Could Qatar be your next Production Location?

MIA Museum in Qatar with Doha Skyline
Photo courtesy of Florian Wehde on Unsplash

Qatar, where’s that then?

When we announced that we were moving to Qatar in 2016, our families kept asking us the same question ‘where’s that then?’. Unlike its, neighbours of Dubai and Saudi, this small peninsula in the gulf was relatively unknown.  Qatar land borders Saudi Arabia and only an hours flights from its nearest neighbours, of Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  Its now known to be one of the richest countries in the world, alongside the safest.

In 2010 FIFA awarded Qatar, the privilege of hosting the 2022 World Cup. They are the first country in the Middle East to ever host this prestigious sporting event. As Qatar gears up to host this national event with years of ongoing construction, Qatar has already been used as a backdrop for filming a British drama.  With Episode 1 of the BBC1’s recently drama, McMafia was filmed in Qatar. The opening scenes featured the turquoise blue seas and stunning backgrounds of the Westbay, alongside chase scenes in Souq Waqif.

In the two years since I have arrived in Doha, I have come to love the country I now call my second home.  I love the unspoilt beauty of the deserts, against the stark contrasts of the new spiralling new cities being built to accommodate the World Cup. I have come to learn that my name means Falcon in Arabic and there is many a camel named Shaheen (photo attached) Yes, it does get stifling hot during the summer months, 50 degrees can be unbearable at times, but you learn to work around the humidity. Surprisingly it does have cooler winter months making it an amazing place to live, and the main reason FIFA moved the 2022 World Cup to December of that year.

Qatar as a Location

Qatar is famously known for its pearl fishing industry before it discovered Petroleum and natural gas.  The country has successfully seen rapid expansion, whilst trying to hold onto its traditional values. It’s a great place to live, although quieter than its neighbours, the cultural history of Qatar is amazing.  Every day as construction continues we have new trams to ride and roads to drive on, the diversity continues and we get one step nearer to the Worldcup and the vision of 2030.  For me, I love the family element and how safe this country is for my daughter and how many opportunities it has given us.

The diverse landscape would provide a stunning backdrop for any production looking to shoot in the middle east with a more cultural feel. From the bluest of seas, stunning deserts to sprawling cosmopolitan cities, Qatar has it all.  It famously has a film city built in the desert called Media City, and could easily accommodate any large movie production looking for original locations. Qatar is well equipped with local kit companies for hiring equipment and snazzy hotels to feed and water your crew.

Watch this space…..

I am so excited about getting ready to welcome the international films crews who will be descending here.  There is so much diversity that Qatar could easily provide your next location set for any type of production genre.  The best thing about living in Qatar, the sun shines for most of the year, what else could a girl want. Living here gave me the opportunity to work in the media again, using my skills to connect with International Film Crews and help them locally. I hope in this series of blogs to introduce you to Qatar, show you behind the scenes and a glimpse of what you can expect to see when you visit.

Have you been to Qatar? If so I would love to hear your thoughts, if not what would you like to know more about?

 

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Mind the Career Gap How upskilling can you back on track

Image: Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash
Image: Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Can upskilling fix the career gap?

Like many, I fell into my career gap, it wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened.  After a successful career in TV production, I decided to take some time off when my daughter was born in 2008. Taking a long break was never on the agenda,  just nine months maternity leave and heading right back to the city to pick up where I had left off. I loved my media work and even becoming a mummy wouldn’t change that for me. Then my husband got offered a great family posting in Asia, and I became a trailing spouse and everything changed overnight.

We packed up our bags and began a whirlwind journey which would see us move through 4 different countries over the next five years. It was exciting, daunting and scary all at the same time. Travelling and meeting loads of new people were some of the most amazing experiences for us as a family, but often I would feel like something was missing.

