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Filming an Indie Streaming Series During COVID with Colleen Krantz

In my on-going series on COVID film production, I speak to creator/showrunner Colleen Krantz. She is the creator of the new series Complete Bull. The show is about a young animal scientist who must decide if she will join her family’s livestock insemination business in her fighting-to-stay-alive Midwest hometown, even as the community is torn at the seams debating whether to become a “receiving community” in the government’s forced relocation of first-generation immigrants.

When she was shooting her show her production was one of only 24 SAG productions filming in the entire country. In this conversation, we discuss how she had to rewrite the script to include some nontraditional filming locations, how she dealt with negative attitudes from old-school Hollywood people because she was filming in a rural area, and what techniques she used to keep herself and her cast/crew safe during production.

One of my favorite parts of the conversation is when we discuss how she was chewed out by an actress’s manager, and I quote:

“ You have no business trying to do this from the middle of Iowa.“

I hope listening to Colleen’s story can help you run a safe film production during these crazy times. Enjoy my conversation with Colleen Krantz.

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EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Alex Ferrari 2:22
Well guys, today you get a bonus episode of the podcast and last week, I only was able to put out one. So I've been promising you two. So this week, you get three podcasts for the price of two. So today on the show, we have creator showrunner and filmmaker Coleen Krantz. She is the creator of the new series complete bull. And the really interesting part about her production was when she was shooting her series, she was only one of 24 sag productions filming in the entire country because of COVID. Now in this conversation, we discussed how she had to rewrite the script to include some more non traditional filming locations for the safety of the cast and crew. How she dealt with negative attitudes from old school Hollywood people because she was filming in a rural area, which I know plenty about, and what techniques she used to keep herself her cast and crew safe during production in these crazy, crazy times. And I wanted her to be on the show because I know so many of you are just just itching just gotta get back to shooting as soon as possible. So I hope listening to Coleen story will help you run a safe film production set during these insane times. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Colleen Krantz. I like to watch your show Coleen Krantz, how you doing?

Colleen Krantz 3:48
I'm good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 3:49
I'm doing great. I'm doing great. You of course, of course. Thank you for jumping on the show. And you reached out to me because you actually are one of the brave souls that have shot during this COVID fiasco that we are in right now. And I haven't had anybody in the show that's actually shot during COVID. I've only we've had people talking about it and what's happening and theories and they've heard from other people, but I wanted to hear it straight from the cow's mouth or the bulls mouth as they say, Oh, well. You see the way I work or work that into your title of your movie? Yeah. Are you serious? So before we get started on how did you get into the business and tell everybody where you're you're calling from? Because obviously you don't know anything about filmmaking, because you're not in Hollywood. But obviously, I'm joking, everyone. It's an inside joke. It's inside joke.

Colleen Krantz 4:40
Because nobody outside there know knows. Right?

Alex Ferrari 4:42
Exactly.

Colleen Krantz 4:44
I am from. I'm from Iowa. I'm from the Des Moines area. And my background is actually in journalism. So I have a little bit different route, getting into film and television. I worked at newspapers and spent about 1010 years of different Metro newspapers. And till I got a little worn out of, you know, courts and cups and all this kind of stories that I felt I'd done covered all of them and ended up leaving, kind of before the layoffs really started. So I was lucky to move out at the right time. And I end up working, basically working on my first book. And when I struggled to find a publisher, I ended up connecting with, with basically our local PBS affiliate and some independent producers to turn that book into my first documentary, after which we didn't found a publisher because he heard about it through the documentary or through the Yeah, through the documentary. So since then, I I ended up loving film and television, you know, way more than I expected, having come from a print background, and have continued. So we had a second documentary A few years after that, and just completed a sort of three part True Story series, and I am now starting are really just filmed the pilot episode of my first fictional project. But yeah, television drama that we're working on. So

Alex Ferrari 6:09
That's awesome. That's awesome. Yeah. So I always find it fascinating how people get into this, this ridiculous business. Now we're all in. Now I wanted to I wanted to kind of, I wanted to kind of touch base before we get started. You mean, you've been shooting during COVID. So we're gonna go into the whole process and what you've dealt with, and all that kind of good stuff. But I also wanted to touch on before we get into that, about what we talked about earlier in the episode, which is this pre, this kind of prejudiced against filmmakers outside of LA, New York, or even Georgia, which are the three big hubs right now of production. And I dealt with it a lot when I was coming up. I mean, I'm from originally South Florida area, and it was Florida is not a small market by any stretch, it's you know, there's millions of people, it's a very large state and city and although the cities down there, but as far as film production is concerned, it kind of dried up, especially, you know, a while ago, it dried up, once Miami Vice left, and bad boys and bad boys to left. You know, it kind of it kind of dried up. And that was just a production here and there. And there was this prejudice of film of La people that would looked up at the locals are going off, these guys just don't understand what they're doing. And to my understand my feeling, I was always like, well, we're good. We know what we're talking about. We've been on a few productions, like, you know, that's not fair. And then I get to LA and I understand where the prejudice comes from. Because once you're in LA, the level of people you work with the level of productions or you're at a much faster, it's like going from high school football to the NFL, like everything is just maximized, faster, all that stuff. But with that said, there's absolutely no reason to be rude. Absolutely no reason to be prejudice against people outside of Hollywood, because that's an ignorant way of looking at things. So I want you to share, because you told me a little bit about what how you've dealt with this. Tell me a couple of the stories, if you've dealt with these old school Hollywood types.

