Filming in Nepal

Everything You Need To Know About Filming As Told By A Filmmaker

 

Filming in Nepal efficiently can be a hard nut to crack. There’s everything — all at once!

One minute you are enjoying the happy summer sun, sipping yummy tea somewhere, and the next thing you know you are running to save yourself from the rain. It’s a visual explosion of alluring Himalayas and enchanting greenery. It’s a chaotic pot of religions, languages, cultures, ideas, history and landscapes that contribute to the mind-boggling diversity in Nepal.
Perhaps, this is exactly what has been driving so many creative minds in Nepal over the years. It’s almost impossible to run out of ideas.

But with all this excitement comes with responsibility as well, before you begin to start your journey of filming in Nepal, you must allow plenty of time for yourself to fully prepare and plan. Making sure the film shoots comply with the current laws in force and not hinder the country or its people in any way.

That being said, Nepal still proves to be a worth-while filming journey to take and in order to experience this chaos you have to live it, tell your story through it! Therefore here is 101 on filming in Nepal that will make this journey all the while easier.

 

The permits for filming in Nepal

A filming permit is the first thing you have to get if you want to be able to film in Nepal. Government of Nepal – the Ministry of Information and Communications provides foreign film shooting permits in Nepal. The tedious paperwork and documents that Kathmandu Films can help you with. We help your crew to not just obtain film permits, but also give you advice on tax payment and customs clearance.

While Nepal Filming Permit is mandatory, there are further permits required to film in national parks, heritage areas, private property and public Places.

 

Suitable Travelling options

Choosing the right routes and the proper vehicles is essential in Nepal. The roads and the traffic are quite challenging so a well-experienced driver is very important. While most main roads are in proper conditions, the other roads may have potholes and confusing routes. Find a trusted driver and production house like Kathmandu Films that aids you in the logistics providing you proper vehicle options based on your needs.

 

Striking Locations

Nepal offers visually pleasing locations for you to film your projects. While the most popular places to shoot in nepal are Kathmandu, Pokhara, Mustang, Everest etc, many locations in Nepal that still remain undiscovered by the filming industry. To know more about these hidden gems it is best advised to contact an expert line producers that can give you more information about them.

 

Diverse Language and Tradition

For a rather small country, over 123 languages are spoken by the local people in country, diversity is rampant here. Cultures and traditions vary from one group of people to another as well. Even the people belonging to the same cast or the same religion observe social traditions differently. A local guide can help you understand this diversity better, translate the language and communicate ideas effectively. Moreover, if you are willing to shoot about or during certain festivals, it’s best to check in with your fixer before you make plans of your filming in Nepal.

 

Cash Over Cards

Using visa and master cards in Nepal is tricky, you should never rely fully on them to pay your bill. Sure the major cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara have cards systems installed in most places, but the efficiency of these places are questionable. Furthermore, when travelling outside of the valley you will rarely come across any ATMs. Therefore, always opt for cash over cards but be safe about it.

 

Seasonal Weather in Nepal

The weather conditions in Nepal varies every few kilometers and you’ll never truly know if it’s going to rain or the sun will be out. It’s best to always ask your local guide about the weather conditions in the locations you are planning to visit. Also, a country that enjoys all four seasons, you have to know your way around it; opting for weathers that provide better skin captures.

 

Precautions From Wild Animals

One of the best aspects of Nepal is its rich wildlife but while filming near them you have to take proper measures of safety. Leopards, snakes, foxes are a very common sight in Nepal when travelling to remote areas. Talk to your guide or fixer about the wildlife threats in your preferred location and stay vigilant and prepared. Also mosquitoes are pretty common during the summer so it’s advisable to take needed measures for your protection from these pesky insects as well.

 

Keep An Open mind

Nepal’s distinct cultural aspects could be shocking to many people who come down from other parts of the world. The best way to handle any such culture shock is to keep an open mind and be respectful of the practices even if you do not agree with them. This will ensure that both parties feel comfortable in each others company and the exchanges be it in the form of friendships or interviews happen smoothly.

