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!
There are those times when you are just going about your business when suddenly the phone rings. I can’t speak for those that read this blog, but when my phone rings, and I don’t recognize the number, I just let it go to voicemail. I was pleasantly surprised, and pleased, to learn that it was a former colleague from my days as the publisher of a figure skating magazine. She was calling from the Ice Theatre of New York and advised me that they were honoring my skating coach from my days at Sky Rink at an upcoming event.
During my call with Jirina (who is the Executive Director) we reminisced about those years at Sky Rink (1980s) and the glorious decade that followed that saw the sport grow as an industry around the world. Many of us that worked in the sport saw our enterprises grow to levels we only imagined.
But for me the origins go back to the late 1980s and Sky Rink. This was a rink that was literally in the sky. In the case of Sky Rink, it was on the top floor of an office building. It was during those years that I met my coach Darlene who not only trained me harder than any coach I had previously, but did it with pride and levity. She used to call me Louella after the famed columnist Louella Parsons for the stories I would tell. Who would have thought that years after I would launch a newsmagazine that became the world’s largest in the sport.
It was during the Sky Rink days, that I was introduced to Moira the founder of the Ice Theatre of New York. While I always had an appreciation of the arts from dance, ballet and classical music, this was an organization that married all these disciplines to the ice. The result has been a decades-long “ice theatre” that has continuously presented new ways for audiences to enjoy the art of figure skating. The first event I ever coordinated was their storied annual gala. Those early experiences paved the way for the career I have enjoyed.
To learn more about the Ice Theatre of New York and their 2022 Benefit Gala and Performance, please click this link. This year’s event honors Olympic Ice Dance Champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean with Darlene Parent and Wade Corbett as Alumni Award Recipients. Tracy Wilson and Brian Orser will co-chair the event while Betty Wasserman is the Ice Angel Award Recipient.
It has been an interesting week walking down memory lane as Facebook reminded me about the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships that were held in Boston. Aside from an appearance on ESPN’s 30 for 30, I hadn’t been connected to the sport for many years. Suffice to say it was a wonderful reunion of friends and colleagues from days long past.
For it was at those championships that I conceived the idea for Serpentine – a political thriller set in the near future with the logline, “A champion figure skater finds herself in a government conspiracy involving her missing mother and a Cold War mystery that culminates at the world championships in Moscow.” They say life works in mysterious ways. With current world events, who knows, perhaps Serpentine could be the next project.
But whatever project of mine comes next, one thing is certain, it all started in New York.