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Iraq

Iraq Film & Photography Production Services & Camera Crews

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Iraq? Contact us for trusted fixers, producers, directors, DoPs, videographers, photographers, and full shooting crews tailored for the specific needs of your project.

Filming in Iraq

For an introduction to shooting in Iraq see below notes on film locations, permits, when to shoot, unique local stories, costs, tax incentives, crews, talent, equipment, communications, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits for filming, transport, film-friendly accommodation, and safety advice.

Iraq Film Locations

The cradle of civilisation, Iraq was the birthplace of empires including the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Iraq mainly consists of desert with the fertile Euphrates and Tigris rivers running north to south.

Iraq has extensive oil and gas facilities. Agricultural film locations include wheat and barley fields. Agriculture is concentrated around the northeast as well as the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The country has hosted productions including Fair Game (2010), and The Exorcist (1973).

Iraq is divided into the following governorates: Al Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Al-Qādisiyyah, Diyala, Duhok, Erbil, Halabja, Karbala, Kirkuk, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Nineveh, Saladin, Sulaymaniyah, and Wasit.

Locations of particular interest to filmmakers and photographers include:

Baghdad

Baghdad is the largest city and capital. The Iraq Museum houses important Mesopotamian, Babylonian, and Persian civilisation artefacts. Other Baghdad film location of note include Abbasid Palace, Republican Palace, Perfume Palace, Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, Umm al-Qura Mosque, Haydar-Khana Mosque, Al-Rahman Mosque, Al-Shaheed Monument, Victory Arch, Tahrir Square, Baghdad Bazaars, Baghdadi Museum, Sadr City, The Green Zone, Al-Zawraa amusement park. and the Tigris river. The Umm al-Qura Mosque houses a Quran written in Saddam Hussein’s blood.

Shia Dominated South

The ancient ruins of Babylon are located in this area.

The Neo-Sumerian city of Ur, is known for the Great Ziggurat of Ur, Royal Mausolea, and Palace of Ur-Nammu.

The Arch of Ctesiphon is a Persian era ruin.

Karbala is known for Imam Husayn Shrine, Al-Abbas Shrine, and Memory Islam Museum. Al-Ukhaidir Fortress is located outside of Karbala.

Najaf is known for Imam Ali Holy Shrine, and Wadi us-Salaam which is the largest cemetery in the world.

Basra is the largest city in the region.

Majnoon Field is one of the world’s largest oil fields.

The Tigris-Euphrates marshlands are home to the Madan people (Marsh Arabs) who once lived in traditional Mudhif houses made of reeds.

Sunni Dominated West

Much of western Iraq is a desert landscape.

Mosul is a major city in northern Iraq. The ruins of the Assyrian city of Nineveh are located  in Mosul.

The cities of Ramadi, Fallujah, and Tikrit are located in this area.

The Parthian ruins of Hatra, which featured in The Exorcist (1973), were destroyed by ISIS.

Ashur is the former capital of the Assyrian Empire.

Samarra ruins of the Abbasid Empire include the Great Mosque of Samarra Minaret.

The Great Mosque of Kufa is another location of note.

Iraqi Kurdistan 

Iraqi Kurdistan is the beautiful mountainous region located in the north of Iraq.

This is the safest region of Iraq for filming. Erbil is the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The city is known for the Citadel of Erbil, Sami Abdul Rahman Park, Erbil Civilization Museum, and Jalil Khiat Mosque.

Amna Suraka Prison in Sulaymaniyah is a Saddam Hussein era torture prison which is now a war crimes museum.

Lake Dukan is the largest lake in Iraq.

Rawanduz Gorge is a spectacular location.

Sherwana Castle is an Ottoman era structure.

Lalish Temple is a holy site for the Yazidi people.

Shanidar Cave is a Neanderthal archaeological site located on Bradost Mountain.

The rugged Qandil Mountains are part of the Zagros mountain range.

The Sinjar Mountains are sacred to the Yazidi people.

Mar Mattai monastery is nestled on the side of Mount Alfaf.

Rabban Hormizd Monastery is built into the side of a mountain.

Ahmad Awa Waterfall is a beautiful location.

