Photo of Willy James Gandy by Neil Strebig
By Neil Strebig
One documentary a week — that’s local videographer Willy James Gandy’s promise to himself and Northsiders.
“I like being able to tell the stories that are around me,” Gandy said. “There’s so many interesting ones that I feel like the world’s going to really love seeing them.”
The 21-year-old Gandy and son of Bill Gandy, owner of Allegheny City Historical Gallery, is a self-taught filmmaker compiling a weekly documentary series on local Northside businesses and community celebrities. He hopes to not only shine a positive light on his beloved community, but also to inspire.
“I’m just covering the story. I’m just showing people what is already there,” Gandy said.
Gandy is a self-described, “one-man army,” working solo without an audio or lighting crew. Filming on a Sony camcorder his elder sister gave to him as birthday present, Gandy is bringing Pittsburghers an in-depth look at the culture of the Northside.
“Consistency is key in creating anything really great,” Gandy said, “I know the community will really get behind a lot of these documentaries.”
Gandy recently featured the brand-new Allegheny City Brewery Company highlighting the surging microbrewery scene. Gandy wanted to feature the local brewery located on Foreland Street because “they’re very forward with the community.” Gandy respected their upfront approach towards community outreach which in many ways mirrors his own organic style of filmmaking.
An avid film and television fan, Gandy admits to drawing a large amount of inspiration from local filmmaker, Rick Sebak.
“He’s the original. He’s the legendary Pittsburgh filmmaker,” Gandy said, “He’s number one in my book.”
The influence of Sebak’s positive grassroots style can be seen in Gandy’s “Hidden Gems” documentary. A film showcasing three local business: Subba’s, Laverty Jeweler’s, and the Trevor James Experience salon. All three have been present in the Northside for years, yet each is regarded as an under-the-radar’ business. Gandy’s three-minute film helped change that perspective.
His most recent documentary about “Walking Bob,” features a local resident who Gandy describes as “such an interesting guy.”
“I’m interested to see what kind of documentary it is shaping into,” Gandy said on the project before it debuted on Tuesday, April 26.
In addition to his Northside-focused documentary series, Gandy has also designed ACHGs website, coordinates its YouTube page, and has collaborated with the likes of KRS-One and Rakim. Gandy was the designated videographer at the legendary hip-hop stars’ show in Homewood this past November.
To check out more of Gandy’s work visit his YouTube channel, Willy James.
This article was last updated November 20, 2017 at 11:00 a.m.