Colleen Krantz 8:08
I, we were working on trying to find a lead actress. For this, we're really shooting, it was a proof of concept pilot, we were hoping, you know, and we are hoping to keep it going if we get the series sold. And so we were looking at some actresses and making some connections and having really good feedback on the script. It's just so different. The main characters, basically what you could think of as a fertility specialist to cows, it's, it's a real job. And I know that world well, for my own reasons that I I can tell that in a very authentic way that I think is resonating with Hollywood. But when you try to take the script, you know, and you're talking to managers or agents, it's a whole whole different ballgame. And I, I was talking to one manager, I remember who basically gave me a, you know, five minute lecture about, you know, where do you live, it didn't really matter what the story was, where do you live? Just tell me where you live? And, and then I was told you have no business doing this from Iowa, no business at all? And why, you know, I do agree with you, there's a different level and, you know, production size, typically when you're in LA, but, but I also think there's room for all voices. And yes, sometimes that's what I worry about is when we start saying okay, this, you know, let's ignore this state or people from here, because they're not in LA, you really lose a lot of those voices that are represented, you know, whether it's an ethnic voice or gender or just, you know, sort of associated with different jobs or lifestyles. And so yeah, another example I had was I had, for a while I'd done had an app that was sort of trying to teach people to be smarter news consumers, you know, knowing when they're maybe being manipulated a bit here and there and created a game it was for middle school and older. And I remember I had hired a gal in LA who was extremely excited. She had come to me she wanted to work on this news tutor app I had at the time and and we were set to go, you know about her first day. And then she found out was in Iowa. She's, I didn't know you were there. You know, we have this thing called the World Wide Web now.

Alex Ferrari 10:17
Yes. Where we surf the surf, we surf the internet. Yes, with our dial up modems, we just got to DSL connections here in in iOS. So I'm like, it's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous. And I know that the thing is that most people listening to this podcast are not in LA, like there's, or in any of these major production hubs. There are people from around the world, and a lot of people think that you have to be here to make things happen. And you know what, here, before COVID, definitely a lot of stuff was happening here. And a lot of the business is still here. I don't know where that's going to be in the next five or 10 years, I think a lot of distant employees are going to start working out because people are tired of paying obscene amounts of money for rent here. And dealing with all the taxes and dealing with everything else. We're like, you know, I'm sure my cost of living is it's extremely different than your cost of living. You know. And the point is like, and also for filmmaking, like, the cost for me to do something in LA, versus the cost of shooting something in Iowa, I'd imagine is fairly different.

Colleen Krantz 11:24
Yeah, in fact, it's, it's funny, because people are surprised when they film here that, you know, a lot of times locations, either don't mean, first of all, a lot of cities don't require permits. You know, maybe the state wants you to say when you're here. But But otherwise, there, you know, I had a lot of people, we filmed that some farms, and I can get into that later about why that was good for COVID. But it was, we're filming at least farms, and a lot of them I kind of found myself in this strange situation where I'm trying to convince them to take 100 or 200. Because they the farmers would feel bad. Oh, just it's okay. Just use the farm.

Alex Ferrari 11:54
It does. It's so cool. Because argument. Right, exactly. And when you shoot in other places that are because filming is still exciting outside of La in New York, like, you know, it's exciting, like, Oh my god, there's a camera, there's people acting, it's a cool thing. And people I mean, when I shot outside of LA, it's everyone's super cool. And super here, like, you shoot in the corner somewhere that like I need $500 just for you to walk by my store. Like it's, it's it's insane. But that's the that's the world that we live in. So a lot of filmmakers, there's a lot of value outside of LA. And when you run into these, these relics, that are these Hollywood relics, there are people who are they talk down to you, because they feel that they're superior to you. Because they because of their address, or because they've been in this town longer than please, anyone listening. Don't take that to heart. They're ignorant, and they are ego driven. And they have no idea what the real world is like, they live in the LA bubble. And I'm in the LA bubble. And trust me, the only perspective the only reason I have a perspective because I lived most of my life outside the LA bubble. So I just wanted to kind of put that out there into the ether, because I know a lot of people who are trying to get productions off the ground who are calling from Iowa or Montana or Wyoming or Kansas, and they're like, hey, LA, manager, I want your actors can you pick like, where are you? You have no business shooting from Kansas? What? What business do you have making? How dare you shoot a film that's not on the backlot like, you know, and then and this is when I this is when I remind them Oh, yeah, I just shot my last film for $3,000. You know, at Sundance, and they just go, what I'm like, Yeah, because we can do that. Now. This is not 1990 anymore. But anyway, good.

Colleen Krantz 13:44
I had to tell you my joke. This joke I have that I really would like to get these t shirts going where it's um, I kind of want a coat coin and different use of the phrase geography ism. You know, a little judgment based on where you live. And but my joke was that well, if I tried to coined that phrase, they'd be like, Well, what does she know? She's from Iowa.

Alex Ferrari 14:03
Exactly. It's like, it's like that old movie feel the dreams like they build it a baseball field in Iowa, like it is corn.

