This coming Sunday, June 27 is the Massachusetts premiere of First Signal at The Strand Theatre in Clinton, MA. Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to our next screening. Since First Signal arrived on VOD in April it’s been continuous steady marketing efforts, but a screening is an event. As such, it should be promoted that way. To that end, I was very pleased to see The Item’s “Area native film, ‘First Signal,’ gets Massachusetts premiere at The Strand” article in the latest issue.
When I was reflecting on my past films at The Strand, it was The Item that always published a solid article before a screening. Those notices are a godsend to any filmmaker as they not only alert audiences to a screening event but contribute to the overall branding of the film. Securing press for a VOD only release of an independent film is not easy. But a theatrical screening? That sets it apart from the tens of thousands of other films vying for ink and eyeballs.
As I mentioned to a friend in the industry a few weeks ago, the media and filmmaking landscape has changed significantly since I released Justice Is Mind in 2013. Simply, there are more films being released and less media outlets to report. And if they can report, page counts and staff have been reduced. My point—getting media attention takes work and is harder. Yes, there are countless blogs and then there is social media, but a “newspaper article” is quite grand as they reserved space for you. Almost like a film festival, they vetted what they are going to report.
In regard to marketing and promotion, we are eight weeks into First Signal’s series of actor interviews. For those that want to gain some insight into the creation of First Signal and how the world of independent filmmaking works, you can check them out at this link. As each interview was about 35 minutes long, we had them broken down into three parts for each actor. Starting this Saturday, I’ll be posting part three of each actor’s interview. Look for a new one each Saturday for the next month.
Today I went to the American Heritage Museum (where we filmed First Signal’s actor interviews), to attend their Tanks, Wings and Wheels event. The team that brings this museum to life does so in a way that has you leaving with a unique perspective on the history of war. From the introductory film to the WWI trench experience to the “Winds of War” War Clouds room followed by the main exhibits, the American Heritage Museum is a total immersive experience brilliantly presented. For those of you that are interested in learning more about this outstanding military history museum and attending some of their unique events, check them out at this link.
There is something to be said about arriving at a theater and seeing not one but two of your films on the marquee. Yes, it’s like being a kid in a candy store. Because it is in that moment that all the work that has gone in to making a film is celebrated.
And celebrate we did. One by one family, friends, actors and crew started to arrive. Some I saw as recently as a couple of weeks ago, others it’s been a few years. But in the moment it feels like it was just yesterday. And heavens knows there were many yesterdays to get to this point!
After a reception in the lobby of the Strand Theatre, I made my opening remarks and then Justice Is Mind began. I was sitting next to Vernon Aldershoff and he said to me, “It never gets old.” No it doesn’t. And seeing the film in its highest resolution in a DCP format was another highlight.
Of course the highlight of the evening was the world premiere of Serpentine: The Short Program. This is one project that was particularly close to me for a variety of reasons. The moment the film started I was reminded about my days as a skater, teacher, magazine publisher and the TV work I would do around the sport. But it’s not about me, it’s about the product. One that you want audiences to enjoy.
And it was the next day that audiences around the world were able to stream Serpentine: The Short Program on both Amazon and the Ice Network. So far the numbers look promising and early reviews have been encouraging. But like First World ten years ago, this is an industry of the long haul. Or as we say in figure skating, the long program.
While VOD is a savior to the independent filmmaker, there is nothing like the theater. Because there is that one moment you’re hoping for that can only happen in a theater. To again quote from All About Eve, it was Eve Harrington that said it best, “If nothing else, there’s applause.” And they did when Serpentine: The Short Program faded to black.