I am pleased to announce that Justice Is Mind is now available on the theatrical distribution platform Tugg! To quote their website, “Tugg is a web-platform that lets YOU bring the movies you want to your local theater.” Tugg is a dynamic theatrical service that I have been aware of for the last couple of years.
For those of you that follow this blog, you know that Justice Is Mind has had a successful theatrical run. Out of 20 screenings to date, 12 have been theatrical. As none of these theatres have been rented (1 was sponsored), with an average attendance capacity of over 80% for each screening, we know the demand is there. What drove ticket sales? Promotion, media, networking and legwork. Each theatrical screening of Justice Is Mind averaged $1,113 per screen.
The simple difference with Tugg is the following; instead of the vast majority of tickets being sold the day of a screening, they are sold in advance. By example, let’s say someone wants to screen Justice Is Mind at their local theatre and they live in the Midwest. They request a screening at this link and then promote using the various tools that Tugg offers, combined with their marketing efforts and whatever marketing assistance we can provide. Once the threshold of tickets are sold in advance (it varies by theatre), the screening is confirmed and the promoter receives 5% of the ticket sales. It’s a win win for everyone. Why? Because if by some chance not enough tickets are sold in advance by a certain date, the screening doesn’t happen and nobody is charged. To learn more, please visit this link and our listing on Tugg for more information.
When Justice Is Mind had its international premiere on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth last October, several of the guests remarked that they wished our film was playing at their local theatre. Tugg is the program that can make that happen!
The world of filmed entertainment, and in particular independent filmmaking, continues to undergo all kinds of market stresses. I talked about some of those issues last week and Variety outlined a host of them in an article titled Broken Hollywood. But I also truly believe that today the independent filmmaker has all kinds of opportunities to get their work seen. Justice Is Mind is a prime example of what’s possible; a theatrical run, convention and university screenings along with an international premiere on an ocean liner. Combine those screenings with various VOD platforms, including Amazon Prime and VHX, and the distribution mix works. With our arrival on Tugg, more VOD platforms on the way along with some additional screening plans being worked on, our efforts are far from over.
Speaking of efforts, the first draft of the sequel to Justice Is Mind is nearly complete with the story’s arrival at the Supreme Court. I’ll announce the completion of the first draft and then there will be the requisite edits before I can send the script out for review. Thus another reason to continue promoting part one – Justice Is Mind.
As I approach the final pages of the sequel to Justice Is Mind (I’m at 116), I’m entering what is probably the most involved plot aspects of the story; providing closure to one of the greatest mysteries of World War II, the resurrection of Henri Miller and a landmark Supreme Court case. All of this takes research and, what I call, “fictional plausibility”. For me I take known facts and provide a fictional twist. This is nothing new in screenwriting, but I do believe that if factual history is attached it should be honored before fiction is applied.
Speaking of screenwriting, I was reading Peter Bart’s latest column in Variety titled “Hollywood No Longer Shows It Has the Write Stuff”. He goes on to say, sadly, that studios and some filmmakers are omitting thanks to that one person that needs to be thanked—the screenwriter. How many times do we hear the word “collaborative” in this industry? Well, the screenwriter is the reason why everyone in on set. Simply put, you can’t build a house without a foundation.
Bart quoted from one of my favorite directors, Billy Wilder, “I like to believe that narrative movement can be achieved eloquently and elegantly without shooting from a hole in the ground, without hanging the camera from a chandelier and without the camera dolly dancing a polka.” This isn’t to take away from great cinematography, and I do love my “Hitchcock” wide shots, but without a quality screenplay it just doesn’t matter what you shoot. This is why I’m such a fan of classic films. And give me a political thriller from the 1960s any day!
Speaking of industry trades, there was a great interview with Voltage Pictures president Nicolas Chartier in The Hollywood Reporter where he talked about piracy and the state of the industry. The one thing he said that struck me was, “the DVD business is dead.” I agree. I was in a Dollar Store yesterday and saw a bin of DVDs for sale for only $1. Yes, some were films I never heard of, but plenty had star power behind them. Sure DVDs are still sold, but you have to wonder what’s left for the filmmaker after all the expenses.
For years I have been a supporter of Video on Demand. VOD is simply one of the most dynamic and exciting distribution opportunities for filmmakers. With a responsible budget, it is a way to make money on a consistent basis. I could not be more pleased with Justice Is Mind’s placement on Amazon Prime and VHX (among others). Traffic continues to build on a daily basis.
