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

Pre-Birthday Reflections, Being Reclusive and New Films

So today is the cusp of the BIG MOON, the closest full moon of the year. I’m sipping the hot coffee and looking forward to the day hanging with my brother and his girl. Upon finishing this post I’m getting the smoker going and going to have a relaxing day. It was a crazy busy week as many have been lately and I’ve just continued to sail the ship forward. “Donors” http://www.donorsthemovie.com film has moved to Yuma for final sound mixing. “Supermodel Showdown” is looking great as we are chunking in footage on the 3rd show and I’m extremely happy with what I see. “Ashes of Eden” is having the sound/music review meeting next week and also starts color correction. I also might have a few upcoming announcements on projects the start of July. Final approval on German distribution contracts for three of the films underway. “Darkest Night” PR is in full swing next week as we head towards our VOD and DVD/TV releases in July. I want to discuss a few attributes that apply to activity this week. It also ties in to what we discussed last week.

KNOW YOUR ROLE

I’m in a stage of possibly signing onto a couple of films as CDI associated producer and talent. In these situations you must first stand your ground and use your experience. IF someone wants to work with you it is because they are buying your experience. The things you’ve done right and wrong. To avoid pitfalls and follow well-traveled paths whereas they will maximize your chances of repeat success. What I look for always in a partnership is LISTENING. I can tell if the cup is already full of ideas and thoughts often based not on experience but opinions. Opinions are like assh%#%!  everyone has one and… You know the saying. I try to base my decisions on reason, common sense and some gut feeling. I always try to fully explain the reasoning. If someone isn’t listening and you can tell – that relationship will be a painful one that will mostly bring frustration and regret. I avoid these situations because if you want to make mistakes or non calculated risk decisions, I would rather not be along for that ride. I’ve been there, seen that and got the T-shirt:)

Now for a film crew to work effectively or any group dynamic – each person must know their role and respect one another. This is even more important with your above the line executive team. I have one project that is close to a go and I’m set to be the ship captain (producer) but before we set sail the ship needs to be ready. First and foremost is for WRITER, DIRECTOR and PRODUCER(s) to know their role, their scope of power and how decisions will be made. I’m very good at this and that is why I do the business I do. I respect and enforce these divisions otherwise chaos will grow. Chain of command is very important and especially where writer and director are concerned. Once the script is handed off the new creative leader IS the director. Business decisions from a producer can trump but only if they are legit and not subjective opinions. I’ve written screenplays and for me it is easy to let go. I think it is because the actor in me surrenders to a creative director and I just focus on my role. As a producer I watch the ship and make sure that the overall vessel stays the course. But as a writer I’m flattered and inspired when someone adapts a story of mine from the page to the screen. A writer too close to the material can become a nightmare and slow a project, killing schedule and budget over subjective topics. I always tell my producers when they get caught line stepping that it appears they are heading for the directors chair BUT this is not your ship. So I address these issues right up front while the ship is in port. I don’t wait until 2 weeks in when so much frustration has built and the tensions are high. I will risk someone saying this doesn’t look like it will work, I will readily agree with them. I’m not getting on a ship that is going to become a floating emergency out at sea. As I stated before too many people will bite their tongue and say nothing because they need the work that bad. I would rather stay and work the garden, brew some beer and sell some films in our library versus going on a nightmare cruise to shit island.

This week I also met some artists with one of my friends filmmaker Nathan Quinn. I’ve actually met quite a few of the artists growing in Michigan after several years of being semi-reclusive. I’ve just been away from the film social scene because honestly I can’t take the fake sincerity and one-up attitudes I often observe. Do you art and be unique. Do so with the least amount of drama save what you put on-screen. Always give more than what you were paid for. Don’t compromise your best and be willing to let a project go knowing the universe will bring to you what is meant to be. Find your faith and hold on to it. Don’t EVER grab for the dangling carrot and become someone’s puppet. Many have wondered why I won’t work with them. If you bullshit you will lose my attention almost immediately and seldom do I revisit these folks. Many act on their best behavior when they want something but it is only a matter of time before their true nature returns. Take a deep look at yourself and see if these traits exist and if they do – sincerely, spiritually purge them from your self and live as the best you that you can be.

I wish you all a great weekend!

DJ

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