What a journey it has been. When the 2012 Carnival ended I started editing footage a friend of mine (thanks Anthony) had shot during various performances by the Bugeja Carnival Company. I immediately started thinking that for 2013 we must up the ante. All the effort, sweat, blood, tears that go into creating these costumes which really are works of art must somehow be acknowledged and not kept hidden.
Cue September 2012. Work on the costumes had started in earnest and dance rehearsals were underway. Joe and Doris, the husband and wife team who run this Carnival company from their garage were all too willing to be a part of this documentary of sorts. So once they gave me the go-ahead, shooting started. There was no brief, I pretty much had total creative control when it came to ‘behind-the-scenes’ filming and interviews. All Doris and Joe wanted was to show the tremendous amount of work and commitment they undertake each year. How to capture this was up to me.
I had never attempted something of this scale before and with being a still photographer this was a steep learning curve, and definitely out of my comfort zone.
Shooting the interviews was fun, one can really see how the mind of these massively talented people work. Doris and Joe are very protective on who to bring in their inner circle so I expected them to be hesitant in front of the camera. To mitigate this, I roped in Alison and Anthony and together we came up with all the questions for the interviews. With Alison’s familiar face, I think Joe and Doris were more at ease for the interviews.
As weeks and months passed by I got really immersed in this project. At times it wasn’t easy. To get a few clips I sometimes had to wait until the wee hours of the morning – these people sometimes keep on working until 4am! Other times I really felt like I was intruding but that was probably just me.
While I was present for the laughs, I was also there for the arguments. Doris runs a tight ship and woe betide anyone who dares question her judgement. Well, that’s only partially true as she listens to opinions but she has final say and honestly, she rarely gets it wrong.
The couple of weeks leading to Carnival 2013 were crazy. Emotions ran high but thankfully I survived to tell the tale. Unfortunately the weather didn’t help but Anthony did manage to get enough performances shots. We did manage to spend an afternoon filming the dance at the heliport runway. This gave us the opportunity to film the dance from different angles. A huge thanks goes to Joseph Theuma from the Ministry of Gozo for helping us get the necessary permits for this.
And so this nine month adventure has come to a close, during editing I had to condense a huge amount of material into a film of no more than 90 minutes long. Hopefully I managed to tell the tale of this merry gang who each year set out to celebrate the Gozo Carnival in style and manage to impress all who watch them.
The clip you see below is just a short preview. Anyone who wishes to view this DVD just contact me, I will be more than happy to provide you with a copy.
Thanks to all contributors and the talented dancers and an even bigger thanks to Doris and Joe who gave me this opportunity. Looking forward to (hopefully) seeing you again next year.