RIYADH: The diverse landscape and high-tech facilities of Saudi Arabia’s NEOM development are set to attract an increasing number of filmmakers over the next few years.
This is according to Ibraheem Al-Khairallah, the creative director and partner of Telfaz11, the media production company, who appeared recently on The Mayman Show.
Al-Khairallah said an agreement has recently been signed with NEOM to produce nine films over the next three years.
“We’re happy to announce that NEOM has all the facilities to make the greatest projects happen in Saudi; and also in terms of locations, in terms of equipment there, in terms of sound studios, as we know that (a) couple of international films have been shot there. And now they want to put the light on some locals there on the ground and we’re happy,” he said.
“The ground there is rich. They’ve got the sea, they’ve got the mountains and they got the desert … (and) in the winter they got the snow,” he added.
Al-Khairallah said NEOM’s world-class facilities that will facilitate the production practices similar to the film “300.” The “entire film was shot in a studio. So you can shoot whatever you want,” he added.
Al-Khairallah said that it would also be possible for Saudi Arabia to produce “spaghetti” Westerns in NEOM, like Italian producers had done in Europe.
On Telfaz11, Al-Khairallah said the company has been focusing on various local and international productions.
He explained that a part of Telfaz11’s expansion strategy involves showcasing content through their theater project called Asphalt. In addition, international projects would be released under Telfaz11 Studios at various festivals, which would hopefully see networking and collaboration with globally-recognized musicians, directors and actors.
Al-Khairallah produced and acted in the movie “Sattar” which is considered Saudi Arabia’s most successful film. He said the film’s production was “an amazing journey.” He was “very proud” of his first role as a producer, and now has a great deal more respect for those individuals who are involved on the production side of filmmaking.
He praised Egypt’s movie industry because of its ability to reach audiences, including in the Kingdom. There was a gap in the market to produce films in the mould of Egypt, including comedies and musicals, which Saudis would “love.”
He said it would be “a win” even if such Saudi Arabia-produced films break even.