This has been just a wonderful week. Busy but seeing things come together and working hard to begin new endeavors. I would have to say that a great part of my week was attending an awards dinner for the Michigan Hall of Fame 2015. My father’s undefeated 1960’s Haslett football team was inducted. He has been there many times in my life at everything from soccer games to our movies. He is the one always beaming with pride at whatever my brother and I might achieve. It was great to be there for him. We were proud of our dad and it is fun to see old warriors all together again. It is also why I can’t stop fighting on the soccer field each Sunday. Use it or lose it. I hope I can keep that motivation burning for all the years ahead. That was an extremely cool event this week.
This week I also had lunch with an old friend and a relatively new friend. They knew each other from law school. It was great to just talk life – past, present and future. I found myself with two unique friends coming from two very different areas of my life. Bottom line – SUSHI ROCKS.
NEW FILM UPDATES
As “ASHES OF EDEN” starts the run down to release in October (13th) this semi-closure has allowed director Shane Hagedorn and I to discuss our future possibilities. We have another sit down coming up here soon but I think we might have some exciting future news.
“BESTSELLER” just finished a week run in Lansing, MI and now we’re working out our additional dates at new locations. Maybe Benton Harbor? Portage? Mt. Pleasant maybe? Muskegon?
I can also tell you we have just about finalized a domestic US/Canada home video deal. This will get BESTSELLER on TV/VOD and such 1st quarter 2016.
“40 NIGHTS” – The big news this week was the drop of the trailer by our distributor Lightworx Entertainment. I’m curious to see how people connect to the story. The film truly is becoming everything I wanted it to be. Jesse Low, our director, did a great job. It was a fun and challenging shoot in real desert conditions. My feet are only now returning back to normal after having sandal marks grilled onto the tops of my feet.
Below is the link for the Official PR Release
Today I wanted to let the trailer get out there and do its own thing. So, today I tried to just let it go. I had other non-film things (We are remodeling a bathroom) to attend to. I loved hearing the enthusiasm to the release from my inner circle. I even started getting communications from different people from around the world. When you accept a role like Jesus you expect rocks with the roses. I feel that the experience we shared is honest and the story – powerful. – The mysterious way we are moved to tell certain unique stories. “40 Nights” like all films are a COLLECTIVE effort by many artists. The final product is the result of on-going DEVELOPMENT until it reaches the audiences. I’m very proud of the entire cast and crew.
That said. We’ve been very busy here at CDI prepping development on two new features. Casting is now active on IMDB Casting. Locations are being scouted. Business is being conducted. The second project CHASING THE STAR is the follow-up biblical story. In our series of three films with Lightworx Entertainment, this next one would be considered a prequel.
Dead Quiet is still brewing out there in post. A DIVISION 19 film is also still doing that post thing. OK. I’m heading up North eh..so I wanted to get this to all of you early. If you like what you’re seeing pass (Blog or film links) pass them along. It’s been nice to hear from all the people thrilled by BESTSELLER and moved by 40 NIGHTS. Have a safe weekend and a productive week.
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.
Well folks I hope your 2015 is off to a good start. I’ve jumped right into it with a bang and I’m excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I’m really happy at how enjoyable the holidays were and I do realize how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. A week before Christmas I was in a majestic place (The Valley of Fire) shooting what I would call R-Rated STAR WARS with our “Wasteland” film. It’s just funny because that film is what sparked my imagination and pushed me towards the path. Yesterday the editing on that 1st part of the film began in Florida. The website is now open at http://www.wastelandtalesmovie.com/. A teaser will soon be released and I will start putting new talent in front of our director and we will be doing casting calls via the website so stay tuned if you want to enter the Wasteland.
