George David on the Royal Film Commission, Jordan
It’s been a busy few months for George David, general manager of the Royal Film Commission (RFC), Jordan. As the president of the board of directors of the AFCI (Association of Film Commissioners International), David recently oversaw their major annual event, the Locations Show, in Los Angeles.
In this role, David is familiar with all the issues, concerns and accomplishments of film commissions worldwide. Does this help him in his own work as Jordan’s film commissioner, we ask?
David has had a lengthy association with the Kingdom, having started out his film career there in the mid ‘90s.
After a break in Hollywood, he returned to Jordan and joined the film commission, where he has been general manager since 2009.
Jordan’s changing film industry
David is very positive about Jordan’s status on the world stage right now – the country’s production industry is reaching a higher level than when he took on his role as commissioner.
“I started working at the RFC in 2005. At that time the industry was in its very early stages there. Apart from a handful of feature films which had been produced since the 1950s, there was very little film activity,” he says. “Today, however, Jordan competes in international film festivals, with between six and ten films Jordanian films a year.”
But with the proliferation of international co-productions around the world it is also important for a commissioner to maintain good relations around the world and market a location in more ways than one. Jordan’s film market is no different.
“Most of the Jordanian films that were produced in the past ten years were co-productions with Sweden, the USA and France for example,” David says. “Although we do not yet have any official co-production treaties in place, we are currently in talks with several countries.”
A former producer himself, David gives us a quick round-up of projects which filmed in Jordan in 2013 – and there were quite a few:
- Dark Continent, a UK feature directed by Tom Green;
- Locked Up Abroad, a UK documentary directed by Dov Freedman;
- The Cut, a German feature from director Fatih Akin;
- The Curve, a Jordanian feature from director Rifqi Assaf;
- Rosewater, and American feature directed by Jon Stewart;
- A Dark Reflection from UK director Tristan Loraine;
- Austrian feature Good Morning Kabul directed by Barbara Eder;
- Omar Shargawi’s Danish film Medina;
- and two home-grown shorts from Jordan – Lifeline, directed by Montaser Baddawi and Hashtag from Mohammad Khairi.
Looking at the year ahead
We asked David about the commission’s plan for 2014 – is there a particular focus that he is envisaging for Jordan’s production industry?
“Since we started, our focus has been capacity-building. We will continue our programmes aimed at developing skills and highlighting talents in the film industry. We also plan to continue with our other initiatives: film screenings, production support and the Jordan Film Fund.” The latter is something he has worked hard for to establish.
“It gives me great satisfaction to feel that I have played even a small part in the growth of an industry - an industry I very much believe in.”
We would like to thank George David for his help in compiling this article. If you have experience of filming in Jordan, please do tell us about it by leaving your comments here or via our Facebook page.