No, I didn’t make up the title of this week’s post. It was the title of a story that appeared in a Worcester Magazine article “Justice trumps privacy in Justice Is Mind”. Suffice to say I was enormously pleased with the piece. The writer, Cade Overton, really captured not only the essence of the film but how it fits into the real world we live in today.
Marketing a film, particularly an independent one, is not easy by any stretch. You are in a constant state of submitting whether it be to the media, distributors, festivals, networks, events, agents, etc. And as I prepare my notes for an upcoming workshop I’m teaching the end of the month, the three P’s come to mind plan, perseverance and persistence.
From a business plan implementation point of view, this past week for Justice Is Mind went really well. I’ll just say publicly, that two original programming execs got back to me about Justice. These are not only very positive developments, but ones that have been established over time from other projects I’ve been working on. Building relationships like this take time and to add another P….patience. So fingers crossed here.
Pitching a project takes some bit of calculation and planning. By example, Justice Is Mind, First World and my new political thriller will never be pitched to Lifetime. What would be the point? Programming executives receive pitches all the time so the goal, obviously, is to have something that they may be interested in rather than wasting their time. Speaking of, somehow I got onto some list of “producers to submit materials to”. While I only develop my own work (for now), I was getting pitches from writers to produce their comedies. A little research on their end would have shown that’s not a genre I’ve ever been involved in (although I do love a good comedy…oh the days of Rodney Dangerfield!). Thankfully, I found the website and removed my profile.
Speaking of planning, The Wrap this week talked about how digital sales are increasing exponentially amidst the continued decline of DVD sales. I could have told The Wrap about this two years ago after our distributor just stopped selling DVDs altogether. What’s being considered internally now with Justice is the digital distribution side. To be sure, there’s no shortage of platforms and viewing options available. The key, in my view, is to establish an audience for the film first with our theatrical, sci-fi and law school screenings so when the film is available digitally, there is a footprint out there of enthusiasts.
What is of particular interest to me at the moment is the continuous changing landscape of this industry from the development of projects, the financing, delivery and then distribution. There is generally no playbook. Oh the practical still exists of course, finance and shoot the movie and get it to audiences. The sea of change is in the layered platforms of distribution that are pulling revenue and audiences away and towards each other. In the end, it’s about the distribution of rights.
But in the beginning it is to quote Bill Sampson in All About Eve, “Wherever there’s magic and make-believe and an audience, there’s theatre.”
And so with our Massachusetts premiere coming up on Monday night at The Strand Theatre in Clinton, we return to where the Justice Is Mind project first exhibited with the short film version in 2012. I leave you with a quote from Marlene Dietrich in Judgment at Nuremberg.
“It should be quite an evening.”
I will venture to say that running a film property is like running a political campaign to some degree. Navigating the waterways of this industry can be a daunting task as it changes at about the same pace as New England weather. Thankfully, I live in New England so change is always in the air literally.
While I have often talked about my fondness for digital distribution and the various new platforms that are coming “online” for films, part of me is still very traditional. Call it age, experience or being a “conservatively progressive left leaning New Englander”, I still believe that a theatrical run is important to bring awareness to a film as it strongly compliments VOD.
Posting endlessly to social media is fine, but you’ll still find me writing a press release, sending email newsletters and, ready, picking up the telephone and making that personal call. Just this week some company raised over $2 million to have films stream on Facebook. I have some very passionate Facebook followers and friends and when I posed the question, “Would you watch a film on Facebook,” the overwhelming response was no. Even more interesting, painfully few people responded to the post at all. Seriously, that was a pretty simple business plan “a filmmaker on Facebook asking his followers on Facebook if they would watch a film on Facebook.” But this company somehow raised $2 plus million. When I think of the film I could produce for that kind of money! Let’s see where they are a year from now.
As I review a variety of distribution options for Justice Is Mind, I’m also mindful of the importance of contracts, protecting your asset and not being subjected to hidden fees. Because once you sign on the dotted line, you have signed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of “look at me” new companies coming up that claim to offer the world to filmmakers. Although I love getting in on the ground floor of new opportunities, I tend to take a wait and see approach. Just yesterday, and as follow up to my post of last week, I told one company “If the requirements change on your end, please let us know.” Simply, I discovered an omission in their contract to which I called attention. Let’s see if they satisfy the requirement. If not, moving on.
Content is still king. I believe that’s what our theatres and other venues see when we present Justice Is Mind to them. Content that’s well presented and packaged (you need a solid well designed poster!). As I prepare our press release announcing the Maine premiere of Justice Is Mind on the 28th and look forward to some media next week about our upcoming Massachusetts premiere on the 16th, I wait patiently to hear from some companies that I do want to do business with. But unlike New England weather, there can be days when you wonder if the weather will ever change!
So while I continue to present Justice to various companies, I will also be campaigning all this month for the next two screenings. In fact, after our screening at the Strand on the 16th, I will be going to Ogunquit the next day and walking door to door to the many hotels and restaurants selling our screening at the Leavitt on the 28th.