Jason Isaacs Comes Home To Play The Lead Role In ‘Dig’ (2014)
When Woody Allen made Match Point, some people felt like living among high society in London. Then there was Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona and more people started travelling to Spain. Midnight in Paris… well, it inspired tourists to start and see more of the City of Lights, late at night.
Allen, present controversies aside, is not shy about taking subsidies from cities and then use them as “sponsored” backdrops for his movies. It was no secret that Allen’s To Rome With Love was given a hefty sum to put Rome in the spotlight. Or think about the book, then the movie Eat, Pray, Love and all the hoards of unhappy housewives that made pilgrimages in the footsteps of Julia Roberts to Italy, India, then Bali.
Israel, finally, is getting “it” in the business of film and TV making. The country’s various ministries are now giving production sponsorship to the USA Network
TV series Dig, based on an archeological dig mystery uncovered in Jerusalem. Israel is waking up to its potential for movie making and TV potential. And the business opportunities that come along with it.
Natalie Portman, now filming the movie to an Amos Oz book in Jerusalem, will also bring much positive PR to the city and Israel’s appeal as a place to film greats. If the movie turns out well.
Scenes from a Chinese Movie was shot in three locations in Israel with actress Zhang Jingchu (2013)
I believe that for Israel to get more international opportunities like this its students must cast their nets wider. While Tel Aviv University and the Sam Spiegel School are great film and TV schools, learning at a top international film school like the New York Film Academy can help them access the business smarts needed for building successful film empires in Israel. With all the spectacular history and culture, there is no reason why the cities of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Eilat, and even Acre aren’t the regular settings for international crews making TV shows and movies.
Dig, the TV show, might pave the way. But having more students educated in film schools that can teach the bigger business of film will help us get there faster, like this exchange program with students has shown
Israelis may be good at developing series television ideas that Americans build new concepts on, but I haven’t seen any Israeli films that would make outsiders want to visit, live or do business here.
According to this 2011 study , “films can have a strong influence not only on decision making for short-term holiday, but affect tourism revenues and long-term prosperity of destinations.”
De Beers diamond campaign was filmed against the backdrop of the Dead Sea leading by the Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu (2013) /Nataly Ben Der ah
How much prosperity goes along with the destinations depends on the popularity of the film, how the location is portrayed (negative or positive?), and what kind of background knowledge of the place is provided in the film, the study concluded.
Israeli productions still seem to focus on the all-too obvious war, conflict and identity issues between the Arab and the Jew, or the secular and the religious. More focus on the normal sense of life in Israel, whether it’s simple love, an archeological experience, or working in a start up company, should be put into film.
Scholarships that could send Israeli students abroad to learn how Europeans or Americans make their moves in the movies would surely improve the economics of this industry in Israel, which on the home front can’t expect to do so much with so little resources.