It was last Sunday and I was uploading footage to various websites along with programming our press release and email newsletter for a Monday, April 22 event – for the first time in the history of Justice Is Mind we were releasing footage from the film. While the January release of the trailer was well received and picked up by numerous platforms, this was an actual part of the film. With a running time of 2 hours and 33 minutes, there were obviously lots of scene choices. But a few weeks ago I selected a few different areas that I thought would be most interesting to viewers and posted it as question on our Facebook page. What did they want to see? The arrest of Henri Miller.
From a marketing and public relations point of view, releasing a clip was not only important to keep up the momentum of the project but to demonstrate to the outside world that Justice Is Mind was indeed in progress. It was shortly after my press announcement to various sites that post trailers and clips, did additional opportunities start to present themselves. In fact, one major site I wanted Justice Is Mind listed on finally got back to me and pointed me to a digital aggregator they use for the majority of their trailers and clips. The verdict was in—with this clip Justice Is Mind was being taken seriously by industry leading websites.
Getting to this point has not been easy. The endless days of sitting at my computer researching the industry, the countless emails and mining telephone contacts, this is what building a business is all about—hard work with no shortcuts. As an independent filmmaker this is what it is. You write the script, secure the funding, shoot the picture (honestly, that’s the easy part) and market the film. Unless you have mid to major studio involvement to assist in all these areas, that’s it in a nutshell.
And with the release of the clip came the atmosphere of the scene. As one of the actors in Justice commented, “…had that Dynasty thing going on”. The guess was spot on. One of my favorite TV shows of all time was Dynasty. While the Millers in Justice are not nearly as rich as the Carringtons in Dynasty, this was the atmosphere I was hoping to convey. In the clip we see successful, wealthy people in black tie at a first class establishment in peril, conflict and deception. Who doesn’t want to see that!
Many years ago I was introduced to one of the leading writers of Dallas, Dynasty and Falcon Crest for a television series I was looking to pitch. For anyone in my age group forward we all remember the power those shows brought to network television. The characters were specific, the dialogue was deliberate and the scenes were grand. I learned more from working with that writer during those few months in how scenes and storylines were crafted than anyone else in the business. She didn’t pontificate on what not to do like so many of these ridiculous condescending seminars I see being promoted. She took the essence of an idea and transformed it for audience appeal. Talk about inspiring! I’ll never forget that week out in Los Angeles when we went to pitch meetings at Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney and a few others. While the project wasn’t picked up the experience was more than I ever could have hoped for. Yes, as you have surmised, there are plans for the Justice Is Mind project.
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day and that mantra certainly is true in the world of filmmaking. To this moment, Justice Is Mind has been nearly a three year plus project—from concept, to short to the coming feature. And like the business that made up the monolithic Denver Carrington, the oil wells in filmmaking are the distributors that reach your audience.
It was nearly a month ago when I received the email through my website. A production company wanted to interview me for an upcoming documentary. The subject? The Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding debacle that started on January 6, 1994 when Nancy was attacked backstage at the National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Michigan. My first reaction at the moment was what Nancy said all over national television at the time, “Why me?” At the time of this “incident” I had recently launched what would become the world’s largest figure skating magazine. Suffice to say I knew quite a bit about the sport and I’ve known Nancy for years. Some of you may remember that I served as a judge on FOX’s Skating with Celebrities and Nancy was one of the contestants with her skating partner Dave Coulier (that was a fun time!).
After a bit more of an internal debate, I decided to do the interview. Not because I have any lasting love affair with a sport that is a shadow of its former self (that’s a story for another day), but because it was through these types of interviews that I became acquainted with production work and learned some pretty valuable tricks of the trade that I have brought to my present day career as a filmmaker.
First and foremost, I learned how to speak on camera working with some of the most excellent producers and directors of the time. I’ve never paid for an on camera class because my work was my classroom. Oh sure, not all those interviews have gone according to plan, but that’s the chance you take when you put yourself out there… publicly. You know what they say, if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. Thank you, I’ll stand at the stove. Personally, I discovered during my work at the 2002 Winter Olympics that I enjoyed live broadcasting the most. When a director is speaking in your ear while you are live on air, damn you learn how to focus.
Secondly, was the behind the scenes aspect. I started paying attention to the camera operators, sound, lights and the varying equipment. On set you see the producers, directors and everyone else work harmoniously together. Ask anyone that works in this business and organization is everything. And, call me vain, you also learn about having on camera makeup. Yes, that’s right…makeup. Damn, I’ve had it all. From my face literally being spray painted to sittings with no makeup. Dear lord I hope those interviews never surface they could be a horror show! My special thanks to Monique Mercogliano for her wonderful makeup services last week. I met Monique in 2011 when I was in a feature film and brought her outstanding work to serve as makeup supervisor on both Evidence and Justice Is Mind. Even better, she’s now a good friend and I enjoyed giving her a sneak peak of Justice Is Mind at dinner after we wrapped.
And so it was during all those years that I started to gain insight and more importantly experience. It gave me a solid foundation in which to build and that’s why I did this interview this past week. You can always learn something new. I remember how terrified I was during my first TV appearance on The Montel Williams Show in 1994. I could barely speak. But this past week? I was on camera for 2.5 hours just firing off the answers. I had the opportunity to work with a great director who has produced a variety of films and TV programming and meet additional local crew. Yes folks it’s all about networking.
So look for me this November on ESPN’s Films 30 for 30 series about this sport changing event back in 1994. I don’t know how much of me they’ll use, but it was fun visiting another time, but with a good face!
In closing I go off topic for a moment. A special thank you to the first responders, police departments, intelligence agencies, governor, the public and our president for the outstanding work to bring to a close the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing. We can’t bring back the victims of this tragedy or return those gravely wounded in the attack to the world they lived in before last Monday, but we can honor them with the efforts and bravery of so many.
The power of the camera.