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LBB On Location In Tel Aviv


City guide to Tel Aviv and interview with Gideon Amichay.

LBB On Location In Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv was voted third in “Lonely Planet’s” list of top cities in the world and dubbed the ‘Cultural European Centre of The Middle East’. Surprised? Why wouldn’t you be? Until recently, this stunning city was associated with military conflict and terrorist attacks but with current calm this metropolis by the sea is finally on the tourist map. 
Tel Aviv has the hustle and bustle of a busy city, juxtaposed with the beauty and calm of its Mediterranean coastline. Acclaimed for its 24 hour nightlife and late-night shopping it is often nicknamed ‘the city that never sleeps’. One of the most striking and least known features of this elegant municipality is its UNESCO site, aptly named ‘The White City’.  This is a collection of over 4,000 ‘Bauhaus’ or ‘International Style’ buildings built in city from the 1930s by German Jewish architects, who fled to the British Mandate of Palestine from Nazi occupied Europe. Tel Aviv has the largest number of buildings in this style of any other city in the world. As such the city is recognised as a cultural heritage site. 
The city of Tel Aviv was officially established in 1909 when several existing neighborhoods were combined. The idea for a Hebrew urban centre had long existed but it was only on the above date that 66 families from the Jewish outskirts of the ancient (and predominantly Arab) port city of Jaffa gathered to parcel out the land and begin development. The city was to be planned according to the rules of aesthetics and modern hygiene and was based on the ‘Garden City’ movement. The promised Hebrew city grew quickly, swallowing Jaffa up by 1950. Jewish people from all over the world have returned to their spiritual homeland of Israel. As such, Tel Aviv benefits from an extremely cosmopolitan population. The language, cuisine, style and culture of dozens of nations are alive and well here.
Meirav Vizer, manager of Ooops Films, claims: “Israel has nearly everything you need when coming to another country to shoot” and LBB couldn’t agree more. A vast range of landscapes, from archaeological ruins, desert, beautiful beaches and more make this a must for any location hunter. It is shocking how few have been tapping in to the wealth of filming locations. And it is truly jam-packed. At just 22,072km2, not much bigger than the US state of New Jersey, Israel is a very manageable size, making travel quick… especially when compared to the more popular winter shooting place of South Africa. Host to the Red, Dead and Mediterranean seas, Israel’s selection of coastal points is vast. Tel Aviv can exclusively give a director the perfect European summer complexion all year round with its beach-city combination. The climate isn’t too shabby either. It gets over 320 days of sunshine every year, averaging 22ºC annually. 
Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, is easily accessible and has huge potential to be a fascinating filming location. It offers thousands of years of history at your fingertips and sites such as underground tunnels, ruins, mountains, caves, synagogues, mosques, churches and much more.
Locations and climate aside, Israel is also host to a very strong production and agency infrastructure, with two big film studios located in Tel Aviv. 
LBB met up with some of the movers and shakers in the city to discuss shooting in Israel and what each of their companies is contributing to the market. You can read the full interviews at LBBOnline. One predominant sentiment was that whereas the recession has spiralled so many businesses into turmoil, Israel’s small market has done has seen a positive progression. 
Gideon Amichay, Creative Chairman, SAA Y&R Tel Avivsays: “Stronger creativity and the recession has been the best thing for our industry because people have had to be more adventurous and ambitious.”
Y&R have been the creative key behind some of the most innovative campaigns of today, implementing their motto that “innovation is always better than creativity”. According to Amichay, Y&R’s work stands out because: “it is groundbreaking with regards to exploring ways to communicate that can be translated beyond language and internationally.” 
‘WomanToGo’ Y&R’s most recent campaign, supports Amichay’s claims. In its first week it received news coverage from over 100 countries. This compelling campaign involved women being put ‘on sale’ in one of Tel Aviv’s busiest shopping malls to highlight the illegal trade, human trafficking. 
Gravity is a Tel Aviv-based creative, design, animation and special effects company with offices in the US. It’s CCO, Ilan Bouni, commented on the power of human equality by saying; "We make it our mission to maintain a personal touch with our clients wherever they originate from. This means we regularly fly to meetings and sets wherever they are held, and host clients in our office in Tel Aviv. During these visits to Israel, it is always amazing to see the change in perception that first time visitors experience as they arrive here and fall in love with the upbeat vibrant temperament of the city. After their first visit – clients just can't wait to come again". 
Gravity’s team is responsible for the creation of the new fantasy world, which featured in commercials for telecom company Pelephone. Bouni went on to say; “We created an alternate reality, which is somewhat fantastic, while still maintaining a sense of realism". The continuing series of extraordinary commercials includes more than 15 commercials today, each presenting another realm in the imaginative world, while always emphasising the leading motif  ‘Endless Opportunities – Dare to Dream’. 
