Magazine article Screen International

World of Locations: Malta

Magazine article Screen International

World of Locations: Malta

Article excerpt

It's no surprise the world's biggest film-makers and stars enjoy shooting on Malta, as the holiday island has it all - a California climate, competitive tax rebates and a fun-loving, can-do attitude.

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Malta is fast becoming the Hollywood of the Mediterranean, with a record-breaking 10 large-scale, big-budget productions accessing the island's attractive filming incentives in 2015. The island recently doubled for the Middle East in Michael Bay's latest action film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi, with the film's producer Scott Gardenhour describing his experience of shooting on the island as "spectacular".

Justin Kurzel's video-game adaptation Assassin's Creed, starring Michael Fassbender, just shot in various locations around Malta. Angelina Jolie found the perfect coastal setting on the Maltese island of Gozo for By The Sea, a film set in 1970s France that she directs and stars in with Brad Pitt. Thanks to Malta Film Commission, Jolie was able to close the stretch of beach - a popular spot with tourists and divers - from August to November last year.

In 2014, Malta accommodated four large-scale productions simultaneously - Jolie's By The Sea for Universal Pictures, CBS's TV miniseries The Dovekeepers, Kevin Reynolds' Jerusalem-set Risen with Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton, and Francesco Cinquemani's sci-fimovie Andron - The Black Labyrinth for Luxembourg-based Ambi Pictures, starring Alec Baldwin, Michelle Ryan and Danny Glover. All took full advantage of Malta's highly trained, multi-lingual crews, competitive rates and stunning locations.

Malta's three fully equipped water tanks, one of only a few in the world to use the natural ocean horizon as a backdrop, have also featured in Captain Phillips and Kon-Tiki over the past few years.

As well as doubling for various Mediterranean settings, the island regularly stands in for war-torn countries that are inaccessible to film crews. In fact Malta prides itself on being one of the safest countries in the world, second only to Qatar, according to the United Nations' World Risk Report in 2013.

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Malta is on the same latitude as Los Angeles, meaning the light on the Mediterranean island is almost identical to that in Hollywood. This abundance of sunshine means productions are able to shoot for up to 12 hours a day from April to November.

THE LOWDOWN

Financial incentives

Since April 2014, incoming productions that satisfy a cultural test are eligible for a cash rebate of up to 25% of eligible expenditure incurred in Malta, with an additional 2% if the production features Malta in a cultural context. The rebate has recently been extended to cover high-end TV drama productions. The incentives take the form of a cash grant that is awarded once filming is complete, and post-production spend now counts as an eligible cost. In 2014, Malta Film Commission also launched a $1.1m (euro1m) co-production fund to encourage collaboration between local Maltese companies and international production companies. Malta has a co-production treaty with Canada and China, with more treaties due to be signed. Further information www.maltafilm commission.com

Infrastructure

Thanks to its long history of hosting international productions, dating back to the UK film Sons Of The Sea (1925), Malta boasts an experienced, accomplished crew base. Technicians speak very good English, as well as Italian and French, and authorities make quick decisions on questions such as road closures and locations clearance. It is easy to find crew and local heads of department, and Malta is particularly strong when it comes to set construction. Labour and facilities costs are around 30% lower than in mainland Europe. Malta's main post facility is Stargate Studios, with several further companies now eyeing Malta as a base thanks to the changes in the rebate. …

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