DPme.com takes a look at filming locations in Lebanon and the services the country offers to filmmakers
Lebanon is renowned for its diverse cultural landscape, rich history – which includes occupation by the Phoenicians, Ottomans and Romans – and a unique climate.
These factors have helped the nation become something of a hub for documentary and TVC filmmaking in recent years.
Documentary films such as West Beyrouth have put Lebanon on the filmmaking map. In feature films and fictional stories, however, the country has trailed many other nations in the Middle East, in spite of some attractive urban and rural settings. Caramel, a romantic comedy which received widespread international acclaim, provides the major exception to this assertion.
Lebanon’s vibrant capital city, Beirut, sometimes nicknamed ‘the Paris of the East’, is unique amongst the region in many ways. The remnants of French occupation during the first half of the 20th century are still evident in Lebanon’s architecture and culture.
Beirut has played host to a number of big-budget TVCs for several high-profile companies such as Pepsi and McDonalds, using the city’s busy urban atmosphere as a backdrop.
Lebanon’s most negative production attribute is that it lacks the comprehensive filmmaking infrastructure of some of its neighbours such as Jordan and Morocco.
The reason for this is not the lack of demand for services but the reluctance of many international production houses to establish a base there.
In the period leading up to the July War of 2006, many international production firms were contemplating or planning a move to Beirut. However, some companies told Digital Studio that they felt compelled to delay such plans due to the outbreak of conflict.
Since this time, it seems location services providers and other companies involved in the film production industry have been waiting for a prolonged period of stability before reconsidering a move to the country.
Lebanon’s terrain is unique among MENA nations. In a region dominated by rocky deserts and palm oases, this Levant nation provides a stark contrast with its greenery, (sometimes snow-capped) mountains and unique flora and fauna.
Lebanon’s landscape resembles much of Europe, and is littered with pines, oaks, cypresses and cedar trees.
Wildlife includes bears, wildcats, hedgehogs and martens and a variety of birds, including eagles, buzzards, kites, falcons, hawks, woodpeckers and owls, which nest in the country’s mountains.
While milder than most of MENA nations, Lebanon’s climate varies greatly depending on different seasons and altitudes. During winter, enough snow falls in the country’s mountains to host a number of alpine ski resorts.
The bustling port cities of Beirut and Tripoli (not to be confused with the Libyan capital) are unique in their mix of architectural influences. Remnants of French, Roman and Ottoman occupation still exist today.
A number of stunning and unusually well-preserved historical sites exist throughout Lebanon. The ruins at Baalbek, or Heliopolis as it was once known, are without a doubt under-utilised by the region’s filmmakers.
Once Rome’s bastion in the Middle East, the ruins provide a stunning backdrop for any filmmaker. The historical sites of Tyre (Sur) and Echmoun and many others throughout Lebanon also provide perfect locations for both fictional and non-fictional filmmaking.
In the future
Many production companies (and businesses of all varieties, for that matter) are beginning to return to Lebanon, Beirut in particular, following the July War of 2006.
While the recent history of the nation has inspired many independent filmmakers to create documentaries and war-time dramas, political stability will be a pre-requisite to restoring economic consistency to the country. This will, in turn, bolster its production infrastructure.
In comparison to other countries, Lebanon’s location service infrastructure is also wanting. While there are still some large and very capable production houses situated in the country, most are shackled by a lack of faith in the local market.
The restoration of confidence in the local industry is something that is beginning to occur. However, the process will be gradual.
FILMED IN LEBANON:
Caramel (Sukkar Banat)
West Beyrouth À l’abri les enfants (West Beirut)
A Perfect Day
Hors La vie
LOCATION SERVICES PROVIDERS
Bassem Charanek - +961 3 351 512
Big Kahuna Films - +961 199 1919 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Charisma TV productions - +961 1 362 162 – email@example.com
Clap Productions - +961 1 876428 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Darkside Productions - +961 1 750 280 – email@example.com
Filmworks - +961 1 203216 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent Productions - +961 3 845 076 – email@example.com
Mad 4 Films - +961 1 566377 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Minime Production - +961 1 568 700 – email@example.com
Odyssee Productions - +961 3 602 940
Olive Tree Productions - +961 1 612500 ext 2040 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rahbani Productions – +971 4 338 9000 - email@example.com
Revolution Film - +961 3 949 790 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Solo films - +961 3 075 870 – email@example.com
Standby Production Services - +961 1 696 646 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stewart Innes - +961 7028 1596 – email@example.com
The Talkies - +961 1 511 116 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Upside Down Production - +961 3 242 170 – email@example.com
Workshop Productions - +961 1 485 1834 – firstname.lastname@example.org
V.I.P. Films - +961 4 401 881 – email@example.com