It’s hard to believe where the time goes. While it sometimes seems like we filmed First Signal this past summer, it was actually two summers ago with the film being released this past March. With marketing continuing to support our VOD and other efforts, the obvious question is…what’s the next producing project.
Earlier this week SOS United States won Best Screenplay at the Washington Film Festival. This marked our 13th official selection. With nine of these festivals honoring the script with awards, I couldn’t be more pleased with the reception the story is receiving on the festival circuit. It certainly helps to be able to mention these accolades when I’m pitching the project to producers.
Yesterday I hit the halfway mark on my latest screenplay in the First World Universe. With my goal of completing the story by November with the idea of producing it myself, this just may be my next production. This particular story is most certainly a political thriller that just happens to sit in the sci-fi genre. With the creation of a new character titled Kate Cloverton, who is a reporter for a Washington DC newspaper, this story will see the return of several characters from First Signal.
There is, however, one thing I’ll be patiently waiting for over the next couple of months—the first sales reports of First Signal’s VOD release. While the release and marketing strategy worked as planned, there is one factor that is largely out of my control—copyright infringement.
No sooner was First Signal released and it appeared all over YouTube and certain offshore websites. Thankfully, as long as you can prove ownership, it’s very easy to issue a takedown notice and have a film removed from YouTube. However, offshore websites, are literally another world that consists of a labyrinth of site ownership, foreign law, etc. etc. In the end, I just have to hope that piracy didn’t overrun profits for a negative return.
Last weekend we finished filming that WWII short I mentioned in my last blog. It’s nice to meet new actors and crew on these projects as I’m always thinking ahead to when I produce my next film. I can say, without reservation, that if I ever need to film a WWII scene, I’ll use reenactors for authenticity. When we arrived at our final location last Saturday, waiting for us were three WWII vehicles and a motorcycle. The level of detail was spot on. It will be interesting to see what the final product looks like.
The forecast for First Signal’s world premiere on March 26 was for rain. One of the actors and I were actually tracking the weather during the day. Suddenly, as if instructed by Mother Nature, the sky cleared in the afternoon. While driving to the Greenfield Garden Cinemas to debut a film that I have arguably been working on in concept for over a decade, I was just slightly numb. While I was happy with the final result, I haven’t seen some of the actors and crew since we wrapped production in 2019. Naturally, I wanted them to be happy with it. But one thing was certain. After this past year, it was wonderful to be out socially. That was the overriding feeling of everyone—and having a world premiere was the icing on the cake.
Daniel Groom, the Director of Photography and Editor, arrived before I did. After a few moments of catching up we found ourselves in the theater for a few pictures. Then shortly thereafter, the actors started to arrive. In so many ways it was like I just saw them yesterday. After about an hour of pictures and catching up, First Signal was about to debut.
With my welcome speech concluded, I found myself in my seat with a bag of heavily buttered popcorn. My only worry was that the projection would stop or that there was some sort of error on the DVD. But before I knew it, I found myself actually being able to relax. The one hour and forty-two minutes went by pretty quickly. The moment First Signal cut to black the theater erupted in applause. I could not be more thankful to the cast, crew, theater and audience that made First Signal a reality.
One thing I realized this past week was the importance of a theatrical release. Whether it’s a one night, one week or one month engagement, the important thing for any film is to get “booked” by a theater. When your film is booked, it goes into a system that is linked to a variety of other sites. From IMDb to Rotten Tomatoes, it establishes the film from an industry point of view. I have to say I was pretty proud to report our box office revenue. Call me old fashioned, call me an elitist, it doesn’t matter—I’m just pretty damn proud that I was able to report “box office revenue” yesterday.
Soon First Signal will be released digitally, and an entirely new audience will be introduced to the film. There will be those that love it, those that hate it and those that will simply discover it. At that point, my director hat will hang on the wall, while I replace it with one that says marketing director. For the next several months it will be my job to promote the film across as many channels as I can. I do look forward to bringing First Signal to the world.
But putting aside accolades and achievements, there was something I noticed last Friday that needs to mentioned—support. There were some audience members that drove for hours to support either the theater, the film, the actors or all three. They were there because they knew the dedication, perseverance and drive that goes into this industry. Whether you own the theater, direct the movie, operate a camera or act in the film, this industry is about community. It’s about like-minded people coming together for a moment to provide that one thing that can unite us all – entertainment and an escape to an imaginary world.
The day after First Signal had its world premiere, I received an email from a woman who took her grandson and great grandson to see the film, “Your film was enjoyed by myself, 16 y.o. grandson, and 11 y.o. great grandson on Saturday at Garden Cinema. Congratulations, thank you for sharing your artistic creation of a fantastically believable story that was very interesting, well-acted and just plain fun. Stepping over the threshold of the theater was itself mesmerizing and just got better from there. My heart was warmed by the minutes the boys excitedly shared their particular thoughts and impressions about the intelligence-based film as we drove home.”
And that ladies and gentlemen is why we do what we do.