Studios open for business. | Able to obtain a bigger share in accordance with their “contributions to industry development.”
These contributions include things like investing in infrastructure, including building sets that can be used for subsequent films, and hiring local production staff. To be eligible for the reimbursement, Neom must have at least $500,000 in spending.
The reimbursement cannot be used in conjunction with a 40% cash rebate that the Saudi Film Commission announced in May. Productions receiving the KSA incentive can apply for an increase from Neom of up to 10% on Neom-based post-production resources, post-production facilities, and resident talent and workforce.
studios open for business | Bajdah Desert Studios opens
The announcement coincided with the official launch of the Bajdah Desert Studios and Neom Media Village, which together house the largest sound stages and film production facilities in the nation. Over the course of the two locations, three sound stages are now in use, and a total of seven more will be available by the beginning of 2023.
One 2,400 square foot sound stage in Neom Media Village has back-of-house amenities like make-up rooms, green rooms, and production offices. Three further stages, one a cutting-edge volumetric production stage, are now being built.
Two 3,000 square metre sound stages already exist at Bajdah Desert Studios, and four more are expected to open by the end of 2022. These are “especially for productions that desire location-based activities,” according to Borg, in the area.
The studios will have backlot space, prop shops, wardrobe, SFX facilities, set production offices, and construction warehouses to accommodate elaborate set builds. Both locations have access to film and auxiliary equipment, such as cameras, grip and lighting, shotover, heavy-lift drones, telehandlers, boom lifts, scissor lifts, and trackway.
A total of 350 apartments for cast and crew will be available at the production facilities, and according to Borg, Neom “has the crew depth to accommodate three to four productions.” A few worldwide TV reality shows, as well as sizable feature films and TV series, were also under production at the same time, he continued. We have the ability and are expanding.
The new incentive highlights Saudi Arabia’s aspirations for its expanding film and television production industry as the country pursues its Vision 2030 plan, which has already resulted in the easing of a 35-year cinema ban and the opening up of society in 2017. By 2030, it is planned to create and shoot high level and modern one hundred movies in Saudi Arabia, including both domestic and foreign productions respectively.
Neom, a new jurisdiction within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will have its own rules and regulations and will span 26,500 km, or almost the size of Belgium. It is situated in Tabuk, in the northwest of the nation, along the Red Sea coast.
In addition to US and UK projects, Borg claimed there were ongoing discussions with German and Indian producers due to the latter country’s proximity to the area. The goal is to have around 37 soundstages, TV studios, gaming studios, industry learning facilities, production support facilities, incubation and start-up space by the end of 2026.
Approximately 25 productions, including Desert Warrior and Rise of the Witches, have filmed in Neom over the previous 18 months. Additional titles include a Middle Eastern adaptation of the reality survival series Million Dollar Island, which finished filming for the MBC Group in July. A man makes a contract with the devil to safeguard his sick wife in Tony Jordan’s high-end series The Devil’s Promise. Another high-end series in development is 1001 Nights, a modern crime thriller created with US producer and writer Thania St. John and writer-director Steve Barron.