 

 

How To Get Filming Permits in Nepal

Yearly many filmmakers flock to Nepal due to the versatility the country offers in terms of landscape and culture. However, wishing to just film in Nepal is not enough, since a lot these shots are captures in heritage sites, and showcase the life of Nepalese people, the Government of Nepalkeeps a watchful eye. Making sure filming permits are issued and used when required.

Therefore, here are a few things related to receiving filming permits in Nepal that you need to understand

 

How We Play A Part

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

 

Your Content Matters

Before you request for a permit, it is to be made sure that your film does not 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 the country.

 

What You Can Expect To happen

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.

 

The 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 co-ordinator.

● 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.

Based on type of storytelling there are different types of filming permits you may need. Moreover, 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.

 

There different types of filming permits in Nepal include:

● 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.

 

 

Spectacular Filming Locations in Nepal That Will Have You Mesmerized

Nepal might be a small, landlocked country but that description does not do justice to the aerial visuals it has to offer. A result of being culturally rich, religiously secular and home to three very distinct geographical landscape the country offers diversity for filmmakers like no other.

The lush green forests, silver mountains, ancient monuments, historically and culturally rich heritage, and diverse yet picturesque landscapes make for an exciting location that is bound to leave your viewers in awe.Therefore, it makes sense that every year, a big number of film crew flock in to Nepal in search of these locations . Still not convinced? Well, here is a guide to give you a better insight of the what the country really offers you filmmakers out there.

 

Wonders Of 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 is beautiful to look at.

 

Swayambhunath Temple

Situated atop a hill, this ancient architecture is a sight to behold. The buddhist stupa is sacred, beautiful with heavy influence of Tibetan culture. A complex surrounds this temple consists of shrines and devotees looming about to give their prayers. But, what makes this temple more special is perhaps the monkeys that are housed here, Swayambhunath Temple is fondly named the Monkey Temple.These mischievous little creatures keep you fascinated with their mannerism and interactions with human, a sight that really needs to be experienced to be believed. The character, history and religious importance this temple has definitely makes it a spot discovering and capturing.

 

Kathmandu Valley

Oh my the diversity! Unlike varied places where you need to travel far and wide for historic monuments Kathmandu Valley has everything within reach. The views are stunning, the historic architecture mesmerizing and the culture enchanting. A package that is a mix of the urban and the simple life, wrapped to make this beautiful valley.

 

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 mostof them have since been rebuilt, illuminated with craftsmanship that even today holds relevant.

 

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 is not open to non-Hindu people, however, thevicinity of this temple is open to all. The area around is as religiously embedded temple inside is though so you won’t miss your chance to capture some of the most ethnically rich shots.

 

Streets of Thamel

Here comes the local and tourist favorite Thamel, one of the most-hyped and touristy spots in Kathmandu. Back in the 70’s this area became the true home of the hippies and the influence of the area can still be felt all around. The psychedelic wall hanging, airy hipster wear hangs loose in area amidst busting bars, restaurants, hotels and guest houses. On fridays the area lights with live music. The cultural appeal to this place is great as well, with its busy streets covered with colorful prayer flags, beautiful “Om Mani Padme Hum chants coming from the nearby CD shops, there is just a whole different vibe to Thamel that is unmatched.

 

Filming Outside Kathmandu valley

The valley is just the beginning, the versatility of Nepal actually shines through when you leave the urban comfort and venture into the cities and locations outside of the valley.

While the roads and remoteness can at times pose some threat, it always worth it to venture furthers as the charm extends and so does unrealistically beautiful landscapes that take your breath away. Once you step outside the valley, you have an 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 is 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. Name one of the best budget cities in the world by tripadvisor the place definitely worth a visit!

 

Mustang

Mustang was once an old, independent Tibetan kingdom but still retaining its mystical reputation to this day. While not really on the greener side with lush forests, it is perhaps more favored because of the stone walled hedges, high altitude deserts rich red and ocher, with deep gorges set against an infinite blue sky.

 

Everest

This place needs little to no explanation, the highest mountain in the world and seven natural wonder of the world will obviously provide you will all the spectacular shots. Its tall stature stands at 8847m making it the highest peak in the world. Many filmmakers aspire to have shots captured from here but that does entail withstanding of the dangers of travelling there along with the temperature which drops to -60° winter with around i-19° in summers. In such cases travelling with a expert filming company that knows the area is advised such as Kathmandu Films makes sure that all your needs are met and permits are managed for a wonderful filming experience in your desired locations.

