I have often posted about my background in publishing and how it relates so well to my work as a filmmaker. When publishing was a robust industry that lived in print, the pitch process to raise capital to launch a new magazine pretty much mirrors how it’s done today in the independent film industry. You’ve written a script, have a business plan and spend a good deal of money printing both to present. But two areas I have paid obsessive attention to is the migration of print to online and consumer marketing. Just like publishing, this is the present world of filmmaking.
I’m pleased to announce that on Thursday, July 10, 2014 Justice Is Mind will have its video on demand premiere on VHX! Please visit our site at this link or visit us on our primary website for a special discount. Our Deluxe Package is akin to a DVD with numerous special features.
While Justice Is Mind will roll out on other mainline VOD platforms very shortly, it’s important that we have at least one “direct” VOD platform. As I used to sell magazine subscriptions directly off our website, we also had subscription agents that sold for us. You want both, because you want to be everywhere. I used to publish niche magazines in the sports and collectibles markets, is filmmaking really any different? I have a product and I need to develop as much conversation as possible. I also need to make it accessible in whatever manner a consumer wants to buy it. Whether it’s direct on VHX or on another mainline platform, a sale is a sale.
VHX is by far, in my view, the best direct VOD platform from a filmmaker and consumer point of view. The beauty is in the “storefront” of web design that makes it not only easy for consumers to navigate, but as a filmmaker the marketing tools they give you to bring your film to the world are light years ahead of the others. I strongly suspect in their business plan someone had a publishing background or at least worked in direct response. And here’s another plus, excellent customer service. As filmmakers we all know there are a ton of new online services from VOD, to theatrical crowdsourcing, to crowdfunding—the difference is in customer service.
When I produced First World in 2006 (released in 2007), the idea then (as now) was to present a short film version of the feature to interest investors. As I followed that plan, I also learned of science fiction conventions around the world that wanted to screen the film. I also learned of CreateSpace (through Withoutabox) to sell our film online and on DVD. To this day (actually yesterday) I still get a monthly payment for that film.
With Justice Is Mind’s International Premiere on October 29, 2014 on the Queen Elizabeth, our Video on Demand premiere set on VHX for July 10, 2014 and other screening opportunities and VOD platforms coming online, this course has enabled me to set sail with a new project – SOS United States. And like I continue to do with First World, the process of getting SOS United States into production will just mean arriving at the right port of call. There’s a port for every film, it’s just a matter of navigation and setting a course.
Yes, this is an exciting time for filmmakers. The studio system is gone and thankfully the days of the gatekeepers are numbered. We now live in an age of consumer demand and wants. As filmmakers we are only limited by the creativity of our marketing plans.
Justice Is Online.
In 1840 Cunard Line started with a ship called RMS Britannia. At the dawn of the 20th century the RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania were household names. Cunard’s RMS Carpathia rescued survivors of the RMS Titanic. As the century progressed it was the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in times of peace and war. They are The Most Famous Ocean Liners in the World®.
There have been many milestones associated with Justice Is Mind. From our world premiere in Albany at the Palace Theatre to our west coast premiere in Beverly Hills, California but I can’t think of a more ideal location for the international premiere of Justice Is Mind than on the MS Queen Elizabeth that will be sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. Our cruise will depart from Rome.
Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with ocean liners. My mother and I were members of the Titanic Historical Society long before the White Star Line’s most famous ship was discovered by Robert Ballard. Since the 1980s I have been on several cruises. But this is not my first time on the production side of cruises. During my years in figure skating I produced two major events for another cruise line.
It was Christmas 2006 when my mother and I sailed on Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2. At the time I was living in Los Angeles and my mother was in Massachusetts. I brought with me the cut of my first film First World to show her. Later during the cruise we were sitting in a beautiful theatre on ship watching a movie. I said to myself then, someday, I want my first feature film to be shown onboard an ocean liner. Eight years later on October 29, 2014 that dream will come true.
