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Posts tagged “congressional hearings

New Horizons

Pluto taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on 13 July 2015

Pluto taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on 13 July 2015.

Exactly one month from today Justice Is Mind will celebrate its Second Anniversary on August 18 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, MA. Actors and crew continue to RSVP their attendance, traditional and social media is picking up, photographers are confirmed and the theater has the film. Believe me there’s still plenty to do with the media follow ups and general marketing push, but the event is tracking well. For me it comes down to planning and organization. Time moves quickly and before you know it you are seeing your event come up on the horizon.

When I was writing In Mind We Trust, the sequel to Justice Is Mind, there were a few things I wanted to make sure the sequel captured. First, the Miller family was still the nucleus of the primary story while key plot points from part one (Justice Is Mind) were expanded. In the case of In Mind We Trust it was the government’s involvement with mind reading and their partnership with Reincar Scientific. Also, when you consider TV shows like The Blacklist, Fringe, etc., audiences enjoy what I call “intelligent intrigue”.

In Mind We Trust - Concept Trailer

In Mind We Trust – Concept Trailer.

I am pleased to present the concept trailer for In Mind We Trust. The trailer can be watched on Vimeo or YouTube. My aim with the concept trailer was to introduce elements from Justice Is Mind that carry forward into the sequel In Mind We Trust. From part one we know the United States government and intelligence agencies are, for some reason, involved with mind reading technology. The answers become clear in the sequel, thus the concept trailer sheds some light on where the story will go. And as the U.S. Supreme Court has now become the defacto policy maker in our government, the concept trailer, like the screenplay, ends at America’s highest court in the land.

Of course, I want to thank Daniel Elek-Diamanta for the tremendous score he wrote for the concept trailer. The gravitas of his score just brings the entire concept trailer to life. Those of you that have been following Justice Is Mind know that Daniel scored the entire film. Indeed, as one of our actors said recently, it’s worth the price of the ticket just to hear his score. For those of you that can’t make our screening on August 18, please visit www.justiceismind.com for VOD viewing options.

Tickets now on sale. The Second Anniversary of Justice Is Mind.

Tickets now on sale. The Second Anniversary of Justice Is Mind.

But the real new horizon this week was not a movie, it was the actual New Horizons interplanetary spacecraft and successful Pluto flyby on July 14. The word “stunning” doesn’t even begin to describe the quality of the images New Horizons set back to Earth.

I was a bit too young (4) to appreciate the Apollo 11 Moon landing, but the excitement shared around the world about New Horizons encounter with Pluto was truly one for the history books. From NASA’s scientific achievement to the sheer enthusiasm of audiences around the world waiting and watching for those early pictures. I can only imagine how the New Horizons team felt when they were waiting for the spacecraft to communicate after its closest flyby. Nearly ten years in space, and years of planning before that, and you are waiting for a signal, until…

New Horizons phoned home.

Near Pluto's equator as viewed by New Horizons on July 14, 2015.

Near Pluto’s equator as viewed by New Horizons on July 14, 2015.

To learn more about New Horizons and its historic mission to Pluto, please click this link.


Minding a Franchise

The Miller family returns in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

The Miller family returns in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Last Monday I finished the first draft of the sequel to Justice Is Mind. By the early reports from those that have read it, they really enjoy the story. Certainly as a first draft there are edits, but all in all, I’m happy with it. It’s a continuation and expansion of the original story.

I think in the back of my mind I always had the idea for the sequel and planted clues all along the way in Justice Is Mind. Now with the sequel completed, it is also set up to continue as a pitch for a TV series.

The completed first draft sequel to Justice Is Mind.

The completed first draft sequel to Justice Is Mind.

