“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

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Sum-of-the-Parts, Craftsmanship and Updates (of course)

Hello friend, fans, peers and lovers of the artistic journey. It has been cold in Michigan with an early snow and now icy rain is joining the party. Thankfully the coffee is brewing and I’m cozy and ready to share some of the updates and stories from the week. My weeks are often filled with success and setbacks and I think we all have that. Patience is also another quality that takes time to master. I’ve often described it as the difference between a pulse and a ray. A ray requires a steady stream of focus and it drains from  the source over time. In the simplified example, “The watched pot never boils”. Now the pulse is putting the focused energy into a focused action and letting it go. If you submit your script, resume, project or whatever to an opportunity – do so and let it go. If it consumes your every thought very little will get done on other fronts. If fate doesn’t make that opportunity happen you have to deal with the rejection or deal just not working out.  (I like to adopt the mentality that I will do what I was meant to do) Also you have to rebuild some momentum from zero. But if you are always creating new opportunities you get a constant flow of pulses going. I adopted the idea of taking one positive action a day to further my goals. That has now grown into a day full of positive things done but the returns are real. The opportunities that don’t work out are always balanced out by several things to do work out. Each week it is hard to be disappointed about something that did not happen when so much good did happen. Once you get this flow going it is hard to stop. Honestly only health issues can halt this flow and that is why it is important to spend time to maintain yourself. If you adopt these ideas as your own you will notice major improvements.

I’ve had some great talks this week with motivated individuals doing some great things. Jon Osman, is the director of “The Terrorist” and he is a driven man. You have to be to create feature film. It is even more effort to create good content. It is all about your associations and collaborations. Now he has had his success and setbacks but in the end he will stand tall. That is just how he is and I’m interested to see what he creates beyond this. I’m excited that we will see our collaboration come out in 2015.  Some will want to get ahead by taking the low road but I can tell you that while the high road may take longer, the journey will be better.

I’m disappointed often in people’s actions. People who lie in business. People who hoard credit. People who don’t take self accountability. People who are unprepared. People who oversell their abilities.

I often get treated respectfully because I give respect and if you are going to share my space I expect respect. But I do base a lot of my character judgement upon how people treat other people. How does that director speak to that product assistant? How does an actor treat the crew and vice versa? I’ve seen overblown egos in action. It often covers up weakness. I’ve seen the dudes wearing sunglasses inside at night. I’ve seen the girls who expect diva treatment. Weak. Weak. Excessive self E pic = weakness. I’m not sure people really look at why they do certain things. Compulsion? I know people who react the same way in every alike circumstance. They have to twist and make themselves inclusive to a discussion in some way. They wait for someone to stop talking so they can speak. It is like bad acting. They are waiting for a cue to start talking but they have listened and heard nothing. I’ve had weakness in my life and I’m sure I still do. But I live by KNOW THYSELF. I seek to know why I do certain things and if it’s healthy for me? Look at your actions and see if you can become stronger in character.

I had a situation I addressed whereas on a project (Not mine) a mistake was made. I actually saw lots of mistakes while participating but I always look at experiences as learning. I see things right or wrong and incorporate that into my own operations. I do admit I see more wrong than right but that is not always the case. It is a good case example of a project that will be the sum of its parts. All the artists involved will affect the final product. That is why I’m very picky. Now you will give opportunities to someone and they will rise or fall pending their passion and dedication. On this one project I noted how a few artists had been attributed to failure on another project. I was met with a somewhat defensive, even noble defending of their character. I wasn’t passing judgement on character but on empirical evidence.  We can choose to not discuss previous actions as someone might rather not hear others shortcomings. That is fine. But they still exist. I use this info in making decisions to create better teams of artists. So this information was not shared and these elements/variables were highly praised and defended as vital in their creative process. Out of respect – I let this topic go but upon viewing the final results – I will stick with my original assessment.  In a totally unrelated conversation I told someone – if you keep using the same variables in your equation don’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results. If you’re happy with that equation and results – great. But if you’re not – you need to look at changing variables to get different results. None of it for me is personal. It is my work. It’s no different from when I was coaching a team. Setting goals and having individuals strive to achieve them is no different from when I taught martial arts. Filmmaking is a team dynamic whereas individual artistic ability is blended with others to achieve a goal in storytelling. A film will always be as good as a sum of all its parts.

