Mary Galloway has earned $35,000 in funding to make her first film. The Kwalikum Secondary School alumna, who moved to Vancouver after graduating in 2008, won the BravoFACT Pitch Contest at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival last month.
“I’m really excited about it,” she said.
“I was pleased, but not terribly surprised,” said her grandfather Charles Galloway, who lives and writes in Qualicum. “She gives it everything she has.”
According to the Victoria Film Festival website, the BravoFACT Pitch Contest funds were given to the candidate with “the most promising idea for a short film.” Finalists were given 10 minutes each to present their formal pitch to a panel of four judges.
Mary’s winning pitch was for Ariel Unraveling, a drama about a young girl who is locked in a room for a decade with only The Little Mermaid as company. “Her world is fantasy-based,” said the young aboriginal filmmaker, adding that “worlds collide” when the girl is let out into reality.
Qualicum-raised Mary said the character’s feeling of being unprepared parallels her experience of moving to the big city after growing up in a small town. “It was a huge wake up call,” she said.
In fact, one of the things that inspired Mary to write Ariel Unraveling was the realization of how difficult it is to break out of over-sexualized roles like “the love interest” or “the college girl.”
“I have so many (parts) I want to play,” she said.
So, she wrote the role herself.
“Mary is someone who will turn over a lot of rocks (to find her way),” said Charles. “She’s kind of a tenacious kid.”
Aside from playing the lead in her upcoming film, Mary will also take on the role of co-producer behind the camera. She will be joined by two of her mentors on the project: Patrick Sabongui will produce the film, while aboriginal actress Carmen Moore will play the young girl’s drug-addicted mother and also direct.
Ariel Unraveling is a big step for Mary, who has come a long way from being cast was as Shy Girl #2 in her high school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. “I finally broke out of my shell,” she said. Since then, Mary has graduated from a two-year intensive acting program at New Image College of Fine Arts and gained a number of roles in independent and student films, theatre, commercials and television shows. And while she said that acting is her “biggest passion,” she got hooked on writing at film school. She also credits her grandfather with helping her hone her English skills.
“Her writing skills have improved a lot over the past few years,” said Charlies, who writes children’s books and technical books for universities. “Mary’s a fast learner.”
Of course, it’s not all bad news coming from a small town. Aside from inspiring her work, Mary said that her experiences have lead her to be a role model for other people. She said she has had several students from KSS contact her for advice and Galloway is happy to talk about facing challenges, forming boundaries and making decisions. “I’m happy to be that person now,” she said. “I love Qualicum.”
“She’s a great group player,” said Charles. “She’s a nice kid.”