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Malaysia

Malaysia Film & Photography Production Services

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Malaysia? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Malaysia? See below for an introduction to Malaysia locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Malaysia Film Locations

Malaysia offers a great depth of impressive locations. It is best known for its beaches, rainforests, colonial architecture, modern buildings, and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. Malaysia has a wide biodiversity of unique fauna including Asian elephants, Indochinese tigers, Borneo orangutangs and Sumatran rhinoceros.

Film locations of interest to visiting productions can be divided into the following regions:

Peninsular Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is the capital and main film production centre. The city is an interesting cultural melting pot where Malay mosques, Chinese joss-houses, Christian churches and Hindu temples stand next to bustling markets and towering modern skyscrapers. Structures of note include the famous Petronas Twin Towers, Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Kuala Lumpur railway station, Planetarium Negara, Thean Hou Temple, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, and the National Mosque of Malaysia.

Outside of Kuala Lumpur, there are many locations of interest to filmmakers and photographers.

The Perhentian Islands offer untouched paradise looks with white sand beaches, turquoise waters and reefs with impressive underwater photography opportunities.

Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands known for its beaches, rainforest, mountains, mangrove estuaries and unique nature.

Taman Negara National Park is a beautiful natural location in Kelantan.

The city of Ipoh is known for its British colonial architecture and Buddhist cave temples.

The Colmar Tropicale French Theme Resort in Pahang has been used to double as a small village in Alsace.

Kek Lok Si Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Penang.

The Batu Caves are Hindu cave temples.

The exquisite Crystal Mosque made of steel and glass is located in Terengganu.

Langkawi Sky Bridge is an impressive curved bridge over mountainous jungle terrain.

The Cameron Highlands offer picturesque tea plantations.

Other agricultural looks of interest in Malaysia include rubber tree plantations, palm oil plantations, and rice paddies.

As far as usual film locations go, the Gurun Electric Converter Temple is a building designed like a Chinese temple that operates to connect the power grid.

East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). The regions of Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan are located on the island of Borneo.

Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park is a beautiful rainforest.

The Niah Caves and Deer Cave, located in Sarawak, are beautiful cave structures.

Mount Kinabulu is one of South East Asia’s highest peaks located a 3 hours drive from Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu.

The Pinnacles of Gunung Mulu are an impressive, otherworldly landscape.

Sipadan is a paradise island.

Malaysia has played host to Hollywood films such as Entrapment and Fair Game, TV series including Marco Polo, and a long list of Bollywood movies.

Malaysia Film Location Permits

In general, Malaysia has a film friendly and streamlined permitting process. There are no extraordinary restrictions or rules. Shooting inside the Petronas Towers is difficult to permit but not impossible. It’s easier to get permission if it’s a Bollywood production due to the Indian connection. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Generally speaking Malaysia has a tropical climate with warm, humid days and cool nights. The west coast Malaysian peninsula has a dry season from November to April, light rains from April to August and a wet season from September to November. The east coast Malaysian peninsula has a dry season from April to October and a wet season from November to March. Malaysian Borneo receives high rainfall throughout the year with heaviest rains from October to March. Visibility for underwater photography is best during the dry season on the Malaysian peninsula and good all year round on Malaysian Borneo. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Malaysia’s cultural diversity is on display in several interesting festivals and events including:

• Chinese New Year in January / February.
• Thaipusam Hindu Festival in February.
• Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix in March.
• Diwali (Festival of Lights) in October / November.

Malaysia’s majority Muslim population observe Ramadan. Many services still remain open during this time.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Malaysia.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. On the whole, Malaysia is a cost competitive country to shoot in. It is roughly around the same price point as Indonesia, which is less expensive than Singapore but more expensive than Thailand or the Philippines. Our Malaysian fixer / service producer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. Malaysia offers a 30% tax rebate for qualifying foreign feature films, TV productions, documentaries, animations, post-production and TV commercials.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Malaysia has a small but good pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Malaysian crews are hard working and experienced in servicing international productions. Local crews speak English. Most projects do not require key crew to be brought in from abroad. If additional crew needs to be brought in this can be easily sourced in nearby Bangkok and Singapore.

Contact us if you are looking for a Kuala Lumpur based director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Malaysia.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. The main looks in Malaysia are Malay, Chinese, East Indian and Pan-Asian. There is also a pool of younger Middle Easterners who are studying in Malaysia. Malaysian Borneo has several interesting indigenous tribes including Sea Gypsies. All other talent needs to be cast abroad.

Malaysia Film Equipment

Malaysia is Arri based. All the standard camera, lighting and grip equipment is available locally. Specialized equipment is easily brought in from Singapore or Bangkok. Singapore is connected to Malaysia by a land bridge and is a 4 hour drive to Kuala Lumpur. 

For productions looking to bring in film equipment Malaysia is an ATA carnet country. Bringing in gear for non-carnet member countries is a quick and easy process once visiting crews have work permits.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is of a good standard. Set construction is particularly good. Malaysia is known to have very good riggers.

Studios and backlots. Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios have a large studio complex offering film stages, TV studios, post production services, production offices, backlots, 30 acres of natural forest, interior and exterior water filming tanks. KRU Studios also offer a variety of studios specializing in TV productions. Malaysia also has a French theme park with a design based on a small village in Alsace.

Post Production. Some good post facilities. Telecine is lacking. Best to use graders in Bangkok or Singapore.

Visas & Work Permits

Malaysian film work permits must be applied for through a FINAS licenced company or approved government agency. Work permits can take up to 8 weeks to process but this can be expedited in some circumstances. Additional permits are required if filming in Malaysian Borneo. National Parks also require additional permits.

Crew travelling on Western passports that enter as tourists can stay visa-free for up to 90 days.

The eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak (on the island of Borneo) have special entry requirements.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Traffic congestion can be bad in major cities so allow plenty of lead time to travel between locations, particular during peak hours. Roads on the Malaysian peninsula are paved. Roads in more rural areas are in a poorer condition and may become impassable during the rainy season. Our Malaysian service producer / fixer organizes safe and reliable 4WD transportation. Helicopters are available but are very expensive in more remote areas. Several domestic carriers offer low-cost flights around Malaysia. Many international airlines service flights to Kuala Lumpur.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Kuala Lumpur include:

Mandarin Oriental
Shangri-La
The Piccolo
Boulevard Hotel

Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Final Notes

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice.

Down Time. Delicious street food.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Malaysia, please see below:

Hire Malaysia Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Malaysia, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Malaysia, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.