As filmmakers we tend to operate in a vacuum. We generally write our screenplays in a bit of isolation and only expand our audience when our projects go into production. It’s easy to take refuge in people that will like our work, but we all know that’s not realistic. As creatives we look for our work to be seen by audiences outside of our own. Of course, there’s always that worry of what others will think. But that’s the very nature of what we do—we create to exhibit.
“For all those avid fans and not-so fans of sci-fi theme, this is a movie that edges all others this season and will go a long way in the mainstream if launched globally.”
This past week a notification popped up on First Signal’s Facebook page. When I clicked on it, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was a posted review. As I haven’t been promoting First Signal to the media for reviews, I was wondering how it came about. I then saw where the post originated. The Utah Film Festival & Awards posted, what could only be described, as a glowing review. Every word was a positive one. What I particularly enjoyed was the following passage, “For all those avid fans and not-so fans of sci-fi theme, this is a movie that edges all others this season and will go a long way in the mainstream if launched globally.” You can read the entire review on the screenshot below or their Facebook page.
Being thankful for this review would be an understatement. After I read it a few times I started to reflect on the origins of this project and how it came so close to never happening on more than one occasion. One thing I learned is that perseverance is key. If you believe in your project, you have to keep pushing despite all obstacles. Those that have worked with me know that I’m someone that doesn’t give up. As a literary agent friend told me last year, “You are truly a dog with a bone.” The First World Universe, that First Signal is part of, has been in development for over a decade.
I’m also pleased to announce that First Signal is an official selection of Beyond the Curve International Film Festival. When I was looking at their selections page and saw First Signal’s poster among a sea of films, I was struck by the sheer quality of the other projects. Some of these posters are truly works of art. My congratulations to all.
As for art, I saw Tenet last week and could easily attribute it to the surrealism of a Salvador Dali. The one thing about a Christopher Nolan film is he demands that his audience think. Not just in one dimension, but at least three. When I first see a Nolan film, I take in the stunning cinematography that’s always complimented with a rapturous score. The first viewing must be seen in a theatre as that’s where it’s designed to be experienced. The second time I focus on just the story to grasp the message. But it’s the third time, with captions on, that I do my best to understand the nuances of what Nolan wanted to achieve. What I love about his films are the subtle messages through numerous clues. I think this is why I love The Man in the High Castle so much – with every viewing I learn something more. I’ve always believed a film (or TV series) should be multi-layered.
With the trailer edited and scored, we are in the rollout phase as the color grading commences. As each day passes we are rolling closer and closer to the day when the trailer for First Signal is released. I don’t think I’ve prepared nearly as much for the release of any of my film projects. Yes, Justice Is Mind was obviously important to me, but with First Signal being my first feature film in the “First World Universe,” I want to make sure I reach who I need to reach.
When I was talking to an acting friend this past week, we started to talk about certain sci-fi series and movies and what we do and don’t like. For me, I’m not so much into spectacle but story. I’d rather watch a solid story than things getting blown up. Yes, sometimes you need to blow something up, but I feel it should be done within the context of the story, not just for show and tell.
Last weekend we had First Signal’s ADR session. Watching these talented actors bring their characters back was nice to see. It was also an opportunity to show them the trailer and opening credits. Aside from some stills, they haven’t had the chance to see anything since we wrapped last July. I know when I’m part of a project as an actor I anxiously await to see what the product will look like.
With audio complete, the provisional score nearly done, VFX being built and the film close to a lock, I can almost see the light at the end of the post-production tunnel. But this is where all the details come up. From polishing the edit and score, finishing the VFX, sound mixing and color grading, creating a film is an arduous task and all about project management.
One of my favorite “TV” series these past few years has been The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. The entire production on both sides of the camera was first rate. When I started to write the sequel to First Signal it dawned on me the character of Major Sampson could parallel Juliana Crain. In High Castle, Crain was instrumental in the resistance movement and played all sides to achieve her goals. In the sequel to First Signal, Sampson finds herself torn between three worlds – the President of the United States, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Cedric Yonah the Premier of the Synedrion Council. As of this morning I just hit the sixty-page mark and I think I know how I want it to end. I think!
As for films that have a military storyline, I saw 1917 last weekend. I can’t say enough great things about this film. From filming the entire story in one continuous shot, to the production values and acting, 1917 was truly a delight. The cinematography alone is reason enough to see this film. I can only imagine the pre-production planning!
I was reading an email newsletter this morning and the author talked about having to love the journey not only as a writer but as it pertained to sales. As a screenwriter, there is that moment when you feel these characters talking back to you as you type their dialogue and action their elements. When you’re filming your screenplay, you see these characters come to life. When you’re watching your story on the silver screen or your TV, you know you’ve made a sale. There is something immensely satisfying being in the lobby of a theatre when someone asks to buy a ticket to your film. Equally when you get notice that your film has been streamed.
The journey is a long one, with many highways and exits ahead. But it’s a journey that I have loved since I wrote my first screenplay in grade school.
Stay the course.