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WHY: Thailand’s reputation lies in the canny combination of competitive cost and experienced local crews, while the diverse locations, from the mountainous north to the southern islands, have long fascinated foreign filmmakers.

In terms of value-for-money quality of crew, the country offers perhaps the best deal in Asia: Cost could be as much as 50% lower than shooting in the U.S., and Thai technicians can custom-make anything from Chinese mafia dens to Scandinavian ice caves. Indeed, the Weinstein Co.’s “Shanghai” had the entire Port of Shanghai circa 1940 built at a Bangkok backlot only months after the pic’s permit got revoked in China.

The world-famous post-production services in Thailand caps the list of attractions. Earlier this year, the government approved in principle the plan to offer tax rebates for film shoots, though the actual effect won’t kick in until next year at the soonest. There’s also a blueprint of a tax-free Movie Zone to pull in foreign investors, although again the physical result has yet to materialize.

BONUS: There are several Thai production service companies, so the best thing is to shop around for the outfit that suits your requirements. Beaches are one of the top favorites for visiting productions, but instead of sticking to the hot spots like Phuket or Krabi, smaller, low-key provinces in the south like Trang and Phang-nga offer the same pristine scenery for much lower cost.

HOT SPOT: The family-run Moonstar Studio in downtown Bangkok has slowly built its name since 2003. Usually it’s popular among local productions but has lately found new clients in foreign commercials shoots. This year it got a big break with “Shanghai,” starring John Cusack and Gong Li. As of now, Moonstar offers one of the best production facilities in the country, with extremely competitive prices.

SHOT THERE: “Shanghai,” “Full Love,” “Bangkok Dangerous”


Thailand Film Office: thailandfilmoffice.org

Tourism Authority of Thailand: thai.tourismthailand.org