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How to overcome the challenges of travel and film production

  • Business
  • By Lauren Godfrey
  • Published 27 February 2018
  • Revised 28 June 2022
  • Published 27 February 2018
  • Revised 28 June 2022

Organising a film or television production overseas is an art form, there’s no two ways about it. From schedule changes to baggage allowance, the logistics involved in booking large-scale group travel are complicated to say the least. What’s more, it’s time consuming and probably the last thing you need to be spending your precious hours on, especially when you’re already on the grind from dawn ‘til dusk. Do you really have a spare afternoon to research and book three different flights from multiple airports to a remote location on the other side of the world… and then think about how you’re going to transport all your filming equipment? 

Thankfully, that’s where we come in. At Winged Boots, we’re well versed in all things travel and keep our cool when it comes to unscheduled changes, large group bookings and complicated itineraries. Our personal travel managers are experienced, on hand out of hours and offer a friendly and calming voice at the other end of the phone when your relationship between travel and production may feel as if it’s spiralling out of control. We take the reins on all your travel needs, keeping you in the loop but removing you from the headache. However, if you have any doubt over what challenges you may face when organising an overseas production, we’ve rounded up the most common with examples from current production managers who already use our services.

From impromptu schedule changes to the logistics of transporting equipment and difficult cast members across seas, our experience has helped us create a fool-proof guide to ease the strain

Dealing with cast members

“Difficult cast members can throw a spanner in the works when it comes to booking flights for productions,” explains Emma Littlebury, personal travel manager at Winged Boots. “In the five years that I have been involved in TV and film production travel arrangements, I’ve come to an understanding that some cast members can be quite particular when it comes to airlines and gaining air miles,” she adds. Being particular is one thing; however, some cast members also have it written into their contacts that they will only fly via a certain airline. Of course, these bookings are niche but if you come across one it can cause a ripple effect throughout your entire travel arrangements. Amy Browning, production coordinator for an international TV production and distribution company agrees saying; “BA is a favourite among cast and crew and there have been a few who have specified that it is their preferred airline, but it has never been a major issue. But, I can see how it could become a problem if you were shooting a film with an A-lister.” 

You may be thinking, ‘so you have to book via a specified airline, big deal’ but this detail could have quite a significant cost implication. Generally preferred airlines are at the more expensive end of the spectrum but you also need to consider flight times. British Airways may only fly to the designated destination twice a week, so by opting to book this flight you may find yourself spending more money on room nights at a hotel. And then there are personal expenses to take into consideration…  What’s more, finding seats on this flight may become tiresome, which is why Winged Boots’ comprehensive service is generally preferred. Our personal travel managers have access to live flight reservations and thanks to our great relationships with a number of airlines we are able to offer a competitive price. Plus, we completely remove you from the booking process, easing the strain and allowing you to focus on other aspects of the production.


Organising baggage allowance and kit transportation

The second most common challenge is luggage restrictions. “Transporting kit is probably one of the biggest issues that most production companies face, especially as there are a lot of countries that are quite grey when it comes to cargo,” explains Amy Browning. “We were filming in India last year and my photography researcher was stopped in Mumbai because officials said he didn’t have the right paperwork for the excess luggage, however they had let us in one week prior with exactly the same paperwork. Situations like this are a big challenge as we didn’t have a solution other than explaining that last week we were told it was the correct paperwork,” she explains. 

Equally, weighing out kit and sharing excess baggage between cast and crew can be challenging. “During the same India trip we had to put more people on the flight to be able to carry the amount of kit we needed for the production,” Amy recalls. “We were allowed a maximum of five bags per person, and each had to be no heavier than 30kg. The trip ended up costing us a lot more than anticipated as we had to add more passengers just to qualify for the weight allowance. Some flew out early so it cost us more in hotels too, but it was a sacrifice we had to make. We were at the airport waiting for our flight home swapping pieces of luggage to ensure all of the bags were less than 30kg. It was a massive issue, especially as we didn’t have any extra bags to empty items into.” 

