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

Posts tagged “4H

Free Tea Tree and Thanksgiving Updates

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A light dusting of snow covers the ground and I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee (not sponsored yet) and reflecting back on my busy week. I want to welcome our Romanian and Indian readers to the blog. On the Indian front we’re having some great conversations about getting some of the CDI films there and also about a few collaborations on scripts we have.

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Speaking of sponsors – Maple Holistics approached me about possible endorsement. I have a select list of products that I’ve got deals with. These often are passed down to our cast and crew in the form of gifts such as our awesome product from The Candleberry Company. I used the tea tree shampoo for this past week and I have to say I like it. I liked the texture, the tingle and it left my hair feeling very clean. You too can try for yourself and they’ve provided me a link below. Enjoy. Tell them DJ Perry sent you:)

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We also had a Viking Tuesday taking the axe and splitting some wood for the office stove. Winter will be coming in full force and we’ll be ready. Onto the films shall we?
FORTY NIGHTS 
BIG SCREEN!
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Miller’s Historic theater in Bedias, Texas playing FORTY NIGHTS and we follow-up with a December showing of CHASING THE STAR. Both these films are now on Amazon Prime and it’s exciting to have new fans contact about the films daily. I can be contacted directrly about big screen public licensing.
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So many great people participated and now others are getting to just EXPERIENCE them. These adventures have something for everyone – it matters not what path you walk. It is a great Christmas story maybe a bit more like the old Chuck Heston films in that they are not all sugar-coated. Now I have not seen STAR the new animated film about the birth of Jesus but the clips I saw had King Herod as a silly man. I think many people have eliminated the realty of a world under a tyrant ruler like Herod. We have one venue decide our film was too dark in tone. No sex or real violence but also not jingle bells or even one snowflake on the screen. I’m happy because much like THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, our film paints a harsh reality on the telling of that story but might create more understanding of the gravity of the situation. Where a lack of story once existed around the wise men – manifesting in lawn idols and contrived moments that only served to summarize the event. I think we put the stakes into a much more realistic context and gave plausible faces to the magi. Decide for yourself and help make these films part of your Christmas tradition. Next year will come Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER and that films is preparing to move into music and sound design in Jan 2018.
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Now for THE CHRIST SLAYER to go into post another is coming out…WILD FAITH.
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This post Civil War 1800’s tale is almost done. The visual time line minus end credits is locked with VFX. The audio is being tweaked and mixed. Color Correction is being set up for next week. This film is getting CLOSE! It will be done by the end of the year and we’ll be looking at all our options with this fine film property.
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Additionally we’ve been in deal making mode on many of the CDI library. CDI and myself manage the Civil War film WICKED SPRING produced originally by CDI’s former sister company in Virginia. The new release will celebrate the passing of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. It will also be a nice release to a new audience in this digital age along with a 60 min doc that shows how a group of young filmmakers made this epic independent film. Follow us here for all the updates – https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/
Some of the past films looking at expanded distribution in 2018 include ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER, FIGURE IN THE FOREST and THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ. Also many of the titles will be rolling out to foreign territories.
This week I also plan to release the WILD MICHIGAN book. This was my original screenplay before budgetary adjustments. This will be launching in time for Christmas. It will make a good holiday gift.
And if you like Christmas stories that are unconventional
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KNIGHT CHILLS is a PG-13 scary Christmas time tale which can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many fine retailers.
MBF (Man’s Best Friend)
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The bank account is open and we’ve started to fuel the ship up. We’re still in discussions with a few backers as we roll forward. I’ll be following up to get people’s paperwork this coming week. This great film is drawing some strong attention with its themes of military vets and dogs. We’ll be announcing more cast in the forthcoming weeks.
Several scripts submitted for collaboration/association are under consideration. For those that don’t know that means funded properties that are seeking production supervision and casting/crewing/distribution work. Also this week I had communications with a few major studio/networks over properties. I’m trying to put the pieces in play for the next handful of years. It was nice to catch up on a few calls this week with friend/associates. I know some of you out there are due a call and trust me I’m making my way down the list. I’m going to close this up as I still have some things to do today so that my start of the week will be solid.
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Those that like to follow my brewing/wine making – the Ida’s Wine (rhubarb and mulberry) came out REALLY good. One of my favorites. The Green Goblin 3.0 is about to get racked to secondary and I might immediately start a new batch. I have some produce to use up from the freezer because we have incoming venison. Venison and 4H pork is about the extent of our meat-eating. Some chicken and fish get peppered into the diet.
So, next week I hope you spend some time with friends and family and not just on the day. Try some free tea tree shampoo. Watch a few holiday friendly films and be thankful. I’ll chat you all up next week. As always, thank you for stopping by.
DJ
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Birthdays & Bullet Points – Updates!

