Finding the right producer for a film is like casting the right actor. If you don’t get it right, the film falls apart. With a 51% film festival selection rate, SOS United States has been well received on the circuit. Prior to the script’s film festival run it had been read by a variety of people in and out of the industry. With those early comments in hand, some adjustments were made. But at the end of the day a script is the vision of its writer.
For those that have watched my films or read my work, my stories are involved not simple. They ask the audience to think and reflect. This is why I watch films and series that have very involved storylines. Films created by Christopher Nolan and author John le Carré are my inspiration. To be frank, I don’t have any interest in creating “simplified” work. It’s just not the type of entertainment I’m interested in creating.
Case in point I recently had a meeting with a producer I was looking forward to speaking with. Before I make a pitch, I just don’t look at a producer as a funding source but one that has produced films that could generally fall into the genre of the story I’ve written—in this case SOS United States.
The meeting started off on a positive note with the exchange of pleasantries. When we started talking about the script, this producer did make some solid observations about changing the villain country in light of recent world events, moving up the timeline a couple of years and some other salient points. But then it sadly become clear that this person only skimmed the script and then wanted to stamp their personal opinions on certain matters that made no sense to the story.
In this industry when a script is being reviewed, it often comes back with notes. I believe notes should identify true issues in a script not as fodder for personal opinions or spite. Is there a plot hole? A lack of character development? Is the intended story plausible? Has the story gone off track? Dialogue issues? But when a note or comment is conveyed that is just personal, and even spiteful, that’s when I lose interest in who I’m talking to. I’d rather see a project of mine go unproduced, rather than have it twisted into something I don’t recognize just for the sake of having it produced. Frankly, I couldn’t direct something I don’t believe in and have my name on it.
Like my search for finding the right distributor for First Signal, the same holds true when finding the right producing partner. While it’s important to be enthusiastic about your projects, the key is not to be desperate to do a deal for the sake of a deal. Oh, when I think of some of the ridiculous things some distributors said for First Signal. From you need to have a monster to sign this contract with a quarter of a century term. How easy some make it to say – no thanks. In the end First Signal found a great distribution partner with Indie Rights.
In a few weeks I’m visiting one of the locations that will be featured in SOS United States. It’s a location that inspired me to write this story in the first place. Perhaps like I eventually accomplished with Justice Is Mind and First Signal, something will come to mind that will enable me to produce SOS United States as an independent project through The Ashton Times.
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.