In the weeks leading up to the private screening of First Signal at Chunky’s, I was preparing for the biggest single marketing push I have every done for a project. I had my lists of contacts and colleagues to email, the media to pitch, the social media plan to execute. It’s like the quiet before a storm. While the storm is not destructive akin to weather, it must nonetheless be navigated.
But before First Signal was to be launched around the world, there was the private screening on April 25. Some of the cast and crew I hadn’t seen since we wrapped principal photography two years earlier, some I just saw a few days ago. One by one they and their guests arrived in true red carpet style.
While the Oscars was being produced on the other side of the country that night, First Signal had the evening it deserved. As I mentioned to a few in the days leading up to the night, this is an experience in independent film that doesn’t happen on a regular basis. My mother told me some time ago that life is about experiences. While bringing First Signal to the world was not without times of great difficulty, it is the end result that matters. The experience of seeing it on the silver screen for all in attendance to enjoy is something that will be remembered forever and never can be taken away. After First Signal screened and we took one last group photo, it was time to say my final “thank you” to the cast, crew and attendees. For tomorrow was to bring First Signal’s VOD launch around the world.
On April 26 First Signal launched on Amazon in 68 countries and territories around the world. That VOD launch was followed by Google Play, YouTube Movies and Tubi. The moment Amazon was live, the marketing plan that has been in development since January was launched. The press release went live, the email newsletter went out, hundreds of emails to the industry, media and other interested parties while engaging our social media channels—First Signal was global.
I’m still thankful to this day that I ran a media company that had magazines distributed around the world. When you have world placement of your brand, in this case a film, the responsibility and monitoring of such brand goes up exponentially. While the navigation of such a launch brings the inevitable negative commentary, I just equate it to a large wave that goes over the bow of an ocean liner. Full steam ahead means such waves are plowed through as we continue to call on new ports.
These new ports of call (VOD platforms), rocketed our placement on IMDb to 3,059 out of 560,000+ feature films. To say I am thankful to our distributor Indie Rights would be an understatement. When I think of the number of distributors/sales agents I met with over the last two years to discuss First Signal, it was Indie Rights that not only checked all the boxes a filmmaker wants, but they brought something to the table that is the prime currency in this industry – a sterling reputation. Honestly, that’s what a filmmaker should need and want the most. To work with reputable people and organizations that deliver. My special thanks to Linda, Michael and the Indie Rights team for all your great work. But our work is far from over as marketing and sales efforts continue.
April 26, 2021 will always be known to me as the day The First World Universe launched around the world. As my efforts continue to market First Signal, I also look now towards the sequel, First Launch, to interest production partners.
As I mentioned during my welcoming remarks at First Signal’s private screening, being an independent filmmaker is a herculean task but a most rewarding one. Because for a moment in time a group people (many strangers to each other) come together for a mission. And if they are successful, their efforts live on long after a premiere.
As a filmmaker there is nothing like seeing your film unfold on the silver screen. I will never forget when I first saw Justice Is Mind come to life at our world premiere back in 2013. It is that moment when all the hopes, dreams and work come to fruition. I am delighted to announce that the world premiere of First Signal will take place on March 26, 2021 for a one-week engagement at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas in Greenfield, MA!
Whenever I make a film, whether it be a short or a feature, I’m always looking for a theatrical premiere. When you premiere a film in a theater it signifies its arrival in the marketplace. It provides an opportunity for audiences and the media to see it as intended before it’s released into the digital world. It’s also economic. For the majority of films, the primary revenue driver is theatrical “box office” revenue. I have always been a proponent of theatrical screenings (particularly now as the exhibition sector has been decimated this past year and needs every ticket), for without that component, the majority of films will not recoup their production budget.
Seeing the name of your film on a marquee is a special experience all its own. When the Greenfield Garden Cinemas published the photo you see at the top of this blog it took me less than a minute to send it to the cast, crew and location partners. First Signal has formally arrived.
While we prepare for the world premiere of First Signal (and other screening events), we are finishing up the deliverables for Indie Rights. Part of our deliverables package is a new poster designed by Emmy Award winning Adam Starr. Partially inspired by Apollo 8’s Earthrise photo, this new poster is what you will see at all our screening events and on VOD platforms. As our marketing plans unfold, look for additional creative that builds off First Signal’s new poster.
As for marketing, SOS United States is moving along nicely through the festival circuit. Since my last post, the script has picked up some additional selections and wins. My goal with SOS United States is to promote the project through the festival circuit with the aim of raising the necessary production budget to produce the film in 2022 for a 2023 release. Yes, that’s the type of planning that goes into making a feature film.
I had lunch last week with one of the stars of First Signal. I remarked that this has been a four year project to date. From the original idea in March 2017 to script in early 2018, production in 2019, festival circuit in 2020 and wide release in 2021, producing a feature film is years in the making. Nothing in this industry happens overnight. It takes continued perseverance, patience and plans to see a project all the way to the end.
But the nice thing about First Signal is that it’s just the beginning. The beginning of what I hope to be a new sci-fi franchise.