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Old February 20th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #1
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Nepal Documentary Advice Requested

Next week I will be leaving the U.S. to shoot a documentary in India and Nepal for a month. I am looking for any suggestions or advice I can get, because I am still a very new filmmaker (Haven't done feature length before). Sorry in advance for the long post.

So I am going to be following a Catholic Zen Monk through India and Nepal. We will be backpacking 14 days up to Everest Base Camp and back. Right now I am thinking that I am going to try to connect the idea of Zen Spirituality with Everest and "A Gentle Walk through the park" as the monk calls it, as well as my experience making the film and finding my own spirituality.

•Canon XL2 with the 20x Lens
•Kata Backpack for the Camera
•6 BP945 (Cheap Ebay Knockoffs) and a Dual Battery CH-910
•Oktava MC012 Mic and Boom Setup - 30ft. XLR cable
•Sennheiser G2 Wireless System with Countryman B6
•3 Filters: UV, Circular Polarizer, and Graduated ND
•Kata Rain Cover
•60 Tapes - Panasonic PQ
•Backup Camera - Sony Consumer TRV50 with 2 Batteries and a Light
•Various Cleaning - Lens Pen, Fluid, etc.

I will be shooting in 24pa 16x9

I am going to have a sound assistant, who also has a high quality handheld audio recorder, called a Zoom. Records onto SD Cards.

Since I will be putting all this gear on my back, I am trying to keep the weight down. For about 6 days there will be no electricity, which is why I have 6 batteries. 2 with the dual battery seem to last for a good 10 hours.

Has anybody filmed in this area and has any suggestions?

One issue Im a little nervous about is customs. I am supposed to get film permits, but I can't afford it, so I am going to claim everything is personal. (Thought about calling myself a bird watcher, gonna brush up on my bird knowledge). All the equipment is in one bag, except for the tripod and boom pole. I have also been giving tapes to different people to bring in.

So any advice or ideas concerning the doc idea, equipment, or anything else would be extremely helpful.

Thank you,
Brandon Katcher
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Old February 20th, 2007, 01:22 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: London UK
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I'm Assuming you're aware that there's a low level civil war going on in the country (Nepal) between maoist rebels and the government. Keep a significant wad of cash handy (along with a little red book and a picture of the King maybe?) and you should be fine Brandon. If you get in a muddle be calm, be respectful, and be prepared to pay an on the spot "fine".
Don't forget your camera is worth more than most people you'll meet will earn in 3 years.
When you get to Khatmandhu or wherever your starting point is, hang out in the cafes for a couple of days talking to people who've recently been in the areas you plan to visit, and test the waters before you set off.
Sounds like a cool trip and i wish you luck. I'm quite envious actually. I've lived and travelled all over Asia from kyoto to Peshawar but only with a stills camera. Hope to take my XH A1 away at some point.
Be good to get an update on your adventure when you get to one of the myriad internet cafes along your way.

Be Lucky

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Old February 20th, 2007, 02:59 PM   #3
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Hey Brandon. I'm jealous. I was in Nepal in march/april 2005 and did the same trek you are about to do. While the "war" may not be over the situation has mellowed out alot in the past year. That is not to say you won't meet the maoists but they are looking to collect a trail "toll" and to give you a lecture on the evils of capitalism. That being said the base camp trek trail is well patrolled and I doubt you will see any maoists there. Really.

Going through customs in Kathmandu is hit or miss. When I went through the guy maning the xray machine was reading the paper. Never looked up once. But they can be jerks if they want to be.

You will find no electricity once you leave Lucla (I forget how to spell that)

You will love the airstrip!

You will need to be very careful about altitude sickness. Dymox will help at night.

It will be cold.

This guy was our guide. Local, smart and very cool.

If you contact him tell him Keith and Cheryl sent you.

What will it take for you to get a permit? Anything more than a handycam will look super pro and attract attention.

Hope this helps.
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Old February 25th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #4
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Honolulu, HI
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Low Temperature and Equipment

Be sure to find out what the operating temps are for all your equipment. Be aware that batteries dont last as long in colder temps, so keep them warm.
Dino Vrakas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old February 25th, 2007, 09:28 PM   #5
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 429
the indian airport/customs don't usually check for equipments intended for filming or grill you aboutfilming permits.. However, its always a good idea to get a filming permit for the country/region you are about to film. You mentioned the permit was expensive, however, it should not havecosted you any more than mailing in your app.... Filming permit for India is only expensive if you let 3rd parties handle your permit for you. Otherwise, its just the cost of mailing the materials to your local consulate...
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