Filming Locations in Nepal

Are you planning to film in Nepal?

Nepal might be a small, landlocked country but it offers visually pleasing locations for you to shoot your beautiful projects. The lush green forests, silver mountains, ancient monuments, historically and culturally rich heritage, and diverse yet picturesque landscapes make for an exciting location that’s bound to leave your viewers in awe.  

Every year, a number of film crew visit Nepal in search of best locations to shoot their documentaries, commercials, movies and what not. Well, here’s a guide to give you a better insight of the locations that are feasible to shoot in Nepal.

Filming inside Kathmandu valley:

Kathmandu valley comprises of three major cities: Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur. All these three cities hold to themselves the richness of cultural diversity and heritage that’s beautiful to look at, as is its long history. Well, there are lots of locations within the valley, and we are going to discuss a few of them.

Swayambhunath Temple

Renowned as the Monkey Temple, Swayambhunath Temple rests atop a hill, glancing over the Kathmandu valley. The views are stunning and it makes for a lovely place to just sit and admire as the sun goes down. The local people visit the temple every morning/evening, rotating the prayer wheels as they go around it.

Durbar Squares

There are three Durbar Squares within the valley: Basantapur Durbar Square, Bhaktapur Durbar Square, and Patan Durbar Square. Each as beautiful as the other, but with their own origin and history. These squares underwent some terrible damages during the 2015 earthquake but most of them have been rebuilt while some are still standing with bamboo or scaffolding support.

Pashupatinath Temple

With Bagmati river on the side, Pashupati temple is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindu people. Thousands of people come to visit this temple every year, most to worship while some to film. The main entrance to temple isn’t open to non-Hindu people, however, the vicinity of this temple is open to all.

Streets of Thamel

Thamel is one of the most-hyped and touristy spots in Kathmandu.  You can say, it’s the most ‘happening’ place in all of Kathmandu. With its busy streets covered with colorful prayer flags, beautiful “Om Mani Padme Hum” chants coming from the nearby CD shops, there’s just a whole different vibe to Thamel that’s to get from anywhere else.

Filming outside Kathmandu valley

The Kathmandu valley holds its charm, we know. And at first thought of filming outside the valley may shake you up: where else would you get to experience such natural and cultural beauty? Well, the answer is everywhere, in Nepal. Once you step outside the valley, you have even better chances of catching those sunlit golden snowy peaks early morning. You have so much to explore and find an ideal location for you to cover your film.

Pokhara

There’s plenty to enjoy in Pokhara: the serene lake reflecting the beautiful Himalayas, adrenaline packed adventure sports or visiting the cultural villages. The ambience of peace and magic this place gives off is truly felt by the people who visit it — the experience is unreal.

Mustang

Mustang was once an old, independent Tibetan kingdom, still retaining its mystical reputation to this day. While Mustang isn’t really on the greener side with lush forests, it’s more of a high altitude desert of rich red and ocher, with deep gorges set against an infinite blue sky.

Everest

Well, Everest is the most popular mountain in the world — afterall, it stands tall at 8847m making it the highest peak in the world. As exciting as filming in Everest sounds, it comes with its risk factors. The average temperature in winter is around -36° and maybe drop down to -60°, while it’s around -19° in summer.

Kathmandu Films makes sure that all your needs are met and permits are managed for a wonderful filming experience in your desired locations.

Permits in Nepal

Filmmakers wishing to be able to film in Nepal need to have the filming permits first. And where you do get that, you ask?

Government of Nepal – the Ministry of Information and Communications provides foreign film shooting permits in Nepal, of which all the papers and documents will be processed and easily available to you by Kathmandu Films. We help your crew to not just obtain film permits, but also give you advice on tax payment and customs clearance.

Before you request for a permit, it is to be made sure that your film doesn’t demean Nepal or Nepali people’s values or cultures in any way.