I will be doing some producing on that film now that my filming as an actor is complete. I’ve been prepping for my next role that I’ll be announcing soon. It will be most challenging but I’m ready and willing to accept that challenge. It’s a period piece that will film some in Michigan perhaps and the balance/bulk of it in Arizona. Location scouting and some select casting work has been underway for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the other exciting news that I can be somewhat less mysterious about – maybe. 🙂
We have release dates for our films releasing with the WINTERS FILM GROUP. I must allow the honor of announcing the “Ashes of Eden” street date to come from Shane Hagedorn. He’s very excited for the national release. Also we have a couple large foreign releases in talks now. I was talking with Parables TV about this film on Friday. They love it. It’s on the cutting edge being a crime drama infused with a healthy dose of faith but also not cramming the religious aspect down your throat. We’re greatly looking forward to audiences of all walks of life watching and enjoying this film. It gives a very humanizing look at the life police/law enforcement officers have to deal with. It looks at the challenges that face both parents and children in this day and age. It’s funny because I told Shane before the film was ever completed that he must also prepare himself for “haters” – (I believe that is the term) Basically, if you start to find success some insecure artists who have not yet been given that opportunity to succeed will resent you. Why his script? Why his film? Why? Why? The answer is usually better quality product, better business or both. I had truly hoped that Shane would not have to experience any of that but I knew better. Before the film was released someone trolled the voting on a data base in hopes it would hinder the film. It did not. Because distributors actually watch and evaluate based on their expertise and sales projections. Now as of late the film has also been given to a cross selection of film reviewers and once again the response has been very good. I expect sales to also be quite good. You can’t let those things even slow you down. When your audience becomes hundreds of thousands to millions vs a few hundred friends you learn to just let it roll off you. A few will always hate and that itself will keep them trapped in a cycle of failure. I would always rather just smile and create. If you’re still fighting for your respect and your success don’t hate. Try to examine what makes these other artists successful. I would say don’t imitate their art but imitate their business practice or principles. Don’t EVER fake it to make it. Build from mild success to modest success to great success. Keep it real and keep building and one day your success will start to multiply because it is REAL!
Let’s talk some REAL UPDATES:)
“Wicked Spring” will also be re-releasing soon. While an official PR release is forthcoming I’ll give my loyal readers a hint. It would make a nice gift to put in an Easter basket:) Now “Donors” will also be announcing their release date soon. Audiences will have a great opportunity to enjoy these films releasing the first half of the year. I hope you add them to your collection or viewing experiences.
Finishing up early this year will also be the horror film “Dead Quiet” – I hear they will be targeting fall for their big push. “Bestseller” is now in post sound/music and I’ve been seeing the FX/graphic work in progress. I’m VERY excited to see this film completed and premiere. “The Terrorist” feature was getting close to done in late December so I expect to hear some good news from our director soon.
I was in talks on a few more CDI films heading to TV. One will likely be our doc film “Outside the Wire” done with our friends at the RED, WHITE and BLUE PROJECT.
“Heavens Neighbors” and “Figure in the Forest” are looking at a new release in 2015. “Knight Chills” will be re-releasing with the novel to help promote and prep folks for the sequel that is coming. “In the Woods” re-release – trying to get that commentary done. We had one date reschedule because of snow and we’ll see if we can make it tomorrow. They had a 90 car pile up yesterday right where I have to drive through. So if it’s bad I’m not chancing it. I had the cold zap my battery one day last week and once I got it jumped and was off to my teeth cleaning I narrowly avoided a fender bender right in front of me. I had to BUDDY COLT* the car to keep from a crash but I did. (See * JUDGES movie)
This week ahead will be more development and prepping for delivery on these films heading out for distribution. Also a studio tour, theatrical talks on a few films and finalizing some artwork. It’s great weather for getting these things done. No nice sun and yard/garden work to tempt you just bitter winds and snow that would make a polar bear cold. So I’m going to focus on my film work and also write on the two scripts I’ve been working on. It all keeps the machine moving forward and I’m happy to stay busy. At CDI we are accepting some commercial work. We’ve got a cool project for a client lined up this spring. We’ve done some high-end commercial work in the past and we’re going to occasionally start taking on select projects here and there. So if you have a commercial project that you want considered – feel free to ask. If we don’t take it on I can always recommend someone whose work I approve.
I think that is all I have right now. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but once again, thank you for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week and keep clawing your way to the middle! Accept that most things don’t come easy and enjoy the work. While others refrain, complain, abstain you advance, enhance and take the chance to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail but you must be as prepared as possible and fight fiercely to succeed.
Welcome to 2015! Go get it.
– Happy 2015 everyone! I was up early and had the coffee flowing so I could travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to do a film commentary for the 15th anniversary release of IN THE WOODS. I awoke to a flurry of white that is supposed to change to freezing rain and back to snow. So we decided to reschedule the session. So you get my blog early and now we’ve got BBQ ribs in the crock pot and I’m going to get some office work and such done today. The holidays had me tired and some cold tried to get me but I beat it back. I don’t got the time to be sick! It was a great holiday filled with family and friends and I’m so ready to attack the new year.
