Jordan has continued to attract local and foreign productions, preserving its position on the global map of filming locations despite the Coronavirus pandemic, which has had such a terrible impact on the audio-visual sector worldwide.
The Royal Film Commission – Jordan (RFC) has managed to facilitate the shoot of 321 local and foreign productions in the Kingdom during the first half of 2021, creating some 2,998 job opportunities in the audio-visual field and a spend of some $8.46 million (six million Jordanian Dinar) in the country.
In 2020, 381 film and TV projects were filmed in Jordan - including 360 local productions and 21 foreign productions - which included feature-length documentaries and narrative films, shorts, TV series, TV programmes, advertisements and music videos. The total expenditure of the projects filmed in the Kingdom reached 17.5 million Jordanian Dinars, and directly created more than 5,500 jobs.
At the height of the Corona crisis, the RFC had issued in June 2020 a series of protocols and safety guidelines to resume filming in Jordan and secure a safe working environment for local and foreign productions shooting in the country.
Several big foreign productions did not hesitate to choose Jordan as a filming destination, last year, including the crew of the Korean feature The Negotiations (also known as The Point Men), directed by leading female auteur director of Korean New Wave cinema, Yim Soon-rye. The film is based on real-life events around a Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan, and stars Hwang Jung-min (The Spy Gone North) as a highly skilled South Korean diplomat sent to negotiate with the Taliban. When talks falter, he teams up with a special agent played by Hyun Bin (Late Autumn). The film crew included 287 Jordanians.
The Korean filmmaker commented on the Jordanian crew: “it is hard working, friendly and easy to communicate with. I was surprised to see the details of the filming protocol that the RFC prepared at an early stage and with all necessary measures. We, of course, followed the required safety rules.”
Award-winning Estonian director, Kadri Kousaar, chose to shoot scenes of her feature Dead Woman in the desert of Wadi Rum due to its similarity with the Sinai desert where the story is set. In an interview, Kousaar described her filming experience in Jordan as “wonderful”. Regarding the safety regulations for filming during the Corona pandemic, she said: “they are clear and feasible instructions.”
The Indian director, Blessy Thomas, also headed to Jordan to film scenes of his feature narrative movie Goat Days, also shooting in Wadi Rum. The production included 418 Jordanians in the team.
In addition, three Arab TV series were also shot in Jordan - one Egyptian and two Yemeni productions. Additionally, the RFC continues to provide support to eligible productions filming in the country through its financial incentive programs. In 2020, five projects benefited from the Tax Exemption Programme whereby taxes and fees are waived. Two projects benefited from the Cash Rebate Programme.
Mohannad Al-Bakri, The RFC’s Managing Director, stressed that the Commission will continue to exert all efforts to overcome the pandemic. He said: “2020 was a remarkable year. Nobody can overlook the negative repercussions on the film and television sector due to the global outbreak of the Coronavirus.
“However, we were adamant to overcome obstacles and facilitate the production process while preserving the public safety guidelines. It is worth mentioning that the support of the concerned governmental entities and security authorities bolstered the audio-visual’s recovery efforts.”
He added: “During the pandemic, the RFC issued a specialised guide for filming in the Kingdom taking into consideration public safety rules and launched two new cash rebates programs for Arab and Jordanian projects. We can see the impact of our efforts through the number of local and foreign productions that were filmed in the Kingdom last year and during the first half of this year, despite the restrictions imposed by the global health situation.”
The Royal Film Commission – Jordan is a public institution, with administrative and financial autonomy, established in 2003 with a mandate to promote for and contribute to the development of an internationally competitive Jordanian audio-visual industry. The RFC organises training workshops, screenings and provides production support services.