×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Tiny Island Malta Hosts Big Productions

Competitive incentives are a major part of the Mediterranean island's appeal to international filmmakers

When oscar-nominated director paul greengrass wanted “an authentic ocean experience and look” for his hijack hostage thriller “Captain Phillips” (pictured), he headed to the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, joining a long list of top helmers and high-profile productions that have filmed here. Among them: Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”), Angelina Jolie (“By the Sea”), Steven Spielberg (“Munich”), Wolfgang Petersen (“Troy”) and Marc Forster (“World War Z”).

Highly competitive incentives are part of the appeal. The Malta Film Commission offers a cash rebate of up to 27% on all eligible expenses incurred in Malta; 25% is available for all eligible productions, while an additional 2% is given to productions that shoot Malta as Malta. Value added tax, currently 18%, is fully refundable.

Its Mediterranean location, authentic architecture and stark landscapes are also part of Malta’s appeal for productions ranging from swords-and-sandals epics to war movies. “Malta is able to double as myriad classical and historical periods, including Rome, Greece, Egypt and other ancient civilizations,” says Josephine Vassallo Parnis, film commission coordinator. “In addition, there’s been increasing in attention from productions seeking to use Malta to stand-in for Middle Eastern countries.”

“Malta has this kind of Mediterranean hodgepodge of culture where we could find areas that look like southern European locations in one spot, and areas that look like Israel or Beirut in another,” says Rick Carter, production designer on “Munich.”

“Lots of people come here because of the incredible stone structures,” says Kevin Reynolds, director of the biblical production “Clavius,” with Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton, for LD Enterta inment. “(With) all the amazing forts and streets … it’s reminiscent of Jerusalem. You can find looks here that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, even in Jerusalem. (That’s why) we shot the Jerusalem portion of the film here.”

Malta, which next year celebrates 90 years of film history, has serviced around 300 productions of all sizes, including such recent films as Alejandro Amenabar’s historical Roman-Egypt drama “Agora” (Mod Producciones), Iraq-based political thriller “The Devil’s Double” (Corsan) and Norwegian historical drama “Kon-Tiki” (Nordisk Film).

Malta is also home to world-class water tank facilities, enabling productions to shoot large- and small-scale water-based scenes. “It’s the best water facility I know of,” said Ridley Scott when he first used it.

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • Ludwig Goransson Composer

    Composer Takes Music for the 'Star Wars' Series 'The Mandalorian' to a New Universe

    Ludwig Göransson, the Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer of “Black Panther,” faced a tricky assignment when he took on “The Mandalorian,” the new “Star Wars” series launching this week on the Disney Plus streaming service. “It’s a new medium, a new set of characters — and it has a certain tech-y grittiness, because you’re dealing with [...]

  • Charlize Theron'The Addams Family' film premiere,

    Charlize Theron to Be Honored by Costume Designers Guild (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Costume Designers Guild announced Wednesday that Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron will be honored with the spotlight award. The Spotlight Award honors an actor whose talent and career personify an enduring commitment to excellence, including a special awareness of the role and importance of costume design. “Charlize Theron is a costume designer’s dream, bringing integrity [...]

  • Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by

    Chris Butler Looks at the Magic Behind Animating 'Missing Link'

    Laika’s latest feature “Missing Link” raises the bar once again for the world of stop-motion, pushing boundaries in scope and visuals. The story of an unlikely friendship between Mr. Frost and his 8-foot yeti buddy Link is one of hope. “Missing Link” producer Arianne Sutner says the message of the film was to “leave people [...]

  • Joker

    How 'Joker' Production Designer and Costume Designer Brought New Color to a Familiar World

    The partnership between a film’s production designer and costume designer is an important one. One creates the outfits and the look of the character, the other creates the world that the viewer disappears into. Together, they collaborate to reinforce the visuals of the film. Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a world where production designer Mark Friedberg [...]

  • Joker

    'Joker,' 'Game of Thrones' Lead Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Nominations

    The Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild (IATSE Local 706) has announced nominees in film and television categories for 2019. “Avengers: Endgame” picked up a nomination in the feature contemporary makeup category, while films such as “Downton Abbey,” “Bombshell,” “Joker,” “John Wick 3” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” each scored multiple nominations. On [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content