A fixture on the New York scene for 40 years as a director, writer, producer, author, historian and educator, John’s track record is especially strong in discovering and mentoring new talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Among the actors John has worked with in debut or significant early roles are John Leguizamo, Amanda Peet, Zach Braff, Michael Imperioli, Gretchen Mol, Matthew Lillard, Heather Matarazzo, and Denis Leary. An Emerson College graduate, John made his directorial debut with the rock ‘n roll musical comedy Beach House (New Line Cinema), then directed college pal Denis Leary in two shorts, Kurt Vonnegut’s Long Walk to Forever and Other Men’s Wives. He and action star Steve James co-wrote, Gallagher directed, and James starred in the cult action movie Street Hunter (Columbia/ TriStar) , co-starring Frank Vincent, with John Leguizamo in his first starring role. John then wrote the cult comedy classic The Deli with an all-star cast including Gretchen Mol, Chris Noth, Jerry Stiller, Ice T, Frank Vincent, Debi Mazar, Iman, Tony Sirico, Heather Matarazzo and Michael Imperioli. The National Board of Review cited The Deli with an award for Excellence in Filmmaking.
Blue Moon (Castle Hill), also written and directed by Gallagher, followed, starring Ben Gazzara, Rita Moreno, Burt Young, and in an early role, Zach Braff. Gallagher also began a teaching career at School of Visual Arts, The Neighborhood Playhouse and others, that continues to this day with his popular classes at One on One. Other features include the improv comedy Cupidity (2004), which he directed, and producing stints on the features The Insurgents (LIIFE Best Feature) and Mother’s Day Massacre (2007). He directed a series of award-winning shorts (I Love You, Beautiful, We Remember, Want, Wink) and wrote the books Film Directors on Directing and Nothing Sacred: The Cinema of William Wellman (with Frank Thompson)..
Most recently Gallagher directed The Networker (The Orchard), starring Steve Stanulis, William Forsythe, Sean Young and Stephen Baldwin, and just debuted Sarah Q at the Golden Door International Film Festival, where Emmy James was awarded Best Actress in a Feature. The comedy-drama Sarah Q, stars Burt Young, Sally Kirkland and The Sopranos’ Tony Sirico, Vincent Pastore, Federico Castelluccio, William DeMeo, and Artie Pasquale, with Steve Stanulis, Garry Pastore, Joseph D’Onofrio and Ashlee Macropoulos.
In 2013 John almost perished in a fire and was given only a 10% chance of survival. After six weeks in a coma and six months in hospital, he survived and thrived, making eight films since, inspiring many by overcoming his handicap.