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

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40 Nights Prepares to Drop First Trailer and Other Ramblings

Good afternoon!

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.

Boards at the Celebration Cinema giving local showtimes

Boards at the Celebration Cinema giving local showtimes

LINK BELOW

DONORS film announced that it had signed for domestic US/Canada with Jax Distribution.

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

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

DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama

DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama “40 Nights”

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.

BUT

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!

DJ




Happy 4th of JULY! Casting, Censorship & Current Events

HOT TOPICS – INSIGHTS

OK! I have my hazelnut coffee beside me as I work on a few business items. I think it’s good to first say thank you to all our military folks who allow us all the freedoms we enjoy. While we are far from perfect as a society here in the USA we do strive to better ourselves. I personally did not elect to be a politician and so my personal feelings on certain subjects are just opinions. I did choose to be a storyteller. Be you – Right wing, left-wing, wing nut, black, white, yellow, brown or purple – I want to entertain and enlighten you via motion pictures. I recall late last year getting fan mail from Egypt following one of our films playing the Cairo Film Fest. I got fan mail a few weeks ago from India over another film. I really love people’s cultures, traditions, foods and art. I think we are in a time whereas people are boldly putting mortal agendas onto divine heresy.   Words are symbols combined to convey meaning. I see communication breakdowns passing a few instructions down the film production line. Imagine various levels of educations, multiple languages, lacking the right word to describe something, unable to describe something  and the humanistic urge to put their own agenda and spin on something. Now multiple this by hundreds or thousands of years and things get very blurry.

JUDGEMENT

I would say preach whatever religion or outlook you wish. Shall and Shall Nots. But nowhere does anyone mortal have the anointed position to make judgement spiritually. People flock together to feel more confident in their own choices and decisions. Numbers don’t make one right. And each person may be judged (if you want to subscribe there) individually. But not by anything or anyone here – not in matters of soul, spirit or divine essence. If people would let people live and stand accountable in the end for their own actions – all would be better. Concern yourself with yourself, I say. The Golden Rule is beautiful because you don’t know if you are right. You can tell yourself that. You can quote from text that may or may not be accurate. But in the end IF you believe in judgement – what if you are wrong? What if a half-dozen people different from you in their beliefs are brought forth and asked if they would vouch for you as worthy. Did you give kindness, compassion and love to these and other people? Or did you pass hate, intolerance and judgement upon people. That feels like a power best left to scales held on a much greater divine level. When I see those who stand in high judgement I see the coming of their fall. When I hear talk so crazy or hate-filled – I imagine what great displeasure of someone who puts words into others mouth. People may await the return of a savior but from what I see – people should not be so excited by this unless God is grading on a curve. And those who think they have the cheat sheet created by authors – edited a thousand times – and hand selected for digestion again by Wise? Men? Be careful!

THE CLOAK THAT COVERS THE SPARK

The color of our skin is but the traveling cloak. Perhaps our body itself just the bio-organic clothes we wear over our individual sparks. I see how a spark within us could be created in the image of a greater – more vast powerful divine spark. Stripped of EVERYTHING mortal how are our sparks different from one another? Ponder that. I’ve often thought that while so many sit and await some return of a savior perhaps the people themselves have the power over when that someone will return, reveal or make oneself known. Should mankind evolve to a higher state where they are truly ready – maybe someone will step forth. It could happen:)

SYMBOLS – GOOD, BAD & UGLY

I have also done a Civil War movie in Virginia (Wicked Spring) and spent much time in the beautiful South. I was also born in the North, in equally beautiful Michigan. While I will be the first to say I’ve seen shunning and disparaging talks about people wearing different traveling cloaks everywhere. I’ve always been quick to step up on these conversations if in earshot. Some Brits talking about Indians. (From India) Indians (From India) talking about darker skin Indians. Japanese talking about the Chinese. Whites about blacks. Canadians about the Detroit Red Wings. Seriously – all shaped by our experiences with one another.  Be that good experience. I can say with all truth that in my travels IF people labeled me as an AMERICAN – I left them with a good impression of how we can be. FREEDOM TO BE. Just because we have the freedom to exercise something it is up to us to question should we. Where does the motivation lie? Pride, Shock, To Hurt, To Isolate, To Associate? Take a sensitive issue like FLAGS. What are flags? Symbols. These mean different things to different people. The cross. A dove. Crossbones with a skull. Symbols meant to rally, inspire, unify and identify. I keep hearing the comparison to the Nazi flag. The symbol on their flag was used first in Neolithic times. It has different meaning to the Chinese or the Indians. WW2 left dark meanings on a symbol that for thousands of years meant lucky. The beholder will see what they see. Today is a day that we celebrate the stars and stripes. I say it represents the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. We as represented by that flag – have done remarkable, shameful and unthinkable things. But UNITED WE STAND. Our goal is to add more GOOD to our list of accomplishments. Can we ever erase the BAD or UGLY? No. But the ratio can be off set by adding additional GOOD deeds. We are also a country of freedom that purposely limits censorship. The need for “Censorship” to me often shows a lack of faith in select individuals to make good choices. AND while those groups may be partial correct – (We make bad choices as humans all the time) – to error allows one to grow. You will fall learning to walk. We allow much free will in America and constantly try to adjust our compass. Politics and special interest of those who hoard of shells and beads (currency which = symbols on paper or metals) this will make change slow but it will change. For better? For worse? Flags can mean PRIDE or HATE. Flags can get a reaction of PRIDE or HATE. The stars and stripes do not bring tears of pride to inhabitants of a far-away village accidentally bombed in some drone attack. The stars and stripes proudly flew on the moon. A flag can be the good, the bad and the ugly. It often is all three.

