China Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
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Filming in China
For an introduction to shooting in China see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, fringes, premiums, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
Production In China: An Introduction
Shanghai is China’s financial capital and is also the main centre for advertising. Beijing is the cultural capital of China and focuses more on TV and film production.
Most multinational companies have their China headquarters based in Shanghai therefore you will find most China head offices of international advertising agencies also based in Shanghai. Beijing agencies tend to look after the domestic brands. Beijing budgets are smaller than Shanghai budgets but the volume of work is much larger.
The advertising industry in Shanghai was mostly built by industry professionals from Taipei and Hong Kong. The Beijing advertising industry is dominated more by local industry professionals. Tapping into either the Shanghai or Beijing industry therefore requires a markedly different approach.
Of the main Chinese advertising centres – Shanghai, Beijing Taipei and Hong Kong, Beijing is in many ways the least established and the fastest growing.
Guangzhou is another Chinese production centre worth mentioning. The set construction capability in terms of quality and cost is very impressive. It is also located only one hour from Hong Kong so access to Hong Kong’s production resources is easy and inexpensive.
China Film Locations
China is the largest country in East Asia, and the second most populous country in the world. Film locations include the megacities of Beijing, Shanghai Guangzhou, Chongqing, as well as modern architecture, palaces, temples, pagodas, museums, traditional villages, gardens, factories, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, beaches, deserts, bridges, tunnels, stadiums, ports, and train stations. China has the most extensive high speed rail network in the world.
China ranks first worldwide in farm output. Agricultural film locations include plantations of tea, wheat, corn, barley, cotton, and rice paddies. It is also a leading producer of pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle. With the world’s largest fishing fleet, commercial fishing vessels are also available for filming. China mines for coal, iron ore, nickel, precious metals, oil and gas. China is a leader in global manufacturing with factories producing a diversity of heavy and light industry items including iron, steel, aluminium, textiles, apparel, electronics, automobiles, trains, ships, and aircraft. Energy locations of note include hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, and coal-fired power plants.
Films hosted in China include The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021), Ghost in the Shell (2017), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Her (2013), Skyfall (2012), Looper (2012), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), The Kite Runner (2007), Mission: Impossible III (2006), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Armageddon (1998), The Last Emperor (1987), and Empire of the Sun (1987).
China’s film locations can be divided into the following regions:
North China includes the provinces and regions of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, and Inner Mongolia.
Northern Chinese dishes of note include peking duck, chinese dumplings, shredded pork in beijing sauce, braised camel hoof with broccoli, and mongolian hotpot.
Beijing Municipality. Beijing is the political and cultural capital of China, and the nation’s second largest city. It is known for its palaces, temples, pagodas, hutongs, museums, and modern architecture.
The Forbidden City was the former Chinese imperial palace and winter residence of the Emperor of China. Locations of note include Palace Museum, Meridian Gate, Gate of Divine Might, Hall of Supreme Harmony, and Palace of Heavenly Purity. Wide shots of the Forbidden City can be photographed from Jingshan Imperial Park.
Tiananmen Square locations include The Great Hall of the People, Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, and Zhengyangmen Gate.
Imperial Ancestral Temple is located in the Imperial City.
Religious locations include the Temple of Heaven, Temple of Earth, Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Moon, Dongyue Temple, Tanzhe Temple, Miaoying Temple, White Cloud Temple, Yonghe Temple, Fayuan Temple, Wanshou Temple, Big Bell Temple, Confucius Temple, Tianning Temple, Pagoda of Cishou Temple, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Niujie Mosque.
Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of palaces, gardens, lakes, and bridges.
Modern buildings of note include the CCTV Headquarters building designed by Rem Koolhaas, Wangjing Soho buildings designed by Zaha Hadid, Galaxy Soho buildings designed by Zaha Hadid, Chaoyang Park Plaza designed by Ma Yansong, Central Radio & TV Tower, and China Zun.
National Centre for the Performing Arts was designed by Paul Andreu.
Museums of note include National Art Museum of China, Capital Museum, Beijing Art Museum, Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution, Geological Museum of China, the Beijing Museum of Natural History, Chinese Aviation Museum, Beijing Air and Space Museum, Prince Gong’s Mansion, Beijing Planetarium, and Beijing Ancient Observatory.
District 798 is an East German designed factory complex that has become home to dozens of contemporary art galleries, lofts, restaurants, and creative companies.
Parks of note include China National Botanical Garden, Beihai Park, and Fragrant Hills.
Beijing National Stadium “Bird’s Nest” designed by Herzog & de Meuron, hosted the 2022 Winter Olympics, 2008 Summer Olympics, and 2015 World Athletics Championships. Other sporting veneus of note include Workers’ Stadium, Wukesong Arena, National Indoor Stadium, National Speed Skating Oval, Laoshan Velodrome, and Beijing Jockey Club.
