FT 081: How to Shoot a Feature Film in Two Days with Grant Pichla


Please Note: Once you press play it will take a few seconds for the episode to start playing.

How to Shoot a Feature Film in Two Days with Grant Pichla

Today on the show we have a director who shot a time travel feature film in two days, his name is Grant Pichla and his film is called Making Time. Making Time’s 110 pages were shot in just two crazy, fast-paced days, separated by seven months and a house renovation.

After traveling back in time, a divorced workaholic must repeat his past footsteps in order to return to an unaltered present but struggles when it means re-proposing to his ex-wife. How’d they shot​ a full movie in 2 days? This documentary series explains it all.

This remarkable documentary is available on Indie Film Hustle TV. Grant and I discuss the insanity of shooting a film in two days, how he came up with this crazy idea, and what it took to put this beast together.

Enjoy my conversation with Grant Pichla. 

Right-click here to download the MP3
Read the Full Transcription
Download on Apple Podcasts Direct
Watch on YouTube


LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

SPONSORS

  1. DONATE to Feed America to help with people affected by the Coronavirus
  2. $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
  3. The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons (COUPON CODE: IFHFILMPRODUCE)
  4. Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)

REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION

  1. Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
  2. Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
  3. Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons 
  4. DSLR Filmmaking Masterclass
  5. Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
  6. The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters

FILMMAKING RESOURCES

  1. IFH Academy – Exclusive Filmtreprenuer Training
  2. Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
  3. Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
  4. Filmtrepreneur™ Podcast
  5. FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SHOW

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Alex Ferrari 2:42
Well, guys, today on the show, we have a director that shot a time traveling feature film in two days. And how he did it is an amazing story, which has to do with a House Renovation and of all things. His name is Grant Pichla. And Grant, like I said shot his feature film in two days with it with a seven month window in between, which is the before and after of his House Renovation way to use some amazing production value that is essentially free. Because you're already doing a House Renovation grant story was pretty remarkable. And it was so remarkable, in fact that he made a documentary about how he did this. And by the way, guys, it's not just like a master shot theater. Like it's just people talking one day and talking on another day. This is a very dynamic film, he's running around, getting all sorts of different shots, different angles, has a great energy to it as a very Back to the Future, Robert Zemeckis Steven Spielberg vibe to the film. And in this documentary called Making Up Time, he really explains a lot about how he did it. And of course, it's on Indie Film Hustle TV. So I'll have a link for that in the show notes as well. But in this conversation, we go deep into how he did it, why he did it. And all just the insane ups and downs and tips and tricks that you can take from this episode, and hopefully inspire you to go out and make something and then the world that we live in today, which is the COVID landscape. You know, making a film in a house in a very controlled environment over two days is obviously one of the more perfect shooting situations for a feature film, moving forward for at least the next six to 18 months. And if you want to shoot something, this might be a great inspiration to you. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Grant Pichla. I'd like to show Grant Pichla man thanks You so much for coming on the show, brother.

Grant Pichla 5:01
Hey, Alex, thank you so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:03
I appreciate it. Man, you, you reached out to me that we've been trying to get this done for a while now. So I do appreciate your patience. But your story is extremely interesting about how you made your movie. And we're gonna get to it in a minute. But first, how did you get started in the film business?

Grant Pichla 5:20
Well, I think I got started probably the way most boring story start. So I was a kid, Junior High High School, making films with my friends shooting stuff for sports teams editing them. And it wasn't till I got to college, where I thought like, maybe this is something I should really focus on and go kind of all in on, so to speak. And so when I graduated from Central Michigan University, I started a grad school program. And I knew after two years, either a, you end up writing like an 80 page thesis or be you go for some sort of production. And against some of the teachers like, wise words, we said, we're not only going to do a production, but we're gonna do a feature and eventually had 100 people involved. It was in 20 locations. It was a massive script. So back when Amazon Studios are still a thing I had tracked down like all these scripts, that could be potential that we could shoot low budget, reached out to a writer got the rights to just shoot it for a student project and turn out being awesome. But 3034 shoot day schedule, and we came in at 33. So it was a very like, like, how do I say a streamline long is streamlined, but it was a lengthy kind of typical production? Yeah, so like, 30 some days, basically.

Alex Ferrari 6:48
And what was the budget of that film? That I believe was $6,000.33 days for six grand? Didn't nobody get paid? No, we are all students. We are all volunteers. It was just it was it was basically a learning experience. Yes. Yeah. Got and did you directed that film?

Grant Pichla 7:07
Yeah, it was, it was definitely the biggest undertaking I've ever had. Like today, it was just, it was very large, but never no egos on sets, everyone. By the end, we felt like we were so so much better than our first shoots, I was just a very positive experience. And it kind of leads into like where I am now. Because when it comes to shooting a movie in two days, for example, back then in school, you're like, yeah, if we just spread these days out, we've got time. That's the one thing we have in college, and we don't need money, but we can figure out windows of opportunities for here for this and that. But with making time, like, I'm currently employed full time, I have a side business, my wife and I shoot weddings. And then at the time of doing making time, my wife and I were in the middle of renovating our whole house DIY. And we were on like year, two out of three years of working on it. And we were about to do this huge kitchen renovation. So basically, my time was very limited. So it was like, if I'm going to go for a feature again, there's no way it could have been like 30 days, you know, like, I couldn't imagine taking 15 weekends to shoot a film while there's way more important life stage things happening, you know.

Alex Ferrari 8:24
So So you mentioned making time tell us about this, this movie and the process of making how you got the idea and so on.

