I'm a filmmaker currently touring the DIY Feature A Genesis Found around the campuses of colleges and universities across the Southeast. This is the personal account, for better or worse, of its successes and failures.
Not like I've been around in a
while (three years-- really?!?!) but I did want to formally conclude
my ramblings here, with a slight update on the progress of the film.
"A Genesis Found"
Things have fallen into place
for me the past couple of years, and I've kind of been put in a
situation that I really can't ignore-- now is the time to really make
a go at making this movie thing work as a full-time gig. I'm
not quite there yet, and there's still the very real possibility of
failure, but things with my non-movie career have kinda panned out in
a way where I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this opportunity.
So, in addition to giving a bit more focus to a few non-Genesis
projects I've been developing over the past couple of years, I've
also decided to try and figure out if there's a way to yield enough
profit from self-distribution of micro budget films to justify going
into business for myself, full time.
Though my approach to creating
"A Genesis Found" was atypical to the needs of making a
profit in the micro budget world (the budget was over $27k and took
me close to three years to make), I do just have it kinda sitting
around, never really having taken full advantage of my online
marketing options. Sure, the film has been on Amazon for years,
but I haven't done much in the way of promoting or generating an
audience for the film ever since I finished the campus tour almost
four years ago. I basically dumped the movie online and
continued on with my life.
Now, I realize, I was just
dumping it until I was ready to make a really solid go at it.
That time is now.
Talk about taking a while to get ready....
a month of prep, I've re-released both the film and novel online,
featuring a revised branding approach (that's much more generally
appealing, I believe-- the luxury of having a few years away from the film to develop a much more objective opinion), including a new
tagline and cover. Check
it out here!
I’ve also released a second
printing of the “A Genesis Found” novelization by Wilson Toney as
a standalone, budget-priced paperback (previously it was only
available as part of “A Genesis Found: The Film Companion”) and
also made the novel available as an Ebook for the first time.
Currently, the book is available in the Amazon Kindle store (as
well as available for free on Amazon Kindle Unlimited), and will be
available in all major ebook platforms in the coming months.
Also (launching next week),
I’ve re-released the film on a single disc, budget DVD– again
with new packaging and at a lower price.
I'm also backing up these new
releases with a strong online marketing campaign, featuring ad
placement on numerous top tier sites and social media platforms, and
a renewed push at appealing to online reviewers and "sci-fi"
Though I've always been a little disappointed in the rather meager audience I was able to connect to with the film (which I hope this will help to remedy), I'm also primarily approaching this exercise as a test run for future, more time-and-budget conscience DIY-films-- is there a market for, say, $7500 budget genre films distributed exclusively on open VOD platforms (like Amazon Instant Video) and marketed solely via inexpensive-to-free internet marketing strategies? Can such films turn a profit and be a self-sustainable enterprise? This re-release is step one in answering that question, at least for myself.
The Birth of Wonder Mill Cosmos
Over the past several years, as is the way of life, my frequent film collaborator and good friend Benjamin Stark and I have drifted apart professionally. Not in so much a "we don't work well together and we are no longer friends" capacity-- to the contrary, actually, as I have yet to work with another collaborator who has quite the perspective and skill set as Ben-- but more in just the simple fact that our goals have changed.
In the years since finishing "Genesis", I've found that I'm much more interested in creating genre and juvenile aimed content than I am at films that play festivals, and in pursuing such ambitions, have found a pretty solid place for myself in the niche market of institutional filmmaking, specializing in developing science-focused educational content for planetariums and giant screen theaters, show spaces mostly found at science centers and museums.
This path began thanks to my day job, actually, as I worked for a little over half a decade as a technician, operator, manager and film buyer for an institutional theater. I followed this introduction to the industry with my first production (one of the primary projects I've been developing for the past couple of years), LightSpeed Pioneers: Stranded on Mars, which has just secured worldwide distribution for both the GiantScreen and Planetarium Full Dome markets, and hopes to launch in 2016.
In addition to that project, I've also begun pursuing a few other potential projects in the industry.
And though I haven't completely turned my back on micro-budget (or even regional) filmmaking, it seems like this passion has been pushed more into a peripheral pursuit of mine, while my primary focus has become institutional films, as well as animation-styled projects in various media aimed at young audiences.
Since that's a pretty different style of content from what Ben is doing, it seemed pretty obvious that some form of branding change was in order.
Now serving as my exclusive
production banner for my current and future projects, Ben and I also felt it was necessary-- and frankly, helpful to me-- to rebrand the re-releases of “A Genesis Found”– along with any future
releases and tie-ins– as productions of Wonder Mill
Though we are now operating entirely separately, we remain friends, and of course, associated-- we are both "Wonder Millians" after all.