As soon as you are planning to shoot a doc in a foreign country production costs i.e. for calling locals or team members can explode. But there are plenty of solutions to save money:
1) Worldwide telephone calls
IP-telephone services like Webcalldirect.com
When you look at their rates you will be surprised. Calls within the US are free (fixed and mobile) and rates to most countries are very low. The cost for calling fixed lines is about 1-2 cent/min and to mobile carriers you will have to pay between 3-10cent/minute. So let’s say you plan to shoot in Australia the rate is 1,1 cent fixed lines and 7 cent to mobile phones.
All you need is an internet connection. This can be on your PC or Mac or via the iPhone, Android or Symbian app “mobilevoip“. There you enter your login data from webcalldirect and you are ready to go.
2) Use free wifi networks
Checking emails, telephone calls via IP, Google Maps etc. with your home telecom provider isn’t very clever due to roaming costs. A better idea would be to inform yourself about free wifi coverage in the area you plan to shoot. There are couple of good sites that list free hotspots worldwide. Not to forget: Many McDonalds or Burger King locations offer free internet.
3) Sleep at lower costs
Hotels can be very expensive. So you could think of using the service of Airbnb. Real people share their appartments/rooms with other people. Via airbnb you can stay at 19,664 cities in 196 countries (Oct. 2011).
Another perfect way to find accomodations with a perfect price value fit is Booking.com
4) Compare prices when buying equipment and gadgets
You need tapes, harddrives or even a camera? Before buying, make sure you get the best deal. Again, there are many decent sites that help you to compare prices online.
These are only a couple of ideas, more to follow. If you miss one, please share it by commenting. We will add it to the list.