The Detroit Lions have just kicked off making this a traditional fall day in Michigan. I spent the morning organizing for our upcoming film shoot and also prepping a few things in the yard for approaching winter. I picked beans this morning while going over mental check lists.
We’ve been putting paperwork under cast and crew this week for our western endeavor. I’m looking at the opportunity to work with some other talented artists. I see several productions that pool the cash resources in a few places and puts the sacrifice on the others. We spread the sacrifice across the board but pay by strict rates. Staying on budget – there is no special trick it just requires that you hire the right individuals. Individuals that understand the modest rates are so crew across the board can be paid. Crew working in all needed departments are what create good flow in production. It often requires working with what you NEED versus WANT and making it quality through artistry and good planning.
Is everything done perfect? No, of course not – but the effort is always seen and steps are taken to course correct when required. Passion is a valuable jewel and many people lose sight of it. The best cast & crew for me is one that has the best passion for a story. Gaffers, grips, camera – creates mood and tone. Audio captures words that can change hearts and minds. Wardrobe and hair/make up help create believable characters to exist in world that the art department creates. Fore-men, office planning, coordinating of meals – all fueling the storytelling endeavor. I had to sacrifice much to climb to where I am now. I look for that hunger in people’s eyes. When a situation is hard I look for who states the obvious and who has problem solving skills. Who vents frustration and who is quietly focused because they are already planning multiple possible paths to travel. I love that we attract artists who want to be part of a powerful story. They understand their partial sacrifice to an endeavor is helping support the artists standing next to him. Many have been abused in the free and paid circles and so until someone knows differently they expect what they expect. I love giving people a good experience storytelling. That is why we have more people seeking us out wanting to participate on both sides of the camera. Empty your cup is an old zen saying we used in martial arts. Being open to a new experience without the taint of a previous bad experience but other people. If we carry that past negativity we take it into our sacred create space. Again in martial arts – the dojo. You bow and leave your outside world distractions at the door. You respect the new process of learning and exploring before you. When we do this we often discover great things about ourselves and in our example – create good storytelling.
In this blog I will encourage you to seek out some of the recent films
40 Nights, Bestseller, Donors, Ashes of Eden – check out some of the earlier films also and see what creative groups of people created working together. Send your feedback and comments here if you wish.
“Chasing the Star” – I’m reviewing a picture lock cut and post work in full speed ahead. As I said last week, new trailer and post art will be forthcoming!
Lots to do today so I’m going to cut this short.
Have a great week ahead!
(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)
It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.
Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.
On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”
Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.
A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.
“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.
This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead. Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.
Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!
On this day we remember our stories about where we were at when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember that I was having a morning much like today – hazelnut coffee, chill music and doing some film work. Dean Teaster called me to ask if I was watching TV, to which I said I wasn’t. I turned on to see one tower on fire and replays of the impact. BOOM! Another plane impact and we all know the story of the other planes. I remember MaryJo Cuppone’s flight attendant friend died in one of the planes. I remember Ed Schaefer in NYC being in the street dust after the impact. Killing is not divine. Hate is a choice. We are all neighbors in this world.
It has been a whirlwind of film activity. As we get ready to review some of the first numbers on “40 Nights” I’m proud of the growing base of viewers. The film did not roll out with huge fanfare but has become a film you hear about – you hear good things about and you seek it out. Here is one of my favorite reviews.
If you watched this film and enjoyed it – reach out and share it with someone.
Chasing the Star – the 2nd film in The Quest Trilogy has a first trailer which is still getting a polish. I expect we will roll out a new poster here soon. The music is almost complete and VFX has started. Our friends from CHOP & HUE have also joined the project – making this their second film with us.
The Christ Slayer – As soon as “Wild Faith” ship is out to sea I will start putting the business together on our third film in our trilogy. I’m actively looking at directors and speaking to talent and keys. We will look to shoot in the spring in AZ.
Our midWestern “Wild Faith” is loading the ship as I like to call it. The foundation work is well underway and this week we’ll open the account and start to prepare for the journey. We’ve identified most of our artist sailors of our cast and crew. This week we will finalize that process. I’m excited also by the idea of an ongoing TV series because of the great talent. I have ideas for many guest stars including many of your favorite legends of the genre. It looks like Mr. Darby Hinton will be joining our cast. He has a long impressive list of TV & film but many love him from Daniel Boone still playing strong on 3 networks right now. We also have a list of extremely talented actors from Michigan joining our cast. We’ll be announcing more of these cast and crew as we start signing deals.
Well, MSU is off this weekend. The Lions play in a few hours and so I’m going to get some additional work done around the yard. The garden is full and needs to be harvested. Speaking of, I bottled 2 cases of “Return of the Green Goblin” that came from last years harvest. I’ve been dealing with this mega beard during our humid heat but now we’re in a beautiful cool phase. Tonight I may even make a fire. Enjoy the remaining weekend and be good to one another.
The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.
Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.
Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.
Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!
OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST
“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.
“The Christ Slayer”
I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.
My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.
USA, Australia, Brazil and China are the top four countries where our readers are from. I’ve not been to any of the last three but I’m appreciative to you all. I’ve had films released in all three of those territories – following the USA. What I do love is the community of artistry. We’ve had a lot of rain this week but also signs of the coming fall. MSU football is getting close to kicking off and that is excitement. With my boy Luke on recovery the squirrels have come in force stripping roughly a third of my apples off the tree and making a play for the garden harvest. I cannot blame theme but we’ve got more than enough for them to eat without their garden raids.
