My DIT Cart Story: Ryan Gatt

DIT and workflow supervisor Ryan Gatt with his setup

No man is an island; no man is alone – we all know that saying. However, in professional settings, isolation can feel very real. In a candid conversation with Malta-based DIT and Workflow Supervisor Ryan Gatt, we gained insights into the unique perks and challenges of working in a location that is not only small but also somewhat secluded from the global landscape.

The island of Malta, a sought-after destination with an enticing cash rebate program, attracts many international productions of various types and sizes. However, critical frameworks are often established before arrival. This puts local professionals like Ryan at a disadvantage, compelling them to exhibit remarkable adaptability and caution in maneuvering these productions. What does that exactly mean for his setup, workflow design, and day-to-day tasks? Let’s find out! 

Breaking into the film industry

Although a popular shooting location, Malta’s filmmaking hub is still in its infancy. Hence, getting a foothold in the industry wasn’t easy, as Ryan recalls: „Back in 2005, I took a leap of faith and left my computer science career to pursue my dream in film. At that time, working in film was almost unheard of in Malta; no one did it full-time – it was only seasonal.“

Despite the initial lack of opportunities and financial security, Ryan was determined to turn his dream into reality. When he met and joined forces with a few like-minded people, things finally started to take off: „My first break came thanks to filmmaker Mark Doneo, who sensed my strong desire and encouraged me to join his troop. We were working on transforming one of his fantastic ideas into a local TV show. Mark’s encouragement fueled my driving force as he provided exactly the guidance I needed. This experience reflected the sentiments of many filmmaking giants I admire – being in the right place at the right time.“

This opportunity quickly propelled Ryan towards his next gig as a clapper/ loader on a Russian feature film. However, once that wrapped, he was essentially unemployed. „My first brick wall“, he remembers. The wait between projects turned out to be an unexpected opportunity for connection, though: „I discovered an even bigger, thriving network of Maltese storytellers, all united by a common mission: the desire to weave their narratives into the fabric of film. But it became clear Malta wasn’t just lacking films; it lacked the infrastructure to support them.“  

Driven by his passion and dedication, Ryan sought to help change the status quo: „I’m proud to serve as a board member of Malta’s first Producers’ Association. Our mission is to help develop, promote, and elevate the industry. We’re creating a collaborative environment for both domestic and international productions to ensure Maltese stories find their rightful place on screen. This initiative also aims to cultivate more opportunities, foster sustainability and stability, and diminish the necessity for film professionals to solely rely on external project commissions.“ 

Over time, Ryan’s expertise and career grew alongside the evolving industry: „Meanwhile, I gravitated towards the camera department, fascinated by the intricate dance of technology and filmmaking. Years of assisting and training eventually led me to step into the demanding roles of DIT and digital workflow supervisor. Today, as the founder of my own servicing company, I continue to push boundaries and innovate in the field of digital imaging.“  

Servicing foreign films in Malta

While Ryan remains steadfast in his commitment to fostering a more robust and sustainable industry and supporting domestic productions and talent, his day-to-day work still relies on servicing foreign films that are shot on the island, as he describes:

„Unlike many countries, Malta doesn’t often see international productions set up camp for months on end. While this might seem like a drawback, I find it to be an advantage. The constant influx of projects means we get to work on diverse shoots in a condensed timeframe, keeping things fresh and exciting.“

My DIT Cart Story: Ryan Gatt
Ryan at his cart on set

However, the common practice of having the fundamental framework pre-determined and key roles pre-filled presents a unique set of challenges. Ryan points out that the key to navigating these obstacles lies in the approach, which he compares to speed dating. He explains:

„Building trust is crucial, and to do that, you must listen to understand. Confidence is an essential variable in the process, and it comes from being well-prepared. Before our first meeting, I research the cinematographer’s background and explore their previous work to gather as much insight as possible. I strongly believe that this proactive approach ignites the initial spark. It’s important to remember that this artist has been nurturing their creative vision with a familiar team for months or even years, and now they’re expected to trust someone new to help carry it to the finish line. My goal is ultimately to forge a genuine connection that demonstrates my full commitment to supporting the project and their vision with all my dedication and expertise. I believe this forms a solid foundation for a successful partnership.“   