I first mentioned the news of our international premiere on the MS Queen Elizabeth to some of the actors in a limousine while drinking champagne! Yes, it was a very fitting scene at our Millbury screening in May. Another thing I mentioned to one of the actors is simply to enjoy this moment. There is nothing easy, simple or quick that happens when marketing an independent film. There’s nothing wrong with a stop to smell the roses. Or in this case a glass of champagne!
You can read the official press release about our international premiere at this link. Part of the program during the week will also have me hosting a filmmaking seminar prior to the screening that will also discuss the making of Justice Is Mind.
Indeed the making of an independent film outside of the studio system (and releasing it) is a milestone all by itself. Now on to a new voyage to get SOS United States into production, just yesterday I was talking to a member of the team that had unprecedented success at the recent Academy Awards. One thing we both agreed on, regardless of the numbers involved, there is one thing that is identical – steadfast determination in navigating this industry.
Like being on the bridge of a ship, some days will be smooth sailing while others are storms at sea. Whether you are on a ship or producing a film, the nautical phrase “steady as she goes” is fitting.
While I was completing delivery of Justice Is Mind to a new VOD platform this week, the approval came in for our press release announcing the international premiere of the film. In addition to what I think will be a wonderful opportunity for Justice, this is one deal that I’m particularly proud of simply owing to its uniqueness.
Since our world premiere last August my goals with Justice Is Mind have been simple and to the point—get the movie in front of audiences and plot a return on investment for my backers. When one considers the sheer number of films being made that are looking for an audience, I think being unique and innovative is key because if I’m not going to do it, someone else is.
In the next few days I’ll be announcing the international premiere of Justice Is Mind with a brand older than the Hollywood itself. That really is what it comes down to with a film, building a brand. It’s what I have endeavored to accomplish with Justice Is Mind domestically and what I hope to do as we sail into the international marketplace.
Fortunately, what has enabled filmmakers to accomplish so much with finite resources is social media and a host of new digital tools. But that too requires constant navigation as this relatively new form of marketing continues to evolve. This past week I read an excellent “white paper” titled An Analysis of Internet Trends in 2014 for Independent Films. My takeaway from this was pretty straight forward, the old ways of doing business (particularly internationally) with “gatekeepers” is collapsing (rightly so) and audiences are the curators of content they want (the way it should be).
When it comes to brand building, developing SOS United States is no different than what I’ve been doing with Justice Is Mind. With Justice we have themes revolving around the loss of privacy, government intervention and new sciences in the courtroom. With SOS United States we have government conspiracies, intelligence agencies and military conflicts. Yes, like First World, my screenplays tend to revolve around existing and what I call forward projection trends. I guess that’s my brand of writing!
With our new heading towards Europe along with the release to our first VOD platform, needless to say we will be navigating new waters as we set sail on this new adventure. But the one thing a captain needs above all us is a great crew and passengers. Suffice to say we have that with Justice Is Mind.
Clear all moorings.
As an avid fan of Star Trek, I can equate the following for Justice Is Mind – we have returned to space dock at sector 001. Since our last screening in May at The Elm Draught House Cinema, Justice Is Mind is preparing for its international release. In addition to video on demand, we will shortly be announcing the international premiere of Justice Is Mind.
Yes, these are exciting times for the film. An independent film that has had the good fortune of a domestic theatrical release and screenings at some of the United States most prestigious universities and most popular science fiction conventions. Indeed, from our “shakedown cruise” in Albany last August, to Carnegie Mellon in April, to the Elm in Millbury, to positive reviews, I think it’s fair to say that Justice Is Mind has cruised well in the market. Soon you will learn why I’m speaking in nautical terms.
To prepare for our international release, Justice Is Mind is now closed captioned for various VOD platforms that require it. A draft press release has been written and media lists are ready to be presented the latest developments. Just yesterday, I tested a new timeline photo on our Facebook page and invested $5 in targeted marketing. The result? The post reached 2,711. This is just part of the process to bring Justice Is Mind to a worldwide audience.
I was also pleased to see that Justice Is Mind passed the Bechtel test. You may ask, what is this test? From Wikipedia, “The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. The requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added. Many contemporary works fail this test of gender bias. On average, films that pass the test have been found to have a lower budget than others, but of comparable or better financial performance.” With over 50% of the cast of Justice Is Mind being women, the film received a 3 out of 3 rating.
