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Showing off Malta

Paula Fleri-Soler interviews Love to Paradise director Julian Galea.

Myko Olivier and Marysia S. Peres star in Love to Paradise, filmed in Malta.

Myko Olivier and Marysia S. Peres star in Love to Paradise, filmed in Malta.

Love to Paradise is a film by Maltese-Australian multi-hyphenate film-maker Julian Galea – he wrote, produced, edited, photographed, and directed it, and even has a small cameo in it.

It is a story about American tourist Giovanni (Myko Olivier) who falls in love with local artist Carmen (Marysia S. Peres) and embarks on a passionate and life-changing journey across the magical islands of Malta.

Love to Paradise boasts sparkling chemistry between the two actors, their performances engagingly honest, while Galea lovingly captures the vibrancy and colours of the Maltese islands.

Julian grew up in Sydney, Australia with three brothers and Maltese immigrant parents. From a young age, he found movies absolutely fascinating.

“One day my father bought a VHS video recorder and I couldn’t take my hands off it,” recalls Galea. “I’d fool around with friends, family and pets for days piecing together crappy videos and was always the go-to camera guy at any party or family function.”

When in high school, Julian finally bought a 35mm SLR camera and built a darkroom in his parents’ attic; learning about film, light, composition, and framing. However much as he loved it, it never crossed his mind to pursue a career in the arts.

“I guess it was too far removed from my blue-collar roots,” he muses. So he did what was expected – attend university and get a ‘real job’ as a builder. “I absolutely hated it,” he confesses. “I wanted to do what made me happy and nothing made me happier than movies.”

Julian then took what he describes as a “soul-searching trip” to New York, for a short filmmaking course. “I was hooked. I came home, quit my job, sold my car and flew back to NYC where I studied screenwriting and directing at New York Film Academy. During the next two years I made a bunch of shorts and worked on any indie films I could.”

He then returned home and started his production company, Galea Pictures, which eventually produced Love to Paradise. The film can also be described as a love letter to Malta, given the reverential way the islands are shot.

“I adore Malta, my heritage and the blood running through my veins,” he attests. “Malta is one of the most interesting and exotic countries in the world and I can’t help being swept away by its soulful magic.”

I always wanted to make a movie that showcased Malta itself – her beauty, culture, history, magic, madness and everything in between

He observes that many Hollywood films shot here used the islands as a stand-in for other places, something that always got under his skin. “I always wanted to make a movie that showcased Malta itself – her beauty, culture, history, magic, madness and everything in between.”

Julian has visited Malta several times since he first visited when he finished university. He read many books and conducted plenty of research online before writing the script; and when he arrived here for pre-production he undertook extensive location scouting all over.

“I knew Malta was the perfect setting; and the dazzling islands’ rich history and culture would not only provide the visually stunning world I needed to tell my romance, but become the third essential character, ” he gushes, going on to dreamily describe the island.

Julian also speaks highly of his two actors Olivier (whose credits include appearances on hit TV shows Glee and Castle) and Peres, who had just come off Assassin’s Creed (also filmed in Malta). He is very satisfied with the type of energy, passion and vulnerability they brought. “They share the screen for the majority of the film. Getting that chemistry right and letting it unfold naturally on screen is paramount to the honesty and organic development of the love story.

The film was released theatrically in both Australia and Malta following a global digital release on iTunes and Amazon. Julian is very gratified with the reception of the film so far, and it certainly seems to have struck a chord.

He is thankful to all those people in Australia, Malta and all over who have applauded him for making a movie that was true to Malta while inspiring them to question their own journey for paradise.

Julian recently formed a partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority for a global marketing campaign for Love to Paradise; while concurrently promoting tourism to the Maltese islands. And what’s next for him?  “Malta has been so welcoming to me I wish to make more films in which Malta will once again play its own essential character,” he concludes, giving the islands the chance to shine once more in the spotlight.

www.lovetoparadise.com

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