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

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Advance Sneak Peeks and Film News

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Sunday morning with the family, sipping coffee and reflecting back on a busy but productive work week. We’ve had some pretty snow as of late and not quite the arctic chill. Don’t get me wrong thin blood residents of warm places – Michigan has been cold. It has just been warmer but I hear a few more storms coming through. In Michigan the Great Lakes give some protection and many storms pass beneath us. Before the film updates let’s talk about another passion – soccer. Futbol to my non-USA friends, speaking of that, it was so great to see so many of you joining us.

I play in a Men’s League as many of you know. I’ve played in the 30+ league for many years since I was 29 likely. I LOVE the battle. I play to win but if I’m not badly injured and I get a good work out, it’s a win in my book. Us older warriors know just like in battles of old. You don’t need to be better every moment of every day of the week, just those moments. I have to be better for two hours, an often I am. I had my first sideline injury second half of last year with a wrist crack. Heavy tackle with another determined badass that sent the ball rocketing into my wrist. Just a freak mishap. Two season back I had my first nagging knee issue but that got better. Martial arts and soccer have put my body through the paces. I’m hardened by it for sure but I’m just being more conservative. My little bro has played with us since he aged in at 29 and that has been an ongoing joy. He has dealt with his own few injuries but he has also been playing both 30+ and 40+ league. He started thinking of downshifting as 2X week = 2X the joint wear and tear and 2X the chance of serious injury. Now the 40+ team started with a good buddy of mine and I from Sexton days and playing over in Denmark. We created a team whereas our old teammates could battle with us again. Now many of those people have retired their cleats. I’ve decided to join my brother in the 40+ league only. I exercise every day but you have to vary the routine. You don’t do arms day, arms day, arms day…okay maybe some do. It was hard because I love the team we formed and played with for so many years. It also felt like a demotion or admitting of our age. But again, if I can play hard and get the work out, uninjured and spend time with my brother, good deal. So a new chapter. That said I will likely miss games in May with film work. Let’s talk film shall we.

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FILMS

It has been a time of harvest even as we begin to prep the planting of new seeds.

THE CHRIST SLAYER – The 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy. It has been released on digital and I’ve had just some beautiful ‘fan-mail’ sent to me expressing their appreciation and love of the story. This includes someone who had pirated the film in India. This had happened on another film ‘Darkest Night’ which brought out fans who had not paid to watch. Now, I’ve seen some of the living conditions elsewhere whereas an entire extended (way extended) family live in a one room dwelling. Entertainment is often storytelling (beautiful), music or the family gathered around the one TV and DVD player. If the film stolen or not is playing and bringing some joy via our story, let good karma be our payment. But, if you can afford. Please do rent or buy it. It hurts the little guy filmmakers and makes it harder to make films. It is hard enough already. Go back to my first blog entries and start reading. It was a good conversation and now he just may promote our cause.

Also last week I said that all these films have seen a point whereas they were attacked. Many people are mad at actions and words uttered or done by people claiming to be faith authorities. The films are for entertainment and to provoke thought. I claim to be an expert of zero. I have no time to argue any points as I’m working on the next story. But I’ve seen at least one guy vocally slam the film without watching because I’m white. Whatever that means in our generation of DNA. Test yourself and hate will diminish as many find out we are all brothers and sisters. But is Brad Pitt Greek? The Rock? We were not making any statement on race, watch WILD FAITH for that:) It is a story of LOVE, microcosmos and macrocosmos. If the guy watched it and hated it, likely he would because people get out what they bring in. At least he was speaking about something he saw. Just like people can BUY bundles of IMDB star meter hits, amazon ratings, etc…always a bunch of 1’s and 2’s appear overnight from unknown sources. I think again because Jesus is a figure in the story. A version of him is on the cover. So people wronged by an organized religion or so-called expert in faith they carry a deep hate. That usually comes out on the mysterious J-Man. I’ve been right on par with people disgusted by what I’ve seen. The Jim Baker 80’s was…well you know. I just like the idea of looking at 3 times – BIRTH, BEFORE any of the organized stories. (See Chasing the Star) – BEFORE any ministry. (See Forty Nights) and – AFTER any ministry – death to rebirth to…watch The Christ Slayer. These stories dance around the dirt that has soiled the image of any organized ministry for many people. For people within organized bodies who want to exalt themselves and proclaim faith expertness, have at it. But I value every persons ability to evaluate. So even if you see Christianity as legit as the Jedi Academy in Star Wars, take a watch. The core tenets, the seeds, are interesting. And yes, all three films were produced to present the stories in a very Star Wars-like way. I think the translation is actually quite cool. We kept the same amazing DP, Mr. Jesse Aragon. The most awesome music composer I know, Dennis Therrian. And the best keys and directors we could convince to go on a journey. Those that possess desert stripes know. Our cast and crew got one for each film. I will remember those films and the making of them forever.

