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Tsunami Impact on Production

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The December 26 tsunami, which sent waves of destruction throughout the Indian Ocean and took a tragic human toll, has also had an impact on several productions in Thailand, the most popular filming location in the region. Thailand has a fairly well developed production infrastructure, whereas neighboring countries are less accommodating, with fewer trained local crews, scant film industry supplies and not as many production-aware officials.The question for filmmakers is whether the region as a whole and Thailand in particular are ready for production to resume to normal levels. According to Scott Rosenberg, managing director of Asian Movie Works International Company, Asia Pacific bureau chief of Film Journal International and a former entertainment industry journalist for Southeast Asia, it is simply too soon to tell.(As an aside, he notes that the threat of civil strife has recently had a greater impact on production in Thailand than any natural disaster. For example, producers Kwame Parker and E. Bennett Walsh, whose film Stealth was shot before the tsunami hit, were persuaded by Sony Pictures to move production away from politically dicey Phuket and Phi Phi island area to the inland region around Chiang Mai in the north—purely for political reasons.)Grant Atkinson of Thailand-based Rocket Products International reports: “As you can well imagine, the outlook for shooting in the south of Thailand is not so appealing right now. There is a Canadian production just about to trek off into the wilds of Cambodia, and there is a very big Korean film in and around Thailand called Typhoon.”Tony To and Patrick Murray of Studios International both recently returned from the area. They talked about specific locations they were familiar with that were hardest hit. “The beaches around Phuket, obviously, and the coast by Koh Lanta,” says To. He notes that they’re some of the most scenic locations in Thailand, and the most familiar. Yet the country has many diverse locations that were untouched. “We hope and anticipate that the recovery time for the hardest-hit areas will be very quick,” says Murray. To and Murray plan on breaking ground on Studios Bangkok in Spring, a 33-acre studio and school.Nicolai Würtz, the executive producer of a popular Danish television series, Stigfinder, which is shot in Thailand and India, recently emailed: “Fortunately we’d left Thailand by the time of the disaster, so our production hasn’t been affected.” He went on to express sorrow for the tremendous tragedy in the region.

Written by April MacIntyre

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