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The Joy of Beirut
International production house Joy Films has great expectations as it officially launches in Lebanon.
June 29, 2009 3:20 by Nathalie Bontems
With a large support base also covering South America, the USA and South Africa, Azarmi plans to make Lebanon a platform not only for the region but also for Europe. She says 70 percent of Joy Films’ work will now be generated in the region, and 30 percent outside.
With budgets shrinking and clients becoming more cautious, an increasing number of projects should be produced locally. “So Beirut makes more sense in terms of production value,” says Hachem. “Even before the recession, against most locations in the world, Beirut is attractive, because of its diversity of locations, people, looks and feels, all in a small area. Besides, a massive pool of talents is available. All that support doesn’t really exist in Dubai. The fact that we managed to secure everything easily and fast [when setting up in Beirut] reflects the ease of the system in Lebanon versus Dubai.”
Crowded market. Joy Films is not the first production house to move to Beirut recently. Over the past nine months, the Big Kahuna, Dolce Vita, and Film Works have all expanded from Dubai into Cedar country. And, unsurprisingly, the extra competition is not always welcome.
“The cake is getting smaller and the number of guests keep growing,” says Gabriel Chamoun, CEO of production house The Talkies. “Unless they bring a real added value – which everybody claims to do – there’s no more room. Even well-established, large companies are going through a rough patch.”
But Azarmi is confident. “There’s room for Joy. Only few companies have the same philosophy as us in terms of servicing. We’re not here to provide just a service, we’re creative thinkers. And Joy Films is the first international production company to seriously invest in the Middle East. The scale of production that Joy has experienced brings things to a different level. We want to encourage Western agencies and clients to come to Lebanon for production. The presence of Joy may give them confidence; it can reassure them.”
Which is exactly how another competitor sees Joy’s arrival to the Lebanese market.
“At least Joy Films is a serious company, unlike many others,” says Marc Hadifé, director of City Films. “Their presence in Lebanon is giving a kind of guarantee to English clients who don’t know the Lebanese market. Everybody will benefit from their presence.”
First seen in Communicate magazine.
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