Grant Pichla 8:33
So making time is a feature length, time travel adventure, romance, that is shot in just two crazy chaotic days, with those days being separated by seven months, and they House Renovation. So it was definitely the biggest gamble I've ever taken in my life because I going into it like there's no handbook that says, alright, this is what you need to know to shoot your first 61 pages on day one that just doesn't exist. So we went in feeling like a I hope this works. And B I also really hope all actors can come back in seven months and like nothing crazy happens. So it was every actor knew going in that this was like it was kind of gamble, but it's also very well thought out. So we knew kind of every pitfall that could happen before it came. But I'm I guess I'm getting off topic. So the story is Mason Hydra who was in Batman vs. Superman. Cast by Zack Snyder, pretty freaking awesome that he was willing to donate his time to our project. We were doing it just for the love of film, but it was also a great opportunity for him to just show off his stuff because, hey, it's a leading role, and how many people in the history of film can say I did 106 pages of dialogue in two days and probably have less than a dozen blooper moments. Like it's insane it's a performance of a lifetime is what I would call it. But like getting him on board, it's basically a shit now I'm gonna forget my logline now that we're right on the brand on the podcast, it's a workaholics scientist must complete his round trip to the past. But in order to return home basically must do all of his footsteps. I must fuck me Oh, I'm sorry. I'm totally ice in here.

Alex Ferrari 10:39
It's all good. It's like I get the idea. The idea of basically you know, you have to go back in time to do so it's it's a it's a it's a time travel movie at this point in the game. Yeah. So it's, you're making not only an indie movie, not only in two days, but you're also doing a time travel movie which time travel movies in general are not in the indie world other than primer Exactly. And but other than primer, I really don't remember there being a lot of this, this kind of filmmaking in the indie space. So it's a unique film. In that sense. That's probably one of the reasons it caught my eye so much, was that that vibe, and I've had a chance to kind of over I saw your trailer, and I've kind of had a chance to kind of look over the film. And I have to say, does have a vibe of of the most famous, the most famous time travel movie of all time, which is the Back to the Future. It has like that whole very cool energy to it. I'm assuming that's what you were going after?

Grant Pichla 11:42
Yeah, definitely. That was, it was like not the biggest inspiration in terms of right where the writing goes. But the feeling definitely that mixed with anything, Pixar mixed with pretty much anything Spielberg, a lot of it was, can we, what I was most interested in is if you did do this, and yeah, it's you know, it's science fiction, so it's fine. But what's more important is, if you went back in time, and it actually worked, the art and the inspirational, it would just be so just kind of unbelievable. And I wanted to capture that and then also capture, you know, the downfalls of the hero's journey and all those things, too. So definitely Spielberg hook was an inspiration for score. Yeah, picks ours up on the family, man. Even with the feel good ending, we did a little bit of whatever, we can move forward, but yeah, definitely that feel good vibe.

Alex Ferrari 12:44
Yeah. And that's kind of missing in today's world. There's not a lot of feel good movies anymore. I mean, they're even even Spielberg is not making feel good movies anymore. They're he's making, you know, heavy dramas at this point in his career. Occasionally, he'll do a Ready Player One like and you know, he hasn't done a fun fun movie in a while. And he's kind of set that hole. And then Zoo Meccas, and all those kind of guys, they they're not doing those kind of movies, I think we missed them in the 80s, that 80s, kind of 80s and early 90s kind of films that just make you feel good when you watch. That's why we go back and watch those movies again. And like Back to the Future I can turn on right now. And just watch it while you watch all three of them. They're just so much fun, and you feel good afterwards. And there's adventure and all this kind of stuff. So it's really, really a great idea for your film. And I think it was very smart of you to align yourself with that vibe, as opposed to primer, which is a completely different kind of

Grant Pichla 13:46
Very dry. And what what I was the film I can't remember is it's a wonderful life. So like that was I told I knew going in, I want something that when the movie ends, and you get out of your seat to go home, you're smiling, you're not shaking, you're itching your head saying like did that how did the time what was the big twist? or How did it not like I don't get this or I don't get that I just wanted people I just wanted to bring bring a little bit of happiness into the world by the time you walk out of the theater. So right. Now, is that

Alex Ferrari 14:18
Or turn off your streaming? Yeah. Or as you switch over to Netflix or something? I know it's the world has changed, sir. The world has said. Now I thought was really cool about your idea is that you had a large piece of production value, which was an unfinished home. And a lot of people would just look at that as an unfinished home and other people would go and you of course said no, no, there's production value here. We could do something because the cost of doing what you would you eventually did would cost you a lot of money to you know, get a house, do what you did to it and then build it back up. I mean it but you just kind of piggybacked on your Your life, which is real good indie filmmaking move. So did that come up? Did you did the did the house? Start the idea?

Grant Pichla 15:12
Basically? Good question. Yeah. So I was originally inspired by like Victoria, which was shot in a day actually just shot in two and a half hours a single take, you know? And I was thinking like, what would it take to pull something off in a day, and I was trying to write a script based on that. And I actually had one finish, but I put it to the side when I started looking at our house. And I was just like, you know, this, maybe you're like, the coolest idea I ever had, like the dumbest. And thankfully, with my wife's blessing, like, Oh, my God, if I didn't have that, she was she was okay with us going, all right. We can't slow this House Renovation down. Because we don't have a usable sink. Right now, we don't have floor, we don't have like, there's so many things that are life, Canada that

Alex Ferrari 15:59
I've been there, I've been there.