 

As we discussed – if you are going to DO you might as well try to do the very best you can. Pride in craftsmanship is something we should all strive for. As we know much of art is subjective but side by side quality often becomes clear. We all have had those moments of frustration – I recall more than one time on ASHES OF EDEN a computer may have warranted an Elvis treatment. He was rumored to have gotten mad and shot out a TV. I guess he could easily afford a new one:) In those moments where you are tempted to say, GOOD ENOUGH. It is those people who suck it up and say, NO. LET’S DO THIS RIGHT. That is what will define character and elevate others to a new level. Get a team full of people like that and you’re end quality will soar. These lessons seem more common sense versus some mystic wisdom but it is funny who it often eludes people. Note that most of the talk here is about the SHOW vs the BIZ. I often talk on the BIZ as many lack that but the SHOW is often the fun part. It is those trying times where it is NOT fun. Example – Ugg! Those lights are in the truck parked down the road and it is snowing. Do you A) Try to bounce some natural light and get an acceptable shot. B) Walk your ass and get those lights. I have people who will often say, “I GOT IT” and they are off. But many will just wing it and when the shot comes out uninspired – well?  This can be said about Art Direction, Camera moves and about every position. It might be a pain in the ass to get a small genny up so coffee can be made but how much more productive is a crew with hot coffee in the cold? It might be the thing that makes that person run and go get the light from the truck versus just shoot it as is. It is why passion is so important to our crews. If it is just a job go work elsewhere and make better money and easier work for sure. People who think filmmaking isn’t hard work they just don’t know.

OK onto some UPDATES!

ASHES OF EDEN – This is prepping for our early 2015 release. Very excited to share this film. I’m proud of the craftsmanship.

WICKED SPRING is getting a 2015 Special Edition release. More official PR soon!

DONORS just signed a domestic deal for 2015! More official PR soon!

KNIGHT CHILLS novel for 2015 to go with a new release. A sequel? Maybe:)

IN THE WOODS – 15th anniversary release starting with the UK

THE TERRORIST – Final post work for a 2015 release!

BESTSELLER – Post work is moving good. We expect an early 2015 premiere and theatrical run. Some good early interest!

WASTELAND: Tales of the Desert – This film is in Pre-Production and will shoot the 1st part of this collection of Sci Fi/Western stories in December.

Foreign sales talks are underway and I’m excited to get many of our films to new audiences.

Development on several films are in full swing. We’re excited to be announcing some of these as they move into pre-production but you all will just have to wait:) One reason is because the in boxes get slammed with submissions as soon as word gets out on a new film.

OK. I’m going to get some things done before watching MSU play some snow football  this afternoon.

Have a great weekend and even better week!

DJ


Truth, Job Advice and NEW Updates

I want to start by welcoming some of our additional new blog readers from Brazil! What I love is that artists from all corners of the globe are finding this blog journey of interest. I know that it often contains bits of wit and wisdom that one can apply to their own person journey. It has been a great time lately refocusing, evaluating and preparing for the next set of adventures and actions to be put in motion for the forthcoming 2015. I’ve really been training mind, body and spirit – removing distractions and reassigning energy.

In this age of social media expression I find that many waste precious moments. Rather than look within they are seeking something externally.  I’ve heard people say that much of the social media experience has become listening to venting, complaining and such. I have removed almost all my attention from these such distractions. In my opinion, venting should give way to visualization of new avenues and course of actions. Complaining often shifts blame from where it should be – the self. If you aren’t the source issue you are surely allowing others to effect you. I’ve seen immense amount of time people have spent to negatively try to verbally belittle someone else’s artists doings. By the time they’ve spent all their time on others they could have created something new. Now those people can compound their waste of time and energy trying to hate on each new venture. I would often wonder why these people don’t selfishly use that energy to benefit themselves. If you can’t overcome your own laziness, failure, shortcomings you will never reach your goals. And the blame will always be placed on others who are gaining success by hard work.

I’m happy to have risen above all that nonsense. Like I’ve said before – it gets to a point where if someone throws an insult, slant or a jab – I’m asking …”Which project are you talking about?” and “Who are you again?” – If you’re a negative person – I likely have not invested much time getting to know who you are. I don’t like business associates nor friends who seem to carry their dark cloud with them. Honest fact can also be harsh but I never say things to harm. It is a fact that if I don’t care I won’t even spend the energy to say anything. Life will teach you your lesson(s). But if I care – I may speak and I won’t be one of the sugar-coated, silver tongue devils. If your shit isn’t together I may encourage you to do so- which is a good sign that I may wish to collaborate at some time. But I’m not about helping someone who won’t help themselves. Some choose to remain in their ass kiss circles – lying to one another and wondering why they aren’t developing as quickly as they had hoped.  And of course it’s often made out to be someone else’s fault. So if you have toxic people like this in your sphere they are due honesty or avoidance – pending how likely you see an ongoing business relationship.

