|TV mini-series Helen of Troy to be shot in Malta
Author: Fiona Galea Debono
2 May 2002
The Malta Film Commission is experiencing yet another busy
period, with a number of foreign productions showing an interest and making serious
enquires about filming in Malta.
Among the many projects heading Malta's way is a two-part,
four-hour, TV mini-series, Helen of Troy, which starts shooting in various locations at
the beginning of summer over a period of about two months.
About 95 per cent of the $14 million-budget production is
being shot in Malta, which is doubling as Athens, Sparta and Troy, the MFC said.
Helen of Troy is produced and distributed by USA Cable
Entertainment - part of Vivendi Group, the largest media group worldwide - and is to be
aired in the US early next year.
It is being directed by the renowned TV director,
Hungarian-born, Peter Medak, and scripted by Ronni Kern, while a number of top-class
actors have been mentioned for the series, although their names cannot yet be confirmed.
The producers approached the Malta Film Commission
representative in Los Angeles and meetings were held earlier last month. Following a recce
in Malta, they decided to shoot the bulk of the production locally.
Malta was selected for the TV film primarily due to the sets
in Fort Ricasoli and the fort itself, as well as other locations, the short distances and
competitive costs, the MFC said.
Helen of Troy marks the third TV project to be almost
completely shot in Malta in 2002. Shooting of the TV series Julius Caesar and the filmed
version of the opera, The Death of Klinghoffer, was completed earlier last month.
Julius Caesar pumped around $14 million into the economy over
Commenting on the latest project, the parliamentary secretary
in the Economic Services Ministry, George Hyzler, remarked that USA Cable Entertainment's
decision to shoot the series in Malta confirmed yet again that the island was turning into
a reliable and popular film destination.
"The various, unspoiled locations, Fort Ricasoli and the
sets in particular, as well as the hard work and professionalism of the MFC have
contributed to attract the project to Malta, which was competing with Croatia's Dalmatian
Dr Hyzler commented that if Malta lost its reliable
reputation on one project, irrespective of its budget, it could lose business for the
coming years. The government and the MFC would continue to do their utmost to satisfy the
needs of every production, he said, confident that the public had understood that the film
business was not a "rip-off industry".
The MFC has received encouraging feedback both from the
producers of Julius Caesar and Klinghoffer, who said they were looking forward to shooting
in Malta in the future.
The past three months have been busy for Malta, following a
quieter 2001, Dr Hyzler said, speaking about the need for more human resources in the
business and encouraging the private sector to consider the potential of the industry and
start investing in it.
He said Malta needed a sound stage and other ancillary
services and that while the Business Promotion Act catered for incentives for the
industry, feedback from the local private sector was still low.
A training programme for the industry would soon be launched
to help Malta increase its workforce in the field, Dr Hyzler said.
According to Variety, an influential daily trade newspaper,
the mini-series on the legendary life of Helen of Troy - the face that launched a thousand
ships - traces the story of how a savage war was waged over the beauty of one woman,
Helen, who risked everything to be with her lover, the young warrior Paris of Troy.
The production team was looking at either trying to lure a
big name, known for both her beauty and her acting prowess, or at launching a worldwide
search for the perfect Helen.
The mini-series has been described as "a big story,
which also involves an interesting personal story that carries you through".