Thailand is on a high having hosted a number of major productions over the past year, including Netflix’s action adventure film Dhaka, starring Chris Hemsworth, which shot all over the country in early 2019.
“Thailand offers such diverse shooting locations and the local crews have been a pleasure to work with,” insisted the film’s prolific producers, Anthony and Joe Russo, who previously directed Avengers: End Game, also starring Hemsworth.
Other productions include Universal’s Fast and Furious 9, which filmed across three southern Thai provinces throughout July 2019; Tom Waller’s Thai rescue film The Cave; and Netflix/BBC’s new drama series The Serpent, starring Tahar Rahim, which shot in Thailand for the second half of 2019.
Drawn in by the stunning variety of locations, enticing potential 20% cash rebate, and experienced local crew, Thailand hosted an impressive 410 productions in the first six months of 2019 alone.
“Netflix are [particularly] making their presence felt in Thailand with several projects on the go and working with local directors,” Pakinee “Pak” Chaisana at local production company A Grand Elephant tells KFTV.com.
Aside from the productions mentioned above, Netflix is also creating local content, with its first series, The Stranded, directed by and starring Thai talent about a group of students stranded on an island following a tsunami, having shot in the country in 2019.
Thailand offers a wide span of locations to film and TV series projects, whether they are seeking vibrant city and night life, such as in Bangkok, idyllic beach and tropical settings on the Southern Thailand islands in Krabi province, or towering mountain peaks up north in Chiang Mai.
Thailand offers some of the most beautiful coastline in the world and directors can literally specify the type of beach they want, whether it’s an abandoned or populated tourist spot, beaches with roads or rocks, even haunted beaches.
Fast and Furious 9 took advantage of a huge variety of locations, including a palm oil plantation at Ban Nai Sa in Khao Thong, the temple of Wat Nai Sa in Khao Thong and a mill in the Ban Bang Toei area of Thai Meuang.
Local independent fixer, Miles Johnson, adds to KFTV.com: “Thailand has a number of climate variations that create a significant diversification of locations. About two and half hours from Bangkok there is Khao Yai which has rolling hills and dairy farms, orchards and streams not at all unlike the UK and Europe.”
Indeed, Thailand is commonly used as a great double for other locations. “We have worked for projects that used Thailand locations to portray countries such as China, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, Africa, France, Australia, England and Germany,” Nan Wutina, Managing Director at local outfit Big Blue Thai tells KFTV.com.
It is worth noting, though, that “shooting outside of Bangkok will cost more for accommodation, catering and transportation, but location fees would be cheaper,” stresses Tip Sukwiwat, general manager at local outfit Umoon Productions, to KFTV.com.
“It is easy to get permission to shoot as long as the script is not detrimental in any way to the country or its religion,” says Johnson, who recently assisted director Ron Fricke with his movie Paramita, organising filming at various ancient sites in Ayutthaya and Bangkok. “It’s incredibly important, however, to only go through a company or co-ordinator who is registered with the Thailand Film Office. This is the only way to get the necessary temporary work permit, and avoid being disappointed or worse still ripped off by unregistered ‘cowboys’ who proliferate in Bangkok in search of a fast buck.”
The process of getting permission to shoot from the Film Office takes about 3 working days.
“The local crew are what make our country standout, their friendly attitude and professionalism,” says Chaisana.
“Every client who works here for the first time remarks on this, and particularly the speed at which they work,” adds Johnson. “They are technically highly proficient and I always say the speed of our crews gives a director an extra set up per day over anywhere else in the region.”
The facilities are equally impressive. “Thai film Industry invests heavily in film infrastructure with the very latest camera gear, lighting and SFX in response to a demand that compares to the UK,” continues Johnson.
There is also plenty of studio space (more than 35 film studios) to suit all needs. The latest is The Studio Park in Samut Prakan, owned by Gearhead, the biggest equipment and lighting company, which has five brand new sound stages, the largest boasting 2400 square meters of space. There is also an 80,000 sq meter backlot, as well as a huge warehouse for storage and set construction.
“Others include the large Prommitr Studio in Kanchanaburi, Moonstar and Centerpoint, and some shows use warehouses as well,” Les Nordhauser at Greenlight Films, tells KFTV.com.