Although summer doesn’t formally end until September, it’s the end of August when many of us reflect on what we’ve done. For some reason summer says you have to do things. Personally, the summer is just another set of months for me, albeit it’s warmer! But from some cool day trips, to planning the 2nd anniversary screening of Justice Is Mind to adapting a book into a screenplay, I would say my summer has been pretty complete if not complex.
Regarding Justice Is Mind’s screening on August 18, I had a pleasant surprise this past week. Although I knew she took some pictures and asked a few questions, I didn’t know the reporter from the Sturbridge Villager was planning a follow up story. But follow up she did when this story appeared in the Sturbridge and Charlton Villager along with the Webster Times. My thanks to Olivia Richman and her enthusiastic post-screening coverage of Justice Is Mind!
Our record media coverage of this screening certainly helped our VOD placements. Just after the screening Yidio, a video aggregator, sent out a notification that “Justice Is Mind is Hot”. The only way that was possible is if an inordinate number of people were watching and/or searching for the film. I’ll certainly take it!
This past weekend marked another milestone. I finished the adaption of Winds of Fall into a screenplay. My work on this project was actually mentioned in the Sturbridge Villager two weeks ago when they ran a story on Al Mercado’s new book. This is a story that is entirely character driven and largely set in the late 1960s. More on this project as it develops.
As for projects, with fall around the corner, it’s also time to make sure First World, SOS United States and In Mind We Trust are up to date along with their respective business plans. The summer is a great time to write and update, but it’s the fall months where new activity really starts in the film world. Anyone involved in film finance knows this is a process. Presentations made months ago can suddenly start to yeild conversations.
It has been interesting. For the last few years, my summers have largely been planning stages while the fall has seen the most activity. In 2012 it was the making of Justice Is Mind, in 2013 it was the primary theatrical run, in 2014 it was the international premiere, let’s see what the next few months brings.
I arrived at the theater shortly after 8 AM on Tuesday for a complete run through of Justice Is Mind prior to the festivities that evening. Why? Although we screened the film twenty times before, this was the first screening in a DCP format. Although the file was QC’d (quality control), I had to make sure there were no issues. Here I was sitting alone in a theater watching the highest quality of the film unfold. I normally don’t watch the end credits roll to the end, but this time I did reflecting on the literal army of people involved in the making of Justice Is Mind.
No sooner did my mother and I arrive back in Sturbridge later in the afternoon did the reunion start. First Jeremy Blaiklock, our Director of Photography, joined us for a drink and then Vernon Aldershoff, who stars as Henri Miller, came over to our table for a visit. It was then that this screening took on a new meaning for me—it was a reunion.
One by one they started to arrive. While I have seen the majority of them at various screenings, I was particularly excited to see Robin Ann Rapoport who plays Margaret Miller. The last time I saw her was at the world premiere two years ago. In all honesty, while we are all involved in other projects and jobs, it was like we just saw each other yesterday. So many of us remarked that, for whatever reason, this project has kept the “JIM family” together. But in the end, it does come down to performing for an audience.
As the end credits started to roll for me a second time that day, suddenly the audience started to applaud. We’ve had applause before, but I don’t remember it being this enthusiastic. This was an audience that got the story. They knew when to laugh and when to take certain moments seriously. Their comments after is truly what this process is all about. When a reporter said to me the next day in an email, “The film was excellent! I loved the style! It definitely was similar to Law & Order, like you previously told me!” As a filmmaker accolades like this are always great to hear!
After the screening many of us went to dinner and for the first time in the history of this project we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company. And, shockingly, we talked about things other than the film industry! But, of course, we all want to work together again.
I cannot thank the “JIM family” the media and Cinemagic enough for making the second anniversary screening of Justice Is Mind such a special occasion. It’s one for our history books.
So while I continue to present Justice for future screenings, events and distribution possibilities, my primary efforts are focusing on the next project. As the last five years can attest, I don’t jump into projects lightly. I believe in quality over quantity because at the end of the day it all comes down to two words.
It was just about two years ago to the day and I still remember driving into Boston during a torrential downpour. I was on my way to a production house that was making our theatrical DVDs and nothing was going to stop me. Our world premiere in Albany, New York was just over a week away and the clock was ticking. But no sooner did I see a sample of Justice Is Mind come to life and all worries were gone—we had a completed film!
In three days the second anniversary screening of Justice Is Mind will take place on August 18, 2015 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge. From screenings in the United States to our international premiere in the Mediterranean Sea on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth, this journey has been nothing less than an incredible one.
But I have not been alone in this journey. I have had the good fortune to not only share it with the actors and crew that have attended the screenings with me, but the opportunity to meet our theatrical audiences directly. Yes, VOD is great, but meeting your audience is the best market research you could ever achieve for your film.
I have helmed the “Justice Is Mind” project from its inception in 2010. While times have been mostly smooth sailing, there have been those epic storms you encounter from time to time. This is an industry of vast egos with “experts” only too quick to tell you “what to do” while they have their hand out looking to get paid. I can tell you unequivocally that they have been removed from my bridge. It’s your bridge, you have to do what you believe is best for the entire ship.
But every captain has admirals that they rely on. On that note I could not be more thankful to Mary Wenninger and Stefan Knieling for not only seeing my vision, but investing in it and being there for me throughout the process. Mary has been my best friend since second grade and, truth be told, our friendship has grown since they came on board in 2012. That was my initial worry. While I have always wanted to make a feature film, a lifelong friendship is more important. But it is through Justice Is Mind that I have made new friends and expanded my network exponentially. When my next project leaves port, we will sail beyond our five year mission (sounds like Star Trek doesn’t it!).