Colleen Krantz 14:13
You know that. I do think that. The funny funny thing, though, is though that that, oddly, at least in the short term, COVID might be a time where there's sort of an opportunity in prison. I don't know if you want to jump to that. But basically, you go for these wide open spaces. So it's like the it might actually be an opportunity where you can you might be smart to be looking at, you know, film or television being shot rule stories being shot or places that can use that that take advantage of that wide open natural isolation.

Alex Ferrari 14:43
Yeah, absolutely. Because there is there's so much production value also in those kind of areas, and there's so much landscaping, but you can create a production bubble, which we're going to talk about in a second is creating that production bustle isolation because here in LA it's extremely busy. Because it's a giant city, any major city, Chicago, New York, Miami, any major city is going to have a difficulty because you're on top of each other because it's a giant city. And but you know, shooting out in the rural areas, you might not have the support that you might have in a big city like LA, you can't go down the street and pick up a lens or something breaks, it's you have to be a little bit more prepared. But I think in the world of COVID, it will be a lot more beneficial. Now let's get into COVID. You filming in COVID? How was what was the what's the filmmaking process like shooting with COVID in the COVID world, I'm just dying to know.

Colleen Krantz 15:38
I was, I would say it was not that fun, as you mentioned. So the the thing that stands out now we did this in, we originally were set to start filming this pilot that we're doing for our series that were proposed called complete bowl. And it's um, I really think the reason sag approved us to move ahead was because we have almost entirely outdoor scenes. So we already had the script written this way we were filming, either in the open or in sort of open air barns, a few interior scenes, but but it really was the hardest part was hearing you're in the outdoors, and it was you know, 96 degrees and high humidity and you're breathing trying to breathe through these masks. So Oh, I mean, I mean, you know, you know, filmmaking, so tiring anyway. And especially for the camera operators and audio, you know, they they're carrying, you know, all their gear around all day long in the heat, and then you add a mask that they're trying to breathe through. And that was probably the hardest part is just that you're always in this mask in the heat. But but at the on the other hand, well, I guess I should say. So there was lots, so many steps, you know, just to get ready, and so many steps on set.

Alex Ferrari 16:51
So what are some of these? Yes, so what are some of these steps?

Colleen Krantz 16:54
I would say. So for onset, you know, it's all the things you would expect, you know, it's the, as you arrive, you have to go through all the reminders, even though you've been over these in advance, you want to remind everybody, everything related to COVID. Again, but then, you know, there's hand sanitizer, separate containers for everyone, basically, everybody has to have masks, and ideally, you're either they're being washed every night or switched out. And, and it goes from there, like setting about, sometimes we had to re re sort of reimagine the scene to keep the talent further apart. And that can get super complicated and some of the scenes where maybe you're trying to trick the viewer, you know, just by the angle use lots, lots of different issues. But like we again, we were lucky in that some of ours, there weren't so many scenes that we had that that would have been an issue. But you know, it's then it's in advance, it was a lot a lot of conversations with sag about how we were gonna do this safely. We we actually went through a whole breakdown of the whole script, I had to write a description for every scene on how I would sort of guarantee the safety of the team. And you know, how I would revise what I'd planned, we had to kill a couple scenes. For example, there was a bar scene that was supposed to, you know, include probably 100 people. Well, that

Alex Ferrari 18:22
Not so much, not so much

Colleen Krantz 18:24
Not much now. And and we kind of hoped maybe we could add it later. But the more time that passes, I don't know if we ever will get to. Sorry, I would suggest for people who are in that situation, try to make sure you set yourself up to have a route around that in case you can't go back and add scenes later because it's just you know, who knows?

Alex Ferrari 18:44
Now. So now. Okay, so did you guys have like a production bubble? Did you like quarantine for 14 days before you all came out? Or was it a little bit more loose?

Colleen Krantz 18:54
We really debated that we had a hard time with it. But what what I ended up coming up with it was I felt like in some sense, quarantining might be a little disingenuous, because they're still a travel to get to location, right. So I mean, you unless you're coming to set and housing there is right, in which I know some people are trying to do but I I felt it was better to just assume everyone was sick. That's kind of the mentality I went in with. Partly because again, you could have people are asymptomatic. So my mentality was let's just pretend every single person here has COVID and we're Our goal is just not let that sort of leave, leave them and reach someone else. So we asked we did ask in the two weeks before we asked all the everyone involved to basically you know, not travel anywhere, stay only with the people that were they were already living with. And even that felt like a little risky, but we didn't think it would necessarily benefit us to pull everybody from their families the whole time and instead go with this philosophy that they're all sick. I mean, they weren't. We didn't nobody So a fever the whole time. But as far as you might, I mean, no, again, we don't know for sure that they didn't, but we never had any evidence of anyone being sick or getting sick, you know, immediately after, or the few weeks after. But we just, we just told ourselves, they were in a sense. Okay, so going, that's a really good way of actually approaching the one thing that I think would have changed since because we filmed in June and July. And I would say the one thing that changed is that when we were starting in Iowa, tests were not widely available, yet, they were limited to only people showing symptoms. That's changed now. But sag was really understanding and aware of that, that certain states didn't have tests widely available. So we weren't, we did not actually have that opportunity to test. You know, everybody involved before we started, which I think now, you know, if somebody was going to fill them, I think that would be a good idea. But again, that's, that's the reason we had to just assume everyone could be sick.

