Happy New Year’s Eve! I started a tradition in 2012 when I posted our Favorite Moments in a “Best of” blog post. Well, it’s New Years Eve again, so it’s time to take a look back on 2015. This year was a great one, we celebrated 12 years together, released two new short documentary films, our films received over 240k views online, and we made a lot of progress on our debut feature film following the late artist Chuck Ramirez. From January through December, here are our top five favorite moments from 2015, enjoy!

DCCD Creatives of the Month of May
1. Creatives of the Month, The Department for Culture & Creative Development
In May, we were selected by the DCCD as Creatives of the Month. It was an honor to be recognized and featured in their weekly newsletter Atmosphere. Read our full interview on GetCreativeSanAntonio.com.

Vimeo Staff Pick All Stars
2. Vimeo Staff Pick All-Stars
We couldn’t believe we made this amazing list of Vimeo Creators! Jason Sondhi, Sr. Manager, Curation at Vimeo said of our work, “Husband and wife creative duos are the epitome of cute. Amirite?? Texas-based, this couple has found their niche in creating delightful artist-profile documentaries. With a careful eye and effective interviewing style, they somehow manage to find that deeper layer in an artist’s work and manner, the space beyond the surface gloss so many profile documentarians get hung up on.” Thanks Jason and Vimeo for being such great supporters of our work over the years. Read the full article.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
3. Rueben Singleterry: Made of Steel
This summer we released a short documentary unlike any other we’d produced. The film follows the inspiring story of my young cousin Rueben. We followed Rueben as he battled encephalitis, a rare virus which causes seizures, and as he pursued his passion for basketball. He hopes to inspire others to never give up, no matter how difficult the circumstances. Watch the film. Read more in a previous Blog Post.

Intersections - Anila Quayyum Agha
4. Intersections by Anila Quayyum Agha
In September we visited Rice Gallery in Houston for our 9th film in our series following their space for dynamic site-specific installations. We were absolutely floored by the beauty of Intersections by Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha. The completed film received lots of attention online including our 10th Vimeo Staff Pick and features on Colossal, National Geographic Short Film Showcase, and The Atlantic Editor’s Pick. We loved working with Anila and following the story behind her work, thanks to everyone for watching and sharing! Watch the film.

Behind the Scene Chuck Ramirez's Broom Series #TiaChuck
5. Tía Chuck , In-Production
This year has been busy with research, editing, and filming for our debut feature documentary following the late artist Chuck Ramirez. We’ve posted 7 Production Updates, which detail the work that’s kept us busy. We still have lots of work to do before it’s ready for release, but we’ve already had positive outcomes from our work. In August we met with Dya Campos, Director of Public Affairs at H-E-B in our research process for the film. We presented our project and discussed the connection between Chuck’s 14 years working in Brand Development at H-E-B and how it impacted his work. Not only did we receive a grant from H-E-B to continue production, but they also selected artwork for Chuck’s Broom Series for the new H-E-B South Flores Market! Dya states, “We knew we wanted to work with an artist for the opening, but we didn’t know who, and then the Walleys called to talk to us about Chuck’s work here and we knew immediately it would be a perfect fit for the South Flores Market”. Learn more about the film at TiaChuck.com

Those are some great memories to look back on, thanks for reading and watching. Here’s to a productive and inspiring 2016!

– Angela Walley

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Meet Rueben Singleterry

We have just released a short documentary following my cousin, Rueben Singleterry. I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we’ve produced a short documentary film. We’ve been so busy working on Tía Chuck, our feature length documentary following artist Chuck Ramirez. We were actually in New York this past November filming interviews for Chuck’s documentary when I got the phone call from Rueben’s Mother, Roxanne, about this project. Roxanne told me that Rueben had gone through a difficult illness and they were trying figure out a way to share his story. In September Rueben had been diagnosed with encephalitis, a rare virus which causes inflammation in the brain and the resulting seizures he endured nearly took his life.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Rueben is cared for in a hospital ICU

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Rueben’s Grandfather holds his hand in the hospital

I couldn’t believe this had happened to Rueben, but what amazed me most was how passionate he was about sharing his story. When we visited Rueben at the end of November, we were completely surprised by how much he had matured in the short time since we’d last seen him. He looked straight into our camera and began telling us what had happened to him the previous months. Mark and I were in awe of his grace and courage as he described to us his near death experience in the hospital.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Rueben Singleterry’s Interview

We have had the privilege of interviewing dozens of subjects over the past several years, but nothing could prepared us for the reality of what Rueben had to say. I cried several times as he spoke in his interview. He described all the details of his illness and his struggles to get back the life he had before he was diagnosed with encephalitis. We knew right away that this was going to be a very different film than we had ever made. It was going to follow my family as they worked together to support Rueben’s recovery and ultimately his passion to pursue basketball.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Rueben is examined by Jerry J. Tomasovic, MD

