Better technical training for film crews has led to an increase in the number of international film productions shooting in Cambodia, according to the director of the Cambodia Film Commission, Cheap Sovichea.
“Every year, we’ve had only one or two international film productions. But at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, we’ve had seven big international film productions and many smaller productions from France, USA, and Italy contacting us to film in Cambodia,” said Cheap Sovichea.
“Because we have only a small local market for the film industry in Cambodia, the CFC is responsible for scouting potential Cambodian film locations, arranging authorisations and other coordination for foreign
film productions,” he said.
“We have also provided professional training courses and seminars about film to Cambodians who have worked with international film makers in the past to attract more international productions,” he added.
We spoke to several film crew members who felt they had benefited from CFC courses. Houn Pilot said he was just a simple worker before he joined a lighting crew on a film.
“I became really interested in this work and I’ve found out more about it from different international film makers, but they didn’t always have time to share their knowledge,” he said.
“But now we have had training at CFC, so I think it’s good that we have many Cambodian professional film workers to share experiences with each other,” Houn Pilot added.
Kim Sitha used to be a tour guide for English and Thai tourists in Siem Reap, but has since worked his way up through the ranks to become an assistant film director.
He’s been a member of CFC for three years, and recently took part in his first training course to brush up his skills. “Now it’s the low season for tourists, I have taken time to join in this seminar at CFC which will provide a lot of useful information for my job,” said the 40-year-old.
“I’ve learned a lot about the history of Cambodian temples and I accompanied some people who were filming a documentary, which is why I became interested in film,” said Kim Sitha.
“For example, sometimes guests asked me to guide them to where Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider. And when we film large productions here, people are happy because they can sell their products, services, and so on,” he added.
The CFC has run courses for location managers, production coordinators, assistant directors, film producers, lighting and sound operators, costume designers and make-up artists. The CFC is a member of the Asian Film Commissions Network under the French Agency for Development and Ministry of Fine Arts.