Grant Pichla 16:01
But what that did mean for me is I got to write a script as fast as I can and go through the revision process as fast as I can get it really good really fast. And then try to start shooting in this house before it gets too far along. And we lose that. And I knew that. All right. So let's say we shoot all back to like, in two months from now, and then bring everyone back in like a year or whatever. Well, when you actually watch the film, and he goes back in time, and now he lands in this house is completely different. That sort of magic is what I wanted to capture. Like, that's the promise of the premise. And that is it's not us just like taking some picture frames down or hiding something. Like all like 30 boxes of cabinets are just laying on the floor. It's nothing but sub floor, the paintings 92 everything's just like, bear. That was something I really wanted to. And, of course, in that moment, we got to start going for wide shots and like really show we're not hiding stuff with zoom lenses. But yeah, that did kick off the movie. And I thought, okay, if a guy is going to go back in the past, who's the best guy to do that? Well, maybe he's doing all this time travel stuff. And he's a workaholic. And maybe he's getting divorced in the opening scene, and maybe goes back to the past. And he meets all of a sudden his younger girlfriend who used to be his wife now. And that would be a very interesting dynamic like seeing your old loved one even though you despise her now. And then what if you learned that night when all of your friends who are showing up who you've neglected are now patting you on the back because they're excited because you don't even know tonight's the night you invited them all over because you're gonna propose to her. So now he's got to propose to this woman who he despises in order to get back home or else the machine won't connect. So it's like, that creates the juxtaposition I guess.

Alex Ferrari 17:55
And when does the killer robot come back? A robot killer robots? No Armageddon What's going on? Now? no space time continuum. I mean, you're gonna just make the whole world universe explode.

Grant Pichla 18:10
Now that's the thing we didn't want. This is sci fi but it's so far from sci fi. We don't even I hardly I put some research in the science but I don't care. I don't I don't want that.

Alex Ferrari 18:19
It's irrelevant.

Grant Pichla 18:21
Yes, it's more about an adventure and the romance that brings it all home in the end. You know,

Alex Ferrari 18:27
I love that scene in Avengers endgame when they're going back in time and then like the reference point that everyone who uses for like the spate is Back to the Future and they're like, that's not the way it works. That's not science. Yeah. Are you really talking about the Back to the Future as your scientific reference point on time travel? I thought was a great scene. But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter you could you could throw holes through to me Terminator has insane amounts of holes and all the time travel movies doing but but you you're you're you're you're feeding a master, the different kind of master you're appeasing a different kind of Master, which is story and met and trying to make people feel good. Yeah. Now, what I what I do find interesting is a lot of and I've preached this a lot on the show is the back into what you have access to you look around at your resources, and you write around those resources. And you've taken that to a whole other level by creating this entire kind of story and subplot around, around the time traveling around, I mean, it's just I just I never thought of it. And I thought it was just like, man, I hadn't I think of that I've been in a house that didn't have that I was renovating I couldn't like it was a very smart way of adding an immense amount of production value at essentially no cost. And by the way, what if you don't mind me asking, Can you tell us the budget, you're close to, you know, just generally what the budget was on this budget for this was $4,000. That's fantastic. That's fantastic.

Grant Pichla 20:00
Yeah, we came together basically for the love of film. And when I pitched it to everyone I said, your total commitment on this other than, you know, memorizing lines, and some actors only had small scenes or whatever, is basically a day or two days, depending on if you're in day one or day two. So you show up, busted out. And like Dustin said, Yeah, Mason said after, after day one, he came into day two, and he's like, man, I keep forgetting this film exists, like it was so big, and then all just halted and then disappeared out of my life for like five months. And I started memorizing again, but it's, it's just so different,

Alex Ferrari 20:41
Go ahead.

Grant Pichla 20:42
To add to what you're saying about using what you have available. The guys at draft zero podcast, they once did an episode on movies that are all in one location. And I knew, okay, so if this is gonna be super low budget or done, like all in one, it's going to be done in one night or two nights, then it kind of has to be mostly one location. And what those guys discover at the end of their analysis is like, if a movie is supposed to take place just in one location, then as far as story goes, that location better be really freaking important to the story. So that also turned out. Okay, now this movie is actually about this couple. And the renovations aren't just they're not just there for like, set decoration, but it's a part of their story. And it's an ongoing conversation that happens in scene. So yeah, but we can continue. So I just want to go

Alex Ferrari 21:36
No,no, absolutely. Now, the biggest challenge I would imagine, is working with actors in such a short period of time. Like, I understand that they memorized lines, but I'm assuming it's not verbatim. I'm assuming you let some things fly. There was some dialogue, ad libs or things just kind of like generalized a little bit or did everyone literally go word for word on this?

Grant Pichla 22:02
Okay, so I know that mumble core exists, and I know that scriptment exists. But I did not want to spend two years on a project in which could be like, you know, it could be the last thing I do for 20 years, I don't know. Because life takes you in all different directions I didn't want to do, I didn't want to bring everyone together, get all this stuff prepped and start editing it. And often I'm, I'm realizing that dialogue is flat, or we're missing key things. So my request was that everyone be off book. And I swear to God, Mason Hydros a champ like I could not believe it. He knew every person's line because he he he recorded himself reading the whole script. And just listen to it day after day. All the other actors had such a easier workload compared to him. But there was a couple actors who I said and in particular, his lead counterpart, torey, titmus, she had trained with the second city Conservatory, all improv, she's a Maestro. She's amazing. She walked in, and I started realizing She not only had lines down, but she could improvise things to add to them and improve my dialogue, just by allowing her character go a little more up and down at times. So for the most part, I'd say lines were about 98% as written, which I'm really proud of why it wasn't like blooper after blooper, it was just people came in, and they knew what they had to bring. And they brought it it was really, really awesome.

Alex Ferrari 23:29
I think, from my experience working in the business is when you raise the bar for for crew, for actors, for everybody involved with the project. They either show up in and rise to the occasion, or they completely crack under the pressure. And I mean, it's the bottom line and something like making a film in two days, like you were doing. You'll know real quick if you're cracking or not. And I guess it's just so much pressure. Such fat, like how many takes did you do? I must I mean, I can't imagine you doing more than a couple takes each day.

