Just prior to any screening of Justice Is Mind there is the usual set of nerves. Will audiences show up? Will they like the film? I also say a few words to the audience prior to the start of the film. Each one of these “opening statements” is a bit different but they always end when I introduce the concept of Justice Is Mind starting with “Imagine a not too distant future…” Someone asked me how I’m able to talk to audiences like this. Simply, I rehearse what I’m going to say. That’s what this industry is all about no matter what side of the camera you are on – the rehearsal and the performance.
After having a pre-event drink with my former classmates from grade school, I went over to the theatre at 5:30. Although that was an hour and a half before the film started, there’s a system I like to employ – meet with the photographers and get a feel for the surroundings. Every theatre is different and each has its own atmosphere.
It didn’t take long for audiences to arrive. From childhood friends to new supporters who read the media coverage we had in print and on the radio. For me, it’s always great to see the “JIM family” arrive. By that I mean the actors and crew that have traveled this journey with me for nearly two years. This was our tenth theatrical screening and there is a certain camaraderie among us that makes these screenings thoroughly enjoyable for all in attendance. And in attendance did they come. We set a new single screening record for Justice Is Mind with 159 in attendance and $1,570 in box office. To see photos from the event click album one and two.
The process of filmmaking is really a set of impossibilities that you overcome. Writing the story, raising the money, producing the film and, finally, distributing. This is an industry where the odds are against you from day one because of the quasi creative, entrepreneurial and business aspect that a film needs to have. But with 10 theatrical screenings under our belt, I updated our IMDB listing to include The Ashton Times as a theatrical distributor because, frankly, that’s what we’ve been doing that wouldn’t be done any different than with a traditional theatrical distributor. We strike a deal with the theatre (we don’t rent), pitch the local media, set up targeted promotions and engage social media.
Just prior to the start of the film I announced that Justice Is Mind will be screening on April 28 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). For those of you that have followed this project for the last few years, I was inspired to write this story when CMU’s Dr. Marcel Just was interviewed on a 60 Minutes story about mind reading using fMRI techniques. With Dr. Just opening the film along with both of us having a Q&A with audiences after, this is one of those honors in life that doesn’t come along often.
Writing. The foundation of all things. For all of us that write creatively we are initially inspired by something. For Justice Is Mind it was 60 Minutes. For First World it was the Apollo space program. For SOS United States it was our current political climate.
There was a moment on Monday when I was standing just outside the theatre and a few final folks were walking in. As I opened the door for them it was in that instant when a strong sense of appreciation waved over. From the first word to an open door.
Tomorrow evening Justice Is Mind will have its 10th theatrical screening and 15th overall if we include our law school and science fiction conventions to date. When I met with our editor earlier this week for the video and sound check at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, we both remarked on how fast time flies. It seems like just yesterday we had our world premiere in Albany in August.
Having a theatrical screening, or any type of screening for that matter, doesn’t mean just booking a date and arriving with the DVD. They are weeks in the planning. When we plan a screening I like to have at least four weeks notice to so we can properly pitch the local media. Having been a magazine publisher I know editors need time to consider pitches, assign writers and then plan for publication. In my view radio and TV are no different. Unless you are “breaking news” you need to be programmed into the schedule.
I have to say going to a theatre for a test run is always an exciting time for me. Sitting in an empty theatre watching your movie play is a pretty surreal experience. But I suspect surreal will most certainly be tomorrow evening. Over the last couple of weeks I have heard from so many different groups that plan to attend, from childhood friends, to new acquaintances I have met through our social media efforts, indeed tomorrow evening will certainly represent a wide variety of attendees. This doesn’t even include those who have read about the screening in the local press or heard our radio commercials.
Those are the new audiences to Justice Is Mind that those of us associated with the film welcome with open arms. I’m reminded about one particular couple who attended our screening in Ogunquit, ME. My mother and I ran into them the following day. Who were they? Enthusiasts of independent film who were intrigued by the concept of Justice Is Mind. They saw our film poster outside the theatre earlier in the day and did some online searches to learn more. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to tomorrow night!
As this past week came to a close, in addition to some of the final deliverables and information being sent to our VOD distributor, I received confirmation of another state premiere and a fantastic screening opportunity at a university that will bring the concept of Justice Is Mind to its origins. I plan to announce both tomorrow evening.