Another Israeli company; Migrations which offers production services has produced work for the likes of Nike, Urban Outfitters, The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. Executive Producer, Dan Deutsch said; “the company acts as a hub for international productions wishing to shoot in Israel, for any audience of any genre on any format, for any purpose.” He adds that they are a “multi-lingual company with branches in both branding and film.” 
Ooops Films recently shot a desert-set commercial for telecommunications giant, Orange. Meirav Vizer, manager at Ooops highlights the luxuries that they are able to offer their clients; “We arrange a VIP service to all of our clients, so that once they land and the passenger goes outside the aircraft, a stewardess will wait with their name on a board and escort them to passport control and to meet the driver.” 
Lastly, but not leastly is production company, Rabel. Specialising in commercials, this Tev Aviv based company has, on average, produced more than 60 per year within Israel and abroad. Executive Producer, Dror Nimcowicz, said he is most proud of Rabel’s work on their Bank Leumi project: “It's an interactive TV Internet commercial…On the internet you can choose which way the plot will go. This was an interesting project to be involved in.”
LBBOnline fell in love with Tel Aviv, both as a tourist destination and a shooting location. Inspired by the commitment and passion of those working in the industry and with its easy transport to some of the most diverse landscapes. This once overlooked cauldron of creative opportunities needs to be utilised more by the international film market. Scenes from films such as ‘Batman Forever’, ‘Rambo 3’ and ‘You Don’t Mess With The Zohan’ were filmed in Israel and with the wealth of talent, landscapes, ease and skills, there is so much more room for the production of any type of media here, whether it be a commercial, feature film, documentary or more. 
Tel Aviv At A Glance
Tel Aviv is positioned on the west, Mediterranean coast of Israel. It is the second largest city in the country after the capital, Jerusalem. Israel is in Western Asia and borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east and Egypt in the southwest. 
Time Zone
GMT+2. 2 hours ahead of London, 7 hours ahead of New York, 10 hours ahead Los Angeles, 7 hours behind Sydney, 2.5 hours behind Mumbai, 5 hours behind Hong Kong, 1 hour behind Moscow, 6 hours ahead of Buenos Aires, 1 hour ahead of Cape Town and 6 hours ahead of Tokyo. 
New Israeli Shekel (NIS). Currency conversion for October 2011: 1 Shekels = ¥21.02 = £0.17 = $0.27 = €0.20 
Tel Aviv has a Mediterranean climate with hot, humid summers and with mild, rainy winters. The average summer temperature is 26°C and it has approximately 320 days of sunshine per year. On average there are 14 hours of sunlight in the summer and 10 hours in the winter.  
Peak Season
Shooting can take place all year round because there are no real weather restrictions. However, certain locations are easier to shoot at certain times, for example, Ben Gurion Airport will not allow filming to take place during July and August due to the summer holiday rush. 
Recently Shot on Location
Some scenes from ‘You Don’t Mess With The Zohan’ starring Adam Sandler were shot in Tel Aviv. Also, half of an episode of Ricky Gervais’ ‘An Idiot Abroad’ was based in Israel. WomanToGo through Y&R, Pelephone via Gravity, Orange through Ooops TV
Getting There & Getting Around 
International flights to and from Israel go through Ben Gurion Airport, which is situated approximately 20 minutes drive from Tel Aviv. Flights from London take about 4.5 hours, 10.5 from New York and around 4 hours from most European cities. There is a train service from the airport straight through to Tel Aviv’s Northern train station that takes 20 minutes and runs several times per hour. 
In Tel Aviv, the Dan bus company runs from 5am until midnight and links the south of the city to the north. Bus company, ‘Egged’, provides a national bus network, the second largest in the world, however it is fairly difficult to pre-arrange cross-country bus journeys. Another popular method of transport is the ‘monit sherut’ or ‘service taxi’. They follow a set route but can be flagged at any point of the journey and can be much quicker than a regular bus. 
However, if you wish to be adventurous, Israel is considered to be one of the easiest places to hitchhike in the world!
The list is endless; archaeological ruins, beaches on three different seas, Galilee, cities, desert locations, picturesque churches, mountains, bustling markets and more. It really does have the potential to be used for almost anything.
Tourism Infrastructure
Often called the ‘city that never sleeps’ Tel Aviv welcomes over 1.6 million tourists annually. It has an endless array of hotels and is widely known for its range of food options. As well as offering Israeli cuisine there are over 100 sushi restaurants,Italian cuisine that has been described as ‘the best outside of Italy’ and a string of other fusion eateries. It is known for its 24-hour nightlife, so if you fancy a tipple or twelve then go and treat yourself. Remember to check LBB’s Tel Aviv section for local recommendations on where to eat, drink and sleep.
Why Shoot There?
In Israel as a whole there is a huge range of possible settings, as listed above. In Tel Aviv there are top crews and production companies available to capture most of your shooting time within Israel. As Meirav Vizer, manager of Ooops Films, said “Israel has nearly everything you need when coming to another country to shoot.”  


