Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country?
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Topic: Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country?

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    Default Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country?

    I was planning on directing and producing my first feature length movie after a couple of more short films but I was worried about having to spend too much money on it, especially since it's a horror thriller, which would require a bigger budget, as oppose to a drama or comedy or something like that.

    I have a friend from Indonesia and he suggested that I should shoot the movie there to save money as my money will go a lot further there, in terms of budget, compared to in my native country, Canada.

    However, the biggest worry is not being an expert on their language as I would have to work with a translator and hope that they are saying all the lines correctly in terms of meaning, for the script and story to make sense.

    I also would have to market the movie back to Canada, and hopefully the US, even though it's a foreign language movie, as oppose to trying to market one in my country's native language.

    I mentioned my friend's suggestion to my film school professor and he says I should go for it, and other filmmakers have also shot in cheaper countries to save money before, and it is a practice.

    So what do you think? Could making a horror thriller in a foreign language and setting to save money still work, since there still is a overall big audience for foreign language films?

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    Super Moderator   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? mara's Avatar
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    It's fine to shoot in another country to save money - it's not unusual - but do it in English. Actors can learn the lines phonetically, even if they don't speak fluent English.

    Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com

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    Okay thanks, I'm just worried about their accents being too thick for English speaking audiences to understand. Plus would an audience think that is weirkd, is why do we have a movie that looks like it was shot in Indonesia, and all the Indonesians are speaking English?


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    Super Moderator   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? mara's Avatar
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    It's a hell of a lot better than trying to get people to watch a sub-titled movie. And if they are good actors, they can do it phonetically in understandable English. Otherwise my very strong opinion is that it is definitely NOT worth doing.

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    Okay thanks. One movie I read about that was made by a British filmmaker that was shot in Indonesia was The Raid (2011). However, why didn't he get the actors to speak in English then? Did he just want to market it to Indonesia, rather than more western audiences?


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    Junior Member   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? AJ Young's Avatar
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    A lot of production companies in Los Angeles that produce low budget horror films have been shooting their films abroad in countries like Thailand to save money. They typically fly out and house their main cast and crew while hiring locals for lower level crew positions.

    In my experience, the method is kind of a wash. Shooting outside of major Canadian or US cities can typically give you the same bottom line, especially if you're shooting in a hometown. A lot of locations become free or incredibly cheap and finding last minute background actors or crew is easier than abroad. Furthermore, you'll still want to rent your camera package from Canada/US because those country's quality control and infrastructure in regards to filmmaking is bar none. (The last thing you want is a poorly put together camera package in a random country failing on you)

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    Oh okay. The main thing that concerns me though, is will the audience think it's strange that the story is set in an Asian country, for no reason other than to save money? Usually when a Canadian movie is set in a foreign country, there is a reason to the story for it, where as mine it's just to save money so will they find the setting to be weird therefore?


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    Junior Member   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? AJ Young's Avatar
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    I think you should take a look at how El Mariachi was made. Rodriquez embraced the landscape of the city he was shooting in and shaped his story around what the country and city offered rather than forcing the city/country to being something it's not.

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    Well I think maybe that's the problem then, is I already have a script I want to do, but not sure if it will fit an Indonesian city setting. It might...


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    Junior Member   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? AJ Young's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ironpony View Post
    Well I think maybe that's the problem then, is I already have a script I want to do, but not sure if it will fit an Indonesian city setting. It might...
    Run the numbers for your hometown. You'd be surprised how cheap locations can be in non-big cities or even big cities in general. You'll just have to really reach out to your contacts at home.

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    Well it's just my script deals a lot with feminism in the story, and perhaps Indonesia does not have as much feminism in their culture that may work for the story.

    As of my own town, I don't think locations are too hard, but the hardest part has been finding good actors and a good DP around for such a low price.


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    Super Moderator   Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? Should I shoot my first feature film in a foreign language country? mara's Avatar
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    You would still need to import actors, except you'd be bringing them further. So (a) re-write your script to fit the abilities of your actors (b) accept the fact that you need to bring in actors, and figure out which place it will be cheaper (c) set aside a month or two that you'll spend shooting your film someplace where you can more easily find good actors like Vancouver or Toronto since you're Canadian or (d) re-locate permanently to such a city so you no longer need to address this problem.

    YES I know those other cities are more expensive to live. We've been through through that before. But importing actors into Indonesia is going to be expensive, and also require a substantial amount of paperwork (work visas etc).

    Re feminism - I don't think that's a popular topic in Indonesia, no.

    Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com

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    Oh when I said I would be shooting in Indonesia, I meant I would be using Indonesian actors. It would be weird to have Canadian actors in an Indonesian setting, so I if I were to shoot there, I would be using Indonesian actors.


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    Even if you hire your actors in Indonesia, you'll still want to fly some of your key department heads from your local country. You'll have a hard time finding a quality DP, PD, AD, etc in that country because it doesn't have a film industry like Canada. When you do find one, he/she will be experienced enough to charge you a Canadian rate. At that point, you're better off flying in crew you've worked with before.

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    Oh okay thanks. Perhaps it's better to just set the script in a Canadian or US setting then, and just shoot it here.


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