Written by Tom Deehan on Mar 18, 2016. Posted in On Location / Production News

Kasbah Films doubles Morocco for Saudi Arabia in filming A Hologram for the King

Tom Hanks’ latest film, A Hologram for the King was shot on location in Morocco to recreate Saudi Arabia. Based on David Eggers’ novel of the same name, the film depicts unsuccessful businessman Alan Clay who travels to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to sell holographic conference technology to the King.

Due to the source material, the production was initially intended to film in Saudi Arabia but was denied filming permits by the country’s officials, forcing the project to seek out Morocco as an alternative. Morocco has a history of doubling for Middle Eastern territories, recently posing as Benghazi for Michael Bay’s latest film 13 Hours.

What makes A Hologram for the King unique however is its use of Moroccan locations not traditionally seen in cinema and of post-production effects to combine separate locations into a single shot.

Alan Clay’s business trip takes him to a city that is being developed in the heart of the desert. In the absence of such a location in Morocco, Production Service Company Kasbah Films had to get creative.

TLG spoke to Michael Dreher of Kasbah Films as he broke down the scenes featured in the film’s trailer (posted below): “[at 1:49] you can see a little cabin and a black tent which are in Laayoune, whereas the building in the background is in Rabat. There are other buildings on this ‘virtual’ construction site like the Hassan II Mosque and the development site Casa Marina, both of which are in Casablanca. Essentially four different elements from Laayoune, Casablanca and Rabat had to be shot over six weeks to combine it into one location.”

He continues: “this film is a puzzle… I’m convinced that it will have a huge impact on how people see Morocco.”

Dreher also explained that the highway that features in the film was shot in Laayoune, and required minimal lock-off procedures due to the low volume of traffic that the location sees on a daily basis.

A brand new 20% cash rebate was approved for Morocco in December 2015, requiring a minimum spend of MAD20 million (USD1 million) and at least 18 days of locally based filming. When asked about the rebate, Dreher noted that while it is too early to see the full impact that it will have on the country’s film industry, there had been an increase in the number of productions eyeing Morocco as a filming location.

A Hologram for the King will be released in cinemas throughout the UK, May 20th 2016.

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