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Morocco’s K Films Benefits From Surge of Foreign Shoots Following Start of 20% Cash Rebate

Khadija Alami, CEO of K Films, is line producing and producing an increasing number of foreign shoots in Morocco, and is also hosting a rising number of shoots in her studio facility, Oasis Studios Morocco, built in 2015, located in Ouarzazate on the edge of the Sahara desert.

Alami is one of a group of Moroccan line producers dedicated to servicing foreign productions, which also include Karim Debbagh’s Kasbah Films, Zakaria Alaoui’s Zak Productions and Jimmy Abounouom’s Dune Films.

Oasis Studios Morocco is conceived as a mini Skywalker Ranch, a downsized version of George Lucas’ state-of-the-art facility near San Francisco, and includes 17 hectares of land, over 12,000 sq. m. of built sets, a 300 sq. m. sound stage, studio and post-production facilities and production offices, specifically targeted at foreign productions, as well as local shoots. It also hosts students from university and film schools to shoot their projects using the studio, costumes and props for free.

Alami plans to expand the studio facilities in the near future, including acquisition of a further 25 hectares of lands and space for building a new 1500 sq. m. sound stage, and more sets.

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A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2017, she has line-produced and produced more than 50 international productions, including “Homeland,” “Prison Break,” “Captain Phillips,” “Aquaman,” and “Blindspot,” as well as Moroccan productions such as “The Narrow Frame of Midnight” by Tala Hadid and “Insoumise” by Jawad Rhalib.

Speaking to Variety, Alami explained that Morocco’s 20% cash rebate for foreign shoots, that has been operational since 2018, has increased the number of international features and in particular TV series. The rise in demand from TV series is particularly important since it represents a much higher number of shooting days.

The 20% cash rebate is for eligible production spend in Morocco and has a fixed annual budget of around $11 million, which is allocated on a first come/first served basis.

According to data from the Moroccan cinema center (CCM) the total foreign production spend in Morocco was $32 million in 2017, before the cash rebate entered into force, rose to $50 million in 2018 and is $80 million until the end of November of this year. This year $27 million has been spent on feature films and $50 million on TV series. “Homeland” season 8, episodes 3 to 5, line produced by Alami, is by far the biggest project this year – with a $27.7 million spend in Morocco.

Alami is now lobbying the CCM to propose further improvements to the scheme, to make it even more competitive and also to plough more funds into Moroccan national production.

At present support for national production is around 60 million dirhams ($6.24 million). She would like to see a mechanism that channels money from foreign shoots into national production.

Over the last 12 months, in addition to season 8 of “Homeland,” Alami has line produced and produced season 1 and 2 of “Deep State” for Fox UK, “Baghdad Central,” for the U.K.’s Channel 4, and sci-fi series “Ray James,” created by Simon Kinberg and David Weil, for Apple.

Other productions include the Netflix series “The Spy,” serviced by Agora Films, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and created by Gideon Raff (“Homeland”), and the Australian production “Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears,” the feature spin-off from a TV series, shot in Oasis Studios Morocco.

Oasis Studios Morocco just hosted the Moroccan shoot on Terrence Malick’s “The Last Planet” – line produced by Kasbah Films – about Jesus Christ’s life told through a series of parables as well as the French feature film, “Alad’2,” and Brazilian television series “Jezabel” produced by RecordTV, based on the story of biblical character Jezebel.

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