Michael Bay Libya film funnels $50 million into Malta’s coffers

Teodor Reljic
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis says Michael Bay film pumped $50 million into the Maltese economy, during a set visit on the penultimate day of production, while producer Erwin Stoff praises the efficiency of Maltese crew
During a set visit for the press, Hollywood producer Erwin Stoff praised Malta as a film location, claiming that no other film location has ever made for such an efficient and smooth running operation.

Stoff is the producer of the Michael Bay-directed action thriller 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (aka ‘The Tempest’), which wraps production tomorrow after a three-month shoot which encompassed various locations in Malta.

Based on the non-fiction book by Mitchell Zuckoff, ’13 Hours’ will dramatise a 2012 terrorist attack on an American Embassy in Benghazi.

“No film I’ve worked on before was ever done this quickly – everyone moved really fast, and there was a real urgency to just get this going,” Stoff, whose credits include The Matrix, Unbroken and Edge of Tomorrow, said.

Stoff said that the film was originally slated to be shot in New Mexico. “But we made a decision not to shoot in the US, because we wanted the film to be as true to life as possible. Sadly, Northern Africa itself was not a real possibility for obvious reasons, so Malta came in as the perfect alternative,” Stoff said, adding that the production found no problem in assembling a crew since “everybody wanted to come to film in Malta”.

Speaking on behalf of director Michael Bay (Transformers, Pearl Harbour) – who couldn’t be present at the press conference due to his shooting schedule, Stoff said that the production was very satisfied with the outcome of the film, which will resume shooting in Morocco.

“To have a world-class director like Michael Bay satisfied with a production means a lot. We wouldn’t hesitate to return to Malta for a second, and this reputation will travel to LA once we return home,” Stoff said.

Malta Film Commissioner Engelbert Grech in fact said that film professionals like Stoff can serve as “the best possible ambassadors,” for Malta as a film location, and that Malta is living up to its reputation as a “mini-Hollywood” among film production circles.

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, under whose auspices the Malta Film Commission falls, revealed that the production has funnelled a total of $50 million into the Maltese economy, while reiterating the importance of “building a real film industry in Malta, and bolstering our reputation as an important place for film production”.

“We want to send a direct political message: film is a very important industry,” Zammit Lewis said, adding that plans are underway to ensure film servicing is an “all-year-round operation” in Malta, and that the Rinella Film Studios will be developed further in the near future.

The set visit included a trip to Albert Town in Marsa, where the surroundings doubled-up for downtown Benghazi during the fateful ’13 hours’ of the film’s title… and included a hi-octane car chase.


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