‏Q&A with Gideon Amichay, Chief Creative Officer at Y&R

‏Tell us a bit about your role?

‏As Chief Creative Officer, my job is to provide the right climate for creativity [and] to make sure my creatives know that anything is possible. I make an environment that generates ideas and remove the bad ideas, assisting in the production of the good ones. ‏The way people think and how they can break the mold and not follow the crowd inspires me. I started off as a cartoon artist and then got offered a job as a creative director and I see a lot of similarities between the two. It is about the client seeing within the first second if they like the work, as well trends constantly changing and ways to tell stories in an inspiring way.

Which aspects of your country’s culture stand out in the advertising? Is there a genre of work that your city is known for?

‏The work done at Y&R stands out because it is groundbreaking with regards to exploring ways to communicate that can be translated beyond language and internationally. The campaign in Rabin Square before Rosh Hashanah last year was innovative and had such an impact on the whole country and beyond.

Are there any issues you often come up against working on creative in your country?

‏With it being a small market, the recession has just made for more creative ideas to be pushed, which is a good thing.

‏Are the majority of the agencies in your city part of global networks?

‏Whereas most agencies in Israel are within the Israeli market, YR is a global brand. 

‏Is your agency international in outlook or is most of your work specific to your country?

‏Our work is made for the market in Tel Aviv, but because of its quality it has outreach to the international market on its own merit. It is not specifically targeted to the global market but becomes such and there are collaborations with other countries and markets when appropriate.

Is it important to the work you do at your agency that a local director shoot the spot in order to capture subtle cultural nuances?

‏It is important that the right director for the job does the work. Generally speaking if it is an Israeli job then the turnover is very fast and so familiarity of the director and company is important to assure the client is happy with the job, however on international work or a job where there is specifically something to be discovered it is a matter of finding the right director for the job.

‏What value do you put on winning awards? And which are more important, awards for creativity or effectiveness?

‏They go hand in hand. If a creative wants to work with me, I could ask what they want in 5 years and if they say: “I want to win an award” then I cannot hire them. Our work is not about winning the awards, It is about changing the world. The awards are a reflection of the work we do. They, go hand in hand with the effectiveness of a campaign alongside the creativity, working together.

‏What do you look for when hiring for your agency?

‏I look for people who want to change the world and who have ideas that break the mold.

‏Does a recession call for stronger creativity to counter lower budgets? Have you seen that during this recent economic downturn?

