Emma Gallagher: Through A New Lens

Senior Emma Gallagher recently worked with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague to direct her first short film, “Dinner for Two,” which was a project undertaken entirely by herself and two friends while participating in an off-campus study program in Prague, Czechia. Gallagher explained the difficulties and highlights of her experience in the world of filmmaking.

When asked how her filmmaking skills evolved during her college experience, Gallagher responded, “There really are no classes which teach you the practicality of filmmaking. You have to do your best and learn from internships, videos and take some classes which teach you the basics.”

She described her experience storyboarding the film first and then pitching it to a faculty of judges and professors, who held no criticism back in order to improve her work.

Despite only a budget of less than $600, she was able to create an entirely original film while providing the cast with daily catering supplies and using a professional Arriflex camera, similar to the one that master filmmaker Darren Aronofsky used for his opus, “Black Swan.” Gallagher described the difficulties that came with using such equipment.

“It was an eye-opening experience. We had to load up the film in a completely pitch-black tent, otherwise, the film would be ruined,” Gallagher explained.

The post-production process was just as tedious, with the team having to do the editing by themselves and then working with consultants to correctly mix the sound and further color the movie through the process of color grading. Gallagher described the consultant team to be really knowledgable and fun to work with.

Apart from just the technical aspect, Gallagher also hired an entirely local cast and thus came the need to figure out some creative budgetary workarounds.

“We were lucky enough to rent our production manager’s brother’s apartment for filming, so we were able to cut some costs there,” she explained.

Eventually, the hard work paid off, and the movie was chosen as an official selection as part of Pinewood Group Limited’s Lift-Off Filmmaker Sessions. Pinewood group serves as a “freeway for film students” who want to work in the industry after graduation and are behind recent hits such as Charlotte Weir’s “Aftersun.”

“Personally, it felt great getting that sort of academic and professional validation from my peers and the film community. It’s always a scary experience to create new art and put it out there for the world to judge,” Gallagher said.

The film won two awards, which was a testament to Gallagher’s talent and dedication to her craft. Through her experiences in film production, Gallagher has developed a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of the importance of resourcefulness and creativity when working with limited resources. She has also gained invaluable skills in pitching, storytelling, directing and casting, which will serve her well as she continues to pursue a career in film.