Our Savvy Guide to Filming Abroad

Our Savvy Guide to Filming Abroad

As anyone in this industry knows, filming can be a complex business, with obstacles and hurdles to overcome even for the shortest project. Filming abroad can present very specific challenges as well as rewards, with plenty of research to be done ahead of time.

When done correctly however, venturing beyond your borders can be a once in-a-lifetime event. So how do you ensure a drama-free shoot in a foreign country? We have put together a list of tips, tricks and advice to make your shoot abroad a complete and total success.

1. Plan ahead

When arranging crews, permits, visas, travel, hotels and other services, book as far in advance as possible. Booking ahead of time will ensure that you get the best rates and save a lot of money.

Also, don’t forget the time difference. If you’re reading this during the daytime in the United States, it is already evening in Europe. And in Asia, it’s already tomorrow. So, if you happen to be organising a shoot in either of these regions, and you’re based in Berlin, you’re already a day behind.

2. Things you need before you travel

Some countries require visas to be obtained in advance. This process can take anything from one week to one month to complete. Visit VisaHQ for country specific information.

Another vital point to remember before you travel is that voltage and power outlets vary around the world. You should have the right plug adapters and power converters before setting off. Most plug adapters do not convert the power.

Laptops and video cameras usually have built-in converters, but you will need to buy a separate power converter for all other devices. If your voltages don’t match you could end up blowing a fuse. You can find a list of electrical systems around the world here.

3. Go local

By working with local film crews in the country or region you are shooting in, you end up killing two birds with one stone.

First of all, you reduce or eliminate travel expenses considerably, and save on having to ship in large amounts of equipment. This can often incur customs fees, not to mention the hefty extra baggage charges at check-in.

Local crew = local knowledge. Secondly, and most importantly, you will be working with people who know the local terrain, language, and customs. This kind of local knowledge is the single most effective way of reducing potential problems, because your locally based team will know how to avoid country-specific risks.

4. Know the local laws, customs, do’s & don’ts

Imagine your reaction if your production had to be shut down because you did not get the right permit, or decided to shoot on a major local holiday when everything was closed? What would happen if you chose to shoot on a forbidden location, or didn’t follow the specific local shooting code?

You can spend quite a lot of time researching the filming laws in your destination country, checking with the local film commissions and other government organizations. Alternatively, hire a local fixer, scout or production assistant who knows the right people and permits, and who can take care of everything prior to your arrival, thus saving you valuable time.

5. Have fun

Don’t forget what a gift it is to travel and to have the opportunity to discover new places and people. If possible, schedule some time to get out there and explore a little.

Your local crew will probably have some great advice on places to visit in the area. Enjoy yourself; you won’t regret it.

Need help planning your next film production project?

Let us help!  At the Global Media Desk we specialize in bringing your visions to life.  We only work with the top regional professionals in such varied fields as video production, photography, and film & video crews. Please  contact us with any questions you may have about shooting in Canada or any country around the world. You can also request a free online quote to see how we can make your project a complete success.

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This post was originally published in August 2014. Updated in April 2018.

3 Reasons to a Hire Local Crew Instead of Traveling to Your Shoot

3 Reasons to Hire a Local Crew Instead of Traveling to Your Shoot

So you’re a video production company owner or video producer and you just sold a shoot that is in a different city or country. For a newer company, the prospect of this can be exciting; you get to travel, you get to post to your instagram story about your trip, and you get to see new places and get paid while doing it. But after you’ve done it 5, 10, 20 times the light of excitement of out of town shoots could start to dim, leaving you indifferent on actually wanting to travel to a shoot.

At this point, you start to have to consider; should I hire local talent to shoot my project or should I go/send a team out to capture it? Of course, there are too many variables to give one answer, but in this article we’ll outline three main points as to why it’s usually best to hire local talent instead of traveling to your shoot. Here are the three reasons you should hire local video talent instead of traveling:

    1. Project Budget
      At the end of the day it is simply less expensive for the client and your production to hire local talent. For the average crew of 1-5 people, the cost of flights, hotels, travel meals, non-shooting travel days, etc is just not worth the difference of hiring local.

