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An Interview with Mary Patel Gallagher, Director of Holistay

by Mike Haberfelner

August 2023

Films directed by Mary Patel Gallagher on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Holistay - in a few words, what is it about?


Holistay follows two couples, who do not know each other, double book a vacation house in San Diego and strange things start to happen.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Holistay, and is any of it based on your personal bad holiday experiences?


I like a good ghost story and was inspired by the ghosts and Celtic lore of Ireland. My husband is from Ireland and my forefathers came from Ireland. I wanted to write a script that had those elements but with an American spin.


Not based on any bad vacation I had.


What can you tell us about Holistay's approach to horror?


I would say Holistay is more of a thriller. It's a slow burn with plot twists. One of my favorite writer/directors is Alfred Hitchcock. I like story in films.


With a background in journalism and documentary filmmaking, what made you try your hand on a horror movie? And is horror a genre at all dear to you?


I have always liked the supernatural, a good ghost story, and thought I would try something different, more surreal than what I had been doing before.


A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


I think it's easier for a director to direct their own material, so I started with that premise. You know the story because you wrote it so it's already in your head.


In so far as directing the actors, I will defer to them if they want to change or add something in the script. Since they are that character, they would know how that character is going to act/react to.


Do talk about Holistay's cast, and why exactly these people?


I already knew Steven Martini (Tony) from meeting him at a film festival back in 2008 and we had talked about doing a project together.


Erin Gavin (Branna) and I have the same agent, and I thought she would be perfect for Branna.


Gabriela Kulaif (Gia) is married to Steven Martini in real life, I wanted a Latina actress for that role and she is Brazilian so it worked.


Gavin O'Fearraigh (Finn) came by way of my Irish friends in the Bay area and I was lucky to get him since he is a big name in Ireland. It was important that the actors who played Finn and Branna were authentic Irish actors.


John Michael Hersey (Druid) is my childhood friend and he does off-Broadway in NYC. He is also a musician and did some of the scoring of the film.


Bailee Bob Sveen (Banshee) was cast locally and is such a talent.


All in all, I think the actors were perfect for their roles.


You also of course have to talk about Holistay's wonderful location, and what was it like filming there? And how did you find it even?


Holistay was filmed in Vegas in my house. I tried to find the right location but they all had restrictions on times and what you could or couldn't do. So I shot it in my house, where I could control the situation.


Holistay takes place in San Diego because it worked. If you were in a vacation rental in Vegas you would not be home at night, Vegas is all about the nightlife. San Diego is all day time, boating, surfing, zoo, Sea World, safari park, etc. I lived in San Diego for five years so I know. There is night life in San Diego obviously, but it would not be unusual for people to be out all day and then home at night chilling out. A lot of the action takes place at night in the house so they have to be there.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We shot in six days, no incidents! Everyone got along!


The $64-question of course, where can Holistay be seen?


Holistay is out now on Amazon Prime Video and VOD streaming platforms, soon iTunes.


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Holistay yet?


It just debuted, so hopefully we'll get some good reviews.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Holistay is a trilogy, so working on Holistay 2 script.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I did not have any formal training, but I think producers and directors are better served from learning "hands-on". There is no school of producing that I am aware of. There are directors who are formally schooled but most either are writers who direct their own material or have cinematography backgrounds that flow into directing.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Holistay?


I was formally a political journalist for an East Coast newspaper and also produced political debates for Comcast. I produced and directed a documentary called Electile Dysfunction - about the disfunctions of the American voter. After the newspaper business started to wane, I decided a career move was imminent so I moved from my hometown of Philadelphia to LA and began to work on feature films for other producers. Later I decided to work on my own projects, and Holistay is my first feature film.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


I like to allow actors to feel free for their characters to go off script on occasion if they think it would advance the dialogue or help the scene. Since their characters are in their head so to speak I will defer. I like to develop a rapport with actors as well so the scenes flow smoothly. It is also important I think for any director to have a good assistant director (AD) at their side to to keep on schedule!


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Alfred Hitchcock, M. Night Shyamalan, John Carpenter, James Ivory, Mel Brooks, Nora Ephron, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy just to name a few.


Your favourite movies?


Wizard of Oz, Remains of the Day, An Affair to Remember, Philadelphia Story, Halloween 1 and 2, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, Sleepless in Seattle, Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks), Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lincoln, Godfather 1 and 2, Harry Potter (I could go on and on).


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
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The links below
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Find Mary Patel Gallagher
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Mary Patel Gallagher here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

... and of course, films you really deplore?


I am not a fan of slasher films or demonic possession films (too real).


Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?


IMDb, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Google.


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Hope everyone enjoys Holistay!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD