On location in Indonesia with Bali-based producer Deborah Gabinetti
Deborah moved to Jakarta from New York City in the early 90s after learning that the local industry was opening up. In 1998 due to the Asian financial crisis and lack of projects being developed in the capital, she moved to Bali assisting several foreign television productions filming on the island.
What services does the Bali Film Center provide?
When I moved to Bali there was no proper production service office in place and no clear guidelines, so in 2002 we established the Bali Film Center (BFC) with the endorsement of the Bali Governor’s Office. Within a year we added the endorsement of the then-Minister of Culture & Tourism (now called the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy), although our office receives no Government funding.
BFC is a private organisation committed to promoting the country as a production location and centre for both domestic and international production. We are billed as the one-stop solution to filming in Indonesia and have been directly responsible for attracting many of the international film and television projects shot in Indonesia.
We are also a director of Asian Film Commissions Network (AFCNet), the Asian Film Awards Nomination Committee and a Committee Member of ASEAN Film Festival 2011. We actively participate in film industry events around the world and this year we will take part in Beijing Film Market, Locations Trade Show (LA), Produced by Conference (LA) and Asian Film Market (Busan).
BFC is a private organisation committed to promoting the country as a production location and centre for both domestic and international production.
We also sponsor the annual BALINALE International Film Festival (8-14 October 2012) and its series of educational workshops.
What can you tell me about Indonesia as a filming location?
Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world, stretching over 5,000km, so there is very little visual background that cannot be provided for somewhere among its 18,110 diverse islands. The volcanic origins of these islands have left a trail of extinct and active volcanoes across the entire country. Scenes can be set amid literally one of a thousand temples, lush tropical rainforests packed with unique wildlife (including the legendary Komodo dragon), palatial ruins, colonial buildings, royal water gardens, deserted pink, gold and black sand beaches, underwater coral gardens, ancient rice terraces, palatial ruins and tribal villages.
What technical resources does Indonesia offer?
Over a quarter of a century of filmmaking in Indonesia has led to a viable industry infrastructure with crew, equipment, talent and Kodak-endorsed film labs readily available, while digital telecines and dailies can easily be arranged by courier. We have some HD (Varicam) and some HD post.
In Jakarta there is a good supply of 35mm and 16mm camera packages (mostly Arri), a good variety of lenses and special orders can easily be acquired from a neighbouring country. Lighting and grip packages are complete and well serviced.
Over a quarter of a century of filmmaking in Indonesia has led to a viable industry infrastructure with crew, equipment, talent and Kodak-endorsed film labs readily available.
Bali has mainly video equipment available. Television has also boomed, prompting investment, job opportunities and a more sophisticated market. Hundreds of studios can be found mostly in Jakarta and they vary in size. Some are basic four-wall environments and others are very sophisticated sound stages.
What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews when they come and film in Bali?
We have numerous travelogues every year that feature the beaches and undersea life of our more popular islands of Bali, Lombok and Komodo. The tribal and traditional village areas are also filmed extensively.
Being the world’s fourth most populous nation, large numbers of extras can be available on short notice from 350 different ethnic groups, including people of Polynesian, Central Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Papuan, Melanesian, Aboriginal, Portuguese and Dutch descent, with a large expatriate population from across the globe. English is the second language.
What have been your most difficult location assignments to date?
Central Sulawesi due to the lack of infrastructure and Kalimantan due to the remoteness of the area.
What types of production do you work on most and what’s been filmed recently in Bali?
We work on all types of projects including features, TV commercials and documentaries. Recent work includes Oliver Stone’s Savages, the Julia Roberts film Eat Pray Love and the IMAX projects Born to be Wild and Under the Sea 3D. These films also exposed the talented local workforce both in front of and behind the camera. Indonesia has a long history of filmmaking.
Are there any tips that you would like to offer about filming in Bali?
Temperatures are tropical year-round in Indonesia, so light and loose clothes are the order of the day, although it can get chilly in the northern mountain areas and the humidity can take its toll.
Indonesia is a relatively conservative country where religious, family and social values are highly valued. Indonesians make allowances for Western ways, but be respectful of the local customs and traditions, and be aware of standards of dress.
Filming Permits are required by law so we strongly recommend that you have the proper filming documents, visas and permissions. BFC can streamline the process and cut through the red tape. Allow yourself enough to process the applications and budget for scouting and research.
Which are the best airports to use to film in your region? Any tips on customs clearance or film-friendly freight agents?
Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport and Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta Intenational Airport. Indonesia does not honor ATA Carnet so there is a non-refundable Customs Fee required for non-freighted equipment. Freighted equipment requires a bond.
Location and crew insurance. There are usually set costs for Public Liability cover for film units and costs for insuring locations. Can you tell us about location insurance and possibly examples of costs in Bali?
For private property location fees can vary depending on whether there is credit or product placement provided in the film. If it’s a community or village location then there is usually a donation given.
What do you do with your time off and what would you recommend cast and crew do to visit, have fun and relax in Indonesia?
Take a boat. There is nothing like seeing Indonesia from the ocean.
To contact Deborah please click here.
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