No, I didn’t make up the title of this week’s post. It was the title of a story that appeared in a Worcester Magazine article “Justice trumps privacy in Justice Is Mind”. Suffice to say I was enormously pleased with the piece. The writer, Cade Overton, really captured not only the essence of the film but how it fits into the real world we live in today.
Marketing a film, particularly an independent one, is not easy by any stretch. You are in a constant state of submitting whether it be to the media, distributors, festivals, networks, events, agents, etc. And as I prepare my notes for an upcoming workshop I’m teaching the end of the month, the three P’s come to mind plan, perseverance and persistence.
From a business plan implementation point of view, this past week for Justice Is Mind went really well. I’ll just say publicly, that two original programming execs got back to me about Justice. These are not only very positive developments, but ones that have been established over time from other projects I’ve been working on. Building relationships like this take time and to add another P….patience. So fingers crossed here.
Pitching a project takes some bit of calculation and planning. By example, Justice Is Mind, First World and my new political thriller will never be pitched to Lifetime. What would be the point? Programming executives receive pitches all the time so the goal, obviously, is to have something that they may be interested in rather than wasting their time. Speaking of, somehow I got onto some list of “producers to submit materials to”. While I only develop my own work (for now), I was getting pitches from writers to produce their comedies. A little research on their end would have shown that’s not a genre I’ve ever been involved in (although I do love a good comedy…oh the days of Rodney Dangerfield!). Thankfully, I found the website and removed my profile.
Speaking of planning, The Wrap this week talked about how digital sales are increasing exponentially amidst the continued decline of DVD sales. I could have told The Wrap about this two years ago after our distributor just stopped selling DVDs altogether. What’s being considered internally now with Justice is the digital distribution side. To be sure, there’s no shortage of platforms and viewing options available. The key, in my view, is to establish an audience for the film first with our theatrical, sci-fi and law school screenings so when the film is available digitally, there is a footprint out there of enthusiasts.
What is of particular interest to me at the moment is the continuous changing landscape of this industry from the development of projects, the financing, delivery and then distribution. There is generally no playbook. Oh the practical still exists of course, finance and shoot the movie and get it to audiences. The sea of change is in the layered platforms of distribution that are pulling revenue and audiences away and towards each other. In the end, it’s about the distribution of rights.
But in the beginning it is to quote Bill Sampson in All About Eve, “Wherever there’s magic and make-believe and an audience, there’s theatre.”
And so with our Massachusetts premiere coming up on Monday night at The Strand Theatre in Clinton, we return to where the Justice Is Mind project first exhibited with the short film version in 2012. I leave you with a quote from Marlene Dietrich in Judgment at Nuremberg.
“It should be quite an evening.”
With sound mixing complete and color correction underway, I am now focused almost exclusively on the marketing and distribution of Justice Is mind. I also have been finding a little time to write my political feature (up to page 40!) and follow up on some outstanding matters on First World. While it’s always good to have a variety of projects in various stages of development, I firmly believe, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, that focus is important. In my case, Justice Is Mind is front and center on the priority list.
Earlier this week I added a second theatre to screen Justice. The Strand Theatre in Clinton, MA welcomed us with open arms for the short film version Evidence in 2012. Now under new ownership, The Strand welcomed us back to screen the feature. The date – Monday, September 16th at 7 PM. Doors open at 6:15. Ticket prices are $5.50.
Yesterday, working with a filmmaker friend of mine in Ogunquit, ME, I secured our third screening venue at the Leavitt Theatre (date to be announced). My mother and I have been traveling to Ogunquit, ME for over twenty years and the opportunity to screen Justice in one of our favorite resort towns is truly excellent.
Early on in the process of developing Justice, while the film will more than likely find it’s “revenue” home on VOD and other digital platforms, I wanted to secure some sort of theatrical run for Justice even if it means I go “door to door” because we all know that seeing your film on the big screen is what’s it’s all about. But more importantly, it’s not just about giving these theatres your DVD and saying thank you, it’s about promotion. I know I have my work cut out for me as it’s my job to promote the film as much as possible so all parties benefit.
A recent article in USA Today talked about the challenges these independent theatres face in the wake of converting to digital. All three theatres that are screening Justice were built in the 1920s and 30s. There is such grand history in this industry—born from the silent era to the digital one. It’s important that we support them and preserve their history and place in the industry. I can’t help when I walk through these theatres to wonder who else walked these same steps to show their work. This week I’ll continue my “selling” Justice to theatres.
But while I deal with the traditional side of the process, I am also dealing with the contemporary digital side and evaluating the best route timing wise on when Justice will appear on certain platforms. Every filmmaker has a different agenda and different goals. Mine are pretty simple, maximum distribution for maximum return. I think that approach makes the most sense and lord knows there are all kinds of ways to get there. I’ll just say this, keep a solid POV on your wallet.
I came across one “distributor” this week who said, seriously, if you pay us $30,000 we will get you into some theatres and handle your promotion and accounting. Another, even more insulting, for $2,000 we give you one day in our theatre and for an additional $1,500 we can promise you a review in a leading newspaper (damn you bought off a journalist!). Scary the kind of ventures and vultures that are out there. Sounds like the “consultants” I came across in publishing that promised you “at the checkout” magazine placement. Ahhhh the promises and representations in this business. Thank you I’ll just pick up the phone and call the theatres direct and save myself all those kickbacks in the process.
While digital distribution makes the world of independent filmmaking possible from a return point of view (I like my monthly deposit from Amazon for my short films!), there is nothing more accepting than being in a theatre that is going to screen your work. This is where the business started and this is where the work needs to be seen.
On a closing note, this story just published in The Atlantic magazine “Could the Government Get a Search Warrant for Your Thoughts” could not be more timely for the upcoming release of Justice Is Mind.
Time to make some history.
T-minus 21 days.