The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Malta: A truly magnificent destination for film makers

Malta Independent Saturday, 12 July 2014, 09:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

How did you start out in the film industry?

From a very young age I was involved in television production and it was during my University years that I fell in love with film. After graduating in Communications at the University of Malta, I continued furthering my studies abroad. I have directed and produced various productions for local and international distribution and my knowledge and passion for films grew deeper and took a different dimension with each and every production.

The news is just out about a Brad Pitt / Angelina Jolie film to be made here in Malta this autumn. Some of the scenes from Game of Thrones are also filmed here in Malta. How many films, and TV shows are filmed in Malta each year, and how much investment do they bring to Malta?

Without doubt the films that are being shot in Malta this year are extremely important, not only for our film industry but for the country’s economy in general.  Thanks to our new financial incentives and our marketing strategy, Malta is now back on the international map.  The Malta Film Commission is working on many other important productions which will start filming this year and the next. We are looking at a number of promising projects. Our marketing efforts are bearing fruit however one has to tread carefully as a production can change its mind in seconds. Every production filmed in Malta can be considered as a foreign direct investment. On a good year, the film industry can inject around €40 million in the economy.

 

What is it that the film industry likes about Malta so much?

Malta offers a very attractive package to filmmakers.  As you know we have just increased our cash rebates from 20% up to 25% on eligible expenditure in Malta. We even offer an additional 2% if Malta is culturally featured in the story. The decision to upgrade the incentives served purposely to make Malta more attractive to international producers. The combination of our outstanding locations coupled with our safe environment, the water tanks and the long hours of daylight makes Malta a competitive destination on an international level. 

What are the economics of filming in Malta? Is there any form of support for this part of the creative economy?

The Maltese Government confirmed its commitment towards the further growth of the film industry as part of the strategy for the cultural and creative industries within the National Reform Programme 2014. The Malta Film Commission provides various forms of support but the primary incentive is the cash rebate. For the local indigenous industry we have Malta Film Fund which provides funds for the development and production of local films.  We are also organizing courses to trainour people and enhance the country’s human resources.

According to the evaluation carried out by the Creative Economy Working Group, the film industry injects millions directly in the Maltese economy. These were directed towards various parts of the economy including, hotels and restaurants, transport and communication, renting and other business services as well as various film-related servicing industry. The study also showed that the economic impact of such an investment has a multiplier effect of 3. Indeed, the investment generates more millionsin gross value added. This confirms the importance of this industry towards the Maltese economy and the opportunities entailed for further economic growth.

 

Can you explain to people what your work involves, as the Film Commissioner?

The essence of our mission at the Malta Film Commission is to market Malta as a great destination to filmmakers. We aim to continue positioning Malta as a global competitive film destination, creating sustainable jobs and driving forward the development of the indigenous industry through training programmes.  My ultimate objective is to bring film productions to Malta and to continue strengthening the industry by providing the best level of expertise and give professional advice and assistance to producers. 

 

What are your plans for the local film industry moving forwards?

Since the local film industry is extremely young there needs to be more focus by creating more training opportunities for the creatives such as script writing, directing and producing. We need to invest in the right people and give them the necessary resources to make it happen. Along the years, through the Malta Film Fund, the Film Commission has supported a number of development and production projects however we still have a long way to go. I firmly believe that there is much potential and in this regard the Film Commission will thrive to support our local producers to achieve higher results. We need passionate producers to work on their abilities and create quality projects that can be translated to the big screen. Like Simshar, a Malta Film Fund beneficiary, we aim that along the years Malta will have a fully-fledged quality Maltese production at least once a year.

In the recent The Malta Business Weekly business breakfast the Prime Minister discussed plans for next year to promote Gozo as a filming destination. Is there anything more that the government should be considering to develop further the local film industry?

We need to continue investing in our infrastructure. The building of soundstages and the continuous investment in the water tanks will give a holistic package to producers which would certainly make Malta a strong player in the film industry.

 

I always associate film making as being an industry with significant fluctuations in demand; when a film is being produced there will be high demand for resources which then lie idle until the next film is made. Is this a reasonable assessment of the nature of the sector in Malta and, if so how does the sector manage these fluctuations?

The Malta Film Commission is currently investing a lot of time and money to create a sustainable film industry. The objective is to bring to Malta back-to-back films that guarantee long term employment. My vision is that once the servicing industry becomes constant, employment in the indigenous industry will be sustainable as well. In the past the industry lost so many experienced crews because there was no work; we are now doing our best to bring these workers back by generating a constant work flow. This is not an easy task. I am determined to bring the industry back to a competitive level with energy and determination. Government wants the industry to flourish and succeed hence we will implement our vision for a culturally dynamic film industry.

At a certain level, it is probably a dream of most people to make a movie, whether producing, writing, acting or directing. How can people get more involved if they want to?

It’s good to dream however we need individuals with a creative mind that can translate an interesting story into a successful film. We have to make the grade and develop our talent properly to make successful movies which can be screened not only in Malta but on an international level.  The Malta Film Fund can be a supporting arm to those interested in developing or produce an idea; this is why Government dedicates Euro 250,000 yearly in grants.

 

Which is your favourite film, filmed in Malta?

I have so many favourites however if I had to choose a film, it would certainly be The Count of Monte Cristo.  Our Grand Harbour standing in for Marseille is truly magnificent.

 
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