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Shadowland - Producer - Gayle Gallagher

Gayle Gallagher On the job of producing the film "Shadowland"

Gayle and Wyatt - Make a Re-enactment Of The Shadowland Poster

[2vs8]: How did you get involved with this project "Shadowland"?
Gayle Gallagher: Wyatt Weed (the writer/director) and I have known each other for... geez, 25 years.  When he came back to St. Louis to work on a short film called "Time-line", I ended up working on that project doing sound.  A few months later, we worked on another short together and then on a music video, me working in the producer role on those.  When we got the green light to film a feature, Wyatt asked if I could handle producing a project that big. I jumped at the chance. (Hindsight, if I had known how much work producing a feature film is, I'd have been terrified -- I'd have done it anyway, but  would have been terrified). 
In all honesty, I had been practicing to be a film producer for ten years before working on "Time-line".  I had been organizing events (theme parties, a cycling team, a big fundraiser for MS) for years... as I got into the film producing, I realized very quickly that I was good at it because it was the same skills needed for event organizing - "make sure you have all the right people at the right place with the right stuff". 

[2vs8]: What is the process of producing projects such as "Shadowland"?
Gayle Gallagher: On a low budget indie, producing takes on a different definition than on a studio project. On this level, both the director and I wore a lot of hats, including location scouts and casting directors.  I tend to describe my job as the "den mother".  It's really about the details and making sure everything is planned out - and especially about the little things you don't think about in advance but really need to, like "where is the nearest bathroom at this location?" and "Did anyone tell the local police we would be filming with guns today" (that one is VERY important!!!)

In pre-production, it was all about the paperwork -- Making sure we had the proper releases from all the cast, crew, locations, musicians, etc.  Making sure we had the proper permits for filming in neighborhoods, city streets, parks.  Making sure we had all the insurance forms, payroll info, and all the other details that go into running the business side of the film production.

On set, my job was to keep all the 'problems' away from Wyatt so he could focus on directing, to be the buffer for the director so he can be creative.  If any disasters came up, he wouldn't know they had occurred until the end of the day, when I would report to him that "the location for Wednesday has a scheduling issue and needs to move us to next week - however, I was able to shuffle the schedule, get all the actors we need when we need them, and swap next weeks schedule with this week.."  That kind of stuff. 

[2vs8]: Were you on the set daily to oversee this project?
Gayle Gallagher: Every morning during production when that alarm went off at 4:30am, I seriously thought I was going to throw up... and I'd shake it off, climb into my big yellow Penske truck (did I mention that I wore different hats) and drive the makeup/wardrobe/prop/base-camp gear truck to set. We'd set up our base-camp near the location we were shooting, and I had a 'portable office' that got set up every day - tent, tables, chairs, phone, computer, printer, etc.  This is where I worked.  I was rarely 'on set', as in standing next to the director, but I was at the location every day.

As a producer, you really have to be a good multi-tasker on location. Most days, I was at 'base-camp'. I had the headset in one ear so I was available if anyone on set needed anything; generally I had a cell phone at the other ear, making sure everything was set for the upcoming day's shoot and putting out the fires; and usually I was fielding questions from other people at base-camp or through email.   It's good to be an adrenaline junkie when working in production!

[2vs8]: What are some other projects you have been involved in, and do you have a favorite?
Gayle Gallagher: Shadowland is the only feature film I have been involved in.  There are short films that I have produced, both with Pirate Pictures and as an independent producer. "Time-line" is the romantic comedy that started my working with Pirate. "Bag of Tricks" and "Love Bytes" were weekend-long productions shot as part of the 48 Hour Film Project. "Capdance" was a mob-movie with a twist, "Play Dead" is a supernatural thriller, "DNR" is a pilot for a suspense TV show, "War of the Planets" a 50's style sci-fi short.  There have been music videos, commercial projects, promotional pieces. 
I don't know if I have a favorite... I love production so much that there is fun in all of these projects.  "Timeline" was my first, so there will always be a place in my heart for that one... The other shorts have all been award-winning projects, so at the end of the day you know the work you did was recognized as quality. And some of the commercial projects I have worked on have allowed me to work with some great people (Jackie Joyner Kersee, Albert Pujols).

[2vs8]: How did the name "Pirate Pictures" get picked, and how long has the company been producing?
Gayle Gallagher: The three original guys who started Pirate Pictures had been buddies in high school.  When they put the company together, they chose the mascot from their alma mater (the Pattonville Pirates) to name the company after.  That was in 2002. They formed the production company when they started filming Pirate's first feature, "Guardian of the Realm".

