As a filmmaker there is nothing like seeing your film unfold on the silver screen. I will never forget when I first saw Justice Is Mind come to life at our world premiere back in 2013. It is that moment when all the hopes, dreams and work come to fruition. I am delighted to announce that the world premiere of First Signal will take place on March 26, 2021 for a one-week engagement at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas in Greenfield, MA!
Whenever I make a film, whether it be a short or a feature, I’m always looking for a theatrical premiere. When you premiere a film in a theater it signifies its arrival in the marketplace. It provides an opportunity for audiences and the media to see it as intended before it’s released into the digital world. It’s also economic. For the majority of films, the primary revenue driver is theatrical “box office” revenue. I have always been a proponent of theatrical screenings (particularly now as the exhibition sector has been decimated this past year and needs every ticket), for without that component, the majority of films will not recoup their production budget.
Seeing the name of your film on a marquee is a special experience all its own. When the Greenfield Garden Cinemas published the photo you see at the top of this blog it took me less than a minute to send it to the cast, crew and location partners. First Signal has formally arrived.
While we prepare for the world premiere of First Signal (and other screening events), we are finishing up the deliverables for Indie Rights. Part of our deliverables package is a new poster designed by Emmy Award winning Adam Starr. Partially inspired by Apollo 8’s Earthrise photo, this new poster is what you will see at all our screening events and on VOD platforms. As our marketing plans unfold, look for additional creative that builds off First Signal’s new poster.
As for marketing, SOS United States is moving along nicely through the festival circuit. Since my last post, the script has picked up some additional selections and wins. My goal with SOS United States is to promote the project through the festival circuit with the aim of raising the necessary production budget to produce the film in 2022 for a 2023 release. Yes, that’s the type of planning that goes into making a feature film.
I had lunch last week with one of the stars of First Signal. I remarked that this has been a four year project to date. From the original idea in March 2017 to script in early 2018, production in 2019, festival circuit in 2020 and wide release in 2021, producing a feature film is years in the making. Nothing in this industry happens overnight. It takes continued perseverance, patience and plans to see a project all the way to the end.
But the nice thing about First Signal is that it’s just the beginning. The beginning of what I hope to be a new sci-fi franchise.
A couple of weeks ago I sent an update to the actors and crew of First Signal about what our release strategy may look like. I believe, if all goes according to plan, our first theatrical screening will be sometime in October. I hope that follows with additional theatrical and festival screenings into the second quarter of 2021 with a VOD release around May.
As someone who reads the trade publications, I see how release dates and general overall strategy is changing on a daily basis. This article in The Hollywood Reporter today, pretty much summed up the current state of the industry. Fortunately for First Signal, the film itself wrapped principal photography last year and just finished post in early June. So, all things considered, our release strategy hasn’t changed all that much.
I do believe one of the real issues that’s going to face this industry next year is available inventory of new product. With very little being produced over the last several months, eventually this empty space will catch up to the industry. I believe this is why we are seeing studios and distributors stagger their releases from the 3rd quarter of this year into 2021. They need commercial films to bring audiences back to theaters. Honestly, who really wants to see a previously released movie in a theater when you can watch it from the comfort of your sofa for a fraction of the price? Of course, I would love to see classics return to the silver screen. Particularly those from the 1930s, 40s and 50s!
So far, the festival market is going well for First Signal. I was delighted to receive a Best Director win from the Eurasia International Monthly Film Festival last week. To receive an accolade of this stature from a festival is truly an honor. This is all about building a momentum so when First Signal goes to VOD, a hopeful following has built up for the film. From a media point of view, there is so much noise to cut through to get noticed.
The release strategy I’m looking to employ is the model I did with Justice Is Mind. It started with a world premiere followed by a limited theatrical and special event run before it went to VOD. My feeling with Justice, and now First Signal, was to follow the studio model. If it works for them, why try to reinvent the wheel? I just adapted it for the scale of my project. At the end of Justice Is Mind’s run, we had numerous media reports and reviews that helped propel the film when it was released on VOD.