Speaking of business – let us look at some developments.

ASHES OF EDEN – Deliverables are being put together and marketing will begin in full very soon. The distributor is excited and so are we. We know the power of this film and it will translate to a solid business endeavor. Also some major foreign deals are underway.

BESTSELLER – This film has visual mastering underway. Also music, sound and FX work – we have had some early interest from our preview trailer during the AFM market. After our post production summit we are all excited to see this film done. Audiences should really enjoy this film. It will be another great project created right here in the state of Michigan.

DONORS – This film has a foreign offer forthcoming and I believe next week we will have a domestic offer. This cool little thriller deals with some important subject matter. Check it out at http://www.donorsthemovie.com

The Special Edition announcement of IN THE WOODS might be joined by another classic film. The Civil War drama WICKED SPRING has a few options and I’m reviewing a deal as we speak. This film will get a special edition in 2015. Stay tuned.

WASTELAND – The CDI Associated Sci-Fi Western will have some interesting announcements this week. One includes a key crew member that I’m happy to say is coming from our state of Michigan. I will pull the right artist where it is deemed the best fit. This individual has passion that reminded me of myself many years ago. He gave his interest and passion without first asking what was in it for him. He was willing to work the lowest of jobs just to learn and be part of an organization like CDI. He was surprised by what happened next I’m sure. We  have plans for this person in 2015 so look for an announcement next week.

Good Job Advice -

Those out there who have had to “learn and earn” through hard work and not simply feel entitled by some degree . If you ask about money first when you are inexperienced – you’re in the wrong business. You can make much better money in other careers for sure. I think for many, filmmaking sounded like fun. Face it, It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like films. But when it gets hard many want to cut corners or wash their hands of something as quickly as they can. That is NOT how films are made. Those are the weed that need to be pulled from the garden. I will nurture when I see the true passion to do what we do. Many others will have their phase and move on into other career fields. I take what I do very serious and I know what its taken for me to get this far. I can often work one film with someone and usually tell who will still be around in five years. What we do is hard. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it. If you are a complainer, venter, blamer – you should seek a new career field. Because you will slowly just burn bridges and be left on an island of isolation whereas a new career field is your only choice. You may also damage projects, communities and yourself deeply before you are marked and avoided. So I think many communities of film business artists would benefit from the early retirement of many of these people before they are forced out by their bridge burning. (Long Pause)  Now if you’ve read this previous set of harsh statements and said, “I’m staying.”

“I’m going to be that person who makes the set fun.”

“I’ll be the first to set and last to leave.”

“I will speak kindly on the hardest days because I truly love being part of a teams making stories.”

“I’m going to make myself be valued to the extent I will always be the object of someone’s hiring.”

To those people – I welcome you. You might have what it takes to be part of an ongoing tribe. A rich tradition of storytelling. To give yourself fully to the story once committed despite the size of the crew, paycheck or equipment package. Actors for all their flaws gets this mentality. Once they are committed they don’t care what kind of camera is pointed at them. They will give 100% every time. It is why most of my producers are actors. The best crew members are also of this mentality. They set out to make something great with each set up, take and scene. When you bring committed artists together on both sides of the camera behind a powerful script (Note I didn’t say improv/or winging in) – that passion will bleed onto the medium. That story will have the heart and love infused and audiences will respond. Wrap this all in good business and you have contributed to filmmaking as a whole. I have sacrificed much in my life and I always give 100%. I just cannot and do not respect anyone in our field that gives anything less. That is my truth.

Happy Saturday.

DJ


New Distribution & New Projects – Full Steam Ahead

The cold is creeping into Michigan and our bodies fight to adjust to the biting chill. The cold rain will soon become something else – snow. I’m sipping at the coffee trying to get the sinus pressure to let go of the vice grip on my head. It has been a very busy time for me as I try to wrap up business for the year and manage lots of new business that is emerging for the year ahead. I’ve been doing some heavy training prepping to play my role in December. I’m giving myself that physical edge that one would require to live and survive in a harsh alien world. WASTELAND shoots just before the week of Christmas and I’m looking forward to that change of pace. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the developments this past week. I’m glad many of you survived the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.

