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Hollywood filming in Jordan hinders local filmmakers

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Jonathan Olley/Summit Entertainment/AP

(Read caption) Actor Jeremy Renner is shown in a scene from 'The Hurt Locker,' which was filmed in Jordan.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

What do “The Hurt Locker,” “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” have in common? All were films shot in Jordan. A steady stream of foreign productions has utilized Jordan for its desert landscapes and ancient ruins.

Foreign productions are a boon to the Jordanian economy, saddled with a huge refugee population and few natural resources, but reception by local filmmakers is mixed. Foreign productions have larger budgets, which some filmmakers say has boosted prices for hiring local film crews and equipment.

Local director and screenwriter Annemarie Jacir, who, despite limited funding is now shooting a new feature here, says, “the local crew members have to decide whether they want to make the sacrifice necessary to work on local productions. It means less money [but] more work.”

She and other filmmakers say the sacrifice is essential to nurture the nascent local film industry. But there is no regularity to foreign productions shooting in Jordan, so crews justify their higher Hollywood-style prices as a cushion for when work slows.

Tamir Naber, who has worked as an assistant director on foreign films, says, “If there is a local film that I believe in, and I was comfortable financially, I would definitely choose the local film.”

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