FINALLY…MOVIE UPDATES

Finally! I know some of you are saying that. I usually take a step back on all those current issues but had many people ask my views. I had to ponder them for a while. Meanwhile in the film world GREAT things are happening.

TV DEALS

We announced our new Parables TV licensing for “7 Stones,” “Outside the Wire,” and “Standing Post” – congrats to those cast and crews.

ASHES OF EDEN Oct. 13th worldwide release and how about that poster art! I love it.

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

BESTSELLER – We will know Monday about the July 21st show date at Studio C Celebration Cinema BUT we have our week run at the south Lansing location from the 24th-30th of July and I’m excited that some home town folks can come see the film. Audiences have really enjoyed it. I’m in talks with a handful of distributors for VOD, foreign and such. We are close to setting up some dates in the Detroit, MI area. We also have been working several others in hopes of getting it to all of you. We’ve gotten your communications and we’re working on it!

DONORS does look like it is signing a domestic deal with one of the distributors CDI Distribution has been in talks with. More on this is the coming weeks.

CDI Distribution is in talks with the Philippines and India on some licensing of films. China may be next via one of our associations.

40 NIGHTS – I’m very excited by this film. I got my final notes over to our director/editor and I think we will be closing up the edit in the next couple weeks. I would love to have the film move to music and sound around July 15th. The first official trailer is also almost done and I love it. The great part is that the trailer is powerful yet the film itself holds so, so much more! Not one of those trailers where all the best parts are thrown into the teaser. We do have a place on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website where churches and organizations can sign up if they want a screening. We will push this harder once we release the trailer.

Jesus is the upcoming

Jesus is the upcoming “40 Nights”

UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS & CASTING 

I’ve finally gotten to a point where development (always ongoing) is ready to take front and center. I’ve been writing on a handful of projects which will have their own PR forthcoming BUT those of you who come here to this blog get the 1st drop on some of these developments. Let me bullet point a few as my fingers are growing tired and eggs are calling me.

CASTING

– We will be looking for (2) African-American Michigan-based talent. One is young girl 8-10 years of age and also a fine young lady of mid-late 20’s. We want to see dramatic resume reels and they can be sent directly to perrydj@aol.com and will be looked at by our development team.                                      NO OTHERS AT THIS TIME PLEASE.

SCRIPTS

– I’ve been working on the “Knight Chills 2″ script and that is moving along nicely. It will possibly go into production this year.

– I have started in on the next biblical feature to be shot as part of our Lightworx Entertainment deal. It is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we are looking to once again shoot in AZ come Jan/Feb 2016.

A couple other scripts are also being worked on as time and inspiration hit.

ACTING PROJECTS

What is next acting-wise? I’ve gotten this question quite a bit as of late. We do have a few CDI projects as noted above that I will be participating in. Outside of that I’ve got a few projects my management has presented. It looks like I’m going to shoot a western trailer in August with an actor I truly admire. I’ve also been submitted directly to producers on a film to perhaps play a very famous person of history. Next week I’m also announcing my involvement in a studio project that has been coming together for a while. I had to get studio approval on everything but now that is all in place – SHAZAM!  My HINT: The original source material is a Stephen King book.

I might have missed a few things but it is the 4th of July. I need to go relax and eat some good food with family and friends. Be safe everyone!

DJ


NEW Opportunities, Development and Project Updates

My Saturdays have been a little crazy and this weekend looks to be the same. It’s the first hour of Saturday and I decided that I would recap the week. Where to even start this week…

40 Nights –

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

I’m excited because I’m about to review our 2nd draft of the complete film edit. I’m prepping the business of post sound/music and will put that in play next week. Plus we will be doing a polish and score on our 1st trailer. I have to say I’m very pleased with the trailer and it only touches upon the powerful moments in the full film. I had great talks this week with our distributor, our director and team members. I’m excited to bring a first look in July here. Are you ready?

