Malta is drawing big productions in from Sky, Apple and Universal

Das Boot, Jurassic World and Foundation among films and TV series to have filmed on the island

By Chris Evans 23 Jun 2021

Malta is drawing big productions in from Sky, Apple and Universal
Jurassic World: Dominion filmed in Malta. Credit: Universal

Malta has seen an influx of international projects in the past year. The biggest has been Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Dominion, which filmed on location with a second unit crew of around 200 from August through to September 2020. Others have followed including Apple TV+ series Foundation, which filmed on the island and in the water tanks at Malta Film Studios in late 2020-early 2021. The series, starring Jared Harris, spent more than $12m (€10m) in Malta, employing around 400 crew and 800 extras.

“The storyline required us to film on the water, in an ocean, and of course you want to control the environment where you are filming. We knew about Malta’s tanks, and we came here to look at the tanks, and it was then that we began to explore Malta with the film commissioner Johann Grech, and we found so many more locations, that we expanded from a two-week water shoot to a five-week filming schedule,” said Michael Malone (Life of Pi, Fast and Furious 7), the show’s producer.

Further incoming productions have included Sky’s Das Boot, which returned to Malta for season three; Channel 5 film The Holiday and TV series Madame Blanc (alongside Acorn TV); and the Norway-Germany-Malta co-production War Sailor, set during the Second World War.

One of the main attractions is Malta Film Studios, which is currently constructing sound stages, and offers one interior tank and two large exterior water tanks situated on the coast and enjoying a natural horizon. Combined with the generous 30% base rebate (rising to 40% if the production meets specific conditions), Malta is often on the shortlist of major international shoots looking to film water-based scenes in a controlled environment.

“Malta has great tanks and are building up an impressive studio. Plus, they’ve got a high filming incentive, so there’s a lot to admire,” says Los Angeles-based location manager Lori Balton, whose credits include Paramount Pictures’ Tom Cruise sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

Other international projects to have shot recently on the island include Netflix-backed Italian feature Rose Island, directed by Sydney Sibilia. “We built an island in the middle of the studios’ infinity pool, and this is the only location in Europe you can do this,” says line producer Piergiuseppe Serra.

Sky and Vertigo Productions’ UK crime series Bulletproof, meanwhile, employed some 150 extras and 40 Maltese actors. “The location is fantastic because it can match up for pretty much any European location,” says Dan Gilson, head of brand, marketing and PR at Vertigo Films, which co-produced the series.

Productions often take advantage of Malta’s ability to double for other locations. It is a suitable stand-in for the Middle East, with the region’s classic architecture in the historical city of Valletta and former capital Mdina, as well as in the surrounding countryside. To the north, St Julian’s is more modern and a centre for tourism.

Minutes from the water tanks is Fort Ricasoli, one of Malta’s most popular filming locations. The bastioned fort dates back to the late 17th century but has been decommissioned as a military asset since the 1960s and conveniently shields a central courtyard from prying eyes.

Homepage image: Sky's Das Boot, Stephan Rabold/ Bavaria Fiction GmbH/ Sky Deutschland.

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