Lebanon is a beautiful country with a warm and friendly people, and filming there is reasonably easy as long as you take reasonable precautions and be aware of local sensitivities.
Most western nationalities are granted a month free visa at the airport.
Make sure you have a valid carnet for any equipment you bring in with you. The chances are you will be asked to produce it at the airport.
It is relatively easy and quick to get a filming permit in Lebanon.
A letter from your media organization requesting a permit to film in Lebanon addressed to the
Head of International Media Relations, Ministry of Information.
The letter should include:
– reason for filming
– locations you want to film at
– names of all crew members, including fixer
– press accreditations / media ID for the crew
– two photographs of each crew member
– copies of passport with entry stamps indicating the length of stay you have in Lebanon (it’s usually
one month for Western passport holders).
You have to take them to his office in the Ministry of Information on Hamra street in central Beirut. It’s quite straight forward and takes around 30 minutes.
You must carry your filming permit with you at all times while filming.
Where can we film?
Even with a permit from the Ministry, there is a chance that you will be stopped from filming in many places by local security. It is always a good idea to get a feel for the area before starting to film and to find someone to introduce yourself and get a friendly nod of approval. The above applies in Beirut and most other locations in Lebanon. This is both a courtesy, as well as a genuine security issue.
Where not to film?
As in any other country, avoid filming sensitive military and poilce locations and buildings. There are many military bases around Lebanon and they may not always be evident. Your fixer would have a feel for this.
You should definitely not film in the southern suburbs of Beirut without explicit and written permission from Hezbollah’s media office and an escort.
To get permission there, you must present your Ministry of Information permit, along with photos of all crew members, passport copies, press accreditation, and fill out an application form available at the party’s media office.
You will rarely get a permit on the same day, and it may take a great deal longer.
When is the best time to film?
Lebanon is a Mediterranean country with moderate weather. The winters may be cold, especially at higher altitudes, and there are heavy downfalls of rain during the winter. The summers are hot and humid along the coast but cooler in the mountains.
There are no real weather restrictions to filming but you will have to wait out heavy downpours in the winter.
Equipment rental:Lebanon has a lively filming industry and most equipment can be found for hire. Have your fixer ask around for details and rates before you commit.
Lebanon has great food, great people and great sceneries. Enjoy!