Shaun Vella – “When a stolen moment took me to Norway”  17/07/2019
 Shaun Vella – “When a stolen moment took me to Norway”

As winner of the Best Film of the Malta Youth Film Festival 2019 – ‘Mument Misruq’ last May, Shaun Vella won a trip to Norway to participate in one of the workshops offered during the Nordic Youth Film Festival that takes place every year in June in Tromso.  Looking back at his experience, Shaun states:

“From what I experienced at the Nordic Youth Film Festival (NUFF), the whole aim is not to create the best film ever done, but to get to work in a team with completely new different individuals from different countries, different backgrounds, different cultures, different religions and different skillsets.  The workshop consisted of being created into a group, and together with your group to produce a short film in just 6 days.  All in all, I feel that this opportunity was a learning curve both career wise and as personal growth. Apart from having had the opportunity to participate in such a workshop, through such an experience I met many different people from all over the world.”

During the first day, a welcoming meeting was done where everyone met and introduced themselves to each other. From that, groups were formed as also given a mentor as a form of guidance. The workshops were held at a creative hub space dedicated for creatives, whilst we were given a tour of the place we visited a fully modern equipped music recording studio which was used by a group of musicians and sound designers who assisted us by creating any needed music for our film. Apart from the music studio we also toured our workshop offices and other spaces. Later on that day, all workshop participants attended a local art exhibition being held in Tromso Norway. 

The second day is where the groups commenced working on their short films. The day started out by our mentor organizing an ice-breaking session for us, a small session where we got to ask questions getting to know each other and our different backgrounds, interest, etc. The group I was involved in included other 6 filmmakers from different countries, such as; Germany, Norway, Palestine, Turkey, Russia, and Italy. Once we got to know one another, our mentor gave us full independence to brainstorm ideas for our short film. Throughout the day, some potential ideas where developed, however being scrapped out. 

The Third day was a continuation of the previous day, a day dedicated to developing a narrative. During this time, we all felt the pressure as we knew that we had to progress with production and post-production. Whilst trying to develop a story we took the time to split roles between us all. Personally, I was mainly involved as DOP and editor, However, I still assisted with some scriptwriting. By this time, as a group effort and with some assistance from our mentor we managed to develop a story and immediately started working on the script. Other team members also started working on some pre-production such as casting and location scouting. Later on that day, NUFF treated all workshop participants by taking us to visit the Fjellheisen mountain, where one can witness a stunning view overlooking Tromso from above. After that, myself and some other team members hed back to continue working on the script. 

The fourth day, the team made sure to conclude pre-production so we would be able to start filming the next day. Therefore, this day was dedicated to getting organised with the props, make a shot list, storyboards and planning out a shooting schedule for the next day.

The fifth and sixth day. These two days were dedicated to film everything that was needed in order to progress to post-production. Originally planned, filming had to be finished all in just one day, but this was just unrealistic. Therefore, we took another day to complete filming. This is where I was mostly involved, filming, visualising shots and turning a script into visual to the best ability. Once filming was done, as I was also in charge in editing I took the rest to the day to organise and transcode footage in preparation to the following day. 

The seventh day, just one day left to complete our short films. Cutting a long story short, I've spent endless hours editing, due to the tight timeframe we only had a day to edit out short film. First I completed a rough cut, then slowly slowly eliminating problems/errors and making it look better, progressing to a final cut. Simultaneously, sound department was working on producing music for all the groups. Fortunately, working all through the night I managed to complete my duties. 

The eight day, meaning deadline day. Our deadline was to complete our film by Friday 28th June at 10:00 am. Once our short films where done, we had the.opprtunity to see some festival screenings. This marked the end of the workshop. Later that day, our short films were screened at the opening of the festival screenings.

The last few days were mostly free time to enjoy and see the city as also attended some more festival screenings. These last few days, us participants attended different ceremonies like the closing ceremony where everyone took the opportunity to say thier goodbyes to each other. 

To conclude, all in all this was an amazing experience where I got the chance to work with other creatives that come from different parts of the world. This journey was a journey full of ups and downs, both professionally as also personally. Throughout these 10 days of workshop, I faced a series of challenges, the biggest one being  work with people whom I never met before coming from different nationalities with language barriers. The tight time frame was also a challenge as everyone had to stay up to schedule. 

The Malta Youth Film Festival is a programme organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collabortion with the Malta Film Foundation at the end.