‏Stronger creativity and the recession has been the best thing for our industry because people have had to be more adventurous and ambitious with their ideas and not just rely on their budgets.

 Ilan Bouni – CCO at Gravity

What makes Gravity unique?

We are an international creative, design, animation and effects company, with two centres, situated in Tel Aviv and New York City. The group's operations through its LA and Connecticut branches are also handled in New York.  

With Gravity’s distinctive ‘east meets west’ position, with Israel between Europe and Asia, and all the way up to the hectic streets of Manhattan, we enjoy both eastern and western influences and sources of inspiration. We bring a unique flavour to each project and easily bridge over cultural differences whilst maintaining the highest standards. 

So in a true global sense, our clients originate from all continents, our creative team arrive to distinct locations in the most exotic sites across the globe, and our offices work in collaboration in order to share resources and creative ideas. Our clients range from producers of feature films and episodic television to agencies and creators of emerging media and marketing worlds. The results are commercials and advertising content, where we facilitate brands to drive meaningful, dynamic messaging and imagery.  

Gravity is responsible for the creation of a variety of new, innovative worlds that become very successful for our clients, such as the recent creation of the imaginative world for the telecom company Pelephone, where we conceived a new reality and continued to develop it through a series of 15 commercials. 

We also created fantasy worlds for Yoplait’s dairy delight for infants, which are based on a stylized paper reality, utilizing cardboard and paper characters with live action faces of kids. The visual translation of the nonsensical childish rhymes constructed a strong comical identity complementing the name of the product which is based on combination of the words ‘nonsense’ and ‘rhymes’.


What kit are you running in your facility?

We have a strong belief in human equity, and we make it our mission to preserve the ‘boutique-ish’ approach and maintain a personal touch with our clients. Our facility includes an art & design studio, an animation studio, editing suites, and VFX and compositing suites. We are able to handle and control the entire post production process from start to finish, including original music composting.

Per our preferred tools, we use Autodesk Maya for most 3D work and Autodesk Flame as our main compositing platform. We also use Nuke, Fusion, After Effects and Flash according to the task we are facing and try to keep our pipeline flexible enough to be able to incorporate new tools and methods as they are developed, as well as answer each project’s special needs. 

Also, we have established a dedicated task force to address the growing interest in 3D Stereoscopic commercials, despite them still not commonly supported in homes. In the past year we created several Stereoscopic commercials, which aired on cinemas, TV and on the Internet. 

What is the typical length of a TV spot? Is there a hero 60” with cutdowns?

We work with formats ranging from 45-60 seconds commercials, plus cut downs, to 30 seconds format for commercials (with cut downs to:15 and :10). This obviously depends on the market we are aiming for at that time.

Are your clients mainly production companies or agencies?

We enjoy the diversity of the clients we attract, such as advertising agencies, production companies, gaming companies and marketers. We may gain new projects by securing international or local bids or are approached by companies who came across our work and handpicked us. 

A recent example of a ''walking'' client was the Swiss dairy company Emmi. This on going series of commercials is based on our CG design and revival of typical Swiss forest animals, including marmots, squirrels, birds and butterflies in a forest environment. They were designed realistically but with an added twist, and then incorporated into live footage that was shot in a forest in Switzerland. It was given the same “treatment”, resulting in a fairytale look and feel.

Which award shows and events does your company participate in?

We take active part in international events and festivals. Recent years’ achievements include - Cannes Lions, Epica, One Show, New York Festival, SIGGRAPH , Telly and Mobius.  In same spirit, we will be participating in this year's Cannes Lions. 

Meirav Vizer – Manager @ Ooops Films

Can you tell us about your city and why people should come to shoot?

Tel Aviv has nearly everything you need when traveling to another country to shoot, such as beaches, very nice urban places and streets, parks and hi-tech compounds. It also has a big selection of excellent restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs. It is a 24/7 city, which makes you want to stay there. This is the main reason Tel Aviv was chosen by the Time Out magazine as one of the best cities in the world.

Is there a production association in your city and are you a member?

We have a producer association (Israel Film and TV Producers Association, one for commercial producers and one for feature film producers.