At Winged Boots, we know every airline’s policy, and if there is any confusing information we make it our duty to thoroughly understand it before passing on the details – in laymen’s terms –  to our customers. We aim to decipher any jargon and clear-up foggy wording to ensure that your trip runs like a well-oiled machine. Our personal travel managers are problem solvers and if weight allowance proves an issue, they go the extra mile to present you with options to achieve your goal.

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Juggling unforeseen schedule changes

Just like when booking a meeting at work or organising a coffee date with a friend, juggling multiple diaries can be stressful. Now times that by 10 and you’ve got a small idea of what it can be like to organise travel for a large group of extremely busy people. 

“Schedules change all the time which means flights need moving,” explains Anna Goodridge, freelance production manager in drama and film and regular Winged Boots customer. “Plus, a lot of my productions have been in Asia around the Christmas period which has meant a lot of limited availability, but Winged Boots has always managed to hold seats in advance ready for last minute decisions.” 
Amy Browning agrees saying: “Shoots move, meetings move, people suddenly can’t do certain dates and this all has an implication on flights. We’re constantly changing flight patterns and it’s very stressful, especially when dealing with long haul trips.”

And of course, there’s always the small matter of delays to think about. “A lot of times we book a trip for select members of staff to see a location for a few days on a recce, however if a flight is delayed for more than a couple of hours it could mean a completely wasted trip,” Amy explains. As with all business and work trips, every minute counts so a few hours delay for a two or three-night trip can have a huge knock-on effect. What’s more, all trips are scheduled to the letter, so if traffic is a problem, it can result in missed flights. “Traffic and travel can be an issue. In Germany there were so many cars on the road that we were delayed and missed our flight,” Amy recalls.

The solution? Winged Boots of course. “When organising travel for production companies I always book flights which can be changed and look into the fees around doing this at the time of booking,” explains Emma Littlebury. “I also hold flights in advance while the customer finalises details to ensure availability and to secure a good price,” she adds. And when a schedule does suddenly change, she is never fazed. “I get it. Sometimes filming over runs, other times it wraps up early. Either way, I’m always just a phone call away, ready to make adjustments to bookings as quickly and cost-effective as possible.”

On location struggles

Let’s not forget the perils of trying to organise travel from a remote location where you have to rely upon fickle Wi-Fi. If a shoot wraps up a few days ahead of schedule, booking flights can be a nightmare if you have a poor connection. Thankfully, phone signals are way more advanced than the internet, meaning you’re much more likely to be able to call one of our personal travel managers wherever you are in the world to organise a flight home. Too busy for a quick chat? A simple text will suffice.

And what about time difference? Thankfully our personal travel managers are reachable out of hours to always see to your travel needs. All of our experts can work remotely during evenings and weekends to ensure that your travel is swiftly and efficiently organised. All you have to do is pick up the phone, send a quick email or even a Whats’app message and your personal travel manager will do the rest. It really is that simple.

What production managers have to say

Still not convinced about booking your production travel through Winged Boots? Check out these testimonials from two of our current production coordinators who will explain first-hand how Winged Boots can make your life a little bit easier.

Anna Goodridge, freelance production manager in drama and film who has worked on Strike Back, White Dragon, Broadchurch, The Missing, Dr Foster and Yardie with help from Winged Boots says: “I would definitely recommend Winged Boots to another production company. I already have and now a lot of my friends are using Winged Boots for their work and leisure travel.”

Amy Browning, production coordinator who has worked on The Jump, Five Star Hotel and The Real Marigold on Tour with help from Winged Boots says: “I like working with Winged Boots because I know that I’ll get a very personal service. I know I can call the team whenever and they’ll get straight on it for me so it is super helpful knowing that there’s someone there ready to help out 24-hours a day. Generally, I book all of the short haul flights myself, but anything long haul or too complicated I use Winged Boots as it is so much easier and the team get live updates on prices so it works out much quicker and often cheaper too.”

Are you a production company looking for a helping hand in organising travel for cast and crew? Give our personal travel managers a call today and find out how we can benefit your organisation or submit an online enquiry.


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