Filming in Cambodia
A Rapidly Emerging Filming Destination
Cambodia is one of the fastest growing economies in South-East Asia, yet it still maintains much of the charm and timeless culture that makes Indochina so unique. A land of stark contrasts and exceptional landscape diversity with a distinct architectural / historical heritage that is truly world class. The Khmer government has a policy of actively promoting and assisting the film industry. This along with lower location costs than other countries has led to the swift rise of Cambodia as one of the more popular filming destinations in the region, particularly amongst small scale projects, yet it is increasingly selected for high-profile, big-budget shoots as well.
There are literally hundreds of ancient architectural ruins dotted around the country, many of which are barely mentioned on tourist maps. Add an array of natural wonders and associated wildlife such as the ‘Tonle Sap’ Lake, the Mekong’s flooded forests, various highland national parks and tropical Island archipelago’s that are reminiscent of Southern Thailand 30 yrs ago and its easy to see why Cambodia is somewhat of a rising star among film makers of various persuasions. Cambodia has been passed off as Thailand, Vietnam, the Phillipines and Myanmar in the past for production and budget convenience. Cambodia, a country that ticks many boxes for a wide range of productions.
The bustling capital Phnom Penh, with it’s sparking new sky scrapers set amongst Pagodas, slums, riverside promenade, red light districts, Casino’s and the Royal Palace is a classic study in the stark contrasts of Southeast Asia.
Cambodia has many incentives to offer to foreign producers:
· A relatively stable political and economic environment and very few restrictions
· Low costs
· 0% tax on import/export of film related equipment
· Astonishingly affordable locations that can double for anywhere in South-East Asia
· Excellent working conditions offering the minimum of hassle (its easy to hire local crew or extras, while .... .respecting the law)
· A skilled construction crew to create and build your perfect film setting
· A large tourist infrastructure (quality accommodation, internet & 3G, international catering...)
· Extremely welcoming population
Film crews are required to obtain a general Film Permit from either the Ministry of Information or the Ministry of Culture. Documentaries and commercials typically obtain permission via the Ministry of Information while dramas or feature films obtain permission from the Ministry of Culture.
Locally issued location filming permits are occasionally required from the district authorities or landowner for certain locations and these may attract their own fees. Whether or not a permit is required will depend on the location and the scale of the production. For small documentaries the main permit may suffice for most locations, but if filming a drama (especially if it includes the need for crowd control) then permits are required for most locations. For large-scale dramas it is necessary to provide a shooting schedule to the relevant local authorities.
No government minder is required to accompany a shoot in Cambodia at this time, and the Cambodian government does not request to view the rushes before departure from the country.
Filming at Ancient Temples:
The temples of Angkor require a separate filming permit via the Aspara Authority, which usually takes around two - three working weeks to organize, however this can be processed in tandem with the Ministry general filming permissions. Filming permits within Angkor can be relatively costly. The price reflects the size and scale of the shoot and the amount of disruption it might bring to the ongoing tourism industry which is a major revenue earner for Cambodia.
Film crews need to supply the following information:
• Complete crew list with full names and passport copies
• Detailed equipment list, including an approximate valuation of each item
• Flight itineraries, including arrival and departure information
• Synopsis of the storyline or a treatment of the episode
• Rough schedule and locations for the planned shoot
• Rough schedule and locations for the planned shoot. Click here for the application form
• Completed Request Letter. Click Here for a Template.
Permit Processing Time Frame:
While it’s sometimes possible to get the general filming permission for Cambodia organised in as little as two weeks, but we strongly advise scheduling up to one month, and longer still for a major feature film. We can coordinate the application process, as we have many years of experience dealing with the relevant ministries and the Apsara Authority in Cambodia.
Note: Cambodia is not a carnet country at this time. Cambodia Film Fixers can also arrange the temporary import/re-export of all filming-related equipment with the customs department by air or land borders as required.
Film Permit Processing Costs
The complexity and work load of processing each permit varies depending upon the number of departments and agencies involved and the complexity and scale of the shoot. Therefore it’s only possible to provide an accurate permit processing estimate once some details on the shoot specifics have been provided. Feel free to send through some basic details on your shoot including: A brief Description of the program with a rough filming schedule noting the filming locations and size of crew. With this information in hand we’re able to come back quickly with a permit processing estimate.