Tomorrow I formally announce the premiere of Serpentine: The Short Program and encore screening of Justice Is Mind for March 6. Yes, that means it begins with a press release, email newsletter and rollout of the marketing and public relations plan. This is when I substitute my director’s hat for that of distributor. In the world of being an independent filmmaker, wearing multiple hats is what’s it’s all about. My last bit as director on Serpentine are the nuances around the color correction that will be completed this week.
With our return to The Strand Theatre, I can’t help but reflect on the last several years. If I count both films, we are talking about over 220 people that have had some sort of part in bringing these projects to life. As I’ve often mentioned to fellow actors and filmmakers, the completion of films, their premieres and other associated milestones don’t happen regularly and should be embraced and enjoyed when they do. It’s very easy to read the trades and see the results of the end product, but for anyone that has produced or directed, I promise there was a long road to that point. For Serpentine, this has been a one year plus project. What started in January 2016 with the firing up of Final Draft will be seen in a month on the silver screen.
But what March 6 will represent to me is what’s possible in the real world of independent film. I say real world, because there wasn’t a seven figure budget involved in these projects (or even six ). In the real world it’s about collaboration to make a project possible. It’s also about working with those that share your vision. It’s about pushing the envelope to the edge with the resources you have to see it come to life on the silver screen.
Speaking of the silver screen, I was reading this article in the Mirror about the new golden age of picture houses. I fondly remember the world premiere of Justice Is Mind in 2013 at the Palace Theater in Albany, NY that was built in 1930. As for the Strand Theatre it was built in 1924 as a vaudeville theater. There’s something about their vaulted ceilings and ornate designs that make any screening in these venues a memorable one. The trend mentioned in the article can allay any fears about VOD ending the need for theaters.
As I’ve often stated, both theaters and VOD can easily co-exist and well they should. The industry didn’t come to end when TV was invented or when VHS came to market. In fact, they enhanced the industry. They created a secondary market for additional returns. But now it’s Amazon, Netflix and others that are in so many ways leading the industry for independent film. Who would have thought an online platform would finance a film only to have them first distribute it theatrically before landing on their platform. It’s just another example of how this industry modernizes itself without losing sight of where it all started.
But sometimes modernization comes with needed adjustment. I was delighted to learn that IMDb.com is shutting down their discussion boards. The boards were mostly a cesspool of hate filed bitter comments by faceless trolls. While the consumer review section enhances a film, the discussion boards did nothing for the experience. For a company like IMDb it’s about manpower, monitoring and deleting hate filled posts, baseless facts and lord knows what else. Oh but when they did delete, the poster cries like it’s their right to do whatever they want wherever they want. It’s not censorship it’s about defacing a property that is not yours. Try walking on to the property of your next door neighbor and shouting your opinions from the top of your lungs. You would be rightly arrested. You want your right to free speech? Go to your own Facebook page (even they have terms and conditions), start a blog, yell from your property or better yet just go to the public town square and see if anyone cares. Because until you put your name to it nobody does because you don’t exist.
I am pleased to announce that Serpentine will have its world premiere at the Strand Theater in Clinton, MA on March 6, 2017! Serpentine will premiere after an encore screening of Justice Is Mind. For Serpentine this will be a first, for Justice Is Mind this will mark our 22nd screening. But it is the Strand Theater that give us our first theatrical break.
It was in 2012 and I was looking for a theater to screen Evidence, the short film version of Justice Is Mind. It was the Strand that gave us the opportunity to screen after J. Edgar. Over a year later Justice Is Mind had its Massachusetts premiere at the Strand. The same model is being employed for Serpentine: The Short Program.
A theatrical screening marks a starting point. A launch pad, if you will, into a greater marketing program. Everything in this industry is timing. It’s about striking while the iron is hot (even though the rink is cold!). For Serpentine the launch will take place between national and world figure skating championships. The goal, as it was with Evidence all those years ago, is to develop as much interest as possible to produce the feature film version this year for a 2018 release. Why 2018? The Olympic Winter games take place in South Korea next year. It’s about riding a wave of popularity post games.