Grant Pichla 24:05
Yeah, but the maximum we did any scene would have been like three and a half, four takes. And there was a few that we nailed just in one and never really looked back. Like we just did it and we're, we're like, that's good, let's go. But there's some things that I think you might find interesting pertaining to the cast. So like the movie Birdman looks like it's shot on one take, but it's like 13 shots stitched or whatever. They rehearsed that for 30 days or three months or something leading up this movie. And this may sound super irresponsible, and I wouldn't ask anyone else to ever do this, but it was a nature of what we were put under the circumstances. I had never even met our lead actress Tory nor had Mason until 9pm the night before shooting their 61 page act to Roll Matt Stone. Yeah, so it was freaking crazy. So they were like, Hi, nice to meet you. it's game time tomorrow. So let's take the next hour and a half to talk it out. And Reason being is the day before shooting date or sorry that Yeah, 24 hours before shooting day one, we got hit with the biggest Blizzard in like the last three or four years in Michigan 15 inches of snow in 24 hours and no one can drive. And Tori and two other actors are coming from Chicago up to the Detroit area where we are. And they're taking the train and the trains getting stuck. And at one point, the train just lost power. And then Tory missed the train and it it all boiled down to like, holy shit, this film may not happen unless people get here. And we had a crew of 10 which deflated to five the day before shooting. And so it came down to me on steadycam which was you know, pre planned to shooters on long lenses a sound recordist or audio supervisor listening to the four different lavalier mics going at once. And a first ad who took on off five other roles that were missing. So this just due to the blizzard, this became like, it could have been a complete bust. If we were missing like one or two more pieces of the puzzle.

Alex Ferrari 26:25
I feel you because I mean, when I did ego and desire at Sundance, I had never met any of my actors. And it was the day of and they just showed up at Sundance. And before then it was just Skype calls. And they've never I think they had to had the pleasure of meeting each other shortly because they were all coming from New York. But you know, it's kind of adds to the vibe there. It kind of adds to the to the energy of the situation. I mean, you gotta be planned, but you I mean, you're crazy. I mean, me, me doing what I did you doing? You did, we're not we're not doing something like that. So you've got to kind of embrace the nuttiness of it. And just kind of like, you know, don't hide away from it. Like, don't pretend to be what you're not, like, this is what we're doing. This is how we're doing it. Get on the train, because it's already left the station.

Grant Pichla 27:17
Yeah. And it, it totally works. It's just like some of those directors who shoot on film. And they say, the minute you hear the film gate shut, and everyone realizes we're gonna run out of film at a certain point, like the deal, just, you'll just run out, everyone has to kind of like the vibe changes, and we're all in it together. We're either going to make it or we're not. And as much as I was hoping the day was going to go pretty close, like day one was going to go pretty close to my schedule. Man, the whole, it all went completely different. Like, of course, yeah, yeah, it just crazy ways. Which I could elaborate on, unless you want to discuss other things. In the meantime,

Alex Ferrari 28:02
I'm sure I look. I mean, we could talk for hours on everything that went wrong. I'm sure that you know, I'm not wrong that much, but then not as planned. Like, I didn't plan a lot of things on my movie. And sometimes they weren't good. Sometimes they weren't. But you roll with the punches when you're doing a movie like this. And I want everyone listening on to understand this, when you're doing movies that are two days or four days or something so quick or very ambitious. You've got to roll with the punches on a 30 day shoot, you can kind of really take your time, you know, do things Oh, this doesn't work, we can come back to it. There's no time for that. So you've got like, Oh, we only have five crew members. Now, what are you going to do? We got to roll we got to go, what can we do? And you got to kind of adapt and move forward no matter what. Because, as I said, the train has left and there's no stopping it. So either you jump off the train, or you get on and just go with whatever comes. Do you agree?

Grant Pichla 29:05
Yeah, that's the only way you can do it. And it has to be sort of top down leadership. So if you are fretting, then other people start to fret and it'll all the wheels fall off. So you just have no you almost have to know going in, like you said, we're not to even attempt it. So as I was like, sending out like proposal videos to actors, like I have an offer for you, I'd love for you to play like a supporting role this or that. I kind of I I didn't laugh through them. But I I totally recognize that. This may sound crazy to you. And yes, we're still gonna do it. So are you in and yeah, it creates camaraderie for sure.

Alex Ferrari 29:43
There's two things I wanted to you. I wanted to point out that you just said one is the leader, it starts or starts at the top into a casting when you cast the film like this. You really need to be very careful on who you bring in. Because a lot of times you'll have an actor say oh yeah, yeah, I can do it. I'll do it. But They really need to be on board with this process because it's an unlike any normal filmmaking process. And if they're used to doing it one way, and they, they say they're going to do it and they come in and you're like, you're off and running, the whole thing could come crashing down. If your lead really started it mean you everything had to go perfectly for you to make this work. And if your lead would have forgotten lines, had attitude, ego, any of this kind of stuff, the whole thing would have come off the tracks, would you correct? Yeah, that's, that's pretty true. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So we're insane to even attempt this, because there's so many moving parts, and everything has to land perfectly. There's no room for Oh, you know, there's a mistake here, there's a mistake there, this guy's not doing his job, he's not pulling their weight here, or she's got an attitude, he's, he's crying because you can't feel the pressure, whatever it is, you don't have the bandwidth to handle those kinds of things, because of the speed you're doing it. And so be very, very careful on who you cast behind the scenes and in front of that lens as well. I mean, I'm assuming you agree with all that?

Grant Pichla 31:23
I do. But I would argue that I don't think like, when you say that the only way it can happen is if everything goes right. Or if we get very lucky. There. And I'm not. I'm not like reacting really to that. But I will say there was things all along the way that you just hit, you hit them and you keep going and right. I already I already knew like, hey, if someone can't get lines, or if they if it wasn't an org, we already just had a script waiting. And I would even do it one line at a time if I needed to just to push through. So it's just sort of like, for me, it didn't seem like there was a lot of pressure. until we hit the point where it was 6pm we had nine scenes done and we had 25 more scenes to do before midnight. That's when that's when shit turned up. And it went to 11. And there was no time to breathe. And it was just go go go. That's where it was sort of like the money. This is where you put your money where your mouth is. And you really realize what it takes to shoot half a movie in a night. It's it was it was freakin crazy.

