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Shooting in Venezuela, NEED ADVICE!


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#1 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 05:03 PM

Never shot in South America before, so need some advice as to what to expect.

Leaving in a week (for a 10 day commercial), flying into Caracas.

Have my passport and all, but would like to know about Customs, shipping of gear, etc etc.

I also need a good travel agent. They are allowing me to book my own flight (with the productions credit card) and was curious if anybody flew a particular airline to Venezuela and found it easy?

Should I use the airline to ship my gear or go with a courier service?

If you are local to Los Angeles, or the US, give me a call at my home, I'd love to hear any advice and experiences traveling/shooting there or in South America.

My home number is: 661-298-1095
or my cell is: 323-697-6090

Thanks,

Michael Stumpf
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#2 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 06:00 PM

Oh, and anybody with insight, if you could call or respond ASAP, that would be great. I need to book a flight by tomorrow.

Michael
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#3 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 08:58 PM

Thanks to those that spoke to me (Charles Papert and Timothy Kane).

Charles, the company you suggested doesn't have an agent in Venezuela.

Tim recommended "Film Logic" which specializes in shipping film gear around the world. I have contacted them and the ball should get rolling in the morning.
Gracie over at Film Logic doesn't see any problems.

As for the suggestion that I take it with me on the plane. Well, I considered, but figured that would be MUCH more of a headache and not knowing how to handle all the things I'm going to need, figured that would be disasterous and is probably NOT worth it.

Having a company which deals with this kind of thing take care of it, is worth the price. Well, as long as the production approves of the price they quote.

I do have insurance and will surely make sure the production supplies me with it as well.

Thanks guys, don't hesitate to post or call still if you have shot in Venezuela before and have tips/advice.


Michael
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#4 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 10:07 PM

I sh0ot in Caracas about 7 years ago, and I had the benefit of a film liason officer who met me ( with a military escort) to process me through customs and get my visa stamped. I had all my work visas and customs papers done before I left my home address, so I could prove origon of my equipment, not a big deal really. I would agree it is easier in this case to travel with your gear, meet yoour customs officer, or liason and let them negotiate your importing. Venezuela does not aknowledge carnets so not to worry. The crews are usually quite good, there is some local steadicam working its way in, and the gear though basic is very well respected and cared for. Good luck and enjoy a Polar beer when you land.
Caracas is a high crime rate city, so you will probably lock up your gear and have a guard on the camera equipment 24/7, they will transport it to set for you usually, and you will have to encase everything at wrap , there are no walk aways outside of North America....
Take lots of Tape for the locals , gaffer, Cloth 2", 1", its hard to get , and they will love you for the gesture. Black 2"papertape is unheard of.....velcro, gold......
P.s. the girls are particularly beautifyul in Venezuela, lucky dog.... :D
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#5 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 05 February 2004 - 03:01 PM

I sh0ot in Caracas about 7 years ago, and I had the benefit of a film liason officer who met me ( with a military escort) to process me through customs and get my visa stamped. I had all my work visas and customs papers done before I left my home address, so I could prove origon of my equipment, not a big deal really. I would agree it is easier in this case to travel with your gear, meet yoour customs officer, or liason and let them negotiate your importing. Venezuela does not aknowledge carnets so not to worry. The crews are usually quite good, there is some local steadicam working its way in, and the gear though basic is very well respected and cared for. Good luck and enjoy a Polar beer when you land.
Caracas is a high crime rate city, so you will probably lock up your gear and have a guard on the camera equipment 24/7, they will transport it to set for you usually, and you will have to encase everything at wrap , there are no walk aways outside of North America....
Take lots of Tape for the locals , gaffer, Cloth 2", 1", its hard to get , and they will love you for the gesture. Black 2"papertape is unheard of.....velcro, gold......
P.s. the girls are particularly beautifyul in Venezuela, lucky dog.... :D

Yeah, but I'm engaged!

This will be a fun shoot. It's going to be FILLED with bikini clad women. And the DP tells me they are BEAUTIFUL!
This will be my version of Temptation Island. I'm strong though.

Thanks for the tips. Yes, it looks like I will be just taking them on the plane.
The Customs Agent there is going to meet me at the Beltway to get it through customs and such.

I called Robin to verify my insurance and it's good worldwide. So hopefully, even if there IS trouble, I'm okay.

This will be a blast. I guess the days will be long (16 hours) but we have down days and travel days to 2 different islands in between. The DP (who's German) is ready to party and keeps emailing me updates. He always ends it with, "man we are going to have a blast."

I'm looking forward to it, but am extremely nervous about the shipping and that.
If that all does okay, my nerves will be calmed immensely.

Thanks again all.
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#6 Guido Lux

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 10:11 AM

Sounds like a lot of fun...!
Whats the DP's name?


Guido "always curious" Lux
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#7 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 11:30 AM

:D
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#8 DanStewart

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 06:49 PM

Hi,

Never shot there but spent a month in Caracas over xmas with my girlfriend.

