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Advice for filming in Malaysia

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Andy TaplinAdvice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 21, 2008 at 10:51:38 am

Hi All

I’m going to Kuala Lumpur to film a corporate job at the Asia-Pacific offices of our client who are a software company headquartered in Cambridge, UK.

It would appear that to film professionally in Malaysia you need some official permission from a part of the Ministry of Culture known as PUSPAL.

We’ve contacted a local ‘fixer’ production company who will sot out all the paperwork but they want nearly £700 ($1,400) to do this and the implication is that if you set up the camera in a particular location there might well be more location fees.

It seems like we would be writing a blank cheque and all we want is some GVs around KL and our clients offices with maybe 2 or 3 interviews outside the office at somewhere that looks Malay.

The crew would be just myself and an assistant shooting on full size DVCAM with a tripod and pro mic – but it’s hardly feature film stuff.

Does any one know what the minimum legal requirement is to do the above?

Do you need any official stuff just to enter the country with pro video kit?

Any good contacts in KL?

BTW, I'm British so I don't need to worry about visas for Malaysia.

Many thanks


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 21, 2008 at 2:05:08 pm

I'm from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and IMO, for the type of shoot you mentioned, you are either being ripped off or the local company is playing it extremely safe as they may not have a specific list of locations that you want to shoot.

Yes, the govt is always fearful that foreign productions may capture something that may not reflect well on the country or portray it in a prejudicial manner. Most governments are like this.

I do the occasional corp videos. Though I do not shoot personally, I hire cameraman and crew, and when outdoor is required we just go out and shoot - in the streets, wherever. Generally, no licence, special fees, clearance to pay whatever. Of course, if we were to shoot inside someone's building, office premises, or shopping complex, permission from the owner/premises-occupier would be required.

In public places, the best way to get around the hassle of being potentially questioned by building security personnel is to use smaller cameras, definitely not the shoulder-mount type. Also, consider dressing as a tourist - floppy hat or reversed baseball cap, t-shirt, shorts, etc.

Thomas Leong



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Andy TaplinRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 21, 2008 at 2:41:27 pm

Thanks Thomas

So will we ba able to enter Malasia with a standard list of equipment and then go the client's offices without any official procedures?

If we are on the street with a shoulder mounted camera will the police hassle us.

I can get a letter form the Malaysian office of our client explaining what we are doing, would this be enough?

Your advice is appreciated.

Andy


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 21, 2008 at 5:54:38 pm

Andy,

So will we be able to enter Malaysia with a standard list of equipment and then go the client's offices without any official procedures?

I would say yes. Customs is only concerned that you do not sell/leave the equipment behind. So generally, a company letter stating to the Director of Customs, Malaysia declaring that the equipment you are bringing in will be taken out when you leave, should be fine. Just walk through the green lane. If stopped, produce your letter of declaration. Hope you are not bringing cases of equipment!!

The only worry is your entry permit, which if I'm not wrong, does not allow you to be employed in this country. Same with any other countries, I guess. Be prepared with the right answers - that you are not being employed here.

If we are on the street with a shoulder mounted camera will the police hassle us.

I dare say, no, unless someone complains and they are obliged to investigate. Yes, if you have talents, sets, lighting, etc...and need traffic to be stopped, etc. If anything, a discrete tip should take care of it :)

I can get a letter from the Malaysian office of our client explaining what we are doing, would this be enough?

This would help if you have any questions from any authority. Basically it shows that you are shooting for a locally based company. Where the shoot ultimately ends up, they need not know.

Your advice is appreciated.

Give me a couple of days to make a few phone calls, and I'll come back to you with confirmation of what I've said above.

Thomas



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Andy TaplinRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 21, 2008 at 5:59:28 pm

That's really helpful.

Thanks Thomas.


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 22, 2008 at 5:10:05 pm

Andy,

Made a couple of calls today and this is what I have -

1. Yes, a licence is required to shoot out in the streets. It costs about RM300 (<50 British pounds) from City Hall if shooting in Kuala Lumpur, not at any particular premises. Most don't bother applying/paying because by the time the authority concerned comes to know about it and mobilise its 'enforcement personnel', the shoot is completed, packed up and gone anyway.

