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 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.