I am always the first to arrive and last to leave our theatrical screenings. Last Monday night at the Elm Draught House Cinema was no exception. To quote Commander Straker from the UFO TV series episode ESP, “Yes, I always like to look over a convention hall before a conference.” And what a conference it was!
Shortly after I arrived Justice Is Mind’s star Paul Lussier who plays John Darrow and Mary Wexler who co-stars as Judge Wagner arrived along with Bob Leveille who plays Mr. Oxford in the film. Bob, and his Pizza Post, were instrumental in promoting this screening. A couple of weeks ago he announced a nice surprise for us when he worked out an arrangement with All Points Limousine to drive us around for an hour to celebrate and toast our accomplishments to date. While I’m usually “on alert” making sure the screenings run smoothly, it was nice to relax and enjoy this moment with actors who I now consider friends.
After our drive around town, audiences started to arrive. In total we had around 140 attend. I say around because 133 were paid ticket holders (including myself), but I did see a fair number just walk in without paying. That was a shame, because theatres, like filmmakers, need to generate revenue. But that being said, when I’m watching the film and I see the last scene come up I always wonder how audiences will react. Up came my credit and the audience erupted into applause. As Eve Harrington said in All About Eve, “If nothing else, there’s applause… like waves of love pouring over the footlights.” While I was in the lobby, many came up to me and said how much they enjoyed the film. If nothing else, that’s all a filmmaker needs.
Of course you can’t please everyone. One of our location partners (who I won’t name), greeted me at the beginning and then darted out at the end and wouldn’t even make eye contact. Honestly, the travels of an independent filmmaker are like a dramatic TV show. As Max Schumacher said in Network, “And here are a few scenes from next week’s show.”
With 11 theatrical screenings with an average per screen gross of $1,100+, 8th placed highest rated independent film released on IMDB for 2013, higher education and science fiction screenings around the country, a 12 month ranking on Box Office Mojo of 539 out of 11,474 films and an upcoming international premiere through a multi-billion dollar company (public announcement coming soon), I know we have a marketable and commercial project. We all know this is not an easy industry to navigate and is in a constant stage of change, but I do demand that our voices be heard and that you tune in to our show.
So what are a few scenes from next week’s show? I’m working on “the making of Justice Is Mind” that will be a DVD extra, another review is coming out next weekend, I will be following up with a variety of theatres considering Justice Is Mind for screenings, prep for our international premiere in October, having closed captions created for our VOD release and…
Until next week.
Tomorrow night at 7 PM the 18th screening of Justice Is Mind will take place at The Elm Draught House Cinema in Millbury, Massachusetts. Like all our prior screenings, there’s both excitement and nerves. What filmmaker isn’t excited to see their film in a theatre but on the other side they’re nervous because they want to make sure audiences enjoy the film. For me, I truly enjoy attending these screenings. Meeting audiences and hearing their comments is what it’s all about. As writers we tend to work in a vacuum of seclusion, but as a director you are the public face of the film.
As director, I could not be more pleased with the local media support of this screening. The Millbury Sutton Chronicle, Webster Times, Yankee Shopper and Smart Shopper, have all supported Justice Is Mind’s May 19 screening in print. And Bob Leveillee’s Pizza Post radio spot on WTAG and WSRS along with our social media efforts have really rounded out the media plan. Print media reached the towns of Auburn, Dudley, Charlton, Oxford, Webster, Grafton, Douglas, Northbridge, Sutton and Uxbridge. The Yankee Shopper states a reach of over 65,000 mailed copies and WTAG and WSRS report a reach of over 170,000 in central Massachusetts which includes Worcester. For an independent film, with just the will of those associated with the project, notice of this screening has potentially reached 235,000 and that doesn’t include our social media efforts. As always, it will be interesting to see how many are in attendance tomorrow.
This week someone in our local acting community posted a video from a pretty popular filmmaking group that claimed that nearly 90% of filmmakers don’t engage in social media or want much to do with marketing. I find this really unbelievable on so many levels. First, as director, don’t you want to be involved in where and how your film is marketed? Second, unless you’re living under a rock, even distributors, with their substantially reduced marketing budgets for independent films, expect filmmakers to assist in marketing. Personally, unless the deal was financially worthwhile, I would be hard pressed to relinquish control until I reviewed a media plan. Think about it. How many times do we have to read in the trades that a film misfired with audiences because of the way marketing was handled? Transcendence anyone?
In the next few weeks, I’ll be announcing the “International Premiere of Justice Is Mind”. To say I’m excited about this upcoming screening would be a vast understatement. Months in the works, with months to go for planning, I signed off on the paperwork last week.
It was two years ago this month that I announced that funding had been secured to produce Justice Is Mind. I remember that day and where I was very clearly. I was in the Washington, DC area screening the short film version Evidence at a sci-fi convention with Vernon Aldershoff. When I think of the journey so many of us have taken with this film and where we are still going, it truly has been one of the most exciting times of my life. But with that excitement has come dedication, hard work and determination to see a project from start to market.
Speaking of starts, look for the concept poster for SOS United States in the next couple of weeks.
See you at The Elm!