Written by David Lewis on Oct 20, 2009. Posted in Interviews

On Location in Thailand

If a foreign production wants to use Thailand as a location for filming, they must hire a local coordinator who is officially registered with the Thailand Film Office to deal with permits and any other matters that may arise.

Living Films, a full service production company in Thailand, has coordinated more than ten major feature films, numerous television commercials, documentaries, music videos and still shoots in its 10 years of operation. Chris Lowenstein and Panyawadee Sangchai, two of Living Films Producers, answer questions about their location experiences in Thailand.

What characteristics should a foreign producer look for when seeking a coordinator to work with in Thailand?

A coordinator should have responsiveness, transparency and the ability to admit if they can or cannot pull something off.

How does a foreign production find the most qualified coordinators to work with?

The best way for foreign productions to find the most qualified coordinators is to ask overseas producers who have shot in Thailand before for their experience and suggestions. Prospective producers should ask producers who’ve worked here before what went right and what went wrong, what to be careful about and what to expect. This is also a great way to check the background of any local coordinating company.

What are some of the more interesting locations you have shot in Thailand?

For Kevin Connor's Blackbeard we had to find beaches, roads and jungle with no electricity of telephone lines so that they would be appropriate for a period film set in 1717. We found the perfect locations in Nakhorn Sri Thammarat and were the first company to shoot a big feature there.

For Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang's Bangkok Dangerous we used some of Bangkok’s oldest river front warehouses as an action set. Some of the warehouses are over 100 years old.

For Mikael Håfström's Shanghai we recreated parts of 1939 Shanghai in an old section of Chachoengsao. We were the first major feature film to shoot there.

For Roel Reiné Marine 2 we shot an amazing action sequence on the floating island called Panyee in Phang Nga province where we were asked to take over a five star resort and blow it up! We ended up pulling it all off without almost any damage to the hotel.

What are some classic situations/problems foreign productions have when filming in Thailand and how have you solved these situations?

We had an international production that wanted to shoot in the Vertigo bar on top of the Banyon Tree Hotel in Bangkok. However, we couldn’t get the permission to shoot there in time and it was very expensive. With our Thai art team, in six days we built a replica restaurant/ bar on top of another building.

The amazing thing was that the entire restaurant set with 100 extras was on wheels so that we could turn the set to get the best Bangkok skyline in each and every shot. When we were done shooting, the Producers admitted that not only could we never have pulled this off anywhere else, we were also able to get shots with the restaurant on wheels that they would never have gotten at the actual location they originally wanted.

Article abstracted from the Thailand Film Office.

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