Alex Ferrari 32:37
Without without question, and when I say everything has to kind of work is like if you would have had your lead actor or one or two actors just break down and not you forward the machine, the machine stops working, because those cogs need to be there, or you're going to have to adjust story or you're going to have to move things around. And that's the risk of going in through this. But I'm assuming because of your experience and and shooting as much as you have you felt very comfortable that you could do this. And this is not something you should do. Right out of film school, generally speaking, you should have some sort of have some wealth of experience. And also people who you hire have some sort of wealth of experience that they can fall back on. Because when things don't go the way you want them to go. And they won't. Because it everything wasn't exactly the way you planned, I'm sure. But it's but you have something to fall back on as opposed to like, well, I only know how to do it this one way. And if it doesn't do this way, I can't move forward, you have to have two backup plans. But you gotta keep moving. But it's very, you have to be very careful. And then secondly, the the leader, the leading from the head, from the front aspect of this, when you're doing something like this, it is so outside the norm of the filmmaking process, that if your leader which is the director, who falters has stress has a breakdown. Everything will just stop. Yeah, fair enough to say,

Grant Pichla 34:05
Yeah. And man for me, when I'm doing two jobs and renovating a house, and this is my one chance to kind of break free from all that and just shoot. There wasn't even a question about cracking or anything. It was more So hey, I've shot 25 weddings where it's one and done you they only kiss at the altar once or they only enter the reception aisle once so you gotta be on it. So at this point, it's like, even if we screw something up, hey, we could do a second take right now it's fine. Or I'm just happy to be in this room with all these people at once and be working with so many talented people that even if something breaks or doesn't work, I'm still doing it the smile because this is the funnest part like this is like Jim Jarmusch says this is the act of sex in the filmmaking process. So it's just fun.

Alex Ferrari 34:52
Absolutely. And that's the mentality you have to go into that with if you're not having fun. Like what you know, when I was doing my film I'm running around, I had a ball. And I think I don't get to talk to filmmakers who do the things I've done very often. Isn't it kind of exhilarating being out on a tightrope with no debt? With no net? Like, there's on a creative standpoint, as an artist, you're on uncharted territory. And you've got a group of people around you. And I find it exhilarating, I find it, you know, other people would crack, they would just lose their mind because they can't control everything. I love being out there, What's your feeling on it?

Grant Pichla 35:34
I feel like it's like, took me back to high school basketball, it's fourth quarter, your team's down 10 your shot is on. And like, let's go, let's duke it out to the end. And every every decision you're gonna make is just gonna be fun, or just, you're gonna make your best choices you can with your best people behind you. Like, you got a awesome shooter on your left and awesome shoe on your right, you've got to trust them. You can't go over their shoulder and say, What are you setting up? Let me see that. It's like, No, just, I trust you your own. You're your own mini director and cinematographer. So are you. And so am I and I might cross your paths or something when I'm steady camming. But for the most part, if you miss a shot, just pick it up know that you got two other stellar shooters who are doing their best to do that. And, like, time, time told that at the end of the process, the footage we got and the performances we got amidst sort of the chaos was awesome. And in no part about that, like act two felt, oh, they just rushed this off or like this, you can tell you can feel the actors are rushing through or the cameras aren't ready. Like it pretty much just worked. But like you said, it takes years of experience to go in. If the Canon c 200 didn't have the ability to do like face tracking, and autofocus things on lenses that we have, then I would have shot it completely differently. I probably would have just called like sitcom style, and just stay wide. But I was trying to infuse, you know, Dally portions or to an extent with a steady cam and reveals and things like that. So sorry, I went off on a little tangent.

Alex Ferrari 37:10
Oh, no, that's fine. That's fine. Now, how did you convince everybody to come back? and seven, try to gather up the first time is it tough enough, let alone trying to bring it back seven months later?

Grant Pichla 37:22
Well, it's, it's not so hard to convince them to come back. It's just are their schedules open. And the last thing I want this to be was like, the minute we got a day that could work. I was like, we gotta lock it in now. Because if we if we say no, let's go for like a month later and try that. And then something happens. And then one person can't make it. Now you're talking do I rewrite scripts do I? Do I you start sacrificing everything. So it's mostly mostly just getting them there. And in terms of like, shooting the crew, they're just pumped, because this is Michigan and we don't get films, especially with people you know, like your old college classmates, and you know, they're good. And they know that you're putting together a good team, so they just want they want in. So you know, it's just a really great opportunity for everyone involved. Basically

Alex Ferrari 38:12
Now that never underestimate the power of people wanting to belong to a mission, a group, an event of some sort, and filmmaking, def, especially when it's outside like an LA. Everybody's making films, everyone's shooting films, everyone's working for free on little projects here and there. But outside of la mayor, people get really jazzed up when someone comes up and goes, Hey, follow me into the into the promised land, I'm going, it's gonna be crazy, but follow me. And people were like, well, there's nobody else around let's do this. It just seems like he knows what he's going. Let's go follow him.

Grant Pichla 38:48
So I did. I did that when I was in Miami, and with a lot of my projects there. And it just there's people were very excited. And I used to make my film into an event. So it made it made it bigger than it was in June, obviously to the sake of making that tight. That's how you get people willing to donate food and coffee and things like that, because it's so exciting. It's not the norm. And

Alex Ferrari 39:13
it's one day it's just it's, it's today's

Grant Pichla 39:16
The commitment is like any three dozen box of doughnuts and coffee as opposed to can we like nag you for a month of free stuff? It's just it's a lot to ask. So the one day commitment or two day commitment over the course of like a year. In some ways, it makes things a lot more achievable. Because if we were set out like let's really let's do this epic this time travel epic. And if I would try to shoot it traditionally, and don't get me wrong, our shots our lighting isn't it would make cinematographers cry because I can recognize there were things that had to be sacrificed. But to be able to just do it in two days and say, let's prioritize stories number one acting's number two sound in scores number three after that, like we can't skimp on those. But after that, man, we're going to get the best shots we can, we're going to do the best props and like, set design and wardrobe as you can. But man, those three things and when you get people, people like Mason Hydra tori titmus. It's just, you almost feel like in the same way you can trust your other shooters. You can just trust the actors. And even if they miss a line, it's okay. They're in character, they might cough in the middle line, but they coffin character and things like that.

