Name: Will Garofalo
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Last year, Will Garofalo received a grant from Northwestern to travel to Burma and film a documentary. Now, he’s back on campus discussing his plans for the film, his aspirations post-graduation, and his ideal Valentine’s Day date.
What was the process like of applying for a grant from Northwestern?
It was definitely a LOT of work–my partner and I decided on our topic in August and we didn’t finish up the proposal until one of the last days it was due in December. To be fair, she was studying abroad in India at the time, so that made things tricky as well. But all things considered, it was a pretty straight forward process actually. We received guidance from some professors, one of whom told us, “they just want to see that you can hit the ground running. All of your plans need to be set, have your contacts set and a detailed budget, and you will be fine.” That gave us a lot of confidence amidst the late nights, and so it was a fairly painless process since all of the research was super interesting stuff.
What was your experience like filming in Burma?
Nothing short of life-changing. We were lucky enough to make contact with a fellow NU student who also happens to be Burmese, and he essentially put his life on hold for a month so that he could be our guide around the country. He also provided consistent valuable insight and viewpoints being a Burmese citizen. We were able to film things I honestly never expected we would be able to; many Burmese people are wary of speaking out against the government or other groups in power through the media. It took several scrapped topics and characters, but we were able to hear very honest opinions about hyper-sensitive topics in the country, particularly in the city we stayed actually. And as fascinating a journalistic experience we had, probably my favorite memories were the late night tea shop conversations we had with our crew of friends with made over there. A group of young, informed, and motivated Burmese students, they would speak about the country’s past, present, and future, about revolutions, ancient history, new cultural trends, and about their place in this exciting time in Myanmar’s history leading up to the country’s first truly democratic election next January.
What are your plans for the documentary?
We’re finishing up our trailer now and will be using that to pitch the story to some news networks in the coming months. Depending on what happens with that, we will also be submitting it to several festivals (domestic and international) once we complete the project in its entirety.
What are you hoping to do after graduation?
I definitely plan on going into media production, although I’m not sure from what angle yet. I’ll apply to some networks, some production companies, and some things in between. Overall, I just want to find a job that allows me to do what I’ve been lucky enough to do for the last four years–meet new people, capture their stories on camera, and tell them to the world.
What’s your ideal Valentine’s Day date?
Oh god…probably some mediocre beer and a movie. And Wings Over. I’m not really one for big Valentine’s Day productions.