I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).
Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.
Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.
I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.
I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.
I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.
Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.
– To bring this full circle
Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.
I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.
CDI – The Brand
We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.
DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)
Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.
The coffee is tasting great on this fine morning. I have to say that the last two weeks have been extremely busy but also productive. Let me think of something that transpired this last week that would be a good lesson to illustrate.
BE DEFINED BY WHAT YOU SAY NO TO
Equally – as much as one can become defined by what they do they can also be defined but what they don’t do. Inaction can be a good or a bad thing pending. It is why great care should be taken in choosing to participate or not. IF you look at what we do as just a hobby, sport, recreational, way to belong/meet people – YES tends to be used more freely.
IF you are doing it as a career (main income) the YES becomes something that only happens after much exploratory conversations.
Let’s look at three things that will most definitely get a NO
1) “Experience not needed” – Yes. I’ve seen this on casting posts. I would not hire an electrician, a plumber or a dentist with this mentality. It says that a person or company has not yet grasped how valuable cast is to a final project. And it has to be CAST as a whole. One powerful performer surrounded by stiff, clueless performers will ruin a scene. You must take care with ALL your casting. And yes, experience is preferred.
2) State that the project is PAID or not right off. It respects the time of artists. Professional established talent will not work for free. If a professional talent took time to read your script and perhaps do a read – what a waste of time if it is revealed to be a credit thing. Now IF you have zero credits – do it. Fight for 30-60 seconds of great footage that can sell you onto professional films. Most of those hobby films have bright moments they just can’t keep that throughout the film. So, save yourself time and ask about PAY right away. The common come back is WE WANT PASSIONATE ARTISTS WHO CARE ABOUT THE ART VERSUS THE MONEY. Guess what? WE WANT A PRODUCTION COMPANY THAT CARES ENOUGH ABOUT THE END PRODUCT THAT THEY HIRE WHAT THEY NEED. I was about to use a camera as an example of paying for what will serve a film best BUT… I see people get nice cameras and bad glass (lenses) so that example is not going to work. Another good example is like the ultra low SAG films that use union and non-union. Non-Union for an actual role doesn’t mean we don’t pay because we don’t have to. We pay all main talent union or not because we want strong talent. In summary – once established don’t work for free.
3) SCRIPT – recognize that the script is the blue print by which every department works with. First ALWAYS read a full script before accepting a role. If the script is poorly formatted or too short/long in page count for a feature that equals TROUBLE. Someone who has it all “up here” or we “make it up as we go” – RUN!
Lack of proper script, pay or understanding of the importance of experience will always get a NO from me. I know that a few smug artists (while misguided I do still consider you artists) will argue that they can use all volunteers, not pay and make up a script on the fly and still succeed. That formula has a small % of success. Magazines will raise up and praise those that do succeed despite themselves. But that is not the norm and they never showcase the countless failed artists and the messes they created often with others money. So if you broke all those rules and you still got a powerful piece with major distribution – congrats. I look forward to seeing your masterpiece.
Okay, how about we get onto some updates? Yes!
This week we were working on some distribution artwork for “Donors” and “Bestseller” is next on deck. The domestic deals on these two films are done and 1st quarter of 2016 will see these release. “Bestseller” additional theatricals are in the works.
I don’t have all the details but worldwide on “The Terrorist” was signed. I enjoyed the people I worked with on this film very much. It was one of the hottest summers on record and that was less than cool. But the final film is what matters and we have something special to share.
“Ashes of Eden” – We might have a special encore showing in a theater before it releases on Oct. 13th with Lightworx Ent.
PRE-BUY LINK – Add to your collection
“40 Nights” – the kick off release of the trailer kicked off a lot buzz. Some of the business talks in the wake of this has been exciting. Buyers are starting to get their first look and next week we finalize the licensing management agreement. If you want to create product to sell using the “40 Nights” brand feel free to reach out and I will put you in touch with the right parties. We have some interested parties already and the opportunities are building.