 

 

How Filming Came To Nepal

The Very Beginning

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 regarded as the first actors in the history of the Nepali film industry.

 

The Private Banner Films Took Over

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.

 

The Impact Of Political Instability

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.

 

How Filming Evolved

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).

 

 

Travel To Nepal? Here Is What You Need (Part I)

Traveling to Nepal can be a rewarding experience if you know the right things to do. Nepal is a travelers paradise, combining golden temples, majestic mountain views, luscious green forests, charming lakes, and rich wildlife.But with the striking beauty of Nepal comes hassles of poor infrastructure, unpredictable whether, unhygienic situations and the food that you may or may not eat in Nepal. With all that’s there to confuse and frustrate you how does one enjoy their stay? Perhaps by following the list below.

 

Travelling With Children? Come prepared.

Children are most susceptible to changes in food and weather. Plus there childlike innocence can have them wondering with glee pretty much anywhere. Therefore, as a guardian it is on you to make protect them.

Be friendly but cautious

Children always help break the ice with strangers and Nepalese are generally friendly. While you may get some odd stares for how you look most Nepalese are respectful and cautious around kids, that being said, do keep a watchful eye cause like any other place, you may find a few people who are not that great.

Eat vigilantly

Moreover, you have to take extra precautions in the light of Nepal’s poor sanitation, street dogs, large crowds, heavy traffic, pollution, bright sun, rooftops, and steep slopes.It may be hard to keep hands clean and you’ll have to keep a firm grip on small children while out and about. If your child comes down with diarrhea, keep them hydrated and topped up on salts – have oral rehydration formula at hand.

Be prepared with the basics

Naturally, you’ll want to travel in greater comfort with children than
you might on your own. In tourist areas, it should be no problem finding food that kids will love to eat. Although, in other places, it might be more challenging. Baby food and disposable nappies/diapers are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara but are hard to come by elsewhere, especially in rural areas. So, come prepared!

Contact Local Experts

As for trekking with the little ones there are plenty of tourist companies that cater especially to families, contacting them will give you assurance and qualified information that could help you be safe while trekking but also have great deal of fun.

 

Know The Climate

Nepal’s is blessed with all four seasons, which means just decided to visit without prior knowledge of which season it would not be fun. Climate varies significantly through the year, with seasons showing themselves up very differently at different altitudes. The pre-monsoon period, generally very hot and humid at lower elevations, lasts from mid-April to early June. The monsoon season itself dominates the period between mid-June and mid-September when travel is difficult but not impossible. Autumn sees pleasant temperatures and dry weather is great for trekking , while winter is generally cool and clear.

With so much of versatility in weather it is best advised to check with your booking agency about the situation and what to expect, also spending some days in the capital and getting the feel of environment along with buying necessary weather specific items help.

 

Budget Well

Your money goes a long way in Nepal. Off the tourist routes, it can actually be hard to spend $30–40 a day, including food, transport, and accommodation. On the other hand, Kathmandu and some of the other tourist traps can burn a hole in your pocket faster than you might expect. Even so, it’s still possible for a frugal traveler to keep to $20 a day in the capital, but the figures can effortlessly balloon to $50 or more simply by choosing slightly nicer hotels and restaurants.

If you like to travel in greater luxury, you should reckon on spending $60–80 or
more per day, mainly depending on the standard of accommodation. You’ll inevitably pay over the odds for things at first, and it may even feel as if people are charging you as much as they think they can get away with, but that’s hardly a market principle exclusive to Nepal. Bargain where appropriate, be aware of taxi trouts but don’t begrudge a few rupees to someone who has worked hard for them.

Many hotels (and most tourist restaurants) quote their prices exclusive of the 13 percent “government” tax (essentially a value-added tax) and charge another 10 percent service charge. No matter how tight your budget, it would be foolish not to splurge now and then on some of the things that make Nepal unique: organized treks, rafting, biking and wildlife trips are relatively
expensive but well worth it.

