Interview with Director Andrew Galloway (WALLY)

 

Andrew Galloway’s short film “WALLY” was voted BEST CHARACTERS at the LGBT Documentary Film Festival in August 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Andrew Galloway: I first met Wally Linebarger as an art teacher at my school. I was in 4th grade and he entered our room pushing his art cart. A man that would become the founder of the art department at our school. That would come in time. At this point however he was simply a man armed only with an artcart and an enthusiasm for teaching. In this first day he appeared a seeming madman leaping from student desk to student desk encouraging, commenting, and guiding each student. So was the introduction.

Years passed. Wally and the art department he lead grew in stature. Gone were his vagabond days where he traveled from classroom to classroom pushing his art cart. He had his own room complete with a photography studio, and his students… why they became contenders, and at time champions, in District and State art competitions. While I was a renaissance man, my extra-circular activities of athletics and Theater prevented me from having him as a teacher.

Wally was a constant figure to be seen around our school. He did not hesitate to offer his time or lend an ear. For many, Wally may have acted as confidant. Others may have sought him out for encouragement, or guidance. Regardless of what it was for, Wally would not hesitate to led an ear or share with his students. This seemed especially true with my class.

After I graduated from the University of Texas I went back to Trinity to visit some of my teachers. I was able to find them all except for one: Wally Linebarger. When I asked the front desk where Wally Linebarger was, they merely turned their heads and mumbled that he didn’t work there anymore. They wouldn’t tell me why. It was not until years later at a reunion that I found out what had happened to Wally Linebarger and his family. Shocked at the injustice of what had happened to one of my favorite teachers I began a Facebook correspondence. The relationship of Teacher and student grew into one of friends. When I began my M.F.A. in Documentary Production and Studies at the University of North Texas I knew that I had to film his story.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

In total, my project took about four weeks to shoot and about four months to edit.

The week of Thanksgiving was when my project began. I heard that his daughters, who resided in New York City and Los Angeles, would be gathered at their Mothers house for the Holiday and I was able to interview them all. Though they only knew me as little more than an acquaintance, somehow I was able to earn their trust. Either it was that, or they had decided that it was time to give air to the pain, the joys, and the sadness that the memories contained. I say this because they admitted after their interviews that they did not talk about this topic and all were surprised by their sisters reactions. It was so good in fact that I knew that their interviews would be the core of my film. Two days later I was able to travel to Jefferson City, Missouri to do location scouting for my documentary filming that would take place in two weeks. At that time I recorded him on audio and asked him questions about his firing and his reflections on the experience for him and his family. I did not tell him nor did he know what his daughters had said. When I shot the documentary proper, I had threae weeks to shoot which consisted of about one week in Dallas and two weeks in Jefferson City.

The true labor would lie in the post production work. I had to scan and prepare photos from the past. I wrote transcripts of the interviews and wove them into a skeleton that my documentary would arise from.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Bittersweet life

What was the biggest obstacle your faced in completing this film?

Biggest obstacle? Let’s see, I had many things that could be considered obstacles during the making of this film. Beyond the limited funds and impossible dreams common to every filmmaker, I did face some unique constraints. I had shooting locations in two different states. I arrived in Jefferson City, Missouri to find that my subject hesitant to talk about the relationship between he and him and his daughters. The last day of my shooting was two days before Christmas so my crew was understandably anxious to home with their family, But with each obstacle faced, I knew that I had to continue to press forward regardless.

What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I truly enjoyed hearing the critiques of the audience members. Just like the documentary Wally, their commentary served to provoke thought at times and evoke emotion at others. One thing I found to be an excellent compliment on my editing skill was the audience member who believed that I had shown Wally commentary on his daughters interviews was prompted by his listening to their answers. This was not the case. I interviewed both Wally and his daughters separately then cut the interviews together. Not only was this comment a testament to my skill as an editor, but more importantly it revealed the sympatico relationship between a loving father and his daughters

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The story itself was one that cried to be told. As documentary is at its base story, I felt that this was an exceptionally strong narrative.

You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think that Filmfreeway is an exceptional platform for film makers to submit their work to festivals.

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

This would have to be a toss up between Secret World and Blood of Eden by Peter Gabriel.

What is next for you? A new film?

The next film I worked on was The Eviction, a story about the forced removal of a homeless enclave in Dallas, Texas named “Tent City.” Beyond focusing on the reality of homelessness, I also gave attention to a group that is attempting to rectify the social reality of homelessness by buiilding homes to house them. I also am working on a documentary about rural homelessness, the craft beer industry, and a story about a 74 year old man who made contact with his 95 year old birth mother who agreed to meet. After a lifetime of not knowing what happened to the other, the two meet. This has been given the working title: The Chosen Baby. Updates to all of my work can be found at http://www.andydocs.com . Any questions can be sent to andy@andydocs.com.

____
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto twice a month, and every other month in Los Angeles. Go to http://www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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