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Island Idyll

From primeval rainforests to stunning natural vistas and a culture curry, Indonesia is a locale that surprises filmmakers – and is affordable too

Adventure looms large in this vast and steamy archipelago in South-East Asia, where heady scents, vivid colours, dramatic vistas and diverse cultures leave your senses reeling. Rippling across the equator for nearly 5,000 km, Indonesia encompasses more than 17,000 islands, two-thirds of which are inhabited and richly layered with character.

Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in South East Asia and Oceania. The country’s capital city is Jakarta and it shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Malaysia. Other neighbouring countries include Singapore, the Philippines, Australia and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

On Sulawesi, the elaborate ceremonies and timeless traditions of Tana Toraja are light years from the surfing culture of Lombok. But so are the mighty saddle-backed Batak mansions of Danua Toba and the volcanic lakes of Sumatra, from the mummies and deeply etched gorges of Papua’s Baliem Valley. The resorts and restaurants of Bali pamper precocious style cats, while threadbare backpackers are adopted by home stays in Kalimantan.

Indonesia’s cities are in a constant state of urban evolution, where dense populations, technology and construction live in hectic symbiosis. But most of the archipelago’s territory remains unexplored, concealing a wealth of cultures and a myriad landscapes. Oceanic rice fields and ancient sultanates in Java are humbled by haunting volcanic cones. Maluku’s alabaster beaches and desert islands remain pristine while the tourist trail heads elsewhere. The jungles of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua are zoological wonders, revealing impish animals.


Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Mountainous areas – particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua – receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80 per cent. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C.

Benefits of Filming In Indonesia

Independent labour force

Tax-free haven for foreign artistes

Master craftsman at a fraction of the price

Reasonable labour costs

Large numbers of extras available on short from 350 different ethnic groups, including people of Polynesian, Central Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Papuan, Melanesian, Aboriginal, Portuguese and Dutch descent, with a large expatriate population from across the globe.

Inexpensive building materials

Private sector support (Hotels, Airlines, Ground Transportation)

Full government support

Combining this comprehensive list with low costs, most productions are able to cut budgets by 10-20 per cent

Indonesia is an increasingly attractive filming destination


Stretching over 5,000 km, there is very little visual background that cannot be provided for any action or era somewhere among Indonesia’s 18,110 islands.

In this vast and geographically and culturally diverse country, scenes can be set amid literally one of a thousand temples, a trail of extinct and active volcanoes, among ancient and stunningly terraced rice fields, palatial ruins, colonial buildings, royal water gardens, deserted pink, gold and black sand beach islands, lush tropical rainforests packed with unique flora and fauna, tribal villages, ocean cliffs or stone cities.

Combined with low production costs and BFC’s (Bali Film Commission) ability to get results with a pool of talented and creative people readily available to service the needs of serious film and television producers, the country is an attractive and economical location for filming.

Visa & Permit Details

1. An Application for Filming and Visa request is to be submitted to Republic of Indonesia Embassy or Consulate:

Covering Letter of Introduction from Production Company


Location List

Filming Schedule

Crew List

Equipment List

A signed statement for film/video shooting

2. Once the documents are deemed complete, they will be forwarded to Jakarta, Department of Foreign Affairs.

3. First to be reviewed is the visa request. After visas are approved, the Filming Permit is approved at the same time and issued within the next couple of days.

4. If the application is deemed incomplete or additional information required, it will be sent back to the Embassy/Consulate and the Embassy/Consulate will contact the production company advising them of the additional information required.

5. If crew members listed on the initial application are arriving from different countries and this is noted on the application, they can collect their visa in the country of residence or origin.

6. The Film Permit is collected by the crew upon arrival in Indonesia.

7. Journalist visas are valid 30 days, Film Permit 30 days, and can be extended in country another 30 days.

8. Once the National Permit is issued, additional Provincial Film Permit(s) are required for the areas listed, including any Conservation Area/National Park/Forestry Permits.

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