Post Earthquake Filming in Nepal

The filming scenario in Nepal changed after the major earthquake of 2015.  While the local film production carried on shortly after, the international crew was seen very less relative to before the earthquake. Sure there were national and international filmmakers filming documentaries about the violent earthquake and its damages to people and properties but Filming in Nepal took a major hit after the Earthquake.

However, there were subtle changes in the filming process and the legal processing for permits and other required documents. Some areas were declared as unsafe and were out of bounds.

Skip to two years later and here we are with our filming adventures through these years to 2018. We are past the 2015 earthquake and can *almost* claim that the filming industry in Nepal is thriving on an international level again. Hundreds and thousands of international filming crews visit Nepal every year to portray its breath-taking locations and typical Nepali aspects in their films.

Drones prohibition

Filming with drones without a legal permission has been deemed as an illegal practice in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. The drone permit costs more than the drone itself. At the same time, it is incredibly difficult to obtain any drone permission.

Foreign coverage in impacted areas

Most filmmakers, although there weren’t many, who dropped in during the time of earthquake were there to cover the damages in the impacted areas. They were there to capture the stories of the lives of Nepali people and how it changed after the devastating earthquake. Filming in Nepal was greatly affected, yet somehow documentaries were made by channels as prestigious as National Geographic.

Assumed to be unsafe

The number of international filmmakers coming to Nepal reduced greatly after the earthquake. While people were back at their lives, doing the normal things, it was still hard for people outside Nepal to believe that it is safe now. However, things have changed in the last 3 years. Hundreds of filmmakers come to Nepal every year to film their projects.

Traveling is difficult

Many roads have been obstructed due to the landslides because of earthquake. Some roads have been cracked from deep down while some had large dirt and stones covering all the way. This created difficulty in driving and in some cases, blocked the route to get to the destination.

Damaged locations

Nepal is a mix of rich culture and natural beauty. The filming locations in Nepal are many, including but not limited to Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara, Mustang, Lumbini and Everest. Some of such locations may have been damaged by the earthquake. However, they are fully safe to film in and retain their originality and beauty.

The earthquake of 2015 was sad and brought changes to our lives and in the filming scenario in Nepal. However, Kathmandu Films had been actively working and filming to bring the stories into light even during the earthquakes. The earthquake shook our country, but we stood strong through it. We filmed for over 90 channels for the coverage of the earthquake in Nepal at the time.

Despite the sadness of the calamity, we had more to add to our knowledge and experience. The hard times make us stronger and today we are more than prepared to help you with your project.

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.


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 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.


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.

Filming the Sky Burials Documentary

We were heading towards Upper Mustang for filming the sky burial documentary. Needless to say, we faced a lot of challenges en route, mainly due to road maintenance and unpredictable wind. Funny, some of my friends lost their favorite socks and some other clothes on the first day of arrival at Jomsom and Kagbeni while letting it sun-dry after washing.

Even with direct sunlight during the daytime, there was freezing temperature at night. Nevertheless, the people at the hotel we were staying at welcomed us and our clients with local wine and food.

We faced some difficulties to obtain the filming permits as the location we had chosen was also the border area of Nepal and China. However, we are always prepared for the worst, with backup plans for any challenges that might arise. So, getting the permit was like a piece of cake for Kathmandu Films.

Filming better: what inspires us

Our clients were very friendly, which made us proud as well as happy to work harder for them every day. We strive to perform our tasks the best way we can in each day that we work. We open up to them with our creative and new ideas that help us form a good bond with our clients, and it helps us become more positive towards the work that we do.

Further, after the shoot, we set up a few interviews with the local people but they were hesitant to share anything as sky burials was a lost tradition, as well as a very sensitive topic to many.

Making our way through the problems

At our selected location, there was neither internet nor electricity. We did have a backup generator but it had troubles starting up due to high altitude and freezing cold. We had to wake up in the middle of the night every day to start our jeep and generator to keep it warm and workable enough to run. After a total of 21 days of the shooting schedule, we finally managed to complete the shoot 5 days earlier, because of good coordination within the team and our hard work.

Final thoughts

As a Line Producer and Fixer, I am filled with immense pride and love as I say that Kathmandu Films team is a really lovely team to work with. The sky burials shoot was one of the most memorable shoots for us because of all that we learned and all the challenges that we met. Through this shoot, we along with our clients got to learn about the lost tradition in Nepal, sky burials.

