Written by Cedric Eloy on Feb 23, 2011. Posted in Contributors / On Location

Working to make Cambodia a popular location for filming

I first came to Cambodia in 2009 to help develop the territory as a viable alternative for foreign productions wanting to shoot in South-East Asia. Key to this was to create quality production support.

I have been working closely with the Government as well as production houses to train crew and develop a film-friendly environment. Large shoots such as Two Brothers and Tomb Raider were demanding projects for Cambodia and brought to light what kind of skills and services were lacking.

One of our first goals was to make the permit process much clearer and simpler.

It used to take over two months to obtain a permit but we've brought it back to a more sensible ten working days for features and five working days for smaller projects such as commercials.

We've developed a crew training programme with the support of the French Government and have set up workshops in all film production departments run by international professionals. Trainees then work as apprentices supervised by more experienced crew. It’s been very successful so far and is a great way to evaluate the potential and qualities of local crew.

One tip would be don't ever shout at the Cambodian crew. This will only make matters worse. They are deeply respectful, hard-working and devoted to making possible what often seems impossible.

We've also gone into partnership with Transpamedia, a large French equipment supplier, to set up a local rental house for lighting and grip equipment. This has been ongoing since January 2010 and now Gaffers, Electricians and Grips are regularly trained to master and maintain their equipment.

Act of Valor, the first US feature to shoot here since setting up the Cambodian Film Commisison, was a real challenge. Everything had to be organised quickly. It even involved an explosion in the middle of the capital city Phnom Penh with 300 children as extras. But everything went well and the DoP, Shane Hurlbu, said the locations used were genuinely beautiful with no need to change anything.

Since then about 60 projects have followed and demand is increasing month by month.

In 2010, seven features shot in Cambodia when it used to be no more than one or two a year. Many incredible locations, such as the Tatai River in the south-west, have been used for the first time and Cambodia easily double for Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Cambodia has 'natural' production incentives as the tax system is still in its infancy so costs are lower than in other South-East Asian countries and the labour system is simple and flexible. Cheap costumes, props making, extras and set building also make it an ideal place for period films.

I ran a film commission in France for six years so the speed at which you can make things happen here always surprises me. If you have the right production partner and take the right first steps, you can choose almost any location and start building your set the week after.

I am always very happy to talk to Producers about what we have to offer. You might want to wait a few more years if you are looking for skyscrapers, but for shooting exotic Asian locations Cambodia is now a real option.

Images courtesy of the Cambodia Film Commission & Location Database.

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    There are 6 comments

  • Murray Ashton


    Nice one Cedric!

    Very interesting but next time can we also get a picture of you also!

    With best wishes,



  • Nicholas Simon


    Thanks Cedric!

    Yes it is true CAMBODIA is an amazing location to shoot. We produced ACT OF VALOR and have been active in Cambodia since 1997 with such projects as Matt Dillon's/MGM - CITY OF GHOSTS and tv commercials directed by Carlton Chase and Vincent Ward.

    We just completed a shoot for a major studio and will announce shortly!!!

    Nicholas Simon


  • scott rosenberg


    First, please recognize, while Cedric and the Cambodian Film Commission are trying to do good by building the industry in Cambodia - they are perpetrating a misnomer with their name. They are NOT a FILM COMMISSION but as Cedric readily admits " a privately managed project to develop the film industry in Cambodia."

    Secondly, while we certainly want to see the industry grow in Cambodia, there is very little in the way of infrastructure, equipment, studios, trained personnel that speak English and are multi-cultural, crafts people, etc like exist in Thailand.

    Why film in a territory where things are difficult when you can film next door in Thailand with even better facilities - more access, no fear of landmines etc.

    Locations in Thailand have been doubled for most major locations in the World and have been featured in many large international productions.

    Facilities in Thailand may be a tad more expensive than Cambodia but right now, everything in the way of equipment and trained personnel needs to be hired from Thailand anyway so why bother shooting in Cambodia.

    We suggest you film in Thailand and bring Cambodian film personnel here to train in their respective fields. Only then will a true film industry be built from the grassroots and not from foreigners trying to benefit (financially/egotistically) from the industry.


  • KIM Sophea


    Dear Scott, I have a chance to meet you at Bophana Center and talk about my hope to rebuild the cinema in Cambodia. I work hard with my team to create CFC for 5 years now. Cheap Sovichea is the Director of CFC, Cedric Eloy is CEO. It is not a "privately managed project to develop the film industry in Cambodia.”. It is up to you to comment but It would be good to meet us before writing such words like "'They are not Film Commission". The Government of Cambodia accept our organization as a Film Commission. We trained a lot of people, we provide equipment, we have agreement with cinema companies in France, We have partners in Europe, USA, Asia even with Thai companies. We have beautiful location and good team.We are not yet at the same level as Thailand for studio. But our faith and our love for cinema is great. And People can make choice to go to Thailand and they can also make choice to come to Cambodia if this country is convenient for their project. We are in peace and happy to work with everyone. I hope than one day you can come to meet us again and don't scare anymore about landmine (Have you ever been near a landmine here, near your **** hotel? ). Don't panic! Be Happy! You will be safe to write a new and true comment about us. Regard, Rithy Panh, Film Director and Founder Of Bophana Center and CFC.


  • Cedric ELOY


    Thank you for your comment Scott, you are probably looking for projects.
    I suspect that you have not been in Cambodia for a long time given the content of you post. We would be glad to show you more of the country if you have time to fly over and meet our great multi cultural team...we can speak English and French.

    The international definition of a film commission is an organization that is private or directly public, recognized by the authorities and commissioned to promote the country as a film location. I am sorry to have to have to say that the Cambodia Film Commission is such a film commission (by delegation from the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Finance of Cambodia). It is private run as in France and many other countries but works directly with the authorities. Double checking is very important in the movie industry...

    Greetings from the land of smile.


  • KIM Sophea


    Dear Scott,
    On behalf of Cambodian cinema crew, I’ve first read your comment about Cambodia as a difficult country to make films. An international professional like you that you should know Cambodia a little bit more before making such comment that is likely to hurt Cambodian people.
    I suggest you to be more honest and neutral in your POV. Thailand is a country that you prefer and you like to promote, but there is no need to bring another country down. In Cambodia, we love cinema, and we are working so that in the near future, the cinema industry in Cambodia will be expanding. This is a dream for the young generation I am part of !
    Thailand has something that Cambodia doesn’t have, and versus. Cambodia and Thailand are neighbors, and your message is very important to keep peace between both countries.
    We love cinema, we only want to make films, we are happy and always ready to host foreign film productions in our country, in peace and with smiles.
    Sophea KIM