ASHES OF EDEN  - I think our last festival play is over and I’m happy to be moving on to distribution. We announced our deal with the Winters Film Group to release the film nationally on DVD, VOD, PPV, TV. The distributor in our meeting this week praised the marketing as the buzz is out there. He already had a PPV (Pay Per View) faith company reach out to license the film. This film walks a great edge that will appeal to audiences who enjoy faith and non-faith films. We’ve got several more reviewers watching the film to release ahead of the film. I’ve also been in talks with several foreign territories and we will get this film out to all of you also.

BESTSELLER – This film has been in transition as we prepare to build the music and sound FX. We had a great meeting with much of the post team. We went through the entire film and plotted what and where each of these audio elements would go. We talked about the FX which has already begun. Some amazing work already created and next week we should have the opening credits done. What I love about this film so much ties into my watching of PSYCHO this past Halloween. The film has elements of the classic thrillers of days gone by. A true stylistic edge that will help the film stand apart from the same old, same old that can tend to be the norm. This film has some new team members working on it and so getting these folks up to speed and on the same page workflow wise can be an effort. But you are molding a team for future work. The key is to look at it less as an individual piece by piece and more like a group of runners passing the baton. The key is to be ultra focused as you pass the baton to the next person. The clean up and organizing of files can make it easier for the next runner who has to take the baton. That said, I think we are getting into a groove and communication is going good. That is the key to all of this. In this new age of technology text messages or emails do not or should not replace phone calls or face to face meetings. The baton is passed much smoother between the “runners” and so your run times get better. Communication is the key to good leadership and so if you are a key out there make sure to communicate well. You will become valuable and find much more success.

WASTELAND – Prop building is underway and also some key decisions on equipment. This coming week we are doing a read through with the director and key cast. I’m looking forward to it. A Sci-Fi western is going to be great fun. I’m awaiting some concept art on one of the space craft. Exciting stuff for sure.

DONORS another thriller of ours has an offer forthcoming. WICKED SPRING also has interest to get a Special Edition out this spring and so we will be discussing that this week. We actually have a few distributors taking interest in the CDI library.

Our legal team finally got our domestic rights back on a pair of CDI films that got stuck.  Long story but now that we have them back one I can get those film back out to market. I also have wanted to release a collection of the early CDI films together. Now with this deal that is possible.

We also have some possible reboots, sequels, prequels and new films launching. I’m beyond excited about a few of them and once the ink dries we will be discussing. Of course, all of you who follow the blog here will get some early updates.

On the acting front – I was informed that two films I was slated to be in have been green lit and will be moving forward. Both are quite large projects and will be great fun to play. I think I will be back in action with Ray and some of the “Book of Ruth” team in 2015. There are lots of projects closing their deals that will allow them to shoot in 2015. I’m excited to participating in them. 2015 will see the release of several films while we film those that will come to you in 2016. That is the way of the business. Develop. Produce. Post. Release. – Repeat often:)

Enjoy your weekend and the coming holidays -

DJ

 

 

 


Closing the Year Strong & The Year Ahead

AOE:ELFF2Good morning to all – likely afternoon when I post this. Yesterday was just a perfect Halloween day. I had lunch with my father and we had the mothers over for a Mexican theme Feast of the Dead. The rain/snow cold kept most of the trick or treater’s away. We ended the night watching a Halloween themed film and it really was perfect. I didn’t partake in all the craziness of years past and I was just fine with that. I had things I needed to get done today and business to attend to. As the midnight hour came I ended it all by finishing Christopher Knight’s book “Season of the Witch” – perfect. I see many stories within that would also translate nicely to the screen. If you don’t know the author immediately he is also known as Johnathan Rand, author of the popular children series American Chiller. He is also the author and client we have been working on with the thriller “Bestseller” (also a book). RE: Bestseller – We had some tech meetings on Friday and this week we have a great creative meeting coming up. This film will be done early 2015 and already has some distribution interest.

