Documentary on Windsor field hospital turns personal for filmmaker
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A Windsor filmmaker is putting the finishing touches on “Dispatches from a Field Hospital”.
Matt Gallagher, owner of Border City Pictures Inc., based in Toronto says the story was something that interested him right from the beginning.
Gallagher says he was impressed with how quickly Windsor Regional Hospital got the project off the ground and he believes it was unique to the city.
So much so he wanted to “document a time in history.”
Little did he know, it would turn personal.
“After I started negotiating access to this field hospital to do some filming, my dad was one of the ones diagnosed with COVID-19 and he was sent to the field hospital.,” says Gallagher.
The project was put on the back burner as Gallagher and his family struggled to stay on top of his fathers health, from a far.
“They would have a nurse or a doctor or a PSW and they would set up a phone so my mom could have these daily phone calls with my dad. And my mom was telling me how important that was to her, and what a difference it made.”
Gallagher confesses he never intended to produce a documentary about his own family.
But the video chats opened his eyes, to a new way, to tell the story.
“It’s not being embedded in the field hospital. But maybe it’s a documentary in telling the story of these communications that are going back and forth.”
Gallagher and his crew recruited four more families with loved ones in the field hospital, and they created an archive of personal video chats.
They lived in a Windsor hotel for 40 days, and compiled 80 to 90 hours of footage.
Plus, when the field hospital closed to patients, and it was safe for the film crew to be inside, Gallagher interviewed 8 to 10 staff members who worked at the field hospital.
“What i was witnessing wasn’t ordinary medicine,” he says “All these people who were working in that field hospital all sort of changed lanes and did what they needed to do to help those patients in that field hospital have more comfort and have more communication.”
The documentary “Dispatches from a Field Hospital” has been commissioned by TVO and is slated to air in mid-March, to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.
Gallagher hopes to submit the film in festivals, whenever they are rescheduled.
And while he was hesitant to make a film, about his own personal family, he’s grateful now, for the opportunity it afforded for his family to stay connected at a difficult time in their lives.
“I was at my mom’s house, filming every day, through her front window, every day for a month.”
“It was a hard slog making this film but now that it’s all done and my dad made it out of there and he’s back and he’s healthy, we’re happy.”