|Title:||Thailand annual number of foreign film and television production companies filming in the country by nationality in units, and percent change for 2007 to 2010, and partial data for 2011|
Start of full article - but without data
Countries and Number of Foreign Productions Filming in Thailand
Year Japan Europe U.S Australia China Korea Hong Kong Taiwan
2007 XXX XXX XX XX X XX XX X 2008 XXX XXX XX XX X XX XX X 2009 XXX XX XX X XX XX XX XX 2010 XXX XX XX X XX XX XX XX 2011 XX XX XX X XX XX XX X
Year India Others GRowth on-year
2007 XX XX X.XX% 2008 XXX XX X.XX% 2009 XXX XX -X.X 2010 XXX XXX XX.XX% 2011 XX XX -
Thailand Film Office Director Wanasiri Morakul smiled cordially as she shook hands with the departing delegation of representatives from Bollywood private sector companies. The Bollywood delegation, in the recent past the Busan, Korea government, the Indonesian National Film Advisory Board, a delegation from the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Lao PDR and Bhutanese governments and others, were in The Land of Smiles looking for counsel on how to grow their production service industry and for the private sector, how best to film in Thailand.
"Thailand's location industry has been around for over XX years (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1956, XXth Century Fox, director Michael Todd)", said Morakul.
"However, it's only been over the last few years that our Film Office (Thailand's film commission under the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, which celebrates its seventh anniversary in July 2011), has become competitive enough raising the profile of our production service industry to match those of more developed locales."
Morakul admits that it is a constant chore to maintain competitiveness and to convince the Thai government to allocate adequate budget to carry forth training programs for the Thai private sector, skills training courses for neighboring Asian film commissions and programs that help them compete in the global market, but she is proud of the industry's consistent growth.
In the first quarter of 2011, a total of XXX foreign productions were shot in Thailand, up XX% from the same period last year. According to the Department of Tourism, Thailand earned X.XX billion baht (US$XX million), in 2010, more than doubling the XXX million baht (US$XX million) earned in 2009. A total of XXX foreign productions were shot in the country last year. Traditionally, Japan and India have filmed the greatest number of productions each year in Thailand. However, in the first quarter of 2011 Europe took over the number one position with Japan following closely (despite the devastating earthquake that hit the Japanese island on March XX), and India falling to third place.
Bump in European productions may be from renewed European interest in filming in Thailand after the $XX.X million French production Largo Wince II (The Burma Conspiracy) was filmed ft produced largely in Thailand.
Building up the buzz
It has taken more than six years for the Thailand Film Office to get the word out to the international community about Thailand's exotic locations and multi cultural/ lingual film crews. Years of battling non-interested (Thai) officials that did not recognize the economic viability of promoting access to Thailand's natural and cultural wonders.
But this has changed. Thailand is busy with foreign productions and is being recognized as not only one of the top three locations in Asia but one of the top locations in the world for film shoots and production (as designated by PX Update magazine in 2010). Even the government is beginning to take note: Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visited the set of the Legendary Pictures film The Hangover Part II in December last year and chatted with director Todd Philips and the foreign production crew about their experience shooting in Thailand.
The prime minister learned that the production contributed XXX million baht ($XX.X) to the Thai economy over two months of shooting-approximately XXX local Thai crew were hired with around XXX foreign crew staying in over XX different hotels around the city.
Coming off the 2010 fourth quarter hosting two major Hollywood productions, The Hangover Part II and Scorpion King X, and French director Luc Besson's Into the Light, the Thailand Film Office is increasingly seeing application for filming from new territories such as Eastern European countries, Russia and China. The only problem with this is that these crews tend to be small, many of them wishing to do reality shows (which don't really have any focus that can be described to the Film Office for permit granting sake) and some of them, shall we say, have business practices which are a bit outside the norm.
And while the Thailand Film Office and the private sector Foreign Film Production Services Association of Thailand (FSA) have done much to put professional standards in place, offering ongoing training for the private sector production service companies, the more than XXX Thai production service companies all want a piece of the increased foreign shoots in-country and some are skirting regulations.
"It's an increasing problem," admits Sasisupa Sungvaribud, president of FSA."Xne we will have to deal with at some point but all the evidence is not in yet."
What really caused change was a new organic Film Law passed by the Thai Parliament in 2008 which replaced the XX year old film law. The new Law set up a National Audiovisual Council whose members consist of representatives from the Ministry of Culture (which now oversee domestic film), Ministry of Commerce (Department of Export Promotion who aid in export of Thai film a TV product), Ministry of Tourism Et Sports, Department of Tourism (Film Office who represent foreign production teams shooting in Thailand), representative of the private sector production services industry and others. This committee is officially chaired by the Prime Minister.
Now, for the first time, members of the government have come to recognize the creative industries - sit together to discuss ways the industries can contribute not only to growth of budget from income earned in all creative sectors but also how Thai product can interface in the global marketplace and how to make Thailand more attractive to foreign film and TV makers.
This focus on growth, competitiveness and issues has aided somewhat in stability and growth in the industries. But problems still exist. The Tourism Authority of Thailand, tasked with marketing Thailand to tourists around the world and big sister to the Department of Tourism Film Office under the same Ministry of Tourism and Sports, tends to step on its little "sister's toes" and support crews from various countries to film in Thailand. The French TAT office is responsible for bringing the Largo Winch II production to Thailand while investing into the bottom line of the movie itself all but ignoring the Film Office's legislative and budqetary mandate.
