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Film commission attempts to prevent future damages during location shooting

The Malta Film Commission and Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) organise information session for Film Industry stakeholders to avoid history repeating itself.

16 August 2012, 12:00am
Location shooting is a common film practice and any large part of production, regardless of budget or style, seeking ideal locations to keep audiences entertained.

The Malta Film Commission (MFC) said that safeguarding existing properties, especially those considered to be ‘sensitive areas’ such as historical buildings and fortifications and natural resources, is of utmost importance for authorities.

“With this in mind the MFC together with the MEPA are organising an information session which will focus on the role of MEPA, permit procedures and use of historic structures for filming to ensure that the local film industry is aware of its obligations in safeguarding the environment and encouraging due diligence when filming in sensitive sites,” the MFC said.

This information session may be the MFC’s attempt to avoid history repeating itself following damages to the area of Dwejra in 2010 during location filming of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

A report by biologist and former MEPA board member Dr. Louis F Cassar denounced the damage of irreplaceable fossil features at Dwejra while environmental NGOs claimed that apart from causing damage to the fossil-rich rock surface, ‘sand’ may have ended up in the sea causing irreparable damage to what is otherwise considered to be a pristine marine environment.

As part of the MFC’s initiative to market Malta as a filming location, the MFC claimed to be "very much aware" that activities within the local film industry can have a direct or indirect impact on the local environment.

Despite its size and stiff competition from other film locations the Malta Film Commission (MFC) said that Malta has a long and varied history in the film industry with at least 100 feature films in a span of 86 years have been shot in Malta either entirely or partially.

“Our unique cultural heritage, architectural legacy, and natural locations shows just how diverse the Maltese Islands can be,” the Commission said.

In addition, filming activities in specific areas such as listed sites and protected environments normally require additional permits or approval from the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), Heritage Malta or other relevant authorities.

The MFC’s role in this respect is to help facilitate and speed up the process of issuing a permit, where necessary, by ensuring that the appropriate authorities and effected parties are consulted and are involved in the early stages and by making sure that all the necessary information needed for the granting of any permits are at hand.

“This is includes how the buildings will be effected, altered and used by the film productions. Whether there will be any special effects, stunts or special requirements that involve major construction works,” the MFC said.

Locations such as Golden Sands, Bugibba, Siggiewi, Birgu, Valletta, Comino, Gozo, Blue Grotto, to name but a few, have been used to double for locations from ancient Greece and Troy, Italy, France, Alexandria in Egypt, Palestine, Israel to Warsaw.

Historical sites such as Fort St. Elmo, Fort Ricasoli, Fort St. Angelo, Palazzo Parisio, Grandmaster’s Palace, the megalithic Temples, and Mdina have also been used as unique settings for many a film.

“Such productions will involve minor or major alterations for set design purposes which will be of a temporary nature. This is necessary in order to dress up a set to create a certain look. Production companies must ensure that all those affected by filming have been consulted and informed of arrangements while shooting in public areas requires consent from the relevant authorities,” the MFC said.

The MFC explained that by having this information from the beginning of production, the MFC said much time will be saved while clearing up any misunderstandings and facilitate the issue of permits while increasing awareness regarding the environmental and social impact on regularly utilised locations.

This information session will take place on Friday 24th August, registration at 8.30am and will conclude at noon and is open to local film crew, facility and service providers, and professionals and individuals wishing to have a more active role in this field.

Participation is free of charge, but prior registration is required in view of seating restrictions.

Interested persons wishing to attend this information session are kindly requested to send an email to info@mfc.com.mt by Wednesday, 22nd August, noon confirming attendance. For more information about the Malta Film Commission, visit www.mfc.com.mt

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