Transport locations include Beijing Subway, Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing North Railway Station, Beijing Capital International Airport designed by Norman Foster, and Daxing International Airport designed by Zaha Hadid.
Great Wall at Badaling is a short drive from Beijing. Juyong Pass is one of the main passes of the Great Wall.
The Grand Canal runs 1,776 km (1,104 miles) runs from Beijing to Hangzhou, linking the Yellow River and Yangtze River.
Nanshan Ski Resort is located in Beijing Municipality.
Tianjin Municipality. Tianjin is a coastal metropolis located on the shore of the Bohai Sea. Film locations include Tianjin TV Tower, Tianjin Eye, Tianjin CTF Finance Center, Tianjin Tower, Italian Concession, Tianjin Natural History Museum, Tianjin Museum, Porcelain House, Tianjin Binhai Library, Tianjin University, Nankai University, Tianjin Juilliard School, St Joseph Cathedral, Temple of Great Compassion, Tianjin Olympic Center, Minyuan Stadium, TEDA Football Stadium, Port of Tianjin, Tianjin Metro, Tianjin Railway Station, Tianjin West Railway Station, Tianjin North Railway Station, and Tianjin Binhai International Airport.
Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park is a former Soviet aircraft carrier.
Florentia Village clone town was inspired by Venice, Rome, and Florence.
Huangya Pass is a section of the Great Wall.
Hebei Province. Shijiazhuang is the capital and largest city in Hebei Province.
Chengde is known for Chengde Summer Palace, Putuo Zongcheng Temple, Xumi Fushou Temple, and Puning Temple.
Jackson Hole clone village is a resort town.
Longxing Monastery is located in Zhengding.
Jinshanling is a mountainous section of the Great Wall. Shanhai Pass is one of the main passes of the Great Wall. Old Dragon’s Head is where the Great Wall of China meets the Bohai Sea.
Mount Cangyan has cliffside temples connected by a stone bridge.
East Taihang Glasswalk is a skywalk bridge located in East Taihang Mountains.
Tianzi Hotel is a unique film locations featuring trio of ancient Chinese deities.
Seashore Library sits on the white sands of a beach in Nandaihe.
Habitat Qinhuangdao was designed by Moshe Safdie.
Tianmo Desert was filmed for The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).
Shanxi Province. Taiyuan is the provincial capital and largest city in Shanxi Province. Film locations include Shanxi Museum, Twin Pagoda Temple, Jin Temple, Shanxi Sports Centre Stadium, Taiyuan Railway Station, and Taiyuan Wusu International Airport.
Pingyao is known for its City Walls and Market Tower.
Pagoda of Fogong Temple is located in Shuozhou.
Hengshan Hanging Temple is located on the side of a cliff.
Yungang Grottoes are Buddhist temple grottoes.
Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center is a spaceport.
Yungcheng City has a multicolored salt lake that changes color as water density fluctuates.
Hukou Waterfall is the largest waterfall on the Yellow River.
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Hohhot is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Dazhao Temple, Wanbu Huayanjing Pagoda, Five Pagoda Temple, Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot Railway Station Hohhot East Railway Station, and Hohhot Baita International Airport.
Mausoleum of Genghis Khan is located in Inner Mongolia.
Kissing Dinosaurs of Erenhot statues are located in the Gobi Desert.
Ordos Museum designed by Ma Yansong.
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is a spaceport.
Northeast China includes the provinces and regions of Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang.
Northeastern Chinese dishes of note include guo bao rou, jiaozi, braised ginkgo in hot toffee, ginseng chicken, harbin red sausage, and harbin dumplings.
Liaoning Province. Shenyang is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Mukden Palace, Zhao Mausoleum, Fuling Mausoleum, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Xita Koreatown, Liaoning Provincial Museum, 9.18 Mukden Incident Museum, Shenyang Steam Locomotive Museum, Shenyang Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Shenyang Metro, Shenyang Railway Station, Shenyang North Railway Station, and Shenyang Taoxian International Airport.
Dalian film locations include Castle Hotel, Dalian Modern Museum, Olympia 66 Shopping Complex, Flying Kiss Theme Park, Dalian Sports Centre Stadium, Port of Dalian, Dalian Metro, Lüshun Railway Station, Dalian Railway Station, and Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport.
Jade Buddha Temple is located in Anshan.
Ring of Life is a landmark located in Fushun.
The Red Beach is located near Panjin City.
Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Plant is located in Liaoning Province.
Jilin Province. Changchun is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Changchun Stadium, Changchun Railway Station, Changchun West Railway Station, and Changchun Longjia International Airport.
Changbai Waterfall is located on Changbai Mountain.
Heilongjiang Province is China’s northernmost province.
