The Maltese studio that worked on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘I Medici’

Source: The Malta Independent

Date: 13/11/2018

The power of the big screen is difficult to wholly quantify. Films, documentaries, television series portray stories we’d have never heard of before, bring to life scenarios we’d have never seen before, and move us in ways we’d have never been moved before. The onus for such works normally falls onto the actors – they are the faces of the project after all. However, the power of the big screen wouldn’t be such if it were not for those manning the cameras on set, and the art studios in office.

David Serge is one of those whose work is behind the camera and in post-production. He always knew that he had an incredible passion for film-making, and having graduated from the University of Malta with a Bachelor’s degree of Communications (Hons) in 2003 and having seen his thesis film winning the Golden Knight award; he applied to study cinematography abroad in London. He was shortlisted amongst the last 10 candidates but then didn’t make the final six, who were admitted to the National Film and Television School.

“I took it really badly because I was young, passionate, and I thought I had what it took to get in, so I spent the next couple of years learning by myself – I became an auto-didactic”, Serge explains. As he was teaching himself he met Matthew Pullicino, and from there a certain “synergy” was created which soon bloomed into the creation of a company.

Starting from a couple of commercials, Serge and Pullicino developed the idea and started The Bigger Picture, which was geared up to handle local clients – meaning that they used to do a lot of commercials, documentaries and short films.

In 2012 then, Stargate Studios Malta was born. Sam Nicholson, the founder of Stargate Studios – which is based in Los Angeles and has ten studios around the world – was interested in the development of the Maltese company and his decision to have a Stargate studio opened up in Malta was based on a number of factors; not least because of the visual effects talent that Serge and his team can bring to the table and because of Malta’s strategic place which can be used to handle the European market.

Since, Stargate Studios Malta has worked on 20 international series in different capacities ranging from work on series such as Grey’s Anatomy, all the way to shows requiring heavy digital work such as a series which they have just finished working on called Sabuesos, where, Serge explains, the main character is a dog. In that case, Serge explains, that they shot the Jack Russell in question on location, then scanned the dog and build a digital head for it before animating his mouth and eyes so it would have the ability to speak and gesture.

Building the Duomo “stone by stone”

Another technically complex project which Stargate Studios Malta has been working on is the hit Italian series I Medici. Set in Florence between 1460 and the early 1500s, it centres on the infamous Medici family, which was one of the most powerful families not just in Florence, but in the whole of Italy.

Working on such a series is a technical complexity, not least because Serge and his team had to digitally reconstruct Florence’s famous Duomo, which at the time that the series is set was still under construction. In fact, whilst the base of the Duomo is built, the ‘Cupola’ remains unconstructed during the series.

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