But that traffic just didn’t materialize overnight. We aren’t The Interview with the world media behind us. No, what has largely been responsible was our theatrical run along with the numerous special event screenings including our international premiere on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Along the way we developed an audience, press and significant online entries. While a screenplay is the foundation to a solid film, a theatrical run is the foundation for VOD. It’s an equation that works.
So as I write the last pages of the sequel, I am hoping to soon announce our participation in a theatrical program that could bring Justice Is Mind to a theatre near you.
This weekend I hit page 110 of the sequel to Justice Is Mind. For the last several pages the characters and related plot points have been converging to an end point. It’s moments like this in my writing that I find myself going back to the beginning of the script to make sure I haven’t left anything out. But this is the first draft, and like any first draft, there will be edits.
As some may know, one of my favorite authors is Barbara Taylor Bradford who wrote A Woman of Substance. I came across an interview she did in Gotham last year on what some of her writing secrets are. She makes an outline that doesn’t go more than 10 pages. That’s generally about the same practice I employ. For me, I want to have an idea where the characters are going, but to give them flexibility if some new idea or plot twist comes up. In fact, I already adjusted the ending a bit for the sequel.
The one thing I don’t do is over edit. I really believe you can edit too much and water down what may have been OK in the first place. But this is all personal preference. Of course, if a project has been green lit there are those adjustments that sometimes you just need to make for a variety of reasons. I was looking at my first draft for Justice Is Mind back in 2010. I’ll just say this, thank God I changed the last ten pages!
But like Emma Harte in A Woman of Substance had her “Plan with a capital P”, I have the same thing with the “Justice Is Mind” project. It may take some time to implement, and I certainly won’t divulge it all here, but with a short and feature film completed, a sequel in development and notes for the fourth leg of this project, it’s moving. With each leg the goal is to continue to increase the profile of the project. Ambitious? Sure. But so was the feature film.
Speaking of the feature film, I’m pleased to report that Justice Is Mind can now be streamed on Roku through the new VHX channel. VHX just announced it last week. It’s certainly a great development and it just gives audiences more viewing options. I’m hoping to announce some additional distribution options for Justice Is Mind shortly.
On the political front I was more than delighted to read last week that relations between the United States and Cuba continue to thaw. In my political thriller SOS United States, it’s Cuba that comes to the aide of the United States. When I think of the number of times I have travelled in the Caribbean (mostly by cruise ship) only to see Cuba just over the horizon. It’s time this failed embargo is lifted.
And just as I was finishing up this blog post one of our supporters said, “You know when folks see a movie I don’t think they really get the work, the really hard work the writer has thinking up every word and making it come out sounding natural.” Suffice to say I appreciate those words!
From the writing of the screenplay, raising the money, producing, directing and marketing, audiences really have no idea what goes into the production of a film. And as Emily Best of Seed & Spark said in an article this week, “Every film is a business.” Because in today’s day and age of independent filmmaking, there is one thing you need to have.
I’ll still never forget that day when I stumbled upon that famed 60 Minutes broadcast on “thought identification” that eventually led me to writing Justice Is Mind. As some of you know, I was actually researching mind reading technology for a sequel to First World. Who would have thought in 2010 I would be sitting here the last couple of months in 2014 and writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind.
Writing the sequel to Justice Is Mind has been an experience. Up to page 25, with a mountain of notes, it has been interesting revisiting characters I haven’t really thought much about since I wrote Justice Is Mind back in 2010. Sure, I dealt with the characters when filming the feature but by that point the script had been written, vetted and ready to go. I don’t’ believe in on set rewrites unless a scheduling emergency comes up that forces an adjustment. In my view, you write a screenplay with a sense of quiet and imagine the characters doing this and that. A film set, by design, is a noisy experience and really isn’t conducive to writing creatively.
Naturally, I’ve had more than a few inquiries on what the sequel will be about. Without giving away too much, the sequel picks up three months after the original story. Yes, there are familiar characters from the original, but already I’ve introduced a few new characters. The one thing I do before I set out to write a screenplay is to have an ending. Justice Is Mind always had the ending it did. I’m not saying I’m so rigid that I would never change an ending, but having one at the start, for me, provides a light at the end of the tunnel to work towards. And, thankfully, the title of the sequel came to me a few days ago.