The Ministry of Information and Communication grants the permit for the shooting of any kind of TV commercials, documentaries, music videos, feature films, and other films that do not spread unfavorable messages about Nepal.

The filming permit comes with a government-assigned Liaison Officer, who’ll remain with the filming team for the entirety of the shoot and will monitor all filming activities. He ensures that the filming is not impacting the environment, the society or the people in any negative way. The liaison officer holds full authority to suspend all filming activities if s/he thinks it is unlawful or is impacting the country and its image in any negative way.

Documents required for Filming Permits

The documents needed to process the permit are:

  • A Letter made by the assigned local coordinator informing the Audio-Visual Section, Ministry of Information and Communications of the purpose of applying for the shooting permit.
  • An assignment letter made by the foreign filmmaker showing that they have already chosen and hired a local coordinator.
  • An application form.
  • Supporting documents needed for permit consideration:
    • Storyboard for TV commercials
    • Treatment for documentaries
    • Theme (concept) and Lyrics for music videos
    • Details of content and objectives of the programme
    • Presentation for TV programmes.
  • A schedule of filming in Nepal specifying exact dates and locations (for all types of productions).
  • Name-list, passport numbers, positions and arrival dates of all foreign film crews.
  • Equipment list with values for custom clearance.

Different types of filming permits in Nepal

Different filming locations require different types of filming permits. While the Nepal Filming Permit is mandatory, other permits are supposed to be requested depending upon the location of the shoot.

  • Nepal Filming Permit (mandatory)

This is a one-time permit, which is mandatory regardless of where your location is in the country. This permit is issued by the Ministry of Information and Communications.

  • National Parks Filming Permit

Nepal has a total of 20 national parks and conservation area that require a separate filming permit and some amount to be paid as filming charge in the location.

  • Heritage Areas Filming Permit

Filming in cultural heritage areas like temples, monuments and other figures need to be endorsed by the municipality or the district office. However, the permit can be suspended anytime should the officers feel the film is rendering harm to the cultural heritage.

  • Public Area Filming Permit

Public area filming permit is endorsed by the local police authority as long as no harm is being done to the public.

  • Private Property Filming Permit

Filming in privately owned properties like hotels and restaurants, cafes, recreational halls, movie halls etc needs to have the permit from the owner himself.

Equipment in Nepal

When it comes to filming in Nepal, there are many factors that come into play for a successful filming. Planning is seemingly easy,  but the production is a difficult job. And with the extreme and complex topology in Nepal, it can make people’s knees shake!

Most filmmakers get stumped where to get all the equipment to film their project in Nepal. With over 12 years in the filming industry, Kathmandu Films is your one-stop solution for all your filming needs in Nepal. We provide high-quality equipment including cameras, lenses, tripods, jibs, dollies, gimbals, sound equipment, lighting, drones and everything else that you may need for your project.

Filming equipment that we provide:

  • RED CAMERA PACKAGE
  • WEAPON BRAIN w/HELIUM 8K S35 Sensor and items/accessories below (or equivalent)
    • DSMC2 Standard OLPF
    • DSMC S35 PL Mount 2.0 (Magnesium)
    • DSMC S35 Canon Mount (Aluminum)
    • DSMC2 Sidekick (Woven Carbon Fiber)
    • DSMC2 Side Handle
    • DSMC2 Top Handle
    • DSMC Outrigger Handle
    • DSMC2 Base Expander
    • DSMC2 REDVOLT XL Module
    • RED Pro Touch 7.0” LCS Display
    • Wooden Camera 7.0” Display Shade
    • Wooden Camera wifi sideplate
    • Wooden Camera Easy Riser Plate
    • Wooden Camera Easy Top
    • Wooden Camera LWS Rods Bracket (15mm)
    • Wooden Camera A-Box for wireless audio tap
    • (5) RED 480GB Mini Mags
    • (2) RED STATIONs Mini-Mag (USB 3.1)
    • (2) USB Cable
    • 8 to 12 REDVOLT XL batteries
    • 2 REDVOLT Quad Chargers w/AC Cable
    • DSMC AC Power Adapter w/AC Cable
    • RED Sidewinder
  • Arri Clip on LMB Matte Box or equivalent
  • Preston or similar Remote Follow Focus setup
  • Ikan Thumb Wheel Follow Focus
  • Lens package
  • Arri Ultra Primes full set
  • Canon L Series prime set, and zoom lenses 70-200mm and up to 1000mm
  • Filtration
  • ND Filter set
  • Grad ND FIlter set
  • Phantom Flex4k Slow motion camera (we might need this for several shoot days)
  • Lens mount for our lenses above (Canon and/or PL)
  • Wireless video monitoring system
  • Teradek Bolt or better with multiple receivers

