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Industry Advice

Working abroad – what you need to know.

One of the incredible fringe benefits of a career in entertainment is that sometimes you get to travel for work, often to interesting or exotic locations (sometimes not), and be paid to work, plus have your expenses covered!

If you’ve had this experience, you’ll know that it has two sides – the excitement of the trip, but also the downside of being away from friends, family and familiarity.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more likely that you might travel for work, as casting moves more internationally-focused, and different countries and areas re-open at different rates for filming. To help you prepare, Hollywood actor Tehmina Sunny recounts her experience last year.

Guest post by Tehmina Sunny

“The news of hearing “YOU BOOKED THE ROLE” feels like winning the lottery and you are super excited, however this particular project is filming overseas where you have maybe a few days to ‘pack & leave’. Which basically is short for…ahh, how do I organize leaving, prep for the role and also make sure everything is tied up at home.

Here are some helpful tips to keep things in check before jetting off.

Last year I received the news that I booked a recurring role on a sci-fi show for The CW network filming in Bulgaria,… I was so excited but on the flip side had less then a week to pack and leave home (Los Angeles) for 4 months. My main goal I wanted to achieve was to do a great job with the character, perfecting the lines and making sure my American accent was in check. But before even getting to that stage, I had the nitty gritty minutia of logistical aspects to deal with. Firstly, making sure my passport was valid and not expired. I mean, how silly does this sound but how often does it happen? So actors, make sure you have a valid passport at all times. 

Depending on the project and what the terms of the deal are will mean the difference between being hired as a “local hire” where you will have to arrange flights, accommodation and the logistics of getting to and from the location, or being hired as an out of state actor, where production liaises with your agent and deals with all the logistics, including flights, visa if filming in another country, transfers to and from the airport, accommodation and per diems. All these points are dealt with early on in the negotiating process. Key things that you can focus on is to know exactly where you are going and becoming familiar with the place, what the weather will be like to pack appropriately, see if there are any health-related issues that may require vaccines or tablets, understanding the culture of the place, finding useful apps to load onto your phone that can help e.g. taxi companies for that region, currency exchange, google translate and making sure you add an international plan to your phone tariff to avoid stacking up huge bills. 

Other important things to arrange before jetting off include making sure the rent/mortgage is covered. Setting up electronic transfers from your bank is an idea. Adding alerts onto your phone for when bills are due, or setting future payments within online banking, or if you prefer paying with checks, post date them to a future date and ask a reliable friend to mail them for you. Making sure payments are scheduled for health insurance, credit card bills, car payments, car insurance, phone bill, utilities and so forth. Another suggestion is to purchase a mailbox where your mail will be collected for the duration while you are away, that’s if you don’t have someone to store your mail safely aside for you at your residence.

From my own personal experience the majority of my work has been overseas in Israel, Australia, Bulgaria, England, Canada and different states within the US. When you’re a long way from home, spending time with the cast and bonding is key. It’s like being part of a family. Going for meals and drinks, sight-seeing expeditions. Having fun is important. Personally I like there to be a gym near the accommodation I am staying at to use on days off from filming. I always pack my workout bands, jump rope and other essential workout bits when I travel. Keeping the body and mind active is important daily, meditation and yoga are great. Another key thing is to pack equipment for self tapes. The amount of self tapes myself and the cast on the CW show had during our time filming was high. 

Plus…before you leave, celebrate with friends and loved ones. You did it!!!

Hope you found these tips helpful. Good luck and I look forward to seeing you on the screen.

Any questions contact me via Instagram @tehminasunny  

Written By Tehmina Sunny

Bonus: Watch our Instagram Live chat with Tehmina!