As I approach the end of the latest story I’m writing in the First World Universe, I can’t help but feel a wave of emotions. There’s the excitement of course about completing a new story, but then there is that twinge of sadness as it’s coming to an end. As a writer, we live with our characters. From their victories and failures to achievements and disappointments, their world is revealed for all to see.
While the story is new, some of the characters have already been established and brought to life in First Signal. The returning characters in this story are President Colton, General Reager, Major Sampson, Elisabeth Seward and James Griffin. As I saw how each actor brought these characters to life, it has made the writing of their actions and dialogue a bit easier as they are familiar. But in this story, there are numerous new characters with the creation of Kate Cloverton as the star.
Cloverton, a rising journalist for a major American media company, I realized after the first act is a combination of many journalists I have known over the years. While she’s determined to get the story, she exhibits self-doubt. She questions if the work she does really matters. It’s a colleague of hers that puts her back on track. A colleague who has had some limited success in his own career, but then finds that his efforts hit a brick wall.
I have seen the competitive aspects of journalists first-hand. There are those that are methodical in research and interviews with their eye on the long view without coming to a conclusion prematurely. Then there are those that have an idea for a story and will do whatever they need to do to publish their views. I think we can all agree that the latter has taken over the contemporary world of journalism.
But in this story, Cloverton is sent on a journey by an editor that has a mission of his own. While perhaps well meaning, this editor had no idea that Cloverton’s ingenuity, gut instincts and willingness to take risks, would set world governments and an alien presence on Earth on a collision of Biblical proportions. I should have a first draft completed by mid-November.
A couple of weeks ago after I received our first quarterly payment for First Signal from our distributor Indie Rights, I received a couple of messages from their filmmakers on what I did for marketing. After communicating their messages to our distributor, they asked if I would like to publish a case study on how I marketed First Signal. I was happy to do so.
While I don’t think what I do for film marketing is revolutionary, there is one thing I do that I sadly don’t see employed—consistent marketing. Marketing is all about consistency, scheduling and messaging. For me, I simply calendar what I need to do on a weekly basis and stay the course. What I largely do isn’t based on how much cash I spend, but how much time I spend. If spending an hour a day on marketing yields a positive cash flow, I’d say that’s time well spent.
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.