The one thing that consistently amazes me in the world of filmmaking is the creativity everyone brings to the table. This is one of the areas that I enjoy the most. I’m not sure if my post production team will agree with me or not, but after I give my general direction on something, I let them simply create. Imagine. I’ve often heard these nightmarish stories of directors that berate everyone involved to obsessive extremes or worse the other side of it when no direction or organization is given. Once, I had the unfortunate experience of working with a disorganized director as an actor and it was a nightmare (I felt like Captain Kirk on the Enterprise B!). I always aim for a comfortable middle. But at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the director that the vision is executed by all concerned.
As we are entering the final stages of post production, I look at the smoothness of the story our editor Jared Skolnick has created for Justice Is Mind and I wonder if he read my mind on my fondness for dramatic storytelling from Hollywood of the 1940s and 50s. The same holds true for my friend and our special effects guru Adam Starr. I’ve worked with Adam for well over ten years on other projects, and while I will be the first to admit that I used to get a bit hot headed in those early days, it was all for the best of the project. Adam is another one who is good at mind reading (I guess that works well with the Justice Is Mind story). I send off my notes and presto out comes something that would simply rival any top special effects house. Then there is our composer Daniel Elek-Diamanta, someone I have never met who lives in the United Kingdom. When I first listened to samples of his work, I just heard the sounds of Justice coming to life.
Like any industry, you create teams of people you enjoy working with. But no other industry ties that together more than filmmaking. Of course, we aren’t all going to agree on everything and we all have our own point of view on how something should be executed. But once you work on a set you can clearly understand how you see the same people working together over and over again. It’s not so much on the acting side, but on the production side you want to work with people whose work you know and who you trust. Look at someone like J.J. Abrams. He often collaborates with the same team. I’d say that’s worked out OK for him!
But look this isn’t always a bed of roses either with everyone singing Kumbaya. During Justice Is Mind I had the unfortunate job of having to let people go during the production and in post-production (and there was some pre-production drama too). You’re either part of the team or you’re not. Simply, in this business time is money and I don’t have the time to figure out what your issues are. Besides, it’s woefully unfair to those putting in the effort to produce a quality product.
Coming into the last couple of months of post-production I could not be more thankful to the entire team (on both sides of the camera) that is making Justice Is Mind possible. We all know that producing a feature film is not easy. As we have seen this past week, actors like Zach Braff took to Kickstarter because they couldn’t get the deal they wanted, famed director Steven Soderbergh vented on the wild west of filmmaking (has it ever been anything less?) and digital distribution continues to “adjust” the establishment. But through it all you need content and a team that can deliver. And like Captain Kirk and his crew on the Enterprise, it would be pretty cool to board a ship with the crew I’ve been working with the last several months.
U.S.S Justice standby for departure.
Having seen a rough cut of the first 43 minutes of Justice Is Mind, the story has now progressed to the FVMRI procedure. In Justice some pivotal moments take place in a medical setting. I can tell you first hand that securing medical-like locations is a herculean task all by itself. It’s not that people don’t want to work with you, there is something else that comes up like a cement wall—HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Yes, the very act that I reference in Justice that doesn’t protect capital crimes revealed during the FVMRI procedure also protects patients in the real world from having their medical information compromised. We all certainly agree that patient records needs to be protected. But in the end, it just came down to assurances that patient information won’t be breached. My continued thanks to the MRI Centers of New England in Haverhill and the Vernon Medical Center in Worcester for your support of Justice Is Mind.
As for the rough cut of what I’ve seen so far? I’m more than pleased. There is no greater satisfaction as a filmmaker than seeing words you’ve written on paper come to life. With a variety of communications going back and forth between our editor, composer and me this week, the trailer is being edited and the score is being composed. I think it’s pretty safe to say that there are a fair amount of people looking forward to seeing the trailer!
The post-production phase is just as involved as pre-production and production. While the film is being built in the editing phase, there is the entire other side of the business of marketing, public relations and distribution that needs to be planned. Film Independent has a variety of terrific forum videos that touched on numerous aspects of independent filmmaking. First and foremost with the advent of social media tools available, David Dinerstein of LD Entertainment said that filmmakers “have so many tools at their own hand that they’ve never had before to start the process as early as possible.” Continuing on that same thought, Wendy Cohen of Participant Media (Lincoln) stated “what’s this movie’s presence is going to be online is not something that should come at the end…I know this is just extra work for everybody but it has to start at the very beginning.”
With more and more production companies engaging in self-distribution of their films, building an audience early on is just part of the process. As one of the panelists stated, “I think it’s a really exciting time in the independent film space. The studios are doing Batman and Superman and Ironman…I think they’ve left everything else to independent sources of financing.” Obviously I agree with this. But with the advent of all these new tools and technologies available to a filmmaker, it comes down to what’s best for the project. Do you sell all rights, partial rights or self distribute the entire film across all channels? Maybe you sign a DVD/VOD deal but keep theatrical? I’ve known some filmmakers that have sold all rights and some that have sold partial rights. Each has a different story to tell with their respective projects.
In regard to Justice what’s now being planned is a trailer launch event and distribution of the trailer – from posting, media and distributors with an eye on where to premiere the feature film in 2013. I think one of my favorite directors (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture) summed it up best when he said:
“My three Ps: passion, patience, perseverance. You have to do this if you’ve got to be a filmmaker.”
– Robert Wise