So, once the initial trust is established, Ryan moves on to setting up the required workflow. Again, every visiting production brings its own requirements and challenges, so how does he successfully cater to those changing needs? Ryan explains: 

„In my department, adaptability is paramount. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Each project, big or small, has unique needs and challenges. Big productions are exhilarating exercises in controlled chaos, but sometimes, the weight of responsibility can be overwhelming. On the other hand, smaller shoots present different headaches, demanding the same results with fewer resources. But the sense of camaraderie and shared purpose is often more intense, making the victories all the sweeter.“

Regardless of a project’s size and budget, Ryan is adamant that a strong workflow foundation is indispensable. He sets it up in two stages: „The first stage involves mainly listening, understanding and then creating a technical blueprint for the entire workflow, documented in what we call the ‘workflow document’. Whether I’m starting a project from scratch or joining midway, this step is crucial.“

Once the technical aspects are ironed out, a seamless shoot hinges on a meticulous logistical plan, which requires a lot of consideration and attention to detail: „Unlike most jobs, we don’t have the luxury of operating from a single, well-equipped office. Our locations can range from bustling streets to abandoned houses, cliffs, ravines, open seas, or even deserts. And Malta, despite its charm and compact size, throws its own logistical wrenches into the mix.“

In order to anticipate potential issues and plan accordingly, Ryan again uses a proactive approach to gather as much information as possible: „I try my best to participate in a technical recce prior to the shoot. However, budget constraints sometimes make this impossible. When that’s the case, I rely on the invaluable insights of our fantastic location and unit managers – some of the first crew members on board a project. Their insight is just golden. Let’s face it, after a grueling 12-hour day, when troubleshooting an issue (which is a significant part of what we do), the last thing you want is to scramble for power to offload the last camera cards while everyone’s packing up and the unit is moving to yet another location.“ 

My DIT Cart Story: Ryan Gatt
Ryan’s DIT cart at a shooting location in Malta

Ryan’s rigorous preparation is aimed at delivering a solution that hits three critical marks: ensuring a seamless workflow from production to post-production, providing peace of mind through uncompromising data protection and integrity, and staying within budget. While this comprehensive approach seems ideal, it sometimes encounters resistance: „In today’s film production landscape, a common pitfall among producers and production managers is the misconception that a limited budget justifies skimping on crucial workflow steps. This misguided notion often stems from the rapid transition from analog film to digital formats.“

Back in the film days, the delicate nature of celluloid instilled a universal understanding for the non-negotiable care required at every handling stage. However, the arrival of digital technologies brought about a shift in perception: „With the advent of digital technologies, there has been a prevailing belief that the process has been simplified to a mere ‘copy and paste’ routine, often underestimating the volatile nature of data.“ A perception that Ryan actively combats with good intentions: „It’s crucial to recognize that while digitization offers convenience, it should not diminish the value of the film’s digital asset and, therefore, the significance of rigorous workflow adherence. Ultimately, if the right balance is found through good communication, there’s always a way to streamline the process without jeopardizing data integrity.“ 

Ryan’s gear and setup

Of course, we wanted to find out which hardware and software components Ryan relies on when executing his workflows. For most of his gigs, his setup consists of the following: 

„My workhorse is a robust Inovativ Voyager EVO X cart with the most amazing wheels to ensure smooth movement on any terrain. An Upgrade Innovations Whaley Rail extends from the cart’s top shelf to hold my Flanders Scientific OLED DM220 Monitors, and nestled below is a recent addition to the family – the LV5350 waveform monitor, a very accurate and reliable tool for judging exposure and color accuracy, in both SDR and HDR.“ Other essential components include „an AJA Kumo 12G matrix and a pair of Bluetti power stations to ensure uninterrupted operation throughout the day. Also, a video recorder allows for quick playback for the DP or whenever I need an imminent colour or exposure reference without disrupting the video operator.“