As I am now back in the market seeking financing for SOS United States, I often reflect on my original journey with First World and then my efforts with Justice Is Mind. When I think how much this industry has changed since I wrote First World and even when I penned the business plan for Justice Is Mind, simply put flexibility is the key. Not only when it comes to production, but most importantly distribution. Platforms are only as popular today as a new one that arrives on the scene tomorrow.
But the end game of all of this is product. No matter the theatre, venue, video on demand platform or exhibition space, without product it simply doesn’t matter how innovative or unique these places are. It seems like every week some new technology is being announced. This week I saw a camera that shoots at over 200 frames per second. While innovative and “cool” it comes down to what’s being filmed. Technology gives us the tools, but it’s the story that brings in the audience.
Standby for departure.
For those that follow me on Facebook and Twitter there is nothing unusual about me offering a one word status update “writing”. It usually happens on weekends when I write this blog, but it was primarily for a new screenplay I was writing through a good part of 2013 and early this year. With Justice Is Mind in theatrical release, an idea suddenly came to me about an idea for a political thriller. It was the same for Justice Is Mind when I was working on First World. The idea just happens and then before I know it, I fire up Final Draft and start writing.
I am pleased to present the political thriller SOS United States – A visit by the Prime Minister turns into a political crisis when the President learns that a nuclear bomb is on an ocean liner heading to Boston.
Inspired by the Cold War political thrillers Fail Safe and Seven Days in May with the contemporary pacing of Clear and Present Danger, I have always enjoyed this genre of film that revolves around government conspiracies, intrigue and deception. Another one to add to this would be Advise and Consent.
With SOS United States announced, my efforts begin in earnest to raise the capital to produce the film ($300,000). This isn’t a project that I plan to shop around to option, this is a film that I plan to direct. That being said, it all starts with the concept poster. The poster you see here was designed by the talented Jestyn Flores of Pixel Eight Design. I met Jestyn through Shannon McNamara. Shannon plays the court clerk in Justice Is Mind. Yes, it is a small world!
But while all this was going on, there was something else I was waiting for—another review of Justice Is Mind was scheduled to publish on Saturday night. While I was working on the closed captions file for our VOD distributor (Kinonation), this coming review was top of mind. With our VOD release coming up, along with our international premiere, the goal, naturally, is to secure positive press. After I finished the closed captions file (Zencaptions is great!) and uploaded it to Kinonation I went over to the reviewers website and there it was.
“It’s Mark Lund’s writing that makes these interactions what they are, for there is so much intelligence in the dialogue.” When I read this part of Angeliki Coconi’s review of Justice Is Mind on Unsung Films there was a moment when I almost started to cry. Yes, for all the Swedish stoicism I project, it’s my French half that takes over in moments like this. There is nothing more satisfying than having your work acknowledged. But in addition to my work, I always like when a reviewer calls out actors for their performances. In the case of this review it was Kim Gordon (District Attorney Constance Smith), Paul Lussier (Henri Miller’s lawyer) and Carlyne Fournier (Dr. Eve Pullman). When I think of the hours they put in to develop and prepare these very involved, and dialogue heavy, characters, I just want to thank them again (and all the actors and crew) for making Justice Is Mind possible.
When I think of the hours, days, weeks and months I have sat behind a computer writing, researching, re-writing, printing, presenting, etc., reviews from Frisco Kid, The Barnstable Patriot and now Unsung Films, makes this process all the more worthwhile. But it has been the local press that has fired up interest in the film, from the Spencer New Leader to Worcester Magazine to the Nashua Telegraph, which brings audiences into buildings that translate to word of mouth, social media, etc. It’s all part the plan to present Justice Is Mind and now SOS United States to the widest possible audience.
Of course, I am not so taken with our accomplishments to date to know that there will not be some difficult navigating down the road. Indeed, for all the red carpets, there are those business issues I’ve had to deal with along the way (some not so pleasant). There will be those that love what you do and there will be the detractors. Indeed it can get very hot in the kitchen, but that just means that something is cooking.
On the bridge.