The Dubai Film and Television Commission (DFTC) serves as a one-stop destination for producers keen on shooting movies in the Emirate. In conversation with Giridhar Jha, DFTC chairman Jamal Al Sharif dwells on how the commission ensures a seamless and hassle-free experience to all international film crews. Excerpts from the interview:
Do you feel it’s cheaper to shoot in Dubai than in any outdoor location in India?
Dubai offers quality locations for shooting that one might not be able to find elsewhere in the world. DFTC offers cost-reducing soft incentives on a case-by-case basis, either through special arrangements with key industry partners, licensing and free rebates, or repatriations with services providers.
What are the other advantages of shooting in the region?
The legal structure in Dubai is such that approvals for shooting are given quickly. The DFTC, in active support and coordination with all the other government entities such as civil aviation, defence ministry, Dubai police, makes any kind of film production possible. Dubai offers a competitive advantage to production companies and our government has made the development of a sustainable, vibrant ecosystem a focal point of its strategic vision for the future. From easy entry and exit for international crews to speedy and efficient shooting procedures across Dubai, everything is taken care of. We have provided the requisite infrastructure and support to big Hollywood and Bollywood productions such as Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol, The Bourne Legacy, Happy New Year, Star Trek Beyond, Raees, and many more.
What are the restrictions, if any, for the shooting of a film? Is anything prohibited with regard to the local culture during shoots?
All scripts are subject to the National Media Council (NMC) laws. All scripts must be submitted to the DFTC, including the details of each scene and location intended for shooting, prior to obtaining the permission.
What kind of sequences are shot in Dubai these days?
We have a diversity of locations—the desert for action scenes and parks and beaches for song sequences, in addition to iconic locations such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s busiest airport (Dubai International Airport), and the Palm Jumeirah.
Is there any collaboration with the Indian art and culture ministry or is business done directly with Bollywood producers?
The UAE and India have strong bilateral ties. More Indian films will be shot in Dubai as the UAE further cultivates this relationship. The UAE is also a huge source of revenue for Bollywood. In 2014, Shahrukh Khan’s Happy New Year, set in Dubai, generated 31 per cent of its overseas revenue from the UAE making it the largest overseas market for the film.
Feroz Khan had shot a large portion of his film, Yalgaar in UAE way back in 1992. How has the UAE or Dubai changed as a location since then?
Until a few years ago, we predominantly facilitated song shoots or a sequence for a film. Today, we host the entire A-list movie shoots in Dubai. We organise premieres of these movies as well. This is testament that the Emirate is a key part of the Bollywood production value chain.