Harbin is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Harbin Concert Hall designed by Arata Isozaki, Harbin Grand Theatre designed by Ma Yansong, The China Wood Sculpture Museum designed by Ma Yansong, Yabuli Conference Centre designed by Ma Yansong, Russian Orthodox Saint Sophia Cathedral, Ji Le Temple, Huang Shan Jewish Cemetery, Dragon Tower, Harbin Institute of Technology, Volga Manor, Harbin Music Park, Zhaolin Park, Harbin International Convention and Exhibition Center Stadium, Harbin Metro, Harbin Railway Station, Harbin West Railway Station, Harbin East Railway Station, Harbin South Railway Station, and Harbin Taiping International Airport.
Yabuli Ski Resort is the largest ski resort in China and includes the country’s largest ski jumping facilities.
Eastern China includes the provinces and regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi, and Shandong.
Eastern Chinese dishes of note include squirrel mandarin fish, fried hairy tofu, steamed partridge, huangshan stewed pigeon, li hongzhang chop suey, Shandong-style braised spare ribs, sweet and sour fish, braised sea cucumber with scallion, dezhou braised chicken, buddha jumps over the wall, fuzhou fish balls, lychee pork, popiah, oyster omelette, beggar’s chicken, and yangzhou fried rice.
Shanghai Municipality. Shanghai is China’s largest city and financial capital. The city is known for its unique neighbourhoods, art deco architecture, and modern towers.
Neighbourhoods of note include The Bund, Pudong, French Concession, Xintiandi, and Tianzifang.
Buildings of note include Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Tower, Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, HSBC Building, Custom House, Peace Hotel, Park Hotel, and Shimao Wonderland InterContinental.
Religious buildings of note include Jade Buddha Temple, Longhua Temple, Jing’an Temple, Confucian Temple, Sheshan Basilica, and Songjiang Mosque.
Entertainment venues include include Shanghai Symphony Hall designed by Arata Isozaki, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Shipyard 1862 designed by Kengo Kuma, Shanghai Circus World, Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center, and Shanghai Exhibition Centre.
Museums of note include Shanghai Museum, Shanghai History Museum, China Art Museum, Shanghai Natural History Museum, Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai Museum of Glass, Shanghai Auto Museum, Long Museum, Shanghai Post Office Museum, Site of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, and Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum.
Shanghai Library is the largest library in China.
Yu Garden is a beautiful film location.
Parks of note include People’s Square, Zhongshan Park, Xujiahui Park, and Shanghai Botanical Garden.
Sporting venues include Shanghai Stadium, Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, and Shanghai International Circuit F1 motorsport race track.
Transport locations include Circular Pedestrian Bridge in Lujiazui, Nanpu Spiral Bridge, Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel and Bridge, Shanghai Metro which is the longest Metro in the world, Shanghai Maglev Train, Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station, Shanghai West Railway Station, Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Port of Shanghai which is the world’s busiest container port, Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.
Thames Town is an English replica village.
Shanghai Disneyland is a theme park.
Jiangsu Province. Nanjing is the provincial capital and former capital of China. Film locations include Nanjing City Wall, Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, Ming Palace, Porcelain Tower, Jiming Temple, Linggu Temple, Nanjing Fuzimiao Confucius Temple, Yuejiang Tower, Yuejiang Tower, China Modern History Museum was the former Presidential Palace, Nanjing International Youth Cultural Center designed by Zaha Hadid, Niushoushan Cultural Park, Nanjing Museum, Sifang Art Museum, Jiangsu Art Gallery, Six Dynasties Museum, Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, Jiangnan Examination Hall, Nanjing Library, Purple Mountain Observatory, Zifeng Tower, Zhan Garden, Xu Garden, Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Wutaishan Sports Center, Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing Baguazhou Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing Qixiashan Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing Yingtian Avenue Yangtze River Tunnel, Nanjing Metro, Nanjing Railway Station, Nanjing South Railway Station, Nanjing Lukou International Airport, and Port of Nanjing which is the largest inland port in the world.
Suzhou is the largest city in Jiangsu Province. It is known for its canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens. Film locations include Gate to the East, Suzhou Museum designed by I. M. Pei, Suzhou Silk Museum, China Kunqu Museum, Shantang Street, Bao’en Temple, Yunyan Pagoda, Twin Pagodas, Hanshan Temple, Xuanmiao Temple, Chongyuan Temple, Chaozong Pavilion, Lion Grove Garden, Lingering Garden, Humble Administrator’s Garden, Garden of Cultivation, Canglang Pavilion, Retreat & Reflection Garden, Couple’s Retreat Garden, Pan Gate, Baodai Bridge, Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre, Suzhou Railway Station, Suzhou North Railway Station, Suzhou Industrial Park Railway Station, Port of Suzhou, and Sunan Shuofang International Airport.
Zhouzhuang Water Town is a beautiful film location.
Liyang Museum is a contemporary structure.
The Lotus Building is located in Wujin.
Chengxu Temple is a Taoist temple located in Zhouzhuang.
Water Forest in Yangzhou is a beautiful film location.
Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant is located in Jiangsu Province.
Zhejiang Province. Hangzhou is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Qianjiang New City, Global Centre Building, West Lake, Jingci Temple, Lingyin Temple, Baochu Pagoda, Leifeng Pagoda, Yue Fei Temple, Folk Art Museum designed by Kengo Kuma, Zhejiang Museum of Natural History, Hangzhou Botanical Garden, Hangzhou Olympic Sports Expo Center, Hangzhou East Railway Station, Hangzhou Railway Station, and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport. Tianducheng is a housing estate is known for its Parisian style architecture, fountains, landscaping, and Eiffel Tower replica.
Ningbo is known for Ningbo Museum is designed by Wang Shu, Tianyi Square, Baoguo Temple, Tianfeng Tower, Tiantong Temple, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hangzhou Bay Bridge, Port of Ningbo, Ningbo Railway Station, and Ningbo Lishe International Airport.
Wuzhen is an ancient water town.
Xitang Water Town was filmed for Mission: Impossible III (2006).
Guoqing Monastery is located on Tiantai Mountain.
Houtou Wan Village, located on Gouqi Island, is an abandoned fishing village.
Shicheng is an ancient underwater city situated under Qiandao Lake.
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort was designed by Yansong Ma.
Traditional cormorant fishing can be filmed on the Nanxi River.
Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, and Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant are located in Zhejiang Province.
Anhui Province. Hefei is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Former Residence of Li Hongzhang, Hefei Grand Theatre, Hefei Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Hefei Metro, Hefei Railway Station, Hefei South Railway Station, and Hefei Xinqiao International Airport.
Hongcun Village was filmed for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).
Huangshan Mountain Village was designed by Ma Yansong.
Qiyunshan Tree House is located in Huangshan City.
The Piano Building is located in Huainan City.
Huangshan Mountain is a beautiful landscape of jagged granite peaks, hot springs, ancient pine trees, and winter snow.
Fujian Province. Fuzhou is the provincial capital. Film locations include Xichan Temple, Starship Enterprise Building, Haixia Olympic Center, Kuiqi Interchange, Fuzhou Port, Fuzhou Metro, Fuzhou Railway Station, Fuzhou Changle International Airport.
Quanzhou is the largest city in Fujian Province. Film locations include Kaiyuan Temple, Quanzhou Maritime Museum, Anping Bridge, Luoyang Bridge, Quanzhou East Railway Station, Jinjiang Railway Station, Quanzhou Railway Station, and Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport.
Tianluokeng tulou cluster is located in Tianluokeng.
Ganlu Temple is located on the side of a cliff.
Yongfu Town in Longyan is known for its blooming cherry blossoms surrounded by green tea plantations.
Ningde Nuclear Power Plant, and Fuqing Nuclear Power Plant are located in Fujian Province.
Jiangxi Province. Nanchang is the provincial capital and largest city in Jiangxi Province. Film locations include Nanchang Waves Tower, Pavilion of Prince Teng, Star of Nanchang, Nanchang Railway Station, Nanchang West Railway Station, and Nanchang Changbei International Airport.
Sanqingshan National Geopark is known for its granite pillars.
Donglin Temple is located in Jiujiang.
Shandong Province. Jinan is the capital of Shandong Province. Film locations include Sacred Heart Cathedral, Lingyan Temple, Shandong Art Museum, Shandong Museum, Jinan Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Jinan Metro, Jinan West Railway Station, and Jinan Yaoqiang International Airport.
Qingdao is the largest city in Shandong Province. Film locations include German colonial-era villas, Qingdao TV Tower, May Fourth Square, Qingdao Chamber Church, St Michael’s Cathedral, Tsingtao Brewery, Port of Qingdao, Qingdao Haiwan Bridge, Qingdao Metro, Qingdao Railway Station, and Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport.
Mount Tai is a sacred mountain known for its Taoist temples, long staircase, and the Immortal Bridge.
Jiunvfeng Bubble Pool and Supporting Facilities on Mount Tai is a contemporary structure.
Temple of Confucius is located in Qufu.
Haiyang Nuclear Power Plant is located in Shandong Province.
Central China includes the provinces and regions of Henan, Hubei, and Hunan.
Central Chinese dishes of note include spicy salted duck, carp with fried noodles in sweet and sour sauce, duck’s head, bianjing roasted duck, steamed fish head with chopped chili, fried pork with chili, and changsha stinky tofu.
Henan Province. Zhengzhou is the capital and largest city in Henan Province. Film locations include Henan Art Center, Henan Museum, Zhengzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, and Zhengzhou East Railway Station.
Pagoda Forest at Shaolin Temple is the monk cemetery at the Shaolin Temple under Mount Song.
Guoliang Tunnel is carved into Taihang Mountain.
The Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre is located on Songshan Mountain.
Longmen Grottoes are Buddhist statues located in Luoyang.
