As most who follow this blog know, I am tireless when it comes to internet marketing. Whether it be an electronic press release, social media, email newsletters or blog posts. As Justice Is Mind has a couple of screenings coming up, I was searching Google for entries. But when I discovered that Justice was ranked 21st on IMDB as “Highest Rated “Independent Film” Feature Films Released In 2013” and 45th for “Top-US-Grossing “Independent Film” Feature Films Released In 2013” pleased would be an understatement!
This kind of result does not happen overnight. It does not happen automatically. It takes patience and perseverance. There are no shortcuts. It is not a one person operation. If it’s one thing I have learned about writing, producing and directing a feature film having a large ensemble cast helps enormously. Why? Because they are the cheerleaders. They share, post and talk about the film to their network. Unless your film is being produced by a studio with a full-time marketing and public relations department, who else is going to do this type of work?
Justice Is Mind is but one of thousands of films in the current market. As I told a class I instructed on filmmaking, I have to act like mine is the only film in the world pushing for an audience. Yes, I’m selfish that way and so is every independent filmmaker with a project (at least I admit it!) That being said, I always like to try to be as supportive as I can of other filmmakers and their endeavors. This isn’t an easy business and we should work together when possible. But it does come down to manners as well. If you are going to ask me to help you on your film you could start off by asking “How’s Justice going?” Incredibly this week a filmmaker called me and asked how to get their film on IMDB (seriously). This wasn’t a first time filmmaker either. I would have been a bit more supportive had this person been supportive of my work but it was ALL about them. After trying to assist this person for 25 minutes I had a conference call to prep for and ended the conversation.
With our Vermont premiere at The Tiny Theatre on November 2 and our Los Angeles west coast premiere on November 7 at Laemmle Musice Hall, obviously my focus is on these two screenings. Thankfully Justice has a great team on the west coast through the Peter Law Group because screening a film in the entertainment capital of the world is a monumental task. In these last two weeks over 500 emails have gone out to the industry, the press and more phone calls than I can count. And that’s just what I’ve done.
When I call the industry (i.e. Los Angeles), I know how busy they are. I know their time is stretched. Honestly, being pleasant in an email or opening up a conversation by saying how much you enjoyed a particular film or TV show of theirs goes a long way. Call me old fashioned, but I believe when you show respect for someone’s work they are more interested in hearing about your new project. I had a great conversation with the assistant of one of the producers of my favorite TV shows. Will the producer show up to our screening? Probably not. But I’d love for the assistant to come. Why? Because as gatekeepers they have the ear of the producers. They are also the next producers.
Justice Is Mind is entering a new phase. Now formally released with theatrical bookings through January 2014 (more in development), Justice Is Mind will shortly be presented to the industry. An industry that is changing by the day from development, marketing and distribution.
Since our premiere in August, Justice Is Mind has had seven screenings. And in each case audiences have thoroughly enjoyed the film. While I’m sure there have been detractors that didn’t care for it, the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Take for example our screening in Plattsburgh last weekend. Here we were in a beautifully nearly completed renovation of a classic theatre from the 1920s and Justice Is Mind was playing on the big screen. People, who had zero connection to the film, bought a ticket to see the movie. But even more importantly, they stayed after to ask questions. They were interested in how this project all came together. As a filmmaker, that truly means the world to me, that someone was so thoroughly engaged in the story they wanted to know more.
Indeed, the production of a feature film is akin to a symphony orchestra and I, as writer/director, am the conductor. I’m sure I speak for all involved in the film, when I say “If nothing else, there’s applause… like waves of love pouring over the footlights.” There are so many moments in All About Eve that are applicable to the world of filmmaking. The character of Bill Sampson also says it when it comes to those that call this industry a career “It means concentration of desire or ambition, and sacrifice such as no other profession demands.”
For anyone that has worked with me they know I am ambitious and concentration is something I excel at. I make zero apologies for it. I am fiercely determined and, yes, I’ve had have my fair share of sacrifices along the way. If you say NO to me I will keep moving along until someone says YES. By recent example, if you are a festival director that wants to criticize my film and then admit you never watched it, I will find a theatre to premiere the film in your home state. If you are a sales agent that says to cut an hour, I will find a sales agent that likes the film as is. Simply put this is an industry that requires staying power. It doesn’t matter what side of the camera you are on the emotional roller coaster from sacrifice to applause is unrelenting. Ask anyone who has been in this business for any length of time and they will share both the war stories and the victories.
But what is important to me, and always has been, is making sure audiences enjoy the work or at least see it. When I was publishing magazines, I wanted the largest possible circulation. I didn’t care about industry awards, all I cared about was how many were reading my magazines. And in the here and now, how many are seeing Justice. That’s why I’m determined to get Justice into as many venues as possible. Whether these be theatres, law schools, sci-fi conventions or other platforms, it’s about getting the work seen by as many as possible. Isn’t this what we want? To have our work seen? To get out of our comfort zone and show our work to the world? It’s easy to say, this is what I want to do. It’s the doing it that tests character and resolve.
There is a quote from a fictional character Paul McGill from one of my favorite authors Barbara Taylor Bradford that I believe is particularly fitting. “We are each the authors of our own lives. There is no way to shift the blame and no one else to accept the accolades.”