Filming for Lion’s Club – Pieter Miller from Image Base

At Kathmandu Films, we strive to provide the best filming services in Nepal and that sets us apart. We thrive in challenges and make a way through to get the best results. Whether it is days-long shoot or managing filming permits or talking to local people, we do it all and that is why our clients entrust us for their projects.

As of such a case, we had a chance to prove ourselves on an international platform again. Pieter Miller is a producer from Image base, Chicago based video, and event agency. He traveled to Nepal to film some of the projects the local Lions Club in Nepal were participating in. This was for Lions Club International, and a thrilling experience stocked for us in the future. We made plans and the shoot lasted for 8 days in total.  

The onset of filming journey: day 1

Inspection and Introduction

All the equipment had to be checked thoroughly by the Cinematographer himself and one of the specialists from the production company. After inspection, some more equipment was required. We had it delivered in time on the same day.

Understanding our location: day 2

  1. Koirala Lions Center for Ophthalmic Studies

It was May 6th, Sunday. The journey started from our hotel to BP KOIRALA LIONS CENTRE FOR OPHTHALMIC STUDIES. All the equipment were already loaded on the vehicle. We started early in the morning at 7. We reached the hospital and was welcomed by the Director Mr. Anand Sharma. He briefed the crew about the institute and after that, we went to scout the premises.

While half of the crew were out scouting, the other half were setting up the equipment for the interview. So when the scouting was over, we started the interview. There were 5 interviews in total. After the interview, we started shooting V-rolls. And that was it for the day.

Interviewing students and doctors: day 3

  1. Koirala Lions Center for Ophthalmic Studies Rural Clinic

The next morning, we headed to the Insitute for the Rural clinic team. We traveled with the team to Nepal-Korea Friendship Hospital, Bhaktapur. There, we got some interviews with the patient and the doctors who were running the rural clinic. After the shoot at the hospital, we headed for the town of Bhaktapur where Lions club had established an eye care center. There were children coming for inspection and diagnosis there. We shot some V-rolls and had interviews with students and the Doctor who was conducting the treatment.

Unfortunate weather and Gurkhali spirit: day 4

Travel to Gorkha and Interview with Engineers (2 Interviews)

Our day started early in the morning at 7, with all the luggage and equipment packed and ready to go. We made our way towards Gorkha, famous as the home to the brave troops of Gurkhali soldiers. However, we stopped to get some lunch in the daytime. As soon as we reached Gorkha, we checked into a hotel a. Since it wasn’t dark already, we decided to look around for a location to shoot the interviews.

Later, we found out that the hotel we had checked in earlier was owned by one of the founding members of Lions Club in Nepal and in Gorkha.  We were supposed to travel for 2 more hours off road for the next day. But unfortunately, we decided not to travel because of the poor condition of the roads and the weather. Luckily, we found a better option to film: the school.

A sweet gesture at work: day 5

School shooting interviews and V-rolls

The next day we got up at 7 in the morning and headed towards the school for filming. The students would not be there till 9 so we had a little time. We prepared the equipment and set it in place. We started interviewing the Lions from Gorkha. After the interviews, the first school bell rang. We started filming the classes. It was the usual: the students were studying what the teacher was teaching. After the V-roll we started interviewing students. When we were wrapping up, the school prepared a nice farewell program for us. The whole school was singing songs for us while the principal was handing us a small token of love. We spent the night in Gorkha.

Traveling back to Kathmandu: day 6

Travel Back to Kathmandu

Next day, we traveled back to Kathmandu. The weather was nice. The wind was cool. We took a much-needed rest on our way back.

An inspirational story: day 7

Mobility Cart Story

We are filming in the streets of Teku for the day. It was for a Mobility Cart story. Specifically, Chatra Bahadur Gurung’s story.

He received the mobility cart from Lion Ramchandra Dahal, who is an amazing guy in himself. Gurung narrates his story of how he received the three-wheeled cart that changed his life, which was very inspiring. After the shoot, we said goodbye to Chatra Bahadur Gurung and head back to the hotel.

Done with filming for the project: day 8

Travel to Dhulikhel Lions Club Global Action Team Meeting

We started our day early in the morning, heading towards Dhulikhel where the Global action team meeting was being held. We filmed the whole event and interviewed some of the members of the Global Action team. After the shoot, we headed straight to the airport to drop our clients off.

The whole experience was mesmerizing. Working with international clients always teaches us something we never knew before. It was amazing to work with such a talented crew and to also prove our worth. Even our clients agree on that.

Filming in Nepal: History

History of Filming in Nepal

Even though Filming in Nepal does not have a very long 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. This was the most important event in history of filming in Nepal.

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.


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