I had the honor of attending the first-ever Malta Film Awards, as the small country south of Italy celebrated its long history. Besides their local productions, we were given a tour of their Malta Film Studio. The country’s film commissioner, Johann Grech, gave a personal tour to showcase their 54 years of history with filmmaking. Yet, even with that extensive history, they were truly put on the global film market through Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator. They went on to become the backdrop for Troy, Captain Phillips, World War Z, and just recently Jurassic World: Dominion. The Apple TV+ series, The Foundation, was also filmed at this studio, and some parts of the production remain.
Of course, this has catapulted the island to embrace its cinematic history and start investing to ensure it keeps building upon its success. As part of our attendance at the Film Awards, we also had the chance to visit their film studio with a tour by Film Commissioner Grech. The biggest selling point in their pools lies in how it creates a natural horizon, similar to how infinity pools work. They have two exterior tanks with one’s function being to recreate exterior shots above water. With the help of a variety of tools to replicate terrible weather even if it’s a sunny day in Malta.
The biggest tank is quite deep, which allows them to shoot underwater sequences. Commissioner revealed that their big plan for the future is to build a soundstage that connects to their diving pool. As an example, he highlighted that the soundstage would include its tank. So, you could, for example, have a submarine in one pool while a battleship is in the exterior. It’s certainly an ambitious project, which is described as only the beginning of their endeavors to further establish Malta as a hotspot for Hollywood productions.
We also got a chance to visit Fort Rinella, where they famously built the colosseum that became the centerpiece of Gladiator. It was also the backdrop for Game of Thrones and Sadly, most of the set is long gone, but there is one remnant left. The stairs that Russel Crowe‘s Maximus took to enter the arena still remain to this day. Rinella has a rich history for Malta, as highlighted by Film Commissioner Grech during the tour.
It’s rich in its history of filmmaking, as it is rich in its history of safeguarding Malta. This is the biggest fort that the Knights of St. John ever built here.Johann Grech
Of course, they don’t film everything directly at the studios, as World War Z and Jurassic World: Dominion filmed on location throughout the island, such as their city Valletta. The latter was especially an exciting project for Malta, as they aren’t just a backdrop but also have the film’s story take place on the island. Malta’s investments are a big step towards leading more international productions to the country and they are also hoping to draw in a stronger film tourism crowd. It’ll b interesting to see just how much their studio lot may change as they start work on their expansions.