Documentary Filming in China: A Guide by Alchemist Films

Embarking on a documentary shooting journey in China’s mainland? Look no further than Alchemist Films, a seasoned facilitator of documentary production. With a rich history of excellence, Alchemist Films stands as a trusted partner for overseas TV crews venturing into China. Our years of experience have honed a skilled team ready to assist international TV crews in crafting captivating documentaries across China’s diverse landscapes.

Services Offered by Alchemist Films

  • Filming Permission: We facilitate the acquisition of filming permission from the National Radio and Television Administration of the PRC.
  • J-2 Visas: Seamlessly obtain short-term J-2 visas for your crew’s stay in China.
  • Customs Clearance: Whether you choose our services or opt for an ATA Carnet, we’ll assist in navigating customs clearance for your filming equipment upon entry to China.

1. Documenting Your Journey: Required Documentation

  • Application Letter: Craft a signed application letter on official letterhead, introducing your company and providing an overview of the documentary, broadcasting plans, crew details, and expected dates of entry and exit.
  • Crew Details: Provide scanned passports of crew members and detail their roles within the production.
  • Shooting Schedule: Create a comprehensive schedule encompassing specific dates, locations, content descriptions, crew members, and shooting methods.
  • Local Contacts: Share a contact list with phone numbers for local personnel at filming locations.
  • Equipment Inventory: Submit an equipment list following a prescribed format.
  • Interview Plans: If interviews are on the agenda, outline your approach for smooth execution.

2. Navigating the Process: Processing Time for Documentation

Document processing can be intricate, but Alchemist Films streamlines the experience. Expect a minimum of 15 working days for this stage, accounting for coordination with shooting venues and securing agreements from interviewees and institutions. Processing J-2 visas and obtaining filming permission typically takes around 15 working days, considering holidays. Remember that embassy processing time is separate from this period. Strategic planning is key.

3. Smooth Customs Entry: Customs Declaration

Alchemist Films offers two pathways for customs clearance: utilizing an ATA Carnet or obtaining a Letter of Guarantee (L/G) through our assistance. Opting for the latter involves a one-week approval process for the L/G. To ensure a seamless process, finalize equipment arrangements at least a week before your arrival. Present the L/G during both entry and departure customs procedures for hassle-free transit.

4. Taking Off Safely: Airport Security Check

For air travel within China, compliance with airport security regulations, especially those concerning lithium batteries, is imperative. Avoid non-compliance to prevent equipment confiscation or legal consequences. Be well-versed in lithium battery guidelines, encompassing watt-hour limits, spare battery quantities, and proper packaging.

5. Aerial Insights: Usage of a Drone

While Alchemist Films understands the allure of drone usage for filming in China, securing authorization is paramount. Filming with a drone without formal permission is considered unlawful. While we generally don’t deeply engage in the process of obtaining drone filming permits, we’re here to offer guidance as needed. Your drone journey will be well-informed and responsible under our guidance.

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