They are used during times of war and for government continuity. They are a place where thoughts can be concentrated and orders can be given. In so many ways, it is also how a writer works – in a bunker.
When a screenplay is written it just doesn’t magically come together with a few keystrokes. A writer creates an entire world in their head with numerous characters, plots and scenes coming to life. For me at least, this has to be done in a bunker-like fashion. I need quiet. I need to concentrate. You will never find me writing in a coffee shop or with other writers at a retreat. Call me an isolationist, but I just don’t want the distraction. Honestly, some of the best ideas for scenes (particularly of conflict) come to me when I’m at the gym. Go figure. All writers have their oddities and that is mine. OK I have another, I get strange looks from my cats when I’m talking out dialogue.
I’m also not the type of writer that spends months creating these worlds only to option it off to a production company to let someone else create their view of my vision. Sure, an immediate paycheck is nice (if at all), but I take a long term view of my projects – development.
Having launched and managed a publishing company in a previous life, I think I’m just used to writing business plans (yes, I still believe in them) and working all the angles to raise the capital and making it happen. As I’ve said in previous posts, there is nothing more satisfying that seeing your written word come to life.
I’ll never forget my early days of developing Justice Is Mind. Yes, the idea came to me when I was working on the sequel to First World. Although I have written the feature length screenplay and produced a short film version for First World, as that is a multi-million dollar project, it’s just taking more time to develop. My goal with Justice Is Mind was to write, produce and direct a large scale feature on a micro budget to prove what I could and ultimately wanted to do. The proof was in our world premiere last August.
Heading into 2014 with our 9th and 10th theatrical screenings for Justice Is Mind on January 11th (Plimoth Cinema) and 24th (Cape Cinema) and with our Video on Demand plans coming online shortly, now could not be a better time for independent filmmakers. Simply put, we have a myriad of options to distribute on countless platforms. As I continue with our distribution plans for Justice Is Mind, which includes more theatrical screenings in the United States, the international push begins in earnest this year.
What has happened with the development of Justice Is Mind, started with First World and now will continue with my new political thriller – you build your base of supporters which includes actors, crew, marketing partners, investors and fans. From world building on paper to bringing it to life, but like all realities you have to keep it in check and it has to be managed. For me it all comes down to the bunker with a desk in the corner.
Next stop. Plymouth.
With 2013 coming to a close, I was reflecting the other day on the numerous theatrical screenings we have had for Justice Is Mind along with the substantive media placements and following we are developing. I took a moment to review my business plan for Justice and while digital distribution was front and center (and still is), theatrical distribution just didn’t seem to be in the cards as no theatrical distributor was attached to the film at the time. My how times have changed since writing the business plan three years ago. Filmmakers can largely self-distribute and save on the countless fees associated with the process.
Earlier this week our first check arrived from a theatre. It was our share of the box office for a one time screening. To say I was elated would be an understatement. It wasn’t the amount of the check that mattered. What mattered was that revenue was coming directly to us. If we had a distributor that handled our theatrical screenings, I’m fairly certain it would have all gone to them with only a small percentage (if anything at all) to us. Like filmmakers, distributors need to make money as well. A share of percentage is well understood, but it’s the related fees that can really suck up any profit. In an earlier post, I mentioned one “self-theatrical-distributor” that wanted to charge us $900 for a DCP (Digital Cinema Package) or else we couldn’t work with them. As this company is currently all the rage in the industry, of course I was interested in contacting them. But after reviewing their contract, they were only a facilitator and brought zero to the table. We are already providing the deliverables, posters and public relations, why shouldn’t we share the maximum return with the theatre and us? Why involve a middleman? Certainly, distributors are very much needed for a national rollout as they bring all their departments to bear and in those cases it simply comes down to economy of scale for a return. But distributor or not, filmmakers still need to market their films. Check out Film Specific’s blog post “Why Selling Your Film Is Not Somebody Else’s Problem.”
Although this year is winding down, Justice Is Mind certainly isn’t. As we prepare for two January screenings in Massachusetts (with what looks like Connecticut in February), along with the implementation of our VOD and international release plan, our public relations and marketing efforts continue.
In regard to public relations, I had a great time with Mary Wexler (Judge Wagner) and Gail Sullivan (Helen Granger) at the Plimoth Cinema this week. Gail arranged for PAC-TV in Plymouth to interview us for the January 11 screening. I also wrapped up an interview with a local newspaper that is more tied to our January 24 screening at Cape Cinema in Dennis. As of today, it looks like the PAC-TV airdate is set for January 9. I’ll post the link after it airs.
It is nice to see that all the work being done by so many is being noticed by outside parties. I was really pleased to learn yesterday that IMDB showed Justice Is Mind as one of the Top 10 Highest Rated Independent Films for 2013. With all the other films above us featuring some well-known actors, it proves another point that has been widely reported over the years, and falls in line with the consolidation of agencies, a movie does not need stars to carry a film.