The film tweaks have been made and the transition to full post audio music and sound design is underway. The work starts Monday and I’m beyond thrilled.
This week look for an exciting announcement with “40 Nights” and onto development.
We have been getting some great acting reels in from talent around the country for a pair of upcoming CDI projects. The 1st being a western and the 2nd another biblical drama. It will also get announced that the western has been given a letter of intent by Lightworx for worldwide distribution. They are already on board the 2nd biblical film as part of our 3 picture deal with them.
I’m enjoying having the distribution in place ahead of time. I enjoy the collaboration with the people selling for us. It is nice to discuss things in the script stage. Watch for many more announcements on these two films.
OK. Off to deal with BUDGET rental car charge on my production credit card. I’ve had issues with them on two different times. I think it might be time for a company move to another rental company.
Always something:) Have a great weekend!
Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.
“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)
“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.
“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor. I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.
I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.
We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal- our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.
So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script. I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?
“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.
We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.
I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.
This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.
I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.
This has been just a wonderful week. Busy but seeing things come together and working hard to begin new endeavors. I would have to say that a great part of my week was attending an awards dinner for the Michigan Hall of Fame 2015. My father’s undefeated 1960’s Haslett football team was inducted. He has been there many times in my life at everything from soccer games to our movies. He is the one always beaming with pride at whatever my brother and I might achieve. It was great to be there for him. We were proud of our dad and it is fun to see old warriors all together again. It is also why I can’t stop fighting on the soccer field each Sunday. Use it or lose it. I hope I can keep that motivation burning for all the years ahead. That was an extremely cool event this week.
This week I also had lunch with an old friend and a relatively new friend. They knew each other from law school. It was great to just talk life – past, present and future. I found myself with two unique friends coming from two very different areas of my life. Bottom line – SUSHI ROCKS.
NEW FILM UPDATES
As “ASHES OF EDEN” starts the run down to release in October (13th) this semi-closure has allowed director Shane Hagedorn and I to discuss our future possibilities. We have another sit down coming up here soon but I think we might have some exciting future news.
“BESTSELLER” just finished a week run in Lansing, MI and now we’re working out our additional dates at new locations. Maybe Benton Harbor? Portage? Mt. Pleasant maybe? Muskegon?
I can also tell you we have just about finalized a domestic US/Canada home video deal. This will get BESTSELLER on TV/VOD and such 1st quarter 2016.
“40 NIGHTS” – The big news this week was the drop of the trailer by our distributor Lightworx Entertainment. I’m curious to see how people connect to the story. The film truly is becoming everything I wanted it to be. Jesse Low, our director, did a great job. It was a fun and challenging shoot in real desert conditions. My feet are only now returning back to normal after having sandal marks grilled onto the tops of my feet.
Below is the link for the Official PR Release
Today I wanted to let the trailer get out there and do its own thing. So, today I tried to just let it go. I had other non-film things (We are remodeling a bathroom) to attend to. I loved hearing the enthusiasm to the release from my inner circle. I even started getting communications from different people from around the world. When you accept a role like Jesus you expect rocks with the roses. I feel that the experience we shared is honest and the story – powerful. – The mysterious way we are moved to tell certain unique stories. “40 Nights” like all films are a COLLECTIVE effort by many artists. The final product is the result of on-going DEVELOPMENT until it reaches the audiences. I’m very proud of the entire cast and crew.
That said. We’ve been very busy here at CDI prepping development on two new features. Casting is now active on IMDB Casting. Locations are being scouted. Business is being conducted. The second project CHASING THE STAR is the follow-up biblical story. In our series of three films with Lightworx Entertainment, this next one would be considered a prequel.
Dead Quiet is still brewing out there in post. A DIVISION 19 film is also still doing that post thing. OK. I’m heading up North eh..so I wanted to get this to all of you early. If you like what you’re seeing pass (Blog or film links) pass them along. It’s been nice to hear from all the people thrilled by BESTSELLER and moved by 40 NIGHTS. Have a safe weekend and a productive week.
