Malta on Ice

A hot summer day on the island of Malta in the year 1976.
A large pool, gorgeous warm water ... some icebergs drift by.
Come on ... you are on the set of the Dino de Laurentiis film 'ORCA - the killer whale'!
For the filming they recreated the icy coast of Labrador in a natural horizon water tank on Malta.
Jim Hole, mechanical effects for 'ORCA', knows every fish in the pool as it was built at his request for
the tricky model shots of the movie 'The Bedford Incident', 1964.
The Special Effects for 'ORCA' were done by Alex Weldon and Basilio Cortijo.
At least two different whale models were built. 
One was only about a meter long for swimming/pop up scenes and the other was a giant of several meters 
with mechanical effects.
Splendid artificial whales made out of fiberglass, rubber and latex.
SPFX man Basilio Cortijo was the poor guy who had to crawl in the big whale model 
for the mechanical effects (open mouth/...).
The excellent 'Labrador Set' was designed by the famous Set Designer Mario Garbuglia.

Mario Garbuglia, born 27.5.1927, was a renowned Set and Production Designer and so much more. A real artist!
He designed wonderful sets for different Visconti movies (Il Gattopardo, 1963/...), cult movies (Barbarella, 1968) 
and even designed the sets of epic adventures (Omar Muktar, 1981 - SPFX Supervisor Kit West!).
For Director Michael Anderson and his killer whale 'Orca' he designed the polar region of Labrador, 
with icebergs and drifting ice floes. 
Mr.Garbuglia died on the 30th of March 2010.

The total size of the water tank (400ft x 300ft x 6ft deep) was used for the set.
Charlotte Rampling and Richard Harris filming a polar scene in the hot summer on Malta.
The make-up crew is on standby ... all sweating in the heat.
Behind the ice edge ... the Mediterranean Sea! Malta makes miracles possible!
Nolan (Richard Harris): 'What in Hell are you?'
Dry runs on a hot day at the coast of Labrador...pardon... Malta!
A Polar Expedition ... in undershirt. Frozen noses? Nope, sunburn!
Thick sweater and wool hat ... oh no, must I?
There he is, the Whale ... and the woolly hat!
The harpoon hits the whale ... or is it a blade cutting in a mat of fiberglass?
Charlotte Rampling and Richard Harris on Set, Malta 1976. 
The sun burns - Richard Harris in black rubber boots...grinning.
You have to be prepared for anything...meltwater...sudden the 
summertime on Malta.
Charlotte Rampling, Richard Harris and Will Sampson chatting with Director Michael Anderson, Malta 1976.
Orca ate my beautiful new wool hat... Man I'm pissed!
Damn, this cold, I see nothing but bright colors ...
FX man Basilio Cortijo sails the whale through the pool. 
You can clearly see that the latex skin is torn at the mouth of Orca.
The ice is pretty shaky ...but... my beloved woolly hat is back!
What am I doing here? It's fucking hot and I play the seal...
Holiday on Ice! A nice effect, looks great!
Come on...Orca is hungry! One he already has.
FX man Basilio Cortijo is in the belly of the whale.
The Labrador Set of Mario Garbuglia is excellent...the icebergs...fantastic!
The false whale moves a little stiffly...but still good enough.
The open mouth effect is not the best work, in my humble opinion.
Director Michael Anderson ('Logan's Run')
Charlotte Rampling laughs heartily. Dance with me my little sweetheart...
German Lobby Cards. A model ship trapped in ice.
Model miniature house collapses. Mini Orca nibbling on wood model?
Charlotte is enjoying the summer on Malta.
The actress was living in a well-appointed house on Malta with her family 
during the filming of Orca.
Barnaby, the son of Charlotte Rampling, is jumping into the Explorer III.
What a fun...
But the shooting must go on...

The two famous water tanks of the Mediterranean Film Studios (MFS) on Malta.
The big one was built for the James B.Harris movie 'The Bedford Incident', 1964.
Jim Hole, the special effects supervisor of 'The Bedford Incident' needed a 
fully controllable environment for the miniature model ship shooting.
It is probably also due to Jim Hole that the 'Orca' production was filmed in Malta.
He was responsible for the mechanical effects on 'Orca' and he knew the outstanding options in Malta.
The deep water tank was built 1979 for the 'Raise the Titanic' production.
Special effects on 'Raise the Titanic' by Alex Weldon ('Orca')!
Alex Weldon retired after the Titanic movie.
'The Bedford Incident' tank (1964) used for 'Orca': 400ft x 300ft x 6ft deep.
'Raise the Titanic' tank (1979): 354ft x 162ft x 36ft deep.
The MFS natural horizon water tanks have become a great location for a large number 
of international film productions. 
The Mediterranean Film Studios have their own very interesting website for more informations: MFS.
They also have an outstanding model making department, which has earned a very good reputation.
In the late 60s Bowie Films LTD was here to film different miniature and special effects
scenes for 'Attack on the Iron Coast' (water tank), 'Mosquito Squadron', 'Adventures of Gerard' 
and 'The Italian Job'.
See my report here: Model Castle.
James B.Harris was the producer of three Stanley Kubrick movies before he directed 'The Bedford Incident'.
This is the first film of James B.Harris as Director, and what a good one!
The model miniature effects are of exceptional quality.
A ship plows through the wild sea. What a great model!
Perfectly built, elegant, and how it moves in the water...brilliant!
The problem with a water tank scene is, next to the size of the model, the position of the camera.
If the positon is too high you leave the tank ... filming the Mediterranean Sea.
The Coast of Greenland ... in the Malta pool.
For 'The Bedford Incident' Jim Hole (SPFX) worked on the Coast of Greenland.
Many years later he was back in the water tank ... and again in the ice.
This time in the polar region of Labrador for 'ORCA'.
A night scene on the coast of Greenland. Icebergs everywhere.
On the left side you can see that the artificial icebergs dip a little into the water. 
Well done! 
Incredibly, this is a model miniature in the water tank on Malta, built by the British specialists Shawcraft Model LTD.
The models of Shawcraft appeared in more than 20 films. 
The company built especially ship and aircraft models for war movies but also many other models.
In these films you can find (or not, because they are invisible good) Shawcraft models (a small selection):
'The Malta Story', 'The Purple Plain', 'Quatermass 2', 'Reach for the Sky', 'The Battle of the River Plate', 
'Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst', 'A Night to Remember', 'Sink the Bismarck', 
'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', 'The Guns of Navarone' and of course in 'The Bedford Incident'.
'Sink the Bismarck!' (1960) - The film shows some outstanding 'Shawcraft' models.
Terrific! - A naval battle in the pool.
Neat swell in the water tank.
Good camera work, it looks quite impressive.