With a running time of just over 12 minutes, we will be presenting the first 10 pages of the feature length screenplay. Serpentine not only features several of the actors and crew from Justice Is Mind and First World, but introduces actors making their debut performance. In the world of film it’s all about performance, what we see on the screen and how it comes together behind the scenes.
As for debut performance, it reminded me of a recent conversation I had with an aspiring actress and model. This week I signed with Dynasty Models & Talent for New England representation. Yes, it’s an exciting step as I continue to lay out some personal plans of my own. During my visit at the agency, the owner asked me if I had any words of wisdom for this actress. I first offered her the back story on how I was cast in a TV show some years ago but then went on to say how you have to want to be in this industry more than anything. No matter what you want to do, it takes a one hundred percent commitment and being able to weather continuous rejection. As I’ve stated before, this is an industry of no (or no response). But when a yes does come, it makes you appreciate your hard work all the more.
They say you are only as good as your last performance. While I agree with that to a point, I believe you are only as good as who you surround yourself with. This is an industry not lacking in advice, particularly from those you never asked. In my view it’s about working with those that want to showcase their efforts with you. I’ll just say this, it is not a coincidence that I’m working with a lot of the same people from Justice Is Mind and First World to bring Serpentine to life. This project also marks a reunion of sorts with a former business partner. More on that development later.
As for development, as an independent filmmaker, theaters like the Strand are important for our continued success. That being said, the Strand has established a GoFundMe campaign to restore and upgrade their wonderful marquee. For our screening on March 6 all ticket sales will be going to the Strand (no share of box office). As a filmmaker there is something special when you see your film in lights.
Yes, the title of this post is a twist on the book Scarlett, Rhett and a Cast of Thousands, but I was reminded just the other day on what goes into making a feature film. It was early summer in 2013 and our world premiere date for Justice Is Mind was set for August 18, 2013. Yes, the film was edited and scored, but we were still under the gun on those numerous last minute items like color correction and sound mixing. The one thing left to finish was the closing credits. It wasn’t until I started to add everyone in when the number of names credited was finalized at 201. But add in the employees of our location partners and the number was well north of that. It’s true when they say it takes a village, or maybe in the case of Justice Is Mind a small battalion, to make a feature film
With our Second Anniversary screening coming up on August 18 at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, planning is well underway. As I’ve mentioned before, I treat every screening like it’s the first one. The deal with the theatre is secured; cast, crew, location and marketing partners are notified; a press release is sent and then there is the media pitch. My special thanks to the Worcester Herald and Examiner for their early coverage of the special day.
I am delighted to confirm that several of the stars, co-stars and featured performers have already confirmed their attendance. While many of us have traveled the theatrical release tour together, August 18 will mark for the first time in two years the coming together of those that I haven’t seen since the world premiere. Indeed, we are all looking forward to it.
But aside from a reunion of some of the cast and crew, it is about presenting Justice is Mind to new audiences. The work that goes into the production of a feature film is monumental. Indeed, some producers I know are starting to pull back on producing projects as they are time intensive. But when a film is finished, when you see it play in a theatre, your TV or even your smart phone, you realize at that moment that all the sleepless nights, self-doubt and over analysis is over. The work that has been put in by so many is being presented to the world. Thus, you want to do it again and again. At least I do.
The film industry is changing even more rapidly that it was when I first created the world of Justice Is Mind. But at the end of the day content is still king. There are now more platforms available to watch a film than ever before and they need product to fill their pipelines. Whether it’s a tentpole like the upcoming Star Wars (I can’t wait) or a truly independent film like Justice Is Mind, there is something for everyone.
The days are long. You feel there will never be an end in sight. But then there is that moment after the final rendering that the heart and soul of a cast of hundreds comes to life. For it has been the reception that Justice Is Mind has received that has led to the development of the sequel In Mind We Trust. By this time next week, the concept trailer will be released.
Justice Is Mind – The Second Anniversary Screening – August 18, 2015.
Tickets now on sale.
It was one year ago to the day (tomorrow technically) that Justice Is Mind had its world premiere at the Capital District Film Festival in Albany, New York at the beautiful Palace Theatre. Family and friends of cast and crew were coming in from all over the United States to celebrate the debut of an independent film four years in the making. I might add that the weather was perfect.