This week was full of ups and downs but steady movement forward especially with post work and development work that is about to go full pre-production. I will speak briefly about one encounter. I had a business intro call that was set up to make introductions and set the foundation for future business. This was to be with an executive at a well-known company. Just because you are dealing with a larger corporation does not make them BETTER organized. It had been many years since I had to deal with attitude from someone. But, I always go in with respect and professionalism. That said, when someone line steps you sometimes have to put them into check. But, you must be willing to lose the business. The best business is not when someone tries to discount a property to leverage the best deal. I love when they are honest with what they really like and express a wish to do some same-side of the table negotiation and create a WIN-WIN. That is the difference between true leaders and those who were in a position and gone in 8-18 months. These people also represent the BRAND. I take great pride in our artists on both sides of the camera. I would rather develop the right personality versus working with an ass that may be talented but makes the journey sour. This one individual had a couple of possible reasons for their odd behavior but most stem from low self-esteem. He had another young female executive on the phone call and was trying to be manly by being confrontational. Well, that conversation did not go exactly how he planned it. Remember this people.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
Many think that a name tag, door plaque or desk moniker will automatically give respect. Initially people will respect the office but if the personality is unfit they become a joke. That only enhances their need to try to feel powerful by treating people poorly. I’ve had many people over the years treat me well only to have me observe them treating others they feel below them, poorly. Don’t be this person. I respect everyone on our projects from DP to he or she who makes the coffee. This person will likely continue to hurt their branding. Don’t hurt YOUR branding.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – As we move towards finishing Part 2 “Chasing the Star” more people are introduced to our biblical world in “40 Nights” – Also had the pleasure recently of taking several meetings over our third upcoming film “The Christ Slayer” which despite the attention grabbing title is a beautiful story.
“Chasing the Star” – some amazing new stills will be rolling out. A poster, a trailer – all these great promotional items will start rolling out as we close in on the finish line.
“The Christ Slayer” – The returning cast are very excited by the third installment. I’ve been looking at and developing some of the important foundation elements of this story. I will enjoy the final trek into this world one more time as Jesus. A swan song to a beautiful role which has brought smiles to many people. I thank all of you audiences for that.
“Wild Faith” – Our team has started to line up our cast and crew for this 1800’s story that takes place in Michigan shortly after the Civil War. I’ve been engaged in discussions with key artists and we’ll have many more announcements soon. This week we announced Melissa Anschutz and Lana Wood joining the cast. I’m excited about the additional announcements. I love Michigan in the fall. I love westerns. I love my fellow artists who will join in telling the story. Each cast and crew is unique. I’m excited to be prepping to play a role in this film and to work with all these fine people telling this story.
I’ve got much more I could ramble on about but instead I’m going to pick from the garden and do a few things around the homestead. Be good to each other. Keep following your dreams. Keep clawing.
Welcome one and all to my “Clawing My Way to the Middle” blog. It is noon and I’m back to sipping the last of the coffee while putting a few thoughts down on here. This week was full of meetings and interviews – vetting and exploring as we continue to move forward. Last week we announced “Wild Faith” our next film with director Jesse Low. The heat wave snapped with the storm yesterday in Michigan and I’m very happy about that. I’m more of a cool weather person and so we’re soon to transition into my favorite time of year. I picked a load of veggies yesterday from our garden. We’ve been enjoying fresh everything daily from tomato on sandwiches to steamed beans and squash. The rain also has the yard filling in dead spots from the brutal heat. My hair and beard are mountain man crazy (Is that a hint?) so the heat was mildly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the weekly recaps.
The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” is moving steady down the post-production tracks and so if you’ve not seen part 1 – take a watch.
Chasing the Star
This week we should start looking at VFX work. The music and sound design is underway with that talented Dennis Therrian. Our INTRO will again be done by CHOP & HUE. We plan to have our first premiere before Christmas and I’m excited for audiences to see it. I had a dental cleaning and my dentist right away wanted to know how the second film was coming. He and his daughter attended the first one in the theater and loved it. So we have a built in audience waiting for part 2.
The Christ Slayer
Next month we will start to pull some business together on this film. The script is out to the returning players. I was happy to get such a beautiful response from our returning talent. I’ve been talking with other possible players and looking at behind the camera players also. I’m excited about shooting the last of the three in the QUEST TRILOGY.
Wild Faith will be officially entering pre-production as our business paperwork comes together this week. We’ve been looking at reels and reads and I’m excited about the cast coming together. We’ve been discussing the business behind this pilot feature and a possible 10 show season #1 to be shot in Michigan.
Knight Chills 2 – We’re prepping some PR that will detail our development underway with our friends at BlackJacket Films. Camera tests and casting have been quietly taking place. Distribution talks are underway both for the 20th anniversary re-release of the original and our follow-up feature.
Additional talks have been underway with Jeff Kennedy, Dean Teaster and Anthony Hornus and we might see new projects from all of them in the near future.
This week is full of more meetings but I’ve been enjoying the on-camera prep work I’m doing. We have the first round of soccer playoffs this eve so I’m looking forward to that. We finished 3rd overall and it’s been a great season. That intense running in the heat has me in good shape so running around in the woods should be a breeze.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead!
PS: Luke is home and doing very good from his bout of illness.