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Saudi Arabia Filming


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#1 David McMurry

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Posted 06 October 2016 - 02:51 PM

does anyone on the forum have any direct experience filming in Saudi Arabia recently?  specifically around Jeddah and thoughts on overall vibe, safety, good local fixers, etc? small US based crew filming branded doc content.

thanks!


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#2 John E Clark

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 11:14 AM

My experience in the Middle East was in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and not for filming but radio network installation. We had a 'host' company which took care of all permits, access, etc. As well as hotel, car+driver, etc.

 

I'd feel pretty comfortable doing some of that for myself in Europe, as I've been there a number of times, but having the host take care of most of the logistics was beneficial... in fact, probably not doable without.

 

I'd suggest finding out if there is a film making company or service, that you could hook up with to assist in your project. Dubai is trying to give the impression of a 'liberal' ME city... Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative... and Saudi Arabia is very conservative.


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#3 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 11:30 AM

Stories of terrible, terrible things happening to people who have behaved quite innocently abound from that area. Personally, I'd unquestionably engage very qualified and experienced local help, get in, say as little as possible to anyone, shoot the show, and get out as fast as possible.

 

P


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#4 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 07 October 2016 - 08:34 PM

As above... some Brit expat just "fell" from his apartment balcony with bags packed and passport on his bed just last week.. in Dubai.. having told his parents his life had been threatened .. no doubt more to the story.. but it sure as hell aint  Kansas Dorothy ..dont sit opposite anyone and expose the soles of your feet either ..


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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 04:43 AM

Feel I should amend my post some what.. not that the whole area is a nightmare with danger around every corner.. just that the rules are pretty different .. even though there are sky scrapers and huge shopping malls.. calling the police, if you are having problems will most likely lead to bigger ones in many cases.. you just need your radar working a bit more.. and I would have a local fixer for sure.. they will of course be able to read the lay of the land and avert possible problems..

 

But the not showing soles of feet is real.. and generally its better to accept something with your right hand.. 


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#6 David McMurry

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 10:56 AM

phil - robyn,

 

do you have any direct experience?  the internet is awash with cautionary tales and warnings and general cultural advice; i'm looking for folks who have traveled there in recent months and can relay first-hand accounts of their experience and detailed info.

 

thanks,

david


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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 October 2016 - 11:50 AM

When I've been there I haven't been shooting, but I will say I haven't ever had any personal problems, though some looks when I did things with my left hand (as i'm left handed). Smile, laugh at jokes, be gracious, be cautious, and be open is the best overall advice I can give.

Having a local fixer in ANY country you''re filming in is pretty vital, though.

A lot will depend, I would think, on exactly what you're filming and how and where.


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#8 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 02:03 AM

phil - robyn,

 

do you have any direct experience?  the internet is awash with cautionary tales and warnings and general cultural advice; i'm looking for folks who have traveled there in recent months and can relay first-hand accounts of their experience and detailed info.

 

thanks,

david

 

 

No haven't had any direct problems there.. I guess what I have to say is nothing different from what you get from the internet .. thats true.. re soles of feet.. use right hand.. we had good fixers.. but there were huge animated  discussions about just abut everything it seemed..  its just if you have some more "boisterous " :) crew members .. things that you could get away with in alot of Western countries might get you put in jail in that part of the world..


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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 October 2016 - 02:18 AM

Fraid not. I have been asked to go to Saudi and to very religious parts of Africa and despite the tendency to want to say yes to these things I turned them both down on the basis of personal safety.

 

It's one thing if you can follow the rules and know you're on safe ground; it's quite another if the rules are essentially being made up and bought off as people see fit. You can't protect yourself against that.


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#10 John E Clark

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 01:19 AM

Fraid not. I have been asked to go to Saudi and to very religious parts of Africa and despite the tendency to want to say yes to these things I turned them both down on the basis of personal safety.

 

It's one thing if you can follow the rules and know you're on safe ground; it's quite another if the rules are essentially being made up and bought off as people see fit. You can't protect yourself against that.

 

Sure... I don't drink alcohol much, so the absence of such 'officially' in Saudi Arabia is not a problem and my poverty maintains my marital chastity... the two 'biggies' for Westerns in a 'strict' islamic country. Dubai was far more 'liberal', yet one did have to confine drinking to the hotel bar, or clubs (again my poverty prevented me from living dissolute life...).

 

I did get a 'this website is not in keeping with the values of the emirate...' landing page for some such in a hotel in Abu Dhabi... wasn't porn... and it wasn't a israeli related site... So I have no idea what 'moral code' the site may have transgressed... I would conjecture that one could transgress other social boundaries without even knowing it until it was 'too late'. The result may be an inconvenient encounter, or more.

 

I would never drive in the region, and relied on drivers, which were provided by the host company. In that regard, I've relied on mass transit or taxis in most countries that I have visited other than Canada and Mexico, just for the reason that laws vary, as does 'traffic etiquette'...

 

As for stories... sure... I have them for Mexico... and during my stay in Dubai/Abu Dhabi a number of people had stories, not only other western visitors, but also local citizens.

 

The biggest problem I had was waiting for me equipment to make it through customs (about a week and half...)... despite preplanning. Then there was the loss of my luggage between Frankfurt and Dubai... but these are sort of usual travel problems when one is doing more than tourist things.

 

So, I watched lots of British TV with arabic subtitles...


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