July 1, 2009
By Joe Ng
Thailand’s national committee on film production recently approved a 2009-2011 master plan to promote Thailand as the hub for shooting and post-production. Culture Permanent Secretary Veera Rojpojanarat said the plan aimed to generate Thailand Baht THB 32 billion (US$0.94 billion) to the economy in the first year, THB 39 billion in 2010 and THB 50.89 billion in 2011. The master plan contains human resource development and moves to eradicate piracy. In the three years, six bachelor-degree scholarships will be granted with 30 training courses for 600 trainers. Meanwhile, the fallout from counterfeit products would be reduced by THB 2.6 billion or US$75 million during the same period. The Thailand Film Office, which comes under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, will make several recommendations for incentives to attract foreign filmmakers to shoot in Thailand. These could include a refund on value-added tax, a waiver on foreign talent income tax and tax rebates. “The government of Thailand has already agreed to support of the film industry and they will fast-track implementation,” said Dr. Seksan Narkwong, director general of the Tourism Development section of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports. Thailand has a range of locations suitable for shooting different backdrops. “Everything from sci-fi ‘moonscapes’ and prehistoric dinosaur caves and rock carvings to our famous beaches, modern cities and tropical rainforests. Thailand has a wealth of locations to shoot and stories to tell,” Dr. Narkwong revealed. The Thailand Film Office estimates revenue from foreign film shoots at US$57.8 million in 2008. The Thai Film Production Services Association (FIPSA) estimates real income into the economy at approximately US$88 million. Thailand has been providing production services for foreign filmmakers for over 30 years, and offers a wealth of experience crew and cost effective budgets. Production support crews have become adaptable in the different demands of filmmakers from the different countries. The One Stop Service Center for Filming in Thailand which comes under the Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, was established with the aim of assisting foreign production companies shooting a documentary or any other type of television programme, music video or advertising commercial within the kingdom. Crews in Thailand are friendly, helpful and skilled, and an experienced and knowledgeable. The usual working time is a 10 or 12-hour shift (which includes meals break). Thailand is still flexible on hours of work as long as they are reasonable. Thailand offers a very versatile selection of locations. The country offers a range of beautiful beaches and islands to the green forests and jungles to the magnificent waterfalls and rivers, to the mountains of the north. Thailand can look like, and has been made to look like various neighbouring Asian countries. There is space for back lots to build large sets and experienced art teams to do this, for example Shanghai, which was built at the back lot of Moonstar Studios, one of the newest and biggest studios in Bangkok. The quality and craftsmanship of the crew and facilities are renowned. Production support offered in Thailand is flexible for equipment, crew or locations. All foreign productions are required to engage the services of a local coordinator, which could either be a company or individual registered with the Thailand Film Office. They represent the filmmaker throughout the shoot and will be responsible for the submission of required documentation.