Cracking China: Some quick tips for filming in China

April 1, 2006

Make friends with someone who has covered your topic before, says Lewis. If they’ve had to obtain permissions in the past, they should be able to help you.

Keep the number of staff you send to China to a minimum.

A producer, director and possibly cameraman should do it. Set designers, location managers, etc. can be found there.

Rent equipment in China, says Kersken. That way, you can kiss customs problems, forms and the cost of excess luggage goodbye.

Deal with problems in person when possible. Faxes and phone calls can’t replace face time.

Try and force decisions to be made quickly. Take the time to get friendly first.

Overlook Chinese scientists. Use reputable ones, it may help open other doors for contacts.

Assume people don’t speak or understand English. ‘Sometimes I didn’t know people’s level of English, then later on I’d find out it’s pretty damn good,’ says Lewis.

Stray from your shopping list of shots. If you don’t need to take shots of beggars or the military that will upset the Chinese in their present stage of development, then don’t do it.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.