I’m on my TAKE 2 with hazelnut coffee. Went about this morning and one of the things I’m most happy with is that I bought an antique, cast-iron, wood burning stove for the office. It will not go in right away because I have a few other tasks to complete. Home improvements just seem to be an ongoing thing. We also ended up stopping by to visit my brother and niece. He referred us to a Vietnamese place to eat lunch. It was really good so, if you’re in the Lansing area. (Nola Bistro)
So in the extreme heat we have going on I decided I needed to BLOG all of you before carrying this wood stove out to the office. I might just ramble this week as I’ve got much to download. So Tuesday was the first day of our Lansing run of BESTSELLER. It was nice to have a few close family and friends see the film on the big screen. Each showing has had an audience that gets the opportunity to see it in this format. We will move the film to a few other venues but the more important development is the domestic US/Canada deal that we will likely accept. It will play great on home video/VOD for the masses but IF you can see it big screen you really should. It will play tonight at 6:45 and 10:45 in Lansing at the Celebration Cinema. Here is the promo video from our 1st public showing. It was put together by Dan Chipman who has worked with us on a few projects now.
DONORS film announced that it had signed for domestic US/Canada with Jax Distribution.
ASHES OF EDEN closed caption work is being finalized and I can’t wait for worldwide audiences to get their look after Oct. 13th, 2015.
40 NIGHTS – The 1st official trailer is DONE. The distributor is very excited to have this preview to introduce the project to worldwide buyers. All the people given a sneak peek really enjoyed the film. As a matter of fact financial commitments on the next couple films started to come in off just these sneak peeks. It is great to note that while I think the trailer is powerful the film itself is much greater. This is not one of those films that everything good was thrown into the trailer to lure people. This film trailer gives a taste of the journey ahead but the final film will be so worth the wait. PR will be done to introduce the trailer next week. Here is a screen grab from the trailer. ENJOY
Promotion of street dates (Ashes), theatrical release and domestic set up (Bestseller) and post-production work (40 Nights) – add a little commercial work and we’ve been busy.
Development has been full speed ahead. I’ve been planning between now and mid 2016. The script for a western is about ready and scheduling, casting, location scouting, budget refining and more has been underway. I will say that it is shooting in Michigan. No, we didn’t move to Georgia and the state can keep their incentive. (Yes. I know they killed it) I did an informal cast call (Two African-American actresses) last week in my blog. But that didn’t bring the acting reels out. Those casting duties will be addressed in good time.
The Winter/Spring 2016 film will be “Chasing the Star” and script work is moving right along. It is looking like it will also film in Yuma, AZ area. This is the 2nd film in the three picture deal that we have with Lightworx Entertainment.
I’ve had talks over a few films but unless the right role/project hits me – I have enough work to keep me very busy. KNIGHT CHILLS 2 is something that might also get done over the winter.
I could go on about more but I have a pair of apple trees to plant and a wood stove to haul. I’m very encouraged as I look from here and project five years into the future. The films we will make and the new audiences we will distribute to. I was so happy to have peers and mentors give such powerful reviews of both the “Bestseller” feature and the “40 Nights” trailer. I look forward to releasing the first official trailer to all of you. I also have the directors cut of the full “40 Nights” feature to review. I will be watching that very soon. (Thank you Jesse & Jon)
Have a great weekend!
