Studios are milking Malta

Mediterranean Film Studios in Malta is making waves in the world of overseas locations.

Universal actioner “U-571,” starring Michael Douglas, will be the next pic shot there. Charles Falzon, co-chairman of Gullane Pictures and chairman of MFS, and producers Dino and Martha DeLaurentiis announced the deal was finalized this month.

Currently in pre-production, “U-571″ is being directed by Jonathan Mostow (“Breakdown”). The DeLaurentiis team will use MFS’ marine filming tanks, where DeLaurentiis’ pic “Orca” also was filmed. Production services for the Malta shoot, which is expected to last 22 weeks, will be provided by MFS.

Recent productions done at the marine film facility include: Hallmark Entertainment’s “The Odyssey,” “White Sqaull” and “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

In addition to housing two of the world’s largest water tanks, the studio has undergone a major renovation with the construction of a production center and upgrading of all the facilities. Future plans call for the construction of a large scale sound stage.

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Carlos de Abreu, Hollywood Film Festival founder and executive director, has launched an indie filmmaking Web site — IndieNetwork.com.

The site is free and composed of more than 12 main areas including: Hollydex — a searchable database of entertainment professionals, businesses, services and products — as well as chat lounges, message boards, news desks, job desks, free Web pages, shopping and real-time live shows.

“Now, for the first time, independent filmmakers and storytellers from around the world are able to have a ‘Web central’ where they can interact with both established industry professionals and their own peers,” noted De Abreu.

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Seventeen French companies made their ShowBiz Expo debuts by participating in the first France Film Pavilion.

Their presence was the result of an initiative by the National Film Commission of France.

The goal of the National Film Commission is to develop filmmaking activities in every region of France. “France Film Pavilion opened a window on our industry and placed the accent on production services and new technology,” said Benoit Caron, executive director of the National Film Commission.

Seven American features were shot in whole or in part in France during 1997, representing a direct investment of $58.5 million. Among those productions were Roger Spottiswoode’s “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Randall Wallace’s “Man in the Iron Mask,” and John Frankenhiemer’s “Ronin.”

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Palm Springs’ Locations Unlimited has a new listing. The company — which works closely with the Desert Resorts Film Commission and has been instrumental in providing locations for major films, musicvideos, commercials, fashion and product shoots — has added one of Frank Sinatra’s former homes to its locations’ roster.

The Frank Lloyd Wright-style house, built in 1947 while the crooner was married to his first wife, Nancy, has been restored by the present owner with many of its original features.

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