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!
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 -
Good 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.