01-09-2020

Malta Producers' Association Sees Opportunity for Local Film Professionals After UK Imposes Quarantine Restrictions

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VALLETTA: The Malta Producers' Association (MPA) has said there should be “increased interest in maximising use of local cast and crews” when film productions shoot on the Mediterranean island as a result of the UK’s decision to impose quarantine restrictions on travel to Malta. Many of the casts and crews of foreign productions shooting in Malta come from the UK.

MPA Chairman, Simon Sansone, said that while the travel restrictions between the two countries "presents complications for the smooth running of UK productions here and is a drop in confidence for our country", this should result in foreign productions making more use of local crew – many of whom have vast experience working on international shoots.

This is because the main difficulty in restricting movement between the two countries will be “with crew and cast required to work for only a short stint in Malta since the prospect of having to quarantine for two weeks upon their return is not an attractive one.” However, he also conceded that “individuals may still find it worthwhile”, referring to UK crew who might accept such inconvenience, since “work is thin on the ground in the UK”.

Elaborating on the situation on the island, Sansone said that, while COVID-19 numbers had largely been brought under control during the spring and early summer, a recent spike in virus infections has caused “a sense of apprehension and more caution by production companies.”. However, he continued, “there is also a growing sense that working around COVID-19 environments is a reality we all need to get used to as we work to find a balance between economy and health.”

He pointed to the Government’s new recently imposed measures – including the closure of bars and clubs; the restricting of public gatherings to a maximum of 15; and the enforcement of mask-wearing in public spaces – as evidence of effort to reign in the pandemic on the island.

“Instructions from the Health Authorities are that film/TV productions are exempt from the limit on gatherings of 15 persons as long as the filming spaces are effectively controlled and closed to the public,” he continued, emphasising the efforts film and TV production companies on the island are also making to ensure a safe working environment.

“There is a vast amount of publicly available safety guidelines and companies are being very cautious by, at no small cost, designing, imposing and implementing rules on cast and crew that maximise social distancing, PPE wearing and sanitization procedures that effectively reduce the risk of transmission to a bare minimum. More thought could always be put into creating or adapting scripts to be more contained and ‘COVID friendly’,” he explained.

He renewed the call for more attention to be accorded the Maltese indigenous sector – as opposed to pouring most resources into the servicing sector, which relies on travel and the importation of crew and equipment.