My DIT Cart Story: Ryan Gatt
Ryan’s adaptable setup

In terms of software, Ryan makes use of almost the entire Pomfort ecosystem: „My digital toolkit is only as strong as the software powering it. Pomfort’s suite has been instrumental in revolutionizing my workflow, as it offers seamless communication and integration across applications. This unified approach ensures a streamlined process with reliable checks and balances at every stage along the way.“

The ability to connect Pomfort’s desktop applications via the cloud proves especially useful: „A key player in this ecosystem is ShotHub, a game-changer that facilitates seamless information flow among team members and processes, even in the midst of complex workflows. The elegance of Pomfort’s solutions lies in their simplicity, enabling me to consolidate my operations within their software family. Leveraging Livegrade for precise exposure and color adjustments, Silverstack Lab for efficient offloading, data management, and metadata handling, and ShotHub for real-time metadata distribution, Pomfort’s suite empowers me to maintain a harmonious and efficient workflow.“

As mentioned before, Ryan always needs to tailor his setup and approach to the specific production requirements he’s facing: „Smaller productions often require a ‘wear-many-hats’ approach. On my last shoot, the budget didn’t allow for a dedicated data manager. So, while I supported the DP with live grading and exposure on set, I also had to handle the management of data on set. In such situations, the flexibility to adapt is key. Since I was constantly moving, mechanical RAIDs wouldn’t provide a safe home for the film’s data. Therefore, I built two solid-state RAIDs using OWC Flex 1U4 rackmount units. This provided both the speed and secure storage needed for peace of mind. Modularity is another key element of my setup. Components can be easily removed and replaced, allowing for quick adjustments. In fact, I have a lightweight version of my rig for situations where full cart access is difficult, like open sea shoots or upper floors without elevators.“

My DIT Cart Story: Ryan Gatt
Ryan and his team

However, despite the plethora of technical tools available, Ryan emphasizes that, at its core, a waveform remains a representation of binary digits. He firmly believes that successful delivery hinges on the human element within the team and the synergy cultivated among them: „My passion for film has always been driven by the creative synergy that emerges when diverse ideas and skills unite. While technical tools play their part, my true indispensable asset is my intuition – the innate skill that steers me in curating a team where individual talents blend harmoniously. I firmly believe that effective collaboration and communication among a team of like-minded individuals are fundamental to success at every level. Therefore, the cornerstone that truly anchors the workflow lies in my exceptional team members — Nicolai and Liezel, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to both of you. Thank you!!“

Throughout our interview, it becomes increasingly evident that Ryan’s passion is deeply entrenched in the vibrant energy of collaborative filmmaking. To him, it transcends mere profession: „It’s truly awe-inspiring to witness individuals setting aside differences and joining forces to breathe life into a narrative. This culture of collaboration beats as the heart of my passion. Working in film is not just a job; it’s a profound privilege. For me, each day spent contributing to this dynamic creative process feels like a new, enriching chapter in an ever-evolving artistic journey.“

When asked about his next dream project, Ryan responds promptly: „My ultimate aspiration is to channel my passion, energy, and determination into creating audiovisual works that illuminate OUR stories, our MALTESE narratives, and share them with the world.“

Thanks, Ryan, for sharing all these insights into your professional life with us! 

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Ryan Gatt , DIT and Workflow Supervisor

Ryan is a DIT and Workflow Supervisor from Malta. With over two decades of experience, he organizes efficient production workflows that unify technical excellence, clear communication, and strong relationships. Ryan frequently contributes to international blockbusters like ’13 Hours‘, ’Napoleon‘, or ’Gladiator II’. His credits also include acclaimed Maltese productions, such as ‘Simshar‘ (Oscar contender) and ’Luzzu‘ (Sundance winner). As a board member of the Malta Producers’ Association, he is committed to developing and elevating the Maltese domestic film industry.

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About the Author
Kim is a Marketing Manager at Pomfort and Editor of the blog. When she’s not teasing exclusive production insights out of film professionals, she’s busy planning and prepping the editorial calendar to provide a constant stream of engaging articles.