Israel Woos Foreign Film, TV Producers With $6.3 Million Grants

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To encourage foreign producers to shoot movies and television series in Jerusalem, the state and municipality are jointly providing up to 22 million shekels ($6.3 million) in grants this year and next for each qualifying foreign production in the city.

The first recipient will be U.S. network NBC, which will soon begin filming its “Dig” detective series in the capital at an investment of tens of millions of dollars in collaboration with Israel’s Keshet Media Group.

The series’ creators are Gideon Raff – whose previous work includes “Hatufim, on which” “Homeland” is based – and Emmy winner Tim Kring. The series centers around the exploits of an FBI agent in the Old City.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi has said filming “Dig” in the city would “legitimize the annexation of Jerusalem and the destruction of the authenticity and character of the occupied city.”

Cory Shields, executive vice president for communications for NBC Universal, responded by saying “there was no plan made to film the series in the City of David National Park or in the village of Silwan,” a highly contested area. “Furthermore, location scouting and planning will not begin until February 2014, and any decisions regarding possible production sites will be made with respect for all concerned parties.”

To qualify for grants from the program, which was announced last week, the plot must largely take place in the city, and recipients must spend at least around $7 million in Israel, including a minimum of around $1 million in Jerusalem. Grants will be limited to 25% of Israeli production expenses.

For the first season of filming, projects will receive around $4 million, to be provided by the ministries of finance, economy, public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, and tourism, as well as by the municipality. An additional grant worth up to around $2.3 million will be available for a second season.

The Old City. Lights, camera, Jerusalem. Credit: Tal Cohen

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