Aquatic shooting in Malta

07 mai 2005
02m 15s
Ref. 00334


Summary :

Report in the aquatic shooting studios of Malta, a specialty of the island, and in the alleys of the town of M'dina, which can equally portray an old European or Arab town.

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Broadcast date :
07 mai 2005
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It was in 1963 that the first "open air studios" began filming in Malta, becoming Mediterranean Film Studios in 1978.

The town of Rinella, on the east coast of the island, has seen two exterior basins built, at the behest of the British Jim Hole, a specialist in special effects, allowing the filming of aquatic and underwater scenes. The illusion of immensity is perfected there, thanks to the presence of a natural decor backdrop that's made up of the Mediterranean horizon. By watching such films as Cutthroat Island (Renny Harlin, 1995), U-571 (Jonathan Mostow, 2000), Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatre (2001) or Pinocchio (Roberto Benigni, 2002).

The natural decor of the island itself, in particular the fortified city of Mdina, allows for several feature films, the unexpected Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978) or Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980) to traditional epics such as Gladiator (Ridley Scott, 2000) and Troy (Wolfgang Petersen, 2004). The Malta Film Commission has managed filming here since 1999.

Thierry Méranger


Presenter news
Why do directors choose Malta to shoot their films? Labour costs are cheap, there are fiscal advantages, but this is also true elsewhere. The small bonus is that Malta is an island that is suitable for shooting aquatic scenes.
Of course, you can find natural settings in Malta, but, in addition, they make everything you need to make a good maritime adventure film. Boulders, wind, waves, rain and storms. We are in the studios of some of Europe's biggest Mediterranean films.
Cornelia Azzopardi-Schelmann
This is the replica of a submarine in the film "Hugo", shot in 1998. We shortened it so that it would fit in the basin.
The basin happens to be the key asset. It's a massive reservoir filled with 16 million litres of water.
Cornelia Azzopardi-Schelmann
For us to be able to submerge the submarine, the depth is of 4 metres in the centre and of 2 metres on the sides.
2 metres of water are enough to give people the illusion that we're in the middle of the ocean. The creators had everything they needed to make these legendary ships evolve and whose remnants we can see, like this old Titanic or the small boat of "Pirates of Asterix". The other positive aspect of Malta is Mdina, the former capital located in the core of the island. A tangled web of alleys that can be used as settings from centuries past.
Michel Bonello
It can be turned into a European city or an Arab town, thanks to all of its nooks and crannies, its old streets, its old walls. And you can shoot by the edge of the sea in the morning, and in the old city of Mdina in the afternoon. You have something that all film directors dream about, shooting in locations that are very close to each other, saving, and therefore reducing costs.
Nevertheless, Malta should lower its production costs even more if it wants to remain competitive. Because the island won't be able to count on its old stones and its exceptional environment forever, to resist increasing harsh competition from Morocco, Tunisia and even Hungary.