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Tomorrow is DVD March 4th and April 19th is the event theatrical showings for Easter. My ‘faith film’ watching consisted of Chuck Heston biblical epics at Christmas and Easter. That is my influence so even if you have never stepped a foot in church please take a watch. If you kneel on a rug facing East to pray – please take a watch. No-Jesus Jewish, take a watch. Atheists take a watch. Just watch a cool trilogy unfold that is not just about mankind but the angels – fallen and not. I will continue to occasionally enjoy your comments but don’t hate to just hate. At least watch it. Oh, and pay for it:) Stealing is stealing, rhyming and stealing’ …

SIDE NOTE: I’ve been reading the Beastie Boys Book, a bio on the bank. It is very cool to read their journey. They have had the up’s and down’s of all artists.

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WILD FAITH – This machine is about to kick off with the March 23rd national theater release. This came about because of the limited run we do last year. The film looks and sounds even better and we’ve added something special. Also we’ll be releasing the new poster work. I will leave you with this DOVE review and it just may contain a few surprises teases.

DOVE FAMILY FILM review of WILD FAITH

https://dove.org/review/15020-wild-faith/

We’ve been dealing with final paperwork, approved releases/photos and such. I’m really excited to go back into the theater and see this film. You will also be able to pre-order the DVD later this month.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend

I got to spend the week watching and re-watching scenes and taking notes. The film this week is being prepped to travel to Dennis Therrian. Dialog clean up will be first and sound design and music will follow. The film is really powerful and I’m so happy for everyone involved. For me filming was heavy, representing the actual wounded. I also was told by furry best friend had cancer and it was a battle for time. It was a shoot that was hard to squeeze ‘fun’ from. But I think it worked for the film and it will be a good tribute. Once the picture moved to post audio we’ll color correct and cut a new trailer from the final cut of the film. Good stuff ahead.

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LOST HEART

Last week we released a casting call for an 8-12 year old-young actress. We’ve been getting some great looks at performance. On the ‘Lost Heart’ Facebook site people have been dropping their dramatic reels. Thank you. We’ll keep reviewing. We have a least one role that is a younger version of a casted role still coming. So we’re waiting to cast the larger older role before casting the younger version. This week director Jesse Low and I spend two days and many hours reviewing the script. We’re getting close to a locked production script. We’ve also been scouting Northern Michigan locations and starting talks with lodging options. We’re still presenting to investors but we’ve had progress there. It is always a timing issue but things are coming together.

My advance casting announcement is for Mr. Austin Two-feathers and Greg Mason, both have participated in a handful of CDI pictures. Unique talent is always what we’re looking for and these two gents have just that. So you heard it here first:)

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IN OTHER NEWS

I have two commercial VO’s that have been pushed a week. You never know who those voices on those commercials belong too:) I enjoyed a fun meet-N-greet with a filmmaker from the Detroit area who has been making moves. I’ve seen them come and I’ve seen them go. Some move away but many more fade away. I think this individual has his heart in the right place and his previous accomplishments had prepared him to lead. You need good leaders to make a market work. I stated and I’ll state again, this is where I plant my flag. I’m a Michigander 4 LIFE. I travel but this is home and I will keep this as a base for making film. People chase all over seeking that short cut but many come to realize “it’s not the location but the motivation” – Trademark DJ Perry:)  This meeting was a chance to swap war stories and get to know one another. Every collaboration I’ve ever had usually started with a few drinks and talking about dreams.  We’ll see where it all goes but I see a second meeting in the near future.

Alright my friend. I’m on the last cup of coffee and today we’re taking our baby boy Finn to a puppy play. He just hit 45 lbs at six months and still looks like he has a lot of growth still in him. He has truly been a joy. Have a great week. Add a DVD (The Christ Slayer) to your collection.

Buy the DVD here: 

https://www.amazon.com/Christ-Slayer-Josh-Perry/dp/B07MG14J9H/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=The+Christ+Slayer&qid=1551629835&s=gateway&sr=8-2

I hope you all have a great week.

DJ

 

 

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Veterans Day March to Theaters and More…

Well HELLO. I see by our surge in readers that maybe a few of you attended the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere or have enjoyed this story on Amazon Prime. DVD will release on 9/30/19 and a special Veterans Day march through theaters will start on Nov 11. But what an amazing event in Owosso, Michigan. A mad house as a 270 full house exited the theaters passionately trying to get banner pics after been emotionally moved. Add 200+ entering and it was a circus. A beautiful circus of creating artists and audiences getting to meet. I met so many of you and heard your kind words, thank you. The fan(email) has been equally heart moving from those of you who live with these issues daily. To those who care so deeply for our “fur family” members. It has been a busy week but your wonderful words have been the highlight of every day far surpassing any of the daily frustrations. Thank you. Thank you.

