Before Michael Bay could turn giant robots loose for a battle on the Great Pyramid of Giza, he had to submit his script to the state censorship office and make contact with antiquities head Zahi Hawass to get permits for the historical locations (which also included the Valley of the Kings in Luxor). The “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” production partnered with Cairo-based Misr Intl. Films, which handled all the logistics of the Egyptian locations, from customs clearance for imported equipment to outdoor shooting permits from various authorities (including the Ministry of Interior and Supreme Council of Antiquities).
But Egypt offers many shooting opportunities beyond its world-famous landmarks. For example, foreign crews can also use the nationally operated Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC) which serves as a “Media Free Zone,” offering customs-free service on imported shooting equipments. A vast facility located a few miles away from Cairo and the Pyramids, EMPC offers 65 soundstages, 15 outdoor shooting locations of different historical eras and architectural designs, set design and costume workshops, post-production and printing facilities.
According to EMPC head of international cooperation Youssef Rizkallah, the complex can reduce the cost of its services in exchange for co-producer credit and a portion of the international sales on foreign projects. “Since EMPC operates under the Ministry of Information, it has good contacts with the censorship and the Ministry of Interior, which smoothes the logistical procedures and licenses,” he says.
And there could be more Egyptian studio space on the way. Last September, local media titan Good News Group announced plans to build new, up-to-date soundstages. Good News CEO Adel Adeeb hopes the exchange rate and lower fees for local film crews will help attract foreign films, though the company has yet to announce a start date for the project.