Abu Dhabi, Mar 20 (PTI) International experience is one of the best ways to develop an understanding of diverse cultures, said Hans Fraikin, Film and Television Commissioner, Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC), urging Indian filmmakers to make more films in the city.
Abu Dhabi has already served as a hub for several Indian films such as Priyadarshan’s Malayalam film “Oru Marubhoomikkadha”, “Tiger Zinda Hai” and “Race 3”, but also Hollywood shows like Michael Bay’s “6 Underground”, the next Tom Cruise star “Mission: Impossible 7” and Oscar-nominated “Dune”.
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One of the things the Indian film industry has that its Abu Dhabi counterpart does not, the commissioner said, is experience.
“We have a lot to learn from you. International experience is one of the best ways to accumulate understanding of different cultures,” Fraikin told a talk here on Saturday.
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The ADFC offers a 30% cash rebate on the production of feature films, TV series and commercials, and last year the government formalized the Culture and Creative Industries (CCI) sector.
“They have announced a big investment in the CCI sector as part of their economic development program. One of the four priority sectors is CCI as they see it as a key sector to diversify from oil and gas “, Fraikin added.
On the cinema side, the government has announced an investment of AED 30 billion to develop the ecosystem, he said.
The Backlot is a step in the same direction.
The Indian delegation, led by Apurva Chandra, Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, to the ongoing EXPO2020 in Dubai was invited to visit the Backlot site in Abu Dhabi by the government on Saturday.
Spread over 4 million square feet of land between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the area is already home to six existing outdoor sets, one of them is called the “Tiger” set, where filmmaker Ali Abbas’ 2017 action flick Zafar “Tiger Zinda Hai” was shot.
A dilapidated mosque, demolished buildings and a hospital, among other star Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif structures, flank the entrance to the Backlot.
“We are also building a film city there,” Fraikin said, joking it won’t be as big as Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.
The ADFC is building 10 licensed sand stages, production offices and warehouses, five of which will be for virtual productions, which the commissioner described as “the new way of making films”.
To facilitate business, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed between India and the UAE last month.
This is the first bilateral agreement between India and a country in Asia and not just in the Middle East region.
The reason why Indian productions love Abu Dhabi as a location is because they “easily find a talented and experienced crew who speak the language and understand the culture”, added the curator.
Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan filmed for the upcoming Hindi remake of Tamil hit ‘Vikram Vedha’ three months ago here.
“They stayed here for a month and a half. They had a scene where they needed 2,500 extras who must have looked like they were from Lucknow. We found them all over Abu Dhabi,” Fraikin said.
Tiger Shroff’s star “Heropanti 2” was filmed in Abu Dhabi, where the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards ceremony will also take place in May.
Indians not only like to live and work in the city because of the diaspora, but also because they like the quality of life, the commissioner explained.
“This connection with India is solidifying by the minute,” he added.
A former international distributor for former Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, Fraikin said the ADFC works hard to eliminate bureaucracy and the red carpet.
“May his filming allow it, the crew, the transfer of material, the visual effects, and all that red tape that makes it easy for producers, actors, bosses, and works.”
Citing “Mission: Impossible 7” as an example, the film’s curator said the action film’s cast and crew filmed for two and a half months in Abu Dhabi.
It was perhaps the “greatest production of all time” he had seen.
“Only the crew was 250, the whole crew was around 500. There were a dozen nationalities working on the film together,” Fraikin added.
Chandra said it was a matter of happiness to see the kind of promotion Abu Dhabi does for movies.
“Some of our greatest films are made here. We share a long cultural relationship with Abu Dhabi. We have many stories to tell which are common to each other and which are reflected in our cooperation in this particular sector.
“You have decided to have CCI as your champion sector to get out of oil and make it one of your priority areas. In India, media and entertainment is also the lifeblood of our country,” said the Secretary of I&B.
He also said India’s media and entertainment sector is expected to grow from $30 million to $100 million over the next decade, with films making up 20,000 crore rupees, or $3 million.
“In India, we spend about $1 billion on content every year,” Chandra said, adding that the 30% cashback will be helpful to filmmakers of all languages.
After the mammoth success of the “Baahubali” franchise, Indian films are gaining visibility in the world, he added.
“Even small films get international recognition through streamers like Amazon, Netflix and others.”
To which Fraikin said, the ADFC is a “format, genre and budget independent” entity.
The I&B Secretary also invited the ADFC to set up a branch in Mumbai to encourage co-productions between India and the UAE, and for the countries to benefit from mutual incentives.
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