On March 24th, 2015, I traveled to Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry, which is located just south of Los Angeles. On this evening, from 6pm to 3am the next morning, I would be filming a short film that I would use to open my keynote presentation at New Media Expo in Las Vegas, just a few weeks later.
It became so much more than I could ever dream of. This video – Episode 14 of SPI TV, is a behind the scenes look from filming that evening.
(You can watch the full short film and presentation in Episode 13 of SPI TV, or here on YouTube.)
Here’s the backstory:
I always go big when it comes to the presentations I do on stage. I try to be different, entertaining and memorable while also providing a ton of take home value too. The opening keynote at New Media Expo in Vegas was going to be my biggest presentation ever, so I decided to think BIG for this event.
I started to plan this talk in mid-2014, after learning I was going to do this just a few months earlier. I gave myself almost a year to hone in on the message and figure out how to make it memorable, and I knew I had some time to do things that may have been a little more complicated to figure out and coordinate.
I decided the talk was going to be about how to become “future-proof”. In the world of media and online business, specifically this is about how to survive and thrive as technology and communication change so rapidly. What are the core principles and ideas that have always worked in the past that can keep us going into the future?
Because this was about time, and I wanted to go big, I decided that I was going to enter the stage at New Media Expo in a Delorean – the time machine from my favorite movie of all time, Back to the Future. And because 2015 is the 30-year anniversary of the film and is also the year Marty and Doc travel to in Back to the Future Part II, it seemed like it would be the perfect fit.
I couldn’t just arrive on stage on a Delorean though without any sort of lead up, so I also decided to write the script for a short 3-minute film that I would star in, which would have me getting into a Delorean and after disappearing in the film, I would appear on stage at the event.
It was a huge idea, but I was lucky to have a connection in Hollywood, my good friend Mitchell Peck, who hired me a while back to work on the website and social media campaign for an independent film. Mitchell works as a professional screenplay consultant. He has helped several others get their scripts turned into real Hollywood films and he was willing to help me fine-tune my script and connect me to a producer, Taylor Hart, who could gather the team together and make all of this happen.
When I arrived at Puente Hills Mall, which is the same exact mall they filmed Back to the Future in (which is why I selected that location), I had no idea what I was in store for.
What I thought was going to be a few guys with cameras and maybe a sound guy too, became this full-scale Hollywood production, including other actors, background people, make-up artists, and so many others who each played their own specific role in this film. Over 30 people were involved in the shooting and editing of my short film, which totally blew me away.
So many amazing things happened that night. From being able to sit and drive in a real Delorean, to watching a Drone film us from high up above, to meeting all of these crazy people who love what they do – I couldn’t be happier with the results of what we put together.
11 Fun Facts About the Shoot!
1. Yes, we really did film it on the exact same parking lot that they filmed Back to the Future in 1985. They shot those scenes in March of 2015, so it was literally 30 years later that we were there in the exact same location. The mall looks a little different, but we filmed right next to the hill that Marty rolls down at the end of Part I.
2. We were really close to getting the real Christopher Lloyd (who played Doc Brown) to play a role in the film. We were in contact with his agent for a couple of weeks, but it just didn’t work out for financial reasons. I was very happy with Alan Murray, a look-alike who can seriously pass for the real thing!
3. After learning that we were not going to get Christopher Lloyd, we tried to get Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff in the Back to the Future series, to play a cameo role. I wrote an entirely new script that had Biff’s character in it. It involved him playing his real-life self, but going in and out of the “Biff” character and calling me a butt-head a few times and knocking on my head at least once, like he does in the film. “Hello, Mc Flynn!” was one of the lines.
4. Our make-up artist, Katie Danza, is Tony Danza’s daughter!
5. The Delorean is actually a very weak vehicle in terms of horsepower and speed. To grab some real hard-core engine sounds, the sound engineers recorded the engine of an Aston Martin going around the lot a few times, which was owned by one of the background actors! The sounds from the Aston Martin were put in place of the actual Delorean car sounds in the movie to give it some power in the film.
6. In real life, the Delorean’s LED lights are white. In the film, however, they are blue. This is because when white LEDs are filmed using the camera we used, they turn blue automatically. If they were blue in real life, then they would look purple in the movie, which wouldn’t be right.
7. A food truck (Woody’s Grill Truck) catered our dinner, which was at midnight! We took an hour break, which is enforced by the actor’s union. For about 15 minutes before the break ended, after we all ate, we were just sitting around doing nothing, but we were technically not allowed to film until the hour break was over.
