“Jodie, a single 36-year-old travel nurse, compares herself to the world around her. While attending a Guns N’ Roses concert, she thinks she may have met her potential match — until he ghosts on her the next day.” Directors Colby Holt & Sam Probst on PIG HAG which screens at the 2019 edition of South By Southwest Film.
Congratulations on your film playing in at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?
Yes, it is our first time! We’re so excited. We will be attending all of our screenings along with a good number of the actors and crew.
So how did you get into this movie-making business?
Sam started making home movies in his neighborhood as a kid very early and then went on to film school at the Illinois Institute of Art. Colby has always had a passion for performance and communication; he was involved in theatre at an early age and competed in collegiate speech & debate at Western Kentucky University. Both ended up in Chicago where they met at a country western bar and quickly started working together. They produced a comedy series called Gayborhood for the LGBTQ streaming service REVRY. Then a pilot called Down Home, that subsequently was turned into a digital series also on the REVRY platform. This is our first foray into making a feature film together and we have really loved the experience.
How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!
We started the writing process in November of 2017 when our friend had a particularly bad dating experience that we loosely used as the genesis for our film. We actually had several women in our lives going through this small crisis at the same time, about when they hit their mid-thirties. If they weren’t married or pregnant people would start asking about it and pushing them towards it, making them feel like they needed to get to it or it would be too late. So with that in mind, Colby wrote the script and started pre-production in February of 2018 and we were shooting by the end of March and wrapped in late April. Then, Sam took over for editing and post-production and we finished the film in late August. It’s really great to be able to do this together! Colby starts out with the bulk of the writing and pre-production work; we meet in the middle and share equal workloads co-directing during production, and finally, Sam does the brunt of editing and post-production. We are working with each other and advising each other at every step but it’s really nice to be able to compartmentalize a little bit and put our heads together when we need to.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee are we talking about here?
Hah, yes, lots of caffeine for one. But we also found ourselves trucking along easily because we were so excited to be making this film. The story is something we truly believe in, the production process was SUPER independent, those two factors together allowed us so much room to stay creative and passionate.
What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
Making the feature with little-to-no crew and a shoestring budget was DEFINITELY a challenge. But we do live in a day and age where it is possible. You have to know how to do A LOT of different things, and often all at once, but managing to juggle was our way of making it happen. We had tried with past projects to do pitches, reach out to investors, etc. But we couldn’t wait around for someone to give us a lump of cash, or hustle through a crowdfund, we ultimately realized we had the tools we needed to make a movie, and even though we didn’t have all the money in the world to do so it was worth trying to do it on our own. So that was definitely a reward on its own, to recognize that our hard work as independents was recognized for something as big as SxSW, but even more amazing is the fact that the work and sheer luck we encountered through this led to the creation of a story we are truly proud of and excited to share with others!
I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
We co-directed the film, and part of that co-partnership involved each us taking a stronger focus on separate parts of the process. Colby worked more with actors, pre-pro, blocking, and story. Sam focused more on the technical side and visual representation of the film, and directing the photography element as well. We filmed with the Sony A7Sii and this camera gave us so much more flexibility to shoot much of the film without much added lighting, which was often necessary with such a small crew. We also found that utilizing mostly natural light with wider apertures gave the film a grounded look, but still very cinematic because of the smooth depth of field.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?
Watching this film for the first time in a theater with an audience is definitely something we’re excited for. We will have the cast joining us as well. So for us, this will definitely feel like a moment to celebrate what we’ve all worked on together and we hope the film is able to resonate with those who come to see it!
After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?
We have submitted to several more festivals and hope to be able to show the film as many places as possible. Hopefully, people will eventually be able to see it on a big screen near them or a small screen even nearer to them.
If you could show your movie in any theatre outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
We think it would be great to screen it in Chicago. It’s the city where we met and started working together and in many ways, we wouldn’t be who we are artistically without the things we learned there.
What would you say to someone who was being disruptive, like talking and texting, through a movie?
Such an interesting question! We feel like seeing a movie in theaters is definitely a different experience than seeing it at home. You pay for a ticket to sit in the dark and take in work done by a group of artists for 90 minutes. You also are experiencing that work with other people who are intending to do the same. If you have to deal with something on your phone step outside! Otherwise, you might as well wait for the VOD so you can watch it in the comfort of your own home. But I don’t think we would necessarily say anything to someone. In my experience, movie audiences are quick to shush someone or confront them about distracting phone light so we would probably let the audience take care of the disruptive member.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?
Just do it! People will tell you that you need insane amounts of money to make a movie, but the truth is you can start out small on your own and still make something that matters! If you wait around for someone to invest in your work it might not ever happen, but if you learn as much as you can and work with the right people who are as passionate about the project as you are, you might luck out and make exactly what you aimed to create which is a truly independent film!
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
We will answer this with each of our favorite movies. Sam loves Daren Aronofsky’s BLACK SWAN for so many reasons both personal and technical. It’s a film that utilizes every aspect of filmmaking to enhance a great narrative. Darren Aronofsky is truly a visionary and it’s always inspiring watching his work. Colby loves Mike Nichols’ THE BIRDCAGE and if it’s on TV we always stop to watch it and it delivers laughs every single time no matter the number of times you see it. Such a beautiful blend of comedy and heart. It’s perfectly directed!
This is one of the many film titles playing at SxSW 2019. For more information on this and any other title playing in the festival, point your browser to http://www.sxsw.com/film!