Marketing planet Earth one project at a time.

Posts tagged “First World (movie)

Next Destination

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!

In SOS United States the SS Leviathan is modeled after the SS United States.

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.

Projects.


Mixed Market

Wendy Hartman as President Helen Colton

Two weeks ago I attended my third AFM (American Film Market). While I enjoyed attending live the last couple of years, I met more “qualified” contacts during the virtual version. In addition to the requisite panels that discussed all things around the industry, it was the “Networking Pavilion” module that worked out great for so many of us.

When you entered the pavilion you essentially found yourself in a large ballroom with tables. You could view profiles of those sitting at a table and then decide if you wanted to join. When you sat at a table you could see and hear what others were saying but your mic and camera were off by default. This worked out well because on two occasions they were talking about subjects that I had no interest in. But if you liked the conversation, you could turn on your camera and mic to join.  Conversations were generally insightful, if not illuminating.

Depending on who you talked to the present crisis has either been a boon, bust or business reinvention. The winner in all of this has been VOD. The bust has clearly been theatrical. The reinvention are those that have adapted to the world we presently live in—notably virtual film festivals. But through it all, there still was that general feeling of excitement and positive energy. We all know this crisis will pass as it simply must. When it does, it’s full steam ahead on everything.

The virtual American Film Market

There seems to be two types of films that are thriving now and will continue to do so even after the crisis. The microbudgets that are nicely produced, with a solid story but a no name cast and the eight figure films with A list talent (oddly, story didn’t seem to be a focus).  The former doesn’t require an exorbitant return to be profitable, while the latter has A talent driving profitability.  

The takeaways from the market were numerous. With so many festivals going virtual, will they share their data on how well a film did when it screened online? Will virtual festivals share revenue with filmmakers? On film marketing, what’s the one still that represents your film (I think I’m still working on that with First Signal), IMDb TV is really making it, AVOD (Ad-Supported Video on Demand) is where the money is (can anyone say TUBI). I was particularly keen on the sales agent panel. What are the values of indie films in the current marketplace? While sales estimates are important, never go with the highest estimate. Sales agent commission is generally not less than 15%. However, those on the panel say 7-20% depending on what the contract expenses were. Finally, as one panelist said (and something I’ve been doing), conduct due diligence on sales agents – call client filmmakers to see if they are happy with the business arrangement. Of course, there are always a couple of panelists that should never be on a panel. One was so condescending I couldn’t believe how he was talking to the 250+ in attendance. Then he proceeded to hand out some incorrect nonsense on how to use IMDb. How these people get on a panel is beyond me. But all in all, it was a great experience with one panelist remarking something I’ve always believed in—no matter what you’ve done, you’re never done in your career.

In closing, I want to congratulate Wendy Hartman for winning the Best Actress award at the Canadian Cinematography Awards. Wendy was a last-minute replacement to play the role of Helen Colton, the President of the United States. To say she is the consummate professional would be an understatement. A wonderfully experienced and gifted actress who brought this character to life and propelled the story forward. It’s one thing when an actor plays a part, it’s another when an actor becomes the part. It was the subtle nuances that Wendy brought to the character that created believability.  

Madam President