Shooting in Malta offers a look and feel that is completely unique, a tank on the Mediterranean that is second to none, and the best local extras and day players I have ever worked with. Its proximity to central Europe makes it easy for cast, equipment and crew to flow back and forth when and where needed. - Angela Mancuso, president of USA Cable during the shooting of the miniseries "Helen of Troy"
Budgeting for production in Malta
The PCP is the island's leading professional budget source. We have international experience and are often hired for budgets for more than one country.
In 2005 the Malta government introduced film financial incentives by offering a cash rebate based on expenditure. Currently this rebate has a maximum ceiling of 27% and both Maltese and EU expenditure are eligible, with some exemptions. The key factor is the passing of a Cultural Test. Commercials and music videos are excluded from this scheme since these productions are not considered (by EU regulations) as having any cultural contribution. The application and refund process is straightforward and rebates are received within five months of submission of accounts. A detailed FAQ about the incentives is available upon request.
The following is intended only as a very rough guideline for budgeting your film in Malta. There are no unions and all fees are subject to negotiation and availability. A more detailed budget document is also available upon request.
Most hotels with experience of film crews offer special film rates. A single room on B&B in a 4-star tourist class hotel will cost between 50 and 85 Euros in the low and high season respectively. A 4-star superior hotel may cost an additional 15-20 Euros per night. For a top 5-star hotel allow an average of 100-200 Euros per night depending on the size of the crew and the particular timing (ie if the hotel is busy at the time).
Comfortable luxury apartments for short-term lets can cost anywhere between 1160 to 2500 Euros per month. Houses of character and villas can also be rented with prices ranging from 1600 to 3000 Euros per month depending on the luxury and the season of hire. A small but decent apartment apartment could usually be found between 600 and 1200 Euros a month for short term lets.
There is a small but healthy pool of day players in Malta who have proven experience in films. You can find a handful of potential actors for speaking parts and these are generally paid between 120 and 300 Euros including buy-outs, the rates depending on how experienced they are and the number of lines. In exceptional cases involving perhaps ex-pats living in Malta the fee might go as high as 350 or 400 Euros per day.
Catering is not cheap in Malta and ranges from 23 to 30 Euros per head for one meal and including crafts service.
Allow at least 60 Euros for an 11-hour day, excluding meal breaks or special allowances. Any applicable overtime would be at x 1.5. There is no union in Malta and extras' fees can therefore be varied from one production to another. Crowd marshals cost around EUR 80 and EUR 90 per day. Extras fees exclude any payroll charges which is usually a flat fee depending on the quantity of extras, although productions can avoid payroll fees by using their local accountant. Fees for models typical range from 150 Euros for those selected 'from the street; to as high as 250 Euros per day for experienced models. These are usually negotiable as there are no fixed rates.
The lowest per diem paid on a feature in recent years was that for a French production in 2007. The per diem was set at 45 Euros per day on a non-filming day (allowing for two meals) and 28 Euros on filming days when one meal and crafts is provided on set. However these rates are not normal with medium to high budget movies. In a 5-star or first class restaurant the bill for one person can easily reach 45 Euros excluding wines (local wine is usually between 12 to 15 Euros). A normal rate is around 50 Euros per day.
The figures below are indicative rates and derived only from large companies with a proven reputation in servicing the film industry. They include full comprehensive insurance. You may find small garages on the island which offer cheaper prices but needless to say you should check out the quality of service (i.e. condition of vehicle, type of insurance cover, speed of response for all requirements and even check whether an effective staff member can be reached during the day at all times). If your production is very small and you perhaps require only four or five vehicles, then checking out the smaller garages may be worthwhile. But you should be cautious of claims from the smaller businesses of "our best car" as the condition of that car may not be what you imagine.
For a self-drive standard car with AC allow between 20 and 25 Euros per day depending on how busy the garage is at the time of rental. A self-drive minivan will cost you between 40 and 60 Euros depending mainly on the model and season. These prices include full comprehensive insurance and exclude an excess of typically between 350 and 580 Euros in case of a single damage claim. For chauffeur-driven limos and vans allow 13 to 23 Euros per hour respectively, depending on the luxury of the vehicle and usually with a minimum hire of four hours. For garage-controlled taxis allow 18 to 24 Euros per transfer (eg: hotel to airport or vice versa). Luggage/Equipment vans are available.
A camera truck costs between around 125 and 190 Euros per day respectively for an approx 18ft or 28ft truck. Wardrobe and make up trucks cost between 163 and 233 Euros per day for long term. Artiste trailers and honeywagons are available from 233 Euros per day for long term hires. Truck driver costs through a supplier are around 10 Euros per hour.
LOCAL SUPPORT CREWS
Salaries for Maltese crew are priced very competitively when compared to other European countries such as the UK, France, Spain or Italy. There is usually an additional and refundable 18% of Value Added Tax (VAT). Some crew members are exempt from charging VAT. For those who are not self-employed (ie: employees) there are fringes to consider. This total figure is a variable one usually around 15-20% according to their wage and the state regulations which change from time to time.
The working week is typically 6 days but this can be adapted as necessary. Sunday is usually a rest day but the 7th day of a shooting week does not have to be a Sunday. However, unless an exception is made and agreed in advance with the crew, a surcharge is usually expected for any work falling on Sundays and this is usually at double rate. Public holidays worked also have a penalty of at least double rate unless an exception is agreed with the crew in advance. There are state regulations that call for triple rate but this can usually be negotiated in advance with the crew. There are no union rules and crews hours are often flexible. A working day is typically 12 hours including a one-hour lunch or dinner break. A running lunch with flexible terms is also possible.
