From script to screen: students produce feature film

De La Salle College Junior School has produced a short Passion movie. Anna Mercieca recounts the film-making process
A still from the feature film. Photo: Leander Thomas

On March 22, De La Salle College Junior School in collaboration with Arts Council Malta, unveiled their latest project, From Script to Screen, which saw Year 5 and 6 boys from the college produce a short feature film.

A script for the project was written in January 2023 and was presented to Arts Council Malta later that same year. The council agreed to support the project and introduced production manager Nikolai Azzopardi to the author, who was the scriptwriter, director and coordinator of the project. Nisġa, headed by Neil Grech, accepted to film and edit the feature.

Auditions for the actors were held in September 2023. The students could also apply to form part of the production crew.

The project Fil-Moħba tal-Appostli is a 30-minute look into the hiding place of the apostles during the three days between the Passion and the resurrection of Jesus.

The actors started researching their roles and the politics in Jerusalem at the time, among others, during club meetings, which were held once a week during breaks from October to December. They learnt to use meditation to immerse themselves into their character and to show different emotions by expression and body language.

The production crew started off by researching the locations, costumes and props. Then they worked on the storyboard, script breakdown and call sheets. They used their tablets and the school online platform to work together from home.

Azzopardi taught the students the work they were expected to do, while Grech delivered hands-on lectures on how to use different cameras, the art of setting up the lights and how to use different audio devices.

During those three months, the students learnt many different skills – empathy, understanding each other, working as a team, respecting deadlines, problem-solving, sacrifice and, most importantly, commitment. Once they had given their word, the students gave up one break a week to learn and to work on the project. They also accepted to attend filming for two hours daily during January while still keeping up with their homework and studies.

Filming started on January 15 and finished on schedule on January 30. We filmed straight after school from 3 to 5pm for eight days. The actors were supported by parents who came on set every day to provide catering, help with remembering lines, putting on costumes and transporting the students from school to the filming location and vice-versa.

The team, including students and educators, behind the film. Photo: Leander Thomas

Azzopardi and Grech helped the production crew set up lighting, the set, props and cameras.

The boys were really impressive as cameramen, gaffers, lighting boys, sound recorders, production assistants and assistant directors. The actors were professional, well-prepared and superb.

The only job the students were not involved in was the editing, as this had to be done in a studio. However, they were shown what was being done.

The result of all this is a very professional, moving feature film produced exclusively by De La Salle Junior school students, educators, old DLS boys and parents.

The characters of Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Mary Cleofa, Jesus and the women in the crowd are interpreted by educators. The apostles and the crowd were all interpreted by Year 5 and Year 6 boys.

The music is composed by the music teacher, Ray Sciberras, while the technical department was headed, supported and managed by old De La Salle boy Grech.

The students of De La Salle Junior School showed that, with the proper motivation, they are capable of anything and everything.

Anna Mercieca is a retired learning support assistant at De La Salle College.

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