Jordan's film industry is relatively new, but it is growing rapidly and has enormous promise, said Nada Doumani, Communication and Culture Advisor for Jordan's Royal Film Commission.
The commission was established in 2003 to foster the country's fledgling film industry.
'We are working on building a strong, professional Jordanian film industry that produces quality films. We train aspiring film-makers in all fields related to film-making, from spotting locations, to scriptwriting, cinematography, and editing,' she explained.
The commission hopes to promote Jordan as a place where people from the Middle East can freely make films alongside the world's most talented film-makers.
'We believe that in order to have a well-established film industry in the country, it needs to be culturally anchored in the society,' Doumani said. 'That is why we organise screenings all over the country to make film culture accessible to all.'
Ten films in 2007
The Jordan film industry had a boom year in 2007, with 10 feature films - along with numerous shorts - being shot on location in the country. Three of the feature films were Jordanian productions. The overall total represents a significant increase over previous years, in which four to five films on average were shot in the kingdom.
Three of the films shot in Jordan last year have won international awards: the Jordanian 'Captain Abu Raed', 'Redacted' by Brian de Palma, and 'Battle for Haditha' by Nick Broomfield. This year also looks very promising for Jordan, as major films have already been planned and more Jordanian films are in the works.
There are a number of advantages to filming a movie in Jordan, Doumani said. The most obvious benefit is the quality and variety of locations, which include over 10 different types of deserts, several beaches, forests, and historic sites.
'Films set in almost any part of the Middle East and several other parts of the world may be filmed in Jordan,' she noted. 'Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Afghanistan, Spain and New Mexico can all be artistically recreated in the kingdom.'
Other advantages of filming in Jordan include the low cost of cast, crew, and production services, free public locations, a stable political and social environment, and official support for the film industry.
The challenges of filming in the kingdom are the absence of film studios and film labs, and lack of senior highly professional technicians such as directors of photography.
Jordan unveils MFA program
To further bolster its stature as a film-making centre, and help remedy its weaknesses in this area, Jordan has established the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, which was conceived with the support of the RFC and in partnership with the renowned University of Southern California - School of Cinematic Arts. The institute, located in Aqaba, is a fully-accredited graduate school offering a Master of Fine Arts in Cinematic Arts.
The two-year MFA program will provide Jordan's film industry with highly trained professionals in all aspects of pre-production, production, and post production. Applications for the inaugural September courses will be accepted beginning February 17, 2008.
Chairperson Randa Ayoubi said the institute's main objective is to focus and stimulate students aspiring to become leaders in the media business by exposing them to a highly trained pool of exceptional media makers.