Dutch production house launches office in Dubai

Television production house Caramel Pictures is to open up its studios to advertising agencies in the Middle East.

The Amsterdam-based firm, which also has offices in London and Miami, is to launch in Dubai as it seeks to challenge local TV commercial producers for work.

Mark Hickmott, executive producer for Caramel Pictures, was in Dubai last week to meet with agencies. He told Campaign that he expected to have at least three commercials in the bag by the end of the year.

"We want to get in on the ground floor of an industry that I feel is blossoming. It is a new frontier and it has very exciting potential. We feel that there is a lot of opportunity here," said Hickmott.

Caramel Pictures has six directors on its books, including Will van der Vlugt, who founded the company and has two Gold Cannes Lions and a New York Festival Grand Prix to his name. Also in the Caramel fold are South African fashion photographer Greg Francois and Cannes Gold winner Ronald Koetzier.

Caramel Pictures was founded 20 years ago in the Netherlands. Its three studios and editing suites are based in Amsterdam. Hickmott and one other person will initially staff the Dubai office.

"As we own our own equipment, we can be incredibly competitive when it comes to price. Rather than go to Beirut, Amsterdam is an exciting alternative for agencies," he said. "We can give the best value for money and the best creative freedom."

Beirut and Dubai are the hubs of TV production in the Middle East, with a handful of companies challenging for agency business. Among the best known are Filmworks, Signature Productions and The Talkies, which all have offices in both cities.

"Those firms are good but I believe we can offer more challenging creative work," said Hickmott. "I think our competition is stiff. It won't be a walkover. But what we have to offer is six incredibly talented European directors and the infrastructure of an established company.

"I would like to have shot two or three commercials by the end of this year. What we have got to offer clients here is something that they will want to buy."

Caramel Pictures was previously known as Will Van der Vlugt Productions, but the name changed to Caramel Pictures when he launched the Miami office in 2004. Dubai is the company's fourth hub.

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