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political thriller

The Presentation

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Testing the active track feature on my DJI Spark drone.

Many…many…years ago I worked for someone that instilled in me the importance of preparing a solid presentation when making a pitch and a quality “leave behind” (the document you leave behind after a meeting for further consideration).  In those early days I didn’t really know what all that meant, but it soon made sense. As they say you only get once chance to make a first impression. That couldn’t be truer in the entertainment industry where everything is about communication and visualization.

Since my last post, three First Signal presentations have resulted in solid location possibilities and interesting cooperation. We shall see where these communications go. But the point is, there are mutual communications.

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A drone shot at Marble House in Newport, RI. The Cars & Coffee car show. Yes, my Solstice is way up front. In front of a Rolls!

When I first make a pitch I make every effort to provide as much information as possible with an equal amount of brevity. Why? Because not only is time short for everyone these days, but a pitch needs to offer something beneficial for the party you’re making a pitch to. I also believe it’s important to be clear in what you want and what you can offer in return.

Case in point, I receive at least one pitch a month from screenwriters wanting me to consider their screenplay. Fair enough they don’t know that I only develop my own work, but they could at least do some homework on what I’ve done. It’s pretty clear I’m only interested in science fiction and political thrillers. But what really stuck out like sore thumb with a pitch I received this week, was the fact that this writer didn’t include a phone number, web site, IMDb link or other external links so I could review who they were.  This was almost as bad as the actor that submitted to First Signal and said “Google me.”  That’s not the way it works.

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Needless to say it was a beautiful day in Ogunquit, ME when I took this drone shot.

But what is working beautifully is my DJI Spark drone. Over the last couple of weekends I’ve been to Ogunquit, ME and Newport, RI and have been able to capture some cool photography. I also tested the active track feature with my car. A couple of the scenes in First Signal require a drone shot to follow a vehicle.

So with the vast majority of all the pre-production work completed on First Signal, there is one organization we are waiting to hear from that is considering our presentation for locations and cooperation. They have a department that deals specifically with the entertainment industry.

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In Character

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Part of the backstory in First Signal is the world Shinar.

For those that have ventured down the road of producing a film, there are numerous details to attend to. But one thing that is truly paramount is character and story background. This week I sent the actors and crew a multi-page document that provides not only the character backstory but terminology associated with the “First World” universe.

While Justice Is Mind was about mind reading, I honestly can’t expect actors or crew to read mine.  First, I find the phrase “motivation” to be terribly overused. Rather, I like to give the actors and crew the big picture.  It’s easy for a director to drone on about this or that or whatever. But when someone reads in black and white what the backstory is or universe they are in, it makes the process so much easier. It also fosters thoughtful creative input.

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The Prime Minister explaining to the President why Argonaut Two was called in First World. In First Signal we learn why the President called it.

As for creative, this week also yielded some interesting conversations regarding costuming. In First Signal, four of the characters have very specific looks. Two are outfitted in Nehru styled suits, while two are Air Force officers. It’s the latter that saw the progress we were looking for. From discussions with an Air Force base military store to a costume company that outfits the military in my favorite TV show, the aim is to have these actors outfitted accordingly.

Speaking of actors, I received a call a few days ago from an actress that was beyond frustrated with the fact that she hasn’t secured representation. Is she talented? Yes. Does she have a solid resume? Yes.  The one thing I stressed in this industry is that nothing is simple or easy. There are no shortcuts. And the one unwavering thing you need is patience. But comparing my work to yours or another actors is not the route you go. And when you start tuning out the advice you sought because you aren’t hearing what you want, you might need to rethink your career. This industry is waiting for no one, but it may respond if you have talent, a viable idea or a unique project (film or TV). I say may because I will quote the late Maximilian Schell, “This an industry of chances and luck.” Even after all his years of fame from Happy Days, Henri Winkler still auditions.

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This is an industry of patience. It took 10 years and over 300 TV appearances before landing as a judge on FOX’s Skating with Celebrities.

I do seem to be having good luck with the DJI Spark. I have to say this is a very smart drone. It takes a bit of getting used to operating virtual joysticks (there is an optional controller you can buy), but there’s so many flight options that are brilliantly automatic. At the end of the day all a filmmaker wants is a great shot.

Finally, I just finished reading James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty. No matter what side of the political aisle you’re on, this is an important read. In the hyper partisan, media obsessed world we live in, it’s too easy to make snap judgments without knowing or caring about the facts. That’s really what our country comes down to does it? Facts, truth and loyalty to the constitution of the United States and those that defend it.

Memorial Day

APTOPIX Memorial Day California

From TIME magazine. Photo by Richard Vogel—AP.