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.
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.
Last week I hit page 30 on this prequel story to First World. The title and logline came to me about halfway through this initial draft. With notes for the next two acts generally outlined, I’m aiming to have a first draft completed in January.
It’s always interesting how these new projects start. The idea came to me in September when I was at the Naval Justice School (NJS) talking with a couple of the actors about developing a new story. For the last two weeks I’ve been back at NJS with most of the students returning for this next class.
For me it comes down to motivation. If I’m not motivated to write a story, it just won’t be written. I firmly believe that environs make all the difference. When you are around other creative types and engaged in the kind of work you enjoy doing, it’s amazing how ideas start to generate with collaboration bringing new opportunities.
Of course it’s one thing to write a screenplay, it’s another to produce it. This one is being written in the same fashion as Justice Is Mind, to produce independently without pitching to the industry. While there’s obviously nothing wrong with the industry pitch, that process goes in fits and starts. Hot one day, cold the other. Ask anyone in this industry and that’s just the way it is—if you take the traditional route.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s one thing to produce a feature film, it’s another to promote it. I have to know if I’m OK devoting the next 2-5 years of my life developing and promoting a project. Justice Is Mind was literally a five year commitment. From screenplay (2010), short film version (2011), production of the feature film (2012), release of the film (2013) and marketing (2013-2015). I still promote Justice of course, and I continue to pitch the sequel, In Mind We Trust, as the basis for a TV series.
The “First World” project is about developing a franchise. It always has been. But commitment is important in this industry. It’s not just about making the film, it’s about staying with it for the long haul. As I learned with the short film version of First World and Justice Is Mind, you never know where a project can take you. It was a series of pitches that saw First World have a premiere in India at their The First Ever National Discussion on Science Fiction and Justice Is Mind having its international premiere on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth.
The creation of a new story is always an adventure, a journey into the unknown. Believe me when I tell you, it’s a trip worth taking.