“Dig,” the new drama series from “Homeland” producer Gideon Raff, above left, and “Heroes” producer Tim Kring, right, is the first recipient of newly created grant from the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality designed to lure big-budget projects to Israel’s capital city. Raff (a Jerusalem native) and Kring inked a six-episode deal with USA Network for “Dig” in November, and lensing is set to begin in Jerusalem’s Old City later this year.
The 22 million Israel shekel ($6.2 million) grant will be allocated in two parts: $3.9 million for the program’s first season, and should it return to film a second season, the production will then receive an additional $2.3 million. “Dig”is an archeological thriller about an American FBI agent investigating a murder in Jerusalem.
The grant is the brainchild of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the Jerusalem Film and Television Fund. To qualify for the grant, productions must prove that they can invest at least NIS 25 million ($7.1 million) into Israel’s economy, of which at least NIS 4 million ($1.1 million) must go directly to the city of Jerusalem. The series or film must be set in Jerusalem, and most of its filming must occur within city limits.
Funding for the grant will be split among several Israeli ministries, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Tourism.
The initiative is being promoted as a vehicle to boost employment and investment in Jerusalem, strengthen the current film and television industry and – perhaps most crucially – help brand Jerusalem and the State of Israel in a positive light.
NBC Universal on Thursday thanked the Israeli government and the Jerusalem Film Fund for selecting “Dig” as the grant’s first-ever recipient, saying in a statement, “This has been a true collaboration between the Ministers of Economy and Jerusalem, Tourism, the Deputy Minister of Finance, as well as the mayor of Jerusalem, to foster the expansion and diversification of Israel’s economy.”