With the advent of the Internet, frames and boundaries are erased in our lives, including in international working relations. Now, if you are a professional in your field and the specifics of your work are not tied to the place, you can safely work with companies from other countries. But how to do it for the first time, and what pitfalls can await you in the process? The head of the international advertising company hlmedia.tv and director Fyodor Belogai shared with us practical advice on the example of his own project.
My experience in foreign filming is already quite extensive, it can be measured by continents – America, Africa, Europe, Asia. I am pleased to share my experience on the example of filming an advertisement for one of the banks in Singapore. I’ll start with the first steps.
How to find a project abroad?
The first step that will bring you closer to a foreign partner is to place your cases and duplicate their descriptions in English. You can use popular platforms such as Vimeo, Instagram, Facebook. Moreover, if you are aiming to get a foreign customer, I advise you to put English above Russian – no one will read further, having seen a text in a language that is unfamiliar to him. We maintain our Facebook portfolio in English only.
In the future, the more foreign cases appear in your portfolio, the easier it will be to find projects. For example, our partner from Singapore found us himself – he accidentally saw one of our last cases and contacted me to conclude a contract.
How to accept payment from a client of another country?
The easiest way is electronic payment systems such as PayPal. Convenience is due to the fact that from this system you can easily withdraw money to any card, as well as provide the customer with an invoice, which he needs to resolve issues with the tax authorities.
If the amounts are large, or the customer does not use electronic payment systems, then I advise you to open a multicurrency account in any of the Russian banks. Keep in mind that in this case you will have to pay a commission, approximately 10% of the transferred amount. I use both payment options with my foreign partners.
Here I will also mention the documents accompanying the project. They are prepared in duplicate and in two languages - English and Russian. For quick passage of payments through currency control, it is better to accept 100% payment in advance. Otherwise, there is a risk of running into fines if there is a discrepancy between the actual date of receipt of payment and the term in the agreement.
Pitfalls in international cooperation
The most acute point is the difference in legislation. You will have to deal with local laws, local law enforcement officials, local people. It was in Singapore that my team and I had an interesting experience with the police. According to the script in the video, there was a scene where the police were transporting an access card from a safe deposit box, but in Singapore there are very strict laws and we could not agree on the shooting. Neither connections nor money helped us get permission to film police officers and their cars. It was necessary to get out of the situation, and we decided to complete this part in Bali. We managed to negotiate with the local police about the shooting, provided that their faces, car numbers, and badge numbers are not shown.
To find out the pitfalls of the country in which the shooting is planned, I advise you to visit it first. There are a lot of nuances that can take you by surprise, for example, the beginning and end of daylight hours: you plan to start filming at seven in the morning, and then the dawn is only at nine. The temperature regime can also affect, since in the cold, the equipment is discharged faster, and in the heat, the make-up on the actors very quickly becomes unusable.
Preparing for the workflow
I advise you to pay special attention to this step. He is one of the most responsible, I never get down to the practical part until everything is thoroughly thought out in theory. At the stage of preparation, we try to predict all the force majeure events that I have listed above, we develop backup options.
The filming process in my team is always easy, because we start it as prepared as possible. I can see the full picture in advance – it is fully visualized, traced and storyboard made.
How much does it cost to come to Singapore? Do you need a visa?
Singapore is such a point where there are many connections between flights, therefore it is one of the most popular destinations, where many low-cost airlines fly with low ticket prices.
A visa for Russians is needed, and it is issued online on the website in advance. But there is a life hack, if you fly to Singapore through a third country, then you can get a transit visa for 96 hours.
How long does the workflow take?
It all depends on how well you were able to prepare for the shooting. If you have everything thought out, adjusted and all the details discussed with the customer, then it will not take much time. We shot the video in three days, one of which was spent meeting with the client, the actors and the entire team involved in the project. But in our case, we finalized some of the scenes in Bali, which took another three days. Plus, we didn’t waste time filming city views, we used footage – high quality stock videos shot in the best light, ideal weather conditions.
My task, as a person who manages the project, is to minimize costs, minimize energy costs and thereby optimize the process. Futazi is one of the tools that help you do this.
Is it scary to go to work in a foreign country for the first time?
The level of training plays an important role here. If you have studied the country, mentality, basic laws in advance, then it’s not scary. My first experience was a long time ago, but even then I did not experience any fears, on the contrary, I perceived it as an adventure, as a way to improve my skill and as an opportunity to realize my creativity at a new level.
Is it possible to organize filming abroad remotely?
Perhaps this is the most pressing issue in the midst of a global pandemic. The borders are closed, there is no chance to fly to work in another country, but, fortunately, there is always the opportunity to organize shooting remotely. I already have such experience and it was before the quarantine. Part of the filming takes place in Russia, and I live in Los Angeles. And so you have to manage the process through FaceTime.
The shooting itself takes place as I described above, only with someone else’s hands.
Here’s a quick checklist on how to produce long distance shots:
Selection of a project manager in the country of filming
The manager should be a person who is most similar to you in a creative way – he will be your “hands” throughout all the filming. It is important that his vision of the picture of the project does not run counter to yours. Joint offline experience greatly facilitates the task – I know the person, I know his approach to work, principles and style of work.
In every civilized country there are location scouts – people who, for a certain fee, select locations for filming films, clips, fashion videos. You can apply to scouts for a location search service. It is important that before filming begins, he sends all the frames of the location, the details of the light, everything that can affect the quality of the pictures. And this needs to be studied even more carefully than when you are on the spot.
Experience and offline dating also helps here, but if you do not have such experience, you will have to spend time studying the portfolio.
First of all, I recommend choosing an operator. Perhaps his team has stylists, make-up artists, models with whom he already had shooting experience – he is comfortable working with them, he is confident in their professionalism.
It is difficult to control the shooting process itself remotely. You need to really trust the person who is holding the camera on the other side. One of the funniest moments was shooting for Tanuki. At that moment I was in Bali, and the shooting took place in Moscow. It was necessary to shoot the material very quickly and I watched it online, according to the camera’s pictures, according to the operator’s video sketches. At that moment it seemed funny to look through the screen and time zones at the location, but now I understand that this is the only opportunity to continue working with the team under quarantine conditions.
The final stage of remote work – agreement with the customer
You can agree on each stage separately, or you can only once – after the basic preparation has been completed: the idea has been worked out and visualized, the whole team is assembled, the location has been found. Online communication or a project manager will help you with this, depending on the wishes of the customer.
Many professionals want to work with projects in all corners of the world, link together travel and work, go towards new experiences and impressions, so why not start turning your desires into life right now?