This past week I adapted the first 20 pages of my screenplay SOS United States into a first draft novel. Having run it through some programs, it seems to be about 37 pages so far in book form. If all goes well, I think I’ll have a completed draft by the end of March.
I have to say it’s nice to have a new project to work on. Particularly one that I know will be produced at some point next year. By produced, I mean published. Whether it’s picked up by a traditional publisher (which is ideal) or I self-publish (and I act as publisher through The Ashton Times), it will see the light of day. And, of course, while this is all happening, I continue to work on getting the film version produced.
When I was touring The Elms in Newport yesterday, I started talking to one of the docents about the process of filmmaking. As some of you may know the HBO series The Gilded Age was partially filmed at The Elms and other Newport mansions. Standing in the kitchen, she remarked about the sheer number of people it took, along with time, to produce a scene. She continued by saying that now having seen how the process works, the illusion of how movies (or in this case TV) are made is gone.
This certainly is a natural reaction to those outside the industry watching the production process. But it’s a process that gives any witness an appreciation of the patience involved in bringing these stories to life. The same can be said for publishing a book. While a book may appear to involve only one person (the author), there is a team that brings it to life and eventually to market.
I titled this end of year post Station Keeping for a reason. Planning for the next film (or book) takes time with the majority of the work being in the creation phase. From writing, finance, pre-production, etc., the consumer only sees the finished product on their screen or bookshelf. I call this period ‘the valley’ when I’m planning, writing, editing and pitching new projects. In other words, sometimes our ships are in port for refurbishment, renovation or some other activity that requires they be properly docked before sailing towards another adventure.
In addition to a trip to Florida earlier this year (love visiting NASA!), one thing I took advantage of in 2022 were a variety of weekend events. My many travels to Newport for Cars & Coffee (Audrain Auto Museum) along with the American Heritage Museum and New England Air Museum were certainly the highlight. While having an enjoyable experience is always nice, I usually learn something new or interesting that I can incorporate into my creative world. I have always been a proponent of traveling whenever you can. Whether it’s a day trip or weeklong adventure, expanding one’s horizons and new experiences certainly helps me as a storyteller.
As this year comes to close, I want to thank those that have watched and propelled First Signal around the world. Now available on numerous VOD platforms, its dedicated viewers like you that make independent film like First Signal possible.
Over the weekend I attended another wonderful re-enactment event at the American Heritage Museum. The Battle of Bunker Hill was produced with enthusiastic re-enactors that brought to life one of the famed early battles in the American Revolutionary War. While I have attended numerous re-enactment events, these re-enactors went out of their way to engage with attendees to discuss this critical time in American history. Suffice to say I learned a few things!
While producing a movie is all about pre-production, rehearsals, etc., these re-enactment events are like watching a movie unfold in real time over several hours rather than months. Yes, most of these groups have all worked together, but their ability to produce this type of entertainment so quickly is impressive. For those of you in the New England area, the re-enactors from this past weekend will next perform at Old Sturbridge Village on August 6 &7.
This past week, First Signal received its quarterly VOD payment from Indie Rights. I could not be more pleased with our results to date. While I was reviewing the reports, I learned that First Signal secured a territory sale in South Korea. This is yet another milestone that First Signal has achieved. From our VOD placement, 1M+ views on YouTube and now a territory sale, First Signal is well on its way to achieving an awareness I only dreamed of.
Those of us that produce true independent feature films, do so because we love to tell stories. While we always hope for a return on our investment, it honestly isn’t top of mind. Yes, staying within a budget that has some hope for a return is important, but that cannot be the driver. The driving motivation to produce must first be a love of the craft.
I remember towards the end of principal photography on First Signal, that despite sweltering 100-degree heat, I was just vey excited to work those final days. Perhaps it was the realization that I knew the quality we produced the previous weeks, or it was getting into the rhythm of doing something that just felt natural. Whatever the reason, I do look forward to the day when I’m bringing my next project to life.
As for my next project, I completed my director reel a few days ago and will post it sometime this week. Having reviewed my previous five films and cutting out scenes that looked interesting, the challenge to select was just that: a challenge. The question begs to be asked, just what is a director reel? Having reviewed countless reels from other directors the question, in my view, is still unanswered. Some focus on cinematography, others focus on an intense scene or two, while some focused on visual effects. To be frank, they were all over the place.
In the end, I selected a variety of scenes and moments over a track of music that I believe reflect the scope of work I’ve produced over the years. For me, I wanted to show versatility in my directing ability. From conceiving a scene in outer space, to a confrontation between actors, to sports; my goal was to present a well-rounded view of my directing capabilities. While this reel doesn’t have a singular story arc per se, I think it does reflect that I like to tell stories that are unique in concept and execution.