Kirkuk is known for the Kirkuk Citadel, and the Qishla of Kirkuk.

Iraq Film Location Permits

Ease and cost of permitting all depends on the locations you’re looking to film. Permitting rules are known to change frequently. Most permits are arranged on the local level but permission from multiple authorities and community leaders may be required. Allow plenty of lead time and be prepared to be flexible and move quickly as arrangements are often last minute and subject to changes. Please contact us for location specific information.

When To Shoot?

Dry, hot, cloudless summers from July to August. Mild to cool winters from December to March. The northern mountain region experiences cold winters with occasional heavy snow falls. Visibility is very low during the heavy dust storms from April to June and again from September through November. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

The Arbaʽeen Pilgrimage is the world’s largest annual public gathering held annually with Shiite pilgrims walking to Karbala. Shiite Muslims observe Ashura with events including self flagellation. Ramadan is observed widely with many services closed during this period. Dates change depending on the Islamic calendar.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Iraq.

Unique Local Stories

Brands are looking for local stories that match their brand narrative. Our local teams are a great lead for sourcing those unique stories and characters.

If you are looking for stories for your next shoot, send us your brief and we will pitch you ideas.

If you have a unique story you would like to pitch to a brand anywhere in the world, pitch us your idea. We have well-established processes to ensure that your ideas are properly seen and protected.

Costs & Tax Incentives

Costs. Locations, local crew and talent are inexpensive. The need for extra security and bringing in all key crew and equipment is generally the major cost of shooting in Iraq. Our Iraqi fixer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Iraq.

Film Crew & Talent

Crews. Iraq has a very small pool of local pool of directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Key crew should be brought in from abroad. 

Contact us if you are looking for a director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Iraq.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Iraq offers mainly Arab looks with some other regional looks also available such as Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians. All other talent looks need to be brought in from abroad.

Iraq Film Equipment

Equipment. Iraq has some basic camera, grip and lighting equipment is available locally. Visiting crews generally bring in their own equipment. For productions intending to bring in equipment Iraq is not an ATA carnet country. Rules vary depending on the area. Bringing film equipment into requires permission from the Commission of Media & Communications which our Baghdad based fixer will arrange. Bringing in gear to Kurdistan is generally easier. Our Erbil based fixer will arrange that.

Communications. Communication is key. Our agility and global experience allows us to customise the right communications systems for every shoot.

Web posted casting, scouting, and videoconferencing.

For clients that are unable to attend set we offer a virtual video village solution. This dedicated and secure high-resolution video streaming platform allows clients from one or multiple timezones to view setups without compromise and to participate in real-time with the team on set. Separate systems can be set up for the discrete conversations that are required to make a job run right. Working remotely with our local teams reduces your content production costs, turnaround times, carbon footprint, and risks associated with unpredictable global events.

Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production

Art department and set construction is very basic.

Studios. Only basic facilities belonging to local TV stations exist.

Backlots. None exist at present.

Post Production. Post abroad.

Visas & Work Permits

Visas are required to enter and film in Iraq. Western film crews travelling to Iraqi Kurdistan by air may enter visa-free for stays of up to 15 days. Note, these visas are not valid for the rest of Iraq. Visa requirements for film crews travelling to Iraq are subject to change at short notice so it’s best to contact your closest Iraqi embassy or representative for up to date information. US travellers see here for more information.

Transport & Accommodation

Transportation Infrastructure. Many roads are in disrepair. Baghdad experiences severe traffic congestion. Travelling outside of cities by night is not recommended. There are also many government checkpoints scattered throughout the country. Long distance travel is best achieved by domestic flights. Several international airlines service flights to Iraq.

Accommodation. Please contact us for film friendly hotels in Baghdad.

Final Notes

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice. The Kurdish region is much safer than the rest of Iraq. Appropriate security measures are taken based on the specifics of each project. Sometimes a larger security presence is required. Other times a more low key approach is recommended.

Down Time. Try local cuisine such as Iraqi Kebabs, Masgouf, Quzi, and Dolma.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Iraq, please see below:

Hire Iraq Production Support & Shooting Crew

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Iraq, please contact us.

If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Iraq, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.