Paul Baker is the executive director of twofour54′s film & TV services, which delivers production, post-production, media asset management and broadcast facilities to production companies, producers and broadcasters across the region and worldwide. In his role, Paul is responsible for overseeing operations and ongoing development of this market leading service. Paul brings a wealth of international experience to the role, having worked for Pinewood Shepperton PLC TV and Film production studios in addition to holding commercial roles within the media sector, including with News Corporation and Pearson.
Prior to joining twofour54 film & TV services, Paul Baker worked as the Executive Vice President of Pinewood USA Incorporated, the Los Angeles based subsidiary of Pinewood Shepperton PLC. Before establishing the US office Paul was based in the UK, playing a leading role in strategy development focused on large-scale TV growth, financing initiatives and attracting inward investment from Hollywood Majors. Paul holds an MBA from Henley Business School, where he majored in leadership and entrepreneurship. Baker spoke to indianshowbiz.com during his recent visit to Mumbai – twofour54 and Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) hosted a gathering for India’s production executives in Mumbai last night to celebrate the success of Bollywood blockbuster Dishoom. The event was attended by the film’s producer, Sajid Nadiadwala, along with guests of honour Rohit Dhawan, Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez from Dishoom; and Kulmeet Makkar, the Chief Executive Officer of The Film & Television Producers Guild of India. Excerpts from the interview…
You have established a niche in the global film business within a short span of time. How did you achieve it and what’s the way forward?
In film production, location is the fundamental of the economics and Indian producers are well aware and conscious of its importance in the overall budget of the film. Twofour54 and Abu Dhabi Film Commission have always been trustworthy & transparent and that’s why we have made rapid strides from 2013 till date. Many producers have positively taken advantage of the incentive. Recently we have been focusing on building infrastructure, hardware, technological and resource support. We are now gearing up for Version 2.0 or Phase 2 of our offerings wherein we shall extend all kinds of vendor service-solutions support to producers shooting here. Several directors have their own creative vision and things may change overnight in terms of their demands – and we have respected their vision and offered support quickly for a new shoot at a new location with new sets. We are also conscious that the incentive shouldn’t get offset by other costs or delays in other requirements – for example transportation or lighting or equipment. We have recently initiated a partnership with Light N Light to ensure that the best-in-class lighting equipment and solutions are available to producers shooting in Abu Dhabi. In March 2016, Bollywood lighting specialists, Light N Light, joined the twofour54 media campus after choosing Abu Dhabi as the location for their expansion into the Middle East, further enhancing the Emirate’s industry infrastructure. Our focus is not on marketing one-offs but solutions & services for the global entertainment business.
How are you tapping new niche opportunities such as regional film market in India?
Regional film market in India is a very important addressable constituent of our prospective target market. We are aware that Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam films are becoming bigger and bigger. We have been building relationships with south Indian producers and very soon you will hear some major announcements. We have also been planning tours/ visits for producers from all across the world. Our promotional strategy is very direct and one-to-one resulting in positive buzz and word-of-mouth. We continue to engage producers.
How are you constantly aligning yourself to ever changing aspirations of producers?
Today, producers are not just looking at the Next Big Location but at a holistic picture as they have to make the movie project quickly, viable and profitable. I still feel that we have been successful till now but are still in the early stages of the evolutionary curve. We have tasted success of more than 25 major post productions in the last 3 years but there is more to come. We are proud to host two of the top grossing Hollywood films in recent times (Star Wars – The Force Awakens and Fast & Furious 7) but we are still firmly grounded. Abu Dhabi is the most modern city of the distant futurebut in addition to cityscapes, we have also built Arabic, Moroccan and Indian looking traditional sets here too. The architecture is incredible and the milieu can suit a sci-fi as well as a rustic set. We want to ensure that all our stakeholders benefit – Government or Hollywood or Indian film makers. The positive spinoff of attracting film productions is the additional business to the economy in terms of hotels, restaurants, shopping, airline and tourism. India has good relationships with Abu Dhabi as well as the UAE as a whole. We work together on all fronts to create features, advantages and benefits to all stakeholders. We have been promoting skill and talent from India for international film projects being shot in Abu Dhabi. We, in Abu Dhabi, are proud to tell international film producers that the finest world class crew is just 3 hours away in India. And we have a learnt a lot from Indians and their enterprise and entrepreneurship. Indian producers are always looking for cost efficiencies and simplistic solutions. The possibilities are endless. Our focus is very clear – transcend from location to a complete production destination. We want to emulate the successes of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Morocco and Mexico amongst others. Abu Dhabi offers much more. Eventually, we see co-productions and film financing funds between India and Abu Dhabi.
What were the key takeaways from Dishoom example?
