3 things you must know before choosing a cameraman in China

There are two kinds of cameramen: those who make a shooting a successful one and those who screw it. Focus Film China would like to show you how to choose the right cameraman for your project in China.

Filming in China requires not only the necessary permits and permissions but also the perfect team to make your vision a reality. When selecting your cameraman in China, there are many factors to consider in order to ensure you have the right person for the job.

Experience, language skills, nationality, and rate

It is important to look into the amount of experience they have shooting in China, as well as what types of projects they have worked on. If the cameraman is experienced in the type of project you are working on, it will make it easier for them to get the job done.

In China, the rate of a cameraman varies according to experience, language skills, and sometimes nationality. Experience is the most important. As for language skills, Chinese-speaking cameramen, bilingual cameramen, and English-speaking cameramen usually have different rates too. Of course, you have options like having a bilingual field producer and a Chinese-speaking cameraman instead of a bilingual or English-speaking cameraman. Actually, having a good bilingual field producer who knows how to talk to clients is way better than having a bilingual or English-speaking cameraman who talks too much or talks about inappropriate stuff in front of clients.



In terms of nationality, One thing to be cautious about—generally, there are two kinds of foreign cameramen in China: those who were already working as cameramen before coming to China and those who become cameramen in China.

Those who were already cameramen before coming to China often have years of experience in foreign TV stations, TVCs, or documentaries. For a long time, they’ve been treated as “experts” in the profession and get better paid than their Chinese counterparts.

There are also some foreigners who came to China to learn the language or for other reasons but end up as cameramen. They often didn’t have professional TV training before but learned the profession in practice. Some of them do have the talent and become very successful. However, some who haven’t had much experience are sometimes treated and paid as “top cameramen” too early.

Circumstances where we don’t suggest a foreign cameraman


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If you are looking for a documentary DP or you are going to film in a small Chinese city, we would not suggest a foreign cameraman. Why? In China, people living in small cities or in the countryside are still not used to seeing foreigners. The interviewees may not feel comfortable with a foreign cameraman.

Also, some Chinese don’t trust foreigners and think foreign media do bad things in China. Unfortunately, it is not rare that foreign journalists got attacked in the street while filming. Even if you don’t shoot for news, they don’t care as they don’t speak English. It is sad to say, but in China, hostility towards foreigners, especially foreign media is getting worse and worse. In 2021, after the flood in Zhengzhou (the capital of Henan province), two foreign journalists got problems with local people when filming in the street. They even got death threats later.

If your project is a corporate shooting, it matters less if it’s a foreign or Chinese videographer.

Personality and reliability


When it comes to choosing a cameraman in China, personality is key. It is important that you have someone who you feel comfortable with and who understands your creative vision. A good cameraman will have strong communication skills and be able to communicate effectively with other crew members, as well as your director. They should be open to collaborating and providing input when shooting.

However, nobody wants to see a cameraman starting to talk about money or unprofessional stuff on the shooting site. You want a team that you can rely on and know that the job will get done. Making your client happy is our mission. Producers of Focus Film China know what to talk about and what should not. For us, it’s as important as the quality of the footage.

Finding the perfect team for your project can seem overwhelming, so make sure to consider all the factors before deciding on the right cameraman. At Focus Film China, we offer the best and most professional cameramen in China. Contact us at info@focusfilmchina.com to get started today.