Jordan has recently become popular as a location for high-budget feature filmmakers. The Middle Eastern nation’s film industry has grown considerably since the establishment of the Royal Film Commission of Jordan (RFC) in 2003. This government organisation has actively and successfully encouraged international filmmakers to use the country as a shooting location, and has also worked to help establish a local film industry by funding and training Jordanian filmmakers.
Although Jordan may not yet offer filmmakers infrastructure such as studios, film labs and equipment hire, the country has been able to appeal to international productions due to its accommodating government, its safety and political stability, and its stunning and versatile locations.
Lucasfilm shot scenes locally in the autumn of 2018 for Star Wars Episode IX. Ridley Scott has been a regular visitor in recent years for productions such as All the Money in the World and the UK director used the country's desert landscapes as a stand-in for Mars in his sci-fi hit The Martian.
Denis Villeneuve is scheduled to shoot his new feature adaptation of Dune locally in 2019.
As mentioned above, the Jordanian government has proved to be very open to working with high-budget productions to help ensure that they can access everything they need whilst filming in Jordan.
The government and the RFC work closely to ensure that filmmakers are assisted with location scouting and subsequently any public sites or locations that filmmakers wish to use are highly likely to be issued with permits free of charge.
Private locations can prove slightly more of a challenge and fees may be involved but permits and permissions are unlikely to be refused.
One of the downsides to filming in Jordan is the fact that, at present, there are no film studios or labs in the country. Such facilities can be found in other Middle Eastern countries such as Dubai and Egypt.
Most filmmakers are drawn to Jordan because of its stunning and varied scenery, which is for the most part easily accessed by road. The climate is dry in summer with average temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F). The weather can become relatively cool in winter, with temperatures averaging around 13 °C (55 °F). Areas around the capital of Amman have been known to see snowfall around November.
The capital city of Amman has served as a location for several feature films. It is home to several impressive historical structures such as the Amman Citidel, the Roman Theatre and the historic area of Jabal Amman. There are also modern areas of the city and a new high-rise business district is currently under construction.
The ancient city of Petra is also a major draw for filmmakers, including monasteries, tombs and temples hailing from the Byzantine era.
Other draws include unique natural landmarks such as the Dead Sea, the Jordan Rift Valley, the Wadi Rum (the Valley of the Moon), the desert castle of The Quseir Amra and the Neolithic structures of Jerash.
After the Iraq war began in 2003 there has been a surge in films made around the subject. Since large areas of Iraq are still too dangerous for foreigners to enter, Jordan has become a viable alternative. Not only does Jordan’s natural landscape easily substitute for areas of Iraq, but the country also has a huge number of Iraqi refugees currently residing there.
There are a number of production companies in Jordan, most are situated in the capital of Amman. However, there are few equipment rental services so it is necessary for productions to bring equipment with them into the country.
The government offers exemptions for filmmakers bringing equipment into the country, meaning that costs are kept down. Custom clearance is also fast, making the process relatively painless.