Alex Ferrari 20:56
And even if you do have testing, assuming everybody is sick, and approaching production, in that manner is probably a wise way of going about it. It's,

Colleen Krantz 21:04
it's just a really good mentality. And we even talked to her team about that I got, you know, we were coming up to a few weeks before and there was sort of, I had the sense from some of the team that there was this nervousness, like, Are we really gonna do this. And I know, that's the thing, Kenya a lot of places, and I understand that, but I just said, the reality is, if you're going to, even if you go to the grocery store, you're putting yourself at risk, I will not hold it against you, if you drop out of this, you know, everybody's got family, they have to think about, and I, you know, I was really, in fact that this will not affect my future workings with you, if you choose to not do this, I didn't want anyone going in and, you know, having to worry later that had made them sick, and they brought it home, or, you know, something along those lines. So, so we really did, I never really did a waiver, I know, that's probably not a good idea, but I just did more of an awareness document. And basically it said, you know, every one of us could be, you know, could get sick anywhere we go, but this is, so this is no different. You're you're choosing to do this, you know, it's, I didn't ask them to, you know, waive the right to sue me. But I really just wanted them to not go into sort of blind and think you know, this will, this will be safe, because it is a risk anytime you step outside your doors during COVID.

Alex Ferrari 22:12
Exactly. Now how many people were on the crew,

Colleen Krantz 22:15
We ended up having about one normal. So this is the interesting part, I forgot to mention. At the time, the state of Iowa had a 10 person gathering rule. So basically all sudden, we went from if we were gonna move ahead, we had to get our we basically shifted our whole filming order around and put the smallest scenes first with one, you know, anything with one actor or two. And we had to basically eliminate we had our crew was a huge anyway, we're not we're very low budget, but we were probably 12 person, full person crew, and we had to get it down to I think eight, six to eight on those those first two weeks. And luck, we were lucky that the state then as things improved for a while they shifted that to a little bit larger gathering. And we but we were working with a local public health department and, you know, with them, we decided that we would still try to keep it to only 15 people on a set at a time, which again, would be impossible for some productions. But our because our scenes tended to be smaller. And we killed the big biggest ones. So we would do that there was only I think one day where we had to sort of set up what I think of as sort of filming areas and zones. Because we went beyond that 15 person

Alex Ferrari 23:37
Now, and how much longer did it take to actually shoot with all of this precaution and was there like, were they everyone's six feet apart? or more.

Colleen Krantz 23:48
That's, that was our goal. And we but we we were also realistic that we said and you know, that that was always our goal, but we said people are gonna make mistakes. I think you're walking around a film set. There's not everybody's gonna remember, as they're moving this here to there to veer off, you know, it's, it was impossible in my mind. I we just talked about trying that as much as we could. And if you're passing, passing someone close, you know, Don't linger. And so yeah, I mean, it was it was always the goal, but I don't think we ever expected it would be 100% perfect either. And it wasn't, but it was, I would say majority of the time we managed to do that.

Alex Ferrari 24:23
And how much and how much longer did it take to shoot because I'm assuming this at a time because this and not being able to be so close, you're gonna have to move slower.

Colleen Krantz 24:33
It was it was it was really more about the days being longer. I think we probably I would guess that we lost. You know, we probably added a couple hours every day. We ended up filming over 15 days. I think we'd actually planned on more but it was because we killed some scenes. So I think we ended up running about the same number of days if you took those account for those scenes, you know, took those out. But it was just that the days were maybe two hours longer than they would have Then otherwise,

Alex Ferrari 25:01
And what, um, what are some of the sag requirements?

Colleen Krantz 25:05
There, they at the time, they were a little bit flexible about advanced testing, but I believe unless this is changed that at the time they were requiring, are now they would like testing for everybody involved in advance, which in some areas can be kind of expensive. So anyone getting ready to go needs to make sure they look at that and pay attention. We had a, I mean, I really liked having segs support, we had a long meeting ahead of time on the phone to go over everything from you know, how are you going to handle this scene where you know, these two are sitting, you know, in this crowded kitchen, I guess, or small kitchen? How would you deal with that? They would, they would sort of walk through every scene, having having taken the time to look at your script and know it and ask you details about that. They would talk about like, if you're inside somewhere, how is it going to be cleaned? What about air movement, don't want to know, you know, personal protective equipment, what you'll have, and, and making sure that it's going to always be available and clean. And a lot of that I think there was if I remember, right, there was a little hesitation about having talent, sign any waivers. And it would have to be pre approved by sag also. So that's something to think about. But I do think we were probably I think what the sag representative we had on site told us was that we were one of the first dozen to get going in the US at that time. Wow. And yeah, and they were so so they were learning to and that was the I mean, I thought they were wonderful to work with because you had somebody you could say, you know, hey, we're having trouble of people getting overheated. And these masks. Do you have any suggestions on that? And they'd say, well, we were just in Oklahoma, and we're filming outdoors. Also, it was 110 we just had, we just decided people should step 30 feet away, take a break, take your mask off, and then put it back on before you come back. So those were the kinds of things they were really understanding about unhelpful because they knew just, they like us are sort of figuring this out. Though, I will say the best, the biggest piece of advice I have for those who are trying to get going is to start with your local public health department if they will work with you. We had we were in a rural county filming not really near the Moines at all. Gorgeous area. And I think it's probably a two person public health department. But they were wonderful. You know, they they, even though they're only a small department, you can imagine they were slammed just dealing with any few cases they had in the area, and just regulatory work. So but they took time to read through our COVID plan that we'd written. And that was kind of before some of the white papers came out with guidance. So we were sort of paving our way at the time. But they were wonderful. And having worked with them, I think gained us some credibility with sag to

Alex Ferrari 27:53
And what other costs were like, what are the what are the hit the bottom line having all this COVID? pp pp and all the things in the precautions, the systems, what do you think the cost was? shooting, cutting COVID right now the additional cost? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. All right, percentage wise, percentage wise.

