The following story is from 2013 when Cambodian Productions main fixer, Richard John Currie, was working with a different production company on the project below.
One of the more interesting aspects of being a fixer in Cambodia is we receive many enquiries about filming in this part of the world. Producers will have a concept for a shoot but they are unsure about the rules and regulations for filming in Cambodia, as a fixer it’s our job to provide the answers and then help bring the shoot to the Kingdom of Wonder. We answer every enquiry that comes in and give as much information as possible so the producers can evaluate if it’s feasible to come or not. Some of the enquiries are straight forward while others are so whacky and unique that we have to sit down as a team and discuss how we can make this happen. So when we were contacted by We Film about a promotional video for Heineken Beer featuring a man floating down a river in a giant yellow duck we had a team meeting……………….several team meetings.
Heineken Beer were starting a new marketing campaign called “Dropped” which would have several episodes, each one featuring a different remote location filmed in different parts of the world. In each episode a new contestant would be blindfolded and dropped in a remote location, they would then have to travel back to civilisation using a pre-determined mode of transportation. We Film were looking for remote locations in SE Asia when they contacted us and we were able to suggest Ratanakiri as an ideal place to film the new episode. Ratanakiri is a remote province in the north-east of Cambodia with stunning jungles and rivers, plus there are not many tourists who visit this area so there would be an authentic feeling of isolation for the contestant. The clients were having the giant yellow duck built in Thailand so we had to arrange for it to get to Ratanakiri for the shoot. We corresponded directly with the company in Thailand and arranged for the duck to come by truck, crossing into Cambodia via the Poipet border before beginning its long journey to Ratanakiri.
One part of the production which had to be discussed in great detail with the clients was how would the client be “dropped” into the remote locations. We Film wanted a spectacular entrance for the contestant so they initially wanted a seaplane to land in the rivers of Ratanakiri. The rivers were certainly wide enough to accommodate the landing and takeoff but we were not sure if a seaplane could be sourced in Cambodia. After a few phone calls we found a company in Sihanoukville (Cambodia) which had a sea plane but unfortunately it had been hired out to a resort in Pattaya, Thailand. The cost of getting the seaplane back to Cambodia for the shoot was almost as much as the entire production budget itself so we went for a cheaper mode of transportation, a helicopter. There are two main helicopter companies in Cambodia and both are experienced in film production. The helicopter company that was available for the shoot had flown to Ratanakiri many times; they were able to advice on the best landing zone which would require minimal travel time to the rivers. After the transportation of the duck was arranged and the helicopter booked we organized the transportation for the filming crew as well as all the other relevant paper work, including the filming permissions and the import/export of the international filming equipment.
Once the five day shoot was underway the main challenge was to ensure that the contestant was supplied with food and water whilst in the duck, a small wooden boat was on hand with supplies which was then paddled out when ever needed. We also had to keep a large truck with a winch by the riverside which would lift the duck from the water at strategic points in the river and take it to a new filming location by road. Because the filming location was so remote there were no hotels or lodges available for the crew at night so they had to camp deep in the Cambodian jungle. The journey for the contestant would climax at a restaurant in Phnom Penh, so as the shoot reached its final destination the duck had to be permanently moved to the truck and driven the rest of the way. A big party was organized at the restaurant (which also became a wrap party for the crew) upon the arrival of the contestant and some much needed beer was consumed by all.
It doesn’t matter if you are coming to Cambodia in 3 weeks or 3 days, we can help get all aspects of your production organized before you arrive. If you should require advice on the filming guidelines in Cambodia please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a more urgent enquiry you can phone us directly on +855 (0)78 572 466.