My life story, in less than a page

I had to write this for my acting class, so I figured I’d throw it up on here too for those of you who don’t know my background too well. I would seriously encourage any of you fellow StF members to write something similar up so we can get to know each other a bit more.

I wish there was some other way to tell you that my name is John Gallino, and I’ve been roaming this Earth for a little over twenty one years, mostly in the suburbs of Bergen County, New Jersey. Today I live with my mom in a small apartment in Maywood, but I grew up and went through the school system in New Milford, where my dad still lives with his second wife and my half-brother. The two towns are about 10 minutes apart, so I was always able to see my parents pretty frequently.

They divorced when I was 8 or 9, and though it was an amicable separation, it still greatly affected the rest of my development. I was a single child until I was 14, so I always knew how to entertain myself alone. But when my parents split up and my mom moved to Maywood, it was decided that I would spend weekends with her. I had no friends in Maywood so most of those hundreds of weekends were spent in the house. I watched cartoons and pro wrestling, drew pictures, read books, studied, and spent lots of time on the internet for most of them.

Because of that, and the fact that my step-dad – who lived with us until just recently – was a web designer, I learned a lot of computer, graphic art and web design skills at a young age. In my high school graphic arts class, I was pretty much miles ahead of everybody. So one day when a local photographer called my high school asking if anyone would like a position as an assistant in his studio – working with photoshop and whatnot – my teacher recommended me. A few days later I called and got the job, and met with the photographer, Steve Belner, who ended up spinning my life in a new direction completely.

In a few short weeks I fell in love with photography and bought my own professional camera. The following summer I started going to weddings with him and shooting my own pictures. Though at first he didn’t use many of mine, the practice was invaluable and eventually I got better and better. When I finished high school and left for Ramapo College, I stopped working weekly in his studio but I still kept shooting weddings with him. About a dozen a year, but it wasn’t enough. I figured I needed to make more money, so I tried getting a job at Starbucks. I applied to three of them, but because I wasn’t available on weekends (because of the weddings I was still doing), none of them called me back. That’s when I decided to say “Screw it!” and go into business on my own, photographing weddings and bar mitzvahs and things of that nature just like Steve taught me.

I still talk to and work with Steve today, but make much more money working for myself. It’s not enough to move out of my mom’s place, but it’s about as much as most of my friends make working 30 or 40 hours a week. Luckily I work 30 to 40 days a year and have much more fun doing it.

Somewhere along the way in my college career, I took a film class because it sounded interesting. I fell in love with film immediately, but it wouldn’t be until a few semesters later that I decided I wanted to be a full-blown filmmaker and changed my major from Visual Arts (with a concentration in photography) to Communications (with a concentration in digital filmmaking) to reflect that.

Today I mostly avoid politics and disregard religion. I am only interested in art and media, and spend much of my free time either consuming or creating it in various forms. It’s the only thing that keeps me happy, which can sometimes be a struggle because I have problems with depression. But when I’m creating something, working on an idea or excited about a new project, that is when I’m on top of the world and filled with enthusiasm. I have some experience working in a big office for a large corporation, and I hated every second of it. I’m the type of person that needs to be his own boss, and work with small teams of people rather than some anonymous corporate entity miles away. Am I an entrepreneur? I don’t think so. I’m just picky. I’m picky with friends, with jobs, with relationships and most everything else. I have very high standards for everything, and for myself above all, and that’s led me to where I am today.