Challenges of filming on-the-fly in Vietnam
Jerome Jourlait, of French production company Ze Monkiz Tribe, recently filmed a new project in Vietnam. Lotus Flower was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Ze Monkiz Tribe.
Mr Jourlait shot the film as an improvised activity having already filmed extensively across Africa. He said: “I thought Vietnam was an exotic place, very beautiful with an interesting contrast between the bad things of war and the good things of a rising nation. It is also a very rich place in terms of architecture (Asiatic and colonial). Also I wanted to film in a destination in Asia that was not so tourist-orientated like Thailand.”
He filmed across Saigon, acting without any permits. He found that most places were very relaxed about filming so long as the camera didn’t go near government ministry buildings or police stations. Mr Jourlait acted as a one-man crew and enjoyed the flexibility and good local deals that this brought with it, although he was of course limited in what he could carry.
He noted: “Take as little clothing as possible [to Vietnam]. It takes a lot of space that you can use to bring more equipment and clothes are sold there for next to nothing. Take good care to fit all your equipment cases with humidity absorbers and keep them locked when you don’t use them.”
In addition, equipment such as silver stills shots (which were in use for this project) can be processed locally at much better rates than in Europe. Taking advantage of these services means the unprocessed film is less likely to suffer damage as a result of humidity and constant airport x-rays.
Humidity was the biggest problem he faced while shooting – at times the humidity was 90% with temperatures reaching 34°C. Mr Jourlait also advised people to be aware when they leave the country: “Be very careful with what you bring back as customs are very strict when you leave the country and all your suitcases will be checked one by one very carefully.”
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