Joe Hall next to a camera on a movie set

What if the road not yet taken is the one that leads you back home? For filmmaker Joe Hall, B.A. 1988, his first feature film, The Road to Galena, released in select theaters and via streaming in July, is about finding the courage to forge your own path even if it threatens the trappings of success. The protagonist, Cole Baird, follows his family’s great expectations for him and rises through the ranks at a high-powered Washington, D.C., law firm, yet he yearns to return to his rural hometown of Galena, Md., to farm. 

“The Road to Galena is life. It’s messy, it’s complicated. Everyone is pursuing their own path; sometimes those paths are parallel, sometimes they intersect, sometimes they grow apart,” said Hall, a New Jersey native from a large Catholic family who came to Washington, D.C., for college and never left.  

Hall, like Cole, quickly climbed the corporate ladder but had his own dreams of making movies. So, 15 years ago, Hall started a production company and began shooting short films during his “off” time. For The Road to Galena, Hall filmed for six weeks on location in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. He said he found great support from his close-knit Cardinal alumni community. 

Actress Audrey Wasilewski, B.A. 1989, appears in Galena, and Hall’s wife Catherine, B.A. 1990, M.S.W. 2017, along with their four kids, make cameos.

“This picture, as with so many things that I’ve done … has been the result of a community,” said Hall. “None of these things could I have done solo.” 

After wrapping production, Hall gathered with fellow Cardinals for a preview party on campus. Nora Burke, B.C.E. 1989, who attended the viewing with her husband and college roommates, said they all “really enjoyed” the film.

“The cinematography was really lovely and showcased a part of the Eastern Shore of Maryland that I hadn’t explored before,” said Burke.  

As for what’s next for Hall’s journey, The Road to Galena will be premiering in Europe at a festival in Prague mid-September. And he has two films in pre-production: a thriller, and a sci-fi family feature based on a bedtime story he used to tell his children when they were younger.

— M.B.