Regarding Justice Is Mind, I’m pleased to announce that we are also now streaming on IndieReign! This brings us to four platforms that are streaming the film with additional platforms coming online soon. This is why the time has come to write a sequel. Justice Is Mind is not only in the market, but throughout our screenings and the comments I’ve heard there are a variety of parts that resonate with the audience. In fact, there were two audience members from two different screenings that said the comments they did that caused the direction I’m taking for the sequel.
This also represents a new time for First World and SOS United States. I’m actively presenting both projects to interested parties for development. The one thing I try very hard to do is to not get lost in all the noise associated with this industry. It’s very easy to get absorbed about VOD, SVOD, this trend, that trend, A list today, C list tomorrow, etc. In the end it comes to one word and one word only – equity. Whether you are producing a low budget feature like Justice Is Mind or something in the few millions like First World, part, or most of the equity (translation cash), must be put up before a project will proceed. As I mentioned last week, all movies start with the screenplay. Where they go from there is up to the market.
I’ve always enjoyed both the creative and business side of the entertainment industry. I find it just as much fun to write a cool scene as it is to negotiate a screening and pitching it to the press. I guess there is another word that is applicable to my work.
In a few short weeks, Justice Is Mind will have its International Premiere on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth. Indeed, for more reasons that I can count, I am looking forward to this trip. And with my PowerPoint filmmaking seminar completed and all the other details attended to, it just comes down to the final organization before I leave for Rome.
Justice Is Mind is now in the international market. Since our arrival on, VHX, Viewster and Amazon (with other VOD platforms to follow), our film has left its domestic home for an international audience. Our screening on the Queen Elizabeth will be the launch event. I cannot think of a more fitting setting than an ocean liner in the Mediterranean Ocean. For the first time in the history of the film, those in the audience will have no direct connection to the movie other than their interest in seeing it. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about as a filmmaker. Introducing your work to new audiences.
The process of marketing Justice Is Mind internationally started back in 2011 when the short film version was produced. Did I know where Justice Is Mind was eventually going to go? No, of course not. No filmmaker has a crystal ball that can predict the future. What we do have is hope, ambition and determination and work tirelessly to accomplish what we do.
But as I’ve learned from our theatrical screenings, reviews and articles, every film needs to have some sort of hook to target and reach an audience. Theatrical screenings have been pivotal to Justice. With each one I learn something new whether it be demographics or areas of the film that resonate with an audience. Live screenings give a filmmaker a chance to interact with an audience that VOD will never really be able to do. While VOD is the revenue generator for independent film, it’s the theatrical audiences that are the driving force.
There have been so many discussions on the pros and cons of theatrical and VOD, particularly when it comes to windows. I can easily see the point of the theatres. Why would they want a film to also be available on VOD the same day it’s released in theaters? From a filmmakers point of view, it comes down to revenue and getting a maximum return on a limited marketing budget. This is a conversation and debate that will long continue.
This past week I made a variety of presentations for First World and SOS United States. And while making these pitches, I offered a hook on why I think they are marketable commercial projects. For First World, there is a new space race between governments and corporations. For SOS United States, we have a global military coalition targeting a variety of worldwide situations.
But until those projects get funded, the marketing focus is on Justice Is Mind. Just yesterday a great mini-feature was published on Fraking Films. Always nice when a story starts, “Today I’m excited to share with you a great looking indie film called Justice Is Mind.”
Although Justice Is Mind has been on Amazon Prime Instant Video for over a week, our “official” press release and email newsletter went out yesterday. With our social media efforts as part of the Viewster Online Film Festival and our theatrical screening in Chatham last week, I didn’t want this milestone to get lost. You can read our press release at this link.
Indeed this was a milestone. Having Justice Is Mind on both Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant Video in SD and HD formats opens up a world of possibilities. Getting on to Amazon Instant Video is a very straightforward process, but Amazon Prime is a different story. Simply, Amazon has to approve your film and I didn’t know what was going to happen until the film went live. But with this approval we are now in front of another 20+ million that subscribe to Amazon Prime. A special thanks to KinoNation our VOD distributor.
In addition to Amazon, Justice Is Mind is available on VHX and Reelhouse with bonus material and, at least until October 13, Viewster. I was more than pleased with our participation in Viewster’s festival. We generated some great conversations in the comments section and had a solid social media presence. Hopefully we will be able to extend our placement on Viewster. Additional VOD platforms will be coming online soon.