What about incentives?
Yes, in a competitive business environment, incentives help, however Thailand has very few (and the film makers keep on coming). This year the Thai parliament did pass resolutions asking several ministries to explore passage of incentives for foreign film makers. So far fees have been lifted on productions filmed on government properties and tax on foreign workers income has been waived. However the biggest incentive, waiver of VAT tax is still under consideration by the Finance Ministry. Their task is to devise a new system which would be able to track monies and losses from tax rebates to foreign film makers. As it stands, there is no way to do that so these taxes cannot be lifted.
All societies around the world have social unrest from time to time. Did the social unrest of 2009 - 2010 in Thailand affect the production services industry? The numbers and producers comments show it did not.
Frank DeMartini was filming Elephant White when the Red Shirts staged demonstrations in downtown Bangkok. He said of the situation: "Yes the unrest was a little unnerving but we were shooting XX minutes away from the main demonstration point and we had absolutely no interference. As a matter of fact, during that entire time the only difficulty we had were traffic problems caused by police shut-downs of routes near the demonstration assembly points. Mind you, we were in touch with our bonding agent daily to discuss a 'plan B' for shooting but we never had to implement it.
And when Frank was asked if he will ever shoot again in Thailand, he replied: "Of course! The crews, the equipment, the work ethic, the hospitality all make for some of the best location shoots that can be found." There is no better sales pitch than that.
Scott Rosenberg was presented the "Friends of Thailand" Award by the Thai Government in 2002 for his contributions to the Kingdom through his journalistic endeavors while having received from His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia, that same year the royal titles Commandeur de l'Ordre Royal du Sahametrei and Commandeur de l'Ordre Royal du Cambodge. As a hobby Scott raises rare breed, pedigree Thai Ridgeback Dogs and "hangs-out" with Thai Elephants in northern Thailand as they paint.
RELATED ARTICLE: SO WHAT MAKES THAILAND SPECIAL?
* When asked what he thinks of Thai production services, Academy Award winning actor William Hurt, who concluded shooting Shadows in Thailand in early March 2009 said, "They were phenomenal!"
* Singaporean director Jack Neo (I Not Stupid, Money Not Enough): "The theatres and facilities in Bangkok are excellent. I do my post-production work here ... I'm ... amazed by the facilities!"
* Anthony D'Suza (Tony), director of one of Bollywood's most expensive movies Blue, who filmed XX days on location in Thailand with a crew of XX from India, said that the production services industry in Thailand "is better than in India." "Overall, infrastructure is better here. While India has the same or better landscapes - communication, transportation and professional crews are all superior in Thailand: crews work hard and get the job done in the shortest amount of time. And we all know that time is money ... so the money that we have to spend on travel and accommodations here in country is more than compensated for in money that we save in production time."
* Elephant White (Millennium Films, 2010) producer Frank DeMartini: "It has been a pleasure working with the entire Thai team. They are dedicated and hard working. We could never have gotten as much done as we did in the short period of time we had if it were not for their commitment to the project."
* Vietnamese Director Le Thanh Son (Bay Rong-Clash): "Vietnamese film makers like using post production services in Thailand because the technicians both foreign and Thai are well trained. But it is not only better training, their attitude toward work is much more focused than in Vietnam - they seem to care about their work and do it quickly and proficiently. Thailand has the best post production facilities in all of Asia."
* Hollywood director Darnell Martin (Cadillac Records, USA TV episodes "Homicide: Law on the Street", "Thai production services people are very informed, professional and serious about their industry. Besides that, the country side is beautiful and people quite hospitable."
* Morio Amagi, producer of the Japanese film Oba the Last Samurai: Actually, Saipan was not so convenient a location for filming so we decided to shoot in Asia and we scout for locations that had landscape similar to Saipan. We narrowed our search down to the Philippines and Thailand. We finally chose Thailand because of the abundance of equipment available here and the capability of production staff."
* Largo Winch I & II director Jerome Salle: "The Thai crew worked very hard because they truly love what they do - they have a very dynamic way of working."
* Director Roel Reine: Scorpion King: Rise of the Dead (Universal Pictures, 2010): "Thai crews are amazing. They work hard and really enjoy their work. They are very professional in their approach to their jobs - a lot like Dutch crews in that they ail chip in to get the job done. In Hollywood, things are a bit more segmented."
When asked why he thought Thailand was so popular with foreign film crews, Don Robinson, head of Siamlite International Co., Ltd. (Thai film equipment provider) listed the following:
Because Thailand has a large clothing manufacturing industry, costumes are easy to have made and inexpensive.
Because of the extremely well developed tourism infrastructure there are excellent hotels spread throughout the country, be it a remote island or in the farthest jungles and mountains. Therefore, when shooting in remote locations you are likely to find a place for your crew to stay. Also, this has increased the number of people who have learned English.
The technical facilities are very advanced with several camera, lighting and grip companies providing state of the art equipment including the latest in digital cameras like the Red MX and Arri Alexa.
The equipment rental companies are staffed with, full time, highly skilled crews to accompany the equipment. Each crew person is put through rigorous training, is familiar with the equipment and used to working together as a team. They can provide English speaking crew in all key positions.
Thailand is number one for set construction with skilled craftsmen available in all fields at astonishingly inexpensive rates. Our set construction personnel, art directors, and Production designers are second to none.