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Marc Gallagher talks Writing Comedy for Youtube and a Sinister Nightmare

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Earlier this week I caught up with Aussie writer, director and vlogging funnyman, Marc Gallagher, to talk about content creation, soft drinks, nightmares and what influenced him to get into content creation in the first place – animation.

Below you’ll find my interview with Marc Gallagher in its entirety.


Interview with Marc Gallagher – Writer and Director

Soda and Telepaths: Hi Marc, how are you going right now? How is this chaotic world treating you?

Marc Gallagher: Thanks for asking. These are incredibly strange times indeed, I’m doing just fine and I hope you and yours are doing well. Things are certainly better now that we have opened up again. Lockdowns were pretty crazy for us as my partner and decided to have a baby during global pandemic ha ha. Which has been amazing, but the restrictions certainly made it challenging. 

Soda and Telepaths: What projects are you currently working on?

Marc Gallagher: I’m quite fortunate to be working on a few at the moment. My writing partner Luke Goodall and I have a pilot in development with Hoodlum and Gentle Giant media, we are also getting paid to adapt a children’s book into a feature – which I can’t say anymore about I apologise –  and finally we were incredibly lucky to be selected by Youtube and Screen Australia to fund our digital first series The Followers. Which is a fake true crime documentary about a wellness cult in the Otways.

Soda and Telepaths: How did you first get started?

Marc Gallagher: I actually started out wanting to be an animator. I loved the Simpsons growing up and I spent far more time than I should have drawing in my school books, rather than listening to my teachers. So I studied for a bachelors degree in animation at RMIT. It was one of the only animation courses at the time (I’m old), so it broadly encompassed a lot of film in general because animation was considered niche.

I found myself particularly drawn to the screenwriting aspect and then I would often act in my own animations, because I used to mimic a lot of cartoons growing up and also I was far too lazy to find actual actors ha ha. People liked my performances so much that I ended up being featured in most of the classes animated projects. So that’s when I branched out into acting and writing. But it wasn’t till I met my comedy/writing partner Luke Goodall, that I developed the skills of directing and editing for live action comedy.

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Marc Gallagher talks Writing Comedy for Youtube and a Sinister Nightmare
Marc Gallagher (left) and his writing partner, Luke Goodall

Soda and Telepaths: What’s your favourite era of creative work by other artists?

Marc Gallagher: That’s a massive question to ask and answer ha ha. I’m gonna go with the classic run of The Simpsons which depending on who you ask is different. For me it goes from Season 3 – 10. The show literally formed the humour and sensibilities of a generation and to me is the peak of comedy on television. 

Soda and Telepaths: Are you more of a horror or sci-fi nerd? What are your go to films to check out?

Marc Gallagher: Can I say both? For example my two fav horrors are sci-fi: Alien and Terminator. If we are splitting these things more directly then I’d say Ex Machina is my fav pure sci-fi and The Shinning as my fav pure horror. Ha ha I hope that makes some kind of sense? It certainly felt like it did when I wrote it. 

Soda and Telepaths: Who are your main creative influences and what aspects of your creative work can we find them in?

Marc Gallagher: Far too many to list really. But if we had to go with the two people who’ve had the biggest impact over the course of my life, then it would be Matt Groening and R.L Stein. As mentioned before The Simpsons changed the course of television and humour. You can feel the difference in television shows and movies before and after the show at its peak. And for me personally it eventually lead to me pursuing a career in comedy.

No matter what genre I write there is always an element of comedy to it. R.L Stein however, was my gateway into reading as a child. It was pretty hard to get me to pay attention. But he kind of picked up what Stephen King was putting down and made it accessible for kids. I was obsessed as was an entire generation of kids with his work. Ever since then there has always been an undercurrent of horror to my passion projects. 

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Marc Gallagher talks Writing Comedy for Youtube and a Sinister Nightmare
On the set of Facebook Bromance

Soda and Telepaths: Who are your go to musical jams to put on while you’re working?

Marc Gallagher: I was a heavy metal kid growing up and to a large extent I still am. So the two best albums to work out to for me are: Hatebreeder by Children of Bodom or Sonic Firestorm by Drangonforce. Both of those albums are just packed with an unrelenting energy from start to finish.

What strengths in previous jobs have helped strengthen your creativity?

Marc Gallagher: Honestly it’s a bit of a cop out, but all of them. Steve Jobs tells a story in one of his university lectures, about how a calligraphy course that he was fascinated in years prior informed the Mac’s customs fonts and that changed how we type in modern computing. But at the time it felt completely inconsequential. Of course I am far less prolific than Steve Jobs ha ha, but the concept has been the same for me.