8. Randomly, a guy came out of the TGIF restaurant across the lot and looked at the entire production in surprise. When we asked him what was up, he said that he was in the same parking lot almost exactly 30 years ago, in March of 1985 when he saw the actual filming of Back to the Future. He watched Michael J. Fox tumble down the hill of “Lone Pine Mall” a few dozen times before they were finally happy with one of the takes. What an incredible coincidence! If I were him, my brain would have exploded.
9. We had about 2 or 3 people on the crew who were assigned simply to keep people out of the taped-off parking lot. There’s a 24 hour fitness in the mall and we had a lot of looky-loos wanting to come by to see what was going on. Once they found out, many of them wanted to take pictures of the Delorean! I don’t blame them, of course!
10. There’s a scene that we filmed about a dozen times that never got put into the final shot. After I am called on by the tour bus guide as the winner to drive the Delorean around the lot, I jump around in excitement and head off the bus. As I head down the stairs of the bus, I stop and pause to turn the lights on my shoes on. I thought it was really funny and increased the “dorkiness factor”, but in post-edit they said that it totally stopped the flow of the story. Not a huge deal, but I was really excited to see what that would have looked like.
11. Besides the day I got married and the days I had each of my children…BEST…DAY…EVER!
Thank you to everyone who was involved. One more time, I’d like to share the cast and crew with you here below:
Pat Flynn – Himself
Doc Brown – Allan Murray
Tour Guide – Charlie Farrell
Tour Guide – Angie Sanchez
Storm Trooper Fan – Brennan Schloo
Ninja Turtle – Nik Glazer
Tourist – Jeff Jessamine
Tourist – Justin Baraglia
Tourist – Inger Tudor
Tourist – Heidi Schooler
Tourist – Angela Patterson
Tourist – Simone Wasserman
Tourist – Nihan Gur
Van Couple Man – Van White
Van Couple Woman – Katie Danza
Director of Photography – Neil Fernandez
Production Manager – Van White
Production Designer – Matthew Harvey
1st AD – Will Lambe
2nd AD – Justin Hopper
2nd 2nd AD – Dean Schaller
1st AC – Drey Singer
Sound Mixer – Ryan Agostino
Gaffer – Ronnie Gotch
Key Grip – Marlon Obrien
Script Supervisor – Evan Hart
Costume Designer – Camille Calvin
Hair & Make Up – Katie Danza
Production Coordinator – Travis Berens
Catering Woodys Grill Truck
Delorean Provided by Adam Kontras
Edited by Jeff Osborne
Sound, Color and VFX by ReAgent Productions
Additional Lenses Provided by Panavision
Hollywood Tour Bus Provided by AmazingLATours.com
VW Euro Van Provided by Mariana Abaroa
Cameras – Red / Blackmagic
Post-Production Software – Adobe Creative Cloud
Shot on location in Southern California
Special Thanks to SAG-AFTRA and Robert Zemeckis
So this is Puente Hills Mall in the city of Industry, just south of LA which is actually the same parking lot that they filmed Back to the Future 1 in where Doc Brown and Marty McFly took the DeLorean for a ride. But we actually filmed this short film on the same kind of camera they filmed Back to the Future 1 in. That’s why the final product is a little grainy and feels just like the real thing.
And this idea for a short film to help open my keynote presentation at New Media Expo in 2015 … Man I never thought it would be like this. I never thought that there would be this crew with a makeup team and a costume team and actually all the Back to the Future stuff was stuff I already owned but extras and sound production people and having the whole parking lot section of this mall taped off which actually required some licensing and a lot of planning and big shout outs to Taylor Hart the producer for really making this all happen … but man it turned out to be this amazing, amazing experience. And a film that really, really set the tone for what my presentation would eventually become.
And as you can see we had a lot of fun on this day, too which actually lasted from 6 pm on March 24th, 2015 all the way till 3:30 am the next day. So it was amazing just how much we were able to get done but also how much we filmed for a 3 minute movie. It was incredible to see everybody, the whole team working together. And actually a lot of the team was there never met each other before. But they all knew their role and that’s kind of how it works in Hollywood and to be a part of it and actually be the lead role acting silly and being dorky on camera, it was just so cool. I mean look at this guy. He’s carrying a 50 pound rig as they come around. So you’re going to meet a couple of actors and they’ll share some more things with you in just a sec.
Pat Flynn: Alright so we just wrapped up the first half of the short film in the tour bus and here are our lovely tour guides. We have Angie and Charlie. You guys, thank you so much for coming out and helping out. It really meant a lot to me.
Angie Sanchez: Thank you!
Pat Flynn: How long you guys been acting for?
Charlie Farrell: I’ve been acting for about 6 years but the tour guide thing is real for me so I do that during the day job and actually-
Pat Flynn: And that’s your tour bus!
Charlie Farrell: Yeah I brought the tour bus with me. That’s how I got hired. I come with a tour bus.
Pat Flynn: Than you, man. I appreciate that. Angie, how long have you been acting?
Angie Sanchez: I’ve been acting for two years. But modeling commercial work for probably 10 years or so.
Pat Flynn: Thank you guys so much for your help.
Angie Sanchez: Thanks so much.
Charlie Farrell: Thanks for having us.
Pat Flynn: The DeLorean, the time machine from Back to the Future, we actually rented this car from a guy named Adam Kontras who actually has a business renting out this DeLorean which is doing very well especially this year being the 30th year anniversary of Back to the Future and it was just so cool.
So here we are Puente Hills Mall sort of in between San Diego and Los Angeles and you can see behind me the DeLorean. Seriously, I’m freaking out right now because there’s a DeLorean behind me and I’m doing something special to open up NMX. I always bring my A game to my presentations and I thought because I’m doing new media expo and starting with the opening keynote I wanted to go big. So what bigger than filming a short film that I’m going to play at the beginning of my presentation which is going to lead to something else that you’ll see in just a little bit.
But and this has just been so cool to work with so many people who are helping me put this together and just taking a little script that I wrote and actually realizing it is just so cool. I can’t believe I’m here. This is so crazy. Cool stuff is happening. So, gotta do some acting, and other cool stuff. I’m totally out of my element but, hey, there’s a DeLorean behind me so nothing could go wrong, right? Awesome.
Director: Action. [inaudible 00:03:43][inaudible 00:03:44]
Pat Flynn: Now the actor who played Doc Brown, the lookalike, his name is Allan Murray. He was spot-on with his impression as you’ll hear.
Allan Murray: Harry! You can take this DeLorean around the parking lot one time but whatever you do don’t go over 88 miles per hour. We all know what’ll happen if you do. You’re gonna see some serious [beep].
Pat Flynn: Yeah, we actually took that last line out of the short film, the final product. But it is actually in the original movie but I have a lot of kids who listen to my podcast and I know a lot of them would be watching this in the future so I decided to take that out. But it was really funny, every time Allan did a Doc Brown impression when we filmed whenever we cut the whole crew would go crazy because it sounded just like the real thing. It was insane.
Speaker 6: Hey guys, don’t pass in front. Hey don’t, don’t-
Pat Flynn: I’m here again, had some coffee earlier. But they’re actually letting me drive this thing. Ridiculous, I never thought … honestly didn’t think I’d be able to drive it but I’m just sort of moving back and forth. They’re getting some shots of me inside. It’s crazy. Insane. Never thought I’d do this.
Speaker 7: How fast are you driving?
Pat Flynn: Like 10 miles an hour (laughs)
So the cool thing about this DeLorean is actually this is the one from Back to the Future 2. It has that white Mr. Fusion in the back as you can see there. And yes, that is a drone following it right now. In my presentation when I come out on stage, that’s a different DeLorean rented from somebody else that is from Back to the Future 1. It doesn’t have the Mr. Fusion. Actually it’s funny, a few people messaged me after saying, “That’s not the same DeLorean.” And it was kind of cool to know there are other dorks like me out there.
This woman that you’re seeing right there [crosstalk 00:05:33], her name is Katie Danza. That’s actually Tony Danza’s daughter who is our makeup artist for the day.
Allan Murray: What?
Pat Flynn: Yeah, Tony Danza’s daughter.
Allan Murray: Like, huh!
Pat Flynn: So this is our Doc Brown, Allan Murray. He’s just spot on with Doc.
Allan Murray: It’s a pleasure to act with Pat Flynn. Or as I call him, Patty! From now on, whatever advice you need, you can talk to Pat. No matter what year, whatever he’s giving. Go back to the future Pat.
Pat Flynn: So I’m here with my very good friend, Mitchell Peck. Mitchell, I just want to thank you so much for making all of this happen. There’s a lot of people involved obviously but Mitchell and I go back to Crooked Arrows days. Can you explain really quick how you actually found me back then?
Mitchell Peck: Sure. I’m Mitchell Peck. I’m a movie producer and my last movie was an independent movie called Crooked Arrows. And because it was an independent movie, not a studio movie, I was able to try out all my hair-brained ideas and one of them was to bring on an expert in social media and marketing the movie in non-traditional studio ways which a studio at that time wasn’t doing like even a handful of years ago. So I found Pat as one of the lead guys online. I wrote him a cold email and said, “I’m making this movie, the audience is organized and passionate and I think ideal for someone of your skill set to help us engage” and he said he’s always loved movies and in fact would be willing to take on this life adventure.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, it was so fun. We ended up having a good time doing that. And now you’re doing some stuff with script writing. Mitchell helps people get their scripts into Hollywood. He’s helped … How many people have you helped? A lot.
Mitchell Peck: A lot. I’ve traveled all around the world. I have a side consultancy called HollywoodEmbassy.com and it helps aspiring screenwriters optimize their scripts to get them up to studio caliber and as screenwriting has global ambition to get into Hollywood it occurred to me that someone of my skill set could help writers and so that’s been my specialty of my 3 studio movies they’ve all been with first time unrepresented screenwriters, so I got them through the system.
Pat Flynn: Yeah.
Mitchell Peck: So I’m always looking for outsiders and trying to bring them in. That’s why I approached Pat and so now Pat and I are working together and we’ve been friends for a long time and he said he was going to do this really cool intro to his keynote and he said can I help him produce this little movie and I said sure.
Pat Flynn: I didn’t think it was going to be like this. There were so many people here working with us and I just pitched this idea to Mitchell and I wrote a little script and I didn’t even know how to format it. It was just like, here’s my idea. And you took it, you turned it into an actual script. And you were like, here’s what it’s going to take. You found a producer, Taylor Hart, who we’re going to talk with in a few minutes. And he’s just been able to put all this together and now we’re here and watching it all unfold and it’s … Dude, like thank you, so much.
Mitchell Peck: Dude it’s great. This is the fun of movie making. It’s fundamentally collaborative at every phase. And it’s great to make movies with friends and it’s great to follow your dreams. Pat’s a cinephile and this came out of his head and he wrote the script and it’s now coming to life in a really first class way and it’s just fun to be a part of.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Well thank you Mitchell.
Mitchell Peck: Sure.
Pat Flynn: I appreciate you. So HollywoodEmbassy.com if you want to get your script looked at professionally and helped out, Mitchell’s the guy.
Alright, I’m so happy to introduce Taylor Hart here. The person who really put all of this together. You got this whole crew together. I don’t know how did you do this man. I know this is what you do but …
Taylor Hart: (laughs) A lot of begging, a lot of begging and a lot of begging. Magic (laughs) no.
Pat Flynn: I just wanted to thank you for everybody. It’s been such an incredible experience. A dream come true to me.
Taylor Hart: It’s been an experience for me, too. Every different set is and every different project is, especially this one. It’s not like you’re the only person who really loves this movie although I think you took it to a whole different level (laughs). But it’s great to see it come to life. And then the next level is the editorial phase where we really get to see it kind of manifest into-
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I can’t wait.
Taylor Hart: The real thing.
Pat Flynn: I saw some of the shots while the things were being shot.
Taylor Hart: Yeah, it’s really good. I think the audience is going to be kind of wowed I think-
Pat Flynn: I hope so.
Taylor Hart: If we plug it in. And I think when we tell people what we actually spent on it they’re going to be floored because making a movie and making cinema is expensive. People don’t realize how much it costs.
Pat Flynn: I had no idea. It’s my first time really being in it.
Taylor Hart: Yeah and we got ways to cut some corners, too. We did some shots that we shouldn’t have done legally but we did them.
Pat Flynn: Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
Taylor Hart: You can look me up online, Taylor Hart. You can look me up by my company, Bipolar Propaganda, IMDB, Facebook, Instagram, so all that jazz.
Pat Flynn: Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
Taylor Hart: It’s been a pleasure man.
Pat Flynn: Thank you.
Taylor Hart: I can’t wait to see the final product.
Pat Flynn: It’s going to be sweet.
Taylor Hart: Yeah it is.
Pat Flynn: All right, thanks man.
Taylor Hart: You got it, P.
Pat Flynn: Thanks again to everyone who helped me put this whole thing together. Thank you so much. If you want to watch the full presentation, everything put together, check out episode 13 of SPI TV.
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