Jordan’s Royal Film Commission was set up in 2013 with Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, brother of the country’s King Abdullah II, heading its board. It has since been working to build the local film industry and stepping up efforts to attract international shoots such as Ridley Scott’s “The Martian,” and more recently “Aladdin,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Dune,” to name a few.
Netflix also chose Jordan recently as the setting for its groundbreaking Arabic original series “Al Rawabi School for Girls,” which follows a group of high school girls plotting revenge on a trio of bullies at their school, portraying violence, including sexual violence, against women, and patriarchy in Arab society.
In terms of locations, besides the desert of Wadi Rum, with its immense rock formations and rolling sand dunes, Jordan also offers castles, palaces, ruins and green valleys. It’s a wide range of landscapes that easily double for many West Asian countries. Support includes a 25% cash rebate, recently raised from 20%, and a tax exemption for foreign productions.
Thanks to the film commission’s training program, Jordan also has a highly skilled crew base, many of whom are English-speaking, that can usually cover almost 70% of what’s needed, especially in Wadi Rum, and offer a wide range of production services, including from the army.
“There is an agreement between the film commission and the Jordanian armed forces to supply whatever is needed,” obviously at a cost, says RFC managing director Mohannad Bakri.
Recent examples of when this came in handy include using air force choppers for aerial night shoots for “Dune” and also 700 extras, all from the military, who danced in the Aki-Aki Festival in the ninth chapter in the Star Wars saga. “It was the easiest way to control such a large group under the command of one person,” Bakri notes.