What, if any, safety issues should foreign productions shooting in your country be aware of? 

There are no special safety issues that foreign productions should be aware of.

How varied and adaptable are your locations? And how far would someone need to travel to get to them? 

Israel is a small country. Our locations will be between half hour to 2.5 hours drive from Tel Aviv. Eilat will be a one-hour flight from Tel Aviv or 3.5 to 4 hours drive from Tel Aviv to Eilat, which is as far as you can go.

Does your region have film studios? Is your region known for its locations or studios?

It has two big film studios. Our region is known mainly for the historical locations such as Jerusalem, Dead Sea, and Sea of Galilee, but also for our lovely beaches, for example the Red Sea and diving resort of Eilat. Also the Orange orchards, Wheat fields, agriculture and farms.

How easy is it to crew up locally? Is there any shortage of talented staff? How do you handle this? 

All crew is available locally. Everyone works as freelance, and once a job is confirmed we will call our crew to crew up. 

What jobs have you worked on recently? 

Tymbark – Pro Production – JAREK. Kvas – Action films – Oksana Gil. Wasa – Alexia Gamba Italy.

What is the proximity of airports to you and how does that work for those flying internationally? 

Ben Gurion Airport is about 30 minutes to 40 minutes drive from Tel Aviv and all international flights depart from and arrive to it. There are daily flights to almost all European, American and Asian locations. 

We arrange a VIP service for all our clients, so once the aircraft has landed and the passenger goes outside the air craft, a stewardess will wait with his/her name on a board and escort him/her to the passport control and then to the arrival hall to meet the production driver and car.

Where does the majority of your work come from?

Poland, Russia, Italy, Ukraine. 

Is casting fairly easy to look after?

Yes, there are a few casting directors, and yes there are a variety of languages and nationalities.

Ooops can manage all of your travel arrangements and provide a production office. 

Dror Nimcowicz – Executive Producer @ Rabel

Tell us a bit about your company and what makes it unique?

We are a production company specialising in commercials and we have a documentary and feature film division. Director, Nirit Yaron, and producer, Amit Dekel, own the company. 

Rabel produces more than 60 commercials a year, both in Israel and overseas, for Israel's largest advertisers and advertising companies. We are also successful in developing content for TV series, producing the documentary series "Couplehood" for which Keshet has already acquired the rights for the second season.

What makes it unique is that we produce in many countries by which it comes to learn and see the process of productions in other countries with different mentality and different work attics and we try and pick from each country the best and import it into our way of service.

How challenging is it to develop a young director in your country? 

As usual it is very hard to push a young talent in the commercial market, especially in Israel because it is such a small market. As always the clients and agencies are conservative and are hesitant to put a big budget on a young director with little experience. At the same time, if you look 5 years backwards and what we have today, we have about 5 strong new directors that were not in the market 5 years ago.

Is it important that a local director shoot a spot for broadcast in your country in order to capture cultural nuances and be sensitive to any issues that might offend? 

Generally the answer is yes. To deal with local culture, language and humour it is better to have a local Director. But for scripts with international ideas, foreign directors can direct them.

Do you find other territories calling upon your directors? 

Yes, Israeli directors have been working in foreign territories for the past 10 years. 

Are production companies in your country doing work directly with the client and bypassing the agency? 

Yes. Many big clients have signed agreements directly with production companies in Israel. It's not instead of working with the agencies, but the production company is more involved in the process. Also, a direct contract that the client is signing with the production company saves them money on the production process.

What is the spot that your company worked on that you are most proud of from the past year or so? Tell us about the shoot. 

The Bank Leumi project. It's an interactive TV Internet commercial, which runs on the Internet for about 3 minutes and on TV for one minute. On the Internet you can choose which way the plot will go. This was an interesting project to be involved in the development and producing.

How varied and adaptable are your locations? Do you have a peak shooting season? 

Basically we shoot all year round. There are no winter or weather limitations. Of course there are locations that are easier to shoot in the curtain period of the year, for example, Israeli airport will not allow shooting during July and August due to the summer holidays volume of work. 



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