I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t a filmmaker on the planet that isn’t affected by the current world crisis. The one saving grace with First Signal is that it was always scheduled to be in post-production during this time and won’t be finished until May anyway. Color grading and sound mixing is moving right along.
While we all monitor for the opening of the economy (it’s vital this happens as soon as possible), the question is when and how to ramp up marketing and distribution efforts. I will say this, after submitting First Signal a few weeks ago to two film festivals, I have formally stopped until the film is 100% complete. With future submissions I will also require an assurance that a film festival will not default their festival from live to online. I have ZERO interest in premiering First Signal online with a film festival. It will never happen.
I’m not surprised that only seven films took up Amazon’s virtual film fest offer. Unless Amazon’s screening fee was going to offset production costs, why bother. Any filmmaker can upload their film direct to Amazon, why dilute future distribution opportunities with an online premiere.
A few days ago a film festival I submitted to with a December event date, sent this long winded email stating generally that if people don’t feel comfortable attending or their theater isn’t available, they’ll make it online – and won’t refund submission fees. I frankly couldn’t believe the gall. I guess they’ll have to answer to the credit card companies who will chargeback the submission fees to the filmmakers. Having produced many live events, you as the organizer/promoter are responsible to execute what was contracted with the customer. If you don’t you must refund. It’s as simple as that.
I have never been a traditionalist. From publishing to filmmaking, I have always taken an unconventional approach. When I launched my figure skating magazine years ago, I was told it was never going to work as I needed to do this or that or whatever. Whether it was budget related or simply because I had a different idea, I executed the way I could to accomplish what I needed to do. I brought that same approach to filmmaking. When I produced First World and quickly learned that festivals wanted shorts under 15 min long, I found science fiction festivals, unique events and, yes, online (a fledgling platform called Hulu) to present my first film.
My point in all this is being able to pivot. For better or worse the world has changed in the last couple of months. I’m not going to try to roll a square rock up a hill, when I can slide it on rails at ground level to the same destination. As filmmakers we think unconventionally when we create our projects, the same should hold true for marketing and distribution.
The only right Americans seem to have left is freedom of expression. Before you continue reading this blog post, I caution you that I have strong dissenting opinions from the popular norm. If you are easily triggered by articles and opinion that don’t conform to your beliefs, you may want to stop reading now.
The United States of America is now basically a police state. I honestly never thought in my lifetime I would see my country become a dictatorship overnight. We talk about the draconian leadership policies of countries like North Korea, the former Soviet Union and the present Venezuela, as corrupt and barbaric. Well nothing is as barbaric as when a handful of politicians decide who works and who doesn’t. What industries are allowed to thrive and which ones are allowed to collapse. Who can pay their bills and who must go bankrupt. Who has rights and who has none.
Detractors to my commentary will state that we have a pandemic and that these measures were necessary. We certainly do have a global medical crisis that is being addressed. This is not the first time in human history nor will it be the last, but was this the way to do it? Was there no other alternative except to disrupt and ultimately destroy the lives of tens of millions around the world? I read an interesting story this week on Reason on where blame can and should squarely lie for this crisis.
I think it is safe to say we are all doing what we can during this intermission. For me it’s keeping focused and staying active (yes, that means going outdoors—daily). The one thing I’ve taken is social distancing literally. It became clear to me some time ago, and was further reinforced by this crisis, that social media has been a permanent destructor to our way of life. Social media is like high school, you have to follow the lambs no matter the direction they are going. You have to agree en masse, regardless of the subject, or you are treated as an outcast.
When you post a dissenting point of view people attack because they believe they can while hiding behind the safety of their screens. The one good thing that has come from this is the revelation of people’s true personalities and what they really think. I now have a list of people that if I never see them again it would be too soon. Life is too short to put up with their nonsense and self-righteous personalities. It is those that are ignorant and full of fear that want to pull you into their vortex of negative energy. I’ve always known that I’ve had some people in my orbit that have depressing personalities and traits that should have been addressed by a good psychologist years ago. Everything with them is doom and gloom. For them the glass is always half empty. If I didn’t know any better, I swear they love what’s going on because they can pull as many as they can into their cabals of virulent thinking. I’ve never taken refuge in community, I take it in common sense.
But one thing that is far from over, is a new side of humanity that I have truly enjoyed seeing. It is those that I meet when I’m outside, walking, running or hiking. It is those that understand we have a crisis but are not in panic mode and don’t feed into fear and ignorance. It is those that you can have a conversation with without them being hysterical or dictating. It is those that know this crisis will pass and there will be some return to normalcy. To be frank, this group, I firmly believe, far outweighs the naysayers.
The willful destruction of the economy, the failure to handle this crisis in other measured ways, the coming destruction of our environment (something the President hates anyway), the suspension of constitutional rights and guarantees. Remember folks, it’s important to remember your elected officials chose this path. Your elected officials decided that to address this crisis, the whole world must suffer. We all know that when the curtain opens on this intermission of life that the revelation of destruction is going to be 1,000x worse than any medical crisis.
I say this to all Americans. We fought a World War to ensure that dictatorships and fascism were beaten. Well, look around you. There are the fortunate few that are working and the rest that are told they are non-essential. Just how long do you believe the government is going to underwrite the latter? Just how long do you think seven billion people (to say nothing of the 300 plus million in this country) are going to tolerate the lunacy of conflicted messages by elected officials and the abdication of human rights and dignity? Brace yourself for a bumpy ride. We aren’t even through the second act of this drama.
At some point this will be over. But one has to wonder what type of world will emerge. I suspect it will be those that can see the light at the end of the tunnel; those that understand practicality from pessimism; those that know we need a new world order that doesn’t select a chosen few over the rest of humanity; those that know we need a whole new set of laws that protect individual rights over the state.