Colleen Krantz 28:20
I'm not positive, but I would guess in 10 to 15% additional cost. That can be anything from you know, the equipment you need. One thing I ran into that I did not see coming at all was my insurance.

Alex Ferrari 28:34
Yeah, how did you ensure it's not?

Colleen Krantz 28:37
Well, I bought short term insurance, you know, planning to go I think I was scheduled we were scheduled to start in May, originally or maybe late April. And then COVID came along, we delayed once. And but I had set this for I think I'd planned we'd planned to film over two months, just taking you know, or maybe month and a half, I guess. And so I set the insurance for three months thinking there's no way even if we went long, I'd need that well, because of the original delay. Now my insurance didn't cover me during that time. So I had to redo insurance. And that was a cost didn't expect. And also just I think more hours so we ran into overtime, as we're you know, just trying to deal with safety. Those longer days kind of doing this, you know, on the now we're shooting, you know, 1012 hour days instead of hopefully eight to 10 and then what was my guy would say it was it was I don't have to think about budgeting not not not in our area it wasn't crippling but enough to you need to be ready and paying attention.

Alex Ferrari 29:41
Now were there any love scenes or scenes where characters have to be like close to each other and you know just was there a fight scene? I don't I don't know the exact story of the of the show. But I'm assuming I'm assuming there's closeness with a cat with a with a bull. So a bull or a cow. There is some sort of a intimacy. And and they're not they're not spreaders. They're not mega spreaders yet the cows, so we're good there. But I'm assuming people actors that gotta be within six feet generally speaking, how did that work with the actors? How was it directing actors in that environment? I can only imagine it's tough enough to direct that date. Without it with COVID must be very difficult.

Colleen Krantz 30:22
Yeah, it was in our so I, I served as creator showrunner. And we have Barry Anderson is our director, and he's out of the Twin Cities and is wonderful and, and it was sort of like, between the two of us, you know, we'd have to be really careful to sort of not just forget to put them in their regular because once they take their mask off, and you get into the moment, it's really easy to forget, you know, and I, in our experience, the talent wasn't super concerned. They were just excited to be out.

Alex Ferrari 30:47
I just want to add, yeah, I just want to do this.

Colleen Krantz 30:50
And, and so it was, you know, it really was a lot about, you know, like, let's, we really pushed it right to the Okay, this is six feet. Exactly. Let's, let's try that, which I think is again, where their masks and take it off right at rehearsal time. And it was a lot of the it really does make a difference to be outdoors, open air, you know, being careful that way. But, you know, you have to think about camera angles that might make it look like they're standing a little closer. I didn't really have because there's like a love interest story, but it's just developing in the pilot so so that did not become an issue yet. And no fight scenes. So we really, again, maybe got lucky that we didn't have any of those scenes that I don't know how you would do. Now during COVID and I think sag notice that we didn't have any of those other than with the ball, as you pointed out. on the couch. So yes. He made a joke about that.

Alex Ferrari 31:41
Yeah, soft core. Soft core. Bull bull porn. Got it?

Colleen Krantz 31:49
Yes, in most odd conversation with sag when we talked about that.

Alex Ferrari 31:53
So will there be nude bulls on the set? Yes, there will be nude bulls.

Colleen Krantz 32:00
The oddest thing was when we worked with the guys working with the animal humane, Hollywood and yeah, that was so funny because we were laughing cuz they had more questions about the the bowl meeting scene that we had planned to include, rather than artificial insemination. All different ballgame.

Alex Ferrari 32:18
Do you actually have a bowl meeting see

Colleen Krantz 32:20
A natural thing that was disturbing?

Alex Ferrari 32:21
Do you have an actual natural mating scene

Colleen Krantz 32:23
We had? Well, we had that with our goal. But it's just not something you can catch on film. And they have to be in the right mood and you can't force it.

Alex Ferrari 32:30
Stock footage, stock footage. Look for some stock footage, intercut with some stock footage.

Colleen Krantz 32:38
That's what we think we're gonna be stuck with.

Alex Ferrari 32:40
So Alright, so moving. Moving. You've done this already. You've shot your your pilot, right? And now you're on post, I'm getting it ready? What was the biggest challenge? What's the biggest challenge? And also, what's the biggest piece of advice you can give anyone trying to shoot during this time?

