‘Jordan Has Managed to Reserve Seat on Global Map of Film Destinations’
AMMAN — Jordan’s dazzling locations have transformed it into one of the main hubs for filmmakers as the film industry’s economic contribution to the Kingdom over the last 10 years is estimated at JD238 million.
The industry has also directly and indirectly created 95,000 job opportunities in different sectors, Royal Film Commission (RFC) Managing Director George David said.
In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, David said that around the world, the film and television industry is perceived as an engine for countries’ local economies and tourism.
“In the past decades, Jordan has managed to reserve a seat on the global map of film destinations due to its diverse locations and unique sites, as well as other factors,” he told The Jordan Times.
Wadi Rum is one of the main destinations bringing filmmakers to Jordan, he added.
“The uniqueness of Wadi Rum, also known as ‘The Valley of the Moon’, charmed filmmakers from all over the world and is today one of the ultimate landmarks in Jordan when it comes to filming. The Jordanian desert of Wadi Rum boasts a one-of-a-kind geographical features that you can see in the area’s sandstone cliffs and mountains, as well as the red sand dunes,” he said.
The 1962 historical film “Lawrence of Arabia”, by David Lean, first introduced Wadi Rum to the world, attracting a steady wave of film crews in the following decades, according to David.
“Most recently, American director J.J. Abrams chose Jordan’s Wadi Rum and Shakriah landscape as an exotic locale for a galaxy far far away in ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’. While in 2016, Wadi Rum was also used as a background for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’,” he added.
“Wadi Rum is breathtakingly beautiful and the perfect location for our film,” Abrams said in a statement the RFC shared with The Jordan Times.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot in Jordan. Between the warm welcome from the government and the dedication and hard work of local film professionals, we couldn’t have had a better experience. We are enormously grateful,” he added.
During the three-week shoot, the production worked with more than 250 Jordanian crew members across every department, including photography, costume, creatures, special effects and stunts. The Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army also provided logistical support for the shoot, according to RFC.
David said that Amman has also been a favourite destination for filmmakers, adding that recently some TV shows chose to shoot in Amman neighbourhoods.
“Amman is a fusion of authenticity and modernity... Most locations in Amman, if not all, are easily accessible, as local crews are on hand and infrastructure is comparable to any modern Western capital. All of this contributes to making the city attractive in terms of filming,” he added.
David said some examples of shows and movies which have been shot in the capital include, “The Hurt Locker”, by Kathrin Bigelow, “Fair Game” by Doug Liman and “Incendies” by Denis Villeneuve.
“This year, 12 foreign and local TV series have been shot in Jordan as a whole, compared to nine in 2017,” he said.
He added that the RFC plays an important role in facilitating the job of filmmakers who are willing to shoot in Jordan, including providing producers with services such as assistance in obtaining filming permits, location scouting, custom clearance, logistical facilitation and financial incentives.
“In light of that, the RFC participates in annual film festivals and trade shows abroad, where filming in Amman and Jordan is always promoted and encouraged. The RFC took part earlier this month in ‘Focus’, a film trade event in London specialising in introducing locations in order to promote what Jordan has to offer,” he added.