The Context: A small film production house in Texas had a unique opportunity to tell the story of one of the world’s leading charities–The Knights of St. John of Malta. But the writer/director they’d hired was used to travel shows, not an hour-long history leading up to today’s work. The end result was a confusing mess that literally put people to sleep. So they called me. (If you’re not familiar with the Knights, they were rivals of the Knights Templar but a bit less controversial yet equally potent. Think “Kingdom of Heaven”–a great film–it shows the early days of both military/religious orders.
The Challenge: The biggest problem was the footage. They couldn’t afford to shoot more, and what they had was about 60,000 feet of lots of rocks, waves, castle walls and beauty shots of the coastline–and very little in the way of people (old or new) and dramatic imagery–except for modern footage of ceremonies provided by the Knights themselves. Also, the Knights had certain expectations about their message. And of course, The Crusades are problematic: there are two sides to that story–Western (Christian) and Eastern (Islamic), and both are highly sensitive.
The Action: It took me only about two or three weeks to research the story fully, and decide on an approach. I was highly limited by the footage issue and the expectations of the Knights. I also had the script vetted by two scholars, one Catholic, the other Islamic, who gave it thumbs up with no changes.
The Result: Working with a long-time friend who edited the film, we created a beautiful film that made everybody happy–and became the studio’s top selling video. Better still, I took the remaining footage that wasn’t usable in the “Knights,” and created a second show called Storybook Malta, telling the history of that remarkable jewel of the Mediterranean.
© Chanda K. Zimmerman, 2012-2020