Last Monday I finished the first draft of the sequel to Justice Is Mind. By the early reports from those that have read it, they really enjoy the story. Certainly as a first draft there are edits, but all in all, I’m happy with it. It’s a continuation and expansion of the original story.
I think in the back of my mind I always had the idea for the sequel and planted clues all along the way in Justice Is Mind. Now with the sequel completed, it is also set up to continue as a pitch for a TV series.
When I first started to contemplate the sequel there were a variety of things that I knew would encompass a continuation. First, the sequel would start where the original left off. With a sequel you have to assume that some won’t see the original so you need some background to carry it forward. As I’ve publicly stated, Henri Miller has not been killed. It’s his resurrection that bridges the world of science and mysticism. From intelligence agencies, to secret courts, to scientific companies and the exploits of the Miller family, the story concludes at the Supreme Court of the United States.
The majority of the characters from Justice Is Mind return, but it’s in the sequel where we learn more about them and their various motivations. Combining the original characters with a variety of new voices, brings a new story to life that travels from New England, to Washington, DC, to Germany, Russia and Italy. From Senator Caraway leading the congressional investigation into pre-life memories to General Blair of Joint Special Operations Command on terrorism in Washington, DC to the President of Reincar Scientific. But through all this, the story centers around the Miller family. From the horrors of World War II to the present, the secrets of the Miller family are revealed in vivid detail.
In all my writing and research over the years, I can’t remember tackling something as involved as the sequel to Justice Is Mind. From past life regression, to intelligence operations, to the secretive FISA court, to Germany in World War II and studying case law and procedure for the Supreme Court of the United States. Personally, that’s one area of writing I enjoy – the research. You wind up learning things that you would probably never know unless you experienced it personally or actually wrote about it. While a satisfying experience, it is a labored one. This is why I’m such an advocate for laying the foundation with a complete and vetted script. The last thing I want to think of during production is the story, I just want to shoot.
While Justice Is Mind has 42 speaking parts (not including extras), the sequel has 61 with Margaret and Henri Miller leading in the number of dialogues and scenes. In so many ways the production of Justice Is Mind was a proving ground in terms of what was possible to accomplish. The sequel takes it up a deserving few notches – Margaret, Henri and Cast of Hundreds. Yes, a slight turn in title to a book about the making of my favorite film of all time –Gone With the Wind. For those that love that movie, I highly recommend Scarlett, Rhett, and a cast of thousands: The Filming of Gone With the Wind.
Those that follow me know me well enough that I’ve already started the process of developing the sequel for production. But that being said, a few observations of the New England entertainment market. We need a TV series in the region that incorporates a diverse set of talent – both known and unknown. As Justice Is Mind proved, talent on both sides of the camera need not be a household name for success.
What’s next? Synopsis.
“We want to fund the feature.” When Mary Wenninger and her husband Stefan Knieling said that after they viewed the short film version Evidence for a moment it didn’t sink in. After nearly fifty presentations and playing the wait and see game with so many possible investors and production companies, I finally heard what every producer dreams of. “We want to fund the feature.” In my own moment of silence I realized that the short film version just accomplished what it set out to do – act as a capital raise vehicle for the feature.
Although I told my fellow producer and assistant director Jessica Killam the moment I heard from Mary and Stefan, I kept the news largely under wraps until the deal was signed sealed and delivered. Film finance, even low budget films like Justice Is Mind, is a very convoluted business and it’s not for the faint at heart. Generally, you are asking people to believe in your product and to wait 2-3 years for any return. But the film industry is a passionate one and largely lives and breaths in all its forms because of that passion. For Mary and Stefan they love going to the movies and as they said in our press release, “Justice Is Mind is a timely story that marries cutting edge technology with its possible impact on civil liberties. It raises meaningful questions in an entertaining way – the audience will be talking about the film long after they leave the theater.” Indeed, that’s what a filmmaker wants with its backers—those that understand the essence of the film and believe in the product.
Our fifth screening of Justice Is Mind: Evidence at Balticon was yet again another moment of supportive attendees asking interesting questions and wanting to see the feature. Having Vernon Aldershoff (Henri Miller) as a special guest was terrific. Not only did he answer questions for the audience from his perspective but sat on a filmmaking panel with me the next day. Thanks Vern!
With the upcoming IndieFlix and DVD release of Justice Is Mind: Evidence this month and pre-production of the feature film now in full swing for a production start date in August, the work really begins in earnest.
My trip to Washington, DC and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum was a true delight. Seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery in person exceeded every expectation I could have imagined. And it’s just that kind of thinking that made the Space Shuttle a possibility in the first place – it had to be imagined.
If you haven’t been to the National Air and Space Museum I highly recommend it. From the Concorde, to the Enola Gay to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the history of aviation and the space program could not be better represented under one roof.
But no trip to Washington, DC is complete without talking a walk on the National Mall. Seeing The United States Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the World War II and Lincoln Memorial is truly an experience. I must admit, walking around the World War II memorial was an emotional one. When I saw some veterans and service members paying their respects, all I could say to myself was thank you for your service and defending the ideals this country stands for. For when you stand at such a memorial it doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you are on, we are all one nation united in liberty and justice—for all.