Pop-Culturalist Chats with Michael Grant
Michael Grant is the star of the laugh-out-loud comedy, Pitching Tents (now available on all VOD platforms). The nostalgic film is an 80s throwback that centers around Danny, a sensitive artist at a crossroad in his life. He’s about to finish school and must decide whether to go work alongside his father or to pursue his passion for art, but before he makes that choice, he’ll have one last blowout with his best mates full of booze, drugs, and girls. Pitching Tents is a no-holds-barred comedy with plenty of heart, and it’s Michael’s comedic timing, vulnerability, and intuition that make this film a standout. We chatted with Michael about the role, how he hopes it inspires people to follow their dreams, and what’s next.
Pitching Tents Questions
P-C: Tell us about Pitching Tents and how you got involved with the project.
Michael: Sure! Pitching Tents is a fun comedy set in the 80s. It’s got a great cast and story, and when I got the script, I really enjoyed it. Then I had the opportunity to talked to Jacob Cooney (the director) about the project and he was so passionate about it, that I thought it would be a great opportunity to be part of the film.
P-C: The film is set during a specific time period and it plays an intricate role in the overall story. Is the preparation different for a film like this?
Michael: The preparation wasn’t too different. As far as playing the period goes, that was something we kept in mind but as far as the emotional character work, nothing really changed as far as getting into the head space of my character and trying to bring as much truth as possible to the role.
P-C: Did you draw on any past experiences when you were shaping Danny?
Michael: Yeah, definitely! Any time I approach a script or new project, I always take into account things I’ve done in the past and what I learned. The comedy work I’ve done came into play here as far as working on my character. More than anything, with Pitching Tents, it’s about the tone and making sure it’s in the right ballpark of the piece.
P-C: There’s an authentic friendship that comes across on the screen between Danny, Scott, Todd, and Phil. How did you guys, as actors, build that bond?
Michael: I’m a big believer in creating the energy, vibe, and relationship on set between actors, especially if you’re supposed to be best friends. I’m not a big believer in substituting—in thinking about a friend from my life while trying to shoot things—if you were supposed to be my friend. From the first day, we made an effort to hang out, grab lunch, and mess around in our off time, and just get to know each other. I felt like we were best friends. We got to be pretty close really quickly and I think it came across in the final product.
P-C: Did you have a favorite on or offset moment?
Michael: Yeah. I think my favorite offset moment was the impromptu whiffle ball game that we played. That was a lot of fun with the cast and crew. I do have to say that my team was victorious though!
P-C: The film feels like it’s broken up into two cohesive parts. In the first half, we have Danny and his friends enjoying one last blowout before graduation and then the second centers more on Danny and what his plans are post-graduation. Which was your favorite to explore and why?
Michael: It’s interesting…I really enjoyed both parts. The first half was very fun, it has a lot of light-hearted moments with the party and all that, but I really enjoyed what happens to Danny in the second half of the film where he’s questioning his life. He’s struggling with pleasing his dad versus pursuing what he wants to do with his life. It’s fun and interesting, as an actor, to try and get in that state of mind. Plus, they were just really good scenes and I enjoyed working on and shooting them. They’re simple, honest, truthful scenes.
P-C: Danny and his father don’t really see eye to eye on his future. I was wondering what your experience with your family was like when you told them you wanted to pursue acting.
Michael: Fortunately for me, my experience was different than the character’s. My parents have been extremely supportive of me, and as far as pursuing acting, they’ve just given me their full love and support to go for it and I’m really, really grateful for that.
P-C: What do you hope fans take away from the film?
Michael: I hope they’re entertained. It’s a fun movie, very light-hearted. It’s got a lot of fun stuff in there. When people have seen it at test screenings, they’ve definitely laughed a lot. More than anything, I hope it inspires others to follow their dreams!
P-C: How did you get started in acting?
Michael: I grew up in Tennessee where I spent the first half of my life in the arts. It was centered more around classical piano, though. I was training extensively for that and won many state competitions. Then things evolved naturally. I started taking acting classes back home and that led to me getting an agent out in Los Angeles. At the time, I was still training at USC for classical piano. One of my first breakthroughs in acting was as a guest-star on Private Practice, which was one of those affirming, validating roles early on in my career. This is something not only that I enjoy and love doing, but it’s also something that seems to be working and progressing really nicely. That’s my path in a nutshell.
P-C: Is there somebody in the future that you would love to collaborate with or work with?
Michael: As far as directors go, I think there are many directors I really admire and I hope to have the opportunity to work with. I like Terrence Malick–he’s just a master at his craft and filmmaking. I’m a huge fan of David Fincher and Christopher Nolan movies as well. I’ve seen all of their films at least a couple of times. Those are the big ones as for directors.
P-C: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can chat about?
Michael: Yeah! Pitching Tents is out on streaming platform now. I have another film that’s really cool in post-production. It’s going to be released with a theatrical run in September and it’s called September Morning. It centers around a group of college freshmen who are dealing with the tragedy and the aftermath of 9/11.
P-C: Oh, interesting!
Michael: Yeah, it’s a really cool script and I had a great time shooting. I’m extremely proud of that film and I hope people get to see it. That one’s out in September.
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Michael: Yeah, Million Dollar Listing New York
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Michael: I really like Mean Girls actually!
P-C: Favorite book?
Michael: There are so many…Catcher in the Rye.
P-C: Favorite social media platform?
P-C: A favorite play or musical?
Michael: Favorite play…That’s a tough one. Maybe Long Day’s Journey into the Night by Eugene O’Neill. That’s one that kind of always stays with me.
P-C: Do you have a band or artist that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Michael: Maybe…I like a lot of alternative folk stuff. Anything Mumford and Sons—I’m a pretty big fan of those guys.
P-C: Hidden talent?
Michael: A hidden talent…not unless you count the piano stuff as hidden. I guess not everyone knows about that.
P-C: Go-to karaoke song?
Michael: Anything by Johnny Cash