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Archive for May, 2015

Justice Returns

Justice Is Mind to screen on August 18, 2015 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

Justice Is Mind to screen on August 18, 2015 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

It’s hard to believe that the 2nd Anniversary of the world premiere of Justice Is Mind is coming up on August 18.  I am, therefore, delighted to announce that Justice Is Mind will celebrate its 2nd Anniversary at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, Massachusetts on August, 18, 2015!

To say time flies by would be an understatement. This is particularly true when you are doing the day to day marketing of a feature film. August 18 will mark the 21st screening since our world premiere. While Justice is available on VOD, there is nothing more exciting as a filmmaker than to see your work on the big screen. And with Justice now also available in DCP (Digital Cinema Package) thanks to the Chatham Theatre, for the first time we may be seeing the film at its highest resolution. I thought our theatrical DVDs were great, but seeing a DCP sample of Justice several months ago was truly incredible.

Justice

It’s interesting when you set out to make a film, because you just don’t know what market forces and conditions are going to exist when your film is released. Case in point women in film. Who would have thought that the inequities of women in leading roles in films would be at such a forefront in the media? Thankfully, Justice Is Mind is evenly split between men and women. For me as a screenwriter it just makes sense from an overall “reality” point of view.  As Reese Witherspoon told the Hollywood Reporter at the Produced By conference the other day, “I was just reading scripts, and the scripts were sort of diminishing. I just started to notice they were making less movies for women, and that meant less parts for women.” Thus, Witherspoon started to produce films a few years ago.

Speaking of women in film, Mary Wexler, who plays Judge Wagner in Justice Is Mind and is one of our producers, posted a wonderful article in New England School of Law Alumni Magazine about her work as a lawyer, involvement in the film and mention of the sequel In Mind We Trust. Her quote, “Justice allowed me to combine my love of acting and my passion for the law,” said it all for me.

The fiction in SOS United States met the world of reality when the Pentagon told Scientific American "The Pentagon has made clear in recent weeks that cyber warfare is no longer just a futuristic threat—it is now a real one."

The fiction of a cyber war in SOS United States met the world of reality when the Pentagon told Scientific American “The Pentagon has made clear in recent weeks that cyber warfare is no longer just a futuristic threat—it is now a real one.”

Above all else, filmmaking is a passion. Yes, there is the important economic and commercial side, but at the end of the day filmmaking is just pure fun. For me whether I’ve been on set as a TV personality, actor, producer or director, I’ve loved every moment of it. Now having been fortunate enough to see a feature film of my own produced, and the journey it can take you on, yes, I plan to do this again..and again.

Just yesterday I passed the 30 page mark on the screenplay adaption of Winds of Fall, while some possible producing and financing partners are reviewing SOS United States, First World and In Mind We Trust. This is not an easy industry by any stretch of the imagination and is one of patience. When I read that over 30,000 films were being marketed at Cannes in some capacity or another, thankful for our accomplishments to date with Justice Is Mind doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

Next milestone.

Mary Wexler talks about being a lawyer, her involvement in Justice Is Mind and a reference to the sequel. in article in New England School of Law Alumni Magazine.

Mary Wexler talks about being a lawyer, her involvement in Justice Is Mind and a reference to the sequel. in article in New England School of Law Alumni Magazine.


The Cunard Way

With my mother in October 2014.

With my mother in October 2014 during the International Premiere of Justice Is Mind on the Queen Elizabeth.

It was just over a year ago at the screening of Justice Is Mind in Millbury, Massachusetts at the Elm Draught House Cinema where I announced that the International Premiere of Justice Is Mind would take place on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth ocean liner on October 29, 2014. It seems fitting to remember this milestone as Cunard celebrates their own milestone today – their 175th Anniversary.

Having sailed on the Queen Mary 2 in 2007 and the Queen Elizabeth in 2014, there is something magical about Cunard. While there are many other brands, no other cruise line marries the storied history of travel by ocean liner to the contemporary atmosphere of today.  As I watch their celebrations coming live from Liverpool, England on YouTube, I am reminded what a masterful job Cunard does of honoring its heritage while always looking towards the future. Indeed, Cunard has one of the most modern fleets in the world.

The three Queens celebrating the 175th anniversary of Cunard in Liverpool, England today.

The three Queens celebrating the 175th Anniversary of Cunard in Liverpool, England today.

I fondly remember that day my mother and I arrived in Rome and traveled to port. Seeing the Queen Elizabeth come into view was a dream come true. While I was most certainly looking forward to the sailing, it was the fact that my film, Justice Is Mind, was going to have its International Premiere on board. For the over 200 people involved in the film, including our composer and sound mixer from England, Justice Is Mind now has an entry in the history of Cunard.

