Futuristic Abu Dhabi offers filmmakers hefty rebate – ‘Score’ highlights lack of female composers in movies, TV

LOS ANGELES, July 29, (RTRS): A bustling metropolis rising from desert sands. A city cradled by the warm, blue waters of the Persian Gulf. An economic powerhouse of great wealth. Jaw-dropping architecture at every turn. This is Abu Dhabi, second-largest city (the largest is Dubai) of the United Arab Emirates and its capital – as well as capital of the Emirate of Dubai. Tourists and businesspeople have many reasons for going there; filmmakers are attracted by its rebate of up to 30%on qualified spend.

Attractions include the unique steel-and-glass silhouette of the Etihad Towers, the beauty of the Emirates Palace hotel, and Ferrari World, the world’s only Ferrari-branded theme park

Specifically, the incentive consists of a cash rebate of up to 30% on qualified spend. Maximum rebates available for feature films are $5 million; for TV shows and series the maximum is $1 million.

For post-production only, there’s a maximum rebate of $250,000 for feature films and $150,000 for TV programs and series.

A minimum of only one day shooting is Abu Dhabi is required.

The minimum spend for features is $200,000; for TV programs or series it’s $50,000. The minimum spend for post-production only is $70,000 for features and $15,000 for TV projects.

Recent projects shot in Abu Dhabi include “War Machine” (2017), “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), “Furious 7” (2015), “Deliver Us From Evil” (2014) and “The Bourne Legacy” (2012).

“Women Who Score,” a 12-minute film by Sara Nesson, available online, documents a remarkable concert — and a huge dilemma.

The concert took place last summer in downtown L.A., where Grand Performances hosted a night of film and TV music by 20 composers — a diverse collection of classical- and jazz-influenced works. What was unusual was that all of the composers were women. And therein lies the dilemma.


The concert, performed by a 55-piece orchestra and 30-voice choir, showcased the work of a segment of the music community that, for sheer numbers, statistics show, ranks woefully behind every other creative field in filmmaking.

Nesson, whose “Poster Girl” was a 2011 Oscar nominee for documentary short, heard about the event from her “Poster Girl” composer, Miriam Cutler. Nesson remembers Cutler’s recording session as “the most incredible, euphoric experience of the entire process, hearing the music bring my film to life.”

So she set out to record the concert, sponsored by the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Canon Burbank and the Emergence program of North Hollywood-based The Camera Division donated cameras and lenses for cinematographer Eve Cohen, and Cohen and Nesson shot two days of rehearsals, backstage interviews and the concert itself, attended by 1,500 people.

“The whole industry is struggling right now with the lack of diversity,” Cutler says in “Women Who Score.” “Nowhere is it more evident than among composers for film. The smallest of percentages of women are involved in scoring films. That’s not because they’re not interested; it’s because they can’t get though the initial gatekeepers.”

Cinema Slate has acquired all North American rights to Rodrigo Reyes’ migrant worker drama “Lupe Under the Sun” and plans a winter theatrical release, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Lupe Under the Sun” is described by filmmakers as a neorealist parable of an aging migrant worker living in California who longs to return to his home country of Mexico. The film won the Best Narrative Feature Film award at the 2017 Brooklyn Film Festival and a Special Mention from the Los Angeles Film Festival World Fiction Jury.

The movie is a Grumpy Squared Production, produced by Su Kim, Inti Cordera, Justin Chin and Pablo Mondragon. The executive producer is Pau Brunet.

The film was made with the support of the Canon Filmmaker Award from Film Independent and the Mexican Film Institute.

“Lupe Under the Sun” was made with a cast of nonprofessional actors, real farmworkers and authentic locations.

Lupe, played by Daniel Muratalla, is a migrant laborer who harvests peaches in California’s Central Valley and is estranged from his family in Michoacan. His work days begin at 4 am and often leave him exhausted — with his only relief coming from a quiet love affair with fellow immigrant, played by Ana Muratalla, and in the laconic camaraderie of his colleagues.

“Lupe Under the Sun” is Reyes’s debut fiction feature, inspired by the life of his own grandfather. His previous project was the documentary “Purgatorio: A Journey Into the Heart of the Border.”


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