Filming fitness videos in Vietnam (fixer in Vietnam)
Vietnam is a beautiful country. What would be better to exercise/workout and at the same time enjoy the beautiful sightseeing of Vietnam? Let Vietnam Filming Fixer tour you with our filming trip with Digiphile Productions to produce fitness videos for iFit on Feb 2020!
I) Initial approach:
Steven Doxey – owner of Digiphile Productions contacted me via email on Dec 9th, 2019 to inquiry about the project they want to do in Vietnam.
Here are what they were looking for:
Film outdoor fitness videos, where a fitness model is typically running on the beach or trails. The purpose of these videos is to promote fitness and promote beautiful Vietnam locations. These are typically 30-minute running clips that will be used on treadmills, to give the user the experience of working out and traveling to these destinations.
They hope that by showing these locations in a very positive light, it will help to encourage people to visit these places themselves.
They would have a crew of 11 people, shoot on a GoPro camera, with two fitness models, and have a sound operator, photographer, and drone operator, and a data manager. They wouldn’t have any lighting equipment, and no large props or obstructions. Furthermore, they would not impede pedestrian traffic, so people can pass freely while they were filming. All videos would be exterior only, so no indoor shooting. They didn’t have any special filming requests, and would only spend about 1-2 hours at each location. We would also only stay on marked paths, and would not damage any plant or animal.
They were hoping to film 3 videos each day for each 30-40 minutes in the best locations in Vietnam.
+ Discussing about the schedule and locations and requirements. I also suggested new locations they didn’t know, such as Banana Island under Long Bien bridge.
+ Arranging vehicle: though the crew has only 11 people, plus me is 12, but due to a lot of equipment and luggage, we’ve decided that a 29-seater van makes the most of sense. Due to we moved to different locations, so I arranged different cars with different drivers to meet the purpose of the trip. We worked with 5 different drivers in both scouting and filming.
+ Contacting some privately owned place in advance for filming, such as Bana Hills.
+ Ordering birthday cake (white chocolate) for one member of the crew who had her birthday during the trip.
* Crew 1: Hannah Eden – Talent, Steven – Producer/GoPro Operator, Amy – Producer, Emily – Audio Mixer, Daniel – Photographer, James – Drone Operator.
* Crew 2: John Peel – Talent, Timothy – GoPro Operator, Felipe – Audio Mixer, Alex – Photographer, William – Drone Operator
* Film Officer & Fixer: Khuyen Tuong
Jan 30, 2020:
+ Old Quarter – O Quan Chuong Gate
+ French Quarter: Trang Tien street, The Opera House
+ Hoan Kiem lake
+ Temple of Literature
+ Ceramic Road
+ Banana Island
+ Thong Nhat park
+ West Lake
+ Long Bien bridge
Stayed at O’Gallery Majestic Hotel & Spa.
Jan 31, 2020:
+ Tam Coc, Ninh Binh: Thien Huong cave, Thai Vi temple, Tam Coc lake
+ Bich Dong: from rice field to Bich Dong pagoda
+ Mua Cave
Ninh Binh Legend Hotel
Feb 1st, 2020:
+ Hoa Lu ancient capital of Vietnam: from Trang An scenic landscape complex to Tuyet Tinh Coc (Am Tien cave), to King Dinh Tien Hoang tomb (Ma Yen mountain top), to King Dinh Tien Hoang temple, to King Le Dai Hanh temple to Nhat Tru pagoda.
+ Cuc Phuong National Park.
Stayed at Ba Khan Village Resort
Feb 2nd, 2020:
+ Mai Chau, Hoa Binh: Lac village, Pom Coong village, Nhot village, Chieu cave, Mo Luong cave, Cha Loong
+ Thung Khe Pass
Stayed at Pullman Hanoi Hotel
Feb 3rd, 2020:
+ Tuan Chau beach, Quang Ninh
+ Tuan Chau port, Quang Ninh
+ Bai Chay, Quang Ninh
Stayed at Wyndham Legend Halong Hotel
Feb 4th, 2020:
+ Ti Top island (Ha Long Bay)
+ Sung Sot cave (Ha Long Bay)
+ Bai Tho mountain
Feb 5th, 2020:
+ Ngu Lam peak, Cat Ba National park
+ Cat Ba town along South East seaside.
