Last week I wrote about the five year journey of Justice Is Mind. This past week proved that time, perseverance and indeed patience pays off. Unless you are in the lexicon of the literal handful of filmmakers that can roll out of bed, utter an idea and get national attention, pounding the pavement is what the rest of us do.
It was early May when the idea for a second anniversary screening for Justice Is Mind came to me. While I’m beyond thankful to all our theatrical partners, having worked with Cinemagic on two previous occasions (New Hampshire premiere and Sturbridge), pitching them again was a logical choice. Sturbridge, Massachusetts is centrally located (where we shot most of Justice), the film looked fantastic in this theater and we had a record audience after solid media placements in the local press.
Having been a magazine publisher for over ten years, I can well appreciate being on the other side of the desk when I was being pitched a story. The key, as I’ve long learned, is to have an angle for all concerned. I wrapped up my final interview last week, forwarded a variety of requested artwork and then waited. To say I am pleased with the result would be an understatement.
Our early placements first appeared in the Worcester Herald and The Examiner a couple of weeks ago. Those early placements helped awareness enormously. This week our efforts continued. First, a listing in The New Uxbridge Times, then a feature showed up in the South County edition of the Yankee Shopper, followed by a complete pick up of our press release in the Auburn and Sturbridge editions of Smart Shopper and then a great cover page story in the Sturbridge Villager. What I love about these publications is that they are direct mailed to households in their region.
When Worcester Magazine first ran a feature on Justice Is Mind in 2013 I was elated. They really captured the essence of the film at a time when the project really didn’t have any history aside from just being released. Flash forward to 2015 with a new editor and writing team and they were interested in our progress to date. The result was a wonderful two page spread that captured the entire project over our five year mission. It was made even more special as they had a photographer shoot Jamie Blash and me at Four Winds Farm. Jamie runs the farm and was featured as the horse trainer in Justice Is Mind. Her farm was also one of our locations. I am beyond thankful to all these outlets for their continued support.
And while Justice Is Mind has been fortunate to have some excellent reviews and great coverage tied to our theatrical screenings, national media attention has been elusive. Look, I get it, thousands of films are produced every year and to get the attention of a national media outlet really does take time, something unique or just plain luck. But the combination of all three I think worked in our favor.
I had completed the interview a couple of weeks earlier but kept it to myself as I know full well that the national media landscape changes quicker than New England weather. The writer even messaged me early Thursday morning to say she was waiting to see if they would either publish or reject her story. I learned years ago that unless you are doing live TV, there is simply no guarantee that your story will run—it doesn’t matter how great you think it is!
Just as I was getting ready to light a cigar (I love cigars!), Pamela Glasner messaged me. The Huffington Post published her story – Arrested Memory “Justice Is Mind”. In that moment all that had been worked on by so many was now receiving national media attention. On that scale, it is simply an honor to be acknowledged for your work. But indeed this accolade is shared with each and every one of us involved in Justice Is Mind. I know we all join in saying at least these three words,
Thank you Pamela!
Location! Location! Location! While that phrase is often used when buying a house or setting up a new business it’s just as true in the world of filmmaking. The challenge of course is to first find a location that reflects your story and then hoping the location owners are interested in working with you and what you can offer in return. The former is easy, it’s the latter that can sometimes prove to be challenging. However my goal from the outset of pre-production was to find locations that were just as excited about filmmaking as I was.
Four Winds Farm in North Oxford, MA was recommended to me by my friend Kim’s mom Joyce. We were going back to Kim’s house to shoot the Miller residence scenes and were going to “Joyce and Joe”’s as the location for Helen Granger’s home (Henri’s kindergarten teacher). It’s one thing asking your best friend and her parents to shoot in their homes, but it’s entirely another to call up a complete stranger and pitch them a movie. But as I learned when I produced First World, someone is either into it or not. I’ll still never forget when the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston gave us their Presidential Suite for a trade in credit!
One phone conversation with Jamie Blash the owner/trainer at Four Winds Farm and I felt good about the prospects. When I arrived at the farm to meet with Jamie it was everything I had dreamed for Justice Is Mind. Beautifully maintained barns and stables, indoor and outdoor riding rings and equestrian training that was the best of the best. As some of you may know, my sister was an equestrian and a damn good one. I’ve always loved the equine world and while I never was part of it formally, like I did in First World, I wanted to showcase this world in Justice as I believe the backdrop brings a great scope to the story. And who doesn’t want to see a horse jump on screen! Suffice to say when Jamie and I met we hit it off like we’ve known each other for years.
I can’t say enough great things about Jamie, her family, customers and the farm itself. Welcoming doesn’t even begin to describe the wonderful reception we received. When a film crew arrives to set, followed by the actors, an army literally takes over. But the key to a successful shoot is really organization and communication. On both sides of the equation everyone wants the best result it’s just a matter of keeping all parties informed on dates, requirements and expectations.
A character my script called for was a horse trainer. One conversation with Jamie and she was it. Simply, I needed someone to not only play this part but to project it with authority. For these types of roles they can’t always be easily cast. It’s not just about delivering the lines, it’s believability. Do you carry yourself correctly? Do you have the right inflection with the dialogue? I’ve always believed in casting those that are trained in real life for the character they are playing in a film.
In this post I present a variety of stills from our days at Four Winds, but as you can appreciate I’ve held back other scenes. I guess we will just all have to wait until the premiere of Justice Is Mind in 2013! But before then, look for more stills, the first official poster, the trailer and maybe an event or two along the way.