Made in Malta – The Familiar Transposed Onto The Screen

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The onset of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who are currently once again gracing our shores with their presence, brought to everyone’s attention the fact that the film industry in Malta is moving forward in leaps and bounds.

During the past few years, blockbuster movies have been frequently linked with the name of our island, what with international sensations such as Gladiator (2000), where Rome was mostly filmed at Fort Ricasoli and Steven Spielberg’s Munich (2005), to mention a few. Brad Pitt produced and starred in World War Z (2013) which utilised locations such as Valletta, the Malta International Airport and Fort St Elmo, amongst others. It seems that even though we have been in the industry for many many years now, our beautiful country is finally becoming more well known amongst foreign film location scouts, whose job it is to scout for locations which are relevant to particular movies or scenes.

It would be totally wrong to assume that Malta was previously unknown as a filming location. In fact, the first foreign film to be ever filmed on our shores was produced in 1925! Sons of the Sea is a black and white silent movie dealing with the lives and tribulations of two sailors. It strongly features scenes filmed at Golden Bay and Gnejna and it was also the first movie filmed in Malta to use Maltese extras. At the time, Malta became well known as a good location for films which dealt mostly with the sea, and in fact most of the earliest movies which were filmed in Malta all had that topic in common. The Battle of the River Plate (1956), shot in the Grand Harbour in Valletta, The Baby and the Battleship (1956), shot at the Abattoir Wharf in Corradino, and Treasure in Malta (1963) which used many different locations, amongst others.

Other more well-known films which centre around the theme of the sea, and which use the famously huge film water tanks situated in the south-eastern part of the island, are Polanski’s Pirates (1986), Cutthroat Island starring Geena Davis (1995), and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002).

In 2005, the Malta Film Commission was established to further promote the industry, and since then, news concerning movies filmed in Malta have become prominent in the media. People started dreaming of spotting celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe and Brad Pitt, or else working as an extra and maybe trading words with Rachel Weisz, Stephen Spielberg, or Anthony Hopkins. And what about those hot chicks from the Game of Thrones series? Pity they only filmed the first season in Malta!

Foreign blockbusters aside, Maltese film-makers and actors themselves have produced a number of locally famous movies on location. I am sure you have probably heard of, if not watched, productions such as Angli: The Movie (2005), Maltageddon (2009), and Shimshar (2014).

Even though local movie making is still in its infancy, it shows a lot of promise. One could also mention Malta’s first epic movie, Adormidera (2013), as well as look forward to the horror movie The Breeder, which will be released shortly. One can appreciate that both these last two films had been originally created as short 40 minute films, yet they heralded such a good turnout and presented such talent, that the Directors were encouraged to take the next step and make full length films.

Malta is a treasure trove for artists, actors, producers and film location scouts. Its mild temperatures, long hours of sunlight, green countryside, and seaside locales make it suitable for many film productions, not to mention the interest amongst the local population not only to act as extras when needed, but also to produce original local work.

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