Marketing planet Earth one project at a time.

Posts tagged “SOS United States

The Review

Perhaps Commonwealth One in SOS United States will be a Boom Supersonic jet

Over the last few weeks I have been reviewing SOS United States and breaking down the script by location for a cost analysis.  While I would love nothing more than to realize a multi-million-dollar budget to produce this political thriller “Hollywood” style, I’m also a realist. One thing I’ve learned over the years, is that it could literally take years (if ever) to achieve that type of production.

As I’m often on a weekly call with a filmmaker organization, I hear the same stories from exasperated screenwriters. Their stories all fall along the same lines; their screenplay has done well in festivals, it has been reviewed and analyzed by industry experts, a comprehensive look book has been created along with a filmed teaser. One screenwriter filmed the first 20 minutes of their 90-minute screenplay to show what it would look like as a finished product. You can imagine I wondered why they just didn’t produce the whole thing?

This all being said, I am breaking down SOS United States to produce as an independent film akin to what I accomplished with Justice Is Mind and First Signal. As the script has been well received by film festivals winning a variety of awards, and has been read among my peers, I’m confident about the story. The rest? Well, it’s about securing cooperative locations along with a talented cast and crew. If the following months go well, hopefully SOS United States will be in production by early Summer 2023 with a 2024 release date.

While I work on SOS United States for production, First Signal continues to do well in the market. With our YouTube placement alone garnering over 1.1 million views, the audience and interest in the First World Universe is certainly there. Those that support the film regularly asks me when the sequel will be released. For First Report and First Launch, I am aiming to secure outside production financing as I believe the “franchise” deserves it for the next phase.

But there is one thing that all films require—a fair and equitable marketplace for our product. Over the last several weeks there has been considerable drama around the release of Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power. It has been reported that Amazon spent between $715 million to $1 billion on the project. One can appreciate they want to protect their product. But the one thing that can’t be controlled are audiences. Amazon’s attempt to do that by suspending ratings and reviews on Rings of Power has created an unlevel playing field in addition to an unfair business practice.

As I learned from the release of First Signal in particular, audiences either love your film or hate it with a smattering of “middling” reviews. While I would love for Amazon/IMDb to remove all reviews below a 7, I know that isn’t going to happen. But Amazon/IMDb did just that for Rings of Power. At one point First Signal had more reviews on IMDb than Amazon’s new $1 billion dollar property.  

As an independent filmmaker we are told time and time again that a high rating and solid reviews will lead to more distribution opportunities. The work I have put in to keep First Signal’s rating as high as possible has been, to use a word I often use in this industry, herculean. But to see a company like Amazon manipulate ratings and reviews to benefit one of their properties at the expense of the rest of us that promote the Amazon machine, is just a horrid business practice—but now it is a precedent that Amazon alone has created.

One of Amazon’s baseless defenses is that because the series is well reviewed, audiences therefore by edict must love it. But then you look at The Terminal List that was beyond panned by critics but loved by audiences. As Amazon has established the precedent, perhaps they should remove the critics?

My point to all this is a simple one and is a lesson from history we should all remember – when you attempt to silence voices you only give them a larger platform to speak.


The Second Age

Rosecliff, Newport, Rhode Island

Since First Signal wrapped production in 2019 I have written the next two stories in the franchise – First Report and First Launch. While I could probably pull off First Report from my own resources, First Launch requires a substantive seven figure budget. With First Signal rapidly approaching a key VOD milestone, I’m also starting to receive more and more inquiries on when part two will go into production. Both developments are obviously good news and positive indicators that the story has been well received.

The production of First Report would in fact be the next two feature films in the franchise (it’s one story, but a 190-page script). Whether my next feature film is in the First World Universe or is SOS United States, the key is being able to develop and produce a product that exceeds the first. As a filmmaker I owe it to myself to raise the bar on quality and substance.

Rosecliff Ballroom

When I was visiting Newport yesterday, I couldn’t help but remember that First Signal was born out of my work at the Naval Justice School. It took an experience at a military base, to bring that project to life. Similarly, when I visit any of the Newport mansions, I see the sequel to First Signal clearly as President Colton resides at an estate in First Report.

As I was touring Rosecliff yesterday, I remember producing a photo shoot at this storied Gilded Age mansion with Nancy Kerrigan for my old figure skating magazine. It was about 20 years ago when, for a brief moment in time, I was producing at my favorite of all Newport mansions. Time will tell if President Colton exits the ballroom to the sweeping ocean front lawn and boards an awaiting Arctran.

A location concept for First Report

But that is what this industry is all about – imagination. From coming up with an idea, committing it to paper and then bringing it to life on the silver screen is an experience like none other.

But until that next moment of pre-production arrives, it’s about experiences. As some may have noticed from this blog and my social media posts, I’ve been doing a fair amount of weekend day trips. While these are a nice getaway, they also open my eyes to the possibility of locations and other resources to bring the next story to life.

I mentioned to a colleague last month, that I’m at that stage where I am far enough out from my last feature film to start working on another, but I’m not going to rush the process either. Frankly, I’ve never quite understood those that jump from producing one project to another without properly releasing or marketing the final product. I understand the desire to produce, but isn’t it also about developing an audience?

Next trip.

A VOD milestone is fast approaching for First Signal