Traveling to Canada
I'm not sure if this is the appropriate thread, but I thought I'd start here.
In a few weeks, I will be making my first trip outside the U.S. with my video equipment. I am a freelancer and was hired by a U.S. company to videotape some interviews at a tradeshow in Montreal.
My client advised me to go through their broker for customs purposes to simplify things. Since renting equipment in Montreal is not an option, I'm leaning toward shipping my equipment via FedEx versus bringing the equipment onboard the aircraft. I'm assuming it's safer, guaranteed to get there on time, easy to insure, and trackable.
I'm bringing a standard EFP kit (camera, tripod, lights) -- not a ton of equipment, but enough for a standard interview setup.
Does anyone have additional advice (or tips) based on my current situation?
Regarding the customs paperwork for my equipment, how specific should I be? From what I understand, the more information, the better (model number, serial numbers, basic description, etc).
When shipping the equipment, should I expect it to be opened and inspected?
Thanks for your help, I appreciate it!
Why is renting in Montreal not an option?
Why is traveling with a load of delicate expensive gear such a great idea?
Just fly in, rent a car and your gear, and fly out with your toothbrush. Hell, buy the toothbrush in Canada as well.
It's just too much of a hassle and too many things can go wrong.
But the FedEx route is what I've had other guys use for a few things. But it's really expensive and kinda hard to justify to a client when a local rental facility could be cheaper.
Basically, coming into Canada shouldn't be a problem. It's you yanks that pull out the guns when aliens like, oh, me try to enter the country and take away american jobs.
Bitter from personal experience? Maybe just a bit.
Discrete Editors COW Leader
Are you kidding, Rick.
I can't count the number of US jobs that went north because it was cheaper.
Besides, ever heard of NAFTA? There was a total screwing of American workers if ever there was one. Canada gets free ingress into the US market while American workers have to have a freakin' passport and 50 reasons just to cross the damned border.
Read some newspapers and some books on the subject of NAFTA, perhaps look up "rape and pillage" under resources, and get back to me.
Yes, Charles, as an politically active Canadian I have heard of NAFTA, thank you for asking. Clearly, you don't know quite enough about it. Briefly, NAFTA was the first and only legislation recognized (but not not necessarily supported) by the US govt that suggested, even slightly, that America is a player in the world market, not the leader. If you choose to properly research the Agreement rather than adopt your knee-jerk reaction evidenced in your post, make sure you look up softwood lumber disputes as part of the big picture. You may be disappointed to see how American authorities are not necessarily team players.
It's not just film jobs heading north, Charles. Last I heard Argentina, Brasil, and NZ/Australia and of course that entire eastern european region including Latvia that's getting a huge volume of work from American production companies that aren't getting as much support from the American local and federal government because ... the US govt is bankrupt?!? Not sure.
But wow, you guys have low taxes!
And the border continues to clamp up tighter than (fill in crude joke here).
Discrete Editors COW Leader
[charles pierce] "Besides, ever heard of NAFTA? There was a total screwing of American workers if ever there was one. Canada gets free ingress into the US market while American workers have to have a freakin' passport and 50 reasons just to cross the damned border.
As a Canadian I can relate to what Rick is talking about. One thing I've learned in 30 years when crossing the border is NEVER say you're going for any kind of work no matter how trivial unless it is for something big and all the clearances have been negotiated well in advance. I've seen a lot of Americans working here with no clearances and have rented gear to a few.
I know we aren't supposed to get political on these boards but NAFTA has always been more feared by Canadians than Americans and it is grossly misunderstood by most. Look at it this way, if you were going into a kind of merger with a company over 10 times your size on a particular project who would you suspect would be going to get the the best deal. Do you think the big guy is going to play santa claus and hand you all the cream? The recent reference to NAFTA during the last Obama - Clinton rebuttal proved to be nothing more than dirty politics. Canadians also have been loosing manufacturing industry jobs. The migration of our jobs is not to Canada, USA or Mexico. We can thank our own model citizen billionaires who are moving their plants and factories to Asia for the sake of their own personal gain along with a handful of shareholders. What they failed to realize is we can't be purchasing their products they ship back if we no longer have the jobs.
Just as we as individuals need to communicate and partner with others, countries also need to trade outside their borders. Complex agreements like NAFTA will always have those win some-loose some scenarios but geographically we should be looking at the positive values NAFTA offers us in our corner of the global village.
