With a Privilege to View

“Local filmmaker combines talent and career into winning combination”

Filmmaker Maryanne Galvin will tell you that she is not good at talking about herself. She prefers instead to probe the complexities of the human condition, than divulge any about herself.

“I am more comfortable behind the camera telling other people’s stories,” she says laughingly. This knack for telling others’ stories is no small achievement. It has allowed her to produce and direct five films in five years while working full time as a forensic psychologist.

Even while maintaining a demanding schedule, Ms. Galvin has covered a wide variety of issues in her films. From her first: “Thanatos Rx: The Death Penalty Debate,” to her most recent offering at the Boston International Film Festival: “AS IS: A Downsized Life,” her subjects have included the debate about life and death, daredevil circus clowns and the people who offer them spiritual solace, female sexuality, and people who thrive in a downwardly mobile life. Each film offers insight into how people cope and their attempts to master life's unknowns. “The act of storytelling and narratives are valuable to the world,” says Galvin.

Galvin recognized this value at a relatively young age. As a first grader at “Our Lady of the Angels” in Worcester, Massachusetts, she wrote her first play. It was also at school where she experienced how tough an audience can be. Says Galvin with a smile, “I was kicked out of school for leading the class in a round of “Frére Jacque.”

Not to be daunted by this experience, Ms. Galvin enlisted her five brothers and sisters in staging talent shows and plays for the neighborhood throughout her youth. Filmmaking and theater were in her blood to stay.

Galvin looks back fondly on those experiences. “Catholic school instilled a lot of discipline and focus in me. It takes a lot of discipline to make a film.”

Although theater arts continued to be her interest, Galvin chose psychology as a college career path. She says that film, literature, and psychology are all avenues to learn about the human experience; they transport one into another perspective. She wanted to know how people go about their lives.

Earning a degree in Child Psychology from Wheelock College and a doctorate at UMass Amherst, Ms. Galvin continued to explore avenues in understanding the human condition. The desire to share what she learned from these experiences brought her back to film and screenwriting at Emerson College in 1989, where she received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1994.

Life, career and experience seen to have come full circle for this multifaceted woman. In her new film, “AS IS: A Downsized Life,” she gives a glimpse into the human condition, drama, and how people cope with the complexities of their environment. The film covers the lives of nine different people all in various stages of a downwardly mobile life. By following their lives, she shares with us the difficulty and ease with which her subjects cope. Some willingly embrace their situations, while others simply adjust.

Ms. Galvin’s talent and training are apparent in her ability to reveal the “psychology” and “theater” of her subjects. Through the personal narrative she sheds light on the seriousness of today’s tough economic world, while still managing to find humor in it.

In Maryanne Galvin’s films, her occupation as a forensic psychologist may allow us all to have a better window on her subject’s world. “Having a unique privilege of having the intimate details of people’s lives has made me a better filmmaker,” she says.

For viewers, seeing Ms. Galvins’ observations of the world gives us the unique privilege of seeing her as well.