A Guide to International Filming

Filming content in multiple countries was once seen as a luxury reserved for big-budget productions. However, as the demand for diverse and dynamic video content grows, it’s become a necessity for many organisations. The allure of capturing unique locations, cultures, and perspectives can greatly enhance the storytelling in any project. Nevertheless, international filming can be a daunting prospect. If not approached correctly, it can be stressful, expensive, and time-consuming.

At Chocolate Films, we are committed to alleviating the pressure on our clients. Our amazing producers organise international shoots on a daily basis. With extensive experience in global video production, we’ve learned the intricacies of filming abroad. We asked our producers to share their most important tips to ensure your international shoot is a success.

Top Tips for International Filming

Plan Ahead

Planning is paramount when preparing for an international shoot. The less familiar the location, the more potential challenges you might face. Starting preparation early is crucial to navigate these challenges effectively. Every location comes with its unique set of obstacles, such as varying weather conditions, religious or public holidays, differing lead times for permissions, insurance requirements, work permits, and more. The earlier you start, the better your chances of overcoming these hurdles.

One cannot overstate the importance of thorough research. Understanding the local customs, legal requirements, and logistical considerations of the filming location can save a lot of headaches down the line. For instance, certain countries may have strict regulations on filming in public spaces or might require specific permits that take weeks to process. Being aware of these requirements ahead of time allows for smoother operations once on the ground.

At Chocolate Films, we’re extremely well versed in these challenges, such as this film, which was shot in seventeen countries.

Minimise Travel

While travel is often necessary for international filming, it adds complexity and reduces flexibility. Moreover, air travel has a significant environmental impact and can substantially increase production costs. Managing permissions, carnets, baggage limits, kit hire, translators, and fixers can quickly turn a straightforward shoot into a logistical nightmare.

At Chocolate Films, we implement various strategies to stay flexible, keep our carbon footprint low, and optimise the budget. Our primary rule for international filming is to travel only when absolutely necessary. With the right approach, it’s possible to achieve high-quality content without any air miles!

Build Local Relationships

Local knowledge, experience, and relationships are invaluable when filming internationally. Rather than sending our crews to every location, we collaborate with producers, freelance videographers, and production companies in over fifty countries. These partners bring essential local insights and expertise that can greatly enhance the production quality.

Selecting the right local partners is crucial. We invest time in due diligence and building relationships before commissioning a video production company, just as we would when hiring a filmmaker back at base. Developing long-term relationships with reliable partners has proven to be highly beneficial. For example, working with local experts in Indonesia for environmental films, in China for training films, and in Pakistan for documentaries has allowed us to capture authentic and impactful content.

Check out this film shot by our German team.

Brief Well

Effective communication is key when working with international teams. Different filmmakers have their own styles, and various countries have their conventions. For instance, producers in other countries might shoot content in frame rates that are standard in their regions. Some filmmakers prefer using boom mics, while others opt for lavalier mics. These differences, while not problematic in isolation, can create inconsistencies when combining footage from various locations.

To avoid such issues, we ensure that our briefs are as detailed and clear as possible. Providing comprehensive tech specs and style guides helps maintain consistency across all shoots. Spending time on briefing calls with local producers ensures everyone is on the same page regarding creative and technical expectations. This meticulous attention to detail has paid off in projects where we needed to film identical setups across different continents and seamlessly intercut the footage.

This film was shot in two different countries.

Use Technology to Support International Shoots

Technological advancements have revolutionised the way we conduct international shoots. Our filmmakers often direct shoots remotely from our UK bases using remote links, allowing them to collaborate effectively with crews and contributors in other countries. This method is particularly valuable for projects that are part of a larger series or require a cohesive look across multiple locations.

For example, a member of our team in London recently directed a shoot in Singapore from his desk, and another team member in Glasgow directed a shoot in Atlanta. The resulting content appeared as though it was shot by the same team in the same studio. This cost-effective and efficient solution is not new; legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola has been utilising similar techniques for decades.

Chocolate Films: International Film Production Made Easy

At Chocolate Films, our producers and creatives pride themselves on producing exceptional international content. From our bases in London and Glasgow and satellite offices in Italy, Portugal, and Germany to our network of partners in over 50 countries, we have the infrastructure and expertise to make international filming seamless. 

Whether you need to capture the bustling streets of Tokyo, the serene landscapes of Iceland, or the vibrant culture of Brazil, we are equipped to handle every aspect of your international filming needs.

While filming internationally presents numerous challenges, these can be successfully navigated with proper planning, local collaboration, effective communication, and the use of technology. By following these tips, you can ensure your international shoots are smooth, cost-effective, and result in high-quality content that meets your project’s goals. Want to know more about Chocolate Films’ international video production service? Get in touch with our team today.


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