      Unless your project has an extremely particular look that is nearly impossible to replicate, or requires very specific shooters – there’s almost never a time where it’s less expensive to fly you or the team to the shoot.

      Say you have a one day, one person shoot in Atlanta, and you’re a corporate video production company in Cleveland. In order to fly in and shoot you’re looking at least $500 in flight tickets, $150 in hotels, and $150 in food. Plus a staff members time at $30 an hour, brings your total cost to the client to at least $1200-1500, this doesn’t even include your markup.

      To book a local talent for a similar one person one day shoot would cost around $500-1000, at the most.

    2. Time
      It takes 60 minutes to book a freelancer or a local team and have them shoot a local production. It takes at least 48 hours to travel to an out of town shoot, shoot it, and come back. If you’re someone who values their time, especially as a business owner, you’re much better off booking local talent and saving yourself or your staff two days of your life.

      This time could be spent on business development, moving other projects forward, and improving your video production business – instead of sitting on a plane and in a hotel.

      In 48 hours of travel and shooting you could; complete 300 cold calls to new business, organize and execute a direct mail campaign, send 40 recruiting emails searching for new talent for your company, meet with 8 existing clients to chat about future projects, and many other things. Find a better way to spend your time than traveling.

    3. Talent
      You might of had a bad experience before, but chances are that with the right remote video production booking company, you’ll find people in other cities and countries that are actually better than you of your in-house staff. Finding the right talent is all about having the right connections and having trusted relationships in place. Using the right booking sites and services, you’ll be able to find talent even in the most remote parts of the world than have an even more expansive skill set than your staff.

      The best producers know what their crew is capable of outputting and is able to be cold as steel when choosing quality over friendship. Sometimes it’s nice and fun to work with people you like, but for the sake of excellence it’s sometimes imperative you book people that are simply just right for the job. By tapping into local talent in the city of your shoot, you’re able to nitpick and find the people that are experts in the very type of production you’re looking to execute on.

      So unless you’re doing it for personal reasons, there are many times that booking an outside freelancer for remote work is not only cheaper, faster, but also better quality. Of course, this doesn’t always work out getting all three, but if you know the right resources you’ll get 2 of the 3.

    About Global Media Desk

    The Global Media Desk has been helping producers and video production companies get better, more cost effective, and faster crews for productions around the world since 2000. We do this by tapping into our global network of creative video & photo talent that deliver world class production quality at the drop of the hat.    Please contact us  with any questions you may have about shooting in any  country  around the world. You can also  request a  free online quote  to see how we can make your project  a complete success.

5 Tips for Creating Engaging Corporate Videos

5 Tips for Creating Engaging Corporate Videos

Ever wonder why cat videos go viral? According to a recent study by the Indiana Media school, watching cute and funny cat videos boosted viewer’s energy and positively impacted their emotions. Though, we are not necessarily recommending that you add cats to your corporate videos, there are a few lessons to be learned from these furry movie stars.

Here are a few helpful tips on how to reach and engage your audience in a corporate video production.

Storytelling

Often times corporate videos lack a compelling story or personal perspective. We know cat videos are creating an emotional connection with their viewers, so why not take a play out of the cat video playbook? A video’s success will rely on the authenticity of the message from a real person’s point of view. Often employee stories are far more engaging than having a CEO narrate the entire story. Remember, employees are your customers too.

Campaign Goals

Determining your corporate video message is just the first step of many in creating an engaging video. Mapping out a solid script, location shoots, and storyboards can really keep your corporate video on track.

Whether you are creating a training video for employees or a product demonstration for an upcoming trade show, everything from your visuals, music, and actors should support your message and campaign goals.

Target Audience

Marketers are often tasked with creating an engaging video that targets as many people as possible. In theory this is great, but in reality it is unrealistic. Understanding and speaking to your core audience will not only help make a successful video, but also a compelling one.

