Lights, Camera, Action! A Guide to Film & TV production in Thailand

Thailand is quickly becoming a hub for the entertainment industry in Southeast Asia, and the foreign film and TV production scene is no exception. With its diverse locations, talented professionals, costs and affordability, Thailand is an attractive destination for filmmakers from around the world. In 2022, there were over 400 foreign TV and film productions in Thailand, injecting over $180M USD capital into the local economy, making it the highest record revenue year for foreign productions in Thailand.

Here’s a comprehensive guide to foreign TV production in Thailand to help you make the most of this exciting and dynamic industry.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Thai Film Industry

The Thai film industry has been growing rapidly in recent years, with a surge of new talent and new projects. This growth has been driven by a variety of factors, including government support, the availability of funding and resources, and the increasing popularity of Thai films both locally and internationally. As a result, the industry is now more accessible and more attractive to foreign filmmakers than ever before.

Advantages of Filming in Thailand

Diverse locations:
Thailand is home to a wealth of stunning locations, including ancient temples, bustling cities, and pristine beaches. These locations offer a range of options for filming, from urban settings to natural landscapes.

Talented professionals:
Thailand has a thriving entertainment industry and a large pool of talented professionals, including actors, directors, producers, and crew members. These professionals are experienced, knowledgeable, and eager to work on international projects.

Favorable regulations:
Thailand has a favorable regulatory environment for foreign film production, with streamlined procedures for obtaining permits and visas. Additionally, the country is home to a number of government agencies and film organizations that are dedicated to supporting the industry.

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Legal Considerations for Foreign Film Production

When producing a film in Thailand, it’s important to be aware of the legal requirements and regulations that apply. These include:

Permits:
To film in Thailand, you will need to secure filming permits from the relevant authorities, including the government and local councils. The process can take time, so it’s important to plan ahead and allow for sufficient time to obtain the necessary permits. Don’t forget, the film permit is just a nod from the Thai gov for your film’s content. For each location, you’ll need to get the okay from the location owner. It’s all part of the film production fun in Thailand.

Visas:
Depending on the length of your stay in Thailand, you may need to obtain a work visa. The visa requirements will vary depending on your country of origin, so it’s important to check with the Thai embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date information.

Thailand Film Incentive

Thailand offers up to 20% cash rebate for qualifying foreign productions with a minimum of $1.4m USD local spend. The process is fast and transparent with most productions receiving the rebate within 3 months after being approved. This is one of many factors causing an uptrend of foreign film and TV productions in Thailand. Read more on the Thailand Film Incentive.

Hiring Local Crew and Equipment

Thailand has a well-developed infrastructure and a large pool of experienced crew members, so you won’t have to worry about finding the right equipment or personnel. Filming crews in Thailand are some of the most renowned in the world for their expertise, professionalism, and “can do” attitude, and have been trained by some of the best in Hollywood. Thailand’s cinematographers, production designers and stunt teams have worked on Hollywood Blockbusters including “Hangover II”, “The Greatest Beer Run Ever”, and “Fast and Furious 9”.

In Thailand you will find the most up-to-date camera and lighting equipment including ARRI, RED, Techno Cranes, Russian Arms, and underwater camera equipment. Thailand also has world-class post-production facilities, over 50 sound stages, and a virtual studio.

Challenges Faced by Foreign Film Productions

Despite its many advantages, foreign film production in Thailand is not without its challenges. Some of the most common challenges include:

Language barriers:
While English is widely spoken in Thailand, it may not be the first language of everyone you work with. This can make communication difficult, especially when it comes to technical terms or specific instructions. Luckily, most Thai crews working on foreign productions in Thailand are bilingual.

Cultural differences:
Thailand has a rich and unique culture that can be different from your own. It’s important to be respectful of local customs and traditions, and to take the time to understand the cultural context of your film.

Logistics:
Filming in a foreign country can come with its own set of logistical challenges, such as transportation, accommodation, and access to equipment. It’s important to plan ahead and to allow for sufficient time to overcome these challenges.

Examples of Successful Foreign Films Produced in Thailand

Thailand has been the location for a number of successful foreign films in recent years, including:

  • The Hangover II
  • The Greatest Beer Run Ever
  • Fast and Furious 9
  • Only God Forgives
  • The Mechanic:
  • Resurrection
  • The Meg 2

These films have helped to establish Thailand as a top destination for foreign film production, and have had a significant impact on the local economy. These films also demonstrate the quality and professionalism of the Thai film industry, and show what is possible for foreign filmmakers in Thailand.

Future Prospects and Potential Growth Areas

The foreign film production industry in Thailand is poised for continued growth in the coming years, with a number of exciting projects already in the works. Some of the areas of potential growth include:

Digital content:
The rise of streaming platforms and online content is creating new opportunities for filmmakers, and Thailand is well-positioned to take advantage of this trend. With a large pool of talented professionals and a favorable regulatory environment, Thailand is an ideal location for digital content production.

Co-production:
Thailand is an attractive destination for co-productions, where two or more countries work together on a film. These collaborations can bring new perspectives and resources to your project, and can help to increase its global appeal.

Animation and VFX:
Thailand is home to a growing animation and VFX industry, with a large pool of talented artists and technicians. These skills can be leveraged for foreign film production, bringing high-quality visuals and special effects to your film.

In conclusion, Thailand is a dynamic and exciting destination for foreign film production, offering a wide range of advantages and opportunities. Whether you’re looking to make a feature film, a documentary, or a digital content project, Thailand is the ideal location to bring your vision to life. By understanding the key factors and challenges involved, you can make the most of your time in Thailand and achieve the results you’re looking for.

If you'd like to know more about filming in Thailand, get in touch to find out how Greenlight Films can help!