Last Saturday before I left for Albany, NY I just had to remember to take an extra screening DVD of Justice Is Mind just in case something happened to the one I sent to The Palace Theatre—I took two. The ride to Albany is easy from where I live in Worcester. It’s a straight shot right up RT 90. My mother and I just talked about general “stuff” along the way and when we weren’t talking I was just thinking of this three-year journey up to this point. A journey that would take a new direction come Sunday.
As my mother and I pulled into Albany we swung by The Palace Theatre and there it was flashing across the marquee “JUSTICE IS MIND – WORLD PREMIERE”. It was in that instant that this wave of energy started to envelope the moment. There is something to be said about seeing “your name” in lights. For a few seconds I was remembering the production companies that said “no”, the investors that said “no”, others that said “no” and in another instant remember hearing “We want to back the film”, “I accept the role,” and the crew members that joined me on this adventure. This is an industry where you hear the word “no” more than you hear “yes” but when you do amazing things happen.
Over the next several hours and into Sunday, friends and family of cast and crew from all over the United States had descended on Albany for the world premiere of Justice Is Mind. The energy that was earlier enveloping the moment simply turned into an atmosphere of collective accomplishment and excitement for so many of us. Indeed, August 18, 2013 was the day we have been striving and building towards – the world premiere of Justice Is Mind!
When Sunday afternoon rolled around and we started to arrive in our “Sunday best” the lobby of The Palace Theatre soon was a place in time I just wanted to stop and enjoy for another moment. As I greeted actors, crew and their supporters, it brought back so many memories—from the day we first met at auditions to principal photography, those efforts would soon be showing on the silver screen. At one point, I walked upstairs to practice what I thought was going to be my opening remarks. Who was I kidding, I couldn’t concentrate. So as I walked down the staircase it really hit me as I looked at the hundreds of people in the lobby waiting to see Justice Is Mind. Dear God. I hope they like the movie.
Slightly frozen in a moment of anxiety, it was time for us to go into the theatre. I usually have a very big mouth and can easily shout across a room, but I left that to Vernon Aldershoff who plays Henri Miller. I’m fairly certain they heard him back in Worcester!
As we entered the theatre, saw the big screen and gathered in our seats the moderator quickly began. I faintly remember hearing him talking about my past work in the industry, but honestly, it didn’t matter. I just had to time myself to walk onto the stage and not trip in the process (which I almost did on that top step!). When I was at the podium it hit me—this was my proudest moment. Sure, I’ve had past career highlights I’m also proud of, but this really took the cake. Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to produce a feature film and that moment had arrived. With the lights blaring on the podium I really couldn’t see the audience, but I didn’t have to—their wave of support was coming over in tidal fashion and a strange sense of calm came over me. I thanked our post production crew and executive producers and took my seat. For 2 hours and 35 minutes I was part of the audience.
And so the world premiere of Justice Is Mind concluded and I couldn’t have been happier. Audiences enjoyed it and frankly at this stage that’s all that matters. Sure, there are things I would do differently. Every filmmaker feels that need to make an “adjustment”. But now isn’t the time. Now we go to market.
With screenings lined up at theatres, sci-fi conventions and law schools around the United States and Canada and more on the horizon, Justice Is Mind will soon be coming to a venue near you. Thank you for being part of this journey and joining me on the next leg of this adventure.
It seems a bit unreal that post production on Justice Is Mind is now just a couple of days away from completion. With the film edited, scored, sound mixed and special effects built that last moment of post production work—color correction – is nearly complete.
Yesterday, I went to visit Justice Is Mind’s director of photography Jeremy Blaiklock. Having already seen excerpts of his color correction work on the film, my visit was more of a catch up and a bit of reminiscing. Jeremy’s association with the Justice Is Mind project started with our short film Evidence back in 2011. Let me just say it was a trip down memory lane. Lots of “Remember when…”.
The one thing I don’t believe general moviegoers know or understand (or even want to understand) is the unbelievable amount of people it takes behind the scenes to make a motion picture come together. If you click our IMDB link you’ll see what I mean. For me, being the director of a film is like being the conductor of an orchestra. All the instruments have to play according to the music in front of them.
We are in the last movement of the symphony that is Justice Is Mind and soon we will be at The Palace Theatre to unveil the work. The work of over two hundred people in various capacities – actors, crew, producers, location and marketing partners. But after this step, comes the great push to market. From the audiences to the reviews (the great and not so great).
One thing Jeremy and I talked about is the version of the film that is being released on August 18. This is the “director’s cut”—the version that I want audiences to see. For those that have read the script, you will see this film on August 18 not some edited down version to suit a particular timeframe. We all know that will happen at some point. Your film is edited for time and content for particular distributors, markets and platforms. That’s just the way things go in this business.
For me, this is the relative quiet before the storm that will sweep Justice starting tomorrow. The coordinating of the color corrected film back to the editor, the transfer of files to the production company making our exhibition DVDs, screener copies to studios (yes, I pitched a major studio last week and they agreed to review a screener), digital aggregators, distributors, online platforms, agents, media…the list goes on. But this is what we have been building to—the release of Justice Is Mind.
