Written by on Nov 26, 2010. Posted in Production News

German feature shoots in Malaysian jungle

A new German feature film has shot in the remote Malaysian jungle of Taman Negara in Pahang. Jungle Child is based on the true story of a German missionary family who spent years living with a tribe in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

The production spent three months in the region, doubling the Malaysian jungle for Papua New Guinea as it has better infrastructure. Nevertheless the shoot was a major challenge. The set had to be built from scratch and was only accessible by boat. This meant 180 people had to be ferried on a daily basis using long boats, something that was made even more difficult as the heat had a tendency to reduce water levels in the river they were using.

Bill Donovan, of Biscuit Films Malaysia, said: “We needed to basically build a giant base camp in the middle of the jungle. This included building a catering platform over a precipice in the middle of the jungle that could hold 200 people. We also built multiple steel buildings to house the equipment, as well as a fully functioning six-stall toilet system. We also constructed an entire Papua New Guinea village. To bring in the generators we needed to build a road through the jungle. It was too rough to ever use as a crew transport option, but it did allow us to bring in the generators without using a helicopter.”

Heat was a major issue and maintaining a steady water supply to the set was crucial.

Water was also needed to maintain the toilet system, which became more problematic when mountain run-off being used to fill the toilet reservoirs began to dry up.

Matthias Adler, a Producer on the project, said: “The temperatures were much harder for the Europeans in the crew - not so much for the locals! We all adjusted over a number of weeks but everyone lost weight during the shoot. We used lots of umbrellas to create shade when the sun was very strong and we made sure the camera batteries were kept out of direct sunlight.”

Despite the physical hardships, the production brought in some specialist filming equipment, including rain effects and a descender camera rig and cable cam system to track shots across a nearby river. For the rain, water was pumped from the river and filtered before being fed through the equipment.

Adler added: “We used a great rigger team from Kuala Lumpur - they worked on that city’s Twin Towers. They scaled the trees [to put up the cable cam rig] and erected platforms in the trees. One side of the river was on national park property so they had to be careful working with the trees there.”

The crew got creative with communications. Donovan said: “There was no broadband at the set itself but we were able to stay in contact with our production office via walk talkies. We were able to make this work by setting up a repeater transmitter high up in a tree between the office and the main location. This worked very well. There are three-star hotels right by the jetty [where we left for the set] and these provided us with our internet.”

Equipment was protected on set using huts with limited air-conditioning, which was as effective protecting make-up supplies from the tropical heat as it was with cameras and rigs. In addition, the production had snake anti-venom on hand, along with a medical team in case of an incident. Two paramedics came into the jungle and an ambulance was always stationed by the jetty.

Donovan concluded: “There are going to be things such as humidity, insects, tropical rain, even wild animals that will be encountered in the jungle. Bring your sunscreen, proper clothes for the environment and the ability to adjust, and let us help you with the rest.”

Jungle Child is released in Germany in February 2011.

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  • Sanju Nadar


    This is sanjay from India mumbai

    kindly visit my website www.jungleboysfilmlocation.com

    Thanking you
    Location manager India mumbai