Interview with Filmmaker Mike Gallant (TERRA BEACH)

TERRA BEACH was the winner of BEST FILM at the July 2020 FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Mike Gallant: I work as an editor in Toronto and have participated in many great feature films, but ultimately I wanted to make a something myself that represented all facets of my personality – my connection to Mexico (my marriage with my wife) and my love of coming-of-age, scifi, and gangster films. I figured a feature version would be too expensive to do on my own, but I knew if I just got the right people involved/cast I could pull something together I would feel good about in Florida.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

I wrote the feature version of “Terra Beach” on my downtime in the beginning of 2018. As time went on I got the itch to produce something of my own and I came back to Terra Beach at least as a short or proof of concept. Once I secured money, I found a producer who made it happen over 2 days in Florida in November of 2018. Post-production took about a year with the FX, music and VFX. It was probably finally finished at the end of 2019.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Space Riverdale

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The VFX took a very long time to complete and went through different visual effects artists that cost a lot of money, but I would say the first day of filming met every obstacle imaginable. It rained for a few hours, we had a child actor who we ended up cutting from a scene because she was getting too upset, and then we had audio problems. It went so bad that we ended up wrapping early and picked up what we lost on a very LONG second/final day.

Ultimately, though, from a story standpoint, I was very nervous about how the film could be perceived due to the current political climate. People’s reactions to the choices we made, which didn’t have easy answers or lived inside a specific political box, especially from the feedback videos, made me happy that the film wasn’t over analyzed and the audience seemed to appreciate the story for what it was trying to say.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I always love/dread getting feedback because ultimately I make material for regular people/audiences. The positive feedback I received really blew me away. I didn’t expect the film to connect with people on such a widespread scale. The fact that two people said it should be a feature and one woman said she usually hates 20 minute shorts but felt completely captivated by this one, really hit home. I was humbled and super appreciative that people watched the film and took the time to voice their appreciation.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I’ve always loved coming-of-age films and I re-watched “Dazed and Confused” on Netflix one evening at a cottage…and it hit me at that time that no one had ever done that type of film as a sci-fi which takes place in the future. I also had the added angle of knowing about the Latinx community thanks to my wife and her extended family. I love sci-fi and consider that my wheel house, but it’s quite often inaccessible to a large portion of people so I thought a more stripped down Richard Linklater-style approach, where the film could almost work alone as a straightforward drama, would best suit the story.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I would say growing up it was either “Independence Day” or “The Fifth Element”. These days I think “Ali” by Michael Mann is probably my #1.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think it’s a perfect platform. It’s incredibly easy to use and to search out different festivals.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

“Sandstorm” by Darude is probably physically implanted in my brain from childhood.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

As things open up here in Canada the film industry is going back to work. So, for the next few months I’ll be working on 2-3 features as an editor, as well as trying to get a feature version of “Terra Beach” and other projects I’ve written off the ground. A feature I cut with director Cody Callahan will also be premiering at “Fantasia” this summer.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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