The Malta Independent 9 June 2023, Friday
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Malta, We have a problem

Malta Independent Sunday, 8 November 2009, 00:00 Last update: about 10 years ago

The end of the world is nigh, and it’s up to Malta to come to the rescue. Josanne Cassar finds out more about Maltageddon, a new tongue-in-cheek feature film coming soon to a cinema near you

Alan Cassar and Keith Gatt have known each other since they used to produce popular rock operas in Birgu with the Vittoriosa Youth Club.

Wishing to branch out into another medium, they came up with the idea of this film which has been a year in the making.

Alan explains: “The well-known film Armageddon was our point of departure and we have parodied a few of the scenes, however that’s where the similarity ends. This is a spoof of what would happen if the end of the world were coming to an end, and the future of mankind was in Malta’s hands. What can you do…? The only thing is to take it lightly.”

The producers have taken the quirks and foibles for which the Maltese are renowned and used them to create this tongue-in-cheek comedy. There are characters from every way of life and every social class. What will appeal to audiences is the fact that they are being played by recognisable media personalities (not all of whom are actors).

The premise is that 14 astronauts are going to save the world; four of the astronauts are pilots, and ten are normal people who have been asked to take on this mission.

The first one chosen is Joe Demicoli (Joe Williz), because he is a bus driver, “and if he can drive in Malta he can drive on the moon.” He is married to Moira (Moira Delia) with whom he has a daughter Marilena.

Xandru Grech is an adventurous Maltese guy from Israel while Mario (il-Banana) Mifsud plays a pilot who is also a speed maniac. Felix Bustuttil plays the pilot Felix Powers.

Other characters are played by Eric Grech (from Simpatici), comic Dominic Said, radio presenter Arthur Caruana and DJ Ruby.

The head of MASA (Nasa) is Dominic Aquilina, a man who gives the impression that he knows what he’s doing, but really doesn’t.

Hector Bruno plays the President while Grace Borg has a cameo role as herself and so does Lou Bondi.

How did they get Lou to agree to this?

“We showed him the promo and he loved the idea, so we created a special edition of Bondiplus, one week to go before the world comes to an end. The idea is that he will do a special programme, a scoop with the 14 astronauts, with each of them telling us what their last request is.”

Asked how he went about casting the various roles Alan says, “I had specific characters in mind, and thought of people who would fit them perfectly.”

What pulls the different characters together however is that this is a parody of Maltese life.

“We start with a typical government department, with people skiving, etc and the same culture will be transported to MASA. There is a lot of political content, complete with slogans, to reflect reality. The idea is that five Labour supporters, five Nationalists and five floaters join forces to save the world. There is a kind of ‘moral’ to the story as well, because although it starts off with us poking fun at ourselves, and everything going wrong, when it comes to the crunch, they get their act together and the Maltese come together as one. There is a lot of patriotism, in fact the slogan of the film is “We are Maltese, we take no s**t….!”

Alan’s aim is to entertain people, to give them a film which will be fun and a good night out. This does not mean that he has skimped on production values.

“We built a space shuttle and several sets specifically for this film. I had people who worked on actual films like Troy working with me.”

It says a lot about Alan’s powers of persuasion that he convinced so many personalities to take part.

“It was a challenge because they are all very busy people so we had to fit around their schedules. A lot of them are not actors, but we managed to get a good performance out of them. Once they became involved in the project they each wanted to create their own character, to make him/her more three dimensional, so they all gave their input. They were allowed to change the lines to make the dialogue more realistic. As a film buff, I have learned that there is a certain way to film an actor to help him come across better. In comedy, you also have a license to change things so we used dialects, and if people use English words, we left them in.”

The idea of the film had been brewing in Alan’s mind for a long time.

“Originally, it was going to be for TV, but it would have been too dragging. Then I met Lyona Xuereb during a musical and we formed Square Wheel Entertainment. We have a great team, because I come up with the ideas, Lyona has a lot of contacts, Roderick Galea is very hands on, Keith Grech is a great scriptwriter and Christian Laganun is good at production. Noel Calleja has come up with an original score, although we use tracks by Maltese artists as well.”

Alan also considers himself lucky that he found backing from cinemas and KRS film distributors.

“They all loved the idea, because it was a spoof of American films. The hardest thing was to keep it secret and confidential so that no one would steal the idea.”

Maltageddon will premiere on Friday 4 December. Meanwhile, Square Wheel Entertainment are busy at work on their five year plan to create films which will entertain people.

“We don’t want anything too dark or too serious…we think there is enough of that. We want people to enjoy themselves.”

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