Although my mother and I arrived the day before it wasn’t long that I started to see some of the actors that I hadn’t seen since we wrapped production the previous October. I remember one of the first people I saw was Mary Wexler who plays Judge Wagner. We were having lunch and I said to my mother, “Here comes the judge!” Our world premiere wasn’t just the debut of Justice Is Mind it was a great reunion of new friends.
The premiere went off without a hitch. No sooner did I arrive home and I started to work the phones and email. I was already pitching Justice Is Mind to distributors and I was waiting to hear back from certain film festivals we submitted to, but since Albany the film had a momentum. A momentum I wasn’t going to put on hold while waiting for others to get back to me. Before I knew it, we had the Massachusetts premiere at the Strand Theatre followed by the Maine premiere at the Levitt Theatre and so on. The theatrical screenings continued and included universities and science fiction conventions. Justice Is Mind was finding its way in a sea of films looking for attention.
With our international premiere coming up on October 29 on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth, I am delighted to announce two new developments since my last post. Justice Is Mind will have its Cape Cod premiere on September 18 at the beautifully restored Chatham Orpheum Theater in Chatham, Massachusetts! And on the film festival front Justice was accepted into the Viewster Online Film Festival out of Zurich, Switzerland that will commence on September 11 and run until the 25th! I’d say it was a good week.
When I was looking through the collection of photos taken during our many travels this year, I cannot be more thankful to the cast, crew, theatres and patrons that have supported Justice Is Mind. Generally a film is released, plays theatres for a bit and then goes to VOD/DVD in what is becoming increasingly shorter windows. But here we are, a full year later, and Justice Is Mind is still…dare I say it…top of mind?
I think what has made this journey so successful is that all of us associated with Justice, and even our partners along the way, have taken a collective approach to promoting the film to the best of our ability without taking the spotlight off the project. The amount of work that goes into making a feature film is colossal. Sure, we all have “next projects” we are working on, but as long as there is an interest, as long as there is the will, there is always a…
I have often posted about my background in publishing and how it relates so well to my work as a filmmaker. When publishing was a robust industry that lived in print, the pitch process to raise capital to launch a new magazine pretty much mirrors how it’s done today in the independent film industry. You’ve written a script, have a business plan and spend a good deal of money printing both to present. But two areas I have paid obsessive attention to is the migration of print to online and consumer marketing. Just like publishing, this is the present world of filmmaking.
I’m pleased to announce that on Thursday, July 10, 2014 Justice Is Mind will have its video on demand premiere on VHX! Please visit our site at this link or visit us on our primary website for a special discount. Our Deluxe Package is akin to a DVD with numerous special features.
While Justice Is Mind will roll out on other mainline VOD platforms very shortly, it’s important that we have at least one “direct” VOD platform. As I used to sell magazine subscriptions directly off our website, we also had subscription agents that sold for us. You want both, because you want to be everywhere. I used to publish niche magazines in the sports and collectibles markets, is filmmaking really any different? I have a product and I need to develop as much conversation as possible. I also need to make it accessible in whatever manner a consumer wants to buy it. Whether it’s direct on VHX or on another mainline platform, a sale is a sale.
VHX is by far, in my view, the best direct VOD platform from a filmmaker and consumer point of view. The beauty is in the “storefront” of web design that makes it not only easy for consumers to navigate, but as a filmmaker the marketing tools they give you to bring your film to the world are light years ahead of the others. I strongly suspect in their business plan someone had a publishing background or at least worked in direct response. And here’s another plus, excellent customer service. As filmmakers we all know there are a ton of new online services from VOD, to theatrical crowdsourcing, to crowdfunding—the difference is in customer service.
When I produced First World in 2006 (released in 2007), the idea then (as now) was to present a short film version of the feature to interest investors. As I followed that plan, I also learned of science fiction conventions around the world that wanted to screen the film. I also learned of CreateSpace (through Withoutabox) to sell our film online and on DVD. To this day (actually yesterday) I still get a monthly payment for that film.