+ Viet Hai village
Feb 6th, 2020: day off
Feb 7th, 2020: fly from Cat Bi airport to Da Nang airport, no filming
Stayed at Novotel Danang Premier Han River
Feb 8th, 2020: In Da Nang
+ Dragon Bridge
+ My Khe beach
+ Non Nuoc beach
+ Ngu Hanh Son (Marble Mountains)
Feb 9th, 2020: Ba Na hills, Da Nang
Feb 10th, 2020:
+ Hoi An ancient town, Hoi An night market
+ An Bang beach, Quang Nam
+ My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam
+ Hai Van pass
Stayed at Hotel Royal Hoi An – MGallery
Feb 11th, 2022:
+ Hue citadel
+ Le Loi street (South of Huong River)
+ Hue Temple of Literature
+ Thien Mu pagoda
Feb 12th, 2022: Flying from Hue airport back to Hanoi to take the flight back to US, finishing the filming trip.
V) Equipment used:
1. Go Pro Hero 6 Black
2. Canon Still Camera
3. Nikon Still Camera
4. Profot B10 light (for still camera)
5. Mavic 2 Pro Drone
6. Zaxcom Audio Recorder
VI) Problems arising and were fixed during the trip:
+ When picking up Amy, Steven and John from the airport who came first for scouting few days in advance, John’s passport and someone’s passport who had same first name with him were accidentally exchanged by Customs. I was waiting outside to pick up them and didn’t understand why it took ridiculously long for them to go out. When they walked out, we all smiled as a relief but John said he doesn’t have his passport in hand yet.
Then a tourist agent approached me and told me that the passports were exchanged. Then he said we should let John join his car to go to meet the other person to exchange passports, then we can pick up John later. I got the tourist agent’s phone number then we went separate ways.
It was actually lucky for us because we rented a 7-seater car to pick up from airport, and with too much gears + luggage, we were able to squeeze in together without John.
+ When flying the drone at Hoan Kiem lake, a drone operator accidentally flew the drone and hit the leaves, the drone dropped into the lake. We knew that the drone probably no longer can be used, but it’s the footage in the drone that are important and need to be recovered. Drone operator wanted to get into the lake to find the drone, however, it’s forbidden to swim, fishing and get into the lake. Luckily we have the film permit and drone permit, and with the film permit and drone permit, I was able to explain for around 5 city securities standing around us the situation so they can let us find the drone.
Drone operator was unable to find the drone, but someone standing nearby offered to help us to find, and they would only get paid if they find it. We found it make sense, so I gave them my phone number and once they find it, they’d call me.
+ Producer wants to buy a new drone (Mavic 2 zoom), so I found a shop, finding about pricing, then bring them there for them to come and check and purchase.
+ Due to we moved a lot and changed many hotel, it would happen that people forget things and left at the hotel. Someone in the crew forgot her stuff at a hotel and wanted to get back. So I called the hotel and arrange postal service to pick up the item and deliver at the hotel we would later stay.
+ Crew wanted to buy a filter set for drone, but we weren’t at a city where we can buy them, so I ordered them online and have them sent to the hotel we would later stay.
+ Steven got a message via hotels.com from the resort we would stay at Hoa Binh asking when we would arrive because “it’s already late for check in”, though it’s only 5pm and it made the crew worry. I contacted resort owner to verify and he said it’s a mistake from Front Desk. But once we arrived at the resort, it’s quite dark at 6pm so we understood why.
+ We stayed at a 5-star hotel and the laundry cost is quite high and per item though we only need per kg, so I found a laundry service outside for everyone with much better price.
+ Helping to pay Bana hills ticket, driver’s accommodation, filter sets for drone, extra baggages.
+ For time saving, I’d contact restaurants in advance asking for menu, then send menu pictures to Whatsapp group of crew, then crew members would place their orders in advance, and I’ll send to the restaurant so they can prepare, so we don’t have to wait for a lot of time for food to arrive. This may require a deposit or if the restaurant is easy-going, though.