By NIDHA KHAN
This April, Samuel Galloway is set to direct the dark drama feature film Mutt.
Set in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Mutt follows the story of a young and incredibly disenfranchised married woman. She desperately seeks the approval of her in-laws and is unable to come to terms with whether parenthood is the right path for her.
But when her dog is taken from her, in the midst of rumours and whispers about the notorious dog fighting rings, she hurls herself into this ‘underworld’. Navigating this treacherous world requires courage and, essentially, she must find her inner strength and learn to stand on her own.
“She realises that the wisdom she’s been looking to them [her in-laws] for, she’s had it all along and she knows what to do when it comes to, ultimately, raising her child. They were really just there for comfort, but having the bravery to let go of that blanket makes you a much stronger person.”
Her story is a clean break from the traditional damsel-in-distress and one-dimensional female roles plaguing Hollywood. Galloway agrees that “it’s kind of empowering to watch her take such firm actions. For other young women to have those representations in movies.”
But gender inequality is not the central message or motivation behind Mutt and Galloway is careful to say that it’s not a film about ‘strong female protagonists’. He says that when we create stories with this mentality, “women are usually just given the attributes of a strong man. I’m not interested about what she’d be like as a man. I’m interested in what makes her a strong woman.”
Instead, the film focuses on showcasing a flawed and scared human being, with the central theme being the generational links and ‘baggage’ that young people are burdened with and must overcome.
For Galloway, these stories are important; they matter. He espouses the belief that filmmakers have a responsibility to culture, to not just regurgitate the same central question of ‘should I follow my dreams?’ and tackle the heavier issues “on the scale of human struggle and suffering.”
This is his first feature length film and Galloway’s expectations are that it’ll be extremely challenging and stressful, especially when there is no substantial support system. It may even require “a week of warm Weet-Bix and cups of tea in bed” by the end.
Even with all the stress and chaos, transitions can be a chance for learning and growth. Galloway says that “I’m probably going to be twice the filmmaker I was before hand… I would feel like a success if I just made this film and felt good about it and felt that I told the story that I was trying to tell, that I enabled the people around me to add their voice to the story.”
His advice for young filmmakers?
- Be proactive; make films. Don’t wait till you get the expensive and fancy equipment. Start immediately. You can use your phone to film it, search up internet tutorials, and read the books that people are recommending.
- Don’t get an experienced crew if you aren’t an experienced filmmaker. It’s a sure fire way to lose money.
- If you dream of creating films with high production values, find a person to partner with who can add that value to your films.
- Find a director of photography whom you enjoy working with. When you work well with each other, they’ll want to work with you in the future too.
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