Colleen Krantz 32:55
I would say the I think the the biggest challenge is just when you're low budget, it's hard anyway, you're sort of pinching pennies all the way. And then in my case, it came up as I was ready to get going. So I really, you know, didn't expect to have to have this new money ready to get going with this, you know, and, but, but it was like I had already arrived at your range people coming from out of state state and we could have canceled again or push back again. But then you never know when will this turn around like another chance and, and it's really hadn't reached the Midwest and is big away. It was still in New York, primarily. And so I felt like it would be arriving here. I know, eventually, even in rural areas. And so to me, that was the idea to jump, then. As far as advice, I think the big thing is, you know, look, talk to people that have done it also if you can find someone but talk to your state film offices, because they should all have guidelines now that they would like you to work under be honest, if it's if you're having trouble meeting those guidelines, don't try to hide anything. It's not a serve anybody if you get people sick, you know, so just be honest. And that's what I really enjoyed about sag is I could call and say hey, we're having problems. What do you suggest? And again, the Public Health Department, part of it is key, I think

Alex Ferrari 34:12
But you did not have sign your actors or your crew sign waivers to protecting the production against anyone getting sick.

Colleen Krantz 34:20
We wanted to do that. But again, it was the we sort of were running out of time. By the time we got unsex sort of. We got close to our schedule, and we would have pushed again. But we had some scenes where we needed these especially young calves. It sounds it's a small thing, but it was pretty important to our story. Yeah, they do their little in the spring and then after that they're not it's not going to be what you're looking for. And in the fact that we got up on their lists and had this meeting set with sag and then we found out you know, a week before we're going to go or maybe a few days even we finally got greenlit right before and that was when they told us well if you have a waiver, we have to approve it. And we tried once and it got complicated. And, and you know, that's when we just finally said, I even think a waiver doesn't really protect you necessarily. Anyway, it's not someone who could still sue you. So it was it's not the best idea, but ours was a weird circumstance with the timing and sort of coming in last minute and realizing that we had to have sag approval on that waiver anyway, for at least for the cat, we didn't have our crew, you know, sign this document at least basically just explaining COVID, which seems funny, but you want to make sure everybody does really understand like, how does it transmit and what's the risk?

Alex Ferrari 35:31
Yeah, you're like, you're it's not a waiver. But it's like, Hey, guys, this is what's going on. And I want you to make sure that you can you can say that, oh, what there's COVID, I didn't know what is COVID. You. You don't want anyone to come back and say no, as ridiculous as that sounds, but you at least have something a document stating that, look, we're all in this together. We're all walking down. This time, we're going to do everything we can to protect you and protect everybody working on this project. But you are aware of what's going on. And we're all in the same boat, basically. And we're gonna do everything we can to make sure everyone stay safe. Because I think you would agree, there isn't a production on earth that is worth a person's life. It's not worth it.

Colleen Krantz 36:13
Exactly. And that's honestly, that's what I some people give me a hard time, you really should make them sign a waiver. But what does that you know, to me, that sets the mentality that we're sort of going against each other and, and I really was partly for my peace of mind, I didn't want anyone to get sick, feeling sort of been pressured because they'd agreed earlier before COVID started to be part of the crew. So I had, you know, over two or three times I said, you will, you know, you can absolutely step away, I will either pause, I will find someone else. And I'll invite you back next time, so that it was really about peace of mind, because you're right, you really are. it you know, I, in spite of every precaution I can take, it's just like, every time you step out, you could be putting someone at risk, and they're stepping out for my production. So it's so I mean, that's what I wanted to make sure I told them everything they should already know, just in case,

Alex Ferrari 37:02
It's in, you know, being a director. I mean, I can't even imagine, you know, putting somebody at risk to make a film or something like that of my own. Unless there's some major stuff, I can't wrap my head around it right now. Like, that's why I wanted you on the show, because I can't personally wrap my head around building a production right now. And as we're recording this, in six months, it could be a whole other thing. But you also shout, when did you shoot this?

Colleen Krantz 37:27
We did this in June and July, early July. And, and I will say the one difference was that at that time, so this little county in Iowa had 1.1 point eight cases per 1000. But their population density is also like, well, I don't I can't remember how many people per acre, but they're spread out, you know, you can, for the most part, you'd go to a farm and there'll be the next neighbors a mile away, you know, so. So like, we had to try to protect the local communities too, because that'd be even as bad as one of our crew or, you know, cast getting sick, it'd be awful to bring it to these areas that really had maybe there was one case in town, you know, that's all and so they know, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Oh, it's those film people is those those film carnies? Those film carnies have come into town, it given us COVID.

Colleen Krantz 38:13
And we tried to, we tried to be especially careful.

Alex Ferrari 38:16
They're very cool. And when are you planning to shoot again,

Colleen Krantz 38:20
Oh right now we're pitching, we're just getting ready to pitch we have the, you know, we're almost done editing and so. So that'll be determined, because we haven't really shared this with anyone, other than when we were finding talent and having fun conversations with managers. So we've got the pilot just about finished to start shopping around we we decided to it's such a strange world, it's really hard to wrap your mind around it. And until you see what we imagined,

Alex Ferrari 38:44
Now what is, if you don't want me asking what were those conversations with talent managers, like, I mean, during the Age of COVID, like, it's tough enough talking to an agent or a manager about getting an actor on a production, especially where you're coming from Iowa from a you're not an established, big filmmaker, have, you know, anything like that behind you? So what were those conversations like in the in the times of COVID

