Filming Indian Ocean locations with Andreas Habermeyer of Identical Pictures
Andreas Habermeyer’s production industry career began in the early 80s and he became an Oscar-nominated filmmaker before setting up his own company in Germany in 1997. He has produced more than a thousand commercials and moved to Mauritius in 2009.
What can you tell me about the region that you cover?
Identical Pictures covers about 1,250 islands across the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius. Mauritius Republic has around 15 islands while the Seychelles has roughly 115 islands. Astonishingly the Maldives comprises around 1,100 islands. They are all located in the Indian Ocean where we have the most beautiful turquoise water in the world.
Mauritius offers gorgeous white sandy beaches, crystal-clear blue seas and unbelievable diving experiences. We also have watersports, a big modern city and new shopping malls and cinemas. The beautiful landscapes include unique mountains and lively streets that are idyllic filming destination, especially now that Mauritius has announced a new 30% location filming incentive.
Mauritius is the most advanced film island in the region, with small film studios, media rental and local crew, unlike in the Maldives and Seychelles where everything must be flown in. When filming in the Seychelles, all crew and equipment come from Mauritius. In the case of the Maldives, production companies look to Dubai for crew and equipment. Due to the high number of photo shoots, all three countries have their own fixed production crew. All three countries offer helicopters and seaplanes (below).
Mauritius is the most advanced film island in the region, with small film studios, media rental and local crew, unlike in the Maldives and Seychelles where everything must be flown in.
It’s important to note that because all three islands are tropical the conditions can switch very quickly from rain to clear skies and beautiful light. Permits are needed to film on location We're well networked on three islands with various city departments including the film commission.
With many hotels situated around the coastline of these wonderful destinations, many of them allow film shoots to take place within their resorts while others may offer more restricted access.
Overall, filmmakers can enjoy a wonderfully safe and friendly shooting environment in all three Republics.
The Seychelles is perfect for those looking for small romantic hotels and a relaxed atmosphere. They promise wonderful sunshine, gorgeous beaches and lush green vegetation with beautiful mountains, but with only 95,000 inhabitants local casting can be tricky. To see the most famous granite stones, you need to go to Praslin and La Digue Island.
The Maldives are sunny and unspoiled by pollution; they’re a popular tourist destination. Knowing the islands is extremely important but road access isn’t always possible so we use boards and planes to see surrounding islands. This means the price of scouting goes up.
Lets go into more detail on the filming infrastructure – what does the region offer?
Mauritius offers HD cameras, grips, lights and generators, plus crew, cast, studios and post-production facilities. There’s also a seaplane with a pilot who has experience as a DoP for television. Many local companies such as Media Film Service (which also has two branches in Cape Town) keep comprehensive equipment packages on standby for the most complex shoots and for any more specialised requests, South Africa's rental teams are able to assist.
What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews?
Many photo shoots and TV commercials film Mauritius for the beautiful coastlines and beaches. Reality TV shows also come to Mauritius for the untouched nature, jetties, waterfalls, schools, mountains, jungles, the airport, old boards and the harbour.
Beautiful streets make it affordable for clients to film car commercials and use helicopters to cover overhead angles with full camera support. With over 45 different religions, Mauritius offers diverse cultures, from Chinese to European, as well as African.
For the Maldives and Seychelles the sea and underwater worlds are the main appeal ... These islands are good for beauty-industry commercials, as well as high-end luxury films.
For the Maldives and Seychelles the sea and underwater worlds are the main appeal, as well as the exotic beaches, jetties and the boats that make these locations attractive. These islands are good for beauty-industry commercials, as well as high-end luxury films.
What are the rmore unusual locations that our readers would not necessarily associate with the region?
In Mauritius it is the beautiful unseen streets (particularly for car commercials), the big city, the modern buildings and high mountains. In the Seychelles we have incredible modern private houses on top of the mountains. These homes cost up to EUR30 million and are good for high-end commercials and James Bond films!
In the Maldives it is Male, the capital city, which is so contrary to all the other typical vacation islands as it offers very modern luxury yachts and the old schoner boats.
What has been your most difficult location assignment to date and why?
Our biggest challenges to date have involved the transportation of live animals, including pets and animal by-products. These are subject to the issue of an import permit by Veterinary Services.
What types of productions do you work on most regularly?
We have produced many commercials and TV shows for various clients and brands from around the world. Identical Pictures focuses primarily on TV commercials, although do we consider other types of productions.
Are there any tips you would like to share with our readers about filming in the region?
The best advice I can offer is to always bring sun cream and to avoid the green island rum! Everything else is pretty straightforward. Immigration is made easy with the assistance of our film commission through various city departments.
As I’ve mentioned, the islands are tropical and so are prone to rapid weather changes. Driving distances between the islands can often be underestimated so checking road routes before setting off is recommended.
Which are the best airports to use to film in your region?
Mauritius is in the process of building a brand new modern airport. Filming at the airport is much easier compared to Europe and the US.
In the Maldives we have two international airports and three national airports. In addition the Maldives has around 100 seaplanes that are available for rent, whether it be for leisure or filming. Filming on a seaplane is as easy as removing the door and getting the shots you need.
The Maldives has around 100 seaplanes that are available for rent, whether it be for leisure or filming.
The Maldives International Airport is regarded as one of the safest in the world. There’s only one runway so there’s only one take-off or landing at a time. It’s situated about two miles from the capital island Male, on a nearby island.
Seychelles International Airport is located on the island of Mahé. International flights connect it to Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The airport is also a hub for inter-island travel, with quick, convenient domestic flights throughout the day.
Where is your favourite wrap party venue?
There’s an underwater restaurant in the Maldives, a Bavarian restaurant on the Seychelles and a mountain restaurant in Mauritius overlooking the sea.
What do you do to relax after a full-on location shoot?
I go diving and swimming, and support my local soccer club.
To contact Andreas please click here.
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