Hubei Province. Wuhan is the capital and largest city in Hubei Province. The city is often called the Chicago of China with its modern skyscrapers rising above the Yangtze and Han River waterfront. Film locations include the Wuhan Greenland Center, Wuhan Center, Yellow Crane Tower, Zhang Zhidong Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind, Wuhan University, Optics Valley International Tennis Centre, Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium, Huanan Seafood Market, Wuhan Yangtze Great Bridge, Wuchang Railway Station, Hankou Railway Station, Wuhan Railway Station, and Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Wuhan is famous as the origin centre of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River.
Ancient Building Complex is located in the Wudang Mountains.
Sidu River Bridge crosses the Sidu River.
Gu Zhao overwater highway is a bridge that runs through the middle of a river.
Chaiyuxi Grand Canyon has a staircase surrounded by a pink bloom.
Hunan Province. Changsha is the capital and largest city in Hunan Province. Film locations include Changsha Meixihu International Culture and Arts Centre, Young Mao Zedong Statue, He Long Sports Centre Stadium, Lucky Knot Bridge, Changsha South Railway Station, and Changsha Huanghua International Airport.
Tianmen Shan Heaven’s Gate Mountain is known for its natural arch.
Fenghuang is an ancient town.
Yueyang Tower is located in Yueyang.
Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge is the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed suspension bridge.
Haohan Qiao Bridge is located in Hunan.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has a mountainous landscape of karst pillars which inspired Avatar (2009). Bailong Elevator is the world’s tallest outdoor elevator.
South China includes the provinces and regions of Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, Macau, and Hong Kong.
Southern Chinese dishes of note include dim sum, congee, laoyoufen, sweet and sour pork, choy sum, salt and pepper squid, wonton noodles, cha siu bao, lo mein, har gow dumplings, shumai dumplings, braised abalone, roast suckling pig, roast squab, beef chow fun, chinese sticky rice, cantonese poached chicken, cantonese-style fried rice, and mooncake.
Guangdong Province. Guangzhou is the provincial capital and the third largest city in China. This sprawling port city is located on the Pearl River. Film locations include Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid, Canton Tower, Guangzhou Circle, Guangzhou Library, Zhenhai Tower, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Temple of the Five Immortals, Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Guangdong Olympic Centre Stadium, Canton Fair Complex, Guangzhou Metro, Tianhe Stadium, South China Botanical Garden, Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal, Guangzhou Railway Station, Guangzhou South Railway Station, and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Ling Ao Nuclear Power Plant, Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station, and Taishan Nuclear Power Plant are located in Guangdong.
Shenzhen is a global tech hub. Film locations include Shenzhen Stock Exchange designed by Rem Koolhaas, Mei’Lin Towers designed by Moshe Safdie, Ping An Finance Center, Tencent Binhai Mansion, China Resources Tower, Civic Center, Shenzhen Bay Sports Center, Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre, Huaqiangbei electronics market, Shenzhen Museum, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen Library, Shenzhen Children’s Palace, Shenzhen Concert Hall, Shenzhen Stadium, Lianhuashan Park, Shenzhen Bay Port, Yantian International Container Terminal, Shenzhen Metro, Shenzhenbei Railway Station, and Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport.
Shamian Island is known for its French and British colonial architecture.
Hallstatt is an Austrian village replicated in Guangdong.
Huawei’s Dongguan Campus is a European-style building.
Zhuhai Opera House is located in Zhuhai.
Diaolou are multi-storey watchtowers located in Kaiping.
Hainan Province includes Hainan Island, and several smaller islands including Wuzhizhou Island, and Phoenix Island known for their white sand beaches and coral reefs.
Haikou is the capital and largest city in the province. Film locations include Hainan Performance of Art Center, Hainan Museum, Wuyuan River Stadium, Haikou Century Bridge, Haikou East Railway Station, and Haikou Meilan International Airport.
Wenchang Space Launch Center is a spaceport.
Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is know for its rivers, caves and towering karst formations of Yangshuo.
Nanning is the capital and largest city. Film locations include Guangxi Sports Center, Nanning East Railway Station, Nanning Railway Station, Nanning Bridge, and Nanning Wuxu International Airport.
Guilin is known for the Sun and Moon Pagodas, Guilin Museum and Library, Reed Flute Cave, Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin North Railway Station, and Guilin Liangjiang International Airport.
Li River is surrounded by beautiful green hills. The river is known for cormorant fishing.
Xianren Bridge is the world’s largest natural arch.
Chengyang Yongji Bridge is a covered bridge.
Detian Falls are a beautiful film location.
Longsheng rice terraces are a spectacular film location.
Longtan Dam is located on the Hongshui River.
Macau Special Administrative Region.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge connects Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China.
Western China includes the provinces and regions of Chongqing, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Tibet, Ningxia, and Xinjiang.
