Filming in Kalimantan
One of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.
Kalimantan, Indonesia's portion of the island of Borneo, offers an unparalleled tapestry of natural wonders and cultural treasures, making it a hidden gem for filmmakers and TV production crews from around the globe. Unlike its more famous sister island, Bali, Kalimantan is teeming with untapped locations that range from the dense, biodiverse rainforests to the serene, sprawling rivers and untouched traditional villages. This guide shines a spotlight on the top 10 locations in Kalimantan that are perfect for film and TV productions, along with essential tips on securing film permits and navigating visa regulations to ensure a seamless production process in Indonesia.
Derawan Islands: A Marine Paradise
The Derawan Islands such as Pulau Kakaban Island (jellyfish lake) provide breathtaking underwater scenes, pristine beaches, and a variety of marine life, ideal for underwater documentaries or breathtaking opening shots. Insider tip: Early morning shoots can capture the serene beauty of the islands with the best natural lighting and minimal tourist activity.
Betung Kerihun National Park: The Heart of Borneo
This national park offers a rugged, untouched landscape that's perfect for adventure or survival-themed films. Its vast biodiversity and traditional Dayak longhouses add a unique cultural and environmental backdrop. Insider tip: Secure permits from the park authorities well in advance, and consider using local guides to navigate the terrain and connect with indigenous communities.
Samarinda's Mahakam River: Life on the Water
The Mahakam River is the lifeblood of East Kalimantan, surrounded by traditional villages, floating markets, and unique wildlife. Insider tip: Filming from a boat during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset provides dynamic lighting and a fresh perspective on daily life along the river.
Tanjung Puting National Park: Orangutans in the Wild
Famous for its conservation efforts and orangutan encounters, Tanjung Puting is a must-visit for wildlife documentaries. Insider tip: Coordinate with conservation officials for permissions and optimal filming times to capture these magnificent creatures without disturbing their natural habitat.
Loksado and the Bamboo Rafts
Experience the traditional method of transportation down the Amandit River on a bamboo raft for an authentic cultural scene. Insider tip: Arrange your shoot with local raftsmen for an early morning journey to capture the misty riverscape with less water traffic.
Kutai National Park: A Prehistoric Landscape
Kutai offers ancient, dense rainforests and the chance to film rare flora and fauna, including the elusive wild orangutans. Insider tip: Work closely with park rangers to find the best spots for filming and to ensure the safety of the crew and the preservation of wildlife.
Diamond Mines of Martapura
For a glimpse into the world of diamond mining, Martapura offers access to traditional mines and bustling gem markets. Insider tip: Gain permission from mine owners for an inside look at the mining process, and plan for early morning shoots to catch the miners at work under the soft light.
The Floating Market of Banjarmasin
Capture the unique cultural heritage of Kalimantan with a visit to the floating market of Banjarmasin, where locals trade goods on boats at dawn. Insider tip: Secure a spot on a local boat to film the vibrant chaos from within the action.
Meratus Mountains: An Adventurer's Dream
The Meratus Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop with their lush forests and traditional Dayak settlements. Insider tip: Trekking with local guides not only offers access to the best vistas but also ensures respectful interaction with indigenous communities.
Sungai Wain Protection Forest: Fireflies and Mangroves
For magical night scenes, the Sungai Wain Protection Forest's mangroves light up with fireflies, offering a spectacular natural light show. Insider tip: Plan night shoots during the dry season for optimal conditions and work with local guides to minimize environmental impact.
Kapuas Hulu: Immersive Dayak Culture
Delve into the heart of Borneo's cultural richness by exploring the traditional longhouses of the Dayak tribe in Kapuas Hulu. This location offers a unique opportunity to capture the rituals, traditions, and daily life of the Dayak people. Insider tip: Establish rapport with the community leaders to ensure respectful documentation of their heritage, and coordinate visits during cultural festivals for vibrant and authentic scenes. In an expedition lasting several days, the German film crew of Maximus Film ventured into the deepest jungle of Borneo and accompanied the Dayak Tribe. Vincent (reporter) faced different challenges and got to know the tribe in detail. The series is available on Galileo x Plorer (Pro7) in Germany.
Filming Permits and Visa Regulations:
Securing the necessary film permits for Kalimantan involves understanding and navigating the local and national Indonesian regulations. For commercial shoots, applications must go through the Indonesian Film Board (Badan Perfilman Indonesia) and the Ministry of Tourism. These permits are essential for accessing many of the locations mentioned. Additionally, foreign film crews must apply for a limited stay visa (KITAS), facilitated by sponsorship from a local company or a film services agency within Indonesia.
Partnering with a local film fixer or line producer in Kalimantan is invaluable for handling the logistical and legal aspects of filming in the region. They can assist in obtaining the necessary permits, navigating local customs, and ensuring respectful and smooth interactions with both authorities and the communities you'll be filming in. This local support is crucial for accessing restricted areas and integrating into the local scene with minimal disruption.