Speaking on distribution, we will be making an announcement on “Ashes of Eden” this weekend at the East Lansing Film Festival. It’s great that our inspirational crime drama is back playing for a home town audience. We may have a few more theatrical runs before the wider release but I do have TV and foreign talks underway. Not just with these two fine films (Ashes of Eden & Bestseller) but the entire CDI library. I have some important talks with some large territories. Many of our films have released to multiple foreign territories but that release is going to get wider and wider. Stay tuned as our films could be reaching billions. Yes. I said billions. Movies are loved all over the world and we want to introduce ours. Numerous deals are underway and I’m excited about the possibility of new 2015 releases.

We are gearing up to shoot “Wasteland” in December and the props under construction are really looking good. It also looks like a few of our films may be moving forward into production in early 2015. I don’t want to jinx anything so I’ll limit what I say here.  Additionally, a pair of follow-up pictures behind “Book of Ruth” look to be coming together also. I’m excited about a pet project of mine that looks like it’s moving forward to shoot this Spring. It actually could turn into a slate of films. The business paperwork on some of these will be coming together in the weeks ahead.  I’ve had numerous development meetings over the last few months with a few filmmakers that I see have the right combination of artistic talent and willingness to work within a business model. So we may be bringing a few filmmakers into the fold of the CDI tribe to develop them into feature film directors with international distribution set ups.

As a front-of-the-camera talent, I’ve had a few projects that were in holding patterns approach me this week with positive updates. My management contacted me with developments on my possible involvement in a few large scope projects. If scheduling is the issue I have to deal with in 2015 –  I can work that out. You always want projects to go nose to tail so you can do them all. But as typical in life, things often overlap or all try to happen all at once. I don’t stress. I go back to the ole “cross that bridge when you get to it” mentality. Things do have a way of working themselves out and I sincerely believe that I end up doing the projects I was meant to do.

This next coming Sat I will be attending the showing of STANDING POST, directed by my friend/associate Anthony Hornus. It features the acting work on Steven Sutherland (Ashes of Eden), Mary Jo Cuppone (Figure in the Forest) and Dean Teaster (Ghost Town) and so I’m greatly looking forward to it. Please do come out and support the Red, White and Blue non-profit and their work with our US Military. It should be a great night and lots of fun.

I’ve also been getting some writing in and that feels good. I’m still a touch behind on my reading (Sorry) you all know who you are:) I’ve been trying to get these “Wasteland” scenes in the old memory banks. Financed projects with offers have to be read first and I’m sure is understood by all. I’ll wrap this up – guacamole might be calling me. I still have a few domestic things to do getting ready for winter here. I might try to pop into the East Lansing Film Festival tonight (maybe) but I do plan on being there tomorrow for the 4:30 showing. I think they might also have ‘Ashes of Eden” merchandise on hand. I’ve been wearing my ASHES OF EDEN sweatshirt due to how COLD it’s been in Michigan.

Enjoy the rest of your day. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


Talking Development and Looking Forward to 2015

A week ago I was waking up early in Kalamazoo to return from our 15th anniversary showing and deal announcement on IN THE WOODS. I have a few more public events coming up soon. I do plan to attend the showing of STANDING POST that was done by one of my long time collaborators and features three actors I respect. I’m also happy that the crowd surrounding the East Lansing Film Festival will get a chance to see ASHES OF EDEN and also get some exciting news for the film. I am happy that this inspirational film will reach even more people. LOCKED IN A ROOM thrilled some folks in Canton last week and I got some great communications from fans watching stuff on VOD. On TV as I type is the making of John Carpenters HALLOWEEN. 21 days and 325,000 with Donald’s pay being 25k. I’m enjoying seeing how much fun those actors had making that little film that would be a king classic in the genre. It was also slammed hard when it first came out. John said much of it was from other artsy filmmakers unhappy they could not get the exposure and release they felt they deserved. WASTELAND - Coming in 2015

This past week had some of my people working hard to get things in order on BESTSELLER. We are planning time for the director and DP to come in and share ideas. I think we are growing close to a finished film on THE TERRORIST. We only have a few left in the pipeline. Which brings us to DEVELOPMENT.

I’ve got WASTELAND ahead of me this December and we launched the Facebook site where we will be featuring updates in cast, artwork and props. I’ve had some great meetings with a few people over the last couple weeks as CDI looks to increase the army. I look for smart, positive people with passion and willing to work hard. I’ve built everything in this industry I have brick by brick with few if any handouts. I found other like-minded people and together we faced battles – won some, lost some and moved forward.