Alex Ferrari 40:33
So, you know, how did you like? How did you like the scene? How did you like the movie? Because I'm assuming you, you don't have two hours to light a scene. So how did you do the lighting.

Grant Pichla 40:43
So it's like 50-50 in half the scenes like allow the basement scenes or in our main like kitchen, we had our main kitchen had overhead can lights, eight of them. So basically an array, and in our basement, we set up for practicals that were also an array. So pretty much like grid lighting. So as long as characters were within a certain zone of the room, there was always a backlight hitting on, there's always at least three angles hitting them. And it's Don't get me wrong, it's not even like like cinematographers are gonna say you're an idiot. But when you don't have time, you just gotta roll with it. And the other half, we would be like in a bedroom. I know that photographers, they turn their flash and point out the ceiling shoe and you bounce the ceiling and get a great floodlight, that's like 90% of solving the issue with bedroom scenes, just shoot that soft light at the sky or at the ceiling, let it flood down, and then some practicals as kickers behind them.

Alex Ferrari 41:43
Alright, and you know, a lot of people always, you know, will say, you know, try poopoo on your lighting or poopoo on on, like, Oh, she's not as perfect as this, there's not perfect as that I'm like, well, while you're still talking about it, I finished the movie.

Grant Pichla 41:59
Right? And the audience is listening to the next line of dialogue, they're not looking at the way a light is pointed. You know, they just

Alex Ferrari 42:06
As long as it's clean, as long as it's somewhat clean. People will accept that much more than they would 2530 years ago, like in the in the world of YouTube and the world of you know, films, you know, films being shot on an iPhone and things like that. People will forgive. Okay, lighting, web forgiver bad lighting. Like I'm watching the show right now, which I will remain named us, which is a really good show. But I can't stand the cinematographer like a he drives me nuts. I my wife is like, what, what? What is that? Who color graded this what's going on. But unfortunately, the show is really good. So I hope in the next seasons, it'll get better, but you will forgive. You will forgive bad bad lighting, if the story is compelling. I mean, look at paranormal activity. I mean, I mean, Jesus, you know, or even or Blair Witch Project. I know, those are two very young people always use those. But even primer primer wasn't lit amazingly well. But people weren't enthralled with the story, you know. So, it, I want everybody listening out there to understand that, that if you sit around waiting for everything to be perfect, you just gonna be waiting around 1015 years, you know, or you could just make your movie the best you can and get it out there and move on to the next project, which I think you've done that to the next level.

Grant Pichla 43:31
Exactly, it just if I hadn't shot it in these two days, and just kind of like, broke the rules and all that stuff. Like no one wants to break. No one wants bad lighting, and no one wants, like mistakes on audio here or there and things like that, or something might be slightly out of focus. You don't no one wants that. But where I was in my life, there was no more make. There's no more directing films unless I gave it a shot at something very, very short. And you know, maybe the marketability of shot in two days is something that would intrigue so on, but even still, it was more so it was more sort of just do something to just give it a horizon. See, see what we can make for film sake.

Alex Ferrari 44:14
Right, exactly. Now, what is the endgame of the film? Like what do you want to achieve with this film for yourself?

Grant Pichla 44:21
I hope Well, hopefully it rich and famous and everything else.

Alex Ferrari 44:25
It's a lottery ticket. Yes, yes. We're all just submitted to Sundance. Just wait for the check. Wait for the the the bidding war to happen. And and you should get to $3 million for it. And then you do the next Marvel movie. So I think it all worked. Perfect. Now when you wake up, what is the truth?

Grant Pichla 44:48
Um, my hope is that it has a hallmark vibe to it for sure. Now I'm not I can't just sit here and say like, Oh, I'd love to see it on Hallmark. Oh, I I think this could work on On the sci fi channel, like, that's just my hope is that with our festival submissions, someone somewhere accepts it. First of all, maybe no one will. But if they do, then I hope someone sitting somewhere, hears about it or sees it or even on your podcast, someone comes across and says, Oh, this is something we might be interested in or anything like that. Because right now I'm at a stage of just getting I need people don't even know it exists. So you first have people have to just find out that exists. And me posting to like our page, our page are our page on Facebook, like, oh, we're getting great audience reviews means a whole lot less then some festival picking it up and someone writing a story about it. Because my opinion, like either the film's priceless or worthless. It's it's depends on Who says so? And I to answer your question, I don't know, I'm hoping I'm going to take all the proper steps that you've outlined to the best of my ability and other resources. I'm going to try to get distribution, I don't think self distribution is really my answer here. Maybe because it was shot. So uniquely, there could be a niche market of filmmakers who are interested in how films are made, we did shoot, we shot and edited an eight episode behind the scenes as to how it was done on day one, day two, and all the follow up. So we've got great content. It's just a matter of like getting the word out and seeing who or where might be interested.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
Okay, and you in because you have such a low budget, you can kind of have a loosey goosey approach to it. Because it's not if this movie cost you 200 grand? First of all, I don't think that you'd be freaking the hell out. First of all, and so and also, you probably in all good conscience would not have done a movie in two days for $200,000. You know, it doesn't make sense. And I think that's another thing that filmmakers just have such a, you know, they'll just go in all in on a film. And they just like, yeah, let's just do it. We're gonna like, you did a smart man, you have a very low, you know exactly what I preach a film intrapreneur, which is keep your overhead low. So, you know, if you can't make four grand back, you're in the wrong business. Right? I mean, I mean, and from what I've seen, if you're on the show, there's a quality level there that I see that I was like, oh, there's, this actually has a really good chance of making money and generating revenue. And I'm really curious to see where it all goes. So basically, your distribution plan is going to be film festivals first, and see what happens. Basically,

Grant Pichla 47:44
I'll see what happens then I'll probably reach out if nothing I'll after that, then I would reach directly out to distributors, such as any film rights, other people you have recommended, and see if they'd have any interest. And if not, maybe reach out to a new branch of distributors. And if not, it's hard to say like, I don't really know what I would do after that point. Like I feel like I other than self, other than just blast my Facebook and do Google targeted ads. Yeah, try to sell it. It's that's all it's a whole lot of money spent hoping you sell some back. It's hard.

