Malta prides itself in offering a vast variety of film locations due to its rich architectural heritage and diverse landscape. The Maltese Archipelago has been used to stand in for many different countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Turkey, Peru and of course Italy, just to mention a few. Spielberg’s ‘Munich’ for example used Malta to double for Rome, Beirut and Athens as well as for Israel, Palestine, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.
Due to its size, productions do not require a lot of travelling to get from one location to another, thus moving unit bases does not pose a logistical nightmare. Distances are short and in less than an hour one can reach various diverse locations. There is no other place in Europe that offers such a high concentration of historic sites, beaches, natural landmarks, places of entertainment (restaurants, bars, pubs, clubs, etc.) and Malta’s very own film studios with its world renown large sfx water tanks.
Malta’s capital city Valletta, a UNECSO World Heritage site, is a maze of alleyways and streets and has been named European Capital of Culture for 2018. Well known films such as ‘Midnight Express’ and more recently ‘World War Z’ feature the different ‘faces’ of this unique city in many scenes.
Mdina, the old capital of Malta, is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and extraordinary in its mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Productions like ‘Cutthroat Island’ and ‘Pirates’ as well as classics like ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and many more have filmed in this ‘Citta’ Notabile’, as it was called in medieval times.
Fort Ricasoli, which was built by the Knights of St John, is a fortification at the mouth of the Grand Harbour that offers space and control to all productions that film in Malta. This Fort acts like a studio and is probably one of the most popular filming sites in Europe, with its large open areas for set builds, old vaulted rooms, halls and passageways. It is only a stone throw away from the ‘Three Cities’ and from Valletta and yet isolated from the hustle and bustle of residential areas. Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’ was shot here in 2000 in which Malta replicated classical Rome. Other productions filmed in Fort Ricasoli were ‘Troy’, ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Agora’, amongst others.
Film, television and commercial producers are drawn to Malta for the infrastructure and resources necessary for the demands of the industry. Almost everyone in Malta speaks English and the climate is one of the best in the whole of Europe. The visual beauty of Malta and year-round temperate climate – 12 shooting hours of daylight during the summer and 10 shooting hours during the winter, also make filming here attractive to producers. Winters are mild, rarely going below 10 degrees, and summers are warm, dry and very sunny with temperatures averaging around 30 to 35 degrees.
Basic light and grip equipment can be sourced locally, however, for longer shoots it is usually more feasible to bring over a truckload from Germany or Italy, for example. The choice of local support and construction crew is very good and the majority well experienced. Key crew would normally come directly from the respective productions.
TV and Film Productions portraying European cultural elements are entitled to cash incentives – Malta’s rebate percentage for such productions has recently been increased to (max) 25% cash rebate on local spend plus an extra 2 percent if the productions feature Malta as Malta. For further details on Malta’s incentive scheme, visit the Malta Film Commission website.