With Justice Is Mind’s International Premiere on October 29, 2014 on the Queen Elizabeth, our Video on Demand premiere set on VHX for July 10, 2014 and other screening opportunities and VOD platforms coming online, this course has enabled me to set sail with a new project – SOS United States. And like I continue to do with First World, the process of getting SOS United States into production will just mean arriving at the right port of call. There’s a port for every film, it’s just a matter of navigation and setting a course.
Yes, this is an exciting time for filmmakers. The studio system is gone and thankfully the days of the gatekeepers are numbered. We now live in an age of consumer demand and wants. As filmmakers we are only limited by the creativity of our marketing plans.
Justice Is Online.
On Thursday, November 7 a dream came true. My first feature film Justice Is Mind was having its West Coast Premiere in Beverly Hills, California! When I boarded the plane to Los Angeles in Boston on early Wednesday morning I was reflecting on the last days I lived in the city back in late 2007. A hopeful screenwriter with a dream of someday producing a feature film.
The celebrations started at Logan (Boston) with one of our supporters. Anne Conlon was celebrating her 50th birthday party by flying out to LAX to see Justice Is Mind. It was great sharing our mutual enthusiasm for the film from two very different perspectives. When I arrived at LAX I was greeted by Dev Bajaj of Peter Law Group. After checking into the hotel we went to their office where I met Roop Sumal. I have been working with Dev and Roop for months on both our law school screening tour and this screening. After talking with Arnold Peter for a bit by phone, we tested the film at the theatre. It looked and sounded amazing. The manager of the building shared a horror story about a recent screening that had to stop because of a bad DVD/Blu-Ray burn (So note to filmmakers, make sure your DVDs are professionally produced!) I settled into the hotel and met my friend Jeffrey Vance, a film historian for drinks.
The next day was Thursday. The big day. RSVP’s were still coming in and last minute organization and planning was well underway. Justice Is Mind’s star Vernon Aldershoff arrived the day before with co-star Michele Mortesen having arrived a day earlier. Then the word came in—we were suddenly over capacity and tickets would only be sold if there were some last minute cancellations. Imagine my elation that during this very busy time in Los Angeles with both AFM and AFI we were going to fill a theatre! During the day, I had a great conversation with Vivian Matito who was going to be doing live blogging from the event.
We started with a meet and greet reception at Peter Law Group. It was great seeing Arnold Peter again. It had been five plus years too long. This is an industry of relationships. Of working with people you like and more importantly trust. Arnold is more than a colleague, he’s a friend. A friend who has supported my endeavors for many years. Seeing some of the Justice Is Mind family at his firm along with our entire operations team that made this event possible, was just thrilling. But the real thrill was about to begin.
We walked, yes walked in LA, from his office to the theatre (just two min.!) and there it was—our Red Carpet, with photographers and a crowd. I saw Justice Is Mind on the marquee on Wednesday, but seeing it in lights at night was something else. As we approached the theatre, it didn’t take long to see friends I hadn’t seen in years—Anthony ,Bryan, JJ and Andrew. But seeing Angelina Spicer again was a real treat. She starred in first film First World. That reunion was very special to me. Soon the introductions and the pictures began. From Hollywood and Bollywood stars, to industry executives, the night began to take on a special magic.
When I walked into the theatre and saw it at near capacity (we did have a few cancellations) that dream was now a reality. Dev introduced Arnold and me and we presented the film. As the film screened I was just remembering all the days that led up to this moment. The endless writing and rewriting, the pitches to production companies, the continuous talking about this project to those that would listen. Although my executive producers Mary Wenninger and Stefan Knieling weren’t present, they were certainly there in spirit. For if it was not for them, none of us would have been in this room.
After Justice screened, there was a brief Q&A led by Arnold who asked me various questions about the film and my motivations behind writing Justice Is Mind. When I set out to write Justice I had no idea the impact it would start to have. New questions about a process that will someday be in our courtrooms.
The evening ended with a terrific reception at Chakra which also involved on-camera interviews with the attendees and actors. With drinks flowing and related accolades it was a fitting end to wonderful evening. The pictures on this post are from our wonderful blogger and some personal cell-phone pics. Look for our professional pictures later on this week.