The Queen Mary 2 (left) can be seen in front of the Cunard Building, with Queen Victoria (c) and Queen Elizabeth (r).

The Queen Mary 2 (left) can be seen in front of the Cunard Building, with Queen Victoria (c) and Queen Elizabeth (r).

On this side of the pond, it’s Memorial Day today where we honor those who lost their lives defending the United States. One must also remember Cunard’s role in World War II. It was the great Cunard liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth that were converted to troop ships to transport soldiers during the war. In December, 1942 the Queen Mary brought over 16,000 soldiers from the United States to England. It was Winston Churchill that said the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth helped shorten the war by at least a year.

So as we celebrate Cunard Line’s 175th Anniversary, we also remember the brave men and women who gave their lives to preserve our way of life in the United States, United Kingdom and all the nations that believe in freedom and democracy for all.

Cunard's RMS Queen Mary arriving in New York Harbor, June 20 1945, with thousands of US soldiers.

Cunard’s RMS Queen Mary arriving in New York harbor, June 20, 1945, with thousands of US soldiers.


In Partnership

The SS United States sailing

In SOS United States the ocean liner is modeled after the famed SS United States and called the SS Leviathan.

Unless you are living under the proverbial rock, all of us involved in the industry are paying close attention to Cannes. For me, I’m always interested in the business of distribution and marketing because at the end of the day you have to get your film seen.  With VOD distribution all the rage, there’s no wonder that Netflix’s Ted Sarandos is being so widely quoted—and rightly so.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, on any given week there are numerous things I try to accomplish for my projects. From pitching, to writing, to editing, to marketing, there’s always something going on.  But this week, things jumped ahead.

Justice Is Mind will soon arrive on additional VOD platforms with the sequel In Mind We Trust in development.

Justice Is Mind will soon arrive on additional VOD platforms with the sequel In Mind We Trust in development.

With Justice Is Mind successfully distributed, my attention has largely turned to my current slate of projects with First World, SOS United States and In Mind We Trust. While I continue to market Justice Is Mind on a daily basis, the goal is to secure the necessary partnerships to bring the next project forward. That goal took several steps forward this week with a great Skype meeting with a producer and his team in the United Kingdom.  From my days in publishing, to our recent partnership with Cunard Line for the international premiere of Justice Is Mind on the Queen Elizabeth, I’ve always enjoyed working with colleagues “across the pond”.

The one thing any filmmaker will tell you is that this is an industry of partnerships and collaboration. From the actors, crew, location, marketing and distribution partners, over two hundred people from two countries were involved in Justice Is Mind. For good reason, I keep in touch with most of them. One of those reasons is a new project I’m working on.

My friend Alberto Mercado is a published author and a wonderful photographer. Al photographed Justice Is Mind’s screenings in Sturbridge and Millbury. His photos were such a hit they soon started to show up as headshots on IMDB and Facebook.

A few weeks ago at a party at his house we started talking about the “mechanics” of filmmaking. The conversation was not dissimilar to one I had with my investors in Justice Is Mind back in 2012.  Al wanted to see one of his books made into a motion picture. He attended several of Justice Is Mind’s theatrical screenings, including my short film Evidence, so he knew what my capabilities were. But was there a story? Indeed there was. A great story. One that I wanted to tell.

Oddly enough, Al thought I was reading his book A Rose for Essie Mae when in fact I was reading Winds of Fall.  In the end, he was glad I read Winds instead.  So I am pleased to announce that I have been commissioned to write a screenplay adaption of Alberto Mercado’s book Winds of Fall and to direct the feature. The plan is to complete the script this summer with Al financing the production for either this fall or spring.

Like the funding that came together for Justice Is Mind, the road to the Skype meeting, our screening on the Queen Elizabeth and the journey to bring Winds of Fall to the big screen, you just don’t know where the next opportunity is going to come from.  As the late actor Maximilian Schell said, this is an industry of chances.

Next Chapter.

One of the original First World posters in 2007. Sales on Amazon have surged over the last few months.

One of the original First World posters in 2007. Sales on Amazon have surged over the last few months.


Sea Trial

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in SOS United States.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in SOS United States.

It has become a common practice in the entertainment industry to create “proof of concept” trailers and short films to promote projects past the written word of the script (sometimes there’s not even a script!).  With more and more projects looking for attention, a thoughtful concept trailer can most certainly advance a project.

