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10 Tips for Shooting in Asia
Shooting internationally can be an exciting and stressful affair, but a local English speaking crew can help you navigate through your video production. Our Directors of Photography in Asia are locals and expatriates from America, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. They know all the challenges of shooting internationally, especially in Asia. Here are some of their tips.
Ten: Don’t think of all of Asia as one people or one culture. Each country has different cultural/societal norms and each region within a country also has specific languages and customs. Make sure you sharpen up on your customs in that area.
Nine: Know the local laws and customs. Crews Control DP Hari said, “Except for major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Goa, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, nightlife is non-existent in other cities. Gujarat state is free of alcohol but foreigners can consume drinks in the confines of their room.”
Eight: Fun Fact: Bangkok has one Bagel shop, BKK Bagel Bakery, and one of our Crews Control Director of Photography is one of the founders.
Seven: China and Hong Kong have a precarious relationship. “Hiring a qualified English speaking crew for Guangdong, China usually means hiring someone from Hong Kong, China. However, although the places are adjacent on the map, plan that the crew will need to leave their regular gear at home and rent gear and the services of a Grip after they have crossed the border. The customs officials will not allow video equipment to travel between the two cities,” said Crews Control’s Vice President of Production Valerie Nolan.
Six: In most rural areas power is very unreliable. It is recommended to provide battery-operated LED lights and a 12 volt 110-240 power inverter so you can use a vehicle’s cigarette lighter port for power.
Five: Visas vary from different countries. It is always better to source local crews because work visas can be difficult and time consuming to obtain. Tourist visas are much easier to acquire.
Four: For the hotter regions, especially in Southeast Asia, it is recommended to have a bottle of water, cotton scarf or washcloth, and a hat when shooting outdoors. After you hydrate it is recommended that you wrap the scarf/towel around your neck to help you stay hydrated.
Three: Crews Control Director of Photography states “In Thailand specifically, don’t accept offers of help or advice from well-dressed strangers; invariably these are scam artists, and are preying upon the “Land of Smiles” tourist propaganda. Thai people will be very helpful but will not normally initiate the offer.”
Two: A Fixer can be very important crew members especially the further you travel away from major cities. They can help you navigate the local dialects, customs, and people. In India, for example, there are over 25 official languages that are specific to each region.
One: Meal times are very important. A Crews Control crew in Hong Kong, says, “Hong Kong Chinese talk about food and eat food! Crews like to have a cooked meal. They do not mind a cheap Chinese lunchbox, but pizza, burgers, and sandwiches simply do not cut the mustard – they want real food, meaning real noodles.”
Number six is sometimes overestimated. Even if there are no powerlines, nearly every village has power generator. But of course there is nothing wrong with looking ahead. The amazing thing about China is the amount of cities with a population over a million and skyscrapers most people have never heard of. Fortunately when there is a cities there are always airport and travelling there is no big deal. Also lots of cheap domestic flights to make this whole new world available.