Justice Is Mind. For 2013 – The 8th Highest Rated Independent Film on IMDB. The 42nd Top Grossing Independent Film on IMDB. The 48th Most Popular Independent Film on IMDB. Eight theatrical with two each science fiction and law school screenings, along with over ten feature articles. The verdict is in. In a sea of hundreds, if not thousands of films released in 2013, Justice Is Mind has sailed proudly on its own.
My end of year post in 2012 was titled Hold the Dream and was a reflection on the journey of the “Justice Is Mind” project. At the time I wrote, “…it’s about that group of people you associate yourself with that will not only bring your dreams to life but theirs as well—mutual passion.” Indeed the mutual passion of so many reflected our end of year results.
Where does one even begin to start thanking all those that have made this possible? From the theatres that agreed to screen Justice, to the journalists that wrote great articles, to the audiences that came out, to the industry platforms that recognized our film as a true independent and treated it as such.
But there are those in the Justice family that need to be recognized for without their tireless efforts we would not be ending this year on the great note we have. First and foremost to my executive producers Mary Wenninger and Stefan Knieling. They continued to be there as my friends and financiers of this project. To Vernon Aldershoff, Mary Wexler, Kim Gordon, Paul Lussier, Gail Sullivan, Ken Holmes, Sheila Mandeville and Michele Mortensen. Not just great actors in Justice, but passionate promoters in their own right. And to Arnold Peter, my longtime entertainment attorney and friend who spearheaded and sponsored our west coast premiere and law school tour. Of course, it goes without saying, but it needs to be mentioned again, the crew that built Justice Is Mind. Our editor Jared Skolnick; director of photography, Jeremy Blaiklock; composer Daniel Elek-Diamanta; sound mixer, Timothy McHugh and special effects guru Adam Starr. Of course, a special thank you to Kim Merriam. Every time Justice screens I see her house and reflect on a friendship that has gone back over twenty years. What can I say except this has been an incredible journey for me on so many levels.
There were several times throughout the year when I was told that it takes a village to produce a feature film. In the case of Justice Is Mind, the initial “company” of 200 plus has surely grown to a “brigade”.
I liken the operation of a film to that of an ocean liner. Unlike a cruise ship that sails in generally calm waters, an ocean liner must navigate all kinds of weather. The same is true in the operation of a feature film. While we have had a positive outcome for 2013 and it has been mostly smooth sailing, there has been the occasion when I’ve had to call “general quarters”. But as the cast, crew and “passengers” of Justice know, this captain doesn’t let anything get in his way.
Full ahead to 2014.
With 2013 coming to a close, I was reflecting the other day on the numerous theatrical screenings we have had for Justice Is Mind along with the substantive media placements and following we are developing. I took a moment to review my business plan for Justice and while digital distribution was front and center (and still is), theatrical distribution just didn’t seem to be in the cards as no theatrical distributor was attached to the film at the time. My how times have changed since writing the business plan three years ago. Filmmakers can largely self-distribute and save on the countless fees associated with the process.
Earlier this week our first check arrived from a theatre. It was our share of the box office for a one time screening. To say I was elated would be an understatement. It wasn’t the amount of the check that mattered. What mattered was that revenue was coming directly to us. If we had a distributor that handled our theatrical screenings, I’m fairly certain it would have all gone to them with only a small percentage (if anything at all) to us. Like filmmakers, distributors need to make money as well. A share of percentage is well understood, but it’s the related fees that can really suck up any profit. In an earlier post, I mentioned one “self-theatrical-distributor” that wanted to charge us $900 for a DCP (Digital Cinema Package) or else we couldn’t work with them. As this company is currently all the rage in the industry, of course I was interested in contacting them. But after reviewing their contract, they were only a facilitator and brought zero to the table. We are already providing the deliverables, posters and public relations, why shouldn’t we share the maximum return with the theatre and us? Why involve a middleman? Certainly, distributors are very much needed for a national rollout as they bring all their departments to bear and in those cases it simply comes down to economy of scale for a return. But distributor or not, filmmakers still need to market their films. Check out Film Specific’s blog post “Why Selling Your Film Is Not Somebody Else’s Problem.”
Although this year is winding down, Justice Is Mind certainly isn’t. As we prepare for two January screenings in Massachusetts (with what looks like Connecticut in February), along with the implementation of our VOD and international release plan, our public relations and marketing efforts continue.
In regard to public relations, I had a great time with Mary Wexler (Judge Wagner) and Gail Sullivan (Helen Granger) at the Plimoth Cinema this week. Gail arranged for PAC-TV in Plymouth to interview us for the January 11 screening. I also wrapped up an interview with a local newspaper that is more tied to our January 24 screening at Cape Cinema in Dennis. As of today, it looks like the PAC-TV airdate is set for January 9. I’ll post the link after it airs.
It is nice to see that all the work being done by so many is being noticed by outside parties. I was really pleased to learn yesterday that IMDB showed Justice Is Mind as one of the Top 10 Highest Rated Independent Films for 2013. With all the other films above us featuring some well-known actors, it proves another point that has been widely reported over the years, and falls in line with the consolidation of agencies, a movie does not need stars to carry a film.