We are close to announcing a couple of new film projects. Art work is underway on several films releasing and in development. Post production work keeps chugging along. We’ve been updating the http://www.cdiproductions.com website and I was stunned to see both the company site and this site had visitors/readers from over 70 countries. Let’s look at some updates in no real order.
– “Knight Chills II” script is underway and new artwork is underway. The book novelization to go with the re-release of the original will be underway this year also. I’m excited to re-visit this film. The 1st run moved 26,000 domestic units whereas much of that revenue did NOT come back home when the company went belly up. It was a major disappointment and set back at the time. This franchise is going to rise from the ashes.
– “In the Woods” 15th anniversary re-release is coming on Blu-Ray, PPV, VOD with the book by Nancy Gideon re-releasing also. There is some chatter about a sequel and a few ideas have been passed about but nothing solid.
– Assigned to Winters Film Group by CDI Distribution – 3 films. “Ashes of Eden” will lead the charge with an early release. “Donors” and the “Wicked Spring” re-release will follow. I’m told next week release dates will be set.
– CDI Releasing is also looking at directly releasing two of its earlier films “Figure in the Forest” playing multiple TV networks and “Heaven’s Neighbors” both directed by CDI’s Jeff Kennedy.
– CDI is looking at releasing more of the library into theaters in 2015.
– Foreign sales could really start picking up. We know the fans are out there and we want to get more of these stories out to them. Deals are underway and we hope to have some exciting announcements on this front.
– “Bestseller,” “Dead Quiet,” “The Terrorist” and “Wasteland Part 1” are all in post production and should all see releases in 2015.
I’ve had several projects approach me to consider acting in. One recently came from a studio head and is a pilot film that could spin-off into a series. The distribution is all set up and I’m looking forward to hearing more on this project. Also I might have a new work-for-hire script writing project which would be fun. I’m also working on a CDI commercial project which will shoot for a client this year. Overall I can say that 2015 will be a busy and productive year. I hope this holds true for each and every one of you that has put in the hard work. It doesn’t just happen but when you work smart and work hard the results will come.
Ah, the hot sips of Hazelnut coffee greets my morning once again. Old Saint Nick must know my love of the smooth java as I got several bags of the fine stimulating stuff. Insulated jeans and cargo pants, a few sweatshirts and such greeted me as this is Michigan. When “out and about” I tend to love my boots but more likely these days you will find me comfortably wearing my slippers about. I got several pair this year. One pair for the house, the office and one to “roll in” when I don’t feel like changing up to take a drive to the studio. I also enjoyed the gift giving and watching others open and enjoy such finds. The food has been wonderful. From ham to lamb, shrimp to scallop potatoes. I stayed away from all sweets but enjoyed more than enough of everything else. Tonight is a yearly outing with some of my oldest friends (Hard to beat 1st grade) with a delicious steak in my future. To note the other 2 best 2014 steaks. A tie between the one from Eric Nelson’s wedding (Lansing Country Club) and Dean Teaster’s wedding! (Dusty’s Cellar) so we will see how the Knight Cap fits in there. I’m usually a venison eater but once in a while that steak is just heavenly.
I’ve done a pretty good job of not engaging in too much business over the last few days. It’s exciting to move into 2015 and like a present you unwrap, see what lies there. I’m exciting for so many new films finishing up – releasing and re-releasing!
New poster work has been underway for “Wicked Spring” and “In the Woods,” with plans to do a new commentary for the latter celebrating 15 years. 2015 will see a book release for “Knight Chills” with a sequel film in development. “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors,” “The Terrorist,” “Division 19,” “Dead Quiet,” and “Bestseller” will all roll out in 2015. The new Sci Fi/Western “Wasteland” will have the 1st part assembled by Spring and will return to shooting the others parts this year.
In the works is a new powerful drama with Anthony Hornus directing. A new biblical-era dramatic feature will be finalizing its business in January and gearing up for a spring shoot. Development is underway with a new film collaboration with Shane Hagedorn. (Exciting) My management is working on several options for studio/network projects. My writing projects are building with two screenplays underway now. One optioned script may move into production this winter still and I’ve been asked to consider another Work-For-Hire writing just days ago. BUSY but fun work:)
In recap, I can see the forthcoming year will be filled with great storytelling adventure. I wonder what words I’ll be typing here a year from now? Perhaps thinking back on the releases of these forthcoming films in 2015 and hinting at what projects will be on deck for 2016. I will enjoy a few more days of family and friends – organizing and preparing myself for the busy year ahead. I already have meetings and such lining up which is all good. That is progress in motion and moving ahead in creation. So enjoy these few days of continued holiday before once again rolling up the sleeves and attacking the work ahead.
