Leading up to Devil’s Five Red Carpet Premiere, it was a lot of work trying to get the word out, promoting the event as much as possible. I did everything I could to tell people (in person, phone, texting, emails, my website and all related social media), make the effort to land sponsors (I got Darkside Haunted House & Chambers of Horror NY for Devil’s Five Red Carpet Premiere and Long Island Ice Tea for After Party) and attempt to get radio/TV and journalists to cover our night to remember.
There’s most definitely pressure and a high level of stress that comes with striving to influence people to buy tickets to see our unknown film. Add that people don’t always have extra money, many don’t like to go out to the theater, combined with the increasing attention deficit level of today’s society, it was a difficult task to say the least.
Also, folks have so many things to choose to do on the last night of their weekend, you can add another level of difficulty. Plus throw in our culture’s addiction to not letting go of their phones, NFL games, Halloween activities and the Season 8 Premiere of The Walking Dead, it all made it a difficult road to plough.
Sunday October 22, 2017 was a beautiful day in on Long Island. The days leading up to that day I approached just like when I direct a movie. I like to slow things down, simplify my life and try to do the things that relax me and keep me calm. There is a stillness that I believe works wonders against things that can go a little crazy. I do a lot of thinking, work out, do yoga and watch parts of movies that inspire me.
I wanted to get to Seaford Cinemas early, so I could set up, set the volume level of the movie and be prepared to show a film I’d spent four years making.
As usual, life can take you on turns and like a movie set, things can change like the weather. I went to pick up a chicken salad for dinner, but Wendy’s drive-thru wasn’t fast at all and I ended up waiting 20 minutes in the drive-up window line. Then when I got to the theater, I was behind with all the hustle and bustle that I never even got to set the volume level of the theater because I was doing other things that were necessary.
As a director we like to think we have some control. The truth is we can’t make money grow on trees, we cannot stop the clock from it’s endless circling and the weather, forget having power of that. Mother Nature does what she wants to do. People, that’s a whole other story. We can’t snap our fingers and give them all the same work ethic, commitment to the film or drive to endure countless hours of filming/promoting etc. Unfortunately, this is all just part of the process of making movies.
When I was a senior in high school right before graduation, my school, Snohomish High School (in Snohomish, Washington) passed out a magazine to all Seniors to give all of us something to read to inspire us to go forward with our lives.
Lucky for me this magazine had Rob Bottin, the Special Make-up Effects Artist from John Carpenter’s The Thing on the cover. Inside there was a huge article about how involved he got it on that film (which is one of my three favorite movies and the film that solidified me wanting to become a film director) and the incredible details about how long & hard he worked on that film.
Bottin spent a year working on the effects, most of which had never been attempted on film or duplicated since. The werewolf-like bearded effects whiz led a full team of artists into uncharted science-fiction horror territory and ending up in the hospital with nervous exhaustion. His unearthly work ethic, combined out of the world creativity was something I admired and was determined to imitate. Looking back at that now, I don’t know if sometimes if it’s a blessing or curse I choose to follow in his dedicated footsteps.
It was moving seeing all the people that came to support Devil’s Five. The turnout was big-time and everyone was excited to see the film. This included not only cast and crew from all five movies, but friends, acquaintances, coworkers from each of the respective members of the films and total strangers who learned about our Red Carpet World Premiere in some way.
Some of the folks I had not seen in near 30 years. Others in time increments short of that, but still long periods of time ranging from 5 to 10 years and so on. The fact that those people would come to see our movie was incredibly gratifying and something that we did not take for granted. For them to choose us was inspiring and humbling at the same time.
Seeing all the people that showed up to support Devil’s Five one couldn’t help but be touched deep inside. This happened on multiple levels because these people cared enough to be there for us and did what they had to, to view the film in it’s greatest exhibition setting.
I was literally blown away that “Stash” Music Composer Geoff Tyson flew in from Prague. Others drove from all over New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. Larry Levy (our Riverhead Representative) drove down from Utica and caught just the last 25 minutes of the movie, but the fact he made it for even a part of the movie meant a lot.
Meeting new people, seeing old friends and reuniting with the cast and crews was remarkable. I was very aware that the chances of seeing all those people together one place again was probably not likely to happen again. So I cherished it.
The Red Carpet was a little bit difficult to navigate since there were so many folks in the lobby. We had to take our turns getting in front of the camera for photos and at the same time Nicholas Girimonte & his documentary team tried doing interviews for the documentary they are creating to chronicle of momentous evening.
I spent a great deal of time preparing my Introduction for the film. I wanted to try to inform the audience as much as possible about the difficulties we faced making Devil’s Five.
I wasn’t doing this for pity or any kind of self-gratification. I thought it was important the audience knew some the many obstacles we had to overcome to get Devil’s Five to the big screen. I felt that if I was sitting in the audience I would want to know those things, since it would ultimately make me appreciate the movie even more. I planned to only speak 8 to 9 minutes. I probably spoke closer to double that, but the whole time I was conscious of the audience’s reaction and my sense of what I should say. I must have done okay as I got a lot of compliments afterwards.
Watching Devil’s Five on the big screen with audience was just thrilling experience for myself and I’m sure my two partners in the other theater (Edwin told me the next night seeing it on the big screen was great).
We sold enough tickets that I had my cast and crew from “The Devil’s’ Five (aka The Wraparound)”, “Abandoned” and “Stash” and the ticket buyers I had influenced in one theater. While George and Edwin had their cast and crew from “Don’t Say These Words” and “Choke” and the tickets they sold in a second theater.
It was beyond cool listen to the audience react to scares, suspense, humor and drama. There were laughs, I heard some screams and saw people covering their face in fear throughout the entire running time of the film. This made the experience a it lot of fun for everyone in attendance.
After the film finished, there was rousing deep-felt response, which was made everything it took to get to this point worth it. Then I did a Q&A in my theater for about 15 minutes and George & Edwin did a shorter Q&A in their theater.
After the last credit I got a lot of great responses from audience members. I tried to poll as many people as I could to get a feel on what they really liked, and the truth is I heard lots of different answers to what was their favorite episode.
Also I asked as many people as I could about what was the scariest part, I heard a lot of different reactions, which I took as a very good thing since Devil’s Five has so many different things offer. Everyone seems to agree that all the segments are totally different, which made our film diverse and very entertaining.
I had to breakdown the Red Carpet banners and all the stuff I had brought to the theater, so by the time I got to Runyon’s for the After Party, a lot of people had already left, but I still spent a good hour talking to those who remained at got a lot of great feedback from both regular audience members and loved catching up with cast & crew.
I’m a little surprised that there were at least 25 people that bought tickets that didn’t show and just as many cast & crew that cancelled coming in the few days leading up to the event. I also expected probably fifty more people beyond that who seemed like they were genuinely coming but never showed. In today’s world of flakey, flighty, unreliable people, Devil’s Five Red Carpet World Premiere still attracted almost 300 people into two movie theaters. It’s an accomplishment and event nobody will soon forget.