This past week I was working on my filmmaking seminar that will take place on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth a few days before our International Premiere on October 29. When I was looking at the PowerPoint slides I was reflecting on the journey Justice Is Mind has taken from concept to screen. That’s what makes this business so exciting and such a rollercoaster. From the quiet times of planning to the highs of a screening.
Over the last several weeks, I have been presenting both SOS United States and First World for development. And like Justice Is Mind, I know this journey can take some time to accomplish. Not a week goes by when I read in the trades of a film that took time to come to fruition. For some projects its months, for some its years. And once a film is made, you are still with the project for years after. I was reading about one producer in the trades who said something on the order of, “When I decide to invest in a film I have to ask myself do I want to be in business with that person for five years or more.” It’s true, because the journey of a film doesn’t stop at the world premiere, in fact that’s when it begins again.
Point in fact, no sooner did my email newsletter go out and a major science fiction convention reached out to screen Justice Is Mind in January, 2015. How did this connection come about? I screened First World with them in 2008. As I’ve said before, I’ll say again, this is an industry about building long-term relationships.
What I learned when publishing magazines, I have taken to my filmmaking work. There’s no limit on where you can present your project. What it comes down to is determination, dedication, perseverance and a team that believes in the work, and more importantly, you.
It was one year ago to the day (tomorrow technically) that Justice Is Mind had its world premiere at the Capital District Film Festival in Albany, New York at the beautiful Palace Theatre. Family and friends of cast and crew were coming in from all over the United States to celebrate the debut of an independent film four years in the making. I might add that the weather was perfect.
Although my mother and I arrived the day before it wasn’t long that I started to see some of the actors that I hadn’t seen since we wrapped production the previous October. I remember one of the first people I saw was Mary Wexler who plays Judge Wagner. We were having lunch and I said to my mother, “Here comes the judge!” Our world premiere wasn’t just the debut of Justice Is Mind it was a great reunion of new friends.
The premiere went off without a hitch. No sooner did I arrive home and I started to work the phones and email. I was already pitching Justice Is Mind to distributors and I was waiting to hear back from certain film festivals we submitted to, but since Albany the film had a momentum. A momentum I wasn’t going to put on hold while waiting for others to get back to me. Before I knew it, we had the Massachusetts premiere at the Strand Theatre followed by the Maine premiere at the Levitt Theatre and so on. The theatrical screenings continued and included universities and science fiction conventions. Justice Is Mind was finding its way in a sea of films looking for attention.
With our international premiere coming up on October 29 on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth, I am delighted to announce two new developments since my last post. Justice Is Mind will have its Cape Cod premiere on September 18 at the beautifully restored Chatham Orpheum Theater in Chatham, Massachusetts! And on the film festival front Justice was accepted into the Viewster Online Film Festival out of Zurich, Switzerland that will commence on September 11 and run until the 25th! I’d say it was a good week.
When I was looking through the collection of photos taken during our many travels this year, I cannot be more thankful to the cast, crew, theatres and patrons that have supported Justice Is Mind. Generally a film is released, plays theatres for a bit and then goes to VOD/DVD in what is becoming increasingly shorter windows. But here we are, a full year later, and Justice Is Mind is still…dare I say it…top of mind?
I think what has made this journey so successful is that all of us associated with Justice, and even our partners along the way, have taken a collective approach to promoting the film to the best of our ability without taking the spotlight off the project. The amount of work that goes into making a feature film is colossal. Sure, we all have “next projects” we are working on, but as long as there is an interest, as long as there is the will, there is always a…
A year ago this week I was in the final days of preparing for the world premiere of Justice Is Mind on August 18, 2013 at the Palace Theatre in Albany, NY. The film itself was completed and pressed to our theatrical DVDs the week earlier. I knew the majority of the cast and crew would be coming and we were able to secure some local media.
After Justice Is Mind wrapped production on October 13, 2013 we entered the post-production phase. The film needed to be edited, scored, special FX needed to be built, sound mixed, color corrected and a variety of other post production matters. When I considered the number of locations (15), actors (over 120), special FX (170) and a host of other matters, Justice Is Mind was not a “small” feature by any standard. I’ve produced before, but Justice Is Mind was by far my most ambitious project to date. The journey from script to screen may simply result in a DVD or digital file, but for anyone wanting to make their own feature film the details are in the middle and beyond.