Western Chinese dishes of note include kung pao chicken, mapo doufu, dandan noodles, shredded pork, zha jiang noodles, chongqing hot pot, chongqing noodles, chongqing xiao mian, laziji, lanzhou beef noodle soup, sour fish soup, biangbiang noodles, liangpi, butter tea, tsampa, ningxia roasted whole lamb, uyghur polo, and dapanji.
Chongqing Municipality. Chongqing is a manufacturing base, a financial centre, an international transport hub, and China’s fourth largest city. The city offers an impressive modern skyline built along the Jialing River. Film locations include Great Hall of the People, Raffles City Chongqing designed by Moshe Safdie, Chongqing Grand Theatre, Chongqing Art Museum, Three Gorges Museum, Zhazidong Prison Museum, Chongqing Science and Technology Museum, Baiheliang Underwater Museum, Stilwell Museum, Ciqikou Old Town, Fengdu Ghost City, Huangguan Escalator which is one of the world’s highest escalators, Twin River Bridges, Liziba Metro Station that travels through a block of flats, Chongqing Olympic Sports Center, Chongqing North Railway Station, Chongqing West Railway Station, Chongqing Station, Shapingba Railway Station, and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport.
Wulong Karst Landscape featured in Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014).
Wushan Yangtze River Bridge is located in Chongqing Municipality.
Sichuan Province is famous for its flavourful cooking.
Chengdu is the capital and largest city of Sichuan Province. Film locations include Anshun Bridge, Chengdu’s Historic Alleys, Jinli Street, Huanglongxi Ancient Town, New Century Global Center, Sanxingdui Museum, Sichuan Science and Technology Museum, Du Fu Thatched Cottage, Wenshu Monastery, Baoguang Temple, Qingyang Temple, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Dong’an Lake Sports Park, Chengdu Sports Center, Fenghuangshan Sports Park, Chengdu Metro, Chengdu Railway Station, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.
Leshan Giant Buddha is located in Sichuan Province.
Larung Gar, and Yarchen Gar are Tibetan Buddhist monasteries that are home to thousands of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns.
Jiuzhai Valley National Park is known for its valleys, forests, waterfalls, lakes, and monasteries.
Huanglong thermal Pools are a beautiful film location.
5·12 Wenchuan Earthquake Memorial Museum is located in Sichuan.
Xichang Satellite Launch Center is a spaceport.
Jinping-I Dam is located in Sichuan.
Guizhou Province. Guiyang is the provincial capital and largest city.
Xijiang is a Miao village known for its beautiful wooden houses.
Zhaoxing is a Dong village known for its beautiful wooden houses.
Ancient Towns of note include Qingyan, Zhenyuan, Bingan, and Longli.
Temple of the Buddha and Maitreya Temple, located in Mount Fanjing, sit atop a rocky spire connected by a bridge.
Xinchun Village has a basketball court in a karst cave.
Mushroom Hotel is a quirky film location.
Huangguoshu Waterfall is a spectacular film location.
Beipanjiang Bridge is a spectacular structure.
Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is the world’s largest radio telescope.
Huohua Bridge offers unique aerial shots.
Jiabang rice terraces are a beautiful film location.
Yunnan Province. Kunming is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Yuantong Temple, Yunnan Provincial Museum, Yunnan Art Theater, Tuodong Stadium, Kunming Metro, Kunming Railway Station, Kunming South Railway Station, Kunming North Railway Station, Kunming Changshui International Airport, and Asia’s largest man-made waterfall.
Three Pagodas of the Chongsheng Temple are located in Dali.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a scenic canyon on the Jinsha River.
Old Town of Lijiang is a beautiful location with Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background.
Shuhe Ancient Town is a picturesque film location.
Ganden Sumtsenling Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery.
White Water Terrace is located in the foothills of the Haba Snow Mountains.
Agricultural film locations include the Red Earth Terraces of Dongchuan, Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Lexiaguo Terraced Fields, and Rapeseed Fields of Luoping.
Shaanxi Province. Xi’an is the provincial capital and largest city. Xi’an was the starting point for the Silk Road. Film locations include the City wall of Xi’an, Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, Drum Tower, Bell Tower, Shaanxi History Museum, Xi’an Museum, Xi’an Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Xi’an Metro, Xi’an Railway Station, Xi’an North Railway Station, and Xi’an Xianyang International Airport. The Terracotta Warriors are located nearby.
Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor is located in Yan’an City.
Mount Huashan is known for its breathtaking cliffs and winding path to its peak where there sits a teahouse.
The Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple has a 1,400-year-old ginkgo tree who’s leaves turn bright gold in the fall.
Gansu Province. Lanzhou is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Chinese Culture Exhibition Center, Gansu Provincial Museum, Xiguan Mosque, Lanzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, Lanzhou Metro, Lanzhou Railway Station, and Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport.
Badlands of the Zhangye National Geopark are a spectacular location.
Yueyaquan is a crescent-shaped lake in an oasis.
