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Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East

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Brad Weiss
Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on Mar 23, 2011 at 1:51:21 pm

I currently work at a web-based driver training company that is looking to film in a few African and Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tanzania to name a few.

I know most countries generally have their own film bureau when it comes to features or documentaries needing permits to film there, however the nature of our filming is slightly different than most.

We mount small POV cameras on our rental car in order to capture what it is like to drive in foreign countries.

Has anyone had any experience obtaining filming permits for these countries, or know of an intermediate that could help arrange this?

Personal security is my number one priority here, so the more legitimacy behind us, the safer i would feel.


Brad Weiss

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Scott Carnegie
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on Mar 23, 2011 at 6:49:49 pm

"We mount small POV cameras on our rental car"

Are the cameras inside the car or outside or both? Permits are usually called for if you are using the public space in some way, honestly I would just go for it.

That said I don't know of an intermediate off hand but like you said if you want to play it safe contact the film bureau for those countries or cities you plan to shoot in.

Media Production Services
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Malcolm Matusky
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on Mar 24, 2011 at 5:23:33 pm

If the camera is small enough, ex Go Pro Hero, cut up a klenex box and mount it over the camera. What they cannot see...


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Gav Bott
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:03:38 am

"What they cannot see..."

Will get guns pointed at you when found at roadside best.



The Brit in Brisbane
The Pomme in Production - Brisbane Australia.

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Brad Weiss
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on Apr 1, 2011 at 8:05:14 pm

Thanks for the insight. Cameras are mounted externally to improve image quality and avoid shooting through extra glass of the windshield.

To this point, my company has generally gone with the "run and gun" mentality, as we dont fall under a full scale "film production" as we are only one vehicle using public roads and those don't require specific location permits.

We encountered some issues in Vietnam when local police saw them. Apparently filming laws are very strict there, as it was okay for us to mount and shoot one camera, but not multiple cameras.

We've been dealing with Film offices going forward and some are a nightmare to work with, where others are extremely laxed. In the end, its for our own personal safety so i dont mind the extra work, but in the end i think it'll only end up costing us more.

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Jo Han
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on May 4, 2011 at 1:12:05 pm

Hi we ( are filming a travel documentary series covering about 28000KM part of it is in the UAE. We found this site to be helpful

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Brad Weiss
Re: Filming Abroad - Africa & The Middle East
on May 9, 2011 at 7:49:00 pm

Thanks for the response, Jo Han. Will definitely check out that UAE site. I've also found out through a Production Coordinator friend of my that you can often contact production companies in the host countries to act as sponsors to help with the invitation into the country (places like Saudi Arabia require this).

As for the "what they cannot see" comment... we do wrap our cameras in weather protection, and in most Western friendly countries you won't have any issues aside from questions from curious police, but i highly discourage this from countries with unknown filming laws.

Vietnam is a perfect example of this. Though many tourists film here, i read an article a week before i went here where videographers were simply filming an intersection (for those who dont know the traffic here is like nothing else in the world) and were detained and arrested by Viet Traffic Police because they thought they were being filmed. Gear and tapes were confiscated, and heavy fines paid. Although their setup was a little different than ours, that doesn't mean we didn't run into our own problems there. Lesson learned!

Moral of the story: dont assume you can just run and gun in every country. Get to know that country's stance on public filming before you go, or at least make generic inquiries to the local film bureau to know what your options are.

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