Filmmaking / Directing : Cultural Consulting by Mark W. McIntire

Mark W. McIntire

Cultural Consulting

When Indie production companies send a crew and actors to another country to film, how is the team trained in cross-cultural living for their time in the other culture?

David Trotti

I've worked overseas on shows. The way it usually works for an American company going into another country is you work with a local production company or service entity that handles permits, negotiates stage space, equipment rentals and hires the local crew, then administrates payroll and payments in the local currency. They also know who to bribe and who to go to get things done. Depending on how you're bring the money into the country, you'll usually lock in an exchange rate at that time. Americans working in a foreign country have to have a Visa to do so, which the company helps facilitate. In South Africa my Visa was for 3 months. Then I had to leave the country and return under a new Visa. They also give you a list of vaccines to go get and health advisories for the region. There really isn't any training for the Crew or Cast about living in another country I've ever experienced (or heard of). You usually get a briefing by Production at the beginning of your stay about what's unsafe, where not to go and how to find your way around. Cast and Above the Line usually get Drivers assigned to them. Key Crew usually get driven to and from work, but are on their own otherwise, unless it's a really dangerous place, when you get assigned a Driver too. In the rare instance you bring more crew, they usually get van service to and from the hotel and set. Production arranges for your hotel, flights and movement to and from work. You get handed your per diem in cash in an envelop on pay day. Sometimes you get an orientation booklet with suggestions for local restaurants, sightseeing and laundry services. If the actors need to learn something about the local customs or language for their parts, we hire specialists to train them. Sometimes months in advance. You would also have technical advisors available on set. I suppose if you were going into a very remote and primitive region, you might select crew members more skilled in roughing it, hiking or wilderness skills. Hope that helps a little.

Mark W. McIntire

Thank you David. This is quite helpful. I am especially interested in the how well the team interacts with the locals when off-set. Seeing so many pix of the Game of Thrones folks in their locations, I wonder if some enculturation might help. Do you think so?

JD Hartman

I'd think that most below the line crew would be hired from the pool of local talent. No need to train or deal with the cost of transport, housing, etc.

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