The idea of filming in India can be very exciting – or it can be scary. A British Assistant Producer's grandmother was worried that he’d be eaten up by a crocodile or a tiger in India! There’s no danger of that – we hope!
Here is a two-part post that discusses some of the pain-points that a Production Manager, a Producer, an AP, or a filmmaker worries about when faced with the task of setting up a shoot in India. Let us know in the comments section if you have some more worries that give you sleepless nights - and we’ll send you suggestions!
Find a kickass Fixer. Ask your colleagues or friends in the industry, or check on industry forums on Facebook or other websites to recommend someone they trust and have had a good experience with. Make sure that the fixer is not just efficient and reliable, but also someone with a good temperament who doesn’t crack under pressure, and who can be your friend during the short but crucial time of the shoot. Look for a fixer who is honest and transparent with finances, and is patient with all your questions. And lastly, find a fixer who knows the country well, has all the relevant (and seemingly-irrelevant) information on his/her fingertips, is resourceful and has a sense of humour. Why a sense of humour? Well, filming in India could be a stressful affair and some laughs are always welcome!
Permits and more permits: We in India love paperwork, permits and red-tape. Filming in India without proper permits could be a nightmare. Your fixer should be able to guide you though the labyrinth of various permits granted by the government, give visa advice, wrangle permits for monuments, wildlife parks, airports, ports, private and government properties. We at Backpack Films have years of experience dealing with various government authorities and private properties and have assisted hundreds of film crews with all sorts of permits.
Accommodation: A good production services company should be able to help you find hotels in a variety of price brackets: from super-luxury resorts and five star accommodation (if it’s a big budget production) to budget or business hotels for smaller productions. Because shoot schedules can always change suddenly, the logistics team should be able to respond to last-minute requests so that production continues without missing a beat. At Backpack Films we have a dedicated logistics team which understands this, and can negotiate the best rates for you. We also ensure that hotels provide the extra TLC that film crews need after a hard day of work.
Travel: Road, rail and airline travel in India can be nightmarish. Bad roads, reckless or clueless drivers, rickety vehicles, excess baggage woes and ticketing issues can mess with your filming schedules. Ask the fixing company whether the transport vendors they work with are professional and reliable. At Backpack Films, our logistics team will make sure that all the cars and vehicles (even camels, when needed) are hired from trusted vendors, with licenses and proper insurance. We also ensure that we hire local drivers with sound knowledge of the terrain and navigation skills.