Malta film commissioner denies claims of favouring service providers

‘Completely false Malta Film Commission provides opportunities for chosen few’, Johann Grech says

Film Commissioner Johann Grech
Film Commissioner Johann Grech

Film commissioner Johann Grech has denied that a whittled-down list of preferred service providers the MFC offers to producers filming in Malta.

Reacting to complaints from the Malta Producers Association, who said a previous list of 21 production companies had been cut down to seven, Grech denied the claims.

“Producers work with anybody who they select. We discuss local providers with film producers when they ask us who is available or capable of servicing their requirements,” Grech told MaltaToday in a brief comment.

In a statement, Grech said that  2018 the MFC had removed its previous directory, contained in an Excel sheet, because of GDPR rules.

Once the previous directory was removed, work started immediately on the new programme ‘Opportunity For All’, which will be an accessible directory that now contains over 1,000 companies and individuals working in the local film industry, Grech said.

“‘Opportunity For All’ works in total compliance with GDPR. The current system operates as a consent-based data gathering application and we will be providing full access to studios, producers and filmmakers based on their enquiries. Nonetheless, the programme is already being used when foreign productions inquire crew data relating to different departments within the film industry.”

Grech said the Malta Film Commission exercised no interference when foreign productions choosei a local service provider. “If and when asked for an opinion, the Malta Film Commission does discuss local service providers, however it is always up to the foreign production to do their due diligence and choose freely and accordingly. Neither the Commissioner, nor the Malta Film Commission decide who ultimately works on the foreign production. Therefore, allegations in this respect are false.”

Producers accuse Grech

Service Provider/Producer 
2018Productions
Latina Pictures LtdQueen of the South, Das Boot, Genius: Picasso, Bharat
Falkun Films Productions LtdBeat
Premiere Productions LtdThe Bravest Couple, Superstars
Pellikola LtdTorpedo
Triton Film Productions LtdOne Breath
2019Productions
Latina Pictures LtdTrue Love or True Lies 2, Bulleproof 2, Das Boot 2, Sea of Time, The Last Planet
Stargate Studios MaltaMedici, Diavoli, Fic & Pic 7, Treadstone, La Vita Promessa 2 Paul Parker Film & TV Obscure Life of Grand Duke of Corsica
Halo Pictures LtdThe Raft, Tolo Tolo
Maximus Distribution LtdThe Story of My Wife
Falkun Films Productions LtdCarmen
Media Factory LtdSeacole
Colin AzzopardiRestaurants On The Edge
Faith Films LtdIsola Delle Rose
Monolith LtdJust Noise
Fishers Of Men LtdVanishing Wake, Project ICON
Small Island Films LtdHartwig Seeler
European Film Services LtdAgatha 2 & 3
2020Productions
Pellikola LtdThe Window
Twenty13Productions Ltd Cargo

Earlier today the Malta Producers Association accused Grech of selectively promoting certain local film production companies to international producers to the exclusion of everyone else in the industry.

“For years, producers and line producers have been calling for the system to return to being open and transparent, with a full, public directory of producers and other service providers being available online. The Malta Producers Association aligns itself with this call. This is the system used the world over to ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders. It allows international filmmakers to collaborate with persons or companies based on their own research and due diligence.”

The MPA said the Film Commission had inexplicably removed the existing online directory and replaced it with an opaque system it called ‘Opportunities For All’.

“To date no online directory has been uploaded. It is bitterly ironic that despite its title the new system seems to have been designed to be an opportunity for the very few, determined privately and arbitrarily by the Film Commissioner, Johann Grech, who was appointed by the disgraced Konrad Mizzi.

“We have little doubt that the employees at Malta Film Commission are acting on specific instruction of Johann Grech. This is a blatant abuse of his position and shamelessly distorts the market. It is a blatant violation of the rights of all producers to be given an equal opportunity to work and reveals his talk of providing Opportunities for All to be nothing but pure spin.”

Grech denies allegations

Grech also denied claims of having used his position as a platform for profit to pocket gifts.

“With the launch of the programme ‘Opportunity for All’, we have started to create an industry for the many, not the few. ‘Opportunity for All’ is a programme aimed not only for local producers and service providers, but for all crew members who work in the industry and for those who want to join the industry. Today, there are 363 companies registered and 700 individuals in ‘Opportunity for All’. We want a liberal market, eliminating the monopoly of the few,” Grech said.

Grech said that since 2018, more than 16 different local service providers have worked on more than 35 different productions, with the majority of existing local service providers having worked on these different projects. “Therefore, it is completely false that the Malta Film Commission is providing opportunities only for the ‘chosen few’,” Grech said.

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