Tips for filming in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular countries in Asia for filmmakers and not just because of low production costs. The territory has excellent infrastructure especially for production equipment, plus with picturesque views and friendly locals the nation has become a production hotspot.
Dozens of foreign films were shot in Thailand, including Hollywood movies: James Bond 007: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); The Beach (2000); Around the World in 80 days (2004) and Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason (2004) to name a few.
In 1923, Miss Suwanna of Siam, a romantic film, written and directed by Henry MacRae was filmed in Thailand starring Thai actors, making the project Hollywood’s first co-production with the country. After this filmmaking flourished and still continues to attract foreign film producers. In recent years, Bollywood projects have also chosen Thailand as the preferred location for their movies.
So if you are planning to shoot a film in Thailand, here are some helpful tips to keep handy.
- Shooting Permit – Remember shooting without a permit is a violation of law. This permit must be taken from the Thailand Film Office. Filmmakers are required to hire a Thai coordinator that is officially registered with Thailand Film Office, Office of Tourism Development, to help obtain permits as there are procedures to follow both before and after it is granted. They can also help out in contacting local crews you may need for your production.
However, separate permits are issued for specific locations such as, National Parks and Historical Parks; you should arrange this if necessary in advance of shooting dates. You can apply for these permits at One-Stop-Service Centre for other types of productions e.g. Feature Films, Docu-dramas, TV dramas, Mini-Series and Reality Shows. Applications should be made at the Thailand Film Office at least 14 days (10 working days) in advance as script approval must be sought from the Film Board.
- Know the fees – There is no fee for obtaining a filming permit, however after the approval a representative from the Thailand Film Office is required to attend the shoot and all his/her expenses has to be covered by the production company depending upon your kind of permit and location. Location Fees - this fee depends upon the location and the discussion with your Thai coordinator.
- Production Crews – Since Thailand has a good experience with foreign film projects their production costs are very reasonable compared with other countries in the area.They have also established a very good reputation in providing top of the line crews. Your Thai coordinator can help you out on where to find the best crews in town or you can always search ahead of time.
- Language – It is always good to mingle with the local crews in order to learn some words or phrases to have a smoother production workflow.
- Culture – Prior to your arrival in Thailand, we recommend that everyone should at least brief themselves with the do’s and don’ts in the country. Thais have several social customs that you should be aware of:
- Thais greet one another with a ‘Wai,’ the traditional closed hands and a slight bow of the head, younger people will usually initiate the wai. More recently, western visitors will generally receive a handshake on meeting.
- Thais consider the head a sacred part of their body. One therefore should not touch anybody’s head. Apologize immediate if you happen to touch anyone’s head by accident.
- Thais consider the feet lowly and therefore one should not put his feet on a table or chair or point it at people or objects.
- Expressing sexual feeling in public is unacceptable in the Thai culture.
- Showing an image of the Thai National Flag on packages or goods is allowed only if done by government’s agencies and for commercial purposes with approval.
- Clean water and proper utensils should be used during the Songkran Festival or the Thai New Year and water should not be thrown at those who do not wish to be part of the celebration.
- Weather- Thailand is a tropical country and its climate depends on three seasons. Hot-Dry Season: Feb-May where average temperature may be 34˚c with 75% humidity. Wet Season: June-Oct with average temperature of 29˚c with 87% humidity. Cool Season: Nov-Jan with average temperature of 32˚c to 20˚c and a drop in humidity.
When all is set, welcome to Thailand and enjoy your stay.
KFTV would like to thank Benetone Films for their industry insight. To find out more about their work, please visit their profile on KFTV website.
For further information about filming in Thailand, why not check out our country guide? Including details on filming permits and tax incentives.