It's an early Thursday afternoon in the Los Angeles community of Marina Del Rey and Michael Gallagher, a 2007 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, is relaxing at his home after a trip to Bora Bora. "I've never taken a proper vacation as an adult," Gallagher said. "This was my first one, and it was lovely. All of the traveling I ever do is for work."
The work Gallagher is referring to is his skyrocketing career as a writer and director. His most recent project, the comedy film "Internet Famous," is streaming on Netflix now and serves as commentary on today's bevy of celebrities who built their careers on social media and online popularity. It's a world he knows well, considering he first gained prominence making sketch comedy videos while a student at Torrey Pines High School for a viral YouTube channel dubbed Totally Sketch. Gallagher wrote "Internet Famous" with fellow YouTube star and San Diego native Steve Greene.
"We've been working in this world of digital celebrity and started noticing how big some people's egos can get," Gallagher explains of his initial idea to pen the film's script. "We thought it'd be a hilarious jumping-off point for a comedy movie, so we began writing it in between working on other projects."
Luckily for the duo, their subject matter is rife for spoofing. A fake documentary (or "mockumentary"), the movie stars famed social media celebrities such as Shane Dawson and Christian DelGrosso, alongside veteran actors like John Michael Higgins (from films such as "We Bought a Zoo" and "Pitch Perfect"), and Roger Bart (currently starring in the hit Showtime series "Extras" alongside Matt LeBlanc).
"The movie's essentially about these people who have such an ego, despite the fact all they really do is roll out of bed and flip on a camera," says Gallagher. "We wanted to find actors who were comfortable making fun of their online personas. We're trying to hold up a mirror to our industry."
Shot over a period of three weeks in Los Angeles, the movie was later picked up for distribution by Lakeshore Entertainment, and Lakeshore then brought the project to Netflix. Despite a positive reaction so far, due to its mockumentary nature, some viewers who discover the film don't totally understand it's all a spoof and not, in fact, a real documentary. "There's a stumble-upon factor whenever you make something and put it out into the universe," Gallagher notes with a laugh. "Some people who aren't quite in-tune are just really confused by the whole thing. It's not supposed to be taken seriously."
In addition to "Internet Famous," Gallagher has a busy slate of digital projects coming down the pike. Later this fall a comedy dubbed "The Thinning" that takes place in a post-apocalyptic future hits YouTube Red and stars the Disney Channel's Peyton List and Vine personality Logan Paul. It's a project under Gallagher's production company he named Cinemand.. "It stands for cinema on-demand and we started it because we just want to bring more quality filmmaking to digital projects."
Despite his hectic schedule, Gallagher still finds time to visit his family who live in North County. "My mom has a birthday party every year at the Del Mar Racetrack, so that was the last time I was down," he said. "I love coming back."
"Internet Famous" is available on Netflix now.