Ilt Jones, location manager for all three of the Transformers movies, has just wrapped up a tour of Thailand on behalf of Marvel, where he explored Bangkok as a potential shooting location for Transformers 4, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
It was all part of a new promotional exercise, titled the “Inbound Roadshow Familiarization Tour” hosted by the Thailand Film Office, a government body tasked with boosting foreign shooting in the tourism and lens-friendly Southeast Asian nation. A select group of veteran Hollywood location managers took part in the one-week tour of Thailand’s exotic locales.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout,” said Scott Rosenberg, managing director of AMW International, the PR firm that organized the trip with the Thai government.
Lori Balton, acting president of the Location Managers Guild of America, participated in the Thailand excursion, along with location scouts working for Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Disney. A handful of Indian, Korean, and Japanese directors and producers were also in-country for the tour.
Designed to generate enthusiasm for working in Thailand among the industry set who matter most, the weeklong trip, which began last Monday, took the location pros to the historical ruins of Ayutthaya, through Bangkok’s frenetic streets and canals, to a festival celebration in the northern city of Chiang Rai, and a cave kayaking in Phang Nga Bay—among other uniquely Thai points of interest. The trip concluded with a visit to the restaurant at the top of Bangkok’s State Tower, where a climactic helicopter scene in The Hangover 2 was filmed.
“We’re visiting Thailand’s many amazing locations, but also showing the VIPs our crews, studios, labs, and equipment—everything a major international production needs,” said Ms. Worateera Suvarnsorn, a spokesperson for the Thailand Film Office. “Usually we do outbound trips to the festivals and film markets to promote Thailand; this time we decided to try bringing them here.”
The road show took place during a particularly strong period for the foreign production industry in Thailand. The Thailand Film Office has projected that 2.2 trillion baht (about $71 million) in revenue will be generated by foreign productions filmed in Thailand in 2012, surpassing the industry record of 2 trillion baht from 2008.
Last Wednesday night the industry guests released komloi lanterns into the sky, a traditional Thai festival activity. “We’re trying to work a little Thai culture into everything we do,” said Rosenberg. “Yesterday we introduced the group to some of our actor elephants that have appeared in many movies—everybody seemed to enjoy that,” he added.
“We’ve seen some spectacular things here,” said Nancy Haecker (Kill Bill: Volume 1, Kill Bill: Volume 2), location manager for 20th Century Fox.