Interview: George Gallo and Samantha Mathis from “Local Color”
Interview: George Gallo and Samantha Mathis from “Local Color”

Producer James Evangelatos, Academy Award-nominated composer Chris Boardman, actress Samantha Mathis, local theater chain owner Dan Harkins, producer Julie Lott Gallo, and director George Gallo recently visited Scottsdale, Arizona to discuss their new film “Local Color.”

“Local Color” is based on George Gallo’s real-life experiences.


The Massie Twins: What prompted you to make the film independently?

George Gallo: The studio said to put sex scenes into the film, but I only ever got to kiss her [Samantha Mathis’ character Carla] and we wanted to show what actually happened – so we had to make the film ourselves. We made it for very little money and had to put up my house to fund it. It should have cost 5 to 7 million, but we shot it for much, much less.

Julie Gallo: The film won a Director’s Choice Award at the Sedona Film Festival.

GG: I wanted to tell the truth – Seroff was a foul-mouthed, fall-down drunk – but he was a real genius.

MT: How did Dan Harkins get involved?

GG: A question was asked during a Q&A at the Sedona Film Festival about where the film would be released theatrically, but it hadn’t been backed by a major studio. A guy in the audience stood up and said, “I’ll put it in my theater.”

Dan Harkins: It’s a true story (Dan Harkins walks into the theater and joins the cast and crew). I was in a meeting when I heard about this Q&A so I wanted to stop by. In Sedona we ran to each other in slow motion – we made a film deal in front of a full theater. My children loved the film and wanted to see it again. It now has an October 19th opening.

Chris Boardman: We ran the film for Leonard Maltin’s USC film class. There were mostly 18 to 21-year-olds and they related to it. It’s amazing that it’s as significant to them as much as to adults.

MT: We thought Armin Mueller-Stahl had retired – how did you get the cast that you did?

GG: We had another actor attached for Seroff – he was 80 and wanted to use his girlfriend for Carla’s role – take it or leave it. Julie watched Armin on TV and we thought he’d be perfect. So we called him in Germany and he said, “You know I’m retired. I don’t want to act. I want to paint.” I said, “Well, it’s about painting! You’ve got to read it!” Ray Liotta was a friend who knew my father – he really had the role down. We had another actor for John too, but he dropped out. Trevor came by and we didn’t even look at his acting – we just knew he was the one.

MT: What was the shooting schedule like?

GG: It was shot in 18 days. My first assistant director actually told me to slow down.

Samantha Mathis: During the kissing scene it started to rain, which was perfect. And during the raining scene we were using hoses to simulate rain – and it started raining for real. It was as if God was saying, “Make this film.” I loved the experience of working on the film and all the collaboration and encouragement. Gallo was open to suggestions and that sort of enthusiasm makes everyone want to work for him.

GG: When you hire a bunch of geniuses, let them be geniuses. The Ron Perlman character and dinner table scene really happened. There are a lot of art aficionados out there – I didn’t know what they were seeing. Did you see the vacuum cleaner that sold for $14 million?