As I was driving to Pittsburgh last Sunday for our screening the following day at Carnegie Mellon University, I had plenty of time to think. For me, I’m always planning ahead. Projecting that next plan for Justice Is Mind and other projects I have in development. Ask anyone who has worked with me, or even remotely knows me, I don’t live in the past but simply reflect on it.
The following day as I arrived at Carnegie Mellon University and saw Vernon Aldershoff’s truck (Vern stars as Henri Miller) I realized another milestone had been achieved for the film—we were screening at the very heart of what inspired me to write Justice Is Mind in the first place. From our world premiere in Albany last August to our screening at Carnegie, each one of our screenings is carefully planned, coordinated and executed by a varied team of enthusiasts that make them happen.
Meeting Dr. Marcel Just, and some members of his team, was very inspiring as he talked about some of the latest research they were conducting. Prior to the screening we had a tour of the Brain Imaging Center. It was fascinating to see first-hand where this research was conducted.
Walking into Baker Hall’s Giant Eagle Auditorium there were nearly eighty people in attendance. My sincere thanks to Shilo Rea, the Director of Media Relations for the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, for doing such a masterful job at bringing this screening to life. For the first time in the screening of the film we had an intermission to break for pizza and refreshments sponsored by the school. After the screening, I had a great Q&A with a diverse audience in attendance. From academics, students and administrators to film enthusiasts, indeed the screening could not have gone better.
On the way back from Pittsburgh, my focus turned to our May 19 screening at The Elm Draught House Cinema in Millbury, MA. But before that screening occurs, by the time I publish this post Justice Is Mind will be screening at Penguicon in Detroit. The tour continues!
Our marketing for May 19 is moving along nicely. We had a great write up in the Yankee Shopper and Pizza Post has again sponsored a radio spot to promote the screening. Reflecting on our past screenings, it truly does come down to partnerships to make these happen. With just over two weeks to go until The Elm believe me the follow up and marketing continues right up to the day.
Looking forward, our VOD distributor mentioned to me yesterday that Justice should be available within the next 2-12 weeks depending on the platform. Indeed, as we have been receiving requests for Justice from a variety of different countries, it will be exciting to present Justice to a global audience.
But even while we move towards VOD, our theatrical and event screenings are continuing in earnest. On that note, I’m looking forward to announcing a unique international screening in the next couple of weeks.
Just prior to any screening of Justice Is Mind there is the usual set of nerves. Will audiences show up? Will they like the film? I also say a few words to the audience prior to the start of the film. Each one of these “opening statements” is a bit different but they always end when I introduce the concept of Justice Is Mind starting with “Imagine a not too distant future…” Someone asked me how I’m able to talk to audiences like this. Simply, I rehearse what I’m going to say. That’s what this industry is all about no matter what side of the camera you are on – the rehearsal and the performance.
After having a pre-event drink with my former classmates from grade school, I went over to the theatre at 5:30. Although that was an hour and a half before the film started, there’s a system I like to employ – meet with the photographers and get a feel for the surroundings. Every theatre is different and each has its own atmosphere.
It didn’t take long for audiences to arrive. From childhood friends to new supporters who read the media coverage we had in print and on the radio. For me, it’s always great to see the “JIM family” arrive. By that I mean the actors and crew that have traveled this journey with me for nearly two years. This was our tenth theatrical screening and there is a certain camaraderie among us that makes these screenings thoroughly enjoyable for all in attendance. And in attendance did they come. We set a new single screening record for Justice Is Mind with 159 in attendance and $1,570 in box office. To see photos from the event click album one and two.
The process of filmmaking is really a set of impossibilities that you overcome. Writing the story, raising the money, producing the film and, finally, distributing. This is an industry where the odds are against you from day one because of the quasi creative, entrepreneurial and business aspect that a film needs to have. But with 10 theatrical screenings under our belt, I updated our IMDB listing to include The Ashton Times as a theatrical distributor because, frankly, that’s what we’ve been doing that wouldn’t be done any different than with a traditional theatrical distributor. We strike a deal with the theatre (we don’t rent), pitch the local media, set up targeted promotions and engage social media.
Just prior to the start of the film I announced that Justice Is Mind will be screening on April 28 at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). For those of you that have followed this project for the last few years, I was inspired to write this story when CMU’s Dr. Marcel Just was interviewed on a 60 Minutes story about mind reading using fMRI techniques. With Dr. Just opening the film along with both of us having a Q&A with audiences after, this is one of those honors in life that doesn’t come along often.
Writing. The foundation of all things. For all of us that write creatively we are initially inspired by something. For Justice Is Mind it was 60 Minutes. For First World it was the Apollo space program. For SOS United States it was our current political climate.
There was a moment on Monday when I was standing just outside the theatre and a few final folks were walking in. As I opened the door for them it was in that instant when a strong sense of appreciation waved over. From the first word to an open door.