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“Galloping Gertie” – Student Film, Bunker Hill Community College 2008, from Skiffleboom.com

Galloping Gertie, 2008
Written and directed by Michael McVey
Bunker Hill Community College 2008 – Elements of Video Production

In 2008, I decided to go back to school and learn filmmaking.  I enrolled in video and audio production courses at Bunker Hill Community College, Charlestown, MA.   Galloping Gertie was my first video, made for a class called Elements of Video Production.  It was an intro course for video basics like 3-point lighting and depth of field.  It was a good class, thanks to the learned Professor Pastel and his classic film references.  For our final projects, Pastel divided the class into small groups.  I was elected our group’s writer/director, and I mustered up a quick little story that used our group as actors and our school as our location.

Marcelo Almeida as "The Agent."

I’ve included the original storyboards below: I wrote the script on cocktail napkins at a Cambridge, MA music bar called Toad during a friend’s shows. I wrote parts with specific people in mind – with my group members as lead actors, I cast my audio production Professor Palermo, as the Evil Professor.

The shooting day came, but most of the cast and crew didn’t show up for the shoot…  so I recast on the spot.  With a leading actor vanished from the group, the role of the Agent went to Bunker Hill’s resident AV squad leader, Marcelo Almeida.  Professor Palermo was a no-show, and I ended up filling in.   If you look at the storyboards, you’ll see the difference, as I drew that role for a big Sydney Greenstreet type.

Brian Karanja as "Mr. Allen."We shot the whole thing at Bunker Hill over a couple of days in late Fall 2008. We shot on a Canon Elura 85 MiniDV Camcorder and edited it in Final Cut Pro.  It didn’t cost a thing, and it was a lot of fun to make — I really had a great time making this goofy little project, and really enjoyed the process, even if the final result is ridiculous.

Stephan Brooks as "That Guy Who Was Made Uncomfortable."

When comparing the film against the storyboards, you may notice that the fight scene was originally set in a bathroom.  Why you ask?

Apparently, we weren’t allowed to film Marcelo on BHCC campus bathrooms.  He had landed in some hot water with the campus security earlier in the year.  He was working on his own video project – a “re-imagining” of the Casino Royale Trailer.  Marcelo brought a toy gun to school to recreate a James Bond bathroom fight.  When security walked in on 007 filming fights in school bathrooms, they were not pleased.  They confiscated the toy gun, but let him keep the tuxedo.  Now that I think about it, that’s probably what caused his lutropublicaphobia.

And it was for these reasons we had to move the bathroom fight scene to a computer lab.  We kept computer genius Stephan Brooks’ cameo as “That Guy Who Was Made Uncomfortable,” but it wasn’t nearly as awkward as it should have been.  The lesson: stay fluid, especially with comedy.

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