Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi streamlines its support of film and television industry

21 April 2016
Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi streamlines its support of film and television industry

Image Nation to lead support and investment in local film and television productions

Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi (MZA) today announced plans to streamline its initiatives that support the film and television industry in order to strengthen its contribution to the Capital’s gross domestic product. Image Nation Abu Dhabi, an MZA entity, will take the lead in supporting and investing in film and television productions through its current initiatives, which emphasise active partnership and local projects. Also under the MZA banner, Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) will continue to offer the region’s only 30 per cent rebate to attract regional and international productions to the Emirate, while twofour54 will continue developing its world-class infrastructure and local talent pool to advance and sustain the industry.

Last year, Image Nation Abu Dhabi announced it would invest AED 400 million in the local film and television industry over five years. The company inaugurated its local projects with the release of From A to B, directed by Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa; Zinzana, helmed by Emirati first-time feature director Majid Al Ansari who was named Arab filmmaker of the year by Variety in 2015; and Going to Heaven by Emirati director Saeed Salmeen Al Murry.  The company also co-financed The Idol by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad and its 2016 slate includes Ali Mostafa’s next feature film The Worthy.

The television space has been particularly robust for Image Nation Abu Dhabi, which recently wrapped filming for the landmark legal series Qalb Al Adala (translated as ‘Justice’ in English). Shot in Abu Dhabi, more than 70 regional crew members were involved in the production, alongside a cast of 150 actors and 1,000 extras from across the region. In late 2015, the company launched Quest Arabiya in partnership with Discovery Communications. The free-to-air channel reaches 45 million homes in 22 countries across the MENA region and the channel is commissioning programming that will be developed, shot and produced across the region and fronted by regional talent.

In order to unify the mechanisms of MZA support and investment in filmmaking, Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s initiatives will be the only platform through which MZA provides support for Emirati and Arab film productions. This support was previously split between Image Nation Abu Dhabi and SANAD Film Fund.

The ADFC rebate will continue to encourage regional and international filmmakers to bring their production projects to Abu Dhabi, in turn creating business opportunities for local companies and enhancing the gross domestic product of the Emirate. According to a study undertaken by PwC, for every $1 invested in the rebate, $4.50 is added to Abu Dhabi’s GDP, making the rebate scheme a key initiative supporting Abu Dhabi’s diversification vision.

The ADFC rebate, together with twofour54’s world-class infrastructure and leading production services, has helped Abu Dhabi to attract major international productions, including Brad Pitt’s War Machine, Universal Pictures’ Fast and Furious 7 and Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the third highest grossing film of all time. Regional productions such as Al Ikhwa, ET Bil Arabi and Iftah Ya Simsim have also chosen Abu Dhabi over other possible filming locations in the region.

twofour54 will continue building a world class infrastructure capable of handling large scale international productions, and attracting more media companies to the twofour54 campus to support growth of the industry. Last year twofour54 upgraded its post-production centre to offer the most advanced facility in the region with the latest editing, audio and colour correction capabilities. Additionally, twofour54 will focus on developing local media industry talent through agreed internships on set with leading Hollywood, Bollywood and Arab film experts.

Acting CEO of MZA, Maryam Al Mheiri, commented: “Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a film and television production hub is thriving as a result of MZA investments in the industry and we see huge commercial potential for Abu Dhabi’s growing media industry to capitalise on this. With Image Nation now part of MZA, we are able to streamline our efforts in a manner that will stimulate the industry and create opportunities for media companies based in the Capital. Working together is the best way to move closer towards our shared goal of a sustainable media industry that contributes culturally as well as economically to the Capital and wider region.

Image Nation CEO Michael Garin said: “Our role as part of MZA is to encourage the growth of the local film and television industry, and supporting regional talent and storytellers is one of our most important tasks. Through our robust film slate and increased television production we are offering jobs and opportunities to a host of talent across the region, both in front and behind the camera. We look forward to working even more closely with our partner entities at MZA as Abu Dhabi continues to emerge as a vital media hub in the region.”

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