In the weeks leading up to the private screening of First Signal at Chunky’s, I was preparing for the biggest single marketing push I have every done for a project. I had my lists of contacts and colleagues to email, the media to pitch, the social media plan to execute. It’s like the quiet before a storm. While the storm is not destructive akin to weather, it must nonetheless be navigated.
But before First Signal was to be launched around the world, there was the private screening on April 25. Some of the cast and crew I hadn’t seen since we wrapped principal photography two years earlier, some I just saw a few days ago. One by one they and their guests arrived in true red carpet style.
While the Oscars was being produced on the other side of the country that night, First Signal had the evening it deserved. As I mentioned to a few in the days leading up to the night, this is an experience in independent film that doesn’t happen on a regular basis. My mother told me some time ago that life is about experiences. While bringing First Signal to the world was not without times of great difficulty, it is the end result that matters. The experience of seeing it on the silver screen for all in attendance to enjoy is something that will be remembered forever and never can be taken away. After First Signal screened and we took one last group photo, it was time to say my final “thank you” to the cast, crew and attendees. For tomorrow was to bring First Signal’s VOD launch around the world.
On April 26 First Signal launched on Amazon in 68 countries and territories around the world. That VOD launch was followed by Google Play, YouTube Movies and Tubi. The moment Amazon was live, the marketing plan that has been in development since January was launched. The press release went live, the email newsletter went out, hundreds of emails to the industry, media and other interested parties while engaging our social media channels—First Signal was global.
I’m still thankful to this day that I ran a media company that had magazines distributed around the world. When you have world placement of your brand, in this case a film, the responsibility and monitoring of such brand goes up exponentially. While the navigation of such a launch brings the inevitable negative commentary, I just equate it to a large wave that goes over the bow of an ocean liner. Full steam ahead means such waves are plowed through as we continue to call on new ports.
These new ports of call (VOD platforms), rocketed our placement on IMDb to 3,059 out of 560,000+ feature films. To say I am thankful to our distributor Indie Rights would be an understatement. When I think of the number of distributors/sales agents I met with over the last two years to discuss First Signal, it was Indie Rights that not only checked all the boxes a filmmaker wants, but they brought something to the table that is the prime currency in this industry – a sterling reputation. Honestly, that’s what a filmmaker should need and want the most. To work with reputable people and organizations that deliver. My special thanks to Linda, Michael and the Indie Rights team for all your great work. But our work is far from over as marketing and sales efforts continue.
April 26, 2021 will always be known to me as the day The First World Universe launched around the world. As my efforts continue to market First Signal, I also look now towards the sequel, First Launch, to interest production partners.
As I mentioned during my welcoming remarks at First Signal’s private screening, being an independent filmmaker is a herculean task but a most rewarding one. Because for a moment in time a group people (many strangers to each other) come together for a mission. And if they are successful, their efforts live on long after a premiere.
After four years of development, First Signal is ready for release. With our world premiere at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas on March 26 for a one-week engagement, I can’t help but reflect on all the moments that are leading up to this Friday. I still remember that day in Newport, RI at the Naval Justice School when Patience McStravick and I started talking about some sort of film that would largely take place in one room. Then taking those thoughts and going through my “First World” archive to create First Signal. Eager to put First Signal into production, Patience introduced me to an intrepid filmmaker by the name of Daniel Groom. With the producing team set, First Signal moved from script to reality. That reality comes to life on Friday at 7 PM in a theater—the way it was intended.
From our world premiere, some of us will then travel to another location a couple of days later to tape actor interviews as part of our upcoming VOD release marketing efforts. The marketing plans that have been developed over the last several months are probably the most extensive I’ve laid out for a project. For it’s not just the local marketing tied to our world premiere, but literally reaching the world after First Signal is released to VOD. It’s more than just social media posts but coming up with ideas and content that introduces First Signal to targeted audiences.
On the local front I could not be more pleased with our coverage to date. With reporting in The Greenfield Recorder and The Republican, our engagement at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas is being well publicized. We could not have asked for a more exciting theater to have First Signal’s world premiere. Out of all the theaters I’ve worked with in the past, the marketing and public relations efforts that Isaac Mass (the owner of the theater) has been putting into First Signal’s world premiere are second to none. These are the types of partners that are wonderful to work with because of the passion they bring. They’ve created a sense of community, which is what the theatrical experience is all about. To Isaac, his wife Angela, and the team at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas—thank you for everything.
In other news, I also received word that First Signal passed QC (quality control) from our distributor Indie Rights. This is indeed good news as we are clear for VOD release. I’ll be announcing our VOD release plans in April.
This coming Tuesday I’ll be at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas for First Signal’s screen test. Having attended these tests with my first feature film Justice Is Mind, I have to say this is another moment in the process that’s exhilarating. In a dark theater suddenly years of work, and the efforts of many, come to life.