2. At premises, you would need permission from the building owner/management. For example, if you are shooting within the compounds of the Petronas Twin Towers (the garden and fountain area for example), then the guards will likely come up and ask if you have permission from the management. Perhaps to anticipate this, your client's KL office can apply before you arrive. Else, I have personally shot there with a small DV camera and was never questioned.

3. The police would not be involved in this stuff. It's City Hall or the suburb management, or the premises management or their security personnel. All unarmed :)

4. It would help during your outdoor shoot to have a local around (probably from your client's KL office) - not a meek person, but one who can talk his/her way out in the local (Malay) language.

Happy shooting!
Thomas





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Andy TaplinRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 23, 2008 at 2:46:31 pm

That's really useful advice Thomas - thanks very much. I'm likely to be in KL towards the end of March if you give me your Email or cellphone I'll give you a call and buy you a couple of beers.

Andy


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 23, 2008 at 4:53:31 pm

Andy,
I'll be out of the country for 2 weeks in March, returning on March 24, and departing again on 30th for 8 more days - working at my other rice bowl (pro golf officiating).

If you are here in the period in between, we'll have a beer or two!

Thomas
tleong at streamyx dot com
017-873 0313 (when called locally, else add +6 prefix)



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Leah ManassehRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Sep 24, 2008 at 7:09:24 pm

Hey Thomas!

My name is Leah, I am producer at Hot Spot Films, a production company based in Dubai, producing documentaries throughout the world.
We will start shooting in a week, and we have already hired a fixer through a production company who has also sponsored us for the work permits.
The field producer has been in touch with the fixer for all the coordination. The fixer recently sent her a price list for the locations that seems outrageous! We have filmed in every corner of the world but we never have had to pay so much for shooting permits.
I was wondering if I could call you tomorrow to verify this info with you. You seem to know how things run in Malaysia.
After this shoot we are planning another shoot in Malaysia as well which require more locations! I am apprehensive about this and would need to have a secont opinion.
Your help and assistance is much appreciated!

Hope to hear from you!

Leah
leah@hotspotfilms.com
917 55 932 4961






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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Sep 25, 2008 at 7:21:49 am

Hi Leah,

Per our phone conversation, I am awaiting your requirements, and shall try to put you in touch with someone else. It's Thursday here, and I'm off to Korea on Sunday for the whole of next week, so we'll have to get this done quick.

Generally, permissions and licences are not expensive in Malaysia. But if one has what-we-call "the jalan", literally meaning the road/path, figuratively the contacts, then things can be quick and smooth, but not necessarily cheaper especially if shooting indoors. Third world country...you know ;-)

Waiting for your details.
Thomas leong
tleong49 at streamyx dot com








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Bahman TirganRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jul 25, 2012 at 1:02:00 am

Hello Thomas,

Would you happened to know a nice reliable fixer in Malaysia for a Documentary work?
Need some one to take care of permits and act as a guide & driver!
I know I'm asking for too much but have met and worked with people like that before.
We are a crew of 5 shooting on 5D.
I truly apreciate if you help me out on this.

Best,

Bahman

Pixel Media Group


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jul 25, 2012 at 5:15:23 pm

I'll ask around and come back to you on this.

Thomas



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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jul 26, 2012 at 4:49:47 pm

Bahman,

I have found someone experienced who is willing to discuss your needs further. Please give me your email so that she may contact you.

thomas[dot]leong1atgmail[dot]com



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Bahman TirganRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jul 26, 2012 at 5:50:14 pm

Dear Thomas,

First let me thank you for your kind nature.
My email is: bahman_ tirgan@yahoo.com

I hope by the time I come to KL we could arrange sometime to see each other.
For a drink or two?!

Cheers,

Bahman

Pixel Media Group


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jul 27, 2012 at 7:20:02 am

Ok, have forwarded it on to my friend. You should get an email from her and you two can take it from there. Her name is Keng, with about 20+ years in the producer business organizing shoots, etc for the advertising agencies she has worked for. Now free-lancing.

As for the drink together, yes, please ask Keng to contact me when you are here. If I'm in the country, we'll definitely get together.