Didn’t see what you need in the list? Tell us and we can manage it for you! Contact us at +977 980 101 2432 or email us at workofchandan@gmail.com for more information.

Filming in Nepal: History

History of Nepali Film Industry

Even though Nepal does not have a very long filming history, the industry has its own place in the cultural heritage of this country. Most of the Nepali films use Bollywood-style songs and narratives and are shot on 16-millimeter film. In the film industry idiom, Kathmandu, the capital and the center of the Nepali-language film industry, is called Kollywood within Nepal (which is different than India’s Tamil-language film industry, Kollywood, based in Chennai).

The emergence of Nepali film industry

The making of Nepali films is said to have begun with D. B. Pariyar’s Satya Harishchandra, which was the first Nepali language film to be shot. It was produced from Kolkata, India, and was released on September 14, 1951. Aama was the first film produced in Nepal and was released on October 7, 1964. It was produced by the Information Department of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal (now Government of Nepal), directed by Hira Singh Khatri with Shiva Shankar Manandhar and Bhuwan Thapa as the lead actors, who are also regarded as the first actors in the history of the Nepali film industry.

The first private banner film

The first film to be produced under a private banner was Maitighar, which was released at the end of 1966 by Sumananjali Films Pvt. Ltd. Although being a Nepali movie, it had many Indians contributing toward the making of the film. Mala Sinha had the lead role, along with CP Lohani. It had special appearances of Sunil Dutt and comedian Rajendra Nath. It was directed by BS Thapa and music composed by Jaidev, a veteran music maestro. It had established Indian singers like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Usha Mangeshkar, and Manna Dey playback-singing along with the household names of Nepali music, like Narayan Gopal, Prem Dhoj Pradhan, CP Lohani, and Aruna Lama.

Royal Nepal Film Corporation (1971)

The government later established the Royal Nepal Film Corporation in 1971 which produced Mann Ko Bandh with Prakash Thapa as the director of the film and Nati Kaji and Shiva Shankar as the music composers. Amber Gurung scored the background music. The film premiered in 1973 in Kathmandu. It was followed by Kumari (the first color Nepali film) in 1977, Sindoor in 1980, and Jeevan Rekha in series. The success of these films opened up an avenue for private parties to enter into filmmaking as an industrial endeavor.

Fall of the industry

The Nepali film industry started to fall down during the Maoist revolution. Fewer films were made with low budgets and even lower performance during that period which resulted in even smaller audiences. In the later years of the conflict, the production and release of Nepali films had come to a standstill with many actors and filmmakers leaving the country in search of work because there were no films being made.

The rise of the industry

However, with Maoists coming into mainstream politics by 2006, the Nepali film industry started to develop. Now, more and more films are being made and released. The production companies and people in the industry are enthusiastic about the country’s new situation. Also, the quality of the films being produced is improving, however, in comparison to Bollywood, it still lags far behind and the competition is tough with maximum youths preferring Bollywood and Hollywood to Kollywood. Nevertheless, the production of movies like Loot, Highway, Apabad, etc. that are based on contemporary subjects have good content and presentation. Well, the future of Nepali Film Industry looks prosperous.