With the one year anniversary of First Signal’s theatrical release coming up, I also realize we are soon going to hit a milestone on VOD. I hope to announce what that milestone is soon. But the one thing that never stops is the continued pitching for development along with new ideas for future projects.
Just this past week, I was pleased to receive a request from an established producer to review SOS United States. Will this review turn into a deal? Who knows, but the important thing is that there is activity with this project. When developing a project for production, it’s all about activity.
Since I completed First Report, I’ve had a variety of meetings and conversations around some new projects, from a conspiracy thriller to a documentary involving the sport of figure skating. While I’ll always cherish my time in the sport, I honestly just don’t see myself returning in any capacity. Although I didn’t watch the Winter Olympics (I haven’t watched an Olympics since I was in Salt Lake City in 2002), it was reading about another scandal that just cemented my decision.
But a new conspiracy thriller is certainly exciting to me. When the idea was brought up this weekend the creative wheels just started to turn. Before I knew it, we almost had a completed outline. This idea is particularly interesting as it’s linked to a major historical event.
While I’m working on this new idea, I’ve started to reread First Report to break it down for possible production. As I wrote Justice Is Mind and First Signal, First Report could be done as an independent production within the scale of those films. Although at 194 pages, First Report is either two feature films or a limited series. The key is to secure the right locations and scheduling. From there it’s budgeting and pre-production planning.
Having just reorganized some of my production files, I was reminded about the months First Signal spent in pre-production. I believe that phase is the most critical when making a film. Yes, the actual production (principal photography) of the film is important along with post-production. But, in my view, if everything is properly organized, along with contingency plans, it just makes for literal smooth sailing.
Of course there’s no smooth sailing in film distribution, just constant navigational challenges. In the world of VOD it’s about pivoting. For so many years, it was Amazon’s TVOD/SVOD (transactional/subscription video on demand) that filmmakers clamored for. But now the tables have turned as it’s Tubi and YouTube’s AVOD (advertising video on demand) where the money is. Thankfully, First Signal has a distributor in Indie Rights that does a masterful job at pivoting!
The media has reported. The DVD has been tested. We have a green board on Amazon. The file has been transferred to the Ice Network. No, this isn’t LC 39 at Kennedy Space Center, it’s the preparation for the world premiere of Serpentine: The Short Program tomorrow night at The Strand Theatre and on Amazon and the Ice Network the following day.
When launch day, or better known in the industry as “release date” arrives for a film, that’s when the story you’ve worked on for so long is transferred to the audience. As Bill Sampson said in All About Eve, “You’re in a tin can.” Of course in this age the tin can reference is more about DCP and DVD.
This past week was just about some final details, finishing up the copy for various email templates and our official press release as part of the VOD launch on Tuesday. The highlight was this article that appeared in The Item. While national press is great for general awareness for VOD, there’s nothing like local press that can drive traffic to a theater. This newspaper circulates in Clinton and the neighboring towns.
Tomorrow night looks to be a star studded affair with many of the actors and crew from both films attending. I have to say I love these reunions. Not only does it give everyone a chance to catch up, but to see our collective efforts on the silver screen. And then there is the overlap. Audiences will see several of the actors and crew from Justice Is Mind in Serpentine: The Short Program.
But with each project comes an expanded network and new processes. While Amazon certainly existed five years ago, the opportunity to distribute directly to several countries did not. Since Evidence premiered at the Strand, the number of VOD platforms has exploded. Not only does this mean the need for programming from TV shows and movies, but the ability to rise above the crowd and be heard.
Like Evidence that resulted in Justice Is Mind, the goal with Serpentine: The Short Program is to develop enough interest to produce the feature film version this year to release after the Winter Olympics in 2018. What this comes down to is building an audience and not getting lost in the crowd. When you consider that there are 10,000 – 50,000 films made a year, you can’t wait for an audience that may never find you, you have to tell them where you are.
As the saying goes, when opportunity knocks you take it. But none of this comes without passion, dedication and being steadfast for the long haul. A haul that can seem like forever until the day arrives.
Standby to launch.