Today I received notice that First Signal is a Semi-Finalist in the International Moving Film Festival in Iran. This marks our 21st film festival acceptance. I could not be more pleased with our results to date. What I’m particularly enjoying is the global reach of First Signal. From the United States to India; the United Kingdom to Russia; France to Iran, these are just some of the countries that selected First Signal for their festivals. What these festivals represent is a worldwide acceptance of the story in the film. I never wrote First Signal for one particular audience or demographic, I wrote it to appeal to a wide and culturally diverse audience.
There are thousands of festivals to submit to and a limited budget for submission fees. Too often we hear the same lecture about the importance of getting accepted to the top tier festivals. Worse media outlets continue to support that narrative. I read in Videomaker magazine last week that “the rest of them are worthless.” That pious elitism by inexperienced biased journalists in the industry does nothing but insult festivals and filmmakers. There are countless wonderful film festivals that make it their mission to review, accept and promote all types of films. This industry is about the voices of many not the few.
As First Signal has reached the halfway mark on the festival circuit, I’m excited to see what 2021 brings (I think we will all be glad to leave 2020!). There are many things from a marketing and promotion perspective that I hope to introduce next year. The goal is to develop some noise to cut through the traditional and social media clutter.
While First Signal continues into 2021, it’s time to look forward towards the sequel First Launch—The President faces a military coup and extrasolar war when a covertly built second generation space shuttle reveals a worldwide military destined to confront an alien presence on Earth. First Launch takes place two years after the events in First Signal and weeks before the events in First World. I always let my screenplays “sit” for a bit before I write the synopsis. In my view a synopsis is probably the hardest thing to write. There are many ways to write a synopsis. I endeavor to keep mine to one page and not to give everything away. You can read the synopsis at this link.
It’s hard to believe that my idea for this “First World Universe” started in 2006 when I wrote First World. Here we are fourteen years later in 2020 with the start of that universe being First Signal. I remember like it was yesterday making the endless pitches for First World. I looked at the submission file the other day and it was staggering. But when you are determined to do something you see it through as long as you possibly can. Sometimes things happen quickly, sometimes they can seem to take forever. But when a film project is finally realized, the time from concept to completion just evaporates.
Since my last post, First Signal has been accepted as an official selection in the Bucharest Film Awards and Aasha International Film Festival. To date, this makes eleven festivals that have accepted either the trailer or feature. I have to say I’m very encouraged by these early results. While there’s no guarantee of acceptance to any festival, I remain hopeful that First Signal will continue to be discovered by film festivals around the world.
Although I had planned to start screening First Signal independently of film festivals in October, I have put that plan off until 2021 and will wait and see how the film does during its festival run. Since I’ve submitted to additional festivals over the last few weeks that have a United States or world premiere requirement, any independent screening would jeopardize acceptance.
The theatrical market is the lifeblood of the film industry. While PVOD has demonstrated great promise during the last few months, theatrical is the key to success. Without theatrical, certain types of films either simply won’t get made or will be done so with dramatically reduced budgets. Sadly, some states have enacted the most draconian and restrictive requirements for theatres I’ve ever seen, while some (Los Angeles and New York) aren’t open at all. These types of restrictions do nothing except ruin industries while promoting fear to keep people out of indoor gatherings. I’ve never subscribed to those narratives.
The bright side to all of this is that smart states and countries have very relaxed if not completely opened their economies. They smartly treat citizens like adults and not like children. What this means is the obvious, businesses and creative industries will flock to these destination points. We all know enough now to know what is reasonable about events from the last few months. But, sadly, there are those governments that, for some odd reason, what to keep control of their citizens. Those citizens will simply move as no reasonable person wants to live under any form of totalitarianism.
I continue to remain optimistic that 2021 will return the world to normalcy. Some say the world will never be the same again. Some live in a world of such pessimism that optimism is like a foreign language to them. There are those times you have to look far down the tunnel to see a glimmer of light. But when that light is found, I prefer to be with those that share that destination. Life is too short, to waste on those that want to hold you back in their world of darkness.
While I do some repositioning with First Signal’s marketing plan for the festival market, an idea came to mind the other day for an offshoot story that would focus on one of the characters that is introduced in First Launch. This is a character that I introduced in First World, but never fully explored. Between my archive and what I have of this character in First Launch, my aim would be to create a stand-alone story that would expand the “First World Universe” and compliment the sequel.