My thanks to Arnold, Dev, Roop, Vivian and the entire team at Peter Law Group for one of the most memorable events of my career. And thank you Vernon, Michele and Lee for being there and sharing in the experience. And to Mary and Stefan for believing in me and Justice Is Mind.
Live the dream.
There is something imminently satisfying about seeing a motion picture you were involved in come to life on the big screen. While I watched Justice Is Mind: Evidence unfurl on January 20 at the Strand Theatre in Clinton, MA to a house of over 150, I was reflecting on the journey to reach this point.
Proud and honored doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about being associated with such a talented group of actors and crew. To bring a film to the big screen requires an unwavering amount of teamwork and commitment from those that are passionate about the craft of filmmaking. As a writer, watching actors breath life into your characters is truly something to be seen. The subtle nuances they bring from character inflection to living in a moment that will pass as soon as they hear the word “cut”, is a testament to the skill of an actor.
But just as important as the actors on screen, it is the team behind the lens that truly brings a production to its maximum potential. From the photographer that “pictures” the film, to the assistant director keeping the production on track, to the gaffers that light, to the make-up artist that brings out the best, to scoring the film for mood, to the mix and balance of sound to the creation of the special effects all of this tied to the folks that really make the magic…the editors—for it is a film editor who stitches the fabrics of these efforts together into a seamless tapestry of work.
As we prepare to announce the details of our world online premiere on Feburary 2 and to secure additional theatrical presentations of Justice Is Mind: Evidence, our work begins in earnest as we raise the necessary capital to produce the feature this summer. If you haven’t done so yet, take a visit over to our campaign on IndieGoGo to see some of our offerings. And for a real taste of the excitement that follows a world premiere, take a visit over to our Facebook page for an additional 75 photos for your review.
Two months of pre-production, four days of production and three months in post-production, the world premiere of Justice Is Mind: Evidence will take place at the historic Strand Theatre in Clinton, Massachusetts on January 20. For those of you that are interested in attending, please visit our press release at this link for more information.
For me, it feels like I’m going home. In addition to my mother working in Clinton for several years, I also produced a commercial at the Strand Theatre for Scene magazine back in 2005. If you visit this link you’ll see the exterior of the Strand towards the end. Adam Starr, who did the visual effects for Evidence, produced that commercial with me and created the effects. During our production, my family and friends participated as attendees to the premiere of The Marginal Way all with a digitized marquee and spotlights. Another interesting factoid from that production – we never actually walked into the theatre. The entire production was shot outside.
But on January 20 I will be proudly walking inside with the outstanding cast and crew that made it all possible. Our premiere at the Strand could not be more ideal. Not only will Evidence be shown to audiences right after the feature J. Edgar, but there is a certain irony in our short following this particular film. In Justice Is Mind government agencies are directly involved in the new FVMRI brain scans when it comes to forcibly mind reading terrorists. To quote the character of John Darrow in Justice Is Mind, Henri Miller’s defense attorney brilliantly played by Alexander Cook in Evidence, “Have any of these FVMRI machines been shipped by Reincar Scientific to any domestic and international intelligence agencies?” As for the response by the individual he’s questioning during the trial? You’ll have to wait until Justice Is Mind is produced.
I am also pleased to report that our crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo is gaining traction and a following. We all know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but with 1,215 views and 249 referrals, our traffic is building and funders are starting to contribute. We’ve all read one story after another about how easy it is to communicate in the world of social media, but that brings new challenges – standing out from the rest and making, what I call “social noise.” To those of you that have Liked our page so it shows up on Facebook, retweeted my Tweets and taken the time to discuss this project online, I could not be more grateful. Not to repeat myself, but if it’s good enough for PBS, it’s good enough for me.
“We still need your support. So please, visit Justice Is Mind’s crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo and contribute what you can. By supporting independent film production, not only will you be supporting the arts but you’ll have a direct hand in creating the programming you want to see.”
Hmm…maybe it’s time to start making some pledge videos?