When I first started to contemplate the sequel there were a variety of things that I knew would encompass a continuation. First, the sequel would start where the original left off. With a sequel you have to assume that some won’t see the original so you need some background to carry it forward. As I’ve publicly stated, Henri Miller has not been killed. It’s his resurrection that bridges the world of science and mysticism. From intelligence agencies, to secret courts, to scientific companies and the exploits of the Miller family, the story concludes at the Supreme Court of the United States.

The majority of the characters from Justice Is Mind return, but it’s in the sequel where we learn more about them and their various motivations.  Combining the original characters with a variety of new voices, brings a new story to life that travels from New England, to Washington, DC, to Germany, Russia and Italy.  From Senator Caraway leading the congressional investigation into pre-life memories to General Blair of Joint Special Operations Command on terrorism in Washington, DC to the President of Reincar Scientific. But through all this, the story centers around the Miller family. From the horrors of World War II to the present, the secrets of the Miller family are revealed in vivid detail.

The sequel travels from World War II in Germany to the present.

The sequel travels from World War II in Germany to the present.

In all my writing and research over the years, I can’t remember tackling something as involved as the sequel to Justice Is Mind. From past life regression, to intelligence operations, to the secretive FISA court, to Germany in World War II and studying case law and procedure for the Supreme Court of the United States.  Personally, that’s one area of writing I enjoy – the research. You wind up learning things that you would probably never know unless you experienced it personally or actually wrote about it.  While a satisfying experience, it is a labored one.  This is why I’m such an advocate for laying the foundation with a complete and vetted script. The last thing I want to think of during production is the story, I just want to shoot.

While Justice Is Mind has 42 speaking parts (not including extras), the sequel has 61 with Margaret and Henri Miller leading in the number of dialogues and scenes.  In so many ways the production of Justice Is Mind was a proving ground in terms of what was possible to accomplish. The sequel takes it up a deserving few notches – Margaret, Henri and Cast of Hundreds.  Yes, a slight turn in title to a book about the making of my favorite film of all time –Gone With the Wind.  For those that love that movie, I highly recommend Scarlett, Rhett, and a cast of thousands: The Filming of Gone With the Wind.

Those that follow me know me well enough that I’ve already started the process of developing the sequel for production. But that being said, a few observations of the New England entertainment market. We need a TV series in the region that incorporates a diverse set of talent – both known and unknown.  As Justice Is Mind proved, talent on both sides of the camera need not be a household name for success.

What’s next? Synopsis.

The opening scene in the sequel to Justice Is Mind finds us in the boardroom of Reincar Scientific.

The opening scene in the sequel to Justice Is Mind finds us in the boardroom of Reincar Scientific.


The Senate

In the sequel to Justice Is Mind, McCarthy era-like hearings take place.

In the sequel to Justice Is Mind, McCarthy era-like hearings take place.

As I am in the throes of writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind I’ve moved my weekly blog post to Monday. On the weekends I do my most intense writing. The weekdays are largely reserved for marketing, research and the consulting work I do.  That research this past week took me back to the Joseph McCarthy era hearings. Let’s pray that our country never has to live through that time again.

Writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind has been an interesting experience. Yes, I wrote the sequel to First World, but as the first installment hasn’t been produced yet, adjustments can still be made without disrupting the canonicity of the story. As some may have noticed, I set up a variety of character and plot points that will carry over to the sequel.

What happens to the characters in the sequel.

What happens to the characters in the sequel.

By example, in part one we establish that Margaret Miller is a journalist of some note with a book by the name of “Posted: Social Secrets of the Government” that has caused some sort of political stir. In the sequel we see just what that stir is about. I also established that while Henri Miller was shot, he wasn’t killed. Dr. Eve Pullman has been recalled to Germany by Reincar Scientific. Judge Wagner has been appointed to the FISA Court and Constance Smith and John Darrow find themselves, yet again, front and center in the legal and ethical malaise of the FVMRI procedure. For me, I look at the logical extensions of the characters to see where they may go along with new characters we meet along the way. It’s safe to say that the intelligence apparatus of the United States falls squarely into the sequel.

