Minister Manuel Mallia, together with the Malta Film Commissioner Peter Busuttil has visited the Mediterranean Film Studios, where the BBC production The Whale is presently being filmed.
The Minister met crew and cast, as well as members of the production team. This is the first production that will benefit from the increased financial incentives and Minister Mallia stated that the film industry needs to remain competitive and that the whole area should be designated to offering services to the film industry.
Earlier last month the Minister for Gozo, Dr Anton Refalo visited the film set  of The Whale, when part of the production was being undertaken in Gozo.
Geographically Rinella and Ricasoli have always been associated with the film industry and the government plans to increase the facilities and services offered.
Minister Mallia also mentioned that training was a priority and the talks were underway with relevant Ministries to create training programmes for full-time and part-time students.
This included the initiative currently being undertaken of providing training for skilled and unskilled workers in the film industry, as a result of the funds obtained by the Malta Film Commission from the European Social Funds. This training will commence later this year.
The Whale is a 1×90 full drama television film for BBC One, BBC Worldwide and Discovery. It is fully commissioned and planned to shoot from April 2013. Written by Terry Cafolla, directed by Alrick Riley and produced by John Chapman. Filming started on the 8th April and will continue until the 12th May 2013.
Rebate for the Financial Incentives application was submitted on 8th March 2013. Filming will take place in a number of locations in Malta and Gozo including Wied il-Ghasri, Mediterranean Film Studios, on open water. 97% of the production will be set in Malta.
The Whale is the real story that inspired the classic novel Moby Dick, and is one of history’s greatest stories of survival at sea. The film follows the ill-fated voyage of The Essex through the eyes of the cabin boy Thomas Nickerson who, at 14, was the youngest member of the crew and one of only eight survivors of the shipwreck.
Before he died in 1883, aged 78, he wrote down a detailed factual account of his experiences which forms the basis of The Whale’s chronology, geography, characters, and main events.
This is an action-packed narrative in which against all odds Nickerson comes through the worst that nature can throw at him, growing up fast in the process. He faces the destructive force of sea-storms, the power of whales, the brutal desolation of the sun and sea after the shipwreck, and finally the grim realities of cannibalism as his only means of survival.
At its emotional heart is Nickerson’s coming-of-age, where, as an orphan, he is confronted by three powerful male role models – the captain, the first mate, and a black steward. As our narrative develops his views on what makes a man switches dramatically as he sees how these role model respond under some of life’s most extreme pressures.
“Throughout we explore some universal themes – What is Man’s place on Earth? How does humanity relate to the planet and its creatures? And what lengths will Man go to in order to survive. Woven within our story is a vivid depiction of the 19th century whaling industry, its importance to the world in an age before petroleum, the reality of its economics and operation, and the life and society of the sperm whale itself, one of the ocean’s greatest creatures,” the producers said.
The total overall budget of the production is £2,213,684. The total eligible expenditure on which the rebate is calculated is estimated to be at £1,192,413. The Malta and EU spend is estimated to be £1,704,423. According to the cultural test, The Whale obtained 77 points, thus qualifying for a rebate of 23% of its total eligible expenditure. On the basis of this analysis, the estimated amount to be rebated to the production would not exceed £301,680.
Jonas Armstrong leads the cast as First Mate Owen Chase with Adam Rayner (The Hunted) as Captain Pollard, Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones, Stella) as Joy; David Gyasi (Cloud Atlas, War Horse) as Peterson and Jolyon Coy (The Hollow Crown) as Lawrence. Also starring Jassa Ahluwalisa, John Boyega and Ferdinand Kingsley and introducing Charles Furness as the young Tom Nickerson.
The Whale is executive produced by Eamon Hardy, award-winning Factual Executive, whose credits include Who Bombed Omagh (RTS winner) and Monkeys Rats And Me (Grierson Winner) and Ruth Caleb, Drama Executive and EON Lifetime Achievement Award Women in Film winner, whose credits include A Short Stay In Switzerland (Broadcast award and BAFTA nominee) and Bullet Boy. The producers are Mike Dormer, whose credits include Clocking Off (BAFTA winner) and his executive produced credits include Pompeii – The Last Day (BAFTA Winner) along with John Chapman, whose credits include The Lost Prince (BAFTA winner) and The Street (BAFTA winner). Writer Terry Cafolla’s credits include BAFTA-nominated Holy Cross and Messiah.
The Whale is being assisted by Film Service Provider: Latina Pictures Ltd