As filmmakers we tend to operate in a vacuum. We generally write our screenplays in a bit of isolation and only expand our audience when our projects go into production. It’s easy to take refuge in people that will like our work, but we all know that’s not realistic. As creatives we look for our work to be seen by audiences outside of our own. Of course, there’s always that worry of what others will think. But that’s the very nature of what we do—we create to exhibit.
“For all those avid fans and not-so fans of sci-fi theme, this is a movie that edges all others this season and will go a long way in the mainstream if launched globally.”
This past week a notification popped up on First Signal’s Facebook page. When I clicked on it, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was a posted review. As I haven’t been promoting First Signal to the media for reviews, I was wondering how it came about. I then saw where the post originated. The Utah Film Festival & Awards posted, what could only be described, as a glowing review. Every word was a positive one. What I particularly enjoyed was the following passage, “For all those avid fans and not-so fans of sci-fi theme, this is a movie that edges all others this season and will go a long way in the mainstream if launched globally.” You can read the entire review on the screenshot below or their Facebook page.
Being thankful for this review would be an understatement. After I read it a few times I started to reflect on the origins of this project and how it came so close to never happening on more than one occasion. One thing I learned is that perseverance is key. If you believe in your project, you have to keep pushing despite all obstacles. Those that have worked with me know that I’m someone that doesn’t give up. As a literary agent friend told me last year, “You are truly a dog with a bone.” The First World Universe, that First Signal is part of, has been in development for over a decade.
I’m also pleased to announce that First Signal is an official selection of Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. When I was looking at their selections page and saw First Signal’s poster among a sea of films, I was struck by the sheer quality of the other projects. Some of these posters are truly works of art. My congratulations to all.
As for art, I saw Tenet last week and could easily attribute it to the surrealism of a Salvador Dali. The one thing about a Christopher Nolan film is he demands that his audience think. Not just in one dimension, but at least three. When I first see a Nolan film, I take in the stunning cinematography that’s always complimented with a rapturous score. The first viewing must be seen in a theatre as that’s where it’s designed to be experienced. The second time I focus on just the story to grasp the message. But it’s the third time, with captions on, that I do my best to understand the nuances of what Nolan wanted to achieve. What I love about his films are the subtle messages through numerous clues. I think this is why I love The Man in the High Castle so much – with every viewing I learn something more. I’ve always believed a film (or TV series) should be multi-layered.
With post-production on First Signal coming to an end, it seemed fitting that I finished a draft of the sequel early last week. Titled First Launch, the story picks up two years after events in First Signal. While First Signal introduced the First World Universe in a very contained environment, First Launch is entirely the opposite. With the majority of primary characters returning, the logline “The President faces a military coup and extrasolar war when a covertly built second generation space shuttle reveals a worldwide military destined to confront an alien presence on Earth,” sets the story shortly before the 2016 Presidential election.
While I’m glad to have finished a draft to the sequel of First Signal, my priority is to see that First Signal properly exits post-production as I plan for general marketing and distribution. As for distribution, this past week I was approached by a theater to have First Signal screen in July. While I normally would have jumped at the opportunity, I honestly can’t commit one way or another until we learn when restrictions are being lifted. I do know one thing, so long as mask requirements (something I vehemently disagree with) are order of the day there’s no point, or joy, in having a theatrical screening. While our governor may employ Orwellian powers in Massachusetts, he has no power or jurisdiction of its citizens outside this tiny state. Thus, I’m looking at screening opportunities outside of New England and the country.
I am, however, considering “attending” the virtual Cannes Marché du Film in June. As the fees are negligible, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try and see what comes of it. There’s no question that by the end of the summer, theaters worldwide will be open and the markets will endeavor to return to some sort of normalcy.
While the large theater chains can tap into a variety of reserves and credit lines, it’s the independent theaters that are most at risk during these perilous times. As their only source of revenue are ticket sales, the real concern in the industry is that some of them just won’t make it and that a vital link for independent films will simply disappear. Unless you have a robust concession, ticket sales alone just don’t carry theaters. Simply, the box office percentage that’s shared with the distributor just varies too greatly between films.
But with every economic upheaval, there is always a revelation of something new or in this case a return. How many of us remember drive-in movie theaters? I remember the days when we would all pile into the car, drive up to a parking spot, place a speaker on the side of the car and watch a film unfold on a giant screen. It’s no surprise, that moviegoers are starting to look at the drive-in as a solid alternative while the traditional theatrical experience is sorted.