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Do I need a visa to film a youtube short film in Thailand?

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Hi there,

I have been to Thailand 15 years. I am sick of seeing the bad side of things of LOS on TV, I decided to buy some top end film making gear for short films.

I am coming over to Smiles in 2 weeks. But normally a camcorder or an iPhone.

I am wanting to bring a decent film making camera and a studio quality mic over and possibly lighting gear I have bought.

I am wanting to follow Hairy bikers recent cooking success and the travel show doing a short on a footballer giving everything up to become a Thai Monk.

I have enquired about a non class M filming visa 90 days, but I am lost with the cost and what else I need to film.

I mean I could just come and film as a holiday maker, but I wanting to interview farangs in it. So I class it as film making for non profit.

My subject is all positive, nothing to do with bad we see in LOS, bar girls and whatever.

I have this idea to do a short 1 hour film doc, Called Thailand like Benidorm.

It is a unique video interviewing the older end expats and there wives, not THAI. Ex European, American, Australians. And Holiday makers that have been coming to Thailand years and want to see European Benidorm acts in the bars, like comedians, and old skool benidorm acts.

Also going into the subject of why only we see Filipino entertainers and interviewing them as entertainers in Thailands major resorts.

A guy I met had an idea for a Soi that caters for Brits and holidaymakers that would like a dedicated street like benidorms new town but in Phuket or Pattaya.

Just all farang food and farang beer.

Sounds crackers going to Thailand if you could goto Benidorm instead.

But this guy I met, gave me an idea for a short film of what European style bars that are still not in Pattaya or Phuket. Like Stand Up Comedians, Caberet, Blackpool acts.

Any thoughts.. I could cover cookery but its already been done...


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No visa allows you to work only a work permit does that.

In order to get a M visa you would need to be sponsored by an agency.

If everything you did was behind closed doors you could probably get away with what you plan on doing.

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The cost would depend on how long you plan on working here.

It is possible to get an temporary 15 day work permit if you have a local company to sponsor it.

By agency I meant a media agency or business. (in example a magazine, newspaper and etc)

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You could get professional quality footage using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, along with a digital recorder and you would absolutely not raise any eyebrows. No need to carry lights as the BMPCC can shoot in really low light with the right lens. Any place with indoor lighting would be fine and audiences have no problem watching indie-style film making as long as the camera is steady and audio is good. The biggest thing you would need to carry would be the tripod.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists are shooting video on the streets of Thailand every day and most of them post their videos on YouTube so no-one is going to have a problem with that response if you are asked any questions. If you are carrying a giant Red camera or something that requires loads of lights and other gear on a shoot as you describe, you are not doing it right.

Best of luck.

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Permits aside, as mentioned you can achieve very high quality video on very small outfits, but PLEASE stabilize the camera on a tripod, even a light-weight one you can buy for from 1200 Baht to 3000 at Pantip among others. On the weekend I bought a very neat little tripod for use with a Nikon F100 and Shift lens (for architecture)1200 Baht. There are shops there with a range of tripods & heads for video work. Paying more for added facility of course, but if you buy here, you don't attract attention when entering, and you will get more for your money anyway.

Travel light, and
1. You won't be noticed
2. You won't be so exhausted and regretful of the unnecessary heavy equipment.

By the way, if I see a film made with constantly-moving camera work, no matter what the content (with the exception of undercover work) .. I hit the kill switch. I won't watch it.

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I taught film and tv making at big universities usa and here and hold a Ph.D. in cinema, yes actually! NYU.

My students shot video anywhere with few problems although as soon as the tripod gets set up, people will take notice and some places will ask you to move off. Best not to ask first to shoot there; just move if asked, and move further than their property line. Thai police like helping Thai citizens with stubborn foreigners. You have no real rights along these lines in Thailand; smile and move on.

Thailand has the rule that photographing in public places is ok without permission of those photographed, BUT Thai law is much more lenient to allow anyone to sue the photographer if the photos show the person in a negative view. Carry 100,000THB to pay that fine, or more.

You will meet some of the best Muay Thai street fighters if you try to film/photograph INSIDE any pole dancing or other such establishment. The guys come with buddies and will take care of you. Filming on the streets outside is not safe either due to the bouncers and also to the private folks there who do not want to be on Youtube for folks back home to see. If those types sue you in Thailand, they will win.

The abundance of cameras now has made it lots easier for you to get by shooting your desired work, but keep above in mind. Always use a tripod or monopod like the good amateur Japanese tourists, which pave the way for you, too.

As to equipment, you can use either a new small video camera, a tiny hidden one, or just a good mobile telephone but in all cases HOLD THE CAMERA STILL. How many filmed air crashes can not be seen usefully because the camera was shaking all over the place. That is not "a style" like BLAIR WITCH, but just miserable amateur stuff. Your real equipment concern is the quality editing device (and easily getting your video out of whatever camera and into the editor). I recommend a Mac Book Pro 15inch with the 2009 version of iMovie (the current version sold with the computer is real and truly junk), and Final Cut Pro editing programs. There are newer, flavor of the day, editing programs to choose from. Plan on editing 8-10 hours for every one hour of raw footage and three days polish editing for every one minute finished screen time.... no kidding.

Film inside private places all you can. Good luck facepalm.gif

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I am not certain that someone filming for his own production in Thailand count as work? Because work that needs a work permit is basically defined as work that otherwise could be carried out by a Thai national. You are not filming for a Thai company but for yourself, hence not working for a Company in Thailand.

Similar to the case where you are for example a writer, cartoonist or programmer, you can be in Thailand on a Tourist Visa and still be working (writing, programming for example).

Even any work that you do at home, if you are thinking about that work and solving some problem or obstacle relating to your work in your home country while you are in Thailand, technically you are working, but not doing work that would require a work permit as no money is passing hands in Thailand.

That is how I see it at least, hope I am not wrong. This advise comes with no guarantees, I am just expressing my thoughts.

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