However, there is one important matter when attending a second anniversary celebration of a film. What to wear. It won’t be black-tie. That look was reserved for the world and international premieres. But a second anniversary should be something that’s dressy but comfortable.
Last week I wrote about the five year journey of Justice Is Mind. This past week proved that time, perseverance and indeed patience pays off. Unless you are in the lexicon of the literal handful of filmmakers that can roll out of bed, utter an idea and get national attention, pounding the pavement is what the rest of us do.
It was early May when the idea for a second anniversary screening for Justice Is Mind came to me. While I’m beyond thankful to all our theatrical partners, having worked with Cinemagic on two previous occasions (New Hampshire premiere and Sturbridge), pitching them again was a logical choice. Sturbridge, Massachusetts is centrally located (where we shot most of Justice), the film looked fantastic in this theater and we had a record audience after solid media placements in the local press.
Having been a magazine publisher for over ten years, I can well appreciate being on the other side of the desk when I was being pitched a story. The key, as I’ve long learned, is to have an angle for all concerned. I wrapped up my final interview last week, forwarded a variety of requested artwork and then waited. To say I am pleased with the result would be an understatement.
Our early placements first appeared in the Worcester Herald and The Examiner a couple of weeks ago. Those early placements helped awareness enormously. This week our efforts continued. First, a listing in The New Uxbridge Times, then a feature showed up in the South County edition of the Yankee Shopper, followed by a complete pick up of our press release in the Auburn and Sturbridge editions of Smart Shopper and then a great cover page story in the Sturbridge Villager. What I love about these publications is that they are direct mailed to households in their region.
When Worcester Magazine first ran a feature on Justice Is Mind in 2013 I was elated. They really captured the essence of the film at a time when the project really didn’t have any history aside from just being released. Flash forward to 2015 with a new editor and writing team and they were interested in our progress to date. The result was a wonderful two page spread that captured the entire project over our five year mission. It was made even more special as they had a photographer shoot Jamie Blash and me at Four Winds Farm. Jamie runs the farm and was featured as the horse trainer in Justice Is Mind. Her farm was also one of our locations. I am beyond thankful to all these outlets for their continued support.
And while Justice Is Mind has been fortunate to have some excellent reviews and great coverage tied to our theatrical screenings, national media attention has been elusive. Look, I get it, thousands of films are produced every year and to get the attention of a national media outlet really does take time, something unique or just plain luck. But the combination of all three I think worked in our favor.
I had completed the interview a couple of weeks earlier but kept it to myself as I know full well that the national media landscape changes quicker than New England weather. The writer even messaged me early Thursday morning to say she was waiting to see if they would either publish or reject her story. I learned years ago that unless you are doing live TV, there is simply no guarantee that your story will run—it doesn’t matter how great you think it is!
Just as I was getting ready to light a cigar (I love cigars!), Pamela Glasner messaged me. The Huffington Post published her story – Arrested Memory “Justice Is Mind”. In that moment all that had been worked on by so many was now receiving national media attention. On that scale, it is simply an honor to be acknowledged for your work. But indeed this accolade is shared with each and every one of us involved in Justice Is Mind. I know we all join in saying at least these three words,
Thank you Pamela!
No this post isn’t about the five year mission about the Starship Enterprise (I love Star Trek), it’s about the concept, development, launch and marketing of an independent feature film called Justice Is Mind.
With our second anniversary screening coming up on August 18 at Cinemagic, it’s hard to believe that five years has gone by since I first started to write the screenplay. From the screenplay, to the short film Evidence to the feature Justice Is Mind, it is a journey I would do again in a heartbeat.
This past week Gail Sullivan who plays Helen Granger in Justice Is Mind commented on Facebook, “How many movies are showing after two years? Just the classics, which means this one is definitely a classic!” Those words meant a lot. But it also meant something else that’s very important to remember, just because a film is released once and isn’t part of the “studio system” doesn’t mean that it can’t be released again and again.
Will Justice Is Mind become a true classic? Only time will tell. But the glorious thing about filmmaking now is that video on demand makes longevity possible. Gone are the days when a film is made and forgotten (unless it develops a cult like following). For me, it’s all about discovery. While I love contemporary independent films like The King’s Speech and The Imitation Game, it’s classics like Laura and Advise & Consent that are true finds for me. Then there is my passionate interest in 1950s science fiction (add The 27th Day to my list). But in the here and now there is Justice Is Mind to market.
This past week I finished up my interviews with the regional press. What will they report on? That’s up to them. But like I said last week, I try to always provide some sort of newsworthy hook. From the concept of the film, our screenings to date, the anniversary and the development of the sequel In Mind We Trust, all the reporters had their own take.
One asked if I would have done anything differently. Yes, there is one thing. I wouldn’t have wasted good money listening to “experts” about film festival submissions, I would have just planned a theatrical release from day one. Thankfully, I got wind of the festival world before our world premiere so I started working feverishly on our theatrical release in the summer of 2013. If you want to read an excellent article about the film festival world, check out this article. Bottom line, unless it’s a film market (Toronto, etc.), I’d much rather have my film screen in theaters dedicated to my film (with audiences paying for tickets) rather than having to play in a chorus with others. Sorry, I’m an “independent” filmmaker.
So as I continue to work on the final leg of the marketing and public relations push for Justice Is Mind’s second anniversary screening on August 18 at Cinemagic, I’m reaching the apex of the screenplay I’m adapting from the book Winds of Fall. Actually, that’s timing pretty good for a first draft to be finished by the fall.
The mission continues.