Article Written By: Maria Shamkalian, PAFIA Vice-Chair
We are excited to feature "Last Call" filmed last year in Pennsylvania. Written by Greg Lingo and Paolo Pilladi, and directed by Paolo Pilladi, the comedy is starring Jeremy Piven, Bruce Dern, Cathy Moriarty, Jack McGee, Zach McGowan, Taryn Manning, Cheri Oteri and Jamie Kennedy. Producers were fortunate to obtain a phenomenal cast and crew who really understood this gritty town of “Darby Heights” located in the outskirts of Philadelphia and fortuitous that their last day of shooting was completed in Mid-March 2020, right before COVID-19 closures were enacted. Writer Greg Lingo kindly agreed to share with us about his experience filming in PA.
How did you come up with the idea and how did you get it going? My childhood friends (Mike Baughan and Billy Reilly) and I sat down and thought it would be fun to assemble a collection of all the colorful stories and people we came across as kids and try and work those into a screenplay. We spent a good deal of time bringing the stories to life, but it was not until I met Paolo Pilladi (our Director) that we were able to complete the script and get into preproduction.
What were some challenges that you have encountered? It would be a copout to say COVID-19, because COVID-19 has impacted so many lives in so many different and difficult ways. We were most challenged with staying on budget, and then keeping the overages to a manageable amount.
The burning question: how did you arrange the budget? The production team created a line by line budget prior to getting into preproduction. As the level of talent we assembled increased, the budget began to swell and we ended up bringing on additional investors.
What are the plans for distribution? For North America, IFC Films will be distributing the film. It will have a day and date release of 3/19/2021 where it will be in select theaters in the Philadelphia, LA, NY and Chicago markets and at the same time will be released on the following platforms:
Digital Platforms: Apple TV/iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, YouTube, Google Play, PlayStation and Xbox
Cable Transactional Platforms: Comcast Xfinity, Spectrum (Charter, Time Warner, Brighthouse), Verizon Fios, Altice (Optimum), Cox, DirecTV, AT&T, Bend Broadband, Buckeye, Guadalupe Valley, Hotwire Communications, Metrocast, Suddenlink, WOW Internet Cable, RCN, Midcontinent Communications
We have Filmmode Entertainment selling the Foreign Rights
Which film festivals do you suggest submitting to? We submitted to SXSW and TriBeCa, however the film will be released before the dates of those festivals.
Why did you choose to film in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania? We shot in both NJ and PA because this is a regionally based film is set in the PA suburbs of Philadelphia and at the Jersey Shore. I have called Pennsylvania home nearly my entire life and would not have set it in any other place.
What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania? We had a spectacular few days shooting at the Filter Club in Center City, Philadelphia. What a remarkable setting and backdrop for so many great scenes.
How did you all get started in the film industry? This is my first foray into film, but will not be my last. For me, I was always curious about the industry but did not want to jump in until the script was in the right place. Once we started getting great feedback from talent pertaining to our script I knew we could make a fun loving, slice of life comedy that would translate well to folks in all corners of our nation
What do you love the most about your job? No two days are ever the same
What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story? It would have to be when the van we had hoped to rent caught on fire (no injuries!). We were looking for a van for our main actors to drive around in the film. When we started negotiating for the rental of it for the week the owner told us what great condition it was in. So, when he brought it over to show it to us, it started overheating, burst into flames and the fire co. was called.
Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects? I am currently writing my next comedy script, hopefully by the time it is ready to go the PA Tax Credits will be there so that we can make it in Commonwealth.
PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life? In order for films to be made in PA, there must be PA predictable tax credits. Filmmakers can jump right across the bridge into NJ and get 25-30% tax credits with a fair amount of certainty that they will be funded. Portraying our state on film is the best way to get recognition for our great towns, cities and PA countryside which will in turn increase tourism and generate revenues for the state.
What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid? The most important thing is to know and understand is the budget; you have to understand each of the variables and how they can best be navigated to stay on budget.
What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier? Had I known the amount of work it took to get through post production, I would have hired a post production supervisor.
What is your biggest aspiration in this industry? I look forward to bringing comedy back to the big screen. It seems like the genre has been displaced by action, thrillers and dramas. With all the craziness in the world, I just want people to laugh.
Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)461 Cochran Road, Box 246Pittsburgh, PA 15228(717) 833-4561 firstname.lastname@example.org