The working day starts from the unit base or location. There is no compensation for traveling time since the islands are very small, except in cases when traveling between islands. There is no surcharge/salary bump for crew working in Gozo. It is advisable that the production manager or producer clarifies these issues as early as possible.
When filming in Gozo or Comino where Maltese crew are expected to reside, a per diem will have to be agreed.
Night shoots are charged at the regular crew rates without any extra charges. Where possible a turnaround of 11 hours between wrap call and set call should be respected, but exceptions can be made. Overtime, where applicable, is calculated at one and a half (x 1.5).
Almost all Maltese speak fluent English. Although the pool of human resources in Malta is very limited and just enough to service 80% of any one production at a given time, these few that exist have a great deal of experience with international shoots. It is important to note that many key roles are not available from Malta and these usually have to be brought from the European mainland.
A comprehensive and detailed crew rate sheet is available upon request.
Camera equipment is brought in from the mainland by air or by truck, typically from Rome, Munich or London. Since Malta is in the EU paperwork at the border is greatly simplified if equipment is arriving from another EU country. Recently there have been initiatives by an Italian company to provide camera equipment in Malta. One of them has already started stocking some equipment physically on the island.
A privately owned jimy-jib with a 2 or 3-axis remote head is available on the island. A small grip package including dollies also exists on the island. It is best to confirm availability of such equipment as quickly as possible as some of it is not permanently based or it may easily be booked on another job.
For 500kg of equipment from and back to London allow around 3500 Euros. For a 40ft-45ft container driven from Milan to Malta allow approximately 3300 Euros each way. The same container from London will cost around 4550 Euros each way. These rates, although comprehensive in their estimates, are meant as guidelines only and it is highly suggested you get specific quotes as per your shipping lists.
Note all equipment coming from outside the EU need an ATA Carnet. Otherwise a Temporary Import (TI) document would need to be issued and this can cause delays in clearance if you have not already prepared a bond. Where a TI is involved from a non-EU country you will have to give the Malta Customs Department a bond or bank guarantee of around 25% of the declared value of the shipment. This deposit is returned once the shipment is exported from the island.
The government grants a rebate up to 27% on selected expenditure spent in Malta, applicable to film and TV productions but not to TV commercials or music videos. Productions benefiting from the rebate will need to pass a standard Cultural Test.
A small private company provides a small package of HMIs and gennies. Recently a couple Italian companies are gradually also stocking some equipment on the island. A few AC gennies on Malta are super-silent. For local gennies on a short-term hire allow 233 Euros/day for 100KVA and 652 Euros/day for a 350KVA. Price excludes fuel and sometimes transport, depending on length of hire. If you shop around it is sometimes possible to find cheaper gennies.
There are generally no government location fees for shooting in streets or exterior public locations. However it is common to pay 'donations' to local councils and these usually range from 117 to 233 Euros per day. In extreme cases it may be higher if it is a very large location and/or involves major construction and only if the filming is causing inconvenience to the local residents. For houses or palaces which are privately owned, location fees usually range anywhere from 466 to 2331 Euros per day.
Fees for government-owned buildings usually range from 233 to 466 Euros per day. There are exceptions when such fees can go as high as 700 Euros per day or even higher. In greater recognition of the importance of the film servicing industry, the government is trying to minimize such fees for producers.
In summer 2009 the Malta Film Commission has been requested to look into the matter where a local council demanded exorbitant fees. Donations are always at the discretion of the producer and they are typically commensurate to the level of inconvenience caused to the council and/or its residents. Any demand by a council for a shooting fee is against the rules and regulations set up by the Government.
A police constable costs around 10 Euros/hour depending on his rank. Private security can be cheaper and contracted at between 5.82 to 6.41 Euros per hour.
Malta is renowned for the popular water tanks based at Mediterranean Film Studios. For the use of the Shallow Water Tank using a wide range of SFX and labour, allow 5000 to 9000 Euros per day depending on the amount of machinery you require (ie the size of the storm or other effects). Discounts are possible for long periods of hire. There are also one-time filling costs ranging from approx 1500 to 3000 Euros depending on which tank. Both the Shallow Water Tank and the Deep Water Tank, without any SFX machinery, cost around 3300 Euros per day for prep and 3500 Euros per day for filming. There is also an Insert Tank for closer shots underwater.
There are no proper "sound" stages on the island but there is a 5000 square foot warehouse usually hired at 950 Euros per day for short-term. Attractive weekly and long term deals are possible. There is also a large fort which the government readily offers to film productions at a negligible cost and where such films as "Gladiator" and "Troy" have been filmed.
Allow 100 and 140 Euros per week per office, excluding cost of water, electricity and cleaning.
Local fixed line calls cost around 12 Euro cents every five minutes. Local mobile calls cost between 20 to 25 Euro cents a minute. Good quality internet-based services have been established on the island which provide overseas calls at a low cost of approximately 3 Euro cents per minute to main European cities and to North America. Calls to mobile numbers in the same countries are around 25 Euro cents a minute.
All above prices exclude Value Added Tax (VAT) which stands at 7% for accommodation and 18% for all services and labour. This tax is refundable to foreign producers who film in Malta. In practice, the VAT refund can be effected anywhere from five to six months after the submission date of the accounts which generally occurs on a quarterly basis. The government pays an interest rate of 1% for any late refunds. The majority of refunds are made within five months.