Avoiding Jail Abroud

Jeremy Wiles

Jeremy Wiles

Director & Producer


A few years ago, I was in eastern Turkey along the border with Iran and my team and I were driving in a van on a dirt road that had a lot of construction. I looked out the window and thousands of bones were sticking out of the dirt road. I saw arm bones, femurs, skulls – they were all human. Literally thousands. The Turkish construction crew plowed across an Armenia graveyard to build their new road. I grabbed my camera and was ready to hop outside and the Turkish driver said I would get my head blown off. I need my head, so I stayed in the van.

I lived with the Matigsalug tribe in the jungle of the Philippines. In the picture above, I am directing about 30 men from their local militia group in a reenactment of Pangayaw, also known as vengeance killing or blood for blood. Surprisingly, even such a ravenous tribe had a story about a great flood.

People like to ask me: What do you do when you go to another country? Do you have it planned?

The simple answer is no, not exactly. I typically show up and see what happens. Seriously. Where’s all the fun if everything is planned?

Filming in another country is extremely difficult, to say the least. Almost all countries require filmmakers to obtain film permits before you enter the country. In order to be granted a film permit, you have to submit your script to their embassy for review and consideration. Your chances are bleak if your script contains the slightest notion of Christianity or the message of Jesus. Do you think they allow Christian filmmakers in Turkey, China or Russia? Nope.

In 2007 I filmed in 16 countries and never applied for a single permit. Yeah, I know, it’s not very saintly of me. Once you’re in the country (please don’t ask how I get all my production gear past immigration – it’s a secret) then you have to contend with it not being confiscated by the police. How do you accomplish this? Run real fast or hope that you can talk them out of it. Both options have worked for me. Actually, I truly believe God blinded the eyes of the police on many occasions. There have been many times I should have been put in jail. It was only a miracle I wasn’t.

As for the crazy stuff I’ve seen while traveling… well, I will be sharing some of it in future blogs.