Niche Stories

Unanticipated Costs when Shooting Overseas

September 02, 2014
Niche Stories | 3 minute read

Foreign countries can add intrigue, exotic scenery, and much needed location ambiance to your production, not to mention foreign tax incentives, but there are also some unanticipated costs that productions will incur when shooting abroad.

Here are a few line items you might want to be aware of:

1. Foreign production service company costs

When shooting overseas, depending on the country, expect to have to hire a local production service company who will pay your bills to locals using foreign currency.

2. Special crew expenses

While filming in European countries like Germany, Italy and Spain many productions fly in a special crew from the UK to work the film. Because some countries don’t have the same expertise in film know-how, you’ll need to turn to countries like the UK for special “pliable crews” who are used to traveling. It’s cheaper to import the crew from England than to fly them out from the U.S, but there is an added costs for traveling these crewmembers.

In countries like China there are numerous requirements and restrictions for your crew. For example, every U.S. crewmember you bring in will need a working visa stamped by the Chinese government, and you’ll likely have to hire the equivalent Chinese crewmember—not only for the language barrier, but for local crew familiarity. Chinese crews tend to be much larger than U.S. crews, but the Chinese employees are usually less costly than their American counterparts.

3. Shipping Costs for equipment

Depending on how much equipment you need and your location, your production will incur shipping costs for sending cameras, lighting, sound, wardrobe, art department, props and other equipment ahead of your crew’s arrival. It’s cheaper to ship it than to fly with it, but shipping costs can add up especially with last minute, un-expected production requests for additional equipment, department purchases and rentals.

4. Translators

You will need to have local translators and/or foreign guides available throughout your shoot to help navigate you and your crew through cultural differences and sticky political situations. Expect to have several on hand in every location spread throughout departments.

5. Added Fuel Costs

In all of Europe and many other foreign countries, gasoline price are higher than in the U.S. For example, a gallon of gas costs close to $10 in Turkey. So an extended shoot can add unexpected fuel costs to your budget.

6. Additional insurance

While shooting outside the U.S. there are likely to be additional insurance costs you’re going to incur, depending on the country and specific location. Terrorism insurance, Foreign general liability, wind coverage and Foreign worker’s compensation, are just a few of the types of insurance that you may acquire while shooting abroad.

Visit the European Film Commissions Network to find out if there’s a film commission in the country where you’re going. By researching as much as you can ahead of time about a specific country, it could make a big difference when you’re scouting overseas locations for your next film.