BESTSELLER –

Bestseller Premiere Poster

Screenings are almost set for Lansing and Detroit area event showings. I’ve gotten a great amount of “fan mail” (Can you call in that with email?) from these theatrical screenings. It does play really well in the theater and so I want to provide that experience to as many people as we can. I also had even more promising talks with yet another distribution opportunity. This studio enjoyed the film, the performances and the production supervision very much. We discussed a few future acting opportunities and possible deals with the existing and future CDI library. Some breaking news on one of the projects will become known soon – that is once the studio signs off on the P.R. BESTSELLER – MADE IN MICHIGAN!

DONORS –

This is the 1st teaser poster on

This is the 1st teaser poster on “Donors”

This thriller recently had two different distribution offers. I had a nice conference over the direction of this film with director/producer Charles P. today. I think we know what direction we want to travel with this film to begin with. Jon Osman’s THE TERRORIST, a thriller out of NYC could find a home in the not-so-distant future.

ASHES OF EDEN – 

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

This film was back in the studio being prepped for final delivery to our distributor. Our October release date and new poster art is still forthcoming. I’m excited to see this film release worldwide. Congrats to all these artists. MADE IN MICHIGAN

New TV Dealings – 

Coming to Parables TV

Coming to Parables TV

You know I like to give you loyal readers the advance notice. CDI Distribution has brokered a deal with Parables TV for “Standing Post,” “Outside the Wire,” and “7 Stones” and official PR will release this coming week. Congrats to all those artists! MORE MADE IN MICHIGAN!

NEW AVENUES – 

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Actually new avenues are opening for all the films in the CDI library. We’re exploring many new sales deals and so far we’ve gotten good responses. I had some good talks about more international licensing. I love the foreign sales because that gets the films out to all of you. With 70+countries representing our international readers of this blog – my sincere wish is to keep expanding into more of your territories. I get asked weekly about getting more of our films to Brazil, Norway…(the list goes on)

READ & WRITE – 

I have a few scripts being sent over to me this week. Conversely, I’m finishing up some script work and I’m quite happy with the results.  I’m starting to finally look ahead to what’s next for me “in front” of the camera. I’m just looking to make that right connection.  I will say that I’ve had some VERY exciting talks as of late over new projects. I really do love creating these roles. I’ve got past directors developing material and so reunions could also be soon at hand. I have enjoyed the break from having those other characters developing inside me. But…the calling:) BUT…That voice will be ignored until the proper business is complete:) TCB first and after allow the artist to run WILD. Have FAITH the right project will develop.

Have a great week ahead. I appreciate you all stopping by.

DJ


Father’s Day – Future Showings, Castings and Distribution

Hazelnut coffee nourishes me from my morning haze. I had a few people over yesterday to celebrate the fact that on Tuesday June 23rd I will be one year older. I want to throw a  Happy Father’s Day out to all the fathers. My fatherly duties only extend to a pack of lovely animals. As I opened a few nice cards yesterday that spewed nice words on my character I thought of my dad. He taught and continues to teach me things all the time. I see more of him and that makes me smile. He has always been a fair, funny and stern man when required. He didn’t always understand the world of movies or the passion that drove me to follow that path. I think like many parents of artists – they worry and in many cases rightfully so. It’s a hard path where in days past you only got known usually after your death. Maybe this is more applicable to famous painters but it also applies to other artists I’m sure. I’m happy my father is still here to give wisdom, guidance and comfort. I see my parents as the training wheels and I’m happy both of mine are still attached to the bike. I got my father a little love gift that I will give him later but my gift will NOT be his favorite today. My brother and his wife Abby are going in today to have their second child. The Perry clan will add a new little life. We don’t know if it is a boy or girl but we’ll will be happy with either.  So dad is gonna be a grandpa again and that’s a pretty cool Father’s Day present. So the fathers or those that act in a father-like fashion congrats to you upon this day.

As I approach my actually B-day on Tuesday I have so much to be proud of as I reflect back on what has transpired on this journey thus far. It goes all the way back to “PLAYING” with the camcorder in high school and before that making “radio” dramas on tape with dialog and sound FX recorded on a tape player. Recently, I’ve again had the pleasure of watching hundreds enjoy our “PLAY” on the big screen. Let’s look at a few of these movie updates.