Colleen Krantz 39:07
A lot of our that conversation had happened before COVID started, but we were about ready to assign an actress for the lead and, you know, right, then they, you know, COVID started in, in it, we they ended up she I mean, she said she want to do it she was in and I don't wanna say who it was, but it was basically last minute, um, you know, change your heart because of COVID. And I think the way her agent put it was, it's causing tension in the home, which I think I took to mean, you know, her husband didn't want her to go, didn't feel safe about it. And, and I can respect that. That's mean, going back to what I said about the crew even you don't want somebody there who's feeling extremely fearful, you know, and just creating tension in the families so, so that I think that's when it sort of hit was where we were getting getting ready to. Some people were reading the script that were close to signing with us and they then COVID came We're about ready to finalize some of the roles. And you know, through things, Lou things a part of it. And in different situations, we were really lucky because we are extremely happy with the talent we did end up finding but what it turned out just because of who we found next that we really liked, they tended to be, we have some leads from Chicago. And what I wasn't really focused on this, we figured we'd be bringing people from LA, but it turns out there that ability to drive instead of fly felt a lot safer, you know, and we did have a few people drive from LA, I feel bad for them. But we had a few people travel from LA and it's what we asked them to drive because of the I just don't know how you keep someone safe on a plane necessarily. And you still risk when you're traveling, but we felt better having them drive. But that's, you know, that's a two three day drive for, for some of the people that came so it was it was a big commitment to make the trip and and and so in some ways, it was nice that we had you know, Chicago was four hours from where we were filming. So that was a blessing.

Alex Ferrari 41:04
Yeah. And speaking from somebody who's been inside of a bubble here in Burbank, California, I would actually look forward to a four hour four day drive to tell you that

Colleen Krantz 41:17
It was amazing how, how we found that there was there was excitement about that, you know, it's a I think I can mention his name Phil. Phil McKinley is a very famous Broadway director. And he you know, he had directed boy from oz with Hugh Jackman. And, and he's but he had somehow through that casting director got the script and, and was really interested. Well, you can imagine like, you're gonna audition this guy who If you say no, you're gonna, you don't know if he's acted in a while. So it's a little scary to audition him in case you don't like his talent. Right, director. Right? Well, he turned out to be he turned out to be amazing. And so he plays one of the one of the lead roles, but he was driving from California and I think was excited about it. You know, I gotta get out of here. Just see something new and

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Right, you get stir crazy. Yeah, you get stir crazy. So don't be surprised that people are willing to drive cross country just to get the hell out of their house.

Colleen Krantz 42:13
Well, to be fair, we had to pay them travel days too. But you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:15
Hey, it did mean Trust me. They're not that excited about travel days. It's just, you know, it's just you want to get out?

Colleen Krantz 42:23
And the tricky part is then where do you stay? You know, like, that's, that's the other thing you deal with, like what hotels are safe to stay on the trip. You don't want we have been through.

Alex Ferrari 42:32
So what we're figuring out because you know, my family and I've been trying to we had a whole summer plan. We were gonna go fly here. We were gonna go there for vacation. And obviously, that all thrown away. So we're looking at driving to a vacation sometime this before the year is over. But we're gonna stay in motels. Because motels make the most sense. COVID wise, because there's no hotel, you check in, you know, upfront, and then you just go straight to your room outside open air.

Colleen Krantz 42:59
Yeah. And then it's fun. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 43:01
Yeah, you bring your own sheets, you bring your own cleaning supplies. I'm psycho. So you know, you Lysol out the house, the room and it's yours. That's it.

Colleen Krantz 43:10
Yeah, we ended up doing that we discovered that in this county, there was now to be fair, there was only probably five bed and breakfasts or vrb O's. But those have been sitting empty, you know, since March, really. So now we changed that, of course, because we had people we use those a lot. And it was, it was really good for the local economy too. Because these are, I mean, these are small towns and they don't, you know, shutting one of those downs can devastate a family's income. And they've been shut down since March. So they were so excited to have us coming in. And, you know, we knew they'd be clean because, you know, they could tell us like the last person was here three months ago.

Alex Ferrari 43:44
And we're and we're gonna clean the hell out of this before you get here. It's gonna smell like Lysol by the time you get here. We're so excited. Yeah, so it there's it's just a new way of looking at production and looking at how to get things done. And I feel like a lot of people who are having troubles with it right now are people who are stuck in, well, this is just gonna pass, or we'll be back to normal soon. I don't see that anytime in the near future, let alone in a year. So you have to look at it differently.

Colleen Krantz 44:18
Yeah, I agree. It's Yeah, you don't know what's coming. And, you know, we my joke is that we're kind of, you know, maybe we're the canary in the mine, we'll find out. It's just gonna go, we already started. But it's, it is interesting, though, because in some states, we're sort of school is, you know, in person, at least here, it's half time, and you have the choice to let your kid I think every district gives their kid a choice to stay home and learn. But that meant that I think in a lot of cases, it was, you know, maybe 80 to 90% chose to go back in person, their kids, you know, and so it's going to be interesting to see if you sort of, you know, have an area where, okay, the virus has worked through here, it's going to be present still. It's not I don't think for quite a while but Who knows if you have a vaccine soon? Is there more short term immunity in this region? Because we're now past the first first way of flattening the curve maybe in our bantering, that could be a mistake. We could just be really sick and six months. But it'll be interesting.

