Gale reflects on his journey

July 12, 2017

Former Tatura resident Jeff Gale, a television producer in Sweden, is working on a street art installation.

For Jeff Gale, a life of embracing whatever came his way, took the former Tatura teenager to the bright lights of filmmaking in Sweden and beyond.

Born in Tatura in 1961 and raised there until he was 17, Mr Gale’s life since he left the rural Victorian town has been anything but sheltered.

Recently visiting his roots in the Goulburn Valley, Mr Gale reflected on his journey from obsessive soccer player to Swedish television producer and overseeing military negotiations throughout Africa.

‘‘The thing I had on my mind was that I wanted to play soccer professionally,’’ Mr Gale said of when he left Tatura for Melbourne.

‘‘I had played soccer with the Tatura Soccer Club and went on to play in the state league.’’

Despite his best efforts on the field, Mr Gale said he had the itch to explore the world around him.

‘‘I wanted to travel, so I ended up in Europe,’’ he said.

And after always having an interest in design and photography, Mr Gale said he ended up in the beautiful galleries dotted throughout the continent.

‘‘Everything was so new and fantastic,’’ he said.

After his travels prompted him to take up a degree at Swinburne, Mr Gale said within one year, he had dropped out.

‘‘I received a phone call from a friend of a friend who was working as a film director and he asked me if I would work as his assistant,’’ he said.

Jobs like these, according to Mr Gale, were difficult to find and he embraced the position with open arms, kick-starting his career in the industry.

Mr Gale laughed as he thought back to his first day on the job.

‘‘I walked in and there were all these men in suits,’’ he said.

Soon to discover what his work would entail, Mr Gale said his boss asked him to keep the suits distracted and at bay.

‘‘He told me to keep them off the production floor; he said they just disturbed everything,’’ Mr Gale reminisced.

‘‘So all I did was take care of those damn execs.’’

But Mr Gale attributes those days as to how he became involved with the industry.

‘‘From the beginning I worked in film,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s how the road started for me.’’

With a knack of taking on whatever task was thrown his way, Mr Gale soon became a wealth of knowledge when it came to filmmaking.

‘‘Whenever there was an opportunity to stick my hand up, I did,’’ he said.

‘‘I learned as much as I could and became a jack-of-all-trades.’’

But when the film industry in Australia began to decline in the 1980s, Mr Gale decided it was time to pack up and head overseas.

Having already met his ‘‘beautiful wife’’ Gita holidaying in Thailand, the pair moved to where she grew up — Sweden.

Despite the industry being quite small in the country, Mr Gale said he began working in Sweden from day one.

‘‘Advertising was very new there at that stage; they didn’t really know what they were doing,’’ he said.

‘‘I started teaching university students. I wasn’t a qualified teacher, but Aussie advertising back then was up there with some of the best in the world.’’

It did not take long before Mr Gale had developed a concept for a television program.

‘‘It was basically an interactive lottery program,’’ he said.

Mr Gale said the program would run for two hours and viewers could call in during this time. It pulled the highest ratings on record.

‘‘It’s still going 23 years later and it plays a big and central role in generating funding for kids sports there,’’ he said.

It was during the family’s time in Sweden that their daughter, Kelly, was scouted by a modelling agency while they unwittingly caught up over coffee.

Mr Gale said she was 13 years old when she was approached by the agent and the family declined.

But a headstrong Kelly sought out the woman herself two weeks later.

‘‘She has been working internationally since she was 14-15 years old,’’ he said.

‘‘She has been the youngest model to walk for Victoria’s Secret.

‘‘She walked when she had just turned 18 years old and she’s walked the show three times.’’

Seemingly the perfect fit when it came to their careers, Mr Gale said he had been unsuccessful when trying to photograph his daughter despite her perfect face for portrait photography — one of Mr Gale’s favourite forms.

‘‘As much as I’ve tried we still have a father-daughter relationship,’’ he said.

‘‘She can be short tempered with me and I’m pretty demanding myself; it’s not a particularly good mood to try and take photos.

‘‘She’s incredible; she has beautiful lines on her face.’’

But it was perhaps where his filmmaking and photography work led Mr Gale that made him feel as though he had taken a gigantic leap from his humble beginnings in Tatura.

‘‘We actually packaged the lottery show and travelled all over the world pitching it,’’ he said.

Mr Gale said he and his family spent almost one year living in the African country of Ghana where they worked on getting the show on television.

‘‘It was a very secure way for governments to get money and Africa was so totally corrupt,’’ he said.

Mr Gale soon developed a political network and began to get offers to oversee negotiations between government and military officials.

‘‘Because I had built up the trust in these people,’’ he said.

‘‘I did a lot of that for a 10-year period all over Africa particularly in South Sudan and Northern Nigeria.

‘‘They were dangerous but interesting situations.

‘‘A normal kid from Tat could have never dreamed about being in a tent overseeing negotiations with two African military leaders.’’

Currently in Australia with a delayed return to Sweden, Mr Gale said he has begun to enter into a different phase of his work, which will take place during the next couple of months.

‘‘I’ve only just started to put together a new portfolio,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m moving into a different phase, which is more like art and photographic imagery; it’s almost like an abstract painting.’’

Although he could not give too much away, Mr Gale said the project would involve a street art installation designed to provoke and wake people up.

‘‘It’s the most exciting concept I’ve worked on for years and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to create it here.’’

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