ASHES OF EDEN – WOW! What a full journey and starting in Oct it will really travel. We are releasing a clean(er) version of the movie. Our director Shane found himself in a place between SHOW & BIZ. He loves the raw version of his SHOW but the distributors main outlets require a slight adjustment. It is why we do more and more development/distribution work making films that will do well in the marketplace. Early on you can make films basically on spec within a business structure but many mistakes can be made. Does one scene or a handful of words kill a certain retailer and/or TV license? These are things that get looked at now when we are in development. I know Shane came from a hobby-esque film background whereas whatever struck the current fancy was created with little thought to distribution. Once you start partnering with investors (not social donations) you have a responsibility to them. Factoring in all these variables gets your story out to more. If you don’t take these variables under consideration it likely is a situation of showcasing your film to a couple hundred people and moving a few hundred DVD’s to family and friends. The path we’re on can be reflected in a recent sales report I received with over 285,000 DVD’s sold. That is what proper development can bring but sometimes compromise is required. I’m not saying the world won’t accept the thousands of filmmakers who do these films on the side as only art. I’m saying if you want to “PLAY” for a living you must factor the business in at all times. I’m so very proud of this film and I look forward to taking the next step with Shane. A great creative, hard-working mind who was a joy to collaborate with. Check out ASHES OF EDEN once it becomes available wide in October. This week we should see the new poster art surface.

BESTSELLER – This film has had quite the journey. I’ve got an interview that I did recently (Not released yet) – that asked some pointed questions on production and I gave some pointed answers. I’ve flowed with the Q&A at a few screenings about production and went with the spin. The film almost never was due to mismanagement before we came onboard but I’m so proud of all the current artists involved with the RE-shoot. Their work resulted in the fine film we now have. We’re about to announce our next theatrical show date in Lansing with a DVD release party afterwards. We are also working on Kalamazoo and a few in the Detroit area. I would also like to see an Owosso, Michigan screening. So, more showings of BESTSELLER will be forthcoming. We also just got our 1st national distribution offer on the film. We will continue to evaluate these offers.

40 NIGHTS – So this past week our director/editor sat in with our assistant editor, FX supervisor and one of our other producers. This is our second wave of viewers that will give vital feedback. It will be used to create our second pass on the film. From there we will bring the other producers back in to review. We will have a locked picture in July.  Also the 1st teaser trailer of the film is being worked on. I’m excited to show audiences a first look as we’ve had so many reach out about this film. We’ve just opened a new database whereas you can sign up on the 40 Nights website if your church or organizations wishes a showing. This is in response to the requests we have been getting. So check out http://www.40nightsthemovie.com and sign up. I’m excited to also get the licensing of product underway.

Distribution Updates –

CDI Distribution has recently made additional TV deals on three film projects. One is with our non-profit friends at Red, White & Blue who work with military themed film properties. This includes the CDI associated doc “Outside the Wire” and “Standing Post” both are heading to TV. Also “7 Stones” will be playing at this network. Delivery is happening this week and I’m once again proud of all the artists involved.

Also I have been in talks with a new distribution entity via an introduction by our family/faith distributor. We’re looking for the right partner on grittier properties like our thrillers. The 1st round of talks focused on – DONORS, THE TERRORIST and BESTSELLER. The result was they’re interested in all three films. That doesn’t mean they will all land there but they could. But that was my morning yesterday before our little B-day gathering.

The Future-

Script-wise I’ve been doing some good writing. I’ve retooled one of the past CDI script properties and we will look at moving that forward soon. We will likely do some Michigan casting in the weeks ahead. I have to get the new draft of the script polished and over to our distributor. “Knight Chills 2″ and another power drama I’m working on are very close to being completed. I also have been preparing to write the next script in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. I have had so much business going on that getting into the writing mindset was difficult for a moment because of that phone call or an immediate “TO DO” that always broke the mindset. But things are falling into a more even flow and the writing is once again going great.

Good Business –

Not to long ago I had a filmmaker in our state try to go behind my back to push his agenda with a contact. Bluntly – I don’t respect this filmmaker. By his own words and actions he is…a joke when it comes to management. His art is careless and his business disorganized. His personal character is… Let’s just say he is his own worst enemy. I normally would not even waste these words on this person but an opportunity to illustrate a good lesson is at hand because of another filmmaker associate out west. He actually asked permission to contact someone and asked if I would mind being used as a reference. This is how business is meant to be done. In the 1st example myself and at least one other person got a call to get the facts on this person. It was odd for this person to reference myself but not come through me. Why? This person knew I wouldn’t endorse him. The nice part of this story is that I wasn’t the only one who reported back with the same feedback. His actions defined him. Your actions will define you. Words lose value when they have no true integrity behind them. Be true-hearted in your words and deeds. The latter person in this story may do some solid business because he practiced good business. This other individual – buyer beware. Don’t buy into the BS that they are selling. Lots of these types are about trying to say what they think you want to hear – but there are also many sincere people. Trust your judgment.

I could go on about this or that but I really need to go get cleaned up. I’m about to become an uncle again today:) After I’ve got a soccer match to play. Our yard needs to also get cleaned up from the gathering yesterday.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

DJ


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


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