Actors Timothy A. King (left) and James Buttson pose for a promotional photo for “Protangeline” at a Detroit bar. The film, written by Wyandotte Police Detective Scott Galeski, premiered at the Trenton Village Theatre Saturday.
By ANDREA POTEET
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE — When a local filmmaker needed actors to play inmates in a short film, he didn’t have to look far.
Drawing on his 20 years in the Wyandotte Police Department, Detective Scott Galeski used actual ex-convicts, former gang members and police personnel from the area in his short film, “TheTank,” which won the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Michigan Film Festival.
The 25-minute film about five inmates whose lives become intertwined was shot at the old Wyandotte Jail. Its sequel, “The Tank II” is to begin filming this spring in the city’s new jail using Downriver actors.
“That’s what makes it special,” Galeski said. “We’re using the real deal. It gives people the opportunity to act in a movie and have fun doing it.”
Two of those actors, Timothy A. King, a former front man for the Detroit punk group Heresy and Steven Mattes, also of Detroit, received nominations in the “best actor” category at the 2010 Blue Water Film Festival. James Buttson, a former teacher in the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District, played a judge in the film.
Galeski said he has written film scripts for most of his life, but was afraid to release them to the public for fear that they wouldn’t be well-received. Then, at an event a few years ago, he found himself in a discussion about Michigan’s film industry and mentioned he had written a script based on actual events he witnessed during his career.
Joseph Johnston, who owned Uranium City Films in Livonia, asked to read his script. He went on to direct “The Tank,” and a second of Galeski’s scripts, “Protangeline,” which premiered at the Trenton Village Theatre Saturday.
“Protangeline” follows a bar owner and his customers through an average day in their lives.
“Protangeline” is about people’s perceptions and how our judgment is not always correct,” Galeski said. “It’s about being a good person no matter what cards have been dealt.”
A third “Tank” movie also is planned. Each film in the series follows new characters through twists and turns as they disprove the viewer’s initial conceptions of them. Galeski said each film is based on real events with a bit of his imagination sprinkled in. The films contain graphic realistic images, but come with a common theme.
“A lot of my plots are about stereotypes and how we’re usually wrong about people,” Galeski said. “In my profession, we cannot afford to stereotype anyone.”
Galeski said he is surprised at the accolades “The Tank” has received, especially since it was shot using mostly volunteer labor. The crew included Galeski’s brother, Dan, who provided the soundtrack, and Johnston’s brother, Peter, who acted as director of cinematography. The entire film was shot for less than $130, with the only expenses being food and name tags.
“The tank was in film festivals fighting it out against films with $250,000 budgets,” he said. It has been shown in eight festivals and earned six nominations and two awards.
Though he intends to keep shooting more short films, Galeski said he has no plans to give up his day job to direct big-budget blockbusters.
“Producing even a short film is hard,” he said. “I cannot imagine producing a full-blown Hollywood feature film.”
(Contact Andrea Poteet at [email protected])