It's a great place, with some fantastic beaches. Go to los roches if you get a couple of days free, or to chou, north west of Caracas, about 6 hours drive. (cheaper and stunning)

Great people but they're going through some hard times, I'm a brit and I kept my mouth shut - but if you sound american I would be VERY cautious about discussing politics in public. (Many people blame the CIA for lots of nasty things recently).

The dictator, Chavez, is a big fan of Castro and is extemely popular with the poor. I stayed with the middle class, they say he's screwing everyone up with his economic 'reforms', including the poor.

The super-poor live in a shanty town in the west of the city, which is huge and impressive. DO NOT GO THERE! Seriously, they told me I could go only if I was into extreme sports...

Hook up with a native (not my girlfriend :P ) and you'll be fine.

Yep Polar ICE is the beer to drink. The other stuff is a bit risky, often not fermented to british taste anyway. (Day on the loo...) Don't be tempted by the 'Regional' ads! (You'll see what I mean...) Of couse if you're into Cuba Libra you'll be fine!

Finally, exchange your dollars on the black market! The exchange rate there is a joke, no one pays it (it's a matter of pride for Chavez). You should get around 2,500 Bolivars to the dollar.

Have a good one!
Dan
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#9 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 25 February 2004 - 07:26 PM

Well, I got back from Venezuela Sunday night (about 11:00 pm) but was unable to update everybody until now, because I had to shoot back here on Monday and Tuesday.

The job pretty much went off without a hitch.
Dan was right about most things and boy oh boy did my stomach take a BEATING!
It's just now getting back to normal 3 days returned to American food/water health standards.

We had a blast though. The people seemed great, of course, very poor in 85% of the country. There is basically NO middle class to speak of. Kinda of the way America is headed.

We shot in several places around Caracas.
On two different islands
1. Off the coast of Chichiriviche in the Morrocoy Islands
2. On Isla de Margarhita (of course).

Polar Ice was the beer to drink, and at about $0.80 per bottle it was pretty great.
Man is everything CHEAP there!

Here's a depressing thing for everyone.
Gasoline there costs on average 70 Bolivares per liter!
For those of you that don't know, that works out to be about a few cents. Or about $0.10 per GALLON!!

That's not a typo. Say you have a compact car (Toyota Corolla) and your needle is on Empty. You'll fill up your tank for about a buck to a buck twenty five.
That huge SUV will cost you a mere $3.00 to fill up!

But because of that, the Venezuelan's don't know what it's like to turn OFF their ignition when the car is just sitting there.

Oh, the other thing, their PREMIUM gas is 95 Octane and costs only a couple cents more per gallon!

Being an American didn't seem to pose ANY problem for me. Most were actually curious to speak to me (if they knew English).
And the girls were everywhere. They have beautiful women there, with VERY nice arse's!

I got a few propositions. Even a 16 year old, who not only flirted with me immensely at a beach front restaurant with 1/2 the crew hanging out having beers after wrap. But, going to get here mother and introducing her to me, asking if I was married, and if I wanted to come back to her apartment, easily led me to the conclusion that not only did she want her world rocked, but she wanted an entry pass into the U.S.
No need to be 18 in Venezuela, 16 is legal. I passed however, I'm happily attached.

The Carribean Sea is bath water warm. It was SO NICE.
On one of our days off, we took a boat out to an island that took me about 6 minutes to walk all the way around.
A day at the beach in crystal clear warm Carribean water.
Our DP must have said, "what a life" 20 times that day!

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I did my damndest to only drink bottled water, and was VERY picky as to what I ate, but it was the only sore point of the trip.
Unleashing a Jihad on the toilet was nearly a daily event. And multiple times at that! Being the only American on the crew, I wasn't singled out though. Most of the Germans felt my pain as well.

Thanks again to the people who gave me advice. It was an memorable time, and a quite easy shoot (with the exception we spent shooting on the beach, in the sand and water's edge with the beaches usual gusty wind). But I managed, we had 5 BEAUTIFUL early 20's women as our talent dancing around to Outkast's "Hey Ya" in very small WHITE bikini's. I overlooked the fact we had no fencing for my sand shots! :P

Later all!
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#10 Alec Jarnagin SOC

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Posted 26 February 2004 - 12:11 AM

Michael,

So glad you had a wonderful time. Seeing other cultures is such an amazing thing (except the stomach thing). Glad the shot was an easy one. I hadn't done a day on the beach in a couple of years till this last fall when I had two such days (different jobs, a couple of weeks apart). Despite going crazy cleaning the gear, I was finding little bits of sand for weeks to come. Such is life. Oh, you are damn right about the shrinking middle class here - all I can say is exercise your right to vote.
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#11 Brad Hruboska

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Posted 06 March 2004 - 03:01 PM

Michael... see I told ya....I was engaged when I went to Venezuela too.....sigh.
:blink:
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