No matter where you live on this great planet, you knew that yesterday the United States of America celebrated the 4th of July. Indeed, that day is a proud moment for every American and for each of us it stands for something different. For me it just comes down to the simple fact that I live in a country that promotes freedom and democracy. But even more important, we live in a country that encourages entrepreneurship. If the film industry is anything, it is built on entrepreneurship. Watching the History Channel’s America the Story of Us yesterday just cemented the point.
Producing an independent feature film is a great example of entrepreneurship. You write a script, produce the product and get it out to market. Of course there will be those outlets you want your product in who say no, but as I’ve discovered there are plenty that say yes.
When I wrote Justice Is Mind back in 2010 I was just writing a story. What I soon discovered after I saw the completed film was the number of genres, social and demographic groups that I could use in the pitch process. The legal aspect of the trial and the loss of privacy. Advancing sciences and their impact on our society. Passing the Bechdel test. The science fiction appeal. The aged 40+ demographic that has turned out in theatres. The list goes on.
I read in the trades of so many films “bypassing” theatrical and going straight to VOD. Sure, I know it’s the same as when films used to go straight to DVD. But in my view, I wanted to bring some sort of following with Justice Is Mind before we went to VOD. I believe a film needs a theatrical run. No matter how few or many the venues, I think it’s important that you demonstrate some sort of public interest in the film. With our theatrical run to date, I’ve learned 1) the media was interested in reporting on our film and 2) the demographics that made up the audiences. We’ve established a foundation and with it a following.
Sadly there was a filmmaker in a trade publication this week that was waxing on how a theatrical run isn’t necessary, paid too much attention to an article in the New York Times by Manohla Dargis and said that film festivals deliver the best audiences for your film. While film festivals may work for some films, the bottom line is a film festival audience is vastly different from a traditional theatre audience who has purchased a ticket for your film sitting in a theatre that has your film on the marquee. With Justice Is Mind there has been no four walling (renting of theatres) we just work very hard to interest theatres in our story. To that end, I will be meeting with another theatre next weekend.
On Thursday, July 10, 2014 Justice Is Mind will have its VOD premiere on VHX! Shortly after that the film will appear on other VOD platforms. And like our theatrical run and upcoming international premiere on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth on October 29, 2014, it all comes down to the pitch. Some will pick us up. Some won’t. In the end it’s all about developing an audience.
With all I’ve learned with distributing Justice Is Mind and the distribution changes in the industry, it makes me even more excited about the prospects for SOS United States.
Last week I talked about some fantastic numbers regarding our IMDB rankings for 2013. It looks like I have some additional numbers to report, in this case, the reach of some newspapers that carried articles regarding our upcoming March 24 screening at Cinemagic in Sturbridge, MA.
I first got word that our story appeared in the Southbridge Evening News from a friend that introduced me to the reporter. As this paper’s online edition is only available to subscribers, we met in a parking lot so he could give me a copy. While I was waiting in my car, suddenly the movie All the President’s Men flashed with the parking garage scene when Robert Redford meets with Hal Holbrook.
Needless to say I thought the reporter did a great job. And then it dawned it on me. The parent company of this newspaper also owns several others, including my hometown paper. Suddenly the reports started to come in. The story ran in the Webster Times, Spencer New Leader and the Sturbridge Villager. While the Southbridge Evening News is subscription based, the other three are generally mailed to requesting households. By my minimum estimate, 40,000+ households now know about Justice Is Mind and our upcoming screening. As I grew up in the area, I heard from a lot of folks I haven’t seen in decades. Suffice to say March 24 will be a reunion on numerous fronts.
No sooner did the story break across these newspapers, than one of our location partners for Justice Is Mind worked out a promotion in connection with our upcoming screening. More on that next week!
Marketing and promoting a screening takes time. Generally, when I am negotiating a date with a theatre we ask for at least 30 days out to properly market a screening. Audiences don’t just magically show up, particularly for an independent film. The theatres we have worked with have been nothing less than spectacular. They know we work as hard as we can to make the screenings as successful as possible. But while I would love to see Justice screen at every theatre we pitch, it’s a reciprocal business arrangement that needs to mutually work. I learned this when I worked in figure skating listening to promoters bring events into buildings—what works in one venue might not work in another.
Speaking of reunions, like our last screening in Plymouth, March 24 will bring together several of the actors in Justice. To see who has confirmed attendance as of today, visit our Facebook event page at this link. For us, it’s like visiting with family. Indeed, when you work with people so closely when making a film you develop lasting friendships. For audiences, they get a chance to meet those that brought the story to life. It’s a unique experience that is usually only reserved for world premieres and film festivals.
And while our next screening is my top priority, there is the continue push to markets and venues far away from New England along with our related VOD plans. But for this moment, it’s nice to be home.