• LA
  • NYC
  • São Paulo
  • London
  • Paris
  • Dubai
  • Mumbai
  • Shanghai
  • Tokyo
  • Sydney

Undiscovered Film Locations: Vladivostok, Far East Russia

Written on September 30, 2017


Vladivostok is situated around Golden Horn Bay, in Russia’s Far East, not far from the borders with China and North KoreaThe city is the home port of the Russian Pacific Fleet and the largest Russian port on the Pacific Ocean. It is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Trans-Siberian Highway.

As a major port, Vladivostok offers film locations such as a container port, fishing port, marinas, 19th century ship repair factory, waterfront warehouses, and navy ships. Vladivostok is home to two tallships that are available for filming; Pallada (black in colour) & Nadezhda (white in colour).

The city’s architecture is an interesting mix of old town, modern buildings, wooden houses, and Soviet architecture. Vladivostok is a popular destination for Asian productions looking for European locations, without having to travel all the way to Europe. Recently a Korean production doubled Vladivostok for Old New York.

Russky Bridge and Zolotoy Bridge are new bridges over the Golden Horn Bay. WWII-era Soviet submarine S-56 is an above-water museum ship available for filming. Other locations of note include Primorsky Aquarium, Vladivostok Fortress, Vladivostok Railway Station, Lesnaya Zaimka, and Primorsky Stage of The State Academic Mariinsky Theatre.

Vladivostok is the gateway to filming in the Russian Far East, with direct international flights available from South Korea, Japan, China, North Korea, Philippines and Vietnam. Outside of Vladivostok you can find many beautiful natural and man-made locations.

The Taiga is home to the Siberian Tiger and Far-Eastern Leopard. Sikhote-Alin Reserve is home to the Amur Tiger. The Dalnevostochny Morskoy Nature Reserve (Far East Marine Reserve) is rich in marine and bird biodiversity. It is also home to a North Korean poaching boat cemetery.

The region has many beautiful islands, forests, beaches, and old lighthouses. There is a glass beach near Vladivostok.

When to Shoot?

Vladivostok sits at the same latitude as the French Riviera, and yet average temperatures are far colder. Spring sees temperatures warming. Summers are warm, humid and rainy with fogs common during June and July, making for some spectacular photography. August is the best month to film for bright sun and underwater photography. Vladivostok hosts the Pacific Meridian Film Festival in September. Fall brings colourful leaves. Winters are cold and dry, with many clear, sunny days for filming. Snow on the ground is common and the bays can freeze, particularly on the western side. As winter storms roll in from the sea, Vladivostok becomes a destination for cold-water surfing.

Vladivostok Film Permits

Tourist-level shoots involving handheld cameras without tripods or any additional equipment can get away without film permits. Small footprint shoots such as those involving tripods, small lights and sound recording require permits to film. Allow at least 1 week to process. Depending on the shoot specifics, some locations will be free, some may require a fee. For larger projects requiring exclusive use of space, larger crew and equipment setups, or those that need extra security clearances, allow at least 1 month to get permits processed. Filming in restricted areas such as container ports, military areas, or protected parks requires more time for permitting. Drone filming is possible in Vladivostok.

Russian Far East Cuisine

For tourism, food and cooking related shoots, Vladivostok is known for its wealth of seafood including sea cucumber, crab, shrimp, scallop, and squid that are unique to the Sea of Okhotsk and Japanese Sea.

As bays freeze, wintertime is popular for ice fishing, and traditionally prepared dishes.

Vladivostok Film Crew & Equipment

Vladivostok has some basic camera, grip and lighting equipment. Film cameras such as the Alexa need to be brought in. Supporting crews speak English and are sufficient for smaller projects. For larger projects it’s best to bring in department heads. Crew and equipment can be brought in from Moscow either by plane (8 hours flight) or train (10-14 days). Equipment coming from Moscow usually comes with handlers / assistants. Some productions have hired larger equipment in Korea and sailed it over.

If you are looking for a Vladivostok based film / photography production service company or fixer to help you with entry visas, clearing film equipment through customs, local permitting, and arranging any other services for your production, contact us. We are also able to recommend Vladivostok based shooting crew such as videographers and stills photographers. 

Images courtesy of the Vladivostok Film Commission.