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Thu 2 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Lebanon to become production hub

With a new nine-studio complex, an equipment rental company called International Studios of Lebanon, is now seeking to bring the Lebanese production community together. Digital Studio reports.

I|~|isolbig.jpg|~|From left: Tony Nakhle, MD and Charles Saad, production manager of ISOL.|~|By 2007, Lebanon will boast a mini production city of its own. The US $22 million project, which will comprise a nine-studio complex, is being built by International Studios of Lebanon (ISOL), a Lebanese production firm. When complete, the project is expected to house all of the essentials to facilitate production including 10 studios as well as makeup rooms, set building facilities, costumes, equipment rental and talent hire as well as uplink facilities.

“Lebanon is known to be the seat of all Middle East talent. We, however, lack a good production facility,” says Tony Nakhle, managing director of ISOL. “That’s why we thought of this project. What’s unique about this is that we will not just be providing studio space but also other services like a make up room, high end MCRs and all other needs that production crew are likely to have.”

The new complex will be located in Bsus, which is 15 minutes away from Beirut.
Construction work for the project began in January 2006. The first phase, which is scheduled for completion in summer this year, will include a 1000m2 studio complex and two smaller studios of 500m2 each. Each of these studios is being designed with their own individual control rooms. At the end of phase II, which is scheduled for completion in December 2007, the complex is expected to have three 1000m2 studios, six 500m2 studios and one 1500m2 studio. If the project, which follows after the fashion of Dubai Studio City succeeds, ISOL will eventually expand its real estate to accommodate even more offices than the current planned 7000m2. For now, however, the focus is on designing the production facility and putting in place the right equipment. Most of the equipment for the project including LDK 400 cameras is being supplied by Thomson. ISOL will also be standardising on Snell and Wilcox switchers. Other suppliers have also been finalised. Clearcom will be supplying the intercom systems for the complex; the cabling will be from Argos and the tripods will be from Vinten.

ISOL is still finalising on a lighting manufacturer. The systems will be integrated locally. “Everything we are putting into our place will be HD-compatible,” says Nakhle. “But this project itself will take at least three years to complete. Although we have already dedicated about 7000m2 to offices, we do plan to expand the real estate in future. We also have ample land in this area to build hotels if there are requirements for it in the future. We are already looking at private parking space, security and letting out offices on a lease basis. This is also incidentally 100% Lebanese owned. There are no foreign investors,” adds Nakhle.

The company is currently not concerned about providing residential space within the premises as the area is already close to Beirut. “The only challenge is the red tape with regards to the facility, customs and so on but these things will be sorted out eventually,” says Nakhle.

ISOL will also have a fleet of OB vans ranging four to twelve cameras to supplement the project.

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