This past week First Signal premiered on The Roku Channel. With Roku, First Signal is now available on five major VOD platforms and is virtually available anywhere in the world. While I was certainly hoping for a solid distribution deal when I was producing First Signal, I honestly had no idea where the film was going to go. The one thing I was sure of, is that the film had to be placed properly if I was to continue developing and producing films.
On the subject of producing, over the last couple of months I’ve been participating in a variety of seminars and discussions on film financing. While the industry has changed from a technology (production) and distribution POV, the world of film financing is still populated with the usual characters and discussions – i.e., if you pay for services, you have a better chance of success.
Before I get into the weeds on film financing, let me break it down. When I say film financing, I’m talking about raising a couple of million (or more) to produce a feature film or a series. The “dream” way is that an agent, producer or production company discovers your work and sets up the project. The way that takes “work work” is pitching and presenting your project to the aforementioned entities. This is where the usual characters and discussions apply.
While there are many qualified, talented and connected people that are selling their services and introductions, all I can say is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware. When you listen to these people there is a narrative that populates the majority – if you don’t do it their way, you won’t be successful. While listening is important, at the end of the day you just must throw caution to the wind and produce. There is no easy path to producing. Whether you do it yourself or in partnership with others, the risk and reward are the same. The only difference is the dollars – are they yours or someone that’s investing in you.
One thing I learned when revisiting this world of film financing, is that I discovered that some folks that were pitching their projects over ten years ago are still pitching and paying along the way. How much money do you need to spend on contests, experts, etc. to get that perfect approval? You could spend from here to next never and still not get a green light. But one thing you can do, is listen, research, plan and then produce – on your own. I’ve taken this approach on five occasions with three shorts and two features. Had I waited for all the planets to align, my two feature films, Justice Is Mind and First Signal, would still only exist as a script.
Although I’m often approached by filmmakers on a variety of topics, I never sell my services. What works for me, might not work for you. What I do contribute is my experience. Some may like my approach, while others might find it too direct.
All this being said, while I continue to pitch and present, I’m actively working on self-producing my next project. I can’t wait for next never!
I first became interested in the RMS Titanic through my mother. In the 1970s she was a member of the Titanic Historical Society and received their magazine The Titanic Commutator. This was a wonderful black and white publication that featured interesting stories about the famed ship, interviews from survivors along with a host of other information about ocean liner travel, etc.
My interest in the Titanic continued with the history of ocean liners and then the more contemporary cruise ships. I took my first cruise in the early 1980s (If I recall it was on the MS Starward). Traveling by cruise ship is my preferred way to travel. The last cruise my mother and I took was on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 2014 where we had Justice Is Mind’s international premiere. Combining my love for cruise travel with filmmaking was a dream come true.
When I was visiting Battleship Cove a few weeks ago with my friend and fellow filmmaker Daniel Groom, we went to the Maritime Museum (which is part of Battleship Cove) to see the Titanic model used in the movie Titanic that starred Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. I then remembered the Titanic Historical Society and their museum. No sooner did I get home and I confirmed that the museum still existed and was located in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts. Needless to say, we made plans to visit.
For those that are interested in the history of the Titanic, the Titanic Museum is a true gem. This private museum (thus, no pictures) sits in the back of a Henry’s Jewelry store. As the website states, you step back in time to the 1950s when you enter. Founder Edward Kamuda’s sister welcomed us and was a wonderful fountain of information, history and stories I never heard before about the ship and the world around it.
There are countless interesting artifacts for visitors to experience. Two particular objects I enjoyed seeing were the display consoles that Dr. Robert Ballard donated to the museum. These were the consoles that revealed the discovery of the Titanic in 1985.
When the movie Titanic came out in 1997, I was hoping to, somehow, get some coverage into the figure skating magazine I was publishing at the time. Fortunately, I received a photo of Michelle Kwan from a taping of The Tonight Show with Kate Winslet and then the Ice Theatre of New York had a Titanic themed event. After the issue came out, through a connection I had, Kathy Bates (who played Molly Brown in Titanic) autographed the article for my mother.
The history of the White Star Line that owned the Titanic is a storied one. After Cunard and White Star merged in 1934, the White Star name all but disappeared in the following years until Cunard introduced Cunard White Star Service. To quote from Cunard’s website, “Today, Cunard White Star Service® is a lasting legacy of our historical connection to the White Star Line and honors the golden era of these elegant and luxurious vessels.”