Creating great video in Myanmar is not an easy task. In general, the talent and equipment are here, but both are difficult to source. Personal connections and relationships are essential to finding what you need. Filming in public places requires navigating a tangle of bureaucracy, where, again, who you know is very important. Perhaps the biggest obstacle in Myanmar video production though, is the lack of quality studio space.
As a Myanmar advertising agency doing TVCs and other video production work, these are all challenges we’ve faced and found different ways to overcome. As with most of the work we do here, the main thing is to never settle for lesser quality and to be tenacious in making sure everything meets our exacting standards. We try our best to do as much of our video production work as possible here in Myanmar, but on certain projects it’s just not possible without sacrificing quality. In these cases, we do the work in Bangkok.
Video, audio and lighting gear are fairly easy to rent in Yangon. We recommend a company called Moonshine for equipment and, if needed, an assisstant camerman or lighting grip. Those looking to shoot here who have an experienced director can definitely go this route. The equipment is good quality and well maintained, and their guys are competent and follow direction.
Technically there are tight restrictions on bringing camera gear into the country. A person is allowed to bring a “Portable amateur camera and its relevant accessories” and a “Portable Video Camera, HD Cam, DV Cam for memorable recording and Spare part dry cell (1 Set)” according to the Customs website. This essentially allows a tourist to take personal photos or video. Getting gear through customs for a commercial video production without the right paperwork could come back to bite you later if you get into any trouble.
People are not even allowed to bring a remote controlled toy car into the country, so drones are out of the question without the right paperwork. They can be rented in Yangon so anyone shooting here and needing one will probably want to go that route.
Once, the day before a big event we were producing for Heineken, we had our film crew bringing professional camera gear in from Bangkok. Of course we had all the paperwork sorted, but they were still detained at the airport. It turned out that the customs officers thought a dolly and glidecam were a disassembled drone. Once they realized the mistake the crew and gear were allowed to go. Looking back it’s funny, but if you work in events or video you probably have an idea of how we felt during that ordeal.
A TVC we shot for OPPO
Film studios are probably the biggest area where Yangon video production is lagging. The big TV networks have okay studios, but beyond that there really is not much. It’s likely this will change in the coming years but for now, where professional quality is called for, Bangkok is the only option.
With enough determination, Myanmar video production can be done independently. Those on a deadline though, or with high production standards that must be met would be well advised to work with local contacts who have a proven track record of creating quality video. It’s Murphy’s Law, and there’s more that can go wrong here than just about anywhere else.