As our sales team has been licensing films in the library we have been looking at franchising a few of the films. It is no secret that Lynn Drzick is interested in doing another IN THE WOODS. If the right script is agreed upon it may happen. Also VP of CDI, director Jeff Kennedy and I have had talks over KNIGHT CHILLS and we do have a rough idea of a follow-up. I may be paid to write a script that I’ve had in my head for many years for an associate this November. Discussions on several scripts that already have distributor interest and in some cases guarantees continues.

On some of these smaller scope projects I’m looking at upcoming filmmakers who have yet to reach an international level. I’m looking at people who don’t want to do this as a hobby but as a career path. Many of these people have personal ideas/scripts that can be enjoyable for a small pocket of fans but often does not lead to bigger things. While some are content with making films for fun many in the cast or crew have greater aspirations.

It’s a stairs step process to get to these levels of film success. By success I mean having a title that has sold tens of thousands plus units or is in rotation on TV networks or available in different countries. Once you start to take steps if others around you aren’t willing to do the same you sometimes have to distance yourself creatively for a while. Maybe just until they evolve to that next level. If you’ve done a string of quality projects and have started to frame yourself as a professional you cannot slip back. By you saying NO, you may be one of many that helps them evolve. This is hard when you know the people but if they are doing it for fun and you are building a career – conflict of interest. I’ve explained to a few friends in the field (not truly in the BIZ) I cannot just come play for fun. I spend that time on paid projects or developing paid projects. When you win as a producer you win for many artists. When a film breaks out into the international market the resume of all those artists increases. I don’t always feel that some artists, usually the young, fully appreciates this fact. The wages may be modest, the hours long but to have a credit on a film that really gets into the marketplace is so valuable. So take pride in your work and be happy that you are working on something that will help you. If you start out in our field just for the money you’re in the wrong field. There is good money to be made but it comes in time through hard, collaborative work.

For the last few years I’ve been gone on set shooting during October so this has been wonderful to be home. Like I said earlier, I would rather spend time developing and finishing projects of quality versus just doing to do projects that are just fun. I do things for fun (Reading, soccer, archery, guitar, brewing) and I often find filmmaking fun BUT since I am accountable and use investment versus donations – I take my work very serious. I’ve been in development talks with Shane Hagedorn (ASHES OF EDEN) and we plan to do a 2015 film. Add in the handful of other projects developing and the new year could be filled with exciting projects. I look forward to incorporating some new people into the tribe. I look forward to working with my tried and true. I look forward to sharing our stories with fans around the world.  Right now, I’m looking forward to some more coffee, some breakfast and MSU putting a whoop on U of M.

Have a great weekend and be good to one another.

DJ

 


NEW Deal For IN THE WOODS and More Movie Updates

Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

I’m back in my chair relaxing by the fire. I’m recovering from a whirlwind couple days in the Kalamazoo, Michigan where we got together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of IN THE WOODS. This creature feature was released in a dozen countries and has grown into a true “cult classic”. I got a chance to see some of my old co-stars and our director, his wife and family. The night before we looked through all the concept art, posters and promo stuff. We looked at all the past business it has done and toasted a NEW distribution deal. The deal is for Blu-Ray release and VOD into the UK and other Europe nations to begin with. Friday was a radio show followed by a TV show and of course the nights screening. It was great to just enjoy what the film is and the life it has grown into. What it has grown into is a film that has audiences cheering, toasting and enjoying every bit of cheesy dialogue and clumsy monster. I’m very happy that the film hasn’t just disappeared but has grown in popularity.

Next up  Oct 23 “Locked in a Room” will be playing at the Canton library in Michigan.

https://www.cantonpl.org/blog/post/movie-madness-horror-edition-locked-room

We are also gearing up for 17th East Lansing Film Festival with ASHES OF EDEN.

We are going to be making an announcement about this films distribution at the festival.

BESTSELLER and THE TERRORIST are continuing in their post production work.

Some exciting stuff is starting to develop also on the new film front. I announced recently my involvement in WASTELAND, Tales of the Desert. We announced our main cast of Nick X. Parson who will join David Gries and I in Nevada this December. There will be some cool developments on this project we will be releasing soon including some 1st teaser art and social media sites.

We look like we might be closing in on a deal with DONORS, another thriller. I’m going to keep this update short as I didn’t get much sleep the last two days. Also MSU is getting ready to play in just a few and so I’m going to take a mental break for a few hours here. I think some good food is in order. I want to once again thank all my fans out there. It was a pleasure to meet some of you last night and sign some posters.

Thank you.

DJ


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ

 


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