Alex Ferrari 48:22
It's it's No. And that's it. I'm so glad you said that. Because it's so many filmmakers think that, Oh, I'm gonna self distribute. And I'm gonna, I'm just gonna do some targeted Facebook ads and this and that. And like, it's you have a broad spectrum movie. Like you. I know. You. Yeah, you don't have a niche. I mean, the niche is time travel movie, the time travel, feel good movie. It's huge. It's a man's massive niche, you know? So it's not, you can't really target it. If you would have made I'm sure you've heard this, if you like, if you would have made it the vegan chef time travel movie. Yeah, you might have been exactly that audience. You can target that audience or you know, or he's a surfer or he's a skateboarder or whatever. It makes it really part I'm just using that as an analogy, but but make it really part then it's something that you may be in that's a big, maybe able to do the Facebook targeting and reaching out to that niche. But that's work that you would have had to have done a year ago. Not now, you know, so, but I do but I do feel that your film does have really good possibilities, really good legs, and from my experience should sell and should sell very well. And I'll give you some advice off air on what I think you could do with it. But I do think you have you have something that could could do very well for you, especially at that price point. Well, Question two.

Grant Pichla 49:41
If you don't mind me interjecting, then yeah, the nice thing is we sent the film to about 15 test audience members, when it had it's like 99.9% cut done with all score with all color everything basically done. And so much of the feedback we received Like, overwhelmingly positive Wow. So invested in the story or the characters. And then they'd say, oh, man, I can't, I still don't get how was this done in two days? Like I can't, I don't, I can't wrap my head around that. But the audience is like sort of general audience members. They love the idea that was shined two days, but they just love the story. So that's great. So I feel like we've got the story. And we've got real acting talent, and really solid sound and music. So it's just a matter of like, waiting for the right person to discover it. So we're just trying to get it out. And oh, and to add, I feel like the because the Internet has really radically changed how distribution goes and all these companies can sort not be outed, but sort of exposed and all the knowledge that you're filtering through in every podcast, people are wising up. I don't think right now, there is a perfect answer. Because like eight years ago, or maybe five years ago, people were saying, self distribute, self distribute, and now they're like, well, don't pay the cost of the aggregator cost put on iTunes, because no one's buying it, because there's too much content. And who's paying $3 to watch something when Netflix is free? All like forever? not free, but forever prime or prime? Yeah, prime, like new stuff. So it's just it's very interesting. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 51:26
Yeah. And again, I'll point this out is that you're in a perfect scenario, in a perfect place where you have a movie or a piece of product that you've created for $4,000. If you would have made this for 50,000. It still be a bit it just it just makes it so much more harder. So if you're able to generate 30 4050 grand off of this movie, I'm assuming that would be a success to you. Hopefully, more if if distributors are listening that no, no, no, no, no, no, I understand. Yeah. Yeah. Trust me, I don't even know if a distributor Will you know, that's a whole other conversation as far as distributors and MGS and stuff.

Grant Pichla 52:10
No, it's all relative. But to your point, that's 10 times the cost that the film, you know, took to make. So yes,

Alex Ferrari 52:18
Yeah. Yeah, of course, I would love it a quarter of a million half a minute. It's all relative, right? It's all relative on on the thing. And if you're able to do more of these smaller budget films, you start creating that portfolio of films, where now you're starting to generate multiple revenue sources coming in from these films. And and then, my God, you might even have a career in filmmaking and make a living doing what you love to do, what days a year, it is, two days a year. That's that's your niche, your niches today movies. That's all you do. Time Travel today. This is the beginning of a trilogy. So you should do now another get another house do another.

Grant Pichla 53:02
Yeah, maybe the Property Brothers were just one step away from realizing what could be done. Now? I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
Exactly. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests, my friend. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to make it in the business today?

Grant Pichla 53:18
I would say where I live in Detroit, there's no such thing as making it in the business for like for anyone outside of LA, because I can't give advice on what they should do when they go there. So I would just say, at this point, read the books, read, read the books, do the pre production, write the scripts, revise storyboard, do all those things you can before you spend a dime, and do them tailored to all of the most useful and unique and maybe maybe even things people don't see enough on screen. Whether it's a house run out, or something like I don't even think the inside of the house is all that unique, but to see it transform and then transform back in the end. Very different. But like look for things that should be on screen that make your film stand out. Maybe you got a really bad ass car. Maybe there's just a junkyard behind your neighbor's house. And this junkyard could be settings for some Red Dawn remake or something or script like that. But like, do everything for nothing. then figure out who's in your market that is an actor or go to local colleges figure that out. And then you just start making stuff so you shoot that movie with them. After that you've got some tiny tiny street cred. Use that to do something that's a little more Polish this time with better people. And then after that maybe approach actors who could learn like their name alone could help in the selling, although that jump that going from $4,000 Indy to like $100,000 and we're paying this actor 10 grand to be here for the day. That's a massive job. So I don't I don't even have advice. For that, I think that's very intimidating.