 

 

 

Challenges for Film Production in Nepal

Film production is a creative and challenging process. Filming through days and nights, under the sun and the rain is no easy job. Pulling the raw footages together and editing them to depict a compelling story is one of the most difficult tasks. There is a much more challenge for film production in Nepal with difficulty in getting permit, lack of resources to play from.

As a film producer, we have always done our best to win over the challenges that present themselves while filming. Whether it’s the weather betraying us, or the difficult locations that have no access to electricity, we have everything covered.

To give you just a tiny glimpse of the challenges that we face while we’re out in the field everyday, we have compiled the following list.

 

Pre-production

Before the actual production, or filming, starts, we have to prepare a number of things before-hand.

Acquiring permits

Permits for filming in Nepal can be differentiated into various types. ‘Nepal Filming Permit’ is mandatory while different other permits are required if you wish to film in national parks or public places.

These permits can be acquired through Home Ministry, Defense Ministry, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and Ministry of Tourism in Nepal. So far, Kathmandu Films has made sure to get these permits in time and without problems. As with the political instability of Nepal, it can sometimes be hard to get the permit at all, or very late. WE have always managed to get the permits as per our schedules.

Briefing the crew

At Kathmandu Films, we always manage to pull together the best crew with respect to the timing and schedule. We believe that a happy crew makes the production perfect. We aim to take care of their needs throughout the production phase.

Managing equipment

Only filmmakers know the struggle of locating a misplaced equipment during filming. To avoid just that, we keep track of all our filming gears. We know what equipment we have and which ones of those we actually need for the project. This accounts for an efficient use of the equipement. We also have regular status updates to ensure that our equipment are in the best working conditions.

Transportation

Filming in Nepal, especially outside Kathmandu depends heavily on the availability of transportation. Since the remote areas haven’t been explored for filming yet, it is difficult to take appropriate measures for a hassle free transportation of equipment as well as the crew. Our major focus is to have a well experienced driver who know what kind of vehicle is appropriate for the given route to our destination. For locations like Lo-Manthang, we have a local and well-experienced driver who has knowledge about the area.

Scheduling

The schedule and itinerary is made according to the needs and demands of the client. We also keep our crew’s availability and needs in mind when we plan the project. Usually, the number of days required for the production depends on the location and the content. If it is a new location, research/recce is required to be done for days.

Recce/Research

This has to be one of the most challenging situation that we face in every shoot. If required, our team spends days for research about the location discussed for the shoot. Many factors are taken into consideration, such as the local weather, management of crowd and garbage for the shoot.

 

Production

The production phase requires the right setup of equipment and actual filming procedures. It includes everywhere from the director yelling “Lights, Camera, Action” to “Pack up!”

Equipment setup

For an indoor shoot, it isn’t a lot of hassle. We get the equipment to the location, set it up in a few minutes and can begin the shoot.

But, for outdoor shoot, it can get quite difficult. The main challenge is to manage the sound for the shoot and to keep the background noise as low as possible. While we can’t just go around and throw the vehicles off the road like superman can, or tape people’s’ mouths shut with a duct tape, we still have to manage crowd and the noise in a proper adult-like way.

In cases where we are filming on a public road, it is essential to talk to the local traffic police regarding the shoot and how to continue the shoot without disrupting the entire traffic system. Also, here in Nepal, we can often find garbages dumped on the road. While the government has been trying to implement laws.

 

Post-production

Footages to infrastructure dept

After the production phase, it is required to provide footages to the infrastructure department. This is mandatory as they have to regulate that our work does not go against any values or does any harm to the country and its people.

Editing

This is where the magic happens! Not literally.

The footages are pulled together to form a meaningful film along with special video and sound effects. The editor is responsible for the color grading and correction and to ensure that the sound is in sync with the video.

Marketing

When we make films for clients, we believe that it is our responsibility to make it known among the right viewers. A good marketing strategy according to the content of the film ensures higher viewer rates.

Challenges are always going to be there, but we are always prepared. Years of filming and overcoming the challenges have taught us a lot, but the same experience or knowledge cannot be applied in other shoot, as the scenarios are completely different.

Did we miss out any challenges that you have to go through in your journey of filming in Nepal? We would be very pleased to hear your words!

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

Travel Essentials: Nepal (Part II)

Crime

Nepal is one of the world’s more crime-free countries, but it would be unwise not to take a few simple precautions.