Abu Dhabi is an ideal location for Indian productions, given its close proximity, strong transport links, diverse filming locations and the production expertise available through twofour54. Abu Dhabi has successfully served as the backdrop for several Bollywood films, most recently Dishoom, which filmed at 26 locations in the city over 38 filming days. This followed successful shoots in 2014 with Baby and Bang Bang! where twofour54 provided production services and as a result built up considerable understanding of the unique Bollywood format. While visiting the Dishoom set in Abu Dhabi, Sajid Nadiadwala, whose family have been in the industry for 60 years, commented that Abu Dhabi was a very film-friendly place and provided a great experience for his director, actors and producers. Abu Dhabi has been steadily building its film and television production infrastructure to enable the Emirate to attract and service large scale productions as well as more niche projects. twofour54 offers six studios as well as post production facilities unmatched anywhere else in the region. We have very good relationships with young talented filmmakers like Rohit Dhawan. As Varun Dhawan said – Abu Dhabi is a character in the film Dishoom. They used a military chopper between skyscrapers, drove convertibles at 200 miles per hour and blew up speedboats in the middle of the ocean – all these can only happen in Abu Dhabi. Varun, who had been here during his childhood but worked here on a shoot for the first time only during Dishoom, had several fond memories. For instance, he mentioned that Abu Dhabi is the only place in the world where the ocean and desert are within a distance of each other. The Dishoom cast really looked as if they enjoyed every moment during the making of the film – and the film reflects their joy. We value their support and recognition. And similarly, we want to create value for all filmmakers and producers.
More information about twofour54 Abu Dhabi
who are we?
twofour54 Abu Dhabi is a tax-free media zone located at the heart of one of the fastest growing media markets in the world with attractive economic benefits for companies, such as an easy licensing and business set-up services, 100% company ownership in a stable, tax-free environment. A place where some of the biggest names in the industry call home and the perfect location for your business, big or small, to thrive and prosper.
what we can offer you
Named after the geographical co-ordinates of Abu Dhabi (24° North, 54° East), twofour54 is a unique media zone dedicated to helping like-minded companies and professionals take full advantage of the Middle East & North Africa region’s current and future offerings in media sector.
Our mission is to nurture media businesses and professionals by means of a fully integrated and supportive tax-free ecosystem that delivers world-class production services and talent development, ensuring the growth and sustainability of the region’s media industry.
We are more than just a real estate offering. Our support ranges from specialist workspace to unique tools and support to help businesses thrive and prosper. Here’s why we are different.
benefits of setting up at twofour54 Abu Dhabi
twofour54 is a tax-free media free zone located at the heart of one of the fastest growing media markets in the world with attractive economic benefits for companies such as an easy licensing and business set-up services, 100% company ownership in a stable, tax-free environment.
twofour54 is a place where some of the biggest names in the industry call home and the perfect location for your business, big or small, to thrive and prosper.
Isn’t it time you capitalised on the opportunity?
We are more than just a real estate offering. At twofour54 we offer media organisations a complete range of services that help drive your business forward.
Here’s why we are different:
100% company ownership in a stable, tax-free environment with no restrictions on capital movements
0% import tariffs
100% exemption from personal income tax
100% exemption from corporate taxes
30% cash rebate on international film and TV production spend
Convenience and Cost Efficiency
No bureaucracy and transparent licensing with Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi and quick and easy set-up with twofour54 government & travel services which offers government relations and visa processing for your business and staff
Highly cost effective office space solutions for your business needs and size
No security deposit per employee visa required
No minimum share capital requirements for the entity to be registered in twofour54
Hassle free company registration, laws and legal framework
On-site vocational media training academy offering media related courses as well as tailored training solutions for your organisation
World-class studio production and post-production facilities supported by technical staff, all available for hire during your productions
Status of free zone with ability to bid, contract and receive payments directly with UAE government entities
Strong IP protection framework
Critical mass of sector knowledge, talent and large pool of freelancers
State-of-the-art infrastructure, uplink and fiber connectivity to the buildings
twofour54 Briefing Room – a first-of-its-kind online portal and new business tool where twofour54 partners access to hundreds of business brief and exclusive access to Abu Dhabi Government tender briefs which shortens the traditional tender process.
Safe, stable and friendly working environment
Centrally located at the crossroads of the Middle East, European and Asian markets, with a strong global logistics and transport network. Only 5 hours from 25% of the world’s population
Proximity to Downtown Abu Dhabi, International Airports, Port, Yas Island; just 50 minutes away from Dubai.
Networking and Business Opportunities
Unique campus environment with facilitated business networking
Quarterly networking events with partners and stakeholders in Abu Dhabi
Introductions and referrals facilitated to other twofour54 partners
Access to industry news and market research by twofour54
Access to other business facilitation services such as on-campus seminars and roadshows etc.
Inclusion in twofour54 marketing and promotion campaigns across Abu Dhabi, the region and global campaigns.
A dedicated Client Relationship team member assigned to your company for the span of your presence in twofour54
twofour54 Briefing Room – a first-of-its-kind online portal and new business tool where twofour54 partners access to hundreds of business brief and exclusive access to Abu Dhabi Government tender briefs which shortens the traditional tender process