Hollywood producer joins UAE film company

A Hollywood producer joins forces with Image Nation to bring expertise to Emiratis who want to get involved in the film industry.

From left, Mohammed Al Otaiba, Head of Image Nation, Michael Garin, ImageNation CEO and Walter Parkes. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
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The producer behind a string of Hollywood blockbusters is teaming up with an Abu Dhabi film company.

Walter Parkes, an acclaimed studio head and writer, will develop, acquire and produce projects.

He will also teach and train Emirati talent who aspire to work in the film industry.

Mr Parkes's successes include the Oscar-winning Gladiator, the hit Men In Black series, and new release Flight, for which star Denzel Washington has been nominated for an Academy Award.

He and his producer wife, Laurie McDonald, are collaborating with Image Nation, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, the publisher and owner of The National.

Mr Parkes said the deal, finalised last year, would give him the "tremendous opportunity" to work on developing material, even when it is smaller budget movies that studios no longer favour.

He added that he was excited about projects that are not your typical Hollywood fare, such as the surprise hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - about British retirees travelling to India and produced by Image Nation - as well as smaller Abu Dhabi productions such as a UAE-based judicial drama due out within the year.

During a visit to the capital this week ahead of a promotional tour in Japan for Flight - a drama about an alcoholic airline pilot who prevents a plane crash - Mr Parkes is running a series of seminars with local talent at the Image Nation offices.

He does not describe himself a mentor, rather an "old hand" who is happy to pass on his knowledge and expertise. He is looking for storytellers with idea who think they can become the next big thing.

Mohammed Al Mubarak, chairman of Image Nation, and Michale Garin, chief executive, described the collaboration as "extremely exciting times" for the company to expand on the global market, as well as foster and support growing local talent. A commemorative plaque marking the new partnership was unveiled at Image Nation yesterday.