Neom, the Saudi Arabian region on the Red Sea that is aiming to become a major film and TV production hub, has forged a strategic partnership with the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) to set up training programs for young Saudi content creators.
The full-service Saudi production hub, which is becoming a major driver of the kingdom’s effort to build a film and TV industry almost from scratch, will be hosting courses held by The Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), South Korea‘s top national film school. The partnership will offer a wide range of types of training comprising workshops and masterclasses pertaining to key industry aspects such as production, direction, screenwriting, cinematography and sound design.
The program will kick off early next year with a directing masterclass and workshop conducted at the Neon media hub, which boasts the largest studio facility in the region.
After Saudi Arabia lifted its ban on cinema in late 2017 and reopened movie theaters in 2018, the first Korean film release in Saudi cinemas was musical road movie “The Box” in 2021. Since then, Korean features, particularly event films by bands such as BTS and Blackpink, have become popular with Saudi audiences. The kingdom has a population of roughly 32 million, 63% of which are under 30.
“Leveraging South Korea’s remarkable achievements in the global film arena, and the invaluable insights this partnership offers, holds immense potential to raise production standards, accelerate ecosystem development, broaden international market reach, nurture talent, facilitate co-productions and usher in a new era of storytelling,” said Wayne Borg, managing director of media Industries, entertainment and culture at Neom in a statement. “This collaboration perfectly aligns with our dedication to nurturing talent as a cornerstone of our strategic vision, aiming to cultivate a diverse and highly skilled workforce.”
Commented Park Ki-yong, chair of KOFIC: “We are delighted to partner with Neom in nurturing Saudi filmmakers for the future of the world cinema.”
KAFA’s presence in Saudi Arabia in 2024 will mark its third international collaboration, following a training program established in Kazakhstan in 2022 and one in Vietnam earlier this year.