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Old July 31st, 2005, 12:02 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Fairview Heights, Illinois
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Video Shoot in India

I plan to shoot some video in India (southwest) soon to support a christian ministry there. Will travel with JVC5000 cam, wireless mics, tripod, etc.

What permits will I need and do I need them before I leave th USA?

Thanks in Advance!
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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:12 PM   #2
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Things to be aware of

Please give your travelling details:

Should be careful with your checkin baggage. Depends on the place you are going to land. I guess south west means its Kerala...Trivandrum or cochin some cities. I heard the customs officers are kind of corrupted. Be careful with the stuff. Some stuff will get lost or will be stolen. If they find out that you're a western guy. Discovery channel crew went to kerala and lost some of their items. I saw it when i was in India. Take your camera in your hand bag. Just keep less expensive stuff in checkin baggage. One Carry on and two check ins are allowed. Put cheaper once on check ins keep the camera in your carry on. Make sure the christian missionary has good links with customs there in kerala. Some one definetly should.
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Old August 4th, 2005, 08:15 PM   #3
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Give a call to Indian counslate

Search for Indian counslate in chicago in google. And ask them some questions regarding your work. Apparently there should be some guidelines.
I'm wondering why they are asking you to come there if they have the facilities out there.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 06:55 PM   #4
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I am being asked to shoot video there for a christian ministry there that our church and other churches support.

We have a very close relationship with some people there.

Is there any ban on shooting video in India?

Thanks the information!
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Old August 20th, 2005, 01:42 AM   #5
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From experience

I have shot two longform docs in India, each time going thru New Delhi airport. I have many suggestions so if you have further questions don't hesitate to ask.

You will need a visa of some sort which you can get from the Indian Embassy in D.C. There are business and tourist visas and photo journalist visas etc. They don't make a big deal of it until you get to India. I think there's a six month and a year visa, then there's a three year, then a lifetime visa for regular business people. They start at something like $68.00 and up. I've gone on a tourist and a business visa and not had too much trouble.

The first time I went there were four of us, so we spread the equipment around. This, as I should mention was prior to 9/11 so things weren't quite so uptight. Anyway we were shooting DVCAM, 500 series and carried the camera on the plane everywhere, with just a porta brace covering. Airline people give you more leeway and for some reason more respect, thinking you must be some important news crew or something. The point is, it's right with you the whole time. The JVC 500 series is about the same size, so it should fit into overhead bins. Throw a jacket 'round it and keep an eye on stupid people who move stuff around so they can put their nine carry on items they managed to get through security right next to their seat. Make sure your tripod and any other checked equipment is in a hard shell case. We made a mistake and to save weight put it in a soft bag. Delta damaged it then denied everything for months. (I wasted hours on hold trying to talk to a human being!)

On arrival in India you will have to fill out an entry card which for some reason they don't give you on the plane, so everyone stands around trying to frantically find a pen. The first time we walked right through customs and immigration without any problems.

The second time.... ah well......

Even before 9/11 they were a bit skittish, (you will see armed soldiers everywhere), afterward, I felt like I was being watched continually.

The planes are now nearly always full because of codesharing and airlines trying to save money. Baggage restriction is tighter, but still manageable.
The second trip I did by myself with D-9 equipment which is considerably larger. Halfway through the outbound I was thinking about a DVX100.
The camera won't fit in the overheads on the regional jets, (and everybody's using them now), without taking off the viewfinder Okay on the international if you get on board early, and can find an empty bin. Anyway, the same deal as the first time, got my press cap, DP jacket, camera over shoulder etc. Everybody's helpful. Because you are in the posession of batteries, you will probably be checked and questioned at every security checkpoint in the U.S. and India, and Europe, depending on where you stop. They will probably open your checked stuff too! I avoid Newark like the plague because baggage checks are done out of sight, and, (I'm sorry to say this), I don't trust anyone with my stuff. You must leave your unlocked luggage, which is taken behind a screen, in a big pile with everyone elses. If you're gonna rifle through my stuff, I want to watch you do it. Security varies at every airport! At JFK they barely ran the wand over it, but heavily hand inspected my carry on and camera. At the regional, they took everything out and questioned me, but ignored the camera. All I can say is, it's not consistent.

On arrival in India, via Moscow, because the Austrian airlines flght got cancelled, (but that's another story), got straight through immigration, although, my checked tripod baggage case got abused badly; something I got to witness first hand-- good investment those hard cases; then on to customs.

At first I thought they would leave me alone, but then they decided everything must go through an X-Ray machine. Don't know why just kept smiling. Then some plane clothes guy, who was obvouisly in charge, sidles up and starts to play good cop bad cop with his mate. This goes on for a half hour, every question under the sun. They accused me of bringing the camera into the country to sell it, etc, I'm a smuggler etc.
What saved me was:

a) a complete list of everything with receipts for the large items
b) a letter from the company that hired me
c) all my press stuff
d) a smile, I'm not kidding, they put me through the ringer!

Finally upon seeing the paperwork etc, they let me go, but I know they took all my info and also made a note of when I was departing.

As I left India I was entered in a little black ledger with a check mark to say I had taken the camera with me.

There is a rumor that if the value exceeds a certain amount, they will make you pay a deposit, which you may get back upon exiting the country. I can't get an accurate response on what the amount value is?
Also, friends of mine have had batteries confiscated, by officials without explanation! AA AAA Cs Ds and blocks.

If you fly internal, it's even worse, because of the Pakistani thing.
You will walk across tarmac to a plane surrounded by troops with submachine guns. You will be thoroughly searched, patted down, and questioned, multiple times so be prepared.

Shooting in India ranges from okay to terrible.
Your camera will attract a lot of attention, especially in poorer regions.
We stopped in a village and were surrounded by a hundred children in a matter of minutes. If you give one person money or buy something, you will be inundated with hands outstreched.
However, money will get you permission to shoot in places they would not normally let you go. They do think every American is wealthy, so it's never going to be enough.

If you want to shoot with minimum fuss, act like a tourist with an expensive camera addiction. It worked for us in Jaipur at the castle. They wanted 15,000 rupees for professionals but 300 for amateurs, so my eccentric "wife"and I got a private tour for being on our honeymoon. Camera cables pop lights, ENG equipment, bags and all that. Crazy Americans!

Most places of historical value have fees for pros, some places ban tripods, no logic to any thing at all. The Taj is terrible; better to shoot from behind for free, (well the cost of a boat ride), otherwise without permission they won't even let you in, and if you do get permission, they will harrass you.
(Still thinking about that DVX100 which would have passed for a tourist camera!) You can try the "Just ask, or shoot and apologise later, feigning ignorance" technique. Take the matte box off and any other stuff which makes your camera bigger. Again, the less professional you look the better! If they ask if you're a pro say no. Pride will save you alot of money!

Which reminds me, make sure you take a converter! My Bauer battery pack has a voltage switch conversion, but you'll need a plug adapter. Electricity is inconsistent even in the best hotels. Most people are curious more than anything else, but like most unfamiliar places, use common sense.

It is a different world, but a great adventure, which will surely broaden your horizons, and give pause for thought about what we have here in the states.
India's population'is fast overtaking China's so you will never really get away from the crowds.

And finally don't drink anything but bottled water, with a seal that you broke personally. That means using bottled water to brush your teeth as well. Take imodium and pepto and check with the CDC. The first time we got shots, but not the second. I got sick both times, but the imodium helped. You can get larium tablets but there's no real prevention if you get malaria, which is a risk.

Good luck, it really is a great adventure,

Kindest regards,
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