Finding the right producer for a film is like casting the right actor. If you don’t get it right, the film falls apart. With a 51% film festival selection rate, SOS United States has been well received on the circuit. Prior to the script’s film festival run it had been read by a variety of people in and out of the industry. With those early comments in hand, some adjustments were made. But at the end of the day a script is the vision of its writer.
For those that have watched my films or read my work, my stories are involved not simple. They ask the audience to think and reflect. This is why I watch films and series that have very involved storylines. Films created by Christopher Nolan and author John le Carré are my inspiration. To be frank, I don’t have any interest in creating “simplified” work. It’s just not the type of entertainment I’m interested in creating.
Case in point I recently had a meeting with a producer I was looking forward to speaking with. Before I make a pitch, I just don’t look at a producer as a funding source but one that has produced films that could generally fall into the genre of the story I’ve written—in this case SOS United States.
The meeting started off on a positive note with the exchange of pleasantries. When we started talking about the script, this producer did make some solid observations about changing the villain country in light of recent world events, moving up the timeline a couple of years and some other salient points. But then it sadly become clear that this person only skimmed the script and then wanted to stamp their personal opinions on certain matters that made no sense to the story.
In this industry when a script is being reviewed, it often comes back with notes. I believe notes should identify true issues in a script not as fodder for personal opinions or spite. Is there a plot hole? A lack of character development? Is the intended story plausible? Has the story gone off track? Dialogue issues? But when a note or comment is conveyed that is just personal, and even spiteful, that’s when I lose interest in who I’m talking to. I’d rather see a project of mine go unproduced, rather than have it twisted into something I don’t recognize just for the sake of having it produced. Frankly, I couldn’t direct something I don’t believe in and have my name on it.
Like my search for finding the right distributor for First Signal, the same holds true when finding the right producing partner. While it’s important to be enthusiastic about your projects, the key is not to be desperate to do a deal for the sake of a deal. Oh, when I think of some of the ridiculous things some distributors said for First Signal. From you need to have a monster to sign this contract with a quarter of a century term. How easy some make it to say – no thanks. In the end First Signal found a great distribution partner with Indie Rights.
In a few weeks I’m visiting one of the locations that will be featured in SOS United States. It’s a location that inspired me to write this story in the first place. Perhaps like I eventually accomplished with Justice Is Mind and First Signal, something will come to mind that will enable me to produce SOS United States as an independent project through The Ashton Times.
Two days after the world premiere of First Signal, Daniel Groom and I taped interviews with some of the staring actors for up the upcoming VOD release. These videos will be published in increments as a series over a twelve-week period.
I have always enjoyed the interview process and talking about a variety of subjects. For me I don’t force ideas or new ventures, they just seem to present themselves. When I started a figure skating magazine back in the early 90s, it was because I wanted something to read about the news of the sport. Justice Is Mind came to being after writing the sequel to First World and seeing a show about mind-reading on 60 Minutes. First Signal was born out of sitting in a bunker-like room at the Naval Justice School and revisiting my notes from First World. Stay tuned for our first episode and announcement.
A few days prior to our world premiere, I pitched another theater about screening First Signal. As the details weren’t finalized at the time, I didn’t talk about it. But just days after the actor interviews, the New Hampshire premiere of First Signal at Smitty’s Cinema was confirmed. This past Thursday, Patience McStravick (Major Ellen Sampson), Paul Noonan (General John Reager) and I found ourselves in Tilton, NH at another premiere!
Smitty’s Cinema is a four-location chain based in New Hampshire. What’s great about these local theaters is their enthusiasm. From the moment the deal was confirmed, they went to work on marketing the premiere. Combing their efforts with ours, resulted in a successful screening. To support our efforts, The Concord Monitor ran a great story with The Laconia Daily News picking up our press release.
As I noted with our world premiere at Greenfield Garden Cinemas a few weeks earlier, I witnessed with Smitty’s Cinema—local communities supporting theater and independent films. The shared experience learning about a new film in the paper, to seeing the film in a theater to talking about the film after screening, theaters bring communities together.
Today, I am putting the final touches on a private screening for First Signal. Tomorrow will be a celebration of cast, crew and our guests before First Signal is released to the world. In some ways it feels like this journey is coming to end, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is nothing really ends in this industry, it’s always about new beginnings.