As the Director of Photography for the Enterprise Unit at WGRZ-TV, you probably will never see him reporting the news, but whether you know it or not, you watch his stories every single day.
Chris Gallant works on everything from daily news, to news specials, to investigative work. WNY sees his work daily during broadcasts and on the WGRZ website. Besides being Director of Photography, he is also team leader for several of WGRZ’s convergence initiatives and he trains staffers on how to produce multi-media content for the web. Even with such an immense workload, Gallant certainly never lets quality slip. That is no doubt one of the reasons why two of the documentaries he directed and edited for WGRZ were nominated for Emmys.
Gallant starts off with a catalogue of sources to create a story. From e-mail, to phone calls, to tips, and even citizen journalism, story ideas come in from every direction. Gallant, along with a team of people, take these ideas and mold them into a finished product. Gallant says that it was not just him alone that worked on the stories that were nominated, he says, “I could never say that this is just my documentary or my story; a host of people always contribute to every project including assignment editors, photojournalists, producers and of course reporters.”
It starts with meetings and the dialogue continues throughout the day. The primary crew of the director, editor, and the reporter/producer shape and edit a story. From there, the script has to be by Ellen Crooke, the News Director, and Jeff Woodard, the Executive Producer. After that, it is almost complete.
WGRZ-TV received four New York Emmy Nominations and Gallant’s documentaries make up two of them. The first is entitled “Stories to Remember: The October Storm (2006).” Gallanet directed and oversaw the story structure, editing and solely created the beginning and the end of the documentary. The middle sections were rough-cut by other editors (Dooley O’Rourke, Bob Mancuso, Dave Harrington, and Norm Fisher) and were melded together by Gallant in the final-cut.
“I believe that the entire hour-long production was completed in the week following the October surprise storm, and required me to pull a week’s worth of all-nighters. Of course it was worth it,” says Gallant.
The other documentary he received a nomination for is called “They Made a Mistake: The Anthony Capozzi Story (2007).” If a documentary about the October surprise storm was a lot of work, it was nothing in comparison to this. “I was the sole editor of the project; it was the first high definition project ever produced by WGRZ-TV and required a lot of man-hours. I think management nearly choked when they saw my timesheet,” says Gallant.
The documentary covered material that went as far back as twenty years – all of which needed to be up-converted to high definition format for the project. Gallant says, “Literally every piece of footage that I wanted to use needed to be recorded twice before I could use it! Managing all this, by myself in a dark room in essentially the attic of the station for almost three weeks, many nights of which were spent sleeping on the floor was daunting. Again it was all worth it but it is amazing that I was able to do all this work and be creative. I was pushed to my maximum!”
The Annual New York Emmy Awards Gala is on April 6th in New York City at the Marriot Marquis in the Times Square Broadway Ballroom. Gallant will be attending this black tie event, especially since it is his first year for entering and also his first year for being nominated.
Gallant has only been with WGRZ-TV since June of 2006. Before that he worked at WKBW-TV for 14 years as the assistant chief photographer. It seems as though his position at WGRZ did not keep him busy enough. In 2003, Gallant wanted a new challenge and returned to school and entered the Department of Media Study’s MFA media arts production program, graduating in 2007. He now continues teaching a cross-disciplinary class at the Law School called Documenting Law in Action where he teaches law students to make documentary shorts on various law-related subject.
WGRZ and indeed, WNY, are lucky to have Gallant working in the area. Gallant loves what he does and sees that a big part of the future of the news will be online. You can see many of the items Gallant works on at WGRZ’s website. Gallant says, “This is where everything is going—on the web—and I want to be part of it. We’re already becoming experts at Channel 2 just by doing innovative, web-based work every day.”
Updated April 8, 2008:
Chris won an Emmy this past Sunday for his Anthony Capozzi HD documentary “They Made a Mistake” and it won in the News Special category. Congratulations!