Indie filmmaker Julian Galea makes films his way
‘Made in Malta’.
In less than three years, Julian Galea has made two indie features – Love to Paradise and Made In Malta – and has another in pre-production.
The Maltese-Australian filmmaker previously worked in construction management. However, after enjoying a two day filmmaking course when visiting New York back in 2009, he returned to Australia, sold everything and moved to NYC to study filmmaking in earnest. After that, he moved to LA and on return to Sydney, established production company Galea Pictures, working on a variety of music videos, corporate content and shorts.
Galea tells IF when he initially came back from The States he had several feature ideas he wanted to get made at the $1-3 million budget range. However, he found it difficult to get inroads with funding bodies and to get projects off the ground.
“The fact is, unless you have credits, it’s really tough for people to back you. So it got to a point creatively where I was busting at the seams to make something.
“I went back to the drawing board and I wrote something that I knew I could get made with limited resources and a limited amount of time.”
However, Galea wasn’t attracted to the typical one-room or two-room micro-budget features.
Instead, he wrote Love to Paradise, set in Malta where his family is originally from and where he knew he had access to locations. The film, shot in 2016, follows an American man, played by Myko Olivier (Glee) who returns to Malta to settle an inheritance. There, he meets a local artist (Marysia S. Peres, Assassin’s Creed) who challenges his way of thinking and with whom he embarks on a passionate romance.
The film had a limited run in Australian cinemas back in 2017, and was released in Malta for over a month. It was also awarded Best Film at its premiere at the Malta International Film Festival.
His current project, Made In Malta, was also set and shot the country. It follows a filmmaker (Greg Audino, Westworld) who’s in Malta for the European premiere of his first film when his ex-girlfriend (Ariadna Cabrol) shows up, and turns his life upside down.
Each film was shot on a tight schedule – Love to Paradise 12 days, Made In Malta eight days. In addition to writing, directing and producing, Galea shot and edited the films.
Made In Malta will make its Australian premiere in Melbourne tonight at Village Cinemas, Sunshine. The session is sold out, but another will be held July 14. It is currently available for pre-order on iTunes, for release July 3.
When Galea made Love to Paradise, a theatrical screening was never part of his release strategy – he was always planning to release it via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. However, direct conversations with exhibitors in Australia and Malta proved fruitful.
On self-distribution, he says: “It’s easier than I thought it would be. If exhibitors have a film they think they can make money from, then they want to program it. If they don’t, then they won’t. It also has a lot do with what you’re doing behind the scenes; they’ve got to see what type of traction you’re getting. Our Facebook page has got a lot of engagement. There’s an audience for this movie and they’re getting behind it. If they can see that you’re going to put bums on seats then they might be interested in programming your film.”
For Made In Malta, Galea has invested in social media marketing to promote it to his target audience, one he says is two-fold: Maltese expats, or those otherwise invested in seeing Malta on the big screen, and a travel-related audience – the tagline of the film is ‘How far can your love travel?’
“I wish I could just concentrate on directing films, which is what I love; I love writing, directing films and working with actors. That’s what I love to do. But as an indie filmmaker in today’s environment, unless you are part a marketer, part entrepreneur, you’re not getting heard.”
Galea is currently in pre-production on his next film, a road trip comedy he plans to shoot in the US. He is also developing around five other scripts. While he would like to eventually play with bigger budgets, in the interim Galea is content making films his way.
“For now I’m more than happy doing my own thing and making these films the way I want with complete creative control.”