Written by Murray Ashton on Dec 27, 2011. Posted in Interviews

Filming in Israel with Location Manager Danny Bem Menachem

Danny started in the industry in special effects back in 1963. He has been a Gaffer, a Lighting Director, Line Producer and Producer, and now works regularly as a Unit Production Manager and Location Manager.

He has worked on hundreds of productions including action classics The Delta Force, Circle of Iron, Rambo III and Red Scorpion.

Tell me about Israel.

Israel is 520 km from north to south, 100 km at its widest point and just 22 km at its narrowest. One of the big advantages of filming here is that you have an extreme range of locations packed together. You can find everything you need within a couple of hours' drive from Tel Aviv.

There are so many location possibilities, from the dry desert to skyscapers and everything in between. Seas, beaches, rivers, mountains, forests, fields, European and high-tech cities, luna-parks and trains. We are also famous for our four different phytogeographic regions.

We have most professional crew, and a high standard of equipment and post-production houses. Israelis are well known as gadget-seekers and for being high-tech, so we have all the digital facilities and high-end equipment.

We are basically a nation of immigrants so casting is easy - Europeans, Asian, African, Arab, models, extras, dancers, yogas; just choose.

What locations are most commonly used by film and TV crews when they film in Israel?

The coast and desert, and generally sunny locations in the European winter. Our modern and old-style European architecture, fields, rivers, parks and forests are always popular.

Historical and religious films and commercials shoot here a lot to make use of Jerusalem, Akko City, one of the cave complexes in the world, and the Sea of Galilee.

What are the more unusual locations that our readers wouldn't necessarily associate with Israel?

People often forget that we have extremely high-tech, modern cities. But our truly unique locations are the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert, the Dead Sea and its salt fields, and the Red Sea coral reefs next to Eilat.

What has been your most difficult location assignment to date and why?

Jerusalem; with every square foot you have the sensitivities of five religions to take into consideration.

What types of production do you work on the most?

I work in the film and commercial industry. The last international movie I was involved in was The Debt, starring Helen Mirren and directed by John Madden.

Is there anything else you would like to share about filming in israel?

During the day drink a lot of water and during the evening drink whatever you're being offered.

Which are the best airports to use to film in Israel and who flies there?

Ben Gurion International is a very busy airport and is considered the best in the Middle East.

Be honest with security representatives. Ask a local production company to prepare your papers and to make sure that someone is there to meet you.

It's quite easy to film in airports and ports in Israel.

What are the most film-crew-friendly hotels in Israel and where are the best wrap party venues?

All the big and boutique hotels on the coast in Tel Aviv can be recommended. Tel Aviv is a party city full of bars and clubs for every style of wrap party you could imagine.

The better the wrap party, the less you remember.

There are usually set costs for Public Liability cover for film units and costs for insuring locations. Can you tell us about location insurance and possibly examples of costs in Israel?

It's usually covered by the production company in the base insurance. In special locations, like airports, requesting special insurance with specific requirements depends on the amount of crew and so on.

What do you do with your time off and what would you recommend crew and cast do to have fun and relax in Israel?

My beloved hobby is mountain-biking. Tel Aviv is a small, secure and lively city. It's easy to navigate even if it's your first time there.

Just go out and have fun. Restaurants, bars, parties, museums, local authentic markets, beaches and old city cafes, Jaffa port, the new marina; enjoy!

Thank you.

Click here to email Danny.

Images courtesy of Ooops Films.

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