Since our world premiere on August 18, Justice Is Mind has had the good fortune to screen in theatres, at universities and science fiction conventions throughout North America. Ambition did not just exist in post-production nor end after our world premiere. The ambition and efforts of so many involved in the project resulted in an independent film that stood out from the crowd.
When you consider that over 50,000 films are produced in any given year, I can’t help but be proud of our results to date. According to IMDB Justice Is Mind was ranked as the 8th “Highest Independent Film Released in 2013”, 42nd “Top US Grossing Independent Film Feature Films Released in 2013” and 48th “Most Popular Independent Film Feature Films Released In 2013”. Over on Box Office Mojo, out of ALL films released in 2013 (including studios), our film finished 538 out of 687. Am I bragging? I’m doing what all major studios and the independents do, I’m promoting. I’m advertising our progress to date. If the majors do this so can the “true” independents that need all the social media and print space we can get. These efforts have resulted in the upcoming international premiere of Justice Is Mind on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth on October 29. I’m also hoping to announce a domestic theatrical screening that’s scheduled for September.
Has this been an easy journey to date? Absolutely not. Even with these results, one still has to deal with a provincial attitude that permeates in an industry that is resistant to change. But there are the progressives. Those that understand about consumer demand. Those that look at the aforementioned results and simply conclude—audiences want to see this film. Consumer demand is front and center when it comes to Video on Demand.
With our Video on Demand launch on VHX in July, Justice Is Mind has just gone up on Reelhouse and will soon be available on other VOD platforms. Celebrating our anniversary week, Justice Is Mind can be streamed at $2.99 or purchased for $5.99 at Reelhouse. Over at VHX you can buy the feature film for $2.99 or our deluxe package of videos (including the feature) for $5.99. Enter the special coupon code ANNIVERSARY on the buy option at Reelhouse or deluxe option at VHX and save an additional $3 for a total purchase price of only $2.99.
Full steam ahead.
I remember when I wrote my first script. It was in a creative writing class in junior high. I think I know where that script is. Somewhere in the basement with a century of family history. It was my grandmother who started taking pictures in the 1910s and then it was my grandfather who took 8mm films of various family outings. I actually used a picture from this family collection in Justice Is Mind and some of these old albums appear in the film with Margaret Miller. The album that Henri Miller was looking through actually contained pictures from some of my European travels. In Justice Is Mind the Miller family emigrated from Europe right after World War II.
This past week was a busy one, with Justice Is Mind shortly going up on four major VOD platforms, it was time to review a variety of sites. I did this for our VHX launch, but wanted to revisit again by adding some new trivia to our IMDB listing (more to come) and updating some areas of our website (never ending). For when we do start to appear on these additional VOD sites, a major public relations push will begin in earnest. On that note, check out our latest review on Film Trance.
To date, I’ve been very pleased with our coverage and related reviews. Each writer and reviewer looks at the film differently and it’s always amazing to me what resonates with who. In the case of Film Trance, I enjoyed their reference to the strong characters and statement, “It is a thinker with a psychological edge.” Justice Is Mind really isn’t a film you can watch just once. I designed it that way as those are the films I like to watch. The insertion of clues and moments building up to the end.
As for SOS United States and First World, I saw some progress on those projects this week. Both of these films have budgets far north of what I produced Justice Is Mind for and require a different approach to market.
When I’m pitching a project, I like to make my introduction via email first. In my view, it gives the recipient time to evaluate what I’m presenting. That being said, there’s always the initial call to present and to request an email address. Yes, I do have a script in front of me with various talking points as sometimes a cold call works out really well. I remember the great conversation about a month ago with a member of a production whose film did really well at the Academy Awards. Then there is the other side when a cold call can be downright chilling. It is what it is.
So while I work on a presentation for SOS United States that’s going out on Monday, I revisited a contact in China for First World to represent that project on that side of the world. When you consider the current state of world affairs, China’s space race in high gear along with the renewed interest in the Moon with the Apollo 11 anniversary, I believe the timing for both of these projects could not be better.
No time like the present.
This past week I was preparing a presentation for SOS United States and started to reflect on what I have produced and directed over the years. From plays, to commercials, to corporate videos, short films and feature films, it has been one hell of a journey so far. I remember back in the 1990s when I produced my first direct response commercial and being glued to the TV just waiting to see it air for the first time. The next day I went into my office (early) to look at the fax report from the call center to see how many placed an order for one of my magazines. I fondly remember my excitement then as I do now every time Justice Is Mind embarks on a new journey.
