Filming in Nepal: Himalayas, Hills & Terai
Filming in Nepal? Diverse Culture and People
Due to the complicated geography, filming in Nepal is not as easy as people perceive it to be. The terrain ranges from plains, mid-hills, high-hills all the way to the highest snow capped mountains. The North-Western parts of Nepal encompasses Tibetan Deserts along with lakes, rivers and glaciers. There is little to no road access to most locations. As exciting as it may seem to explore these remote locations, it is just as risky. These locations are a couple of kilometers apart from one another, hence, traveling becomes extremely time consuming due to these locations being remote in nature with inaccessible roads.
Foreign filmmakers and media personnels have, in the past, visited such remote locations and formed their own opinion on the culture and the communities living in these areas without proper communication with the locals. The indigenous communities living in these areas have, more often than not, been misrepresented. Due to their economic and financial conditions, they are often persuaded and silenced with the help of money.
The local coordinators, including fixers, production managers and journalists who have been working in Nepal for a long time have been able to understand and move through such cultural barriers by working closely with the people from these communities, communicating information and involving them in the decision making process of Fiming in Nepal.
Finding the right kind of people is the biggest challenge, thus, filmmakers’ first choice always happens to be travel and tour agencies or trekking companies. However, working with such agencies creates limitations since tour guides are inexperienced in handling filming projects and hiring them as production managers/assistants makes little to no sense. There have been incidents of failed projects while hiring such inexperienced individuals and companies. These choices have not only harmed the project but also the local communities.
Research and filming is oftentimes inherently exploitative, hence, it requires critical thinking and accountability. When it comes to traveling to Nepal, its not just the diverse geography that one needs to be mindful about but also the diverse communities that exist here. For example; the local communities on whom the films/projects are based have not been involved in the screening process of these projects/films. It is not just the responsibility of the filmmakers but also the local coordinators to follow up with these communities and show them the ways in which they have been represented.