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film industry

First Deal

First Signal publicity still

After over a year of searching and talking to sales agents and distributors, I’m pleased to announce that Indie Rights picked up First Signal for worldwide distribution. Our official press release can be found at this link.

As I mention in the press release, I’ve known of Linda Nelson’s company for many years. I first heard of Indie Rights when Justice Is Mind was having its theatrical run in 2013.  Since then, I have come across a variety of sales agents and distributors. There are very few constants in this industry except one thing – reputation. While there was another company I was considering, Indie Rights had the best reputation among filmmakers. If you’re a filmmaker with a completed project, I highly encourage you to visit their website to learn more.

First Signal will be distributed by Indie Rights.

This truly is an industry about reputation. If you treat people well, if you’re honest, if you do the job you were contracted to do, that type of currency can be cashed in anywhere. But if you are difficult to work with, fail to deliver or impede the process, you’ll find your dance card pretty empty. I’ve talked about this before, there’s a reason why you see the same actors, crew and other partners working together from one project to another – reputation.

As we begin the process of organizing the deliverables for Indie Rights, I now turn my attention to First Signal’s marketing plan. In addition to what I’m hoping to do theatrically, the plan also includes First Signal’s VOD release (May). This will be markedly more involved than what I did for Justice several years ago. As the release will involve multiple outlets and countries, the key will be to put together a plan that can be somewhat replicated from market to market. As an independent filmmaker, the challenge is to put together a plan that is possible, sustainable and affordable. In all honesty, I do enjoy the marketing aspects of film projects. For me it’s about introducing audiences to a new film, whether they are here in the United States or some distant land. The one universal language we all have in common is the art of film (although dubbing may be involved!).

I’m also pleased to announce that my political thriller SOS United States is now an official selection of two festivals, winning one. SOS United States won Best Plot at the Gold Star Movie Awards. For 2021 the marketing for SOS is to continue the film festival submission process, while presenting the project for 2022 production.

The political thriller genre is truly my favorite. Whether I incorporate the genre in sci-fi with First Signal, psychological thrillers like In Mind We Trust (the sequel to Justice Is Mind) or my figure skating drama Serpentine, the political thriller genre weaves throughout all of them. For me, I like a plot that takes many twists and turns. One of my favorite political thrillers is The Odessa File. The central character (played by Jon Voight) is a journalist. I always like a film that has a journalist as it lends credibility to the plot when the character investigates. The surprise ending in The Odessa File is well worth the watch.

Plans.


The Decision

The countries where First Signal has been selected for film festivals.

While First Signal continues through the festival circuit and SOS United States just starts with festival submissions, my next decision is to decide who I’m placing First Signal with for VOD. For once the decision is made, I need to have faith in those that will be handling the majority of the rights for the next several years. But after over a year of research and discussions, I’ve narrowed it down to two companies. Look for a formal announcement shortly.

With First Signal largely wrapping up its festival run in April, my attention is now turning to theatrical. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had conversations with a small chain and a few independent theatres. The plan is the same I implemented with Justice Is Mind—one evening theatrical screenings in select markets. Of course, the world has changed over the last year with some of the theaters asking for multi-night screenings. Naturally, that would be fine with me!

There still lies the misconception that indie filmmakers must four wall (rent) a theater to get their movies screened. While I won’t divulge my method for getting films into theaters (sorry some things are my own process), my aim is to always present a win/win situation for the theater and the film. Today, more than ever, theatrical is critical not only to the survival of theaters but the film industry in general.

I understand on one hand why studios are pushing back the release of their major films, but on the other hand they just need to pick a date and get on with it. Simply, there will never be a perfect time. People will either go to the theater or stay home, it’s as simple as that. But if theatrical collapses, that is going to be not only a financial disaster for the industry, but for the local economies these theaters serve. I personally know of four theaters that are closed. Not because of draconian lockdowns, but because they can’t get contemporary product in the hope of some traffic. Seriously, would you go to a theater if that same film was on Amazon or Netflix?

I was asked the other day when I’m going to film my next project. Truthfully, I see this year largely being the marketing of First Signal’s theatrical and VOD release and breaking down SOS United States for a 2022 start date. First Launch, the sequel to First Signal, is being actively presented. But that project will require a substantial investment. Project Shinar, however, is moving along.

Since my last post, I’m delighted to report that First Signal has picked up two additional Official Selections. When I was looking at our laurels the other day, I couldn’t help but notice the international reach these festivals have. This type of placement will work well when First Signal goes to VOD.

Foreign Markets

The Planet Shinar