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Interesting book documents American shopping malls in the 80s

Ian Smith

Michael Galinsky (born 1969) is an American filmmaker, cinematographer, photographer, and musician who has produced and directed a number of documentaries, several of them in collaboration with his now-wife, Suki Hawley. With their partner David Beilinson, they run a production and distribution company called Rumur.

In 1989, when Galinsky was 20 years old, he and a friend spent six weeks driving across the U.S., taking pictures in malls. “At the time, the mall was the new public space, the new community center where people would interact,” Galinsky later said. “This was pre-Internet, pre-cellphone, there was smoking in malls, it was before the Gulf War. It was this weird moment in time where things were getting ready to change.”Over the years, many of these pictures have been reproduced in various publications and on a number of websites.One critic has commented that Galinsky captured, in these pictures, “in a beautifully off-kilter high-flash way, the cool ugliness of suburban style.” Another has written that “What makes these photos so appealing and oddly touching is the nostalgia bound up in them….They are from a not so distant past….The collection is imbued with a sense of the everyday melancholy but also manage to be a pop-anthropological feast.” A collection of some of these photographs, Malls Across America, will be published by Steidl in October 2013.

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“Malls are not the center of our cultural sphere anymore. They’re not new and shiny. We’ve moved on, and now we have the Internet.”

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After graduating from college, he was “working as a PA and basic all-around grunt” and “was also doing some photo work and wanted to make films.” When he met Hawley at a party, she was a film-school student, and he “talked her into dropping out so that [they] could make a film instead. [He] knew that no one else would give [him] the chance to shoot.

Galinsky has been making films with Suki Hawley since 1994. Their first two films, Half-Cocked (1994) and Radiation (1999), were narrative features. They were followed by the documentary Horns and Halos (2002), which they made in partnership with David Beilinson. Soon after, they formed Rumur, a collaborative production studio.

Galinsky served as producer and director or co-director of Radiation (1999), Horns and Halos (2002), Code 33 (2005), Miami Manhunt (2008), Battle for Brooklyn (2011), and Who Took Johnny (2013).

He has worked as a cinematographer, cameraman, or director of photography on all of the above films, as well as on Half-Cocked (1994), Texas Gold (2005), August in the Empire State (2006), Lucky Lake (2006), and Repeat Attenders

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Galinsky has said that he considers it important for a filmmaker “to have a good understanding of how images get made because then you have a certain amount of control over how a project will look.” He also believes that “good filmmaking requires a combo of intuition and knowledge. Without intuition, the film will lack heart and without at least some knowledge it won’t cut together. At the same time, if the knowledge of craft overwhelms the intuition one ends up with something that looks and feels like a commercial.” He has cited the Maysles brothers and John Cassavetes as major influences. As for his collaboration with Hawley, he has described them as having “very different – complimentary strengths. Suki is a very good editor and organizer of thoughts and I have a bunch of crazy ones. She’s the one who really pulls things together.

All Images: Micheal Galinsky, Rumur Inc

Galinsky published a book Malls Across America which is available for purchase on Amazon.