Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 2, Page 14
Alumni Profile
A happy trail of television documentaries

     Setting: A small, New York City apartment where a playwright and
her husband, a television producer, are preparing for a weekend trip
with their two babies to the tranquil island of Martha's Vineyard in
Massachusetts. Struggling to make ends meet, they wonder how they'll
ever be able to afford a home in the exorbitantly expensive Big Apple.
     A scriptwriter and playwright, Georgia Searle Morris, Delaware
'70, describes real-life scenarios with the same insight and
creativity that fuel her professional life.
     Seven years ago, she and her husband, Len, were living in New
York City with their two, small children when they visited friends for
a winter weekend on Martha's Vineyard. They immediately fell in love
with the island, extended their visit an extra night and bought a home
there the following morning.
     Today, the entire family enjoys the best of both worlds. They
live a quiet life on the small, rural island and travel frequently to
big cities and far-away places.
     "The island is 25 years behind the times in that it is a safe,
nurturing place to raise your kids. It is a rural place. It still has
farms, and the old islanders are basically rural people. It's also
very with-it. In the summertime, it goes from 14,000 people to 80,000.
And, there is a growing number of artists and city exiles who are
living here. It is a very easy way to live in the 1990s," says Morris,
who majored in English at Delaware.
     She and her husband run Galen Films, a small production company
that makes long-form documentaries for television. Over the past four
years, they've made three documentaries that have aired on the cable
television channel, American Movie Classics (AMC). All pre-production
work is handled from their home office on Martha's Vineyard, and they
travel wherever necessary to shoot their films.
     "Thanks to the fax machine and e-mail, it works fine. We're not
completely isolated," Morris says, explaining that they travel to New
York City or Los Angeles to complete production work.
     Morris serves as the company's scriptwriter, her husband, the
producer. They also have a full-time associate producer/editor, and
they hire free-lance filming crews on an as-needed basis.
     The couple take their children and a baby-sitter on most shoots.
Their most recent project, a documentary about cowboy-actor Gene
Autry, was shot in the desert with the Sierra Nevada mountains serving
as the backdrop.
     "We were shooting in the desert and at the Gene Autry Western
Heritage Museum and places that are really fabulous for kids. Our kids
have gotten used to being on the road. They love it. It makes things
more costly and difficult, but generally more rewarding. They hang out
and do a lot of hotel time; then they get to have fun when we finish a
shoot," Morris says.
     Gene Autry, Melody of the West premiered on AMC this past
October. The same channel first aired the couple's Roy Rogers, King of
the Cowboys film two years ago. Morris, who interviewed Rogers at
length and viewed his family videos, recently published a book with
the same name as the film.
     Galen Films also produced Republic Pictures' Story, a film that
AMC first aired four years ago about the Hollywood B-studio that gave
such stars as John Wayne and singing cowboys Rogers and Autry their
     All three of the couple's films now air as re-runs.
     While living in New York, the Morrises produced a series of one-
hour documentaries for NBC, including one about ancient Rome and
another about Raoul Wallenberg, a non-Jew who used his wealth and
power to save Jews during the Holocaust. Each also produced segments
for the television show 20/20.
     In addition to being a scriptwriter, Morris is a playwright.
During the couple's New York days, some of her short plays were
produced at the Provincetown Playhouse on MacDougal Street in the
city, and she had a reading at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.
     Since moving to Martha's Vineyard, two of her one-act plays have
been produced at the Vineyard Playhouse, a professional theatre there.
The first, called Too Many Sweets, depicted a homeless woman in New
York and her daughter. The second, Lovers, was about two elderly
people who reminisce about the first time they made love.
     "This is my art life, not my commercial life," Morris says about
play writing. "This does not make me any money, but it keeps me
     She also is trying her hand at screenplays, which, she says, is
an attempt "to work my artistic life into my commercial life."
Producing feature-length films wouldn't be completely new to this
creative couple. In 1979, they made a short film after receiving a
grant from the American Film Institute.
     Morris has woven her passion for theatre and her love for
children into a curriculum that offers a hands-on experience to fourth-
graders at the local elementary school. She and other theatre
professionals volunteer their time to help students write, produce and
execute every aspect of a play that they perform for their peers and
the public at the Vineyard Playhouse. The program-now in its second
year-received a grant this year from the Massachusetts Department of
                                         -Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83