Filming in Thailand may seem daunting at first (as it would anywhere). There is always the uncertainty of having to deal with legalities on what could get your production shut down, or worse land you in jail.
This is why it is of utmost importance to have an experienced fixer to help guide you through the process. When shooting in a country like Thailand, dealing with legalities and permissions can lead to a lot of red tape, such as delays due to bureaucratic inefficiencies. You could also end up paying a lot of avoidable costs, mainly because a lot of “authority” figures simply won’t have the influence to directly grant you the permissions you need. Many of these problems are avoidable with the right amount of planning and with the right amount of know-how.
I’ve dealt with a multitude of first-time clients in the media field. I’ve always been asked whether a particular shot they had in mind was doable, and if so, what was the process of obtaining permission to proceed. Many will wonder about what permits are required for filming and many are surprised when I sometimes tell them that no permits are necessary.
Thailand prides itself on its system of seniority and its regimented decorum. Yet there are still ways in and around that system that will save you a ton of time, money, and headache.
However, I would highly advise against having the attitude that anything is possible by just throwing enough money at a problem. I would extremely advise against the attitude of viewing Thailand as being lax in enforcing its laws. I’m recommending having someone guide you through the intricacies of shooting within the country, not completely flouting its laws.
Always be aware that a kind word and a bright smile followed by a wai will get you much further here than arrogance and entitlement. Also, be aware that even if you have a permit to film, an officer’s discernment will supersede the validity of your permit.
Sasit Sean Suvanadesa