On Thursday Justice Is Mind arrived on BitTorrent Bundle! I largely learned about BitTorrent through the media around the film Hits and the journey that project took to reach that platform. Of sheer coincidence, Justice Is Mind and Hits share an actor by the name of Ken Holmes. Ken played Christopher Thomas in Justice Is Mind and is just amazing at promotion on social media. He does a masterful job of not only promoting himself but the films he’s involved in. Actors take note this is what a director looks for – a talented actor who also understands the world of social media.
On BitTorrent Bundle not only is the feature film available to both stream and download, but our bundle includes the trailer, short film, screenplay, press kit, interviews, Q&A and select stills. In essence, for $4.99 you have the whole Justice Is Mind experience from script to screen and beyond. I have to say working with BitTorrent has been great. Their customer service and attention to detail is first rate.
What I mentioned in my press release is that when I wrote the screenplay and business plan for Justice Is Mind these platforms didn’t even exist. Now, they command users in the millions. I revisited my business plan for First World and SOS United States this week as well. While First World did discuss VOD, it still incorporated DVD estimates. Let’s just say DVD has now been discarded as a revenue stream you can count on never mind estimate. As I just wrote SOS United States several months ago, largely and thankfully, not much had to be updated on that front. With some investor and production meetings coming up in April, I know I’m going to need updated versions of these plans. As I near the end of the business plan for In Mind We Trust, the one area of revenue that’s critical for distribution is theatrical as it develops media and creates the audience that drives initial VOD traffic.
This past week a good friend of mine mentioned that he wants to turn one of his books into a screenplay. Nothing is more exciting than seeing the words you have written come to life. I remember to this day being on the set of First World watching the actors breathe life into characters that only existed on paper. To see it accomplished in a feature film like Justice Is Mind is a whole other milestone. In addition to sending him the script to Justice Is Mind, I also sent him this wonderful article by Jeanne Veillette Bowerman the Editor of Script magazine. I had the great pleasure of meeting Jeanne at the premiere of Justice Is Mind’s trailer at an Upstate Independent event in 2013.
Her article is a must read for anyone involved in the industry but specifically those that are involved in the world of screenwriting. There are so many wonderful takeaways and quotable lines. From “When a great script is sitting in front of an executive, they don’t give a shit how much or how little money you spent learning how to write it. They only care that they are going to make money on your words.” To “There are indeed charlatans in this business, as there are in any business. Do your research.”
My advice is pretty simple for anyone that wants to get involved in the world of screenwriting. Remember, your writing is different than my writing. Watch films that you enjoy that have done well in the market and then hunt down their screenplays. Watch the film again and then read the screenplay. You’ll see how things are done in print and how they translate to the silver screen.
But do ask yourself the following before opening your wallet, “By paying this fee am I helping my career or theirs?” Remember it’s your career first.
In the entire history of this production, this past week had to be the most anxious and exciting at the same time. I am a person who is organized by lists in various stages of priority. At the top of the list was one line marked on either side by asterisk **FILE & DVD**. Translation—Justice Is Mind was being exported this week to produce our exhibition DVDs. Not only for our world premiere on August 18 but for key presentations to studios and distributors.
Throughout the final weeks of post-production, I have learned things like “phasing” “time code” and “frame rate”. I promise you, I will be working some of this new found technical knowledge into my next screenplay. There were more than a few moments when I simply wanted to say, “Mr. Scott, we need warp drive as soon as possible.” But like that scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the last thing we wanted at this stage was to leave at the speed of light only to encounter a wormhole.
And so it was early Thursday morning that the final export of Justice Is Mind came through for me to review. Seriously, anxious doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling. This was my final review before exporting the film to DVD. I started to watch Justice at about 5 AM and after seeing the brilliant color correction that was now in place (and this was a lo-res version) the film simply took on a feeling of completion. I sent a text to our editor “everything looked great!”
Anticipating that everything was fine, our editor arrived in Boston at the production company that was going to produce the exhibition DVDs. His texts started to come through “waiting for the whole file to transfer” and then “we’re good on the transfer”. By noon I received the email from the production company, “The test DVD is all set.” And this was it, the moment we have all been waiting for. I was going into Boston to review the first 10 min of Justice on DVD.
