For those already within Dubai or wishing to travel to the UAE for filming, both the government and an evolving local film and media production industry are easing the process for aspiring filmmakers to get into the industry.
The past decade has seen the world’s celluloid lens focus its attention on Dubai, the rapidly growing emirate of the UAE. From Tom Cruises’ Mission Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol, to The Fast and the Furious 7, it is coming ever more apparent that Dubai is garnering the attention of Hollywood’s elite. Many major and international media production houses are beginning to see the benefits both on and off the screen for using the UAE as a filming location: Year round sunshine, futuristic architecture and a traditional Arabian ambience all add to the location’s appeal.
Consequently film festivals have been established here, with both Abu Dhabi and Dubai developing well-known movie gatherings. This is good news for local aspiring filmmakers; writers, scriptwriters and even actors, as a network of quality resources are growing. Furthermore, several locally run video production houses that would normally concentrate their technical and creative services on developing corporate videos or music videos are now taking the initiative to expand their scope of services to short movies, documentaries and other entertainment avenues in order to satiate a growing client base.
The process of developing an independent feature with a privately owned media production house in Dubai is usually the most quickest and efficient means of getting a film made, as they normally cover the steps needed for filming, such as obtaining the correct shooting permits etc.
However for any individual or organization brave enough to go at it alone, they should contact The Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC). This department works with other government entities such as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs-Dubai, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Police, and the Roads and Transport Authority. However they will not provide filmmakers with the crew and talent needed for any feature to come to fruition.
Today in the UAE local media production houses are producing an unprecedented amount of creative entertainment media features. In 2013 alone 15 major productions have been officially announced and it is expected that as the local and international economy continues to grow, so will the industry. For any individual or organization wishing to get a foot into the door, many of these media production houses in addition to working through any bureaucracy will handle the technical aspects of your feature and a few can even help develop the creative content.
For foreigners wishing to film within the UAE, be aware that although this Gulf country is relatively liberal and open minded (especially Dubai), cultural sensitivity and tighter rules and regulations that one may not be accustomed to should be adhered to, respected and most of all culturally understood.