Producing a feature film, never mind writing and directing one, is a project. In this industry you often hear people say, “What projects are you working on?” The word “project” is code for “film”. Let’s be honest, it’s easier to use the word “project” than list out your films at a cocktail party. But here are my projects: Justice Is Mind, First World, titled, but not announced, political thriller and…that’s enough. Suffice to say, both Justice Is Mind and First World are in various stages of development and production. Justice has a short and feature, with notes on a sequel. First World has a short, a feature I hope to put into production with a sequel already written (it’s a trilogy). The political thriller is at the treatment stage with 12 pages of script already written.
There was an article in an industry blog about a filmmaker who was quoting all these projects. I mean, they went on and on and on. Sounds impressive on paper, but two clicks on IMDB and you realize it was just talk because honestly it’s impossible, unless you have a production staff, to be involved in so many projects strictly from a time point of view. For me, less is more. Anyone that has worked with me knows that I focus on the details. It’s easy in this industry to get distracted with someone’s new and exciting project, but if your own project isn’t finished it’s really doing a disservice to those that worked on it.
With Justice Is Mind edited and the score nearly complete, the one area of the project that’s front and center are the building of the special effects. When you see these before and after examples, the quality that our Special Effects Supervisor is putting into them is stunning. But to get to this point, as I mentioned in an earlier post, there are quite a few details that first start with original files being pulled by our Editor, sent to me for review and then processed over to special effects with my instructions for the building.
Special effects are an integral part of the world of filmmaking. Without them, films just don’t exist. The special effects we see in 21st century films are obviously very cool. On a contemporary note, visually Olympus Has Fallen was really excellent. But let’s take a step back in time to my favorite film Gone With the Wind. In those days it was the matte shot. When you consider what Jack Cosgrove achieved back in 1939, impressive doesn’t even begin to describe those visual effects that still hold up to this day. How the burning of Atlanta was accomplished was truly spectacular.
While the special effects are being built, one of the next areas of the project that I’ve been focusing on is our upcoming August 18 premiere, continuing to develop the list of film festivals to submit to and working towards an industry screening. There is also a list of independent theatres I’m working on to screen and test market the film. This is another area of the project that has to be carefully considered—distribution. The one thing about the world of filmmaking, and probably like any industry, is the abundance of “consultants” that want to tell you how to hone your craft. I have to tell you, wading through these “experts” is a project in and of itself. I’ll just say this, if you are going to consult for a fee in this business you best have accomplished what you are preaching before I part with 10 cents.
For my projects it’s pretty simple. 1) I want to produce, 2) I want my projects to be seen, and, 3) I want to make money. Obviously, a lot has changed in this industry since Gone With the Wind. Filmmaking is achievable today because of technological advances that allow us to create. And after all…
Tomorrow is another day.
In the world of filmmaking setting the date for a world premiere isn’t just about booking a theatre, gathering the troupes, throwing down a red carpet and self congratulating. While celebrating is certainly part of “the big day” the even bigger part is launching the film to audiences, film festivals, media and distributors. I also believe it’s important to spread your wings outside your comfort zone. But what it really comes down to is where is the film going to get the biggest bang for its buck? And by buck I mean those future dollars that come in as a result of early marketing and public relations efforts.
With our completion date set for July 1, I had started the search on where to premiere Justice. Will it be at a film festival in the region that works with our completion date? Will it be in Los Angeles? Will it simply be striking a deal with a theatre in central Massachusetts? Then the call came in early last week. Vernon Aldershoff who stars as Henri Miller in Justice, and lives in the Albany area, told me that Don Rittner, the commissioner of the Schenectady Film Commission and creator of Inspiration Week, invited us to premiere Justice Is Mind at The Palace Theatre on August 18. How did this invitation come about? Because Rittner saw our trailer screen at Upstate Independents in February and liked what he saw. After a few days of discussion, the deal was struck.
In the world of Star Trek, there is a saying, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” That means that when opportunity knocks for the greater good you take it. This was one of those rare moments when everything just came together. I could not be more excited to premiere Justice Is Mind in Albany. First, we are part of a major event with Inspiration Week. Second, we were invited. Invited. That really is key in my view. Someone wanted to premiere our film. Third, The Palace Theatre is a world class venue with seating for over 2,800. Finally, the Albany region is the birthplace of MRI technology—the very backbone of our story. Game. Set. Match? Almost.
With our premiere booked months in advance, this gives us plenty of time to properly plan a dynamic event while planning additional screening opportunities. It was also during the Albany premiere discussions that Justice Is Mind secured a deal to work with The Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel to bring screenings to law schools around the country. I can’t thank my friend and entertainment attorney Arnold Peter of The Peter Law Group enough for making this deal a reality.
Suffice to say there is a hell of a lot more involved in filmmaking than just shooting the movie. Of course you need to get that right, but you do need to have a “Plan With a Capital P” (thanks Emma Harte!) or at least the semblance of one.
Finally, I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the first Massachusetts Media Expo that was organized by the Massachusetts Production Coalition. This was really a well run event. It was great seeing so many actors and crew members from Justice. Even though I saw most of them from across a room! For me the keynote panel was the most interesting. Listening to legendary filmmaker Douglas Trumbull alone was worth the admission. What I enjoyed about Trumbull is that he’s honest in his opinion of the industry. It was refreshing. So now I’ll be honest, I could have done without the directing “seminar” for a variety of reasons that I’ll keep to myself. And speaking of premieres, I enjoyed Whitey Bulger: Making of a Monster documentary. Congratulations to Mary Wright who plays one of the Reincar Scientific board members in Justice. Wright is one of the principal actors in the documentary and plays Bulger’s girlfriend Catherine Greig.
Game. Set. Match? I’ll let you know.