How do you say no to Gallagher when the phone call comes in that he’ll be down a week ahead of schedule? What does one do with ten days of Gallagher-time exactly? And, more importantly, how many life lessons does one learn, both directly and indirectly, from a 66-year-old veteran of comedy who once was the biggest name in the game? In order: You don’t say no, jump at any opportunity that leaves you with stories for life. Next, do whatever you would normally do for 10-days, only with Gallagher tagging along. The short answer to the latter; it’s immeasurable.
While yes, he can be an ornery old shit, the character that is Gallagher goes far beyond what you think you know. His personality forcibly explodes out like shards of metal and glass from the wreckage of what I could only call a post-celebrity stress disorder. There are moments of magic in the explosion, I mean he’s had his successes for good reason. In a typical day on the Gallagher roller coaster, you’ll experience highs and lows as he openly takes you along the journey of his mind - you just need to be willing to hang on through some of the more intense moments to get to the really good stuff.
When we set out to launch our blog, we knew that we wanted one section of it to be dedicated to testing new equipment. Our team sat down and listed all of the upcoming gear that we wanted to review, the first being the Phantom Miro camera. Figuring that the creative would find it’s way, we simply lived in the unstated fact that whatever our tests became, they would only be done Fiction-style. That evening, sitting on the couch, digging through Netflix, I came across the Chappelle Show’s Black Gallagher sketch and it hit me as hard as a flaming sledgehammer - we must find Gallagher and film him in slow motion for our Miro test. The pitch to our Creative Director, Chase, went just like this: I slide into his office, Kramer-style, at 9 am sharp yelling the word, “Gallagher!” - his reply was just “YES!”, accompanied simply by a twinkle in his eye followed by the words, “Find him.”
Gallagher decided to retire from live shows after his most recent heart attack in March, all but pulling himself from the map, contact-wise. A handful of phone calls and emails later though, we had the feller on the phone.
It turns out that Gallagher has always wanted to capture his smashing in high speed, so he accepted the job quickly and enthusiastically. We planned to shoot in a week. The day after that plan was made, he was at our door to take part in the creative process - his call time was set for the day before the shoot.
Having other work to do throughout the week, we went ahead and gave G his own desk, so that we could sit at ours effectively day-in and day-out.
He wrote poetry and stories all day - some of which he read for us. Sometimes, he was kind enough to even sit at the reception desk.
Day-by-day, we hustled and partied. Hustling included having custom heirloom Gallagher mallets built by our friends at Hog Eat Hog, initial testing, produce shopping, and of course, the partying would end with poetry reading by candlelight. If you’re going to roll with this dude, be prepared to drink cheap, brown tequila - straight up. “The browner, the better.”
Some of that brown tequila was drunk over a photo shoot in our studio with Gallagher, and one of our favorite photographers, Bryan “Bear” Soderlind.
Some of it was drunk at a local music venue where he was invited to introduce the band MeWithoutYou. It started as an impressive pump up the audience sesh, and ended with Gallagher offending a crowd of 700 Christian music fans with some of his more lewd material. Hindsight being 20/20, I guess Ireally should have told him that this band has a core of Christian followers. Whoops.
And so it went with him. Each moment was a movement from heavy to light, and then back again. A chaotic romp from poems to explicit outbursts. And that’s where you needed to hold on so that you could catch the special moments.
One problem we faced in actually shooting was the fact that a full day with Gallagher being Gallagher is amongst the messiest of things.
Our solution? An à la Dexter-style Kill Room that allowed us to confine the resulting hammer-hit extracts into one plastic bag of a room that we basically balled up and threw away once complete. Add in a dozen sheets of plexiglass, and c-stand after c-stand of flying doo doo blockers, and you got yourself a proper space in which to shoot.
The effort required to shoot something so messy, with a camera so demanding, starring a talent so complex, made for an experience more challenging than we expected, but it certainly yielded more than we bargained for in both product and depths to consider in life.
Heres a gif set for your sharing pleasure:
Photos by: Bryan Soderlind & FCTN