In SOS United States, what will the President do when he learns that a nuclear bomb may be on an ocean liner heading to the United States.

In SOS United States, what will the President do when he learns that a nuclear bomb may be on an ocean liner heading to the United States.

But in the end of all of this, there is the marketing and promotion. It has been WELL over a year since Justice Is Mind had its world premiere, but  marketing continues on a daily basis.  I was more than elated when I discovered this morning that Justice Is Mind’s weekly MovieMeter on IMDB jumped our listing to 10,989 out of over 3.1 million entries!  Not only is this our highest placement on IMDB, but it also proves that the collective marketing efforts of the last couple of years are seeing positive results.

I do the same thing for First World and SOS United States. Getting “discovered” in this business doesn’t really happen anymore unless you let people know about your project. The old adage “if you build it they will come”, doesn’t work without promotion and marketing. How we wish as a creative we could just write, produce, direct or act and then wait for the accolades, the lists, the press and the audience to find us.

When I was reading in IndieWire this morning about a film that was accepted into Sundance, I was particularly surprised by one of the comments that someone just wants to write and not produce. That’s all well and good if you just a want to write and have your work optioned, but in the real world of independent filmmaking you just have to wear many hats. What’s great is that the trades like the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, The Wrap, Deadline and IndieWire provide a wealth of information for filmmakers to make their own mind up on what’s best for their project because each project is different.

Next witness.

In First World, we learn that the United Nations Security Council has long known about an alien presence on Earth.

In First World, we learn that the United Nations Security Council has long known about an alien presence on Earth.

 

 


The Senate

Margaret Miller's book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Margaret Miller’s book plays a central role in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

Having completed up to page 41 on the sequel to Justice Is Mind this morning, I’m now at that point in act two where the characters are starting their journeys in earnest. What’s going to happen to Henri Miller? In the quest to save Henri, what will Margaret Miller find? What do Constance Smith and John Darrow reveal at the congressional hearings? And what has Judge Wagner been appointed to? And these are just the recurring characters from part one. Indeed, when I’m writing I try very hard to not go with the obvious but to present the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, turns.  As Unsung Films said about Justice Is Mind, “And this is when the film changes gear for one last time, turning into a science fiction tale – unexpectedly and viciously.”

What I have learned with the sequel is that if I can imagine a fictional situation, scary, it seems to exist in some sort of preliminary form. From DNA memory sequencing to secret courts in the United States. Like it or not we now live in a world where technology, privacy and science are all part of our daily lives.  Growing up we yearned for a future of flying cars and a Jetson’s life. But in all actuality, do our homes and lives look any different from the early 1980s? But what has changed since then is how we personally interact on a daily basis. Between social media, the storage of our data and the electronic world we live in, privacy is all but gone (just ask Sony Pictures Entertainment). In the sequel to Justice Is Mind, one particular question will come to light – what’s your right to privacy?

What happens to the characters in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

What happens to the characters in the sequel to Justice Is Mind.

So while I continue to write the sequel with its variety of twists and turns, this past week was also investor conversations and some interaction with the industry.  Let me just say this to filmmakers looking for funding – don’t be fooled by “bright and shiny” brochures and fancy looking websites with all kinds of claims. Unbelievably, a company that reached out to me last week claimed they invested millions in a slate films. Of course I asked the names of these films for my own due diligence. Sure, but not after I paid a retainer. Sorry, I don’t recall having the word idiot stamped on my forehead. I didn’t bother to tell them that a simple search on IMDB revealed zero listings for these people.

In a new article this week, it looks like the Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth may belong to the US Marines rather than Britain. In SOS United States, President and Prime Minister plan to merge their respective militaries.

In a new article this week, it looks like the Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth may belong to the US Marines rather than Britain. In SOS United States, the President and Prime Minister plan to merge their respective militaries.

