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“The Gary I Knew” looks back at the life of Gary Coleman.

Working on a documentary can be a journey.

Just ask Daniel Zubiate.

The New Mexico-based filmmaker recently finished the documentary “The Gary I Knew” and is getting it ready for the festival circuit.

But first, he will have a free screening at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill.

“The Gary I Knew” looks at the life of Gary Coleman, who was a child actor in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Coleman starred in the TV shows “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.”

Coleman died of a hemorrhagic stroke in 2010.

Zubiate began work on the documentary in September.

He reached out to Coleman’s widow, Shannon Price, to tell the story.

“She was very suspicious at first,” he says. “She had Gary’s agent call me, and it was kind of a vetting process. After that, the floodgates opened and we were able to get material that had never been seen or heard.”

Quinton Aaron, left, narrated the documentary “The Gary I Knew,” which is directed by Daniel Zubiate.

In mid-October, Zubiate traveled to Salt Lake City, where he spent time with Price and did more research.

“The research wasn’t that bad,” he says. “The biggest obstacle was getting enough good stuff to use, and it had to be a certain quality. You have to find something that stands out. I had to keep nudging Shannon to get information. She did get it for me, and it worked out well in the documentary.”

After his time in Salt Lake City, Zubiate had a plan.

He knew where he wanted the film to start and how he was going to end it.

“Then I broke it down into subsections,” he says. “Then I started to connect the dots. I had to be careful to avoid redundancy by taking pieces out and refining others.”

Zubiate, originally from El Paso, moved to New Mexico in 2013.

He began filmmaking in 2001 but took a long break working behind the scenes or in front of the camera on numerous productions in New Mexico.

Three years ago, he got the urge to jump behind the camera again as a director.

“I have another feature I’m working on,” he says. “Being a filmmaker is what I love to do.”

Zubiate chose Saturday, Feb. 8, as the date to screen the film because it also is Coleman’s 52nd birthday.

Quinton Aarron, known for his work on “The Blind Side,” narrates the film, and the music is by Russ Budgen.


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