Yesterday morning, Daniel Elek-Diamanta, the composer of Justice Is Mind, sent me just over :30 of music he scored. We’ve been talking about SOS United States for several months and when it comes to composing music, we have always been on the same page. It was like this with Justice Is Mind. In August, 2012 he was sending me samples of music well before one frame of the film was shot. What you hear in the final cut of Justice was largely agreed to well in advance. Suffice to say, it’s a great collaboration and I highly recommend him as a composer.

The concept trailer for First World.

The concept trailer for First World.

I’ve been wanting to create some sort of video for SOS United States past our concept poster. The moment I heard Daniel’s sample the idea came to mind. You can view the concept trailer at this link. The general premise of SOS United States is relatively straight forward. An ocean liner in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean may have a nuclear bomb on board. The only military vessel in the vicinity is the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier during her sea trials.

As I have some preliminary producer meetings this week, the concept trailer for SOS United States is well timed.  But that being said, I’m sure the subject of budget, casting, etc., will come up.  On the face of it, it looks like the Massachusetts Film Tax Credit is here to stay – for now anyway. But as these producer meetings are happening “across the pond” the UK offers some of the best incentives along with a vibrant infrastructure.

A scene similar to this appears in In Mind We Trust.

A scene similar to this appears in In Mind We Trust.

This past week a very rare article was published around an independent film called Papadopoulos & Sons. What was rare about it was the breakdown of financials. Honestly, that short of working for a distributor, these numbers are seldom known, never mind released.  There’s a variety of pros/cons for releasing numbers. Yes, box office results are largely public, but VOD, TV, etc. are usually held very close to the chest.  In this filmmakers view it’s because the deals for these platforms not only differ for each film, but there are myriad proprietary contracts involved that can limit public dissemination from a competition point of view.

What this article does fully document are the fees involved in film distribution and the realities of revenue that come back to the financiers. This is why being realistic about a film budget is so important. Yes, you want the film to look and sound great with a stellar cast and crew, but at the end of the day it’s about revenue.

So while I start to market the concept trailer for SOS United States, I may look to do the same for In Mind We Trust.  Before I forget, check out the concept trailer for First World at this link.

Full Ahead

SOSposter (704x1024)


The Agenda

Justice

I’ve always had an agenda. My present agenda is pretty obvious, getting one or more of my slate of film projects into development.  When I was reading about Joel Silver’s financing saga, it reminded me of the countless projects I am aware of that are in the development stage or still looking for a distribution home.

From government and commercial space program interests, to military and political conflicts to the mysteries of neuroscience and reincarnation, the market for First World, SOS United States and In Mind We Trust (the sequel to Justice Is Mind) is most certainly there. What it simply boils down to is equity. Ask any filmmaker, even the ones on the recently released The 30 Most Powerful Film Producers in Hollywood in the Hollywood Reporter, it doesn’t matter the size of the project they all require some equity.

IN MIND WE TRUST, the sequel to JUSTICE IS MIND involves the CIA and NSA in Germany.

IN MIND WE TRUST, the sequel to JUSTICE IS MIND, involves the CIA and NSA in Germany.

But it’s more than just cash, it’s the ability to see a project through from start to market. Notice I didn’t say “finish”. Yes, it’s all very exciting making a film and being on set, but none of it matters if the film isn’t released or distributed. It saddens me when I see a project I’m familiar with, or have been tracking, get sidelined for whatever reason. Look, make no mistake about it, filmmaking is not easy. The commitment level it takes is in years, not months, if you hold the title of writer, producer or director.

In FIRST WORLD there's an installation on the Moon. The European Space Agency is proposing to build a Moon base.

In FIRST WORLD there’s an installation on the Moon. The European Space Agency is proposing to build a Moon base.

In my business plans it’s stated that my commitment to a project once it gets the greenlight is, at minimum, two years. Look at Justice Is Mind as an example. Script was written in 2010, short film produced in 2011, feature film produced in 2012, released in 2013 and marketed through 2015 (and beyond). Studios understand this level of commitment or else they wouldn’t have a library of films. Seriously, how long does it take to update a Facebook page or post to Twitter? It’s one thing coming across a website, but nothing screams abandoned like a social media account that hasn’t been updated in months or years. This is an industry of perception.

I often reflect on my early efforts with First World. I wrote the script in 2006 and produced the short film version later that year. The film was released in 2007 and I spent over three years marketing the film that resulted in twenty screenings along with a DVD and VOD release. As of this writing, First World is still generating strong VOD sales.

But my current agenda is just that, an agenda I need to put together for a production meeting this week.

Presenting.

The National Review reported that the U.S. Navy is accessing how it projects power - a central theme in SOS UNITED STATES.

The National Review reported that the U.S. Navy is accessing how it projects power – a central theme in SOS UNITED STATES.