming in a studio. It may be cheaper than having to build a film set, and it brings a level of authenticity. Filming on location also increases the accuracy of the video, especially if you’re shooting a historical piece.
Filming on location also has its challenges, and shooting in another country can bring cultural and logistical headaches. If you’re planning to take your film production overseas, here are tips to make sure that your trip is fuss-free:
Research Your Destination
It’s a given that you should research the country you’ll be travelling to before you arrive. Check government websites for travel restrictions, unsafe areas, health precautions and other announcements. Read up on the country’s culture to understand some of the local customs and norms. Interacting with the locals helps you understand the context of the scenes you’ll be shooting and avoids awkward or insensitive situations.
Check for Tax Incentives
Many countries offer tax incentives to attract movie producers to use their scenery as backdrops for documentaries, films and commercials. Aside from helping reduce production costs, tax incentives provide benefits like cash grants and rebates for the crew’s accommodation, food and transportation.
Be sure to research the requirements for tax incentives in the country where you’ll be filming. Some countries require a minimum production budget or a partnership with a local producer. Other times, you may be asked to complete a cultural test to prove that your production strengthens the country’s cultural and film industry.
Hire a Fixer
A production fixer helps an overseas filming project run more smoothly. The fixer is a local individual or production company that assists in navigating the country and its culture. They know the ins and outs of filming in the region, and they make sure that all your paperwork and permits are updated and legitimate. A fixer can also facilitate other needs, such as accommodation, transport and translation.
Prepare the Paperwork
Take note of the requirements and restrictions placed on you by the local government. Besides preparing your crew’s passports, visa and insurance, other documents needed include filming permits, release forms and a risk assessment. Another important form is the carnet, which allows you to take your filming equipment in and out of countries more easily. Without it, you have to declare all your gear to customs every time you travel, which is a time-consuming process.
Your fixer will make sure that all forms are completed accurately.
Smooth out Logistics
After completing the paperwork, it’s time to move on to the logistical side of filming abroad. Book round-trip tickets as far in advance as possible to save costs.
Once you determine the shooting locations and the crew members needed, consider your accommodation needs. If you’re filming at one location, book a hotel or villa close to the area to keep your travel expenses down. Finding accommodation in developed cities is easy, but if you’ll be filming in an isolated location, ask your fixer if he or she can negotiate with nearby villagers for a place to stay. Otherwise, be prepared for the possibility of camping out.
Factor travel expenses into your production budget adequately. A good fixer should be able to hire a private vehicle and sort out your accommodation at each filming location.
Filming abroad gives you an opportunity to enhance the authenticity of your movie, commercial or documentary, but it comes with challenges. Thorough preparation helps in reducing the problems you’ll encounter before you arrive in the country and during your shoot.