In a few months I’ll be on an ocean liner in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean screening Justice Is Mind on the Queen Elizabeth. Yes, this is a tremendously exciting opportunity for the film and as cruise travel is my favorite way to travel, all the better! But in all honesty, it has always been about bringing Justice Is Mind to the widest possible audience.
Justice Is Mind was produced in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and while local, regional and national audiences have been wonderfully supportive, the second phase of this four year project has been to present Justice Is Mind to an international audience. When I was publishing magazines I was always looking for new avenues to distribute, filmmaking is no different. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, filmmaking is a journey to new worlds and new audiences.
Of course the one constant, the one continuous journey in all of this, is capital. The capital to produce and the capital to pay back your investors from distribution. When you read the entertainment trades, blogs and related sites (Slated, etc.) they talk about the countless various structures of film finance. But there are a couple of constants in all this coverage, 1) everyone is looking for funding, and, 2) every deal is different. From the studios to the independent filmmaker, cash is king.
How many times do we read that such and such a film was financed by the most unlikely of investors? Trust me I had no idea that my best friend and her husband would be my investors in Justice Is Mind. Nor did I think that 20 years ago a figure skating coach would back my dream to launch a figure skating magazine. So what common thread did these financiers have? A passion for the intended product. Don’t get me wrong, they are business minded but at the end of the day they believed in the project and wanted to see it come to life.
On my quest to secure funding for SOS United States and First World I look for those that may have a passion for the subject matter and are entrepreneurs. There’s no question that filmmaking is a risky venture, but isn’t any business? Unlike a business that may not make it and has to close its doors (or shut down their website), a completed film is a product that can be marketed and sold.
Now boarding. The journey to new worlds.
It was during the post-production of Justice Is Mind in 2013 that the idea for SOS United States came to me. And like the original idea for Justice Is Mind that was sparked from research on the sequel to First World, as a writer once I get an idea in my head I just have to write it out and see where it goes. When I do write, I think about the story not about the market.
Who would have thought that when I was writing Justice Is Mind back in 2010 that mind-reading technologies, patient privacy and genetic seizure would be trending in the news? Likewise when I wrote SOS United States last year it really didn’t occur to me what the state of the world would be with the United States withdrawing from various hot spots. And with China’s space program advancing at a rapid pace, the science fiction in First World in regard to space travel, is rapidly approaching science fact. But in the end, it all comes down to raising capital.
As I read the trades on a daily basis, there’s always a story about a film that took years to make (Dallas Buyers Club), a filmmaker/actor with award winning credentials who couldn’t get “traditional” financing at the start and resorted to crowdfunding (Zach Braff) or some major production company that misread the market (Senator), but isn’t this like any business? We are inundated with the extremes. The epic failure of one film or the stunning achievement of another. How about what’s happening in the middle? That’s what I look for. Will the trends today hold for tomorrow? What I think we all know is that theatres and VOD are here to stay.
There is one trend that I find pretty unsettling in this industry, but it was this way in magazine publishing too. The “experts” selling their services. Honestly, you might think that sliced bread has just been invented and if you don’t buy a loaf from them you’ll never be part of this industry. Really, what it comes down to is raising cash to produce a film. I’ve written so many business plans over the years. Of course you do the same with this industry and identify a return on investment.
We live in a world of constant change and changing priorities. And this industry magnifies that x10. When I was talking to a producer a couple of weeks ago who releases a good share of their films through one particular studio, they only take on projects that are based on intellectual properties because that’s pretty much what the major studios are backing these days. I read about this in the trades and one stop to your local cinema chain and the proof is on the marquee. But, there will always be independent films. Always.
Yes, my world is about spirited optimism. If someone says no, I just keep navigating until someone says yes. I try very hard to avoid the storms of this industry always thinking, “What does the consumer want?” The consumer doesn’t care about unnecessary industry noise, they just want to see a movie. From day one of distributing Justice Is Mind, my only concern is the audience that is buying tickets (at theatres or online). All theatres and VOD platforms want are paying customers. Promotion and marketing are the key to those customers.
Yesterday Justice Is Mind had its world online premiere on VHX! You can view our listing at this link. If you select the Deluxe Package be sure to enter promo code: JUSTICEPREORDER for a $2 discount with your final price being only $7. With over 3.5 hours of programming that includes the feature film, original short film, clip from the feature along with a compilation video of our screenings across the United States, I personally think it’s a great value. Your purchase also supports the independent filmmaker!
