Shoot in China? China is a complicated country because of it’s unique system, it’s the same when you try to work on filming projects in China. From our years of supporting foreign crews on China projects we’ve come up with a list of 10 pieces of shooting advice:

1) Bringing Film Production Equipment into China.

As of 2019 you can bring production gear into China with a Carnet, but we still advise getting a local rental quote as you may find it cheaper and easier.   Any crew bringing professional gear is advised to make sure they are travelling on the correct visas, there is a risk of having gear held at customs if you enter on a tourist visa. 

You can get stopped for bringing high value items into China, high end camera and lens are in the list.

2) Hiring a Translator or Fixer/Producer

A good fixer in China is hard to comeby, but it's not worth to hire a translator to do the fixing job.

When you work on a project in China you really need someone who understands the local industry and media situation.  An experienced fixer/producer will save your time for research, a translator can help you overcome language issues but may not be experienced in more shoot specific problems you may encounter.

Solution: Hire Fixer/Producer from, experienced, international, professional background film production crew will solve your problems and ultimately save you time and money.

3)  Working with the right VISA

visa for the film crew in China is a must

China can be quite strict with foreign crew working in China with the wrong visa.  A lot of crews choose to take the risk because the admin involved in applying for a business or journalist visa. We advise asking your client or local partner to provide a business visa invite as its in both your and their interest to be legit.  

Solution:  Be sensible and don’t risk your whoel project over a bit of extra prep and admin! If you are shooting for a day in a clients office with local hired crew and gear then you might feel you don’t need a business visa.  On the other hand, if you are attending events, shooting on the streets or shooting for a prolonged stretch then make sure you have the right visa in place in the event that something goes wrong!  Check with us for advice on what visa best suits your job. 

4) Recreational drug use

drug using in film society is somewhat common, but in China it can be very risky.

After Jackie Chan’s son got arrested for using drug at home, people here are all aware of the recreational drug use is risky.  Don’t add your name to the list of unfortunate expats who were expelled from China or even faced jail time for recreational drug use, Don’t put your production at risk no matter what the situation in your home country.

Solution: Don’t take drug in China, it’s illegal and whatever your own countrys policies its better to be safe than sorry!

5) Shooting in public area without permit

street shooting is technically illegal.

Usually if you need to shoot in a public are in China the shoot has to be managed by the local authorized department.  This can be arranged by your location manager or producer.  If you shoot without a permit, you can be stopped by police officer or by city management, this can potentially put your shoot at risk and at the very least will delay your shooting by 1-2days as admin gets processed,  no matter how innocent your intentions! 

Solution: Get the correct visas and check with us, or with your clients, to make sure you won’t run into any location issues during the shoot

6) Publish/Release non-confirmed news/info/rumors on internet

As a foreign expat (and even moreso as a local), it can be risky to publish and release any content that un-confirmed, regardless it’s online or offline, you can get yourself into some trouble as the internet here is as heavily policed as you’ve heard.

Solution: This is easy, bite your tongue and don’t publish things that can potentially upset the government whilst you are here or if you plan to come back. 

7) National/Traditional Holidays

avoid filming in China during the holidays, it's busier than you imagined.

When the national holidays hit the the whole country goes into temporary sleep mode. Shops, government offices, rental houses shut for a period extending a few days before and after the official holiday dates.  Conversely, travel and hotels get booked up fast and crews charge 1.5-2X their standard rates for work.

Solution: Try to avoid shooting over the May holiday, October National holiday, or Chinese New Year.  If you must shoot on these dates prepare early and be prepared to pay a holiday premium.  

8) Adult Content

adult content production is banned in Chinese law.

It’s a crime to produce adult content within China. Don’t do it!  

9) Political Content

political is not a good thing to get involved

Be very careful with political content in China, anything deemed senstive is a risk and the government is very sensitive.  Please check with us in advance if you have any concerns about your project and we’ll do our best to offer you impartial advice。 

10) Working with “Blocked” Artist/People

Do not work with block artist

Many artists both local and foreign fall foul of the strict policies.  Be aware of who you are working with if you plan to release to the local market!  If you have any concerns we’ll check if your talent has been sent to the naughty step. 

If you plan to shoot in China and has questions, Shoot In China has been providing production support to our client’s projects in China since 2011, Our team would love to help you.

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