For Justice I could not be more proud with the team that is making this project a reality. Producing a feature film is a herculean task on so many levels. First, the magnitude of scripts looking to be produced (Amazon Studios alone has received over 10,000); second, locating and securing funding. Third, finding meaningful distribution for a return on investment. But one should not despair.
A reporter in Albany asked me an interesting question relative to Justice Is Mind being part of Inspiration Week. The question, if I recall correctly was something along the lines of “What part of inspiration does Justice Is Mind bring?” My answer, “That producing a feature film is possible.”
As I understand Walt Disney once said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
T-minus 14 days.
Today’s post will not be about anything marketing related in the world of independent film or the path to get there. This post may also be shorter than usual, but suffice to say I have something pretty important to announce:
TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE OF JUSTICE IS MIND! Click here for details.
On August 18, 2013, Justice Is Mind will have its world premiere at the beautiful Palace Theatre in Albany, NY. Ever a producer and director I traveled to Albany yesterday and met with representatives of the building along with Vernon Aldershoff (who plays Henri Miller in Justice Is Mind) for a site visit. The theatre is more beautiful than I could have ever expected. Trust me, the pictures don’t do the venue “justice”.
With Justice Is Mind at the tail end of post-production, we also cut a “work in progress” of the film to submit to film festivals that have deadlines next week. As you can well imagine, this has been a very busy week for the post-production team. For sure, there will be a special round of applause for them at the premiere!
So today I leave you with some wonderful photos of the Palace along with some additional details. As Justice Is Mind is part of the Capital District Film Festival our film is the last to screen and caps off the entire event known as Inspiration Week. Tickets are $18 for the day. The Justice Is Mind event starts at 5:30. But here’s another inside for you, our editor Jared Skolnick is also an accomplished filmmaker. His short horror film The Earth Rejects Him screens at 12 Noon.
Again, being a director, I suggest the following schedule for August 18. For those driving, arrive in Albany around 11 AM. Find a place to park (garages available) and then see The Earth Rejects Him from 12-1. Have a nice relaxing lunch (plenty of places to walk to) and then see the world premiere of Justice Is Mind starting at 5:30.
The action is about to begin.
In the world of filmmaking setting the date for a world premiere isn’t just about booking a theatre, gathering the troupes, throwing down a red carpet and self congratulating. While celebrating is certainly part of “the big day” the even bigger part is launching the film to audiences, film festivals, media and distributors. I also believe it’s important to spread your wings outside your comfort zone. But what it really comes down to is where is the film going to get the biggest bang for its buck? And by buck I mean those future dollars that come in as a result of early marketing and public relations efforts.
With our completion date set for July 1, I had started the search on where to premiere Justice. Will it be at a film festival in the region that works with our completion date? Will it be in Los Angeles? Will it simply be striking a deal with a theatre in central Massachusetts? Then the call came in early last week. Vernon Aldershoff who stars as Henri Miller in Justice, and lives in the Albany area, told me that Don Rittner, the commissioner of the Schenectady Film Commission and creator of Inspiration Week, invited us to premiere Justice Is Mind at The Palace Theatre on August 18. How did this invitation come about? Because Rittner saw our trailer screen at Upstate Independents in February and liked what he saw. After a few days of discussion, the deal was struck.
In the world of Star Trek, there is a saying, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or the one.” That means that when opportunity knocks for the greater good you take it. This was one of those rare moments when everything just came together. I could not be more excited to premiere Justice Is Mind in Albany. First, we are part of a major event with Inspiration Week. Second, we were invited. Invited. That really is key in my view. Someone wanted to premiere our film. Third, The Palace Theatre is a world class venue with seating for over 2,800. Finally, the Albany region is the birthplace of MRI technology—the very backbone of our story. Game. Set. Match? Almost.
With our premiere booked months in advance, this gives us plenty of time to properly plan a dynamic event while planning additional screening opportunities. It was also during the Albany premiere discussions that Justice Is Mind secured a deal to work with The Association of Media and Entertainment Counsel to bring screenings to law schools around the country. I can’t thank my friend and entertainment attorney Arnold Peter of The Peter Law Group enough for making this deal a reality.
Suffice to say there is a hell of a lot more involved in filmmaking than just shooting the movie. Of course you need to get that right, but you do need to have a “Plan With a Capital P” (thanks Emma Harte!) or at least the semblance of one.
Finally, I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the first Massachusetts Media Expo that was organized by the Massachusetts Production Coalition. This was really a well run event. It was great seeing so many actors and crew members from Justice. Even though I saw most of them from across a room! For me the keynote panel was the most interesting. Listening to legendary filmmaker Douglas Trumbull alone was worth the admission. What I enjoyed about Trumbull is that he’s honest in his opinion of the industry. It was refreshing. So now I’ll be honest, I could have done without the directing “seminar” for a variety of reasons that I’ll keep to myself. And speaking of premieres, I enjoyed Whitey Bulger: Making of a Monster documentary. Congratulations to Mary Wright who plays one of the Reincar Scientific board members in Justice. Wright is one of the principal actors in the documentary and plays Bulger’s girlfriend Catherine Greig.
Game. Set. Match? I’ll let you know.