Commitment to the film industry


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Malta hosted a number of international film productions in past years such as Troy, Munich, World War Z, Captain Phillips, Midnight Express, Gladiator and many more. In view of this huge potential the Tourism Ministry, toget­her with film industry stakeholders and following a wide public consultation, drafted a policy focused solely on the film industry.

The 32-page policy, released recently, sets a vision up until 2020, with the aim of maxi­mising the potential of both Malta’s film servicing industry as well as the burgeoning local film sector.

Over the past three years there has been a surge in the number of productions shooting on our shores. While the spend by foreign productions in Malta in 2013 was €5 million, this figure rose to €29 million in 2014 and over €100 million in 2015, ensuring a record year on all fronts.

This sharp increase in such a short period of time made it even more imperative to define a national film policy that addresses important issues related to film infrastructure, targeted financial incentives, the local film industry, the employment sector, education, skills development, screen tourism and screen heritage, among others.

Large and important production houses choose Malta due to its competitive advantage which is enhanced by its water tanks infrastructure, weather conditions, financial incentives and, most of all, the availability of a dynamic workforce.

The policy document seeks to prioritise directing investment towards the film industry’s infrastructure.

With the recent dramatic increase in film productions providing back-to-back work for all industry stakeholders, further investment in Malta’s film infrastructure will ensure consistent growth of this sector, while at the same time opening more opportunities for filming activity in the shoulder months.

The government has always shown its intention to transform the current infrastructure at Kalkara into a modern and state-of-the-art film studio and facility, and I am determined to ensure this happens in the shortest time possible.

By building sound stages, we will be able to guarantee a consistent inward flow of productions, including in the winter season when filming on location can be limited due to adverse weather conditions.

This policy is my firm commitment to keep working towards creating a sustainable film industry

In this regard, we have issued an expression of interest for the development of the water tanks facilities of the Malta Film Studios in Rinella. It is a pity that such a potential strategic resource for the industry was left abandoned by the former administration, resulting in several lost opportunities and missed investments.

This expression of interest will eventually help us to continue building positive momentum on this front. The potential bene­fit for our economy is vast and we need to ensure we have the structures and infrastructure in place to exploit each and every opportunity that comes our way in this highly dynamic industry.

The policy also targets the need for a regu­latory system and a structure dealing with employment. The general employment provisions have to be clear and customised for the Maltese film industry.

In the policy document we made it clear that a thorough exercise will be carried out by the Film Commission, the Employment and Training Corporation and other relevant entities to establish a concrete structure regulated by appropriate measures. This must be achieved against the backdrop of the producers’ need for job flexibility.

As experience has already shown us, film can be a great tool to promote the Maltese islands across the globe. For an economy that depends so much on the tourism sector, screen tourism offers a niche market that can be highly lucrative.

The country needs to exploit the industry’s glamour through consistent marketing and PR campaigns. At the same time, Malta and Gozo have to be well equipped to host screen tourists, offering a new and diverse product.

We recognise that part of this success is thanks to the effective financial incentives being offered. These will be maintained and reviewed regularly to nurture the industry and allow it to grow in a sustainable manner.

We also recognise that current structures offering film-related training are too spread out, and a coordinated approach is a must. Synergies will be created between all entities to create more capacity.

There must be a cohesive action plan to establish training structures required for professional film production and training, similar to those offered by international film schools, and the Malta Film Commission is working to ensure this happens.

While thanking the Film Commissioner and the Malta Film Commission for their exceptional work I acknowledge this is just the beginning of another exciting journey.

This policy is my firm commitment to keep working towards creating a sustainable film industry, while transforming Malta and Gozo into unique film destinations.

Edward Zammit Lewis is Minister for Tourism.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160131/opinion/Commitment-to-the-film-industry.600666

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