I was inspired to write Justice Is Mind back in 2011 when I first saw a 2009 segment on 60 Minutes titled Reading Your Mind. The story focused on advances in fMRI technology and rudimentary “mind-reading” that was being researched and studied at Carnegie Mellon University. We had the honor to screen Justice at Carnegie in 2014 in front of the scientists and students that were spearheading this new technology.
As I postulated in Justice Is Mind, imagine the day your memories can be read by a machine. But also imagine the day when your memories can be used as evidence in a court of law. From what I have recently learned that day is apparently here in technology if not soon to be in court. This article in PetaPixel titled, ‘Mind-Reading’ Technology Translates Brainwaves into Photos,” is just one of several recent articles discussing this technology. This article states in part, “The researchers then fed this information into a computer’s artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm which could build an accurate image based on the information from the fMRI scan.” Let us reflect for a moment on what this truly means.
We can certainly look towards many films and TV series on what the future may bring. Star Trek is often referenced as accurately predicting future technology. Frankly, it’s still pretty amazing to me what our “smartphones” can actually do. As has often been discussed, today’s smartphones have thousands of times more computing power than the Apollo era computers. Technology, however, is one thing, but what about the UFO phenomenon?
When I wrote First Signal in 2017, the premise was relatively straight forward. The story was a prequel to the events in First World. Those events were the revelation of an alien presence on Earth. While UFO sightings have been claimed since biblical times, governments have been relatively loath to acknowledge even the slightest possibility of their existence. Oh, there are the countless investigations, public and otherwise, along with more documentaries than I can count, but never before has the government began to embrace the possibility that UFOs, or as they prefer the reference UAPs, exist.
However, over the last year, and just recently, there have been countless articles on the very subject. This article in Space.com titled, “NASA ‘going full force’ to gear up for UFO study,” certainly seems to ask the larger question, “Are they preparing us for some sort of revelation?” Some of the comments on First Signal’s listing on YouTube state, “I really hope this movie is a prophecy” and “It all could be possible and with that if it was or did happen our gov. officials could keep the truth from us all.”
As for whether government officials know more or not on the subject of UAPs, one definitive thing I can say, is that they know about First Signal. One of my marketing priorities was to make sure all the relative agencies knew about the film. From NASA to the Air Force, to members of Congress and The White House, all were on the distribution list.
I truly feel with the James Webb Telescope we will soon learn more about our place in the cosmos than ever before. In First Signal the famed telescope is mentioned in relation to its “future” parking position at Lagrange point 2 (L2). The same place in space that an alien satellite was spotted. Just last week the telescope discovered carbon dioxide on a distant world.
“This is a time to study and investigate.” – Cedric Yonah in First Signal.
The progress toward a milestone I was tracking happened early last week. First Signal was viewed over 1,000,000x on YouTube. When Indie Rights, our distributor, placed First Signal on the site I honestly didn’t know how it would be received. What I did know, that unlike Amazon and Tubi, I would know how many viewed the film and then there would be the public comments. It didn’t take long for me to discover that First Signal found its true audience on YouTube.
This is one of those milestones that all of us associated with the film can be proud of. Who would have thought that a truly independent film such as First Signal would receive so much attention and solid commentary. Suffice to say, I could not be more pleased. Of course, the goal is to build on this popularity when I introduce the First World Universe to producers.
One thing I have learned about releasing and marketing an independent film is that the process is ongoing. The model I follow is what I see the studios do (of course on a much smaller budget!). There is the primary marketing push leading up to and during the theatrical run. Then another big push for the VOD release followed by steady promotion to keep the film visible. And that really is the goal, to stay visible.
When you consider the number of films just being released on Amazon, Tubi, Netflix and YouTube alone, staying visible is a challenge. Visibility in the eyes of the consumer requires a consistent message. In the case of a film, I’m asking for someone to watch it. Some may watch immediately on release, while others may take months to decide only to do so because they see a steady bit of marketing.
Another project I am actively working on is my director’s reel. While my personal website has a variety of on camera reels, I realized I don’t have a reel that illustrates my work as a director. For the last month I have been watching all my films and selecting scenes that I believe look interesting. Once I finish the selection process, I’ll aim to put together some sort of storyboard so when the reel is viewed it’s just not random clips, but imagery that ties into some sort of cohesive story set to a score.
Reviewing all my films has certainly been a trip down memory lane. I was living in Los Angeles when I put together the short film version of First World. Thankfully, I worked with a talented filmmaker and VFX wiz by the name of Adam Starr to bring it all together. Then there was the short film, Evidence, to see if my concept about mind-reading technology in the courtroom sparked interest. Within a year of the completion of that short the feature length version of Evidence, Justice Is Mind was in production. Justice was no small production with over two hundred people involved on both sides of the camera! But then my interest returned to figure skating when I produced the short film version of my political thriller Serpentine with The Short Program. Perhaps someday that project will be produced as a feature.
But not everything in this business happens immediately. I produced First World in 2006 and it took until 2019 to bring the First World Universe to life with the production of the first feature film in the series – First Signal. During a lunch with an agent friend while I was at the American Film Market in 2019, he remarked my steadfastness and commitment to see this new franchise come to life. You see, we had a lunch in 2005 when I completed the screenplay for First World. Let me just say, that time does fly by!