Thomas



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Olivia RidealRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 24, 2014 at 9:33:13 pm

Hi Thomas,

Myself and a friend are travelling to Sabah, Malaysia and plan to document our holiday and some wildlife on Sony HD Video Cameras, two DSLR's and some small mics. We are cautious as to whether to get a permit but all the information we've found is for larger scale commercial filming. Our holiday takes us to the city (KK), Mt Kinabalu and rainforests. We will also be carrying a tripod and a monopod. Any advice as to what documents (if any) we may need to ensure there isn't a problem with us filming?

Many thanks,
Olivia


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 25, 2014 at 5:56:56 am

Hello Olivia,

Off-hand, I'd say you should have no problems with cameras and tripods. But since you have mics, and multiple cameras, that makes it look 'professional' and formal - more than a self-use video shoot.

With Sabah, I'm not too sure as the local government for Sabah is quite autonomous re laws for Sabah. However, the good news is that they are very favourable toward anything to do with encouraging tourism. So I'd advise you to contact the Sabah Tourism Authority for a letter stating that you are in Sabah to document your holiday on video and to request 'To whom it may concern' to co-operate and facilitate your shoots.

Thomas Leong



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Armand AttardRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Dec 30, 2008 at 10:04:02 am

Hi Thomas, I wonder if you might point me in the right direction for a shoot I small corporate shoot I am trying to put together for Shell. I am trying to find a real person' Malaysian with exellent english to do a driving story. it would take about three days. I need a little advice on permits too.
We plan to be there at the end of January 2009.

Thanks Armand, Armandattardfilms


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 21, 2009 at 3:49:31 pm

hi Armand,

Apologies for the late reply. Haven't visited here in a while...and this might come a bit late. In any case, late January is not a good time for talents as the Chinese New Year week long holidays starts from the 26th, with most leaving for their home town on 22-25.

Then there is type (read: race) of talent you would want to represent a Malaysian. As we are a multi-racial society, generally any one of the 3 main races (Malays, Chinese and Indians) will do, though to be frank, the last would be a challenge to light properly. The govt (and maybe you) would prefer a Malay. They have some Polynesian features, and can be fair to mid-dark-skinned. Talent agencies here mostly have neutral-looking types...sort of from mixed parentage. An agency that recently contacted me is http://www.outloudtalents.com Contact name is Ivy Tan ivy at outloud dot com dot my.

As for spoken English for communication purposes, generally this should not be a problem. But finding a talent who sounds good speaking into a mic and a major problem. There are only two persons here I know who speak excellent Queen's English. Both are voice talents who do voice recording for adverts, etc.

One is now an actor also (one role he played was as a judge in the remake of 'The King and I' starring Chow Yeng Fatt from Hong Kong and Jodie Foster, years ago). But do not shoot him walking. He has a limp from polio in his younger days. Good friend of mine. Racial features are Chinese; age about mine at 60, but we always look younger than we are! Excellent rich voice quality for recording.

The other is an Eurasian (meaning European-Asian)...maybe Portuguese background...not sure. Also an oft-used voice talent for English recordings here, like the other.

Your client here (if it is Shell) would know both by name: Patrick Teoh and Geoffrey Nicolson. Patrick would in all likelyhood be celebrating Chinese New Year during that period, and apart from being expensive, perhaps Geoff is the better choice as he probably will not be celebrating CNY except for visits to friends houses, etc. He is not a Malay, but should be ok for corporate work. Age is about 50+. Rich voice. Anyway, both the guys own their own recording studio or have a share with others, and you can spice up any recordings and/or video work there.

Let me know soon via email: tleong49 at streamyx dot com.

FYI, I shall be travelling from Feb 2-8 and won't be able to help during those days.

cheers,
Thomas Leong




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Kenny ZaiIm a local in Malaysia but do I need to apply licence to film my movie?
by on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:21:10 pm

Hey guys..i was surveying via net, attempting to find some guides and advises about filming in Malaysia. And yes, I'm a local and I'm only 19 years old. Had some experiences in the past for shooting short videos but now me and my crews are planning on something big. Something like making a movie.

