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10 Tips For Shooting Video In Amsterdam

Posted by Kim Moseman on October 3, 2019

Amsterdam is the official capital city of The Netherlands. Almost 20 million people visit this city each year, which is no surprise considering the flourishing art scene, historic buildings and entertainment around every corner. Known for its elaborate canal system, iconic narrow houses and artistic heritage, this city has much to offer any traveling producer. But what do you need to know before shooting corporate video in this Dutch city?  We talked to DP Willy Schmidt about the top 10 tips you need to know before your next corporate video production in Amsterdam.

1.Permits: Shooting permits are not necessary on the streets. Only airports and museums require permission to film inside. “Quitclaims are not widely used by local camera crews,” Schmidt said.  “American video crews are using them mostly as a precaution.” For more information on obtaining the proper permits for your shoots in Amsterdam, click here.

2. Weather: The climate in Amsterdam is sub-oceanic, humid and rainy. But don’t let that deter you from this city! Because rain and snow are relatively abundant, it’s wise to always keep your umbrella with you and plan for rain dates or indoor shoot locations. Winters are cold, but not too extreme. Summers are considered mild. The best time to visit Amsterdam is during the driest months of the year-June through August-but this is when the city is usually flooded with tourists.

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3. Transportation: “Amsterdam is a wonderful and photogenic city to shoot and there are plenty of beautiful canals,” Schmidt said.  But with a 17th century center infrastructure, it is not built for cars. If you want to work quickly in multiple locations, it is better to have a local driver who will pick you up at every location. (See our next tip to learn more about the parking situation.) Biking is very popular in Amsterdam, but not ideal for video production teams with heavy equipment. There are also public buses and trams that reach every corner of the city and a small metro system that runs from north to south. “If you can find a boat to rent, it is very nice to take a tour and get some nice shots from the canals,” Schmidt said.

4. Parking: Parking is a big problem in Amsterdam. With many one-way streets, finding your way through the city is not a simple task. There are only three main parking garages on the outskirts of the city, and parking on the street in Amsterdam tends to be very expensive.

5. Language: The official language of The Netherlands is Dutch. But this doesn’t mean you need to be fluent in order to navigate Amsterdam. Most residents speak English more or less fluently. It should be no problem communicating with the locals during your visit, but if you wish to brush up on your Dutch before your visit, click here.

6. Museums: Amsterdam is a cultural hub for several famous museums; the most popular include the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank Museum. Often located within a historical building or ultramodern structure, shooting video of the outside of these famous museums is ideal for establishing shots.  Just remember, a permit is usually required to shoot inside.

7. Equipment: “All professional equipment can be rented around Amsterdam, as it is the center of video production in the Netherlands,” Schmidt said. There are a few rental houses located in the city with new and top-notch gear. If you’re hoping to expand your video production services to include equipment like a drone, be sure to check with The Film Commission and local laws first. There are some locations in Amsterdam where you are not permitted to operate a drone.

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8. Dam Square: As the town square, this is a very popular spot in the city and just a five minute walk from Centraal Station. Dam Square has several notable and iconic buildings, as well as frequent events that occur year-round. We recommend capturing some b-roll of the locals and tourists in this busy area. And if your schedule allows it, go and enjoy the many historic sites, shops and restaurants for yourself!

9. Culture: Like in any major city, there are some ‘unspoken rules’ that can help your visit to the city go smoothly. For instance, it is extremely frowned upon to stand or walk in the bike lane. Use the sidewalk! It’s also advised that you have your ID on you at all times.  “The people in Amsterdam are really easy going and it is not very formal,” Schmidt said.  “People are flexible in their planning.” Remember this when booking shoot times.

10. Cuisine: Based on the country’s proximity to the sea, fish is a very popular food. You can find fish stalls and shops throughout the city, and many find it is an easy and quick lunch. “You can of course eat all kinds of fried fish there, but you should surely try our raw fish, the haring, our Dutch sushi,” Schmidt said. For more food recommendations, click here!

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Key Takeaways:

-Language: Many locals are more or less fluent in English, so it’s not 100% necessary to know a lot of Dutch phrases to visit Amsterdam.

-Permits: Usually only airports and museums require permission to film inside, but if you plan on using a drone at any point during your trip, you need to check with the Netherlands Drone Regulations.

-Transportation: Unlike other cities, renting a car is not your best option in Amsterdam. Schmidt recommends shooting two birds with one stone and traveling by boat through the city’s intricate canal system. You’ll get some great water shots and get where you need to go.

And if you’re planning an upcoming shoot in Amsterdam, you can trust Crews Control to get you the best local crew with the equipment you need. From the corporate video productions to the livestreaming events, if you have a big idea, we’ve got the experienced video services team to make your life easier! Just click here for a free quote!

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