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French action film shot in several locations

A fight sequence for Largo Winch being filmed in one of the tanks at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Rinella. Photo: Abyss Diving.

A fight sequence for Largo Winch being filmed in one of the tanks at the Mediterranean Film Studios in Rinella. Photo: Abyss Diving.

The French adventure/ thriller Largo Winch has recently completed an intensive three-and-a-half weeks of filming in Malta.

Based on the popular story of a character by the same name, about a young man who inherits one the world's greatest fortunes after being purposely adopted by a billionaire, it is considered to be France's most challenging production, in terms of budget and size, of the year, said Malcolm Scerri-Ferrante, the unit production manager for the film.

When the billionaire is murdered, Largo finds himself in a race against time to save his life and his father's empire.

The film is directed by young, up-and-coming Jerome Salle, who is considered to be "hot" in France, following his last film Anthony Zimmer, nominated for a Cesar for Best First Film, Mr Scerri Ferrante said.

Filming in Malta was carried out in various localities, showing its versatility. They included the water tanks at the Mediterranean Film Studios, which were what initially attracted the producers to the island - the opening scene involves an underwater struggle between two men.

It was also shot in a government school, which acted as an orphanage and a police station in Eastern Europe, St Edwards College, which stood in for a Swiss boarding school, Mtahleb and the airport grounds, which doubled as the Balkans.

The main restaurant of the Corinthia Palace Hotel in Attard portrayed an upmarket New York eatery. A Boeing 727 was also utilised for the filming. Complicated scenes were shot on the runway and nearby after several weeks of intensive planning with Malta International Airport management.

When Mr Salle was shown around by Film Commissioner Luisa Bonello, he immediately realised the island had much more potential for his film and decided to scout for more locations, Mr Scerri-Ferrante said.

The financial incentives and assistance of the Malta Film Commission helped keep the producers interested in Malta until they decided to extend their filming to over three weeks, he continued. The movie is also being filmed in other countries including France, Sicily and Hong Kong.

Despite the fact that Largo Winch has a budget of €25 million - unusually high for an independent European film - it has huge aspirations, with a lot of action sequences, Mr Scerri-Ferrante said.

"In Hollywood, a film of the sort would have double the budget. However, it was the conscious decision of the producers to use unknown talent and to produce it in a cost-effective manner, meaning harder work because you are trying to achieve a lot with less money," he said.

Casting for actors with speaking parts and some 350 extras began locally in May. Coordinated by Edward Said, five local actors were chosen for secondary parts. Of the 100-strong crew, about 50 were Maltese, said the Producer's Creative Partnership, the local production company, engaged with recruiting crew and managing the movie.

Filming of Largo Winch is currently continuing in Sicily and a number of Maltese technicians and assistants have joined the French crew there.

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