Two days after the world premiere of First Signal, Daniel Groom and I taped interviews with some of the staring actors for up the upcoming VOD release. These videos will be published in increments as a series over a twelve-week period.
I have always enjoyed the interview process and talking about a variety of subjects. For me I don’t force ideas or new ventures, they just seem to present themselves. When I started a figure skating magazine back in the early 90s, it was because I wanted something to read about the news of the sport. Justice Is Mind came to being after writing the sequel to First World and seeing a show about mind-reading on 60 Minutes. First Signal was born out of sitting in a bunker-like room at the Naval Justice School and revisiting my notes from First World. Stay tuned for our first episode and announcement.
A few days prior to our world premiere, I pitched another theater about screening First Signal. As the details weren’t finalized at the time, I didn’t talk about it. But just days after the actor interviews, the New Hampshire premiere of First Signal at Smitty’s Cinema was confirmed. This past Thursday, Patience McStravick (Major Ellen Sampson), Paul Noonan (General John Reager) and I found ourselves in Tilton, NH at another premiere!
Smitty’s Cinema is a four-location chain based in New Hampshire. What’s great about these local theaters is their enthusiasm. From the moment the deal was confirmed, they went to work on marketing the premiere. Combing their efforts with ours, resulted in a successful screening. To support our efforts, The Concord Monitor ran a great story with The Laconia Daily News picking up our press release.
As I noted with our world premiere at Greenfield Garden Cinemas a few weeks earlier, I witnessed with Smitty’s Cinema—local communities supporting theater and independent films. The shared experience learning about a new film in the paper, to seeing the film in a theater to talking about the film after screening, theaters bring communities together.
Today, I am putting the final touches on a private screening for First Signal. Tomorrow will be a celebration of cast, crew and our guests before First Signal is released to the world. In some ways it feels like this journey is coming to end, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is nothing really ends in this industry, it’s always about new beginnings.
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.