Red Tide, directed and produced by Associate Course Director Dino Gallina, is a story about prescription drug abuse, sibling rivalry, and family tradition, with the backdrop of the historical sponge fishing town of Tarpon Springs, Florida. The film was recently awarded Best of Fest for a U.S. Narrative Feature at the New York Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival. His film exposes the heroin-like addiction of oxycocone drug abuse.
In the story, young Alex Nikoladis – having fulfilled a prison sentence – returns to Tarpon Springs to join the family tradition of sponge fishing and live an ethical life. Although the younger brother had considered himself the black sheep of the family, he soon learns that his brother is fighting his own demons.
“His brother’s fallen into this world of crime [and] pharmaceutical drug use and sale, and so the younger brother needs to rescue his older brother from this world [and] at the same time not get trapped by this world himself,” explains Gallina. (Click here to view the Red Tide Trailer.)
When Gallina began working on Red Tide in 2005, nobody was really talking about prescription drug abuse as a serious societal problem. OxyContin, the brand name of a powerful narcotic pain reliever containing oxycodone, was a relatively new drug.
“You never really heard about pill mills or that sort of abuse,” said Gallina. “You heard people stealing it from their grandmother, and then you never really heard how extensive it was.”
Fast forward to 2011, and the landscape has changed.
In August, the FBI announced indictments of 32 people under racketeering statues for their roles in selling oxycodone illegally in South Florida-based pain clinics, so-called “pill mills.” In September, three TSA officers and two police officers were among 20 people arrested in a large-scale drug bust involving the shipment of tens of thousands of oxycodone pills between Florida and Connecticut.
Although it’s been six years in the making, Gallina’s film has never seemed timelier. The judges of the New York Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival recognized the significance and the artistry of the film as well. Red Tide earned two festival awards: Best of Fest for a U.S. Narrative Feature and Best Acting.
For winning the festival’s grand prize, Gallina earned a limited distribution package: a week-long run in New York’s Producer’s Club theaters, free marketing, and a New York Timesreview. Gallina is still in talks with the festival on additional details of the film’s distribution.
Several Full Sail instructors were also involved in the making of the film. ACD Eddie Tapia produced the film’s score, ACD Henry Nophsker was a sound designer and musician for the film, and DAD Department Chair Jason Denton and Lab Specialist Adam Woodworth recorded music for the film with their hip-hop group, Grey Matter.
For Gallina and the film’s writer, Jay Henderson, the film wasn’t just a topic that needed exposing, it was personal. The two watched oxycodone take down a close, childhood friend, as well as other friends in their hometown.
Gallina said the win is bittersweet. His friend, unable to kick the habit in treatment facilities and through methadone therapy, was transferred to a New York federal prison two weeks before the New York Hell’s Kitchen Festival.
“It’s so ironic, and so much a part of what the journey of this film has been. I feel like, at times, I’m simply holding on for the ride,” said Gallina. “This thing has a life of its own.”
Still, Gallina said he’s proud of what he and his team have accomplished with a small budget, a lot of hard work, and an important message. “We’re happy that the film has reached people,” said Gallina. “Maybe this is the good that comes out of the bad.”