The Saudi film industry has taken off on a mission to become one of the world’s leading sectors with some of the most creative locals steering it to success. The market may not be untouched, but is definitely still unsaturated and has potential beyond what other already film-established countries do.
For example, the kingdom has been tapping into the Anime market, long dominated by Japan, with the Saudi-Japanese anime ‘The Journey’ which just so happened to premier in Tokyo mid-2021. About a month after that, Saudi Arabia participated in the renowned Cannes Film Festival in France with a pavilion of its own.
According to the multinational network of firms PwC, the film industry in the kingdom is “a billion dollar opportunity.” With an investment budget of no less than SAR 10 billion, it is expected to contribute no less than SAR 1 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in addition to creating thousands of job opportunities.
A place among the greats
Among one of the many initiatives the Ministry of Culture (MOC) has, and will implement to further the kingdom’s film industry is the Daw’ (“Light” in English) Film Competition. The MOC and TAM decided to collaborate to bring to fruition a competition that would provide financial, moral, and expert support to the winning filmmakers.
This initiative did not only aim to uncover local industry talents, but to also find hidden artistic gems in the form of films; ones that would enhance the industry as a whole within the kingdom and showcase the true creative abilities of Saudis. However, these talents needed a place to go to find all the detailed information as well as the registration form, meaning a website would be essential.
TAM designed the website in an easy-to-use, highly responsive manner to ensure anyone attempting to apply would find answers to all their questions before sending in their application. The competition was launched through the MOC’s personal Twitter account, influencer promotion, and an informational video which was uploaded to YouTube. Reaching the masses also meant using traditional marketing tools, such as emails and flyers.
Filmmakers then had approximately four months to put together their portfolios and look over any completed, or even incomplete, scripts or films they hoped to submit. Out of the 178,300 website visits, a total of 258 creatives were courageous enough to submit their work to be assessed and nominated for a chance to win the MOC’s support.
During the first filtration phase, a team assembled by TAM worked to make certain that a specific level of standards was kept throughout this initiative by keeping only the submissions that fit the criteria. This filtration process resulted in the acceptance of 162 proposals which would go on to be nominated for the Daw’ Film Competition award by a committee consisting of six members specializing in the filmmaking and scriptwriting fields.
All those nominated by the committee were eligible to move forward in the competition where they would be judged by a panel of five long-time cinematic experts. The judges were provided with a system that would allow them to view each and every submission, one after the other, and evaluate them once the viewing was complete.
"Praise be to God. The movie #TheSchool won among the films in the feature film category #Daw’_film_competition. Congratulations to all the creative winners who won. You have always been an inspiration.” - Ayman Jamal (Translated Twitter post)
At the end of the day, 30 winners across all five competition categories were selected to get either full or partial backing based on their needs. The winners were announced online using the MOC’s Twitter account to show the masses that they had a chance to achieve what they set out to and motivated them to do so.