Lets assume that we have enough equipment to do so, but what worries us is that what kind of licence do we need? Do we really have to pay a lot? Is it possible that we film the whole movie without paying a cent? We are planning on getting this movie to the cinema. Yeah is crazy but we would like to try.

Do anyone know what kind of licence do we need to apply in Malaysia?Is it possible that we can avoid paying anything?

Urgent :(


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Kenny ZaiRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 14, 2013 at 2:26:00 pm

Hello. I'm a local in Malaysia but do i need to apply any licence for shooting? My crew and I are planning on gaining fiance via our production and we really hope that our movie can be shown in the public cinema one day.

But what concerns us is that, do we need to apply any licence for that?And is it possible that we can avoid paying or paying less ?

PLz e-mail me as soon as possible, urgent :(

banevengeance@yahoo.com


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Feb 14, 2013 at 4:33:48 pm

My understanding is that you must have a licence and a Censorship certificate in order to screen your movie in the cinemas. You should contact FINAS, the body that governs filming in Malaysia who should be able to clarify every aspect required in order not to fall foul of the laws here -

http://www.finas.gov.my/index.php?mod=finas&sub=pengenalan

There is a tab at the site for Licencing with a download form to fill and submit. Hope your Bahasa Malay is better than mine!

For a censorship cert, there are preliminaries to submit before you should start your shoot. In my earlier days, a script and storyboard had to be submitted before production could even start. I don't think this has changed, but ask FINAS. Essentially they don't want you to include topics (audio and visual) that are sensitive to the "culture and traditions" of the country (You know what I mean). Saying you won't is one thing. They want it in writing - by approving your script and storyboard on which your final Censorship Cert will be based when compared with the final edit.



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Gussie PeileRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Mar 31, 2015 at 8:45:33 am

Hi Thomas,

You seem to be well versed on filming in Malaysia and I have a few questions.

I noted that you mentioned a fixer - can you recommend someone to help put together both an aerial shoot and a green-screen studio shoot with talent?

It is a corporate film so we are on the age-old problem of a very tight budget!

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Gussie


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:04:55 pm

The original fixer I had is now gainfully employed. But I do have another fixer/producer who comes highly recommended by a production house here. Please check your account here at the Cow.



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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia - errata
by on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:10:24 pm
Last Edited By Thomas Leong on Mar 31, 2015 at 3:13:04 pm

- this post deleted -


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Alice WindelerRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 5, 2017 at 12:27:55 pm

Hi,

I am from Salt TV, a production company in Soho, and am looking to partner with a services company in Malaysia to help with some filming in early January. We will be filming a conference for our client in Kota Kinabalu and I am looking to find out some costs for a camera operator and a sound operator (with sound kit included) for a 3-day shoot.

It would also be great to get a rough estimate for hiring some lights as well. A rough estimate is great as we are just at budgeting stage at the moment - also if there are any regulations or permissions needed to film in Malaysia.

Thanks for your help,

Alice


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 5, 2017 at 5:19:47 pm

AFAIK, as you are filming within the 4 walls of a building, and provided you are not filming any aspect that may put Malaysia in a negative light, the only permission you require is from the building owner, or in this case, the organisers of the conference who would be responsible for you and the crew's behaviour, access, etc. If your client is from KK itself, they should be in the best position to get permission from the organisers of the conference.

As for a local crew and equipment, Kota Kinabalu is in East Malaysia. I'm in the west, across the South China Sea! To fly a crew and equipment there would not be cost effective if you can get the stuff from Kota Kinabalu instead. Your best bet would be to try the facebook page of the 'Malaysian Freelance Film and Video Production Crew'. There may be someone from that area - https://www.facebook.com/groups/mfpc2011/

Thomas Leong



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Alice WindelerRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 5, 2017 at 5:50:48 pm

Hi Thomas,

Thank you so much for your advice really useful.

Thanks,

Alice


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Thomas LeongRe: Advice for filming in Malaysia
by on Jan 9, 2017 at 1:25:41 pm

BTW, a bit of geography...if anyone in that facebook page says he/she is located in Sabah, that is where Kota Kinabalu is. KK is the capital of the state of Sabah.

Good luck!



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