Shelby Township director Grant Pichla

Shelby Township director, screenwriter and producer Grant Pichla, on the set of his new feature film, 'Making Time," which has been released on Amazon Prime. Photo courtesy of Grant Pichla

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People love Steven Spielberg movies because they always feel good having seen one. That's what Shelby Township filmmaker Grant Pichla hopes to evoke with his new film, "Making Time," available on Amazon Prime.

"I've always been a fan of movies with a happy ending," says Pichla, who works as a media arts manager for Zebart International in Troy when he's not pursuing his passion for filmmaking. “There's just something special about a movie that leaves you feeling better about the world.

'Making Time' still with Tori Titmas

Actor Tori Titmas in a scene from "Making Time" a new movie on Amazon Prime produced and directed by Shelby Township filmmaker Grant Pichla. Photo courtesy of Grant Pichla/Making Time

"It is probably the best gift an artist can give to his audience," says Pichla, whose work on the time-travel dramedy includes producing, directing and screenwriting.

As the story goes, after traveling back in time, divorced workaholic Nick (Mason Heidger) must repeat his past footsteps to return to an unaltered present. Reliving the past, however, presents unexpected struggles when he must re-propose to his ex-wife, Jess (Tori Titmas), who divorced him after he spent years obsessively pursuing his dream of time travel, and when he must face family members and friends who he also also cast aside in favor of his hefty ambition.

“The film takes inspiration from comedic adventures like 'Back to the Future' (1985), and blends it with the heartfelt sincerity of classics like 'It’s a Wonderful Life' (1946),” Pichla says during an interview from his home, where the film was shot.

Making Time actor Mason

Nick (Mason Heidger) ins a scene from 'Making Time" a new feature film by Shelby Township director Grant Pichla, that has been getting some attention on Amazon Prime. Photo courtesy of Grant Pichla/Making Time

Shot in two days, to be exact.

Since Pichla and his wife, Lyndsay, were in the process of remodeling their suburban home, Pichla used the setting as an opportunity to illustrate time travel. But, due to his work schedule, he was forced, to condense an entire 40-day shoot schedule into 48 hours two sessions separated by seven months of ongoing house renovations. The first half of the film, portraying the past, was filmed over one day, and the second half, showing the present, was filmed months later, after the renovations were completed.

Even the most seasoned director might shy away from such an endeavor, but he forged ahead. When he was unable to find a writer willing to invest his or her time in something so risky, he took his idea and expanded it into a screenplay, then went to work on finding a cast and crew willing to join his quest.

In the end, he assembled a team that not only got the job done but garnered some attention for their efforts, earning an average 4.5-out-of-5-stars rating on Amazon Prime.

There’s no denying Pichla did an excellent job considering the time and money he had to do it. He made the film on a shoestring budget of $4,300, and while it has its B-rate moments and cheesy props, what emerges in the end keeps audience’s attention with the kind of uplifting and hopeful spirit that people love about Frank Capra films. Why else do you think this film is showing in 68 English-speaking countries including Canada and the U.S.?

Pichla, who makes a point of giving a couple of shout-outs for Michigan brands such as Cranks Catering in Shelby Township and Daddy's Donuts in Utica, also was adamant about giving credit to his cast, including lead actors Mason Heidger and Tori Titmas, who have garnered several awards for their performances.

"You could sense immediately that they did their homework and were well aware that they were going to do something that is rarely done in film history," says Pichla, who hopes to see “Making Time,” picked up by other television platforms.

FYI - The coronavirus pandemic arrived at the start of the film festival season but not before “Making Time” earned these awards:

• Mason Heidger Best Performance of the Year in LA Actors Awards 2019

• Mason Heidger and Tori Titmas win Best Duo of the Year in LA Actors Awards 2019

• "Making Time" official selection of Royal Starr Film Festival

• "Making Time" official selection of International NY Film Festival and Screenplay Semi-Finalist

• "Making Time" official selection of Central Michigan University International Film Festival

• Mason Heidger wins Best Performance of Fest in LA Actors Awards Sept. 2019

• Tori Titmas wins Best Supporting Actress in LA Actors Awards Sept. 2019

• "Making Time" composer Michael Klubertanz wins Sept. 2019 LA Festigious International Awards: Best Original Score

• "Making Time" announced in Top 15 of Sept. 2019 LA Festigious International Awards: Best Picture

• Mason Heidger wins Leading Actor Award of Merit in IndieFest Nov. 2019

• Mason Heidger wins Leading Actor Award of Merit in Accolade Global Awards Nov. 2019

Gina Joseph is a multimedia journalist at The Macomb Daily and can be reached at gjoseph@medianewsgroup.com.

This article originally ran on macombdaily.com.

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