As I drove into Boston, naturally, I couldn’t help but reflect on the last few years. All the work, the worry, the meetings, the presentations—but this is what we have all been striving for. I parked the car at Copley (forget trying to find on street parking in Boston!) and before I knew it I was sitting in a small conference room at Video Express on Newbury Street. When our production contact hit play on the DVD and I saw the resolution of the film come to life “on screen” I was simply stunned. Yes, like a kid in a candy store taking as many samples as possible, I began to snap pictures of the wall monitor. And so approving the file I drove home only to return the next day in a torrential downpour (and a couple of hydroplane moments) to pick up the completed film. A little New England weather wasn’t going to stop me!
And so today, I cross off various lines on my priority list. Until the next iteration of file transfer to our distributors, Justice Is Mind is complete.
While I plan to say some opening remarks next Sunday at our world premiere, I will also thank our post production team here. First and foremost our editor Jared Skolnick for a masterful job of bringing Justice to life in the “editing room” and the countless tasks and responsibilities that went with that. Jeremy Blaiklock our director of photography and for his brilliant color correction. Adam Starr our special effects supervisor for his unique VFX creations. Daniel Elek-Diamanta for an original score that’s on par with the great film composers. Last, but most certainly not least, Timothy McHugh and his team at Visionary Sound for a sound mix that adds that final bit of quality so necessary in film.
T-minus 7 days.
Since the funding was announced to produce Justice Is Mind last month, there has been a flurry of activity around the entire project. As a filmmaker, it’s great to see a film begin to take on a life of its own. Of course in that process there are a mountain of details to attend to. In addition to securing the cast and crew, there are the locations and the nuances to detail so that when principal photography starts all things are in place—or damn close to it!
Our posting on New England Film for actors yielded over 300 responses across several states. I was delighted to see so many familiar faces from the work I’ve done over the last several years as both an actor and producer. But discovering new talent during the audition and casting process is always exciting. Make no mistake about it while New York and Los Angeles may claim to be the entertainment centers of the country, New England is a treasure drove of talent on both sides of the camera. Our call for crew has also brought an unprecedented quality in submissions. With callbacks taking place on July 7, and with crew discussions ongoing, look for our announcement of cast and crew soon.
In addition to the people that will bring Justice Is Mind to life, it is the locations that truly make the look of a production jump off the screen. A few weeks ago I traveled to Rotterdam, New York at the request of one of our starring actors to scout locations (thanks Vern!). There is something to be said about the welcoming atmosphere of a small town and the enthusiasm of the world of film. The same can be said for a restaurant in the town of Oxford we worked with on the short film and a two restaurant group I just visited in New Hampshire this past Friday.
Producing a low-budget feature film is no easy task. You are asking actors, crew and locations to work with you largely as a project of passion and belief in what everyone is aiming to accomplish – a quality motion picture that will be well received in the market. But for anyone that has worked with me on previous projects, there is one element that they know I bring to the table – promotion and marketing. Yes, I am relatively relentless when it comes to the promotion of projects I’m involved with (it’s also what I do for a living). While the immediate situation may not yield a market level payout, everyone rides along on the promotion train, shares in the rewards and leverages this project for the next gig and the next and so on. I did that in figure skating which eventually led to a gig on network TV show (FOX’s Skating with Celebrities). This is why we are offering points to the majority of actors and crew on this project. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know I wouldn’t mind receiving a check every quarter for a project I did a couple of years past. It’s a reminder that the work you did mattered and that someone is going to bat for you. Just as important, your work is being seen.
On the side of promotion and distribution, I am delighted to announce that IndieFlix released Justice Is Mind: Evidence on June 19. The short is now available digitally for all those to view and enjoy. And on the film festival front, Evidence has been accepted to the Scinema 2012 Festival of Science Film in Australia and the Chicon 7 Independent Film Festival in Chicago. With our acceptance to these festivals, we are making some artwork updates to the Justice Is Mind: Evidence DVD. Look for that release later on this month.
To the actors and crew who have submitted, to the location stakeholders who have welcomed and considered our production, to our distributor IndieFlix and to the film festivals that have accepted us, I say thank you. To Mary Wenninger and Stefan Knieling, who backed the feature, and to my Producer/AD, Jess Killam and her organizational skills and knowledge—it goes without saying that absent your support the production of the feature film Justice Is Mind would not be possible.