The main concern is petty theft. Store valuables in your hotel safe, close windows or grilles at night in cities to deter “fishing”, and use a money belt or pouch around your neck. Some public bus routes have reputations for baggage theft. Pickpockets (often street children) operate in crowded urban areas, especially during festivals; be vigilant.

If you’re robbed, report it as soon as possible to the police headquarters of the district in which the robbery occurred. Policemen are apt to be friendly if not of much help. For insurance purposes, go to the Interpol Section of the police headquarters in Durbar Square, Kathmandu, to fill in a report; you’ll need a copy of it to claim from your insurer once back home. Bring a photocopy of your passport and your Nepali visa, together with two passport photos.

Violent crime is rare. An occasional concern is a certain amount of hooliganism or sexual aggression in the Kathmandu tourist bars, and late-night muggings do sometimes occur. In addition, there have been a couple of well-publicized armed robberies and sex murders in the national parks on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley. A few Western women have been raped, but most problems come about within relationships with Nepali men – trekking or rafting guides, for instance – not due to an attack by strangers. The countryside, generally, is very safe, though there is a small risk of attack by bandits on remote trekking trails. In the Terai region, there are a number of armed Madhesi groups, but tourists are not targets and you are unlikely to be affected much beyond the odd delayed bus, roadblock or bandh.

There are several ways to get on the wrong side of the law. Smuggling is the usual cause of serious trouble – if you get caught with commercial quantities of either drugs or gold you’ll be looking at a more or less automatic five to twenty years in prison.

In Nepal, where government servants are poorly paid, a little bakshish sometimes greases the wheels. Nepali police don’t bust tourists simply in order to get bribes, but if you’re accused of something it might not hurt to make an offer, in an extremely careful, euphemistic and undeniable way. This shouldn’t be necessary if you’re the victim of a crime, although you may feel like offering a “reward”.

The worst trouble you’re likely to run into is one of Nepal’s all-too-common civil disturbances. Political parties, student organizations and anyone else with a gripe may call a chakka jam (traffic halt) or bandh (general strike). In either case, most shops pull down their shutters as well, and vehicles stay off the roads to avoid having their windows smashed. Demonstrations sometimes involve rock-throwing, tear gas and laathis (Asian-style police batons), but you’d have to go out of your way to get mixed up in this.

 

Drugs

Drugs are illegal in Nepal, but it is impossible to walk through Thamel or any of the other tourist hotspots without being approached by a dealer offering hash. It would be incredibly stupid to go through customs with illegal drugs, but discreet possession inside the country carries relatively little risk. While the drug dealers are often shady characters, they are not generally informants.

 

Electricity

Power comes at 220 volts/50 cycles per second when you can get it: lengthy power cuts (“load shedding”) are a daily occurrence. Smarter hotels and restaurants have backup generators. Tourist guest houses usually offer sockets that accept almost any kind of pin, but the European standard two-pin is the most common.

 

Emergencies

Dial 100 for the police. Hospitals and other organizations have their own telephone numbers for an ambulance, but get a Nepali-speaker to do the talking. Registering with your embassy can speed things up in the event of an emergency.

 

Entry regulations

All foreign nationals except Indians need a visa to enter Nepal. These are free (for 30 days) for nationals of other South Asian Area Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries: Pakistan, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. All other nationals have to pay for them. Tourist visas are issued on arrival at Kathmandu airport and official overland entry points. At the former, queues can be long, so you may prefer to get one in advance from a Nepali embassy or consulate in your own country. Otherwise, have a passport-size photo at the ready. At the airport, you can pay the visa fee in US dollars, euros, pound sterling or other major foreign currencies. At overland entry points, officials tend to demand US dollars or Nepali rupees.

The fee structure at the time of writing was $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days and $100 for 90 days; all are multiple-entry visas. Fees may change without warning, however, so double-check at immi.gov.np before setting out. Tourist visas can be extended up to a maximum of 150 days in a calendar year: an extension of 15 days or less costs $30; for more than 15 days, it costs an extra $2 per day. Extensions are granted only at the Kathmandu or Pokhara Department of Immigration offices. Submit your passport and one passport-size photo with your application. A transit visa, valid for 24 hours and non-extendable, costs $5.

