After over a year of searching and talking to sales agents and distributors, I’m pleased to announce that Indie Rights picked up First Signal for worldwide distribution. Our official press release can be found at this link.
As I mention in the press release, I’ve known of Linda Nelson’s company for many years. I first heard of Indie Rights when Justice Is Mind was having its theatrical run in 2013. Since then, I have come across a variety of sales agents and distributors. There are very few constants in this industry except one thing – reputation. While there was another company I was considering, Indie Rights had the best reputation among filmmakers. If you’re a filmmaker with a completed project, I highly encourage you to visit their website to learn more.
This truly is an industry about reputation. If you treat people well, if you’re honest, if you do the job you were contracted to do, that type of currency can be cashed in anywhere. But if you are difficult to work with, fail to deliver or impede the process, you’ll find your dance card pretty empty. I’ve talked about this before, there’s a reason why you see the same actors, crew and other partners working together from one project to another – reputation.
As we begin the process of organizing the deliverables for Indie Rights, I now turn my attention to First Signal’s marketing plan. In addition to what I’m hoping to do theatrically, the plan also includes First Signal’s VOD release (May). This will be markedly more involved than what I did for Justice several years ago. As the release will involve multiple outlets and countries, the key will be to put together a plan that can be somewhat replicated from market to market. As an independent filmmaker, the challenge is to put together a plan that is possible, sustainable and affordable. In all honesty, I do enjoy the marketing aspects of film projects. For me it’s about introducing audiences to a new film, whether they are here in the United States or some distant land. The one universal language we all have in common is the art of film (although dubbing may be involved!).
I’m also pleased to announce that my political thriller SOS United States is now an official selection of two festivals, winning one. SOS United States won Best Plot at the Gold Star Movie Awards. For 2021 the marketing for SOS is to continue the film festival submission process, while presenting the project for 2022 production.
The political thriller genre is truly my favorite. Whether I incorporate the genre in sci-fi with First Signal, psychological thrillers like In Mind We Trust (the sequel to Justice Is Mind) or my figure skating drama Serpentine, the political thriller genre weaves throughout all of them. For me, I like a plot that takes many twists and turns. One of my favorite political thrillers is The Odessa File. The central character (played by Jon Voight) is a journalist. I always like a film that has a journalist as it lends credibility to the plot when the character investigates. The surprise ending in The Odessa File is well worth the watch.
As 2020 was drawing to a close I received word that First Signal won Best Screenplay at Indo-Global International Film Festival. With what 2020 brought to so many, this award was a welcome bit of good news to end the year. Despite everything, First Signal had a great 2020.
2021 will be ushering in changes on so many levels. Whether they be personal, professional or global, transition is in the air. We can either stand still to see what those changes are or ride the waves of trends and change to see what best suits us all. I can only speak for myself personally when I say that I now carefully plan and analyze before I make a decision. Despite what is thrown at us on a daily basis, I continue to believe that the world is filled with opportunity. For me, it’s about aligning myself in circles that I want to be part of. I can’t roll a square boulder up a hill, but I feel I can control the roll of such boulder on the other side with the right team of friends and colleagues. I’ve always believed in partnering with those that want to accomplish something—that want to go forward. Nothing is worse than those that subscribe to the “Debbie Downer” mentality!
Of course, one decision I need to make soon is the company that will eventually distribute First Signal. As of today, I’ve narrowed it down to five. Last year was certainly the year of education when it came to sales agents and distributors. But as a fellow filmmaker said to me, “they all sell to the same outlets.” As there’s only one Amazon, Tubi, etc., what it comes down to is how they present the film to the outlets, how they market and what their terms are. While the terms may differ in deal length, percentages and expenses, there is one deal point that I can’t agree to—a title change.
While I understand that films have a change in title depending on certain factors, changing the name of First Signal is a dealbreaker for me. Over the last ten plus years I have developed the First World Universe. First Signal is the “first” entry in this new franchise to be followed by First Launch, First World and so on. There has been substantive branding over the last decade that has included everything from press to traditional and digital marketing along with numerous film festivals. Sales agent may view a title change as a way to optimize sales, but the casual disregard of years of branding seems callous to me. However, one also needs to be flexible. Nobody gets everything they want in a negotiation. That’s not realistic. The key, I believe, is to strike a balance that works for both parties.
Next week will also start some promotion for SOS United States through FilmFreeway. I’m pretty excited to see where this new venture goes while I continue to market First Signal and the development of the First World Universe.
Many years ago, while I was in living in Los Angeles a friend in the industry gave me some solid advice–You need to have more than one project going at any time. And when I was working endlessly trying to get First World funded, another friend of mine said to me—Why don’t you try to write something else while developing this one? It was hard to hear advice that went against my steadfast one-track mentality, but taking that advise created Justice Is Mind, First Signal and hopefully soon SOS United States.