Labrang Monastery is located in Gansu Province.
Jiayu Pass is one of the main passes of the Great Wall.
Mogao Caves form a system of 500 Buddhist temples.
Maijishan Grottoes are home to thousands of Buddhist sculptures.
July 1 Glacier is located in the Qilian Mountains.
Jinta Huyang Forest is known for its Huyang trees which grow in the desert. In the autumn the leaves turn gold.
Qinghai Province. Xining is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Ma Bufang Mansion, Duoba Mosque, Dongguan Mosque, Kumbum Monastery, Xining Railway Station, and Xining Caojiabao International Airport.
Chaka Salt Lake is located in Qinghai Province.
Qinghai Lake is the largest lake in China.
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries include Kumbum Monastery, and Rongwo Monastery.
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park is one of the largest concentrated solar power plants in the world.
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Yinchuan is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Pagoda of Chengtian Temple, Drum Tower, Taizi Great Mosque, Nanguan Grand Mosque, Western Xia Mausoleums, Yinchuan Railway Station, and Yinchuan Hedong International Airport.
One Hundred and Eight Stupas are located in Wuzhong.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Ürümqi is the provincial capital and largest city. Film locations include Grand Bazaar, Xinjiang Regional Museum, Ürümqi Metro, Ürümqi Railway Station, Ürümqi South Railway Station, and Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport.
Kashgar film locations include Kashgar Old City, Afaq Khoja Mausoleum, Id Kah Mosque, Kashgar Bazaar, Kashgar Railway Station, and Kashgar Airport. The Kite Runner (2007) was filmed in Kashgar Old City.
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are located in Turpan.
Heavenly Lake of Tianshan is a beautiful film location.
Kanas Lake is located in the Altai Mountains.
The Pamir Mountains cross into Xinjiang.
Tarim Desert Highway crosses the Taklamakan Desert.
Taklimakan Desert is China’s largest desert.
China Film Location Permits
There are no city-wide permits. It is essential to have a good Chinese fixer or production service producer to navigate the process and sensitive locations. Rules, regulations and procedures for setting up a production are different for every part of China. It can take a bit of planning so choosing a service company that has a strong nationwide on the ground network and established operating procedures is essential. Permitting times vary depending on the location and use. Locations such as airports and subways are possible to film in but location fees are expensive and location control is restricted. Shutting down city streets is very difficult but limited traffic control such as rolling blocks are possible. A no-fly-zone applies to all major cities. Helicopter footage can be shot outside of cities. The Forbidden City does not allow commercial shoots but it is possible to shoot small footprint handheld shoots such as documentaries. For commercials there is a life-sized Forbidden City backlot option located not far from Shanghai. Allow plenty of time for permitting. Contact us for location-specific information.
When To Shoot?
China is a large country with a vast diversity of climates. North and central China tends to have hot, dry summers (June to September) and freezing cold winters (December to March) with clear blue skies. Southeast China has rainy, semi-tropical summers and cool winters. Western and Himalayan China has very harsh, cold winters. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
• Monlam Festival in Tibet in January.
• Kurban Bairam is a Muslim festival held throughout the country in January.
• Chinese New Year held throughout the country in January / February.
• Lantern Festival in February.
• Tomb-Sweeping Festival (Qingming) in April.
• Sisters’ Meal Festival in Taijiang in April.
• Shanghai F1 Grand Prix in April.
• Water-Splashing Festival in Jinghong in April.
• Luoyang Peony Festival in April / May.
• Weifang International Kite Festival in April / May.
• Sanyue Jie in Dali in April / May.
• Saka Dawa in Tibet in May.
• Western Journey Festival in May / June.
• Dragon Boat Festival in Shidong in June.
• Xinjiang Apricot Blossom from June to September.
• Jyekundo Horse Festival in Qinghai in July.
• Naadam Festival in Inner Mongolia in August.
• Qingdao International Beer Festival in August.
• International Shaolin Martial Arts Festival in September.
• International Fashion Festival in Dalian in September.
• Confucius’s Birthday in Qufu in September.
• International Festival of Folk Songs and Folk Arts in Nanning in November.
• Miao New Year Festival in Xinjiang in December.
• Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival runs from December to February.
Most Chinese are not religious. A minority practise Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. In particular, it’s best to avoid shooting around Chinese New Year, May Day and Labour Day. See here for public holiday dates in China.
Unique Local Stories
Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.
If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.
If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.
Costs & Tax Incentives
Costs. Chinese government currency controls keep the RMB undervalued and therefore the purchasing power of foreign currencies remains strong. Although low-skilled labour costs in China may be low, the cost of professional crew and filming in China is on par with wealthy Western countries. The cost of shooting in Shanghai and Beijing is on par with any other major international cities like Tokyo, London, or New York. That said, our locally based fixers and service producers will negotiate deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. In terms of financial incentives, a 40% rebate is available for films shooting at Wanda’s Movie Metropolis facility in Qingdao.