Alex Ferrari 45:17
It's just a word mean. It's the weirdest, wackiest thing we're in right now. It's insane. What we're where we are in the world is is insanity. The only thing I was telling you that somebody that then like, we've got the West Coast is on fire. The East Coast is flooded. We've got a pandemic, running, running amok. The political spectrum is I've never seen anything like it and every year that goes every every cycle that goes by in the election cycle, like it can't get worse. It's gotten worse. So now we have this. We have that going on Europe, England's leaving Europe. I mean, the only thing that's there's a meteor coming I don't know if you knew that there is a meteor coming smaller

Colleen Krantz 46:00
Do you hear about direcho the basically inland hurricane we had?

Alex Ferrari 46:05
Wow, there's inland hurricanes. I've never heard of an inland

Colleen Krantz 46:09
We hadn't either. I think it's rare straight when you know, a hurricane force winds straight line winds basically it's the middle of the Midwest, you know, so what is this?

Alex Ferrari 46:19
So there's droughts in some places flooding and other places the only the the the the the raining blood has not happened yet. The only thing it's calming the rain brain, the blood of rain of IRENA blood has not happen because we have murder Hornets up in Washington, killing off our bees. I mean, the whole world is upside down with this is Oh my god. It's like Waterworld and Mad Max all thrown into one. I mean, it's it's an insanity that we're living. And yet the craziness of filmmakers of like, how can I film? That's how crew how sick are we as filmmakers? You're like, I know the whole world is burning. How can I shoot my film?

Colleen Krantz 47:01
Without the critical industries at all, but like I do think we give that little bit of right we can say that.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
We're worried like everyone else is like worrying about if they're going to be able to survive this and filmmakers. So how do I shoot Can I get and then it's not just filmmakers, actors everybody in the film industry like so. I need to shoot something How do I do this in the middle of a hurricane? Yeah, like it's we're sick we are we've been sick with the filmmaking our bug for since a bit us years ago. Yeah, but I think but thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break in the business today but specifically how to shoot in the business today of COVID since you've done it,

Colleen Krantz 47:49
I you know, I my preference is if you have any interest in nonfiction at all. Consider rather than trying shorts consider documentaries because and you talked about this on your show your niche audience or niche everyone's

Alex Ferrari 48:05
Niche or niche riches and riches in niches spreads, right? So I like saying niche.

Colleen Krantz 48:11
Okay, so. So it's a great way to have that niche audience. Of course, you might be building an audience that you can't reuse. But it's also a way to get your first project going. And what I love is that there are grants I would say more grants available for nonfiction you know, if you're dealing with history, or something like in my first case, it dealt with immigration, the there's grants out there that can help you get going when you have no money. Often you'll have to match them and find maybe a nonprofit partner, but there's it's a great way to like find some money to get your first project under way. And as much as I love shorts, they're hard to monetize, you know, so I'm not that documentaries are big moneymakers. But there's, you know, there's like, like you talked about, there's that audience you can find if you have the right topic where you can find them and use your social media to sort of build your crowd.

Alex Ferrari 49:02
Absolutely. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Colleen Krantz 49:07
I would say probably the trust your sense of curiosity, I had, you know, I basically spent a lot of years doing telling true stories that in newspapers, and it took me a long time to sort of thing if I'm wondering about something and it sort of keeps coming back to my mind over time, you know, maybe others are too and that might be you know, no matter how random this topic is, give it sit on it for six months. And if it's still something you love the idea of you know, don't don't hesitate to dig into that and explore it. In my case, it was a story about the my first project was about this great Well, it was really about these 11 immigrants who died in a rail car because these smugglers forgot to follow the train properly, I guess and release them they were locked in and it made national news but I kept wondering about like, why is it anyone telling About the Central Americans who were in there, like, what's their story? How'd they get there? Who's who's at home missing them. That's what I kept thinking about. And it really turned out to be much more in depth and so many different segments to the story once I did some, you know, document digging, and so on. And if I sort of ignored that instinct that, you know, kept me wanting to know more, I would have never pursued it cuz it was a lot of, you know, public document work and so on.

Alex Ferrari 50:26
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Colleen Krantz 50:30
I would say, let's see, I'd start out with Sorry, I'm thinking through this one. This is a guilty pleasure. I gotta say, It's a Wonderful Life. Of course, of course. It's got the best like messages. And so I'm have to go with that. But that is one of them. I'd say. No Country for Old Men. It's a test what a great like, amazing sense of place that they accomplished, you know? along with some of their other works, but that and then Shawshank Redemption, redemption it's you know, great messages about humanity and so

Alex Ferrari 51:09
Well if you've listened to this show, you know my my love for for Shawshank and as

Colleen Krantz 51:17
Yeah funny like don't that makes you scared scared for humanity but feel good about humanity at the same time? You know, it's it's is

Alex Ferrari 51:26
I feel it's one of the more perfect films ever made. That Fight Club, the matrix. Those are all all up there with me in my in my top three. But thank you so much, Colleen for being on the show. And for being the first through the first the first one through the the wall is always the bloodiest. So I appreciate you going into production and reporting back to us how it is and giving us some invaluable pieces of advice to, to go out there and shoot. So I really appreciate you taking the time and best of luck with your production. I hope your series gets picked up.

Colleen Krantz 51:59
Thank you, and thanks for having me on.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
I want to thank Coleen for coming on the show and dropping her knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much Coleen. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/431. And I hope this episode inspires you guys that you can go out and shoot during COVID but you have to stay safe and you keep your cast and crew and yourselves safe during these insane times. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.


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