If Justice Is Mind was an airline it would show up on flight reservation systems as a non-stop flight. Over the next ten days, Vancouver, Boston, Plattsburg and Oxford will be screening Justice. From theatres, to law schools to sci-fi conventions, since our Maine premiere last Saturday there has virtually been non-stop activity with the film on both sides of the screen and continent.
As a distributor mentioned to me last week, if you plan pre-production properly then production goes well. It’s true, pre-production planning of Justice was a four month adventure. That planning led to a smooth, albeit intense, filming schedule for Justice that lasted two months. The same holds true for exhibiting the film. It’s all about pre-production planning.
At this stage in the project, there’s still more than just me involved. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, there is a literal army in the execution of this film. There is the dedication and support of my executive producers Mary Wenninger and Stefan Knieling. If it were not for Vernon Aldershoff, Mary Wexler, Arnold Peter, Kim Gordon and Gail Sullivan, certain screenings, marketing and production just wouldn’t happen. And then there is Sheila Mandeville who has attended the last three screenings of Justice with her own army! It takes more than a pilot to fly an airplane.
And like getting ready to leave the gate, I have what all pilots have—a checklist. Yes, I am a person that needs lists to function. As I mentioned to one potential theatre that may screen Justice, I need a 45 day notice. Sure, I’m happy to have a venue screen the film, but if we can’t plan it properly what’s the point. Press releases need to be written, media needs to be contacted, local marketing needs to be executed, if regional which actors/crew may be interested in going, the venue has to be tested, are we part of a larger event—you get the point.
Last Saturday was one day that required a lot of pre-production planning. In addition to our Maine premiere, I also conducted a workshop for Talent Tools titled “Independent Filmmaking: Script to Screen”. For the entire week prior I took an hour out of each day to outline what I was going to talk about. First, I owed it to the attendees to make sure they left with some new knowledge. Thankfully, when the day arrived I had my lists…so I was good! But even more important was the organizational zeal of Talent Tools owner Becki Dennis Buchman. I know whenever Becki does something it will not only be first rate, but well run.
Seriously, isn’t that what it’s all about? Don’t we want to enjoy ourselves at these events? Let’s be honest, this is the entertainment industry it’s all about the damn arrival! Of course we don’t live in a picture perfect world, things do come up at the last minute. Hell, that’s just life! But when it comes to day of, I prefer calm to chaos.
And then there is the activity going on behind the screen. Industry reporting, distributor conversations, long range strategy plans—it’s a list! As for the long range plans? I think it’s safe to say that during the entire development and release of Justice Is Mind a business model has been developed.
Clear for departure.
Last Saturday before I left for Albany, NY I just had to remember to take an extra screening DVD of Justice Is Mind just in case something happened to the one I sent to The Palace Theatre—I took two. The ride to Albany is easy from where I live in Worcester. It’s a straight shot right up RT 90. My mother and I just talked about general “stuff” along the way and when we weren’t talking I was just thinking of this three-year journey up to this point. A journey that would take a new direction come Sunday.
As my mother and I pulled into Albany we swung by The Palace Theatre and there it was flashing across the marquee “JUSTICE IS MIND – WORLD PREMIERE”. It was in that instant that this wave of energy started to envelope the moment. There is something to be said about seeing “your name” in lights. For a few seconds I was remembering the production companies that said “no”, the investors that said “no”, others that said “no” and in another instant remember hearing “We want to back the film”, “I accept the role,” and the crew members that joined me on this adventure. This is an industry where you hear the word “no” more than you hear “yes” but when you do amazing things happen.
Over the next several hours and into Sunday, friends and family of cast and crew from all over the United States had descended on Albany for the world premiere of Justice Is Mind. The energy that was earlier enveloping the moment simply turned into an atmosphere of collective accomplishment and excitement for so many of us. Indeed, August 18, 2013 was the day we have been striving and building towards – the world premiere of Justice Is Mind!
When Sunday afternoon rolled around and we started to arrive in our “Sunday best” the lobby of The Palace Theatre soon was a place in time I just wanted to stop and enjoy for another moment. As I greeted actors, crew and their supporters, it brought back so many memories—from the day we first met at auditions to principal photography, those efforts would soon be showing on the silver screen. At one point, I walked upstairs to practice what I thought was going to be my opening remarks. Who was I kidding, I couldn’t concentrate. So as I walked down the staircase it really hit me as I looked at the hundreds of people in the lobby waiting to see Justice Is Mind. Dear God. I hope they like the movie.
PHOTOS: LINK to RED CARPET and AROUND THE PALACE
Slightly frozen in a moment of anxiety, it was time for us to go into the theatre. I usually have a very big mouth and can easily shout across a room, but I left that to Vernon Aldershoff who plays Henri Miller. I’m fairly certain they heard him back in Worcester!
As we entered the theatre, saw the big screen and gathered in our seats the moderator quickly began. I faintly remember hearing him talking about my past work in the industry, but honestly, it didn’t matter. I just had to time myself to walk onto the stage and not trip in the process (which I almost did on that top step!). When I was at the podium it hit me—this was my proudest moment. Sure, I’ve had past career highlights I’m also proud of, but this really took the cake. Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to produce a feature film and that moment had arrived. With the lights blaring on the podium I really couldn’t see the audience, but I didn’t have to—their wave of support was coming over in tidal fashion and a strange sense of calm came over me. I thanked our post production crew and executive producers and took my seat. For 2 hours and 35 minutes I was part of the audience.
And so the world premiere of Justice Is Mind concluded and I couldn’t have been happier. Audiences enjoyed it and frankly at this stage that’s all that matters. Sure, there are things I would do differently. Every filmmaker feels that need to make an “adjustment”. But now isn’t the time. Now we go to market.
With screenings lined up at theatres, sci-fi conventions and law schools around the United States and Canada and more on the horizon, Justice Is Mind will soon be coming to a venue near you. Thank you for being part of this journey and joining me on the next leg of this adventure.