With a successful world premiere now behind us, we begin to execute plans that have long been on the drawing board. But like a military campaign there are always adjustments. Whether these be for time, commitment, resources or opportunity, marketing and releasing a film is all about, in my view, calculation. Short of it, where are we likely to have the most success and impact on an audience and revenue front.
First and foremost you need your supporters. With over two hundred people involved in Justice Is Mind, there is a dedicated team that wants to see the film succeed. Moving on that front, we look to theatres to engage audiences to spread the word. With four theatres screening Justice over the next few months (and more on the horizon), the purpose is clear – develop support and awareness of the film. As the majority of our group is based in the Northeast screenings in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Maine have been secured. While the theatrical “engagement” is moving forward, our screenings at science fiction conventions and law schools in North America will commence in October.
And like a military campaign, there are those “confidential” conversations that go on behind closed doors. When do we do this? What do we need? How much will that cost? I had a conference call this week with a company that is widely popular (for now) in a particular area of the industry. While there may be a “cool” factor working with them I will admit going it alone in this area may make more sense. Why? Because we are making it work on our own without any “red tape”. Suffice to say, I have some documents and licensing agreements to read.
One area I have been widely supportive of since the technology came together is VOD (Video on Demand) and streaming media in general. Put simply, these platforms work great for independent filmmakers. First “day and date release” strategies are almost de rigueur with independent films nowadays. That being said, it won’t be too long before I can announce that Justice Is Mind is heading to a particular digital platform(s). Consider the logic in the strategy. Someone goes to a screening of Justice Is Mind in a theatre, convention or law school. They like the film and tell their friends, co-workers and family. Some of them do a search and see that the film is available on Amazon, Vudu, Xbox, etc. A few clicks and presto instant audience. Why am I so supportive of this technology? Because filmmakers make money. I still receive a monthly deposit from Amazon for First World. And then there were the remittances from Hulu when that film ran on their platform for a couple of years.
With our next screening on September 16 at The Strand Theatre in Clinton, MA followed by September 28 at The Leavitt Theatre in Ogunquit, ME, this will be a particularly busy month. I will say bringing an oversized Justice Is Mind poster to The Strand Theatre was exciting. Let’s be honest, what filmmaker doesn’t want to see their film poster in the window and then screen in an actual theatre! Even better, we screened the short film at The Strand in 2012 so it’s like going home. As for Ogunquit? That Maine resort town has been my favorite for decades. Screening a film in Ogunquit is truly an honor. But even more importantly, we need to support these independent theatres. With the industry converting to digital projection, the cost factor to convert can be a high mountain for these theatres to climb so every ticket sale helps!
September 28 will be what I call a full day. I’m pleased to announce that Becki Dennis, who runs Talent Tools, has asked me to host a workshop titled Independent Filmmaking: Script to Screen as part of her Back to School for Actors program. I look forward working with her troops.
Finally, I’m sure you’ve noticed my speaking in quasi-military terms as part of this post. With my next screenplay being a political thriller, let’s just say world military deployment research has been front and center.
Captain on the bridge.
Last Saturday before I left for Albany, NY I just had to remember to take an extra screening DVD of Justice Is Mind just in case something happened to the one I sent to The Palace Theatre—I took two. The ride to Albany is easy from where I live in Worcester. It’s a straight shot right up RT 90. My mother and I just talked about general “stuff” along the way and when we weren’t talking I was just thinking of this three-year journey up to this point. A journey that would take a new direction come Sunday.
As my mother and I pulled into Albany we swung by The Palace Theatre and there it was flashing across the marquee “JUSTICE IS MIND – WORLD PREMIERE”. It was in that instant that this wave of energy started to envelope the moment. There is something to be said about seeing “your name” in lights. For a few seconds I was remembering the production companies that said “no”, the investors that said “no”, others that said “no” and in another instant remember hearing “We want to back the film”, “I accept the role,” and the crew members that joined me on this adventure. This is an industry where you hear the word “no” more than you hear “yes” but when you do amazing things happen.
Over the next several hours and into Sunday, friends and family of cast and crew from all over the United States had descended on Albany for the world premiere of Justice Is Mind. The energy that was earlier enveloping the moment simply turned into an atmosphere of collective accomplishment and excitement for so many of us. Indeed, August 18, 2013 was the day we have been striving and building towards – the world premiere of Justice Is Mind!
When Sunday afternoon rolled around and we started to arrive in our “Sunday best” the lobby of The Palace Theatre soon was a place in time I just wanted to stop and enjoy for another moment. As I greeted actors, crew and their supporters, it brought back so many memories—from the day we first met at auditions to principal photography, those efforts would soon be showing on the silver screen. At one point, I walked upstairs to practice what I thought was going to be my opening remarks. Who was I kidding, I couldn’t concentrate. So as I walked down the staircase it really hit me as I looked at the hundreds of people in the lobby waiting to see Justice Is Mind. Dear God. I hope they like the movie.
Slightly frozen in a moment of anxiety, it was time for us to go into the theatre. I usually have a very big mouth and can easily shout across a room, but I left that to Vernon Aldershoff who plays Henri Miller. I’m fairly certain they heard him back in Worcester!
As we entered the theatre, saw the big screen and gathered in our seats the moderator quickly began. I faintly remember hearing him talking about my past work in the industry, but honestly, it didn’t matter. I just had to time myself to walk onto the stage and not trip in the process (which I almost did on that top step!). When I was at the podium it hit me—this was my proudest moment. Sure, I’ve had past career highlights I’m also proud of, but this really took the cake. Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to produce a feature film and that moment had arrived. With the lights blaring on the podium I really couldn’t see the audience, but I didn’t have to—their wave of support was coming over in tidal fashion and a strange sense of calm came over me. I thanked our post production crew and executive producers and took my seat. For 2 hours and 35 minutes I was part of the audience.
And so the world premiere of Justice Is Mind concluded and I couldn’t have been happier. Audiences enjoyed it and frankly at this stage that’s all that matters. Sure, there are things I would do differently. Every filmmaker feels that need to make an “adjustment”. But now isn’t the time. Now we go to market.
With screenings lined up at theatres, sci-fi conventions and law schools around the United States and Canada and more on the horizon, Justice Is Mind will soon be coming to a venue near you. Thank you for being part of this journey and joining me on the next leg of this adventure.