Don’t overstay more than a couple of days, and don’t tamper with your visa – tourists have been fined and even jailed for these seemingly minor infractions.

It is no longer necessary to have a trekking permit to visit the most popular trekking regions, but you will need the TIMS card, which amounts to much the same thing. You’ll have to pay national park entry fees for the Annapurna, Everest, and Langtang areas. A handful of remote regions are still restricted and require permits to enter.

It’s worth noting, too, that a few sites in the Kathmandu Valley, including the entire city of Bhaktapur, charge entry fees.

Customs officers are fairly lax on entry, but checks are more thorough on departure, and it is illegal to export objects over 100 years old (see Ethical shopping).

 

 

Travel Essentials: Nepal (Part I)

Traveling to Nepal can be a rewarding experience if you know the right things to do. Nepal is a traveler’s paradise, combining golden temples, majestic mountain views, luscious green forests, charming lakes, and rich wildlife.

Like we said, it can be quite a hassle if you do not know the basic travel essentials in Nepal. There are many things to consider: the underdeveloped roads in most parts of the country, relevant unhygienic situations, the food that you may or may not eat in Nepal.

So, let’s cover the most important factors when traveling to Nepal — taking care of your children, the climate, and the cost of staying in Nepal.

 

Children

Kids always help break the ice with strangers, and Nepal can be a magical place for a child to visit. Arranging childcare is easy, and Nepalis generally love kids. However, some children (especially those with fair skin and blond hair) may be uncomfortable with the endless attention.

Parents will, of course, have to take extra precautions in the light of Nepal’s poor sanitation, street dogs, large crowds, heavy traffic, pollution, bright sun, rooftops, and steep slopes.

It may be hard to keep hands clean and gross stuff out of mouths, and you’ll have to keep a firm grip on small children while out and about. If your child comes down with diarrhea, keep them hydrated and topped up on salts – have oral rehydration formula at hands.

Naturally, you’ll want to plan the modest itinerary and travel in greater comfort with children than you might on your own. In tourist areas, it should be no problem finding food that kids will love to eat. Although, in other places, it might be more challenging. Baby food and disposable nappies/diapers are available in Kathmandu and Pokhara but are hard to come by elsewhere, especially in rural areas. Some toys and books can be bought in Nepal, but it’s better if you bring a supply of your own. Carry toddlers in a backpack or papoose – a stroller or pushchair will be virtually useless in Nepal.

Trekking with children is generally a wonderful experience, though it can be logistically awkward if they’re too old to ride in a backpack and too young to hike on their own (though mules or horses can often be arranged).

 

Climate

Nepal’s climate varies significantly through the year, with seasons showing themselves up very differently at different altitudes. The pre-monsoon period, generally very hot and humid at lower elevations, lasts from mid-April to early June. The monsoon season itself dominates the period between mid-June and mid-September when travel is difficult but not impossible. Autumn sees pleasant temperatures and dry weather, while winter is generally cool and clear.

 

Costs

Your money goes a long way in Nepal. Off the tourist routes, it can actually be hard to spend $30–40 a day, including food, transport, and accommodation. On the other hand, Kathmandu and some of the other tourist traps can burn a hole in your pocket faster than you might expect. Even so, it’s still possible for a frugal traveler to keep to $20 a day in the capital, although the figure can effortlessly balloon to $50 or more simply by choosing slightly nicer hotels and restaurants. If you like to travel in greater luxury, you should reckon on spending $60–80 or more per day, mainly depending on the standard of accommodation.

You’ll inevitably pay over the odds for things at first, and it may even feel as if people are charging you as much as they think they can get away with, but that’s hardly a market principle exclusive to Nepal. Bargain where appropriate, but don’t begrudge a few rupees to someone who has worked hard for them.

Many hotels (and most tourist restaurants) quote their prices exclusive of the 13 percent “government” tax (essentially a value-added tax) and charge another 10 percent service charge.

No matter how tight your budget, it would be foolish not to splurge now and then on some of the things that make Nepal unique: organized treks, rafting, biking and wildlife trips are relatively expensive but well worth it.

 

 

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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