We followed a lot of emotional moments during the course of working on this film, the first was a visit with Dr. Tomasovic. Rueben had been waiting for months to find out if he was going to be physically able to play basketball again. His school required a release form and Rueben’s reaction to Dr. Tomasovic’s decision to write one for him was priceless. That note meant so much to the family, because they knew that not only was Rueben going to be able to pursue his passion for playing basketball, but that he was finally healthy enough to do so.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Mother and Son embrace after an important Doctor’s Visit

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Jarrett Turner works with Rueben as part of his Mentoring Program Ballinisahabit

The first moments of film we captured with Rueben was a basketball practice he had with his trainer, Jarrett Turner. Jarrett and Rueben had already developed a close friendship when we began filming, so he was more than willing to come by and help us out on our first day. The pair worked on drills as the sun set in Rueben’s neighborhood. We continued to follow Rueben’s after school training with Jarrett as part of his Mentoring Program, Ballinisahabit. It was wonderful to see Jarrett as someone who could relate to Rueben on different levels, as a friend, a trainer, and a mentor. Jarrett was also one of the first people to learn about Rueben’s struggles and to become inspired by his dedication.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Rueben holds a Basketball given to him by Jarrett Turner on his first High School game of the season

Another emotional moment was Rueben’s 15th birthday party. It reminded us of a scene from one of our favorite documentary films, Hoop Dreams, which chronicles the lives of two teenagers who dream of one day achieving NBA stardom. In both scenes you’re hit with the realization that these young men are very lucky to be able to blow out their candles.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Film Still, Rueben on his 15th Birthday

“I hope that this inspires anyone who went through something like this or is going through a rough time or who has doubts or is losing faith in life, to never give up.”

– Rueben Singleterry

Rueben has such a natural charisma and confidence that made our job easier. I know he has a tremendous amount of potential that we just barely tapped into for this film. Thank you to my family, my friends, and everyone who supported this film and helped make it possible.

Rueben Singleterry #WalleyFilms
Rueben Singleterry with Director Angela Walley

It means a lot to me to share a story from my family, so I hope you’ll find this film inspiring!

– Angela

We are very sad to hear of the passing of Legendary Documentary Filmmaker Albert Maysles. We’d like to share our story of when we met Albert in 2008 at the Dallas Video Festival.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Angela Walley

Our short film Picturesque Joel was an official selection of the festival, but we were really there because we knew Albert would be there. We had fallen in love with Salesman and Grey Gardens, and we were particularly interested in Maysles Films’ series following artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. We made the trip to Dallas and were thrilled to attend our first Film Festival wearing “Filmmaker Badges”.

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles at the Dallas Video Festival, 2008

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles graciously signs a Grey Garden’s Film Poster

Our badges gave us access to the Filmmakers Lounge, which we nervously attended. We found Festival Director Bart Weiss and told him what big fans we were of Albert. He told us that Albert was very approachable, so we should just introduce ourselves. There were several other Filmmakers waiting to take photos and talk with Albert.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
A conversation with Albert Maysles

Albert Maysles' Socks, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles’ Yellow Socks

He was very kind and gracious with each encounter. He gave everyone his full attention and even flirted a little with a young woman who revealed her love for Grey Gardens. When we had a chance to talk with Albert he remarked to us, “Documentary, that’s the way to go”. At the time we were making narrative and experimental short films, but documentary would soon become our genre of choice.

Running Fence, Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence

Dallas Video Festival screened Running Fence, with a brief introduction by Albert and Bart. Mark remembers the way Albert described working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Albert had such a deep love and respect for the subjects he followed, which we would later emulate in our own work.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Angela Walley

Things began to fall into place for us as we continued our early film work. We didn’t make the connection immediately, but when we reflected on it we realized that with just a few words Albert had helped us fuse our love for Contemporary Art and Storytelling.

Albert Maysles and Mark Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Mark Walley

Jimmy Kuehnle Documentary #WalleyFilms
Still from our film Jimmy Kuehnle’s Big Red and Walking Fish, 2009

The following year we attended the festival with the hopes of meeting Albert again. Our short documentary Big Red and Walking Fish following performance artist Jimmy Kuehnle was an official selection and we’d hoped to tell Albert how big of an influence he had been for us. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it that year, and we never had a chance to tell him how important meeting him was for the course of our work as filmmakers.

Albert and David Maysles
Albert and David Maysles

Now seven years later, we have produced over thirty short documentary films and are currently in production on our most ambitious documentary film to date. When we married in 2010 and formed our production company, the name “Walley Films” was in homage to “Maysles Films” and the dynamic duo relationship Albert shared with his brother David. There have been many influences in our work, but it all started with Albert Maysles.

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles, November 26, 1926 – March 5, 2015

As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences – all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, the knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place.

– Albert Maysles

We want to say thank you to Albert. Thank you for your incredible work and for your kindness.

Mark and Angela