The Film Team explains
Fast gaining a reputation as a hot film location, Sri Lanka has recently hosted several cinema and TV stars who have visited Sri Lanka to shoot films and TV series. The most recent being Good Karma Hospital, which was aired on ITV in the UK was filmed exclusively in the South of Sri Lanka using many Sri Lankans as extras. One of the supporting actresses was Sri Lanka's own Nimmi Harasgama who played the role of Nurse Marie.
Facilitating this was The Film Team, a highly experienced company who have been in the industry for over 30 years. Scoring a coup of sorts when ITV announced the commission of a second series of the Good Karma Hospital, The Film Team are celebrating, and rightly so as the Good Karma Hospital has shown the beauty of Sri Lanka to millions of British audiences. Tanya Darmaratnam, the Marketing Manager of the Film Team speaks about the business and how they pitch Sri Lanka as a location for film makers overseas.
Who are the people comprising The Film Team?
Ravindra Randeniya, Errol Kelly, Ainsley Desilva and Gopi Darmaratnam are the main four partners of this company.
What has been the most exciting project you have worked on to-date?
They are all exciting and challenging, and it’s really hard for me to pick, but if I really have to choose, I would say The Good Karma Hospital, as the cast and crew were so nice and easy to work with. Plus the whole concept of the TV series seems so heartwarming.
How do you pitch Sri Lanka to location scouts from overseas?
Once we receive the script or storyboard, the team has a brainstorming session to evaluate the best options available for each of the location requirements. Initially we offer them a website with pictures from our data bank to enable the Director and Producers shortlist the selections. Then we do a physical scout to the locations and offer pictures based on the script requirements.
Why did the team from The Good Karma Hospital select Sri Lanka as a location?
Having scouted for locations in and around India, the producers and director came across to Sri Lanka as the Line Producer who worked with us on Jekyll & Hyde recommended us as a reliable and professional production company. The icing on the cake was when our Art Director, Errol Kelly took them to Galle and showed them the locations and possibilities of set construction. They were totally convinced that Sri Lanka was the better option.
Are production costs cheaper here?
We are definitely the cheapest in the region. However, sometimes we lose out to countries that offer incentives and rebates, which is beyond our control.
What is the USP of Sri Lanka to location scouts?
The unique sales point for Sri Lankan locations is the accessibility and close proximity of different terrain. If I am to explain this, the sunny beaches are an hour’s drive from Colombo. Within a couple of hours we are in the hill country with a complete different look and feel of the location. Another hour’s drive takes you into the jungles and waterfall areas.
What other projects have you in the pipeline?
We are currently on pre-production for a TEA commercial and a Russian feature film, which we are cheating for another Asian country.
How did the stars from The Good Karma Hospital like Sri Lanka?
They absolutely loved the country.
What are the most famous TV shows and films that The Film Team has helped film in Sri Lanka?
Emden Men, Midnight's Children and Bombay Velvet, Jekyll and Hyde, Dream Hotel and Viahe A Ceylon are just a few of the films, TV series and commercials we have done in Sri Lanka.
What is the most sought after location in Sri Lanka?
We cannot offer any locations with high-rise buildings like New York or any European city. We have been successful in creating India for many of our feature film shoots. The locations that sell for Sri Lanka are the jungles, waterfalls, lanes and alleys in Colombo. The bigger selling point is the experience and knowledge of our Art Director Errol Kelly and his team for set construction, props and dressing and picture vehicles.
"But it is clear that Sri Lanka has made an impression. It is a landscape like no other. There is so much more to explore photographically than we were able to in 12 weeks."
- Bill Eagles (Director)
Amanda Redman says her three months filming in Sri Lanka have been a lifechanging experience. "I feel like a different person to the one who first came out here. For one thing, it’s given me a real sense of my own mortality. People who haven’t been here won’t understand this, but Sri Lanka is such a spiritual place. Somehow doing this show has made me that much more aware of life, death and the hereafter."
- Amanda Redman (Actress in main role)
Phyllis explains that she filled every spare second of her time in Sri Lanka with sightseeing - she and Cold Feet actress Leanne Best, who plays Maggie’s daughter Debbie visited Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, and also went early-morning whale-watching. Phyllis even visited an elephant orphanage."That was fabulous," she enthuses. "I fed an elephant a bunch of baby bananas - this big pink tongue comes flopping out and you push the bananas inside and get covered in drool."
- Phyllis Logan (Supporting Actress)
Actor Neil Morrissey:
How excited were you to be offered this role that’s being filmed in Sri Lanka?
"I pretty much told them that there was no one else that could do this part! I don’t mind the heat and I’ve been to Sri Lanka before and loved it."