Happy Holidays and wishing you all a great start to your new year!
I know I should have a coffee sponsor out there for as much as I talk about it. Many know my love of hazelnut but I’ve also been adding cinnamon on the top for some time. It’s supposed to be good for digestion but also is just GOOD tasting. It has been a busy week of prepping for this role in Nevada playing a space pirate in what I can describe best as a Sci Fi western. WASTELAND Tales From the Desert Part 1. I’m looking forward to a return trip to Las Vegas which as far as cities go I do enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing a few movie friends inside my hectic film schedule. I’m looking forward to trekking about the location of our filming which will be the Valley of Fire State Park. I’ve noted before that I’ve gone there as a child but I can’t really recall much. I know from what I’ve seen that the place will look great on camera.
I’ve been working on two scripts that are looking to shoot in 2015 – one is a long-awaited sequel to our original 1st CDI feature “Knight Chills”” and it’s fun and exciting to be creating here. We were very green when we did that 1st film and despite the great exposure here in the US/Canada and in several countries it was a major chore to complete. Now with all that we know and the better equipment for filmmakers this movie will be great and a smooth ride. It has a few appearances from original cast but will star two newcomers in the soon-to-be franchise. It will feature our famous villain and I look forward to having him on the big screen. A novel based on the 1st film script is in the works and will join a new re-release of that film to prep audiences for the sequel. Also we are looking at TV and other foreign sales for the old/new films. I’m excited by this and it will be fun.
I’ve also been working a powerful drama that has strong military and animal rights themes. It has been fun to bounce between these two scripts based on my mood for the day. I do enjoy writing and take great enjoyment in the process. I might have yet another script job after these two and again just a great pleasure to change gears from business and just swim in the imagination and create.
I’ve been working with graphic artists and distributors in getting new marketing materials around on “In the Woods,” “Donors,” “Ashes of Eden,” and “Wicked Spring” all coming out 1st half of 2015. On the re-releases it’s fun to go back into these great projects. On the new projects releasing – even more fun as you prepare the 1st looks for audiences out there. 2015 will be a busy year with releases and I will keep my promises to my foreign friends to get these films out there further so they can be enjoyed in your countries.
BESTSELLER – WOW! The FX work I’ve been seeing out of DNA Design has been wonderful. Soon we will be laying the FX plates into our time line along with the music beds being composed by Dennis Therrian. This film will be great to see all together. Those who have seen the early clips are raving about the suspense and intense nature of this film.
We have also been working development as noted by some of the script work. Additionally we have more than half the funds committed on another soon-to-be announced feature. Actually come Jan. we should be fully funded and we will make some announcements. It is a powerful script and role and we are working out our deal with distribution now. I plan to perhaps announce this film on or around Christmas.
Outside of all this I’ve been in talks with management on over a dozen projects where some TV series I’m looking at guest starring and some perhaps a regular role. We are targeting some of the casting on these studio films and at least one I’m already slated to be part of the cast. These are tens of millions of dollars and so they move at their own pace so I get to keep on doing my thing until they role into pre-production.
I got most of my Christmas shopping done and everything is wrapped and under the tree. I am not a “wait to the last minute” person – must be the producer in me. This weekend I will enjoy the family life here before I go do my movie thing for a week. I will come home to be thankful for the past year. Thankful for all of you who make this journey worthy. Thankful for family and friends who give love and support without care of what role I’m playing. I’m happy to be doing what that teenage boy was doing with his friends and camcorder so many years ago. It’s times like this that I just feel incredibly grateful.
I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and productive week ahead preparing for the holidays. My next blog will come probably late on Saturday once I return home from Las Vegas.
Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)
I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.
2015 Distribution Updates
ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.
DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come
WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!
We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.
HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.
BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.
NON-CDI RELEASE INFO
I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19 and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).
Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!
My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.” I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water. Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over. We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you? Do you give your best effort, always? Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.
Happy Full Moon!
I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!