On Location: Egypt

DPme.com showcases the MENA region's biggest location-services market.
Patrick Elligett takes a look at filming locations in Egypt and the services the country offers to filmmakers.
Patrick Elligett takes a look at filming locations in Egypt and the services the country offers to filmmakers.

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Patrick Elligett takes a look at filming locations in Egypt and the services the country offers to filmmakers.

BIGGEST INCENTIVES:
Egypt’s landscape and cityscape emanates history and culture. Its stunning locations quickly propelled it to popularity with big budget filmmakers in the very early days of film and television.

While trends of shooting in certain countries come and go, Egypt has always remained the powerhouse of the Arab film industry and the undisputed champion of the MENA region’s location services market.

Only in recent decades have contenders to this title emerged. Morocco, Jordan and Tunisia are its major rivals, with each having hosted films actually set in Egypt.

In addition to its regional challengers, computer animation has also helped to chip away at the country’s location supremacy. The cost of transporting crew and kit to the pyramids, for example, can be avoided with some clever special effects.

Putting aside the Egyptian industry’s recent struggles, its rich and successful film history has resulted in an adequate film infrastructure with the capacity to cater to several simultaneous large-scale productions.

BIGGEST DRAWBACKS:
No surprise here. As is the case with most MENA nations, the heat, sun and sand can provide a major deterrent for filmmakers, at least during summer months.

Although this may be the very reason that the country is selected as a location in the first instance, the inherent difficulties of sourcing water and power combined with exhaustion that can occur in a desert environment will force many to opt for cooler climes.

Securing location permissions, and gaining approval from the Egyptian censors, can also prove to be a costly and time consuming process in comparison with many of its film industry competitors.

But aside from a few issues with climate, red tape, and what some might call “creepy crawlies”, Egypt has proven itself extremely conducive to high-quality and aesthetically stunning filmmaking.

NATURAL FEATURES:
The Nile River, the Sahara Desert and the Nile Delta are the most obvious natural features of the Egyptian landscape.

Surprisingly however, within these areas rests a wide (although not particularly abundant) variety of wildlife.

The best-known additions to the country’s fauna include reptiles, felines, canines, birds and marine life, such as jackals, caracals, tortoises, vipers, hawks, ibis and other zoological offerings. Flora is sparse throughout the majority of the country, however like its fauna, it is in many cases quite unique.

MAN-MADE FEATURES
Egypt’s man-made wonders need no introduction, and there is little we could say to adequately describe them, and the need to create such imagery is redundant. Its Suez Canal, pyramids, monuments and temples are globally recognised and have featured in countless feature films, shorts, TVCs and documentaries. As long as these landmarks remain, the Egyptian film industry will always remain one of the most popular locations in the Arab world.

IN THE FUTURE
Despite adequate film infrastructure, a plethora of production houses, some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks and a long, distinguished history in the production business, Egypt appears to be slowly losing ground to many rival MENA countries.

Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan currently stand out as the country’s main competitors, baring similar landscapes, natural features and historical significance.

One might argue here that there is no substitute for the iconic monuments such as The Sphinx, The Great Pyramids of Giza and the temples of Karnak and Luxor.

This assertion is, or was, correct in some respects. Recently, however, we have seen the rapid rise in the use of CGI and special effects coincide with what appears to be a slight decline in the number of high-budget international productions to be staged in Egypt.

One popular recent film – which shall remain nameless – included some of the most well-known Egyptian imagery on its cover and throughout the film, however not one second of original footage was shot in the country. Ah, the wonders of technology.

FAMOUS PRODUCTIONS FILMED IN EGYPT:

  • Transformers: Revenge of the fallen
  • 500 years later
  • Dinotopia
  • Silver Surfer
  • Fair Game (in production)
  • Independence Day
  • Malcolm X
  • Syriana
  • The Mummy
  • The Mummy Returns
  • The Spy Who Loved Me (James Bond)
  • Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Baraka
  • Patton

On-location service providers in Egypt

Does your company provide location services in Egypt? Contact Digital Studio’s editorial staff to ensure we have your information!

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