Sri Lanka Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews
Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Sri Lanka? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.
Filming in Sri Lanka
For an introduction to shooting in Sri Lanka see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.
Sri Lanka Film Locations
Sri Lanka is a small country offering a diversity of unique looks and locations that double well for other South Asian countries. Film locations include bustling cities, diverse and extensive coastline, surf beaches, fishing villages, rivers and waterfalls, forests and jungles, mountains and canyons, desert looks, rice paddies, rubber plantations, roads and bridges.
Sri Lanka has hosted productions such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Second Jungle Book, Midnight’s Children, and Bombay Velvet.
Sri Lanka film locations can be divided into the following regions:
Colombo is the capital and main production centre where local crew and equipment are based. Colombo offers filmmakers and photographers colonial and modern architecture, heavy industry, stadiums, train stations and a shipping container port. Colombo Port is perfectly set up as a film location. It’s a busy port, with a city backdrop, and wide open spaces that allow for a diversity of controlled shots. Other film locations of note in Colombo include the Gangaramaya Temple, St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Shri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil, Red Mosque (Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid), National Museum, Economic History Museum, Galle Face Green, and Fort Railway Station. The Mount Lavinia Hotel is a beautiful beachfront colonial heritage hotel in Colombo.
Galle is a city on the southwest coast known for known for its Dutch, Portuguese and British colonial architecture. Nearby Unawatuna Beach is known for its palm-lined shores and golden sands. Other beautiful beaches of note in this area include Bentota, Weligama, Galle, Induruwa, Hikkaduwa, and Koggala. Southern Sri Lanka has most of the best surf beaches in the country. Ritipanna, or traditional stilt fishing, is still practised in Ahangama and Kathaluwa.
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is located in this part of the country. Cultural locations of interest include Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Polonnaruwa reclining Buddha, Dambulla Cave Temples, and Anuradhapura.
Kandy is the ancient capital with locations of note including the Temple of the Tooth and Kandy Lake. Reminiscent of a bygone era, the train journey from Kandy To Nuwara Eliya through scenic tea plantations is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most famous film destination.
Devon Falls, Laxapana Falls, Ramboda Falls, and Glen Falls are some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
Heritance Kandalama Hotel built in a modern tropical style.
Knuckles Forest Reserve is a forested mountainous area in the interior of the country.
Pinnawela elephant orphanage is also located in this region of Sri Lanka.
Bogambara Prison is a defunct maximum security facility available for film projects.
Yala National Park is home to leopards, elephants and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of bird species.
Minneriya National Park is home to a diversity of animals in incuding elephants.
Pigeon Island National Park is a marine national park.
Arugam Bay is known for its beautiful beaches.
Jaffna is a city on the northern tip of Sri Lanka.
The island of Nainativu is home to the Hindu shrine of Nagapooshani Amman Temple.
Nallur Kandaswamy temple is located in Nallur.
Sri Lanka Film and Location Permits
Film permits from the NFC are required to shoot in Sri Lanka. These take about 3 days to process and cost 100K SRL for feature films, 75K SRL for TVCs, and 50K SRL for documentaries. A government minder may be sent along to accompany the shoot, at the expense of the production. Additional permission may be required from other government agencies.
For individual locations, the costs and timing of required permits depend on the specifics of the job. Most are easy to obtain and can be processed in a couple of days. In major city centres it is advisable to shoot on the weekends for greater control of traffic. Usually five days notice is required to block streets.
Sri Lankan authorities are known to be wary of cameras so it’s best to have all required permits in place. Please contact us for location specific information.
When To Shoot?
Sri Lanka has a tropical, equatorial climate with high humidity and long daylight hours throughout the year. In the south-west of Sri Lanka, the wet monsoon season runs from May to September, followed by a dry season from December to March. In the north and eastern coastal regions of the country, the wet monsoon season runs from October to January and the dry season runs from May to September. On the whole, December to April is considered the best period to film for weather. For monthly weather statistics please see here.
Sri Lankan festivals and events of interest to filmmakers and photographers include:
• Nawam Maha Perahera held in Colombo in February.
• Sinhalese New Year celebrations in April.
• Vesak Lantern Festival in May.
• Esala Perahera held in Kandy in July / August.
• Aadi Vel Festival held in Colombo in July / August.
• World Spice Festival held in Colombo in October.
Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Sri Lanka.
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. Sri Lanka is one of the world’s most cost efficient service centres. Locations, talent and supporting crews are very inexpensive. Some equipment and key crew may need to be brought in which will add to those costs. Mumbai is the closest major production centre. On the whole, even with this taken into account, Sri Lanka remains a cost competitive option. Our Sri Lankan service producer / fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.
Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for feature films or commercials shooting in Sri Lanka.
Film Crew & Talent
Crews. Sri Lanka has a very small pool of local directors, videographers and stills photographers. Local crews speak fluent English and have some experience on international projects. Depending on the complexity of the project, you may want to bring your key crew in from abroad.
Contact us if you are looking for a Colombo 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 Sri Lanka.
Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Day rates are very reasonable and negotiated on a personal basis. Sinhalese make up the majority of the population with some Tamil, Middle Eastern, Malay and European looks also available locally. The Veddas are an indigenous people of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Film Equipment
Equipment. Standard camera, lighting and grip equipment available locally. All else can be easily brought in from India, Malaysia, or Singapore. For productions looking to bring in their own film equipment Sri Lanka is an ATA carnet country.
Communications. 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. Shoots in Sri Lanka tend to be location orientated but on the whole construction labour is inexpensive and the quality of craftsmanship is good.
Studios and backlots. Location filming is the main reason productions come to film in Sri Lanka. Ranminithenna Tele Cinema Village is a 1940’s Mumbai backlot open for filming. Sri Lanka also has a wealth of period vehicles and other film props.
Post Production. Basic post production facilities available locally. Singapore, Hong Kong or India has more sophisticated post facilities including labs.
Visas & Work Permits
Visas are required to enter Sri Lanka. Directors and DoP’s require work visas. Producers, agencies and client personnel can enter on visas on arrival for stays of up to 30 days. It is recommended travellers apply for an ETA prior to arrival.
Transport & Accommodation
Transportation Infrastructure. Traffic congestion in Colombo can get quite bad. Main roads connecting cities are of a good standard. Rural roads are slower going, particularly during the rainy season. Train travel is a popular option for adventurous film crews. There are several international airlines that service Sri Lanka.
Accommodation. Contact us for recommended film friendly hotels in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka. For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments. Hotels of note include:
Safety. Since 1983, there has been on-and-off civil war in the north and east of Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers. The decisive end to hostilities means that now all of Sri Lanka is safe to film in. See here for up to date travel advice.
Down Time. Beat the heat and take a trip to the tea plantations in the highlands. Enjoy Ceylon tea and Sri Lankan Egg Hoppers for breakfast. Wind down your day with arrack, a local distilled alcoholic drink made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers or sugarcane.
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 Sri Lanka, please see below:
Hire Sri Lanka Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Sri Lanka, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Sri Lanka, 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.
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