Sinbad to be shot here for Sky1
US cable giant HBO chooses Malta for new TV series
Sinbad will be shot in Malta for Sky1 next year, marking the first time an entire series of a television production is being filmed on the island.
Usually, only individual episodes, or parts of them, are filmed here, Malta Film Commissioner Luisa Bonello pointed out.
The series is being produced by Impossible Pictures, a multi-award-winning independent television production company for Sky1 and BBC Worldwide.
Ms Bonello said the Film Commission had been in discussions with the production for over a year.
Initially, Malta was intended to be one of three possible overseas locations but in the end the decision was to shoot the entire series here, beating regular competition from Spain and North African countries, she said.
It was the financial incentives and the Mediterranean Film Studios facilities that offered the production the security it required, she said. The developing local crew, the film-servicing and marine-filming capabilities, strengthened by the recent uninterrupted run of productions, contributed to the final decision to base the entire shoot in Malta.
The production is set to film for several months in 2011, using various locations, the tanks and even out at sea, she said.
Sinbad is part of Sky1’s multi-million-pound HD drama investment fund. Its filming is scheduled to start in February to be premiered the following winter on the non-terrestrial channel, which attracts more than 17 million unique viewers every month.
The 13-part series features a 21-year-old Sinbad, fleeing from his home in Basra, Iraq. The search is now on to find an actor to play the classic, iconic role of the flawed hero, taking him from the eighth to the 21st century.
“This unique series will have the ambition of Lost, the pace of 24 and take the viewer to visually stunning locations on both sea and land. Sky’s Sinbad will be a multi-layered series for today’s prime-time audience,” the channel said.
“This is a hugely ambitious project... We’re confident that Sinbad will confound the audience’s expectations and create a big, noisy series for Sky 1,” the executive producers commented.
And the Film Commission is equally pleased about its collaboration with groundbreaking US cable television giant HBO, which chose Malta to film the series A Game of Thrones.
This is the first possibility of long-term, repeat business from a television production, Ms Bonello said. If the series is commissioned beyond its first season, it is likely that Malta would be used again in the future.
The Film Commission had been in discussion with HBO since 2007, she said, pointing out that it was the first time a television series of this calibre and size was being filmed on the island. The six-week shoot is scheduled to start later in the year.
Initially, Morocco was considered, but earlier this year, it was decided to use Malta as the required southern location.
Malta’s film-servicing industry was continuing to experience an unprecedented level of incoming productions, the Film Commission had said.
Among the minimum 14 productions expected to be filmed here by the end of 2010, set to inject millions of euro into the economy, is the feature film The Devil’s Double, where Malta stood in for Iraq in a story about Saddam Hussein’s son’s double.
Last month alone saw the filming of a Russian docu-drama, a UK docu-drama and an Italian television film from a company that is producing its third film for Mediaset in Malta this year.
Among the productions confirmed for the rest of 2010 is an Italian feature film, followed by work on the sequel to the successful German children’s film Vicky the Viking, being shot in 3D for a month at the water tanks, and a French film The Pig Of Gaza, with Malta doubling for Gaza.