• Samuel W. Sanso

Gary McClain Gannaway - Screenwriter to Producer

Updated: Nov 24, 2018

Gary McClain Gannaway might have come late to the game, but he entered strong. Being a 73 year-old part-time teacher, he just finished his first feature film: Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains - a meta horror-comedy that has been a total hit, racking up several prizes at film festivals!

Gary at the Curitiba International Film Festival

Born in Louisiana, he soon left after turning 18 and traveled and lived in many places, both in the US and abroad, supporting himself as a teacher.

Eventually, he came through Austin in the 70’s and loved it, even teaching here for a couple of years. So after getting married, he came back to settle down with his wife in 1984. Even despite all its growth and crowds, it still is the only city he would want to live in, in the United States.

He’s loved films throughout his life, even bad ones, and has always had a passion for writing. This eventually lead him to write a screenplay for a horror comedy (Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains) which he sent to the New Orleans Horror Film Festival in 2013. The script went on to win Best Screenplay! Coincidentally, the year before he had met a Brazilian director at this same film festival: Paulo Biscaia Filho, whom he decided to send it over to. The director quickly came onboard and together they began the process of getting the film to the screen.

  • What do you think fulfills you? "A good day of writing makes me happy. Having a good time with my sons and wife makes me happy. Watching movies makes me happy."

Never having produced before, he had to quickly learn the long process it takes to get a film from script to screen, and how to raise money and later try and sell the film, which is a challenge. He was very lucky when experienced producer Sandra Steele jumped onboard to co-produce the film and help him along the way. Together with the director Paulo Biscaia, they set out on the large task that's getting a feature film made. They filmed between Austin and Brazil over 2016. Post-production was finalized earlier this year, and since then it's been doing the rounds at film festivals. He hopes to write and produce three or four more films and when he feels ready, he would like to direct. He’s now working on a new script while working through these last stages with his film (selling and distributing it). The script this time is a thriller, which if all goes well, he would like to work with the same team as Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains to make it happen. Further down the road, his dream project would be to adapt Gary Paulsen’s novel "Canyons".

  • Have you had any pitfalls or hardships? "I feel like I have had very smooth sailing. If there have been some rough patches, I don’t dwell on them."

Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains” went on to win various awards, such as: best feature at Artemis Women in Action Film Festival, best feature at Horrorhound Film Festival (H2F2) and the Gold Award at the Spotlight Horror Film Awards. They are still waiting to hear back from a couple film festivals at the time of writing.

You can watch the teaser and final trailer here.

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