As my daughter got older and needed me less, I realised how much I missed work. I initially picked up some freelancing Production Management projects, but quickly realised that so much had changed in the time I had ‘taken out’. Technology moves fast in everyday life and even quicker in telly. I needed to get back up to speed, and fast, but how could I do this? My time travelling had also ignited a passion in locations, and I really wanted a way to find a way to combine the two.

Where do I go from here?

Deciding to retrain was the easy part, finding the right course to fit around me, my skills and would enable me to study remotely, was slightly harder. Google came to the rescue and was an excellent source of research for me, showing the thousands of online courses I could do remotely from Qatar. But, how was I to choose the one that would lead me back to full-time work?  In the end, the choice was easy, I just had to decide what bits of the course criteria were important to me. I was educated in the UK and wanted a recognised qualification for the 18months of study I was about to commit to.

During my time away from production, TV Content had evolved from traditional terrestrial broadcasting diversifying into the digital arena creating millions of YouTube Stars, along the way. So for me, the obvious choice was to take up a Diploma in Digital Marketing and update my production knowledge to include the Social Media elements which were currently dominating the market.

Yes, I knew how to update my Facebook status, and tell my family back home how were now getting on in the Middle East (Yes we had moved again) but what did I know how to really use Social Media for a business?

Going back to School

So nearly 18 months ago, I embarked on the Concise Training; City and Guilds- Diploma in Digital Marketing. A bit of mouthful for sure, but it’s been a fantastic tool to get me back to the workforce. I have learnt how to write Marketing Strategy Plans, create a website, target audiences, and the list is endless. In that time it also gave me the confidence to realise that I am good at what I do, and half the battle of returning from a career gap is to have the courage to come back.

I won’t say the last (nearly) 18months have been easy, they have been anything but. What I can say is that without the course I wouldn’t be writing this blog and I wouldn’t have started working as a freelancer here in Qatar.  It has allowed me to combine my years of experience and learn skills to launch a new service in Qatar for International Film Crews.  I have loved every minute of it, even though there have been blood, sweat and tears, but in a few months, I graduate and that’s when the real work begins……..

So what would what you do to upskill your skillset?  Even if you’re not in a career gap, retraining can open a whole new world, I would love to hear your thoughts on going back to school.

There are loads of great courses out there, but to find out more about the course I took, visit Concise Training

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What do Location Fixers really do?

Fixer in the desert - location hunting

Who are Location Fixers?

If you’re looking to filming abroad, chances are you’ll be thinking about hiring a location fixer.

Your friendly fixer, is someone who is lives locally and is familiar with their host country.  They have a great network of contacts who work with them to help you with your production planning, logistics, translation, location and crew sourcing, or anything else you might need.

Did you know that a lot of local fixers, have worked in TV in some capacity? This experience can help them to understand your production needs immediately.  They know the industry well and can work around the demands of tights budgets and schedules.

What do Location Fixer do?

Before you arrive in your country of choice to film, a location fixer can help find you some great locations remotely. They can send you detailed notes, and brief you on costs, before you have even stepped foot on location.  They are on hand to liaise with government office to get your special visas and filming permits, before you arrive, amongst other things.

Location Fixers are also a dab hand at sourcing local actors and extras via casting agents. They have a great network of contacts up their sleeve to find any behind-the-scenes crews you might need, such as camera operators, directors, gaffers, and sound engineers.  They can find costumes and props, whilst working with work with teams of translators make sure that all your pre-arrival paperwork has ticked all the correct boxes.

Your fixer can also help find great accommodation for you and your team to stay and organise anything from airport pickups to aerial filming. Worried about travelling with excess baggage and tons of equipment, then your location fixer can fix this too – and will know where to hire locally.

These are just some of the things a great location fixer can do for you and help take the worry out of filming when not on common ground. They use their specialist local and cultural knowledge, alongside a great contact book to really make things happen for film, TV and commercials crews.

So, next time you’re looking to film abroad why not look up the services of a location fixer and see how they can help you make your production run more smoothly.

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