The Massachusetts premiere of First Signal at The Strand Theatre could not have gone better. As this theatre has screened the majority of my films to their enthusiastic audiences, it’s like returning home. Aside from the superior picture and sound quality at The Strand, their customers are true film aficionados.
One, prior to the start of the film, mentioned to me how much she loved independent film and was particularly excited to see something that was produced locally. Another woman and her grandson, who both love science fiction, asked me if they could have the poster that was on display in the lobby as a souvenir. When she asked if we would sign it, Chris Goodwin (who plays James Griffin in First Signal) and I were more than happy to oblige. Honestly, it’s these types of moments that you remember with fondness—people that simply appreciate the work that goes into making a motion picture.
The next leg on the “First Signal Tour” has us returning to the place where it all started – The McAuliffe-Shepard Discover Center. This coming Friday at 9 PM outside under the stars, First Signal will have a free screening to the public. It seems fitting that a film about an alien civilization from another world is exhibited among a sea of them. Who knows, perhaps like the story in First Signal, one of them will be looking.
I still remember the day when I first visited the Discovery Center, from seeing the 1:1 replica of the Mercury rocket soaring to the heavens outside to the innovative exhibits inside that were all things space and terrestrial science. When one conversation led to another and we found ourselves filming in May 2019, the entire atmosphere of the Discovery Center fit perfectly into the First Signal story. As a filmmaker, I could not have asked for more and will be forever grateful to those at the Discovery Center for providing the backdrop in the world of First Signal. To learn more about this Friday’s screening, please visit the Union Leader’s story “Sci-Fi film ‘First Signal’ takes over McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.”
And while First Signal will be streaming to the stars, across this world the film is being represented by our distributor Indie Rights at the Marché du Film (Cannes). This is my first film represented by a distributor at this market. Will First Signal see some additional sales in foreign markets? Perhaps some new distribution opportunities? Only time will tell of course. But the important thing is that First Signal is there.
As a filmmaker, we always want more for our films, but I can honestly say that I’m more than thrilled to see the accolades, media, distribution and theatrical opportunities that have already been bestowed on First Signal. My thanks to all that have made it possible.
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.