The Massachusetts premiere of First Signal at The Strand Theatre could not have gone better. As this theatre has screened the majority of my films to their enthusiastic audiences, it’s like returning home. Aside from the superior picture and sound quality at The Strand, their customers are true film aficionados.
One, prior to the start of the film, mentioned to me how much she loved independent film and was particularly excited to see something that was produced locally. Another woman and her grandson, who both love science fiction, asked me if they could have the poster that was on display in the lobby as a souvenir. When she asked if we would sign it, Chris Goodwin (who plays James Griffin in First Signal) and I were more than happy to oblige. Honestly, it’s these types of moments that you remember with fondness—people that simply appreciate the work that goes into making a motion picture.
The next leg on the “First Signal Tour” has us returning to the place where it all started – The McAuliffe-Shepard Discover Center. This coming Friday at 9 PM outside under the stars, First Signal will have a free screening to the public. It seems fitting that a film about an alien civilization from another world is exhibited among a sea of them. Who knows, perhaps like the story in First Signal, one of them will be looking.
I still remember the day when I first visited the Discovery Center, from seeing the 1:1 replica of the Mercury rocket soaring to the heavens outside to the innovative exhibits inside that were all things space and terrestrial science. When one conversation led to another and we found ourselves filming in May 2019, the entire atmosphere of the Discovery Center fit perfectly into the First Signal story. As a filmmaker, I could not have asked for more and will be forever grateful to those at the Discovery Center for providing the backdrop in the world of First Signal. To learn more about this Friday’s screening, please visit the Union Leader’s story “Sci-Fi film ‘First Signal’ takes over McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.”
And while First Signal will be streaming to the stars, across this world the film is being represented by our distributor Indie Rights at the Marché du Film (Cannes). This is my first film represented by a distributor at this market. Will First Signal see some additional sales in foreign markets? Perhaps some new distribution opportunities? Only time will tell of course. But the important thing is that First Signal is there.
As a filmmaker, we always want more for our films, but I can honestly say that I’m more than thrilled to see the accolades, media, distribution and theatrical opportunities that have already been bestowed on First Signal. My thanks to all that have made it possible.
A few months ago while searching for First Signal locations I came across The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, NH. A museum that honors Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe with a “mission is to inspire every generation to reach for the stars, through engaging, artful and entertaining activities that explore astronomy, aviation, earth and space science” is right up my alley of interests.
Last Sunday I took a day trip to visit the museum. When you first arrive you are greeted by a 1:1 scale model of the Mercury-Redstone 3 (Freedom 7) that launched Alan Shepard to space. When you see a life size replica of the space program standing in front of you, it puts those early years of the space program into perspective.
For space and science enthusiasts, this museum really gets it right. You’re first greeted by a NASA funded tribute wall to Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe before proceeding to the main exhibits. Some of the exhibits include the experimental XF8U-2 Crusader Jet, the Mercury capsule and developmental path and images of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The resolution of the images this satellite has captured make you feel that you are actually on the Moon. Stunning doesn’t even begin to describe what you’re staring at. Considering that part of First Signal’s story revolves around satellites, I found the CATSAT story to be particularly interesting.
Of course no science museum is complete without a planetarium. The Discovery Center’s 103 seat theater did not disappoint! I arrived just in time for the Take Flight show that brilliantly animated the history and science of aeronautics. After the show, there was the space shuttle simulator (it’s not easy!) that was very engaging. But I felt like I was in a scene from The Andromeda Strain when I took a picture of myself in infrared. Between the static exhibits and the interactive, the museum really has something for everyone. One thing I enjoy the most about developing new projects like First Signal is the research. It takes you to places that you might not normally go.
While I was at the museum, I couldn’t help but remember the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger that took the life of all seven astronauts (including Christa McAuliffe). It reminded me of a quote I used in First World from President Reagan’s memorial speech about the accident. In one line he summed up what the dedicated men and women in the space program represent, not only to the United States but the world.
“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”
– President Ronald Reagan; Houston, TX; January 31, 1986