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cheyenne_h on 01/25/2017 at 02:44PM

FMA Q&A: "The Gateway Bug" Soundtracked with FMA's Help

A still from the film's trailer. Find it here.

A few weeks ago we got a message from a couple of producers, Johanna Kelly and Cameron Marshad, who were working on a film. They wanted some help getting in touch with the band Atlantic Thrills, because their song "Bed Bugs" from a WFMU Live performance had caught their attention. They wanted to use it to accompany the ending credits of their upcoming documentary, "The Gateway Bug."

The film is an exploration of 'entomophagy,' or, as you might call it in plain English, eating insects! Many have touted this practice as a way to conserve natual resources and take advantage of a food source that is nutritious, easy to cultivate, and plentiful, especially in parts of the world that have not embraced the practice. The film will debut at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on February 2, 2017. More info can be found here.

FMA: Tell me about your project, "The Gateway Bug."  

Johanna: Our fully independent documentary exposes America's disconnect with food as pivotal tipping point for climate change and global warming. Following the terrifying paper presented in 2013 by the UN that food production must double by 2050 to feed Earth's exploding population, and their warning that at this rate, that’s impossible - we needed to know how and why. Upon finding that nutrition is direct result of culture and policy, everyday activities like eating, gardening and grocery shopping become revolutionary acts. This film converts viewers into activists, inviting exploration of taste, ethics and taboos to ignite social change through education.

Cameron: "The Gateway Bug" explores the booming edible insect industry now taking hold in Western countries as a direct response to the unsustainable agricultural practices we’ve witnessed over the last several decades. We discovered the topic through our friend studying at UCSB, and for his thesis he was tasked with developing a business that solves an ecological problem. The problem he was most familiar with was the overfishing of our oceans, and he proposed we start using insects as fish feed, rather than wild fish. Johanna and I found this fascinating, especially when we started talking about insects for human consumption.

FMA: Why did you want to make a film about this topic?

Cameron: The earth and its population are facing many crises at the moment, and food is one big part of that puzzle. We can't survive without it. I am an adventurous eater, and when I heard about humans starting to eat insects in the US, the land of the free and home the quarter pounder with cheese, I was immediately entranced. The reason I wanted to make this film was to tell the story about climate change from a different perspective, one that involves food culture breaking social norms.

Johanna: I'm a filmmaker because I'm a film-lover and I watch a lot of documentaries. It's kind of my favourite way to learn these days and I think a lot of people feel the same way. You can spend weeks trying to finish a book on something you want to know more about, or you can just sit down on your couch and be an expert in a couple of hours. These issues and solutions stand to change the world, so what better way to share them than in the easily digestible (HA!) form of a film? I hope our film helps people see how easy it is to help the planet and minimise climate change. Which in turn hopefully also makes them feel damn good about themselves, improving their health through better nutrition is just a happy side effect in my eyes.

FMA: Do you consider the purpose of the film educational, social, culinary, or something else?

Cameron: I believe the purpose of the film is to enable free thought around how our food is made and how we define what is food. It's a mix of educational, social, and culinary commentary; we meet chefs, farmers, celebrities, and Washington leaders, so we show the burgeoning edible insect industry from multiple angles. We also use archival footage throughout, which is meant to invoke a feeling of "Wait, we've been talking about this stuff for years, why hasn't anything changed?" I think it is a call to action, to encourage new ways of thinking about food production and food culture and their environmental consequences.

Johanna: I think it covers a lot of ground: social impact, environmental, culinary exploration of culture, what it means to survive in America, eating an American diet and how that's a vastly different experience depending on where you were born. We go from cricket farms in food deserts across the rust belt and the water crisis in Flint Michigan to high end restaurants on the lower east side in New York City. From tech geeks in Silicon Valley to Aquaponic farms in Santa Barbara and everything in between.

>>READ MORE below for more answers, further reading, and links!

FMA: How did you find out about the Free Music Archive?

Johanna: Our sound designer Jon Flores hooked us up! We started searching and were astounded at the depth of the libraries, the diversity of music styles and thanked our lucky stars that musicians on the site had the ability to be a little more forgiving than some of the publishers we'd been trying to negotiate licensed music from.

FMA: Why did you choose the track "Bed Bugs" by the Atlantic Thrills for your film?

Johanna: What a track! I think by the time I'd stumbled across it I'd probably skimmed over a few hundred tracks and none were quite right, when it suddenly dawned on me to try searching by keyword rather than genre! I threw in the word "bugs" and 'Bed Bugs' was one of the first songs we found. I grew up on the Ramones and something about the catchy riff and lo-fi production value just really grabbed me. I only got half way through the track when I started calling out to Cameron in the editing suite that we’d found our closing song - it was by far the best musical experience in the filmmaking process, not least because FMA makes it so easy to just reach out directly to the musician to ask permission. Atlantic Thrills were super chill about everything, excited to be included in our film and the contracts were signed within hours of us discovering the track!

FMA: What do you think Creative Commons licenses do for producers and artists?

Cameron: We had some familiarity with Creative Commons, and during this whole process being a two person team doing everything ourselves, it's nice to have a resource like CC to reference - very simple language which is easy to understand.
 CC can be very powerful for low budget filmmakers especially, as it opens up lines of communication with other artists who believe in your cause and aren't in this business for the highly litigious and potentially bank-breaking deals we have heard about. We're very grateful for the openness of Creative Commons licensing.

FMA: Would you recommend FMA to other producers?

Cameron: There's so much to choose from, so I would highly recommend going through FMA. Lots of talented musicians have their music up there, and it's very easy to get in touch with them.

Johanna: Absolutely! It's such a great resource. I’ll probably start looking for music there first from here on out, it was just so much easier than the other avenues we travelled down in our quest to find good music for our film. And when you’re on a tight budget, and / or doing the music supervision yourself (as we were), and maybe don't have the time, money or resources to jump through the many hoops publishers these days insist upon, it's second to none.


If you live in the Santa Barbara area, you can watch the film on Feb 2nd or 3rd at the SBIFF. Find out more on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the film's official website.



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