The Little Things Matter

Poor video, audio, and lighting can put a damper on any well intended corporate video project. Keep in mind that lighting and sound can be greatly affected by whether your script calls for indoor or outdoor shooting. Take the time to hire the right video production crew with a quality sound engineer and professional lighting equipment.

Video Format

How will your video be shared? Today videos can be aired for television, shared on social media, or even broadcasted live at a trade show. Use teaser clips on Instagram, SnapChat, or Vine to draw your audience into your website. Post links to your company’s Linkedin page and start a group discussion. Videos can be attached to emails, newsletters, or uploaded directly to Facebook and YouTube.

The online video platform is limitless. If done properly, your corporate video can have a significant lifespan.

Looking to make a corporate video?

Contact the Global Media Desk for assistance with all your video production needs. With over 15 years of experience shooting corporate videos and film productions around the world, we deliver the highest-quality, on-demand production services without the hassle. Please contact us or fill out a free quote to see how we can help make your production a complete success.

Photo credit: By Wilson Afonso from Sydney, Australia (Just browsingUploaded by JohnnyMrNinja) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Go Local: International Location Scouting Tips

Go Local: International Location Scouting Tips

Location, location, location. Much like real estate, finding the perfect location for your next international film or photo shoot can mean the difference between triumph and failure. Location scouting is a crucial step in the pre-production process and takes an extreme amount of time, patience, and diligence. But don’t fret, with just a few tips your next international location shoot can be well managed and less stressful.

Local Location Scouts

While having a location manager is the most practical option, you might find it helpful to have a local crew scout a location for you. Local crews have an intimate knowledge of the area and can be your best guide to finding those cool little gems off the beaten path. A local-based crew can also help lower your travel costs, give you the inside on local conditions, and navigate through any language barriers.

Script

It’s tempting to want to go out and scout the location for your international film or photo shoot before your script is complete. However, having a completed script will not only save you money, it will cut down on the time spent selecting the location. Your script will dictate the time and season of your shoot. If the shoot calls for daylight you might be able to get away with just the natural light. But, if the scene or photograph calls for a night setting, extra equipment will be needed. Most of your pre-scouting questions can easily be answered with a good script.

Photography

Photography is an important part of your scouting agenda. Not only will this help with lighting, but it will give you a different perspective on focal lengths. The surrounding architecture like buildings and windows, depending on the time of the day, could give off unwanted reflections.

Photo Tips:

  • Don’t shoot 500 images, keep it simple with a manageable number of shots to share with the rest of your production team
  • Use a tripod
  • Close-ups can be great, but for a location wide shots are more useful
  • Photograph buildings, windows, streets, highways and trees anything that can be used during the shoot

Acoustics

High-quality sound is critical in a film shoot. And, anything from the surrounding traffic, weather or environment can ruin the perfect location. Make sure your location scouts are prepared with the right equipment like a camcorder, microphone and headphones to test any interference.

You might want to look into hiring a professional boom operator or sound mixer as they have the correct experience to overcome any unwanted sounds.

Audio Tips:

  • Check the forecast to make sure you have all the right equipment to counter any unwanted noise
  • Pre-check for echoes whether it is inside a warehouse, or out in the middle of a valley
  • Check for traffic, nearby airports or other unwanted noise creating culprits

Notes

Taking notes is another way to capture a location’s essence. This will help you evaluate whether it is the right place for your shoot.

Note Tips:

  • Note all sources of light: permanent fixtures or natural sunlight
  • Environmental surroundings: buildings, windows, trees, bridges etc.
  • Measure the space as best you can
  • Will you need a generator? Other forms of power?
  • Weather details
  • Note availability of parking for cast and crew
  • Take note of any special circumstances, problems or assets in the area
  • Note the flooring or terrain: smooth, level, hills, sand etc.

Want More?

The Global Media Desk has been providing experienced locally-based production crews, boom operators and photographers for over 15 years. Please contact us with any questions you may have about location scouts in a specific country or request a free online quote to see how we can make your filming or photo shoot a complete success.