Shooting a movie or TV series in Dubai is set to become cheaper with plans to launch an online portal that could drastically reduce the number of days it takes to film a production in the emirate.
Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), which authorises audio and visual media production permits, is hoping to launch the portal by the end of this year.
It will link all government and private sector parties, enabling them to view applications. It is intended to reduce waiting times and the bureaucracy around the application process.
"The automated system lets other agencies, like the Dubai Police, know that a company is registered to shoot in Dubai. You will be able to get approval outside of the country, on mobile phones and tablets," said Jamal Al Sharif, the chairman of the DFTC. "Dubai has to be standardised with other international cities. It is important we listen to our partners who are demanding fast track and easy access."
Currently the application process can take up to five days, but the online portal will reduce this to just one day. Applicants can submit their requests on the portal and can communicate and liaise directly with different bodies without the need to go through DFTC for every step of the process.
So far this year, the commission has received 429 applications. Last year 19 films were shot in Dubai, accounting for 364 days of filming, bringing in more than US$10 million to the city.
"We hope to double up, we have targets to market DFTC in other countries," said Mr Al Sharif. "Dubai is the star now, you can sense the excitement in the audience when they see Dubai in a film. It is like the way women get excited when they see Brad Pitt on screen."
DFTC is expecting the media production sector to contribute 1 to 2 per cent to GDP, with the aim of generating Dh250m alone for Dubai by 2015.
In 2010, Dubai made Dh165m from film and TV production, helped largely by Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, whose makers chose the city as one of its shooting locations. Scenes of Tom Cruise ascending Burj Khalifa placed the emirate as a valid shooting destination for big-budget films. The four-week shoot brought in $28m for Dubai.