But on a more festive note (this is the season!), I have found it pretty straight forward to simply call the people you want to reach from investors to agents and production companies. Everyone is entitled to say no (we all do it), but I find the soft and brief phone pitch followed up by an email with more information can easily lead to some nice conversations.  Building relationships takes time and trust. Everyone in this industry, it doesn’t matter who, is looking for the next deal, connection, gig or whatever.

I did, however, have the opportunity to submit First World to an agency. In as much as I know the story inside out, I haven’t read the script in a couple of years. It is amazing what a fresh set of eyes can bring. While the script has been vetted, nominated for few awards, produced as a short film and is registered, there was always a brief interaction with the President and Secretary of State that I felt just didn’t click. Well, I think it came to me when I read the script on Friday and made the adjustment before I emailed it. It was just two lines of dialogue but to a writer, and indeed to an audience, they can make all the difference.

Act Two

This past week NASA successfully launched Orion. One step closer to the story in First World.

This past week NASA successfully launched Orion. One step closer to the story in First World.

 


Congressional Hearings

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In every film there is the inciting incident. That moment (or moments) that drives the story in Act 1 from the established world of the characters to a turning point when the characters have to “act” to drive the story in Act 2. In Justice Is Mind it’s when Henri Miller collapses on his property. In SOS United States it’s when we learn there is a nuclear bomb on an ocean liner. In First World it’s when we learn what Apollo 11 discovered on the Moon. In the sequel to Justice Is Mind it’s when….sorry can’t reveal that yet!

There is one area of Justice Is Mind that has resonated universally well with audiences and those were the courtroom scenes.  In the United States I live in a country of perpetual congressional hearings. I swear they should have their own network! In Justice Is Mind we learn that there were congressional hearings that approved the FVMRI procedure. In the sequel, a new round of congressional hearings is now underway. As a writer it will be interesting to explore this process and how it works. Much like I had to do with the courtroom scenes in Justice Is Mind, it comes down to research. In addition to how congressional hearings are administered, I’ve also been revisiting fringe science in terms of mind-reading and DNA sequencing. Suffice to say it’s been an interesting journey so far.

In the sequel. A grand indictment of the legal system.

In the sequel – a grand indictment of the legal system.

With a few investor conferences scheduled this week, it should be an interesting one for SOS United States and First World as well. A screenplay, in my view, is like an architectural drawing. There it sits while one proposal after another is submitted to secure funding to break ground and build something new. Indeed, that’s the way Justice Is Mind was built.  And really is this process any different from that of an actor going on an audition?  Like an actor wanting to secure a part in a solid production, the same thing holds true with securing an investor for a film. It’s more than just talent and capital, it’s about long-term partnerships.

The NSA is featured positively in SOS United States. In the real world a UK organization revealed that British intel agencies access NSA information. ,

The NSA is featured positively in SOS United States. In the real world a UK organization revealed that British intel agencies access NSA information. 

I read an article in one of the trades some months ago where a producer mentioned something along the lines of “do I want to be in business with these people for five plus years”. That really is what this industry comes to…a long tail approach.  Sure, you have your “premiere” but the business continues long after that.  Just this past week I had a couple of conversations with schools that may be interested in screening Justice Is Mind and there are more VOD platforms coming online soon. Building your new architectural wonder may be the fun part, but then you have to have it occupied.

Speaking of building, that’s what I’m doing with the sequel to Justice Is Mind. When it’s completed I’ll have a slate of three films ready for production.  I’m writing the sequel not only because I want to, but because some people have queried me on a sequel. Why not have something at the ready or at least in the works?

But like a building, a screenplay just can’t be thrown together. It has to be carefully constructed. And like the original story in Justice Is Mind, the sequel isn’t just an addition it has to tower on its own.

In First World we see Orion ready to launch. This week NASA is set to launch the first test flight of the Orion capsule.

In First World we see Orion ready to launch. This week NASA is set to launch the first test flight of the Orion capsule.