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7 Essential Tips For Shooting In Singapore: What You Should And Should Not Do When Shooting In Singapore

1 -What should you always do or consider when shooting in Singapore?

Always take the weather into consideration. Additionally, there are two critical factors to bear in mind: the weather itself and the issue of noise.
In this locale, it’s almost inevitable that rain will make an appearance at some point during the day. Thus, if you’re planning an outdoor shoot, you must factor this possibility into your preparations. If rain isn’t in the forecast, you’ll likely contend with sweltering heat. It’s essential to be well-prepared for both scenarios – equipped to handle intense sunlight or sudden rainfall – and dress suitably. Moreover, when planning outdoor shoots, having a contingency plan (Plan B) is advisable. This allows for adaptability in case things don’t proceed as intended, potentially necessitating another shooting day.
The second factor, noise, presents its own set of challenges. Singapore is a bustling city, perpetually undergoing expansion and development. Consequently, avoiding construction noise can prove to be quite challenging. This holds true even when shooting within a client’s office or any location around the Central Business District (CBD). The likelihood of encountering construction activity somewhere nearby is quite high. Despite your best efforts, unexpected construction noise may disrupt your shoot, and there might be little you can do to mitigate it. These are the two primary considerations that weigh heavily on my mind.

2 -What should you never do when shooting in Singapore?

When filming in Singapore, it’s advisable to steer clear of political subjects or anything related to local politics. Singaporeans generally prefer that foreigners refrain from raising political questions or criticizing their government. The government itself is wary of foreign interference, which is a sentiment that can be understandable.
Engaging in discussions about politics is not likely to yield positive outcomes, unless, of course, you’re speaking with a taxi driver – they often hold outspoken political views. It’s wise to avoid this topic. Furthermore, it’s essential to approach the racial diversity present in Singapore with sensitivity and respect. It’s important not to impose one’s own cultural norms on Singaporeans; they have their established system, which effectively functions for them.

3 – What little known fact or tip would save you time, stress or money when shooting in Singapore?

Certainly, I would emphasize a key point that I often share with clients. It’s crucial to be well-prepared and ensure that if you intend to film in Singapore – particularly on any specific property – you obtain the necessary permits well in advance. Expecting immediate approvals is unrealistic.
In Singapore, a general rule is to allow around two weeks for permit processing. Regardless of the issuing authority, this timeframe is typically required for obtaining permission to film at a specific location. If your plans involve drone usage, the process might take even longer. It’s worth noting that drone permits typically require more time. It’s advisable to consult with a local expert, as there are various competing jurisdictions and regulations to navigate.

4 -What is the best season to shoot in, when in Singapore?

We experience a single distinct season here, marked by wetter periods. I must admit that recalling the exact details can be challenging at times. From what I can recollect, these wetter phases generally occur around January to March and again from September to November.
During these periods, the likelihood of rain is higher. However, I must stress that the term “wetter” is somewhat of an understatement – the area tends to remain consistently damp. The humidity is a notable characteristic of the region.
From my observations, I’d assert that the middle of the year is generally a safer choice for shooting. The weather exhibits greater predictability in this timeframe, even when it comes to rainfall. Rather than persisting throughout the entire day, rain showers are more likely to take the form of heavy downpours that are relatively short-lived. Consequently, the mid-year months offer a more reliable climate for shooting. On the contrary, the beginning and end of the year can be less stable in terms of weather.
I have a vivid memory of an incident in Penang when I got caught in a monsoon. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. The sheer volume of water descending from the sky was truly remarkable. No matter where you sought shelter, there was no escaping the torrential rain. It was a sight unlike anything I had ever witnessed before.

5 – What should somebody, considering a shoot in Singapore bear in mind regarding transportation?

Singapore is relatively convenient for travel, although some may assume that its small size equates to easy navigation. However, it’s prudent to allocate some extra time. Unlike our neighbouring countries like Kuala Lumpur or Manila, where incessant traffic congestion can lead to hours of travel for just a few kilometres, we fortunately don’t encounter such issues. The government effectively manages these concerns.
Nonetheless, traveling here still demands time, especially when working with a small crew. Unlike other places where a Director of Photography (DOP) might possess a vehicle, it’s not a common practice in Singapore due to the high costs involved. Personally, I find it unnecessary as well. Clients often assume that driving to a location will suffice, but it’s not always that straightforward.
Assumptions about the ease of travel here can be misleading. For film shoots, it’s usually essential to rent a proper van for efficient transportation of equipment. Within the central areas, moving between locations typically takes around half an hour. However, venturing to the western parts can extend this to a two-hour journey.
Singapore may be small, but it’s larger in terms of travel time than one might think. This becomes especially evident as you head west, encountering heavier traffic during specific times of the day. Jurong Island, situated towards the westernmost point, exemplifies this challenge. Traveling towards Jurong can pose a significant hassle. If you’re starting from the opposite end of the island, it could take a couple of hours to reach your destination.
Clients should be mindful that while Singapore is compact, traversing it can still be time-consuming. I’ve also journeyed to Nature Reserve.

6 – Are there any safety or security considerations?

Singapore is renowned for its high level of safety. From a personal standpoint, there’s generally little cause for concern. Nevertheless, I would emphasize that Singapore stands out in my experience as a place where I’ve confidently left camera equipment unattended on the side of the road, not straying far. For instance, while enjoying a coffee at a café, it’s not uncommon to temporarily leave your gear on a table as you await the arrival of a van, without giving it undue attention. This casual approach stems from a sense of security in knowing that the likelihood of anything untoward happening is minimal.
Even when it comes to personal items like wallets or phones, there’s a practice called “chopping” – a means of reserving a table by leaving belongings on it. This demonstrates the prevailing trust that your possessions won’t be pilfered.
However, on the flip side of safety and security considerations, it’s important for clients to be mindful of sensitive areas that warrant caution. Locations near Parliament House, the Astana (the President’s residence), air bases, and certain Chinese enclaves are off-limits for filming. While Singapore generally exudes an air of ease and relaxation, misjudgements such as pointing a camera in an inappropriate direction or encroaching too near a sensitive building can lead to complications. Sometimes, these boundaries aren’t immediately apparent unless you’re accompanied by a local who understands the nuances.
This is particularly true regarding drone usage, which is tightly regulated here. Caution is advised, as straying into areas of heightened security can have serious consequences. It’s evident that Singapore’s commitment to security has contributed to its impressive development, especially in comparison to neighbouring Malaysia, where the disparities are stark.

7 -Are there any times of year or times of day when you should just forget about shooting in Singapore?

In general, filming around Chinese New Year can pose some challenges. During this period, many individuals take time off. However, for B-roll footage, it can be an opportune time to capture vibrant scenes like the festivities and dragon dances.
Finding a full crew around that time might be a bit more challenging, though not necessarily due to cultural diversity, as Singapore is quite multicultural throughout the year. Nonetheless, being a relatively young and growing country with an evolving industry, certain factors can impact crew availability. For instance, when a major production or reality show emerges, it can absorb a significant portion of available crew, making it trickier for others to find the right team members.
Sometimes, explaining to clients why assembling a crew is difficult can be a challenge. The reality is that the industry is still evolving, with the recent influx of film schools contributing new talent, albeit often more oriented towards drama and commercials. Finding individuals with a versatile skill set encompassing both broadcast and corporate work, along with a profound understanding of the craft, can still be challenging. It will take time for Singapore to establish a robust and dependable crew infrastructure. Despite these factors, there are indeed many skilled and capable crews in the region.


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