All business transactions within China incur tax up to 15% of total production cost. Providing the commercial is to be aired outside of China and your payment is made to the service company’s overseas bank account, you will not incur this tax.
Most experienced service companies will have established financial procedures and a Hong Kong bank account.
Film Crew & Talent
Crew. China has a good pool of local English speaking directors, directors of photography and stills photographers including many expats now based in China. Local crews continue to gain more experience in servicing visiting productions. Crews are non-union. Rates and hours of work are negotiable and flexible to budgetary requirements. Labour on the whole is abundant and very inexpensive in China however costs of skilled key crew members are now on par with costs in the West. Although crews understand the language of film many are not fluent in English. Translators are provided to help jobs run smoothly. Production support is of course fluent in English.
Contact us if you are looking for a Shanghai, Beijing, or Guangzhou 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 in China.
Talent in China is non-union, day rate and buyout costs are negotiable.
Mandarin is the main language of the 292 living languages in China.
China is home to 56 distinct ethnic groups including the majority Han Chinese, and minorities including Uyghurs and Tibetans. China has a growing pool of global talent looks. If needed, higher-end Western talent can be quickly and easily brought in from Hong Kong, although the costs can be expensive.
Fringes and Premiums. There is no 6th or 7th day, weekend or night premiums with crew or talent. A 30 – 50% surcharge does apply if you are going to shoot during Chinese New Year or on the first week of the month of May Day and October Labour Day. Some crews have started charging overtime after 16 hours.
China Film Equipment
Equipment. China is Arri based. Additional equipment can be easily imported from Hong Kong. China has a good stock of locally available equipment including Arri 435 & 535, Pegasus Crane, Libra Heads, Panther Dollies, as well as new Alexa and Phantom cameras. For the more complicated shoots requiring equipment such as Fly-Cam, Motion Control, Steady-Cam or Tracing Car that can be easily accessed from Hong Kong suppliers. If you are planning on bringing in your own gear our Chinese fixer / producer organises easy customs clearance.
China is an ATA carnet country. For smaller projects looking to bring in their own gear and supplement with local rentals, note, most Chinese camera, grip and lighting rental houses require a gear minder to be hired to accompany the gear. If you’re working to a tight budget and cannot afford to hire a minder, it’s best to double check what gear is best hired locally and what is best to bring in with you.
Communications. In terms of communications, bandwidth in China can be unreliable. Some websites are also blocked from access. Government authorities are also cracking down on VPN’s. WeChat is a good way to communicate with locals.
Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.
Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.
For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Art department and set construction is inexpensive and quite good. China has played host to several feature films including Empire of the Sun (1987), and Last Emperor (1987).
Studios exist in all the major cities with the best facilities being in Shanghai and Beijing. Pinewood Studios has a branch in Beijing. Qingdao Movie Metropolis is a massive complex featuring 30 film studios, a theme park, shopping mall, luxury hotels, and even a yacht club and international hospital.
Backlots. Hengdian World Studios has a Forbidden City backlot about 4 hours drive from Shanghai. Please see here for images. There also exists a backlot of 1930’s Shanghai that was built for Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987).
Post Production. No labs. Technicolor, Digital District and PO are the big players in Shanghai.
Visas & Work Permits
What visa do you apply for when you want to come and film in China? There isn’t one easy answer. Each job needs its own specific approach so it’s important to have a Chinese fixer / service producer who is well versed on the latest rules and work-arounds.
The safest option is arriving on a J2 visa. This option costs the most and takes the longest time to process. Commercial and non-commercial visa options exist which have different costs and timing for processing.
Some crews arrive on business visas or tourist visas. This is a good option if you do not have enough time, are mostly (or only) going to be filming small footprint in private locations, and if you are only arriving with little equipment (or no equipment and renting all locally). Business visas are safer, particularly if you are coming to film for a locally based company who can sponsor you.
Some cities allow a Travel Without Visa option for stays of up to 144 hours. Specific conditions apply.
Note some city’s custom officials are stricter than others when it comes to enforcing rules. Beijing customs has become stricter so it’s best not to gamble arriving as a tourist if you are carrying a lot of film equipment with you.
Film crews planning to shoot in Tibet or other restricted areas require additional permits to enter.
Contact us for our local team to advise on the approach that best suits the specifics of your shoot.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation Infrastructure. Roads inside major cities and roads connecting cities are up to international standards. More rural and mountainous roads are slower going. China is well serviced by domestic airlines and most major international carriers have direct flights into China.
Accommodation. It is less expensive to book hotels through foreign travel websites than from within China. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Harbin and other parts of China. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.
Safety. With the right service company China is a safe and reliable shooting destination. See here for up to date travel advice.
Down Time. China has a great diversity of regional cuisines.
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 China, please see below:
Hire China Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in China, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in China, 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.