x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Dubai out to show Hollywood that nothing is impossible

The city is gearing up to have all hands on deck for the November filming of part four of the Hollywood blockbuster Mission Impossible.

DUBAI // The city is gearing up to have all hands on deck for the November filming of part four of the Hollywood blockbuster Mission: Impossible.  

As many as 600 production crew members - 200 of them locally hired - will work overtime at several locations across Dubai to build sets, arrange lighting and see to other needs for the popular franchise starring Tom Cruise, which first hit cinemas in 1996.  Some 20 to 40 interns, nationals and non-nationals, will also be chosen to help with the production as runners - and will be expected to work around the clock. "They will work 24 hours a day: 2am, 4am … they've got to be ready," said Jamal al Sharif, the managing director of Dubai Studio City, which is facilitating the production process.

Dubai motorists will be expected to play their part, too. To reroute traffic away from the chase scenes that are planned, a special RTA committee, together with Dubai Police, are outlining diversions and plan to keep the public up to date as they change. Dubai Police's event security committee, headed by Major Gen Mohammed al Mansouri, met last Sunday to discuss the security preparations for the filming of the movie.

Mr al Mansouri asked the committee members to provide "all the assistance to make the filming a success". Because scenes will be shot in so many locations - some of them popular spots - Mr al Sharif said: "We ask the public really to be patient."  Preparations will continue through October and filming will take 27 days.  "The main scenes of the movie will be shot in Dubai," Mr al Sharif said. "It will include major roads, major buildings, major hotels, major well-known parks and other places," he said. "There will be lots of beautiful scenes, great locations, and new stunts that will make it a spectacular film." 

He added: "This is the first time Hollywood is coming to Dubai at this scale."  Most of the logistics have been channelled through Dubai Studio City, which was established by the government in 2005 to provide all the infrastructure needed to make films. By streamlining the many parts of the production process it is meant to attract more international studios to shoot movies in Dubai.  "We are a one-stop shop," Mr al Sharif said. "Dubai basically made the strongest case, with its infrastructure, security and landscape," he said of the decision by the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures to film in Dubai. 

According to media reports, parts of the film are also being shot in the United States, Canada and the Czech Republic.  Preliminary talks between the government and Paramount about filming in Dubai began late last year, and grew more serious by January and February. In May, four people involved with the film visited Dubai. In July they returned with 40 people, who searched for locations across Dubai by helicopter.

The team took a number of helicopter rides - sometimes several times a day - coordinated by Dubai Studio City and the Dubai Royal Air Wing. Preparations for filming began, unknown to the public, in August. More production crew members from Hollywood are set to arrive in two weeks. The local teams will help build sets, manage locations and help with logistics. Leading the effort is Film Works, a Dubai-based production company that worked on Hollywood films The Kingdom and Syriana and the Emirati film City of Life.

Mr al Sharif refused to say when Cruise - who is also producing the film - would arrive. "The team that is coming to Dubai has decades of experience. They have made some major films," said Mr al Sharif.  "Hollywood is our guest," he added. "We need to prove to them how things can be done in Dubai."   

chuang@thenational.ae