If you want to see it today/tonight you can stream it right now.

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Rent/Purchase MAN’S BEST FRIEND here

https://www.amazon.com/MBF-Mans-Friend-DJ-Perry/dp/B07XF7L947/ref=sr_1_1?crid=38C0ZT8B98V9F&keywords=man%27s+best+friend&qid=1569166623&s=gateway&sprefix=man%27s+best+%2Caps%2C155&sr=8-1

Leave a review and let me know what you thought.

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WILD FAITH – We won the Justice Award for Race and Discrimination and a Set Design Recognition Award at Content 19. We will be heading out to Wilcox, AZ to represent Wild Faith. I just found out this morning that another faith festival that our distributor approached invited and nominated three of our feature films (Wild Faith, MBF, The Christ Slayer) in various categories. I need to get a few more facts before we announce but it is awesome to watch the stories get discovered.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’ll be doing some great PR for our trilogy over the holiday season (Thanksgiving to Easter)

LOST HEART – We’ve just landed on our official font to brand our upcoming photos to match our film credits. Maybe a sneak peak here before we start to release tomorrow-

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Editing is underway and we’ll be meeting over a teaser soon. This movie is going to be special and keep the #TribeCDI storytelling moving forward.

This week is more wrap up work on Lost Heart, development talks, readings, commercial delivery, camera tests and more. The harvest is coming in from the seeds that were planted and nurtured. Exciting times.

This week will be the apple harvest. Maybe the hops too…and I still need to bottle the GRAPE APE wine. MSU finally got the score going in the right direction and I hope our Lions can pull out another win. Enjoy your day and I hope your week ahead is productive!

DJ

 

 

‘Man’s Best Friend’ Screens to First General Audience…

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And where do I even begin to describe last night? If you are not up to speed we had our Michigan premiere for our recent CDI film “Man’s Best Friend” at the NCG theater in Owosso, MI the home turf of our director Anthony (Tony) Hornus. In all my years I’ve been to premieres where after a showing people have all kinds of polite things to say. What I’ve found is that the screening itself doesn’t lie. With 270 people in each show you had a sea of viewers. The crying, laughter and even the occasional murmur such as “Shits about to go down now” give truth. We sit in our little studio mixing and watching with our small producers group but to witness a full theater absorb and react is…an artists dream.

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In many ways I am living my dream. I’m doing what always made me happy and what I feel confident doing. Last night I got to see many old friends and fellow artists. It was a joy to get beyond positive feedback from folks in the military and the general audiences. Nov 11th is the target date for theatrical in N. America. So if you have a film chain in your area reach out to their management and ask them to book the film. We will be pushing to get it to all the places that are being requested. It is a wonderful film to see on the big screen and kudos to our tech team for doing such a wonderful job. I’m still in morning coffee bliss after meeting so many of you last night. I’ve had several people tell me this was our best film to date and my best performed role to date. I will let all of you be the judge of that. I love them all but recognize the power in this role. I put in the work. I watched and communicated with many actual wounded warriors to create an ‘everyman’ like Paul Landings. All I can say is that I will never forget last night. It was truly special for me and to share it with all of those who came just made it that much more special.

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IF this is your first CDI film please do work your way backwards through our catalogue and watch the growth and development of our company. Once again I’m just so proud to have worked with all the artists in front of and behind the camera.

http://www.cdiproductions.com

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WILD FAITH will ride into Wilcox, AZ this October. We just found out that another Hollywood festival (Hollywood Divine International Film Festival) invited Wild Faith, MBF and The Christ Slayer to participate after being submitted by our distributor. I will get more info out on that event soon. IF you like to stay up on the developments please seek out and join our Facebook pages for these films.   I just opened an official folder at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND facebook site for the MI premiere pictures. In the next day or so the pictures will start being posted. So join us at our FB site and follow the CDI films as they rolls out across the nation.

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Aside from all the film work we’re doing final music with the amazing Dennis Therrian on a CDI commercial project. We’ll finish that up and deliver to the client. I’m almost done with LOST HEART clean up. We’re about 15 minutes into the rough edit of the film. Jesse Low has given his adjustments and so this week will be refining and digging into the next handful of scenes. This film will be under wraps being worked on while we promote the finished projects.