With traffic to the site increasing throughout the day and orders coming in from Boston to Buenos Aries, I’m pretty pleased with our initial results. Through VHX alone, Justice Is Mind is available in over 200 countries. But the marketing doesn’t stop because we are on one platform. Nor does the drive to push Justice Is Mind to market. There’s no magic switch when you go live on one site or several VOD platforms (additional platforms will be online soon). Sure, there’s the discovery process, but there’s also the direct push to those platforms. For a $20 investment on Facebook, our promoted post reached over 8,000 people. But like this blog, Facebook is just one part of the marketing mix. It has to be, there are simply too many films vying for attention. My overall goal is to make Justice Is Mind discoverable and then deliverable on whatever platform you want to watch it on.
As we still own the rights, Justice Is Mind continues its theatrical run. In addition to our upcoming international premiere on Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth on October 29, I have been invited to meet with a theatre tomorrow for a possible screening opportunity in September. How did they hear about us? Word of mouth and the press we have secured in connection with our past screenings. Taking social media out of the equation entirely, positive word of mouth and press, in my view, are still two of the most powerful ways to get a film noticed. Our screenings have been successful because of these two initiatives.
This weekend will be an interesting one for me as I will be visiting my cousins at the Cape where I filmed First World back in 2006. It was eight years ago when I stood on Corporation Beach in Dennis, MA making my first film with Adam Starr. In some ways it seems like ages ago, in another it seems like yesterday. Who would have thought I would return all those years later with a completed feature film that will probably screen at a nearby town. Yes, it’s all about perseverance and patience.
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.
I have often posted about my background in publishing and how it relates so well to my work as a filmmaker. When publishing was a robust industry that lived in print, the pitch process to raise capital to launch a new magazine pretty much mirrors how it’s done today in the independent film industry. You’ve written a script, have a business plan and spend a good deal of money printing both to present. But two areas I have paid obsessive attention to is the migration of print to online and consumer marketing. Just like publishing, this is the present world of filmmaking.
I’m pleased to announce that on Thursday, July 10, 2014 Justice Is Mind will have its video on demand premiere on VHX! Please visit our site at this link or visit us on our primary website for a special discount. Our Deluxe Package is akin to a DVD with numerous special features.
While Justice Is Mind will roll out on other mainline VOD platforms very shortly, it’s important that we have at least one “direct” VOD platform. As I used to sell magazine subscriptions directly off our website, we also had subscription agents that sold for us. You want both, because you want to be everywhere. I used to publish niche magazines in the sports and collectibles markets, is filmmaking really any different? I have a product and I need to develop as much conversation as possible. I also need to make it accessible in whatever manner a consumer wants to buy it. Whether it’s direct on VHX or on another mainline platform, a sale is a sale.
VHX is by far, in my view, the best direct VOD platform from a filmmaker and consumer point of view. The beauty is in the “storefront” of web design that makes it not only easy for consumers to navigate, but as a filmmaker the marketing tools they give you to bring your film to the world are light years ahead of the others. I strongly suspect in their business plan someone had a publishing background or at least worked in direct response. And here’s another plus, excellent customer service. As filmmakers we all know there are a ton of new online services from VOD, to theatrical crowdsourcing, to crowdfunding—the difference is in customer service.
When I produced First World in 2006 (released in 2007), the idea then (as now) was to present a short film version of the feature to interest investors. As I followed that plan, I also learned of science fiction conventions around the world that wanted to screen the film. I also learned of CreateSpace (through Withoutabox) to sell our film online and on DVD. To this day (actually yesterday) I still get a monthly payment for that film.
With Justice Is Mind’s International Premiere on October 29, 2014 on the Queen Elizabeth, our Video on Demand premiere set on VHX for July 10, 2014 and other screening opportunities and VOD platforms coming online, this course has enabled me to set sail with a new project – SOS United States. And like I continue to do with First World, the process of getting SOS United States into production will just mean arriving at the right port of call. There’s a port for every film, it’s just a matter of navigation and setting a course.
Yes, this is an exciting time for filmmakers. The studio system is gone and thankfully the days of the gatekeepers are numbered. We now live in an age of consumer demand and wants. As filmmakers we are only limited by the creativity of our marketing plans.
Justice Is Online.