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Meet the Finalist: Chris & Maurice Micallef, "The Normans"

Tell us about yourself, and about The Normans.

CMM Productions is composed of a father and son team, namely Maurice (84 years of age) and his son Chris (52 years of age).

Maurice, has an impressive track record in film-making, which goes back to 1964 when he produced his first documentary ‘A Glance at Valletta’-a twelve-minute insight of the capital city. In 1972, with the help of the Italian government, Maurice was sent to RAI studios in Rome where he gained technical know-how and experience which was to become an asset in his film-making career. The a critically-acclaimed winning documentary about ‘The Phoenicians’ which has garnered no less than 24 international awards amongst them the Grand Jury Prize in the New York International Film and Video Festival in 2005, brought to life the Phoenician world as never seen before and deals with who were the Phoenicians, what were they famous for and what was their effect on the Maltese population.

Chris’s research on the Mnajdra and Tal Qadi megalithic temples, both located in Malta, were published in prestigious scientific journals. It established that the Mnajdra lower temple is aligned towards the different phases of the moon and verified the possible use of an ancient measurement to construct this megalithic temple. This besides the identification of visible stars, formed from small cup-marks carved on a standing stone at Mnajdra. The Tal Qadi stone which was found at the Tal Qadi temple, limits of Burmarrad most probably represents the interval of days between certain moon phases as these fit into the sequence recorded on this stone. This, alongside findings related to the alignment of the temple with the sun and moon along the main axis of the megalithic temple. Both subjects were documented in two separate productions. The ‘Tal Qadi stone’ documentary achieved 20 international awards in film and video festivals around the world amongst which was the Jury Award in the Mountain Film Festival in 2013 held in the USA.

Their recent production ‘Kannizzati Fishing’ which deals on how the ‘dorado’ is caught around the Maltese Islands has to-date been awarded 41 international film awards, whereas their latest production ‘The Normans’ has to-date been awarded with 32 international film awards.

Today Maurice is retired. Between 1954 and 1959, he worked at Saint Luke’s Hospital as a radiographer and later at the bacteriological laboratory. Later in 1964 he was a technical officer at the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology at Msida, Malta. Chris who is an engineer by profession has a doctorate in social sciences from the University of Leicester and works as a Department Manager (People Management) at Jobsplus, Malta.Throughout their filming career, both Chris and Maurice managed to win 274 awards in international film and video festivals on three continents. Maurice was awarded the National Order of Merit during Republic Day celebrations in 2014 for his outstanding film-making career and representing Malta with his award-winning productions whereas Chris was awarded the service medal to the Republic of Malta in 2016 for his research on Maltese megalithic temples.

Share a memorable moment you experienced working on this project.

One of the best memorable moments whilst working on the documentary ‘The Normans’ was when we used the green screen. It was indeed a new experience that made the difference for this documentary in terms of visuals. This goes for all the re-enactments that were filmed. The documentary has about 80% based on re-enactments.

Another memorable moment was collecting all research documents, finalizing the script and finally visualizing it, which indeed we must admit, was no easy task!

But the best memorable moment was when we were awarded Best Documentary-Feature in the New York Film Awards Competition, earlier this year. That was indeed memorable!

Name 3 collaborators that you'd take with you to any other project.

The first collaborator who has always believed in us is ONE GROUP. We would like to thank Jason Micallef (Chairman), Ruth Vella Micallef and Roberto Francalanza for their continuous support.

The second collaborator is Brand Expo Design Limited. They provide us with technical expertise as regards to filming issues. To this effect, we would like to thank Samuel Agius Livori (Director), Darren Parnis (cameraman) and Antoan Attard (computer graphics).

The third collaborators are Show of Arms and 4 Teenth Productions. They are indeed true re-enactor professionals who have always sustained us with their extra mile when it came to re-enactment filming and professional advice.

3 tips you’d like to share with aspiring artists in your field:

The first tip is patience. You need tons of this!

The second tip is to learn editing techniques so that if you communicate with an editor you know exactly what needs to be said.

The third tip is not to be afraid of producing feature documentary films. The important thing is to be crisp in editing with no over longed shots.

What do you hope to achieve in your career in the next 5 years?

OIn the next five years we aspire to continue to document Maltese history most especially the period set pieces. We already produced ‘The Phoenicians’ and ‘The Normans’. Right now we are in the process of producing another set-piece period. Our mission at CMM is to promote Maltese heritage and culture abroad through our documentaries.

The Normans is nominated for Best Documentary of the Year at the New York Film Awards.


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