We sat down with Nicholas Bonello, one of the brains behind Brotherhood – The Story of Metal in Malta.
How was the idea of doing a documentary about the Metal scene in Malta born?
Malcolm and I met on the set of a short film where we soon realized we were both avid ‘metalheads’. Malcolm being in the scene and having the contacts and drive asked if I’m interested in making something short about the scene. I had been working freelance for about a year back then and said we’d meet up to talk about it. We were immediately on the same page and started working on it within the week.
You’ve come a very long way to make this concept a reality, however what you managed to achieve is quite a feat. What were your biggest obstacles and challenges in making this happen?
Malcolm was the logical voice and organisational mind of the movie, producing it and handling contacts and communications. I handled the direction and more technical aspects and the artistic aspect is our shared vision.
We have been in production for just under a year and all things considered everything was fairly plain sailing. The obstacles or issues per se came in the form of little things like time constraints and the such, having to work after our full-time jobs, on weekends, long hours filming multiple gigs and festivals, and even realising the scene is way more vast and deep than a 15 minute short would fit. But we always found help from organiser and bands alike. I think the biggest headache we had was deciding which people we needed to interview.
Was the outcome what you were expecting it to be?
At the end of the day this is an hour long movie. It would have been impossible to include every single band or person without reaching the 3 hour mark. Even with the people we did pick, the rough cut to the movie was at the 3.5 hour mark! We needed a list that included veterans and younger newer bands, as well as people in the industry such as promoters, organizers etc to have variety. We looked for bands that were bringing something new or different to the table, while still keeping in mind the main focus – This is a movie about the scene, NOT the bands in per se. The scene is the whole collective of band, audience, promoter, organizer and so much more. And in that regard we had responses that were on the same page between almost every person interviewed. Little things we didn’t expect or realize such as how everyone’s ‘origin story’ is the same across 30 years of metalheads. The response of ‘My older brother’ or ‘my friends at school’ was across the board when it came to the questions about how they got into Metal. There were even some little surprise responses which we’d like to remain a surprise.
Why the name ‘Brotherhood’?
As for the name – I remember telling Malcolm that we don’t need to worry about what we’re going to name it, because it will come to us. And for the first 4 or 5 months we would just call it ‘The documentary’. Through the various interviews and feedback we got we found this concept of family, togetherness and ‘Brotherhood’ to be a common response and felt it is the best way to describe not just the scene but the movie too.
And for once someone is asking you this question – Nicholas / Malcolm what are your thoughts about the metal scene in Malta?
I cannot speak for Malcolm but myself I think the scene is currently the strongest it’s ever been. The bands are struggling to be better and better, a friendly competition of quality that only makes the scene stronger. The audience is consistent, we may not be filling an arena but there’s hardly ever an empty venue. Festivals that have been going on for years and such as Malta Doom Metal festival as well as more recent additions to our yearly metal fest roster such as Metal over Malta and Dark Winter Meeting have consistently put in an incredible effort in terms of lighting and sound, as well as bringing great foreign bands to our shores. I believe the metal scene in Malta is at a high point and we should do our best to support and sustain it.
How and when will the documentary ‘Brotherhood’ be released?
The documentary will be released on September 16th at the Embassy cinema in Valletta. This is the absolute best way to experience the movie, with the cinema quality sound and projection in a room with 200 other metalheads from our Brotherhood, all with the same passion for the music as you do. It will then have three screenings at St.James Cavallier in Valletta thanks to Spazju Kreattiv before being sent abroad to foreign film festivals.
It will not be available on Blu-ray until a year or so due to some film festival regulations so getting premiere tickets is your only chance!
What are your plans for the future?
The future for me as a filmmaker, with my freelance Figure of Speech Productions? I will definitely be taking a short break to recover my creative juices! I’m obviously up to working with Malcolm Alden in the future, it was an absolute pleasure having him by my side, and I cannot think of anyone more passionate to have by my side. Other than my full-time in local TV, I’ll still be doing work in the music world, with a few things coming up shortly and in the pipeline for the future, as well as other non-metal and and even non-music related things I wanted to get into.
Check out the trailer for the upcoming documentary below:
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