What a beautiful day. I was out-of-town for a couple of days overseeing a commercial project. CDI has done a few select commercial projects in the past. It was a nice change of pace and extremely informative. It was for the manufacturing industry and I was totally impressed by what machines built by man are capable of. The process to create some of the common things we use is anything but common. The trip was enjoyable save some traffic which I’m not quite use to. But once home it was nice to return to business as usual. I’ve got some good updates but before we get into all that I will comment briefly on a much talked about event here in Michigan – the end of our film incentives. I see many film folk speaking like the end of everything film is upon us. When I started out filmmaking we had very few filmmakers in our state. (Michigan) The passion is here and if people want it to keep it thriving that is done by good business and art. I read several threads of communications from many types of people. I recall reading at least one thread that was quite combative. It centered upon a martial arts artist/actor? – who was in my opinion speaking truth on many levels but his brash presentation just weakened his words with pointless bragging and arguments. It’s one of the reasons I often don’t waste time posting publicly on such matters. This person appeared to be a martial artists and so I can relate to that “fight” mindset. He isn’t going to whine about what we had lost. I agreed with him that the former incentive program was geared to help draw outsiders to the state for a shoot versus growing Michigan filmmakers from within. When you own a house and have family/friends in Michigan you will get loyalty to our state. Put the power in the hands of outsiders and they will mostly leave to seek the better deal. In many ways they should because wise use of investment money is a must. But scripts do help dictate where something is filmed. Michigan filmmakers tend to create Michigan based films. Write what you know. Yes. Some artists benefitted briefly from what came into the state. Now, I’m not a politician or a corporate accountant and so I can’t say for certain if the incentive program was truly the best use of that money. I know that investing in out-of-state studio owners and such left a big black eye on our business. I’ve stated that many local filmmakers have little to zero business sense. They put all their faith into indiegogo/kickstarter/social give me campaigns. Are these people worthy of actual business investment? Usually not. So maybe out-of-state film business startups were the only good option on the table. I read posts of anger – calling for marches and threats of moving to GA and other states. Some historical business startups had incentives but many had no more than a vision, a plan and a passionate core of people. Many looking for short cuts would be further ahead if they had just taken the long road. So IF you love the state just roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make up your mind to learn to do things properly. Those who threatened to leave if the incentives leave – get going. Once the fist clenching, teeth gnashing is done – get motivated. Let’s take a look at some updates.
ASHES OF EDEN – This week we deliver the film and I’m excited to promote as this film gears up for release.
DONORS – This thriller has signed a domestic release deal and a formal announcement will be forthcoming!
BESTSELLER – We are in talks with several distributors over home video release. Meanwhile, we will keep rolling our theatrical on the 21st of July at 7pm at Celebration! (South Lansing) and run through the 26th. We are in talks for showings in the Detroit area and others cities. Contact your local theater and request the film. We are trying to get it to you:) It is a great film to watch on the big screen.
40 NIGHTS – The film is close to sewing up the final edit. In the meantime our 1st official trailer is almost done. FX, Music and sound work has started and should be ready VERY soon.
The 1st release on my involvement in this film came out last Sunday and it literally went around the world. (Just look up DJ PERRY and C.U.J.O.) Some fanboy writers were upset by the idea of a reboot and others were just excited. I’m looking forward to participating in this film and other Sunn Classic Pictures being discussed. I see a good future of CDI working with Sunn Classic Pictures. I will say having read the script that this is not some low-budget reboot. I’m sure I will have some more official releases concerning this project soon.
I’m going to wrap this up. I’m working on approving a new CDI logo for “40 Nights” and I have some script work to finish this week. I hope many of you can attend showings of BESTSELLER in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve been enjoying watching the 1st season of TRUE DETECTIVES and so I think I need a dose of that. I had two belated B-day parties this weekend for my mom and dad. I got one of my final B-day gifts today which was a rototiller. I also found a few great things for the office. My brother made me a beautiful magnetic dry erase board for meetings. Battle Plans can now be drawn up in style. Soccer is also back in action tomorrow so time to lace up the cleats again. Have a great weekend everyone. I’ve had MANY set backs in my career and for those who were really hit by the incentives being cut forgive my tough love. The sooner you get to your PLAN B the better. Keep CLAWING YOUR WAY TO THE MIDDLE!