Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Jackie Chan wants to shoot more films in Dubai

Maxine De Vere, a line producer on the Kung Fu Yoga shoot that recently wrapped in Dubai, dishes up interesting anecdotes about the fun times on set with Hollywood star Jackie Chan.
 Maxine De Vere, a line producer for Kung Fu Yoga in Dubai, with Jackie Chan. Courtesy Maxine De Vere
Maxine De Vere, a line producer for Kung Fu Yoga in Dubai, with Jackie Chan. Courtesy Maxine De Vere

Jackie Chan may have left Dubai following the month-long shoot for his new action comedy Kung Fu Yoga, due out next year, but it sounds like he may be back soon: the martial arts star made a speech at the wrap party, during which he told the assembled cast and crew that in the future he would rather shoot in Dubai than South Africa, the location for many of the Hong Kong actor’s recent films.

With the shoot now wrapped, the crew are finally able to speak about their experience.

Line producer Maxine De Vere says: “Jackie is thrilled, he wants to come back. He read that message out at his wrap party and told everybody, including his manager, that he would rather shoot here than South Africa,” she says. “It doubtlessly helped that we came in significantly ­under budget.”

Chan is a prolific worker, with at least a further five films already announced or in various stages of production, and the UAE may not have to wait too long to see the star again.

“He’s already got a script that he’s going to send me,” says De Vere. “Stanley Tong, the director, asked me where I was based, not just for UAE productions, but any future productions, so obviously I’m thrilled, too.”

A month of fun

De Vere, who was part of the Furious 7 shoot in Abu Dhabi last year, talks about her latest project with warmth. “There was a real family atmosphere. Everybody stayed in the Shangri-La Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, and we had some parties there. Part of the deal with Chinese crew is that food must be supplied, while we traditionally give people an allowance, so there was a private Chinese restaurant set up upstairs for them. Sometimes Jackie would just say ‘Right, come on, we’re going for dinner,’ and they would.”

But it wasn’t just crew that Chan was respectful towards.

“Jackie was really conscious of the environment,” reveals De Vere. “You’d see him picking up rubbish from the sets if people had dropped it. That’s great. Our unit staff work hard enough without having to clean up after people when we finish shooting.

“Another really nice touch that’s a tradition in Chinese cinema is the lucky pot. At the end of each week’s shooting before the day off, Jackie would put money and gifts up and every crew member’s name would be put in a hat, then the names that were drawn out would win the prizes.

“It’s a really nice way to end the week’s shooting, and in fact I’m going to do introduce it on all my shoots in future.”

UAE companies shine

There were some local success stories, too, says De Vere.

“We used about 120 locally sourced extras, from general crowd scenes to martial artists, and some of them have gone on to continue shooting in China, as well as a further location I can’t reveal.

“It was a real coup for the local production company, Alkatraz, too. This was the first feature they’d worked as a production company on – they’re usually a facilitator for other production companies – and they got Jackie for a full 31 days. It is ­Emirati-owned – a real local success story.”

A promising film

De Vere isn’t at liberty to give away any location or script details, though it’s safe to say that Atlantis, The Palm, Downtown Dubai and JLT will feature in the movie, alongside martial arts scenes and car chases (but probably not that much yoga).

“There’s some great action on the ground. Jackie is incredibly fit and still does all his own stunts. We had excellent support from the film commission, the police, the RTA as well as from local individuals who helped out with the cars, or just bringing tea out for the crew during shoots.

“It was a real achievement. We only had five weeks prep for this movie, and the shooting was all location shoots, with no studio work. But that’s probably a separate story in itself.”

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: November 7, 2015 04:00 AM

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