Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in well over 20 years. I went skating. I realized some weeks ago that if this project was going to move forward, it might not be a bad idea to get my skating legs back underneath me. So into the basement I went and I found my skates in busted box. I was thankful that my cats didn’t use it to….nevermind. To my surprise the boots weren’t bad, but the blades had a fair amount of rust on them. Just as I did in days long past, it only took a visit to “Cooke’s” to get them in relative working order.
It seemed oddly fitting that on my first day back on the ice after two decades my first coach Denise Marco, who normally doesn’t teach on Saturday, was there. Not only is Denise the Executive Director of Northstar Ice Sports but she will be playing Elizabeth Rogers in Serpentine with one of her star students playing Suzanne Wilson.
I remember the days in the late 1970s when my mother would drive me to Denise’s house at 5 in the morning (we lived in the same town) to ride with her to the rink for a 6 AM skate before school. Who possibly could have thought that we would reunite in 2016 to make a movie!
What’s also fitting about the Serpentine project is the number of people from First World and Justice Is Mind that will be joining this production. While this will be a great reunion, there’s some terrific new actors and crew members that have joined Serpentine. My plan is to still formally announce the project by October 1.
As of this moment, there are just about 30 people involved in Serpentine. And this is just a short film. I remember with Justice Is Mind, when all was said and done, that number was just over 200. Producing a film is no easy feat. From scheduling to organizing to execution, it is not for the faint at heart. But what it does require is a commitment. And not a lackadaisical one.
I know of so many that want to be part of the industry but they seek instant gratification or worse fame. This industry is about hard work, consistency, sacrifice and dedication. Each project builds some sort of value for the next. It all has to start somewhere. Did I ever think that those first days on the ice decades ago and that first high school play would lead to being on a network TV show or directing films? We can’t predict the future, but we can plan the present.
As for the present, it looks like a great conference room for our last needed location has come forward. The phrase “Location. Location. Location” is often used in real estate. The same holds true in filmmaking. For me, once the locations are secured, I start to visualize the story from script to screen.
Setting up a new project like Serpentine is one of details. It starts with the script where you generally write in isolation. But when you make the decision to produce, that’s when a film takes on an entirely new dimension as it becomes project management with location partners, crew, actors and a variety of other participants.
This past week the location for the ice rink was confirmed along with the actors that will play Suzanne Wilson and her coach Elizabeth Rogers. The latter has a great backstory that I will soon share. Let’s just say that my experience in figure skating has come full circle from the time I first set foot on the ice.
Certain other actors have been confirmed along with crew. Over the next several days the aim is to confirm the rest of the crew while posting for actors and securing the final two locations. My plan is to formally announce the cast, crew and location partners via press release by October 1. Should our plans stay on track, the goal is to start principal photography at the end of October.
Like Justice Is Mind, and somewhat with SOS United States, when I started to write Serpentine my aim was always to produce the project. While it certainly helped that I had a background in the sport, when one decides to produce it’s a commitment. One that starts long before and long after the production wraps. Serpentine started in January 2016 and will continue long into 2017 and well into 2018 and beyond should the feature move forward. There are no shortcuts in this industry.
I’m reminded of this commitment every day with First World, Justice Is Mind and SOS United States. With First World and Justice Is Mind released, there is the regular social media and general promotion. Both are doing extremely well on Amazon Prime in all their territories while SOS United States is still being reviewed by a production company (one that regularly produces).
Filmmaking is not like the old Ron Popeil motto of “Set it, and forget it!” once a film is completed. Promotion, in the age of VOD, is ongoing. Take this week for example, Justice Is Mind just arrived on TubiTV. As all of us associated with Justice Is Mind are reminded, four years ago this month we were filming and yet the project continues to reach new audiences through platforms like TubiTV. Platforms that didn’t exist when we were filming Justice Is Mind.
TubiTV reminds me of Hulu in its early days. It’s an advertiser supported VOD platform that doesn’t require a monthly or annual membership like Netflix (or Amazon for Prime). What’s important in the world of film distribution is to give audiences as many choices as possible on how, when and where they want to watch a film. Today, three years after release, Justice Is Mind can be watched on your TV, computer, tablet, smartphone and an array of other devices and platforms.
Speaking of platforms of a different nature, it looks like after twenty years I’ll need to get my skating legs underneath me again for Serpentine.