Marketing planet Earth one project at a time.

Posts tagged “SOS United States

Next Destination

As 2020 was drawing to a close I received word that First Signal won Best Screenplay at Indo-Global International Film Festival. With what 2020 brought to so many, this award was a welcome bit of good news to end the year. Despite everything, First Signal had a great 2020.

2021 will be ushering in changes on so many levels. Whether they be personal, professional or global, transition is in the air. We can either stand still to see what those changes are or ride the waves of trends and change to see what best suits us all. I can only speak for myself personally when I say that I now carefully plan and analyze before I make a decision. Despite what is thrown at us on a daily basis, I continue to believe that the world is filled with opportunity. For me, it’s about aligning myself in circles that I want to be part of. I can’t roll a square boulder up a hill, but I feel I can control the roll of such boulder on the other side with the right team of friends and colleagues. I’ve always believed in partnering with those that want to accomplish something—that want to go forward.  Nothing is worse than those that subscribe to the “Debbie Downer” mentality!

In SOS United States the SS Leviathan is modeled after the SS United States.

Of course, one decision I need to make soon is the company that will eventually distribute First Signal. As of today, I’ve narrowed it down to five. Last year was certainly the year of education when it came to sales agents and distributors. But as a fellow filmmaker said to me, “they all sell to the same outlets.” As there’s only one Amazon, Tubi, etc., what it comes down to is how they present the film to the outlets, how they market and what their terms are.  While the terms may differ in deal length, percentages and expenses, there is one deal point that I can’t agree to—a title change.

While I understand that films have a change in title depending on certain factors, changing the name of First Signal is a dealbreaker for me.  Over the last ten plus years I have developed the First World Universe. First Signal is the “first” entry in this new franchise to be followed by First Launch, First World and so on. There has been substantive branding over the last decade that has included everything from press to traditional and digital marketing along with numerous film festivals. Sales agent may view a title change as a way to optimize sales, but the casual disregard of years of branding seems callous to me.  However, one also needs to be flexible. Nobody gets everything they want in a negotiation. That’s not realistic. The key, I believe, is to strike a balance that works for both parties.

Next week will also start some promotion for SOS United States through FilmFreeway. I’m pretty excited to see where this new venture goes while I continue to market First Signal and the development of the First World Universe.

Many years ago, while I was in living in Los Angeles a friend in the industry gave me some solid advice–You need to have more than one project going at any time. And when I was working endlessly trying to get First World funded, another friend of mine said to me—Why don’t you try to write something else while developing this one? It was hard to hear advice that went against my steadfast one-track mentality, but taking that advise created Justice Is Mind, First Signal and hopefully soon SOS United States.


Next World

The Shinar system in First Signal

While I was reviewing my end of year post from last December, it ended with “See you at the premiere of First Signal in 2020!” Well, I think we all know how film premieres went this year. But while the world did stop on so many levels, industry activity did continue. Seemingly overnight film festivals went from live events to virtual. As of this date First Signal has been accepted into 23 festivals, winning 11 with 4 as finalist.  All things considered, 2020 worked out well for First Signal.

Events over the last several months have been involved, complicated and fraught with emotion. There isn’t a person or industry on the planet that hasn’t been affected. We all have our positions and reasoning behind them. But as I’ve stated to many the world can’t continue like this and must get back to normal. Not new normal, but normal. The one thing I have learned is where I want to place myself socially, in business and with my projects. Although 2020 could have been a stationary year if I wanted it to be, it wasn’t on numerous levels both personally and professionally. I don’t sit still, and I never give up. But now it’s time to move forward. Let that be the new password in 2021.

With First Signal now at the halfway point on the festival circuit, I will start to plan for theatrical screenings over the next months to be followed by our VOD release. Those plans alone will occupy the first half of the year. Regarding the VOD release, I have planned a special event to introduce First Signal to streaming audiences. It’s called Project Shinar.  

In addition to promoting First Launch, the sequel to First Signal, for development, I’ve started to break down SOS United States. Production may not happen next year, but I know from my experience with First Signal, that a detailed break down of the project can only help when SOS goes into production.  As I’m looking for a producing partner for SOS, the more I have to present the better.

A VFX shot of General Reager arriving at Chièvres Air Base in First Signal

The search for a producing partner isn’t just about financing, it’s about finding a good match. Do we share the same vision for the project? If they aren’t from the industry, it’s about making sure they understand that investing in a film is a multi-year commitment. I firmly believe that anyone investing in an independent film should look at a project first with passion and second with economic return. This is not to say that films don’t yield a return, it’s the fact that such a return can be years in the making. But one thing we all know in this industry is that content is king. Especially, completed content.

Of course, to get that content on to the streaming platforms you need a distributor (or aggregator). Although I have about a dozen companies interested in First Signal, I’m looking at two (one of which I’ve done business with before). Signing with a distributor should be a very well thought out decision. One thing I have learned this past year is to conduct substantive due diligence on any distributor or sales agent that comes knocking. That diligence is a simple as contacting filmmakers that have signed with them. How did they market your film? What was their fee structure? Are you getting paid every quarter?  If you worked for years to make your film, you want to make sure the company that will have the rights for years is someone you want to be in business with.

With 2020 coming to a close, I wanted to extend a final thanks to the post-production team of First Signal that saw the completion of the film during some very trying times. The result is something we can all be very proud of.  Finally, to the film festivals. Your belief in First Signal as an official selection has meant the world to those of us that brought it to life. Our sincere thanks and gratitude.