x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi has a lot to offer Hollywood

A recent major movie production is hoped to be the catalyst for more overseas film and television shows to be filmed in the UAE.

From left, Ahmad Al Ghanim, Government liaison for the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Glenn Gainor, executive producer of Beware the Night, and Paul Baker, the executive director at twofour54 intaj. Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi Film Commission
From left, Ahmad Al Ghanim, Government liaison for the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Glenn Gainor, executive producer of Beware the Night, and Paul Baker, the executive director at twofour54 intaj. Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi Film Commission

ABU DHABI // If the backdrop to the latest Hollywood horror movie looks frighteningly familiar, there's no reason to freak out.

The title sequence and other scenes of the paranormal thriller Beware The Night, starring Eric Bana, Joel McHale, Sean Harris and Olivia Munn, were filmed in Abu Dhabi.

The film crew spent four days shooting on location in Liwa for desert scenes with Harris and a day at twofour54's intaj studio in Mussaffah on Saturday.

In the movie, due for release in 2015, Bana plays a New York City police officer who becomes embroiled in a bizarre case that has "demonic" elements. He teams up with a renegade priest played by Edgar Ramirez to battle the paranormal forces and solve the crime.

The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, known for horror films The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Sinister, and is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who was behind the hit US television shows CSI and Cold Case and movie blockbusters Top Gun, Armageddon and Pirates of the Caribbean.

"Beware the Night will showcase Abu Dhabi as a great production location for not just feature films but also for TV, documentaries, commercials and music videos," said Noura Al Kaabi, the chief executive of twofour54.

The location also holds a financial attraction for the producers, as the Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) offers a 30 per cent rebate on the company's spend in the region.

It is designed as an incentive to bring larger studios and production houses to the region, while improving the local filmmaking scene.

Emirati involvement is one of the conditions of receiving the rebate.

Six Emiratis from twofour54's vocational traineeship programme were given the opportunity to shadow the production team to gain experience on a major film set.

"Abu Dhabi seemed like the natural choice for this feature because of its unique desert landscape, the 30 per cent production rebate and because of the competitively priced production services and facilities on offer here," said Glenn Gainor, the movie's executive producer.

"ADFC assisted with location scouting and we've been able to limit the size of our travelling crew due to the quality of crew available locally through our UAE producer twofour54 intaj. We look forward to welcoming young Emiratis as part of the production team and to getting the cameras rolling for crucial scenes of this supernatural thriller, including the opening sequence and a key flashback."

Ms Al Kaabi said: "One particularly exciting aspect about Hollywood movies, such as Beware the Night, being filmed in Abu Dhabi is the opportunities they afford to young Emiratis seeking filmmaking experience.

"The inspiration gained on set and on location will drive a new generation of Emirati talent and ultimately help to build Abu Dhabi's film and entertainment industries."

The scheme is a major part of developing local talent and giving them crucial professional experience, she said.

ksinclair@thenational.ae