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The Tour Continues

Paul Noonan (General Reager), Patience McStravick (Major Sampson) and Mark Lund (Writer/Director) at the New Hampshire premiere of First Signal.

Two days after the world premiere of First Signal, Daniel Groom and I taped interviews with some of the staring actors for up the upcoming VOD release. These videos will be published in increments as a series over a twelve-week period.

I have always enjoyed the interview process and talking about a variety of subjects. For me I don’t force ideas or new ventures, they just seem to present themselves. When I started a figure skating magazine back in the early 90s, it was because I wanted something to read about the news of the sport. Justice Is Mind came to being after writing the sequel to First World and seeing a show about mind-reading on 60 Minutes. First Signal was born out of sitting in a bunker-like room at the Naval Justice School and revisiting my notes from First World. Stay tuned for our first episode and announcement.

A few days prior to our world premiere, I pitched another theater about screening First Signal. As the details weren’t finalized at the time, I didn’t talk about it. But just days after the actor interviews, the New Hampshire premiere of First Signal at Smitty’s Cinema was confirmed.  This past Thursday, Patience McStravick (Major Ellen Sampson), Paul Noonan (General John Reager) and I found ourselves in Tilton, NH at another premiere!

Smitty’s Cinema is a four-location chain based in New Hampshire. What’s great about these local theaters is their enthusiasm. From the moment the deal was confirmed, they went to work on marketing the premiere.  Combing their efforts with ours, resulted in a successful screening. To support our efforts, The Concord Monitor ran a great story with The Laconia Daily News picking up our press release.  

As I noted with our world premiere at Greenfield Garden Cinemas a few weeks earlier, I witnessed with Smitty’s Cinema—local communities supporting theater and independent films. The shared experience learning about a new film in the paper, to seeing the film in a theater to talking about the film after screening, theaters bring communities together.

Today, I am putting the final touches on a private screening for First Signal. Tomorrow will be a celebration of cast, crew and our guests before First Signal is released to the world.  In some ways it feels like this journey is coming to end, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is nothing really ends in this industry, it’s always about new beginnings.

The World Premiere

At the world premiere of First Signal at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas

The forecast for First Signal’s world premiere on March 26 was for rain. One of the actors and I were actually tracking the weather during the day. Suddenly, as if instructed by Mother Nature, the sky cleared in the afternoon. While driving to the Greenfield Garden Cinemas to debut a film that I have arguably been working on in concept for over a decade, I was just slightly numb. While I was happy with the final result, I haven’t seen some of the actors and crew since we wrapped production in 2019. Naturally, I wanted them to be happy with it. But one thing was certain. After this past year, it was wonderful to be out socially. That was the overriding feeling of everyone—and having a world premiere was the icing on the cake.

Daniel Groom, the Director of Photography and Editor, arrived before I did. After a few moments of catching up we found ourselves in the theater for a few pictures. Then shortly thereafter, the actors started to arrive. In so many ways it was like I just saw them yesterday. After about an hour of pictures and catching up, First Signal was about to debut.

With my welcome speech concluded, I found myself in my seat with a bag of heavily buttered popcorn. My only worry was that the projection would stop or that there was some sort of error on the DVD. But before I knew it, I found myself actually being able to relax. The one hour and forty-two minutes went by pretty quickly. The moment First Signal cut to black the theater erupted in applause. I could not be more thankful to the cast, crew, theater and audience that made First Signal a reality.

One thing I realized this past week was the importance of a theatrical release. Whether it’s a one night, one week or one month engagement, the important thing for any film is to get “booked” by a theater. When your film is booked, it goes into a system that is linked to a variety of other sites. From IMDb to Rotten Tomatoes, it establishes the film from an industry point of view. I have to say I was pretty proud to report our box office revenue.  Call me old fashioned, call me an elitist, it doesn’t matter—I’m just pretty damn proud that I was able to report “box office revenue” yesterday.

Soon First Signal will be released digitally, and an entirely new audience will be introduced to the film. There will be those that love it, those that hate it and those that will simply discover it.  At that point, my director hat will hang on the wall, while I replace it with one that says marketing director. For the next several months it will be my job to promote the film across as many channels as I can. I do look forward to bringing First Signal to the world.

But putting aside accolades and achievements, there was something I noticed last Friday that needs to mentioned—support. There were some audience members that drove for hours to support either the theater, the film, the actors or all three. They were there because they knew the dedication, perseverance and drive that goes into this industry. Whether you own the theater, direct the movie, operate a camera or act in the film, this industry is about community. It’s about like-minded people coming together for a moment to provide that one thing that can unite us all – entertainment and an escape to an imaginary world.

The day after First Signal had its world premiere, I received an email from a woman who took her grandson and great grandson to see the film, “Your film was enjoyed by myself, 16 y.o. grandson, and 11 y.o. great grandson on Saturday at Garden Cinema. Congratulations, thank you for sharing your artistic creation of a fantastically believable story that was very interesting, well-acted and just plain fun. Stepping over the threshold of the theater was itself mesmerizing and just got better from there. My heart was warmed by the minutes the boys excitedly shared their particular thoughts and impressions about the intelligence-based film as we drove home.”

And that ladies and gentlemen is why we do what we do.

Thank You!

With my mother, Eleanor, and her great granddaughter, Julie
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