[2vs8]: "Shadowland" I believe will be a huge success, what are your thoughts?
Gayle Gallagher: Well, obviously I am biased, but the reception we have gotten from people at festivals and other screenings has been so positive that I can't argue with you..!  The fact that we have been so involved with the film from the beginning and  have been really been 'working' it makes a difference.  Our motto from the beginning has been "no one is going to care about this project as much as we do"... in some ways we are right, in others not so much.  We realized fairly early on in the distribution process that we were right, no one was going to care about it like we do. After a couple of frustrating false starts with distributors, we decided to set up our own distribution company.  Building up a team of experienced sales, marketing, and replication forces, we have put together a strong company and our film is getting distributed the way we want it to.   As far as the fans go, we were wrong -- THEY do care as much as we do.  It has been fantastic to meet people at festivals and conventions and have them be excited about Shadowland.  When the audience stays for an hour-long Q&A after a screening because they just want to know more, we realize that we are not alone in our passion.

[2vs8]: What is your favorite part of your job from day to day?
Gayle Gallagher: Naps.
Actually, I used to work in the corporate world and the repetition of each day made me nuts. What I love about my life now is that no two days are the same... We work on different productions, we work on promotion, we work on distribution.  It's also amazing where we have gotten to go because of our job... Shadowland alone has taken us around the United States to different festivals and this past summer, we went to Venezuela with it. That was incredible!
My favorite part of my job is that although I am working harder than I ever did when I had a 'real job', this never feels like work!

[2vs8]: What scares you?
Gayle Gallagher: Roger.  Roger was the stunt dummy we used on Shadowland (he plays a homeless guy and a SWAT guy).  Driving home late one night, Roger was riding shotgun in the big yellow Penske truck.  After a long day of shooting, and the fact that Roger has no heartbeat, I ended up driving all the way home with him quietly riding along.  When I arrived, I turned to make sure I could make the last turn, saw Roger sitting there (who I had COMPLETELY forgotten about) and about wet myself when 'man' was in the truck with me!

[2vs8]: Last movie that you had seen, that you said... wow and one that you said, oh why?
Gayle Gallagher: I see movies in different forms... the last new release film I saw in the theater was "Scott Pilgrim" -- and that was just great fun!  I'm not a huge video gamer, so I am sure there were a Lot of references that just blew by me, but the ones I got, made me laugh... great ride!
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a screening of "Evil Dead 2" and I am embarrassed to say that was the first I had seen that film (I know, take my geek card away...)  I will say that a midnight show with an audience is a Fantastic way to see a Bruce Campbell film, though!!
The "Oh Why" category comes into play through the delivery method of "Super 8 Movie Madness". This is a monthly screening at a dive bar in St. Louis. They screen condensed versions (15 minutes or so) of all sorts of films on Super 8.  So, imagine watching Jaws in 15 minutes.  This is a lot of fun, and we get to see a Ray Harryhausen film nearly every month, but there are some films that get shown that are really quite painful..!

[2vs8]: What music are you listening too, right now?
Gayle Gallagher: It's ten o'clock at night, and I am in the office, with "Radio Nigel" jamming in the background.  I am a product of 80's music, having worked in radio from the mid-80s into the 90s.  Nigel plays such a great mix of the obscure stuff that just makes me stop, smile and say out loud "Oh my god, I haven't heard this in YEARS..!!"  (oh, and to be more specific, "The Bubblemen" by The Bubblemen (aka L&R) is currently playing.)

[2vs8]: Working with Wyatt Weed with the cast of "Shadowland", what is some of your fondest memories?
Gayle Gallagher: Wow... that is a hard one to pin down... The cast and crew really became "family" on this set.
Rachel Rieckenberg, our FX makeup artist really made this shoot a lot of fun. She was always upbeat, and I doubt one day went by when you didn't hear her say "I'm so excited!".

Caitlin has all the stereotypes that one would imagine would make up a Diva (beauty queen, hooters calendar girl, etc) and yet she was one of the hardest working people on this production (just look at all the physical work she does in the film and you will see what I mean) and she did not complain at all!  She is so fun and spunky and a downright goofball (pretty sure she is the one who started the T-rex imitations that got everyone giggling at lunch).

Stunt driving was pretty darn cool...  Julian (Jason Contini) drives a MINI Cooper in this film (my MINI Cooper). We found out a couple of weeks before production began that Jason couldn't drive a stick. So, he and I got to know each other better taking the car out and stalling it repeatedly in the Mall parking lot, trying to teach him to drive.  He was finally able to drive it on screen, but the stunt shots, those are me..!  Jason was also quite the worker on this project. Even on the days he was not on camera, he was on set, helping out in any way he could.

Carlos was amazing from the beginning. He is really not on camera that often, but he is one of the people who cares as much as we do.  He has been so instrumental in promoting the film in both the US and around the world!

Working with Wyatt is amazing. His vision, and his creativity, and his ability to work with people is inspiring. The fact that he is the writer/director/editor, the vision then gets carried all the way through the project.  He is able to push people to be the best they can be, even when they are ready to give up.  It is these skills that make the projects as good as they are, and make them fun to work on.

[2vs8]: What is next?
Gayle Gallagher: That is the question that comes up at every public appearance.. what is next..?  Right now, we are focusing on distribution, getting Shadowland out there a bit more, but also picking up several other films we will distribute in early 2011.  Mid-year, we plan on starting pre-production on 'what's next'... either a supernatural western, a real-life drama based on a true story, or possibly a family film.

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