My work in animation allows me not to be constrained by reality when filming live action projects and every odd factoid I read becomes canon fodder for a potential future script or film. I truly believe that if you want to be completely creative, then you need to consume vast amounts of knowledge and skills in anything you can manage. It’ll all come in handy sooner or later.

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Comedy duo: Goodall and Gallagher
Comedy duo: Goodall and Gallagher

Soda and Telepaths: What weaknesses have you identified in your current project that you’re going to work on in the future?

Marc Gallagher: I’m always trying to be more efficient. For example in my first feature script, I found the film and characters through the process of writing. Which lead to some great moments of discovery, but it’s also a tremendous waste of time. And if I am to be efficient as a screen writer on a professional level, then I cannot really afford that liberty.

So I’m currently trying to find the optimal balance between structure and organic discovery – at least for myself. This same concept applies to collaborations. What is the most effective way that I can work with the people or person I am on a project with. Who is better at what? What’s the best way to divide the creative labour to achieve the best result with the least amount of time wasted. 

Soda and Telepaths: Let’s talk about some memories that you had when you first started getting creative? How has this changed from childhood to adolescence to creating as an adult?

Marc Gallagher: Interesting question. I have kind of noticed that we spend the first portion of our lives in a rush to grow up and then in the later parts we are desperate to find that inner child again. I’m always trying to balance the work ethic and rigour that has been a staple of my adult life, with the joy and freedom to play with ideas, that I had as a child. I think either in its extreme can be damaging to a project. 

Soda and Telepaths: What’s the worst nightmare you’ve ever had?

Marc Gallagher: I used to have night terrors and sleep paralysis when I was growing up. So to say I have had more than my fair share would be an understatement. I’m not sure if it’s the worst, but I’d be happy to share one of the more memorable ones – To those who aren’t familiar, sleep paralysis sort of traps you in this state somewhere between consciousness and sleep. And when the bad thing happens you don’t wake up… 

Here goes. I remember one night I woke up in a start. I could hear a cat meowing out the front of our country house. It was unusual because there were no cats in our neighbourhood at the time. I was certain I was awake, because I could feel the cool night air touching my now cold sweat and the fabric of the sheets on my skin. The cat meowed again, but was then strangled to a silence. Startled I went to sit up, but I was paralysed. (This is a common feeling in sleep paralysis hence the name).

I couldn’t even turn my head. The door handle to my room began to turn and I tried to call out to whoever it was, but my words were choked away somewhere in the depths of my throat. The door slowly opened and the lights were flicked off. I could hear the thud of the intruders feet as they walked slowly across the room. Again I tried to move and to alert the the others in the house, but I simply could not move, I was trapped in my own body.

A pale woman sat on the end of my bed. She had her face covered by tangled dirty hair and she was weeping. I can’t explain it, but a feeling of immense evil emanated from this woman. I began to hear demonic whispers in my ears and tortured faces began trying to push through the walls beside me. My first thought was that these were the souls of her previous victims, trapped in a endless cycle of torment. Doomed to watch her claim the lives of others forever.

When they stopped screaming I realised the woman was now leaning over me staring into my eyes. I tried to scream but I couldn’t. She was trying to say something to me. But every time she tried, she choked on dirty black water, that would dribble from her mouth and onto my face. She began to strangle me enraged and as she screamed, the dirty water from her mouth cascaded from her mouth and into mine.

I remember an intense feeling of strangulation and drowning. And I am afraid I can’t remember the rest. It’s either been blacked out or suppressed. The end…. Ha ha fun times right?

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Editing Videos
Editing Videos

Soda and Telepaths: Do you have a favourite soft drink?

Marc Gallagher: Feels weird to go from the nightmare question to this one ha ha. I’d say Dr Pepper just because I’m a contrarian asshole. 

Soda and Telepaths: Who’s your favourite telepath or gifted character in pop culture?

Marc Gallagher: Probably Professor X. I recently found out he was modelled after Martin Luthor King (And Magneto off of Malcom X), this makes so much sense. I always admired Professor X for trying to reason with people who are opposed to him and trying to see the best in all people. Which is exactly why I think Dr King is such a hero as well.

Soda and Telepaths: Which creative work would you most like to be remembered for?

Marc Gallagher: Hmmm great question. I do not yet think I have written that piece. But I have a passion project sitting on my shelf that deals with Sleep Paralysis, I believe it might be my opus, if I am ever given the opportunity to make that film or series.

Check out Marc Gallagher’s Social Accounts at any of the following links.

Marc Gallagher on Instagram

Marc Gallagher on Twitter

Marc Gallagher on TikTok

Marc Gallagher on Youtube

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