Malta’s public transport left such a strong impact on French film-maker Maxime Durand that he created an entire web series based around it. Adam Brimmer interviews him about the satiric work.
When did your love of film start?
Ever since I was a little boy, I was fascinated by the world of film, but things kick-started in a serious manner when my family got its first camcorder. Aged 11, I was so excited. From that day onwards, my life changed; I would play with it night and day and force my friends and family to film, act, or even pretend to run me over with a car... as a stunt.
How was the concept for Coming Soon born?
It was a mix really. There was the urge, since arriving in Malta, of showing off the diversity of the island’s beautiful locations. I also wished to promote on-screen talents, using a platform where the cast and crew could have fun playing with unusual characters and situations. And finally, there was the daily struggle of transport, using my own experiences and people’s tales, here and abroad, stuck in traffic, on buses, struggling to find parking and so forth. I chose satirical comedy as my medium, as I find it a very effective way of communicating everyday drama.
Why did you decide to opt for a web series, rather than a normal release?
I like the idea of a web series, as it involves adapting to modern ways of releasing content and enabling more people to have access to them. I love short films but it’s sometimes hard to be able to watch them outside festivals or screenings.
And, given the length of the clips and the amount of narratives involved, a web series made more sense than a full feature for online viewing.
Would you say that the digital opportunities have revolutionised the world of film? And have they helped or hindered those working in the industry, like yourself? One side of the argument is that it is easier to release productions globally; the other side of the coin is that it’s more difficult to monetise them.
The internet has changed everything; we can curse it or work with it. Granted, the competition is now wider, and the idea of making a living out of it is a daunting one. But maybe the whole industry worldwide needs a rethink. For example, the internet is also about global crowdfunding. If you reach 10,000 people around the planet to fund your project with €1, you suddenly find yourself with a €10,000 budget. With that kind of budget, everyone can get paid and you can have lots of fun making a great film.
Movies are now more than ever measured by what sells more. That’s not creativity, and that’s certainly not cinema to me. That’s just a money-making business. That said, so far I have not made any films with or for money, so what do I know?
Coming Soon is a satirical work about the transport system. Do we assume that Malta’s system was the inspiration and can you elaborate? What made you pick this topic?
The inspiration originated from any system, in reality. We all need to move and to commute for anything to work properly. It’s a global problem but, here in Malta, it’s on a whole other level. This topic for me was a flashing red light since I arrived, as there are only so many vehicles an island can take. And an efficient alternative doesn’t seem to be in the pipeline. The ripple effect carries into everybody’s daily lives, from creating health and environmental hazards to changing an entire country.
Can’t we organise ourselves better? How did we achieve so much as a species and then manage to mess up the simple task of going from point A to point B?
Would you call your works political statements?
My foremost goal is to entertain people, but there’s an undeniable social statement. I want to look at the ‘why’ of a problem. This particular problem could seem like we are just clumsy at first but, everywhere I look, I cannot help but see that this clumsiness is actually serving very few. I don’t believe politics do much these days, corporations run the show.
What are the biggest challenges of making this series a reality?
Myself first. Having the self-belief that with hard work I can make it happen.
Secondly, the coordination. When you ask so many people to kindly donate their time and energy, it is quite a task to conduct the whole orchestra.
All the rest was pure pleasure. I’m surrounded by amazing human beings and all the people involved made this possible, really. It is an amazing feeling to watch that unveil.
What has the feedback received so far been like?
I am overwhelmed by the positive reactions from both regular audience and the industry people.
I’m just very happy that people are entertained watching it and ultimately, that’s the point, isn’t it?
Watch the episodes on YouTube by looking for Maxime Durand. A new episode is released every Sunday evening.
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