India is an extraordinary country of great beauty, contrast and sensory overload. With over one-sixth of the world’s population, India is home to a rich array of cultures, religions and ethnicities. India is a country where ancient architecture sits beside modern towers, a country where absolute wealth lives next to extreme poverty. The diversity of location looks range from paradise beaches to mountain peaks, picturesque tea plantations to colourful crowded markets, dense forests to arid deserts, colonial buildings to ancient temples.
Mumbai and New Delhi are the major production centres. Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad are also significant production centres.
Cost & Rebates
vary greatly depending on where you plan on filming. Mumbai in particular has become very expensive. Otherwise, other parts of India are still relatively cost competitive. Crew costs are low compared to most of the world. Talent is inexpensive. Most equipment is available locally so there is no need to fly in gear. Cities such as Mumbai have very congested traffic which limits the number of possible crew moves in a day. This may increase the number of shoot days required. Many impressive locations also require travel outside of major production centres which can add significant costs to the shoot. On the other hand, savings can also be made with some nearby locations doubling for difficult to reach locations. For instance, Mumbai has small ghats that can double for the ghats of Varanasi. In any case, our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or feature films shooting in India. Several countries have co-production agreements allowing foreign productions to take advantage of domestic incentives.
When To Shoot
India is a large country with a wide range of weather conditions. India hosts six major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the west, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the north, to humid tropical regions supporting rainforests in the southwest and the island territories. Many regions have starkly different microclimates. India has four seasons: winter (January and February), summer (March to May), a monsoon (rainy) season (June to September), and a post-monsoon period (October to December). In Northern India, November to March are the best months to shoot for weather and cool temperatures. Some parts of the Himalayan range are inaccessible due to heavy snow from November onwards and then road access does not usually reopen until June. The north is also subject to landslides during the monsoon season. Southern India east of the Western Ghats remains dry during the monsoon period.
Before you apply for a visa, your shoot first needs permission from the India government. Visiting productions need to apply for a Ministry of External Affairs Location Permit at their local Indian consulate or embassy. The application must include an invitation letter from an Indian production service company as well as full project details including synopsis, location list, visiting crew details, equipment list and other relevant information. A simple b-roll shoot can take around 2 weeks to permit whereas filming at a heritage location such as the Taj Mahal can take up to 6 weeks to permit. Please note, this location permit covers the entire crew so it’s important to include all visiting crew members in the same application. Fees will vary depending on the locations required. Once the permit is approved the visiting crew members will be issued with a collective visa deemed appropriate by authorities (usually a journalist, business or tourist visa). Note, travel for scouting or meetings does not require prior permission and you can just enter on a Business Visa or Journalist-Visa.
Cast, Crew & Equipment
India has a good pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Indian crews are very hard working, inexpensive and flexible. Key and supporting crews speak English. Separate unions exist for different crews throughout India. Indian teams are considerably larger than what is considered normal in the western world. This is the culture. Our service producer makes sure that only the local keys are the points of contact. In some cases key crew should be brought in from abroad. Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable. Unless it’s a celebrity, talent costs in India are generally very cost-competitive. East Indian looks are available in abundance. There is also a pool of East European models based locally. All other talent looks are best cast abroad. There are several good talent agencies in India. All the standard camera, grip and lighting equipment is available in India. Some specialised equipment needs to be brought in from abroad. For productions looking to bring in film equipment, India is an ATA carnet country.