Alex Ferrari 55:02
Yeah, got it. And you you said a lot of great things in that answer a lot of great things that you should everyone should listen to and take notes on. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Grant Pichla 55:22
The longest for me to learn was probably stop trying to juggle 200 things at once.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
Brother, I feel

Grant Pichla 55:34
Yeah, it's the name of your frickin podcast, man. It's a hustle. So you know, if you get in that mindset young, and I was raised on a farm, where you just busted your ass period, because there wasn't, there was no other option, you just were told, that's what you got to do. So for me, it's like learning to turn it off and not. And it kind of goes with the themes of the film I made. Don't let your ambitions or your time machine take over your life and like, make your relationships with people around you crumble like it's okay to just turn it off at 5pm and then just go live normal live, because we can't I feel like preaching the dream of this business or industry is it can have negative consequences and people can go for broke. And you can go for broke for $4,000. Or you can go for broke. mortgaging your house and doing a half a million dollar film. Which one's gonna if they both fail, what's the better outcome out of those two? You know, so? I don't know. Maybe that's the that's what I've learned. Next question, sir.

Alex Ferrari 56:45
Fair enough. Fair enough. What is the biggest fear you had to overcome to make this film?

Grant Pichla 56:51
Um, biggest fear? Probably. Probably giving in to the the nature of what it was. So it happened kind of early. So it was sort of like, hey, if we're gonna make this, like, How the hell am I gonna like this? How, and then just realizing, no, you've told people before, it's not about lighting, it's about story. So let it go. And you know, try to light but let it go. And throw the boom mic away. Let's just love everyone. You can buy $33 mic j, or sorry, $20. Mic j off. Amazon sounds just as good as the sennheisers. And don't get me wrong, the sennheisers aren't cream, they're not even necessarily like the CLS. 11 Ds are anything. But dude, for like, very cheap, you can mic every single person in that and 12 people mic and then just switch the wireless pack each person in the room person and yada, yada. But it's just sort of like letting things go. And knowing that the 80% rule like if, like I told my shooters, if you get 80% of this pretty darn good, we're moving up, we can't reset something to help you get a shot. Because we started that way in the beginning. And we just had to right away, break, break old habits and realize like this, this is just gonna keep moving. And you're gonna let things go and you might miss a shot, but suck it up. Like you'll get your next shot in the next scene, or 20 years from now or 30 years from now. And we're still shooting tonight. That's probably it.

Alex Ferrari 58:29
All right, and the three of your favorite films of all time.

Grant Pichla 58:33
I would say Jurassic Park, Up and Fargo.

Alex Ferrari 58:37
Wow. You had you had them listed ready to go nice.

Grant Pichla 58:39
Yeah, watch your podcasts enough to know that.

Alex Ferrari 58:43
This is a good combination, a good combination of films? And where can where can people find you?

Grant Pichla 58:48
They can find me honestly, you can just email me straight up [email protected] or here will be at gmail here for how much solicitation? Well, um basically Facebook, we do have a Twitter for the film, if you just search it or if even if you just go on makingtimethemovie.com you'll see more things about it. And I did have I did set up a link for any podcast listeners. I don't know if you want me to mention that or no.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
As far as I could put it in the show notes.

Grant Pichla 59:21
Okay, um, but otherwise, yeah, so pretty much hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. I don't even have an Instagram and our Twitter is just the movie Twitter, and I'm tired for that stuff. So

Alex Ferrari 59:33
You're too busy making today movies, man. Yeah. Great, man. Thank you so much for being on the show. Brother. I do appreciate it. You are an inspiration to hopefully a lot of people listening and hopefully somebody listening right now is going to go You know what, if this guy can make a two day movie up in Detroit, Michigan, I can go do something in five days. You know? So hopefully, man so thanks again for being on the show brother.

Grant Pichla 59:59
Thank you. So Much, Alex, I really appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
I want to thank grant for coming on the show and inspiring the tribe to go out and make their own film. If he can make something in two days, what could you do with five days? What could you do if you were shooting on a property that was pretty controlled, meaning that you're not going to be running around, you can get a lot of different locations in that property, whether it be in the house, in the back, all sorts of different things. And this wasn't a large property. This was just his house, he was able to do this. So think outside the box, guys, because moving forward, we're going to have to think things a little differently when making our films. And I hope this episode has inspired you to know that it can be done. If you want links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including to watch the amazing documentary on how grant made this, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/401. And thank you all so much for the great response to the new podcast filmmaking motivation that I'm releasing every Tuesday now on both indie film hustle and its own podcast, filmmaking motivation. If you want the latest episodes that are coming out filmmaking motivation is the only place to get it. If you want to check that out, head over to the IFHpodcastnetwork.com. And you can get not only that podcast, but a bunch of new podcasts that we're adding from other creators as well. Thank you again for listening, guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.


If you enjoyed How to Shoot a Feature Film in Two Days with Grant Pichla,
then watch below:


If you enjoyed How to Shoot a Feature Film in Two Days with Grant Pichla, please spread the word through FacebookTwitter, Instagram, etc by using social media buttons in the post. Feel free to post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks for the support.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below…


Get Social with Filmtrepreneur®
Facebook: Filmtrepreneur

Twitter: @Filmtrepreneur 
Instagram: @filmtrepreneurs
Youtube: Filmtrepreneur.tv

Podcasts You Should Be Listening To:
Podcast: Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
Podcast: Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
Podcast: Inside the Screenwriter’s Mind® Podcast
Podcast: The Filmtrepreneur® Podcast
Podcast: Filmmaking Motivation Podcast
IFH Podcast Network: Discover the Best Screenwriting and Filmmaking Podcasts

Stuff You Need in Your Life:
IFHTV: Indie Film Hustle TV
Book:
Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Film into a Moneymaking Business
Book: Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
FREE 3-Part Indie Film Producing Video Series


Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or use a service. Understand that I have experience with all of these services, products, and companies, and I recommend them because they’re extremely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something.

Leave a Comment