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A Mindset

After the opening credits, the sequel returns to Reincar Scientific.

After the opening credits, the sequel returns to Reincar Scientific.

I’ll still never forget that day when I stumbled upon that famed 60 Minutes broadcast on “thought identification” that eventually led me to writing Justice Is Mind. As some of you know, I was actually researching mind reading technology for a sequel to First World. Who would have thought in 2010 I would be sitting here the last couple of months in 2014 and writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind has been an experience. Up to page 25, with a mountain of notes, it has been interesting revisiting characters I haven’t really thought much about since I wrote Justice Is Mind back in 2010. Sure, I dealt with the characters when filming the feature but by that point the script had been written, vetted and ready to go. I don’t’ believe in on set rewrites unless a scheduling emergency comes up that forces an adjustment.  In my view, you write a screenplay with a sense of quiet and imagine the characters doing this and that. A film set, by design, is a noisy experience and really isn’t conducive to writing creatively.

In the first draft of Justice Is Mind, Reincar Scientific was never mentioned.  I added their scenes for the eventual sequel.

In the first draft of Justice Is Mind, Reincar Scientific was never mentioned. I added their scenes for the eventual sequel.

Naturally, I’ve had more than a few inquiries on what the sequel will be about. Without giving away too much, the sequel picks up three months after the original story. Yes, there are familiar characters from the original, but already I’ve introduced a few new characters.  The one thing I do before I set out to write a screenplay is to have an ending.  Justice Is Mind always had the ending it did. I’m not saying I’m so rigid that I would never change an ending, but having one at the start, for me, provides a light at the end of the tunnel to work towards. And, thankfully, the title of the sequel came to me a few days ago.

Regarding Justice Is Mind, I’m pleased to announce that we are also now streaming on IndieReign! This brings us to four platforms that are streaming the film with additional platforms coming online soon.  This is why the time has come to write a sequel. Justice Is Mind is not only in the market, but throughout our screenings and the comments I’ve heard there are a variety of parts that resonate with the audience. In fact, there were two audience members from two different screenings that said the comments they did that caused the direction I’m taking for the sequel.

The revelation of intelligence agencies involved with Reincar Scientific is explored in the sequel and major case centers part of the story.

The revelation of intelligence agencies involved with Reincar Scientific is explored in the sequel and a major legal case centers part of the story.

This also represents a new time for First World and SOS United States. I’m actively presenting both projects to interested parties for development. The one thing I try very hard to do is to not get lost in all the noise associated with this industry. It’s very easy to get absorbed about VOD, SVOD, this trend, that trend, A list today, C list tomorrow, etc. In the end it comes to one word and one word only – equity. Whether you are producing a low budget feature like Justice Is Mind or something in the few millions like First World, part, or most of the equity (translation cash), must be put up before a project will proceed.  As I mentioned last week, all movies start with the screenplay. Where they go from there is up to the market.

In First World, the story centers on what the Apollo missions discovered and covered up.

In First World the story centers on what the Apollo missions discovered and covered up.

I’ve always enjoyed both the creative and business side of the entertainment industry. I find it just as much fun to write a cool scene as it is to negotiate a screening and pitching it to the press. I guess there is another word that is applicable to my work.

Independence.

In SOS United States a mysterious satellite takes out military communications. In the real world Russia may have a military satellite in orbit.

In SOS United States a mysterious satellite takes out military communications. In the real world Russia may have a military satellite in orbit.

Story First

Justice

Another AFM is over. Aside from attendance being up, I’m not sure how much has changed from last year (or even the year before). We all know that foreign sales agents want top talent so they can sell internationally and VOD is disruptive.  This “disruption” if you will has been in the works for years. But like the bygone days of magazine publishing when publishers refused to accept the internet, if one thing has changed this year it is that the industry has finally woken up to the reality that VOD is where this industry is and where it’s going for the foreseeable future.  At the click of a mouse consumers will decide what they want and when they want it. But regardless of the trends it does come down to telling a story first and, oh yes, on a reasonable budget.

The sequel to Justice Is Mind along with First World and SOS United States partially take place in Washington, DC.

The sequel to Justice Is Mind along with First World and SOS United States partially take place in Washington, DC.

The foundation of every movie starts with the screenplay. In all this “noise” about the state of the industry it still surprises me how suddenly the screenplay becomes a sidebar in the conversations. How many times do we read about this “A lister” or that “A lister” attached to such and such a project. A lot of excitement, press, accolades and then the film comes out and it just doesn’t resonate with audiences…for whatever reason…and never recoups their budget. This is one trend that’s terrible for the industry. While the A lister may go to win an award for best performance, someone or some company is adding up losses. And losses are never good in any business.

With China's space program on the rise and its film market second only to the United States, the premise of  First World is more commercial.

With China’s space program on the rise and its film market second only to the United States, the premise of First World is more commercial.

But with VOD platforms on the exponential rise, budgets simply need to be adjusted as the DVD market has collapsed. I absolutely agree with AFM’s Managing Director Jonathan Wolf when he said, “We’ve got 50 companies who are in what we call mini-booths, where they only spend $3,900 for the space yet they’re bringing films and having a commercially acceptable experience. If you can make a couple films for $300,000 and sell each for $600,000, you have a business.” My political thriller SOS United States has a budget just north of $300,000.

I read a great story in IndieWire this week titled “Why It’s a Great Time to Be an Independent Filmmaker” by Naomi McDougall Jones.  She could not be more right when stating, “I believe there are those who crave what I crave as an audience member; to be genuinely surprised; to have my own prejudices exploded; to leave the theater altered from whom I was when I went in.” These are the same comments I’ve heard from audience members that have seen Justice Is Mind.

The recently revealed cell phone spy program and nuclear maintenance issues fall into the story of SOS United States.

The recently revealed cell phone spy program and nuclear maintenance issues fall into the story of SOS United States.

Justice Is Mind and Jones’s film, Imagine I’m Beautiful, are apples and oranges in genre, but share the same type of approach to the market. We have a theatrical run, press and VOD. It’s all very doable. But it’s also work done the old fashioned way. It takes time (lots of it), research and effort.

But if there is one new trend from AFM this year that’s a major positive are the new distributors entering the market. With studios focusing on tentpoles they have created a need for the rest of the market. As Cinedigm CEO Chris McGurk tells Variety, “The majority of filmmakers have to be interested in a new model for releasing indie films, and you could not say that two or three years ago.”

Watch Justice Is Mind on Amazon Prime Instant Video!

Watch Justice Is Mind on Amazon Prime Instant Video!

And so as I write the sequel to Justice Is Mind and present First World and SOS United States for investment and development, I too believe this is a great time to be an independent filmmaker.  It just takes the three ‘p’s I have often mentioned: plan, perseverance and patience.

Act Two

The sequel to Justice Is Mind starts at this scene at then end of part one.

At the end of part one, the sequel to Justice Is Mind starts here.

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