Karl, I think you should rent. I had a crew show up at my door who's camera was zapped by the new hi-dose ex-ray at the airport and it was out of commission. As far as shipping goes, packing your gear in your car and going across town is one thing but packing it to ship via Fedex is entirely different. It will get banged around a lot more. Camera cases wherein each individual piece is fitted into a tight foam pocket is safe. Other equipment cases such as lighting kits often have no foam fit cases so some extra packing is in order if you ship.
"everything is broken" ......Bob Dylan
I have not had a shoot in Canada since pre-9/11, although the hassles we ran into were related to protecting Canadian jobs it seemed.
On one occasion we had a crew that tried to drive to Canada via New York state, and without a work permit were sent back home.
The shoot I had, after speaking with several very polite customs and consular folks, I decided to hire a crew in Calgary and just take my toothbrush.
I am going to Canada next week for a medical conference - our gear is going freight and we have a known customs contact ahead of time, and even have clearance to sell merchandise at our booth.
Going as a tourist might be the best bet!
There have been numerous threads on this board about shipping and flying with gear - it is a mixed bag. Rent what you can, especially internationally.
Production companies that go to Canada for large productions obviously get lots of clearances and permits ahead of time - not so practical for solo operations.
PS - Getting a little political is ok, but we must refrain from attacking one another's beliefs, knowledge or character. There are plenty of websites for that type of behaviour.
[Rennie Klymyk] "Complex agreements like NAFTA will always have those win some-loose some scenarios but geographically we should be looking at the positive values NAFTA offers us in our corner of the global village."
Positive values? I can see where a Canadian or a Mexican could say there are positive values in NAFTA, but as an American worker there isn't much positive that can be said about it. Nearly all of America's auto industry has moved either into Canada or Mexico and very little of it is left in the USA.
With NAFTA and all the positive values it's brought to the US market, our money is now worth about the same as the Canadian dollar. At the rate it's falling, we'll be on parity with the Mexican peso soon. Viva la NAFTA!
You can suggest that all this is a Bush-era occurrence but these forces were well into play in the second Clinton White House, where simple things like milk, butter and eggs nearly tripled in price from what they'd been when he took office in his second administration. Bush is a bumbling idiot but his predecessor was no paragon of brilliance himself. Thanks for NAFTA, Billary.
You can't ship all of a country's manufacturing to other countries and not pay the price eventually. Nearly all of the USA's heavy industry is all gone today. This industry may be made up of service trades but no country can build nearly all its future on service trades. Well, unless you are Luxembourg.
At least McDonalds has regular job openings, so my degree won't go totally to waste.
Enough of the politics, guys.
Drop it or I'll turn off this thread.
So what is the proper way to go about cross-border productions?
I had a pretty bad incident a few years back now. I was going down to San Diego to do a corporate shoot. I was bringing a lighting kit and dvx100, I told customs what i was doing and going down for. I was told they can't let me in with my equipment and blah blah blah stealing american jobs and so on. I tried to go back through customs again saying I was shooting a friends wedding... i get yellow carded and run into the same customs officer - not good. He freaks out on me for lying (being fairly new to the industry and getting immense pressure from my boss that this shoot must go on) In the end I make it down to San Diego after sending my equipment back to the agency in a taxi. I luck out and find a good rental company in the area and get the shoot done.
Anyways I will now permanently have a scar on my record and for the next 4 or 5 times that I have crossed the border I get pulled aside and interrogated for hours and searched for "video equipment".
Even if you do get all the carnays for getting the equipment across the border do you still need some sort of work permit? I mean it was an american company going to a canadian ad agency to shoot american activities... I've since turned down work that involves traveling to the US.
Ok... I'm a US producer/cameraman and have shot in Canada twice lately. The first time I tried to do everything by the book. Applied for permits at the Canadian embassy, etc. Got the runaround every time and was unable to penetrate the bureaucracy in time for the shoot. I was then advised by a canadian company to just tell the border guards that we were a news crew. There's a huge exception in the Canadian work laws that allows news crews to travel freely.
It worked like a charm.
Second time I decided to just rent gear in Ottawa and hire a local sound guy and grip. That worked great too. I didn't have to sweat the border crossing.