One of the biggest questions asked of me last night was what is next? Development is underway – rest assured. Stay tune. I’m going to make this a shorter blog today. I’m going to let all this positive energy soak in. I so enjoyed seeing everyone last night. I was up past my bedtime:) Thankful for 11:30 pm coffee:) Speaking of coffee, time to refill the cup.

Have a wonderful morning.

DJ

 

Countdown to ‘Man’s Best Friend’ and More…

Good morning. I noticed we have readers this last week from Serbia and Japan, welcome.  As artists, as storytellers – we have a great opportunity to introduce ideas, in a non-threatening way via story. This has been a busy week since we also had a CDI commercial gig for a client. We do occasionally take on commercial jobs and this one required powerful narrative storytelling. Needless to say, it was a good fit. If things stay smooth we might put some more energy into the CDI commercial side, but feature film and TV will be our main focus. This week also saw additional project wrap up – crossing things off the To-Do list. It has been busy but that is a good thing. Let’s look at the top PR of the moment.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND – The NCG Theaters in Owosso, MI is hosting our two show premiere on Sept 14th. Many of our stars in attendance and the total net profit will go towards two non-profits. One benefitting wounded warriors and the other the local animal shelter. One of my dear friends and co-stars in the film has a significant other who is living her last days. They were sent an advance DVD to watch the film. It made me feel so good to hear the feedback. How it made them both feel. If we get a reaction out of that from our public audience – job well done.

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Many actors dream of playing that cool good guy, speaking in that Christian Bale batman voice. Or playing the suave bad guy, like Ricardo Montalban. My character of Paul Landings is neither. He is a humble damaged person who gave everything he had for his country. In return he was given months of medical service and a parade back home. Ten years gone and he is just that guy around town. Maybe homeless or close to, with little to no support system. But I think when all these people are near the end of their rope, animals have given them a bit more time. Cancer of the body is one thing but cancer of the soul is another. As an actor who had a start in the hyper-critical horror genre I’ve suffered my slings and arrows. It isn’t always praise it can be rocks or roses. I was afraid of tackling Paul at first. I did not want to mock our fine soldiers and I did not want to be mocked. After countless hours of watching interviews, docs and footage of real wounded warriors coping with life I realized that my fear of going too far…was really just representing a mild case. It is at that point that I wanted to become Paul for all the Paul’s out there. The externally and internally wounded. The mild and the severe wounded – some require 24/7 parental care. I was no longer scared but prepared to put one story down so that it might cast a light on areas we all would rather ignore.

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Fast foward – This Sat we will show the first audiences the story. It’s odd because I’ve shot another film since entitled LOST HEART, and my role in that film is well…happier:) I had found out days before camera roll on MAN’S BEST FRIEND that my beloved buddy Luke (Mr. Brown) whom had inspired some of the story and been with me while writing was terminal with cancer. After the immense heartbreak we have a new joy in a young puppy named Finn. But this Saturday I travel back to a different period of time. A darker period of time in my life. That is not to say that the film doesn’t have goodness and positivity to it all, I just had to live the darkness. My biggest challenge in my heart that keeps me from being thrilled is that I was able to take out my hearing aides and the coke bottle glasses and return to being DJ Perry. My friends and inspiring stories that helped me create Paul live on, struggling. I do hope this film will help turn a compassionate eye towards adoption dogs and our vets in need. This story is for my buddy Mr. Brown (Luke) seen above napping with his daddy.

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WILD FAITH will be represented at Content 19 being recognized for a JUSTICE AWARD and for SET DESIGN.

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Next month we will represent the film in AZ at The Wild Bunch Film Festival. More on this as we get closer.

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We’re prepping The Quest Trilogy for a great holiday season ahead. We’re starting to look forward at the final 2019 projects and into 2020. I’ve cleaned out about 1/2 (300+) emails that I built up while shooting LOST HEART. That fine film is in editing and we’ll be meeting this week to finalize new TITLE font and discuss the first look trailer.

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I hope to see some of you out this Saturday at the 1st release of MBF before the national theatrical and home video roll out. I look forward to talking with you all again on Sunday after the showings. I’ve going to finish my wood cutting for the wood stove in the office. Also have to give some love to the garden and yard. I’ve been enjoying all the veggies. I think this week will also mark the bottling of HOPPY GRAPE APE wine. Cheers!

DJ

 

Production Ramble and Film Updates

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It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.

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We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.

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Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.

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WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.

My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.

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PRODUCTION THOUGHTS

We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997.  In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.

A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.

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I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.

I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.

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I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.

If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.

Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying,  Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.

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I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!

I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

DJ

 

 

Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.

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While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.

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Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.

  • Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
  • Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
  • Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
  • Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone.  For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.

2nd AD directions

Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.

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The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.

Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.

DJ