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Hello my friends,

I’m just up and sipping on the hazelnut coffee attempting to put my words down on here for you all to read. This has been a BUSY week as usual. Let me see – today is my youngest dog Luke’s birthday. I had labs growing up and they are great family dogs. I’ve been around many types including wolf/hybrids which unless you are trained should NOT be brought in as a pet. We had two other dogs, the eldest a Rot-mix and she guards. We got Daphne, an Aussie Shepherd/Golden Ret. mix and she is a fun dog but not a protector unless we were attached by moles. So we decided to get a third, one that the other two could help train and that could protect. I had never had a pit/pit-mix but also don’t buy the breed label. All dogs need to be worked with and have strong leadership. Long/short is that we adopted our Luke. He was the color of coffee when we first met him and highly self-assured. Our eldest put him in line a few times and our sweet Daphne thought her favorite stuffed animal dog had come to life. She was a great teacher (still is) and so we ended up with our buddy Luke. (After Star Wars) He grew to be a gentle giant and has brought us much joy and happiness. I watched him lick and give kisses to my niece and nephew – he’s curious, kind and watchful. Do NOT believe all the hype against any breed. Just like us we can all be kind or violent pending our environment and circumstances. We love having him and today he turned five.

Also had both parents birthday’s this week and a slew of movie business work. Let’s look at some of that.

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  • “40 Nights” sales keep growing and everyday I’ve gotten wonderful messages from people who experiences the film. I’ve also been amazed at how many times people are watching the film and many are giving copies of the film as gifts. We are going to announce more platforms carrying the film and are working on foreign set ups.
  • “Chasing the Star”  – the second in THE QUEST TRILOGY finished a first edit on Friday and is now fine tuning the edit. VFX and music work will start very soon. Exciting!
  • The 3rd film in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” is in development with locations and such.
  • “Bestseller” is expanding and is a great summer film to watch up at that vacation house at night. Spooky:)
  • Development work on a few new projects is steadily getting done. Stay tuned!
  • We will start working on the next soundtrack release that will likely be “Ashes of Eden” but I want to include several with new releases.

I’ve been approached to look at a few projects/scripts for acting. I will see where that leads me. I’ve got a busy week ahead between meetings and we go to 4H this week. If you eat meat and want well cared for animals that also benefit young people the 4H is a great organization. I’m back on the soccer field today after a week off which was good. I had a knee that needed a little healing up. Is it 100% – no. But we will see what kind of battle I can fight today. It will also be a little bit hot.

Enjoy your day and be good to one another.

DJ


Filmmaker Advice and Announcements

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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!

DJ

 

 


Advice, Ashes, Apples, Adventures and Ales

I’m sitting on the couch with the pack (dogs) and sipping the morning java. I have soccer on the TV as I send around the morning emails locking down some casting on our upcoming thriller “Bestseller”. Advice for young filmmakers and for actors. First working a schedule around an actor on lower budget is a kiss of death. When working with limited funds you MUST work the schedule that is best for your production. Only a very experienced crew can make a few adjustments to schedule and it better be for a good reason. Talent that sells you in a certain territory is a good reason but you still have to be so careful. OK. Other end of the spectrum is talent. Now if you are trying to make a career in film and are not yet established giving hard limits on your schedule availability is a fast way to being replaced. I do understand that some people have BIG life events and those things should come first and so accept the consequences.  I’ve had aspiring actors miss out on roles because they couldn’t miss a day of class (film). That is funny because I know as someone who went to college (MSU) that class could be skipped for any number of reasons and seldom had any real redeeming reason save friends, beer, girls. Another actor may have a conflict with a play and again nothing against that but you have to know where your career path lies. So don’t expect a production to move all around your best schedule because what is best for you might not be best for a film. The film’s needs must come first.

I had a great chat this morning with an actor friend who has had quite the career and that is Mr. Terence Knox. Terry and I have done a couple of films together, “An Ordinary Killer,” “Ghost Town,” and “Deadly Renovations” and we may add another to that mix.  I know I’ve spoken about mentors before but they really are so important to have. I’ve been blessed to have many starting with my own father who was and still is my first mentor. As I get older I use more and more of his lessons. I had another great talk with Rance Howard this week who is another mentor and dear friend of mine. He is always the N. star of good movie business advice. I’m happy to give an advanced announcement that it looks like he and I will be working together again here soon. I’ve been asked to saddle up and star in another western. Rance will be playing my grandfather in the film and together we are supposed to go shoot some camera tests and promotional shots in New Mexico this December. I’m looking forward to a return to the genre and to working with old friends.

For those loving the season of fall like myself I did a promotional push on a “Triple Dose of Terror” highlighting “Locked in a Room,” “Deadly Renovations” and “Darkest Night”. I want to thank Robert Gwinn for the promotional artwork I truly appreciate it. I know that “Donors” is almost complete and I saw a great new cut of “The Terrorist” formerly “Benjamin”. I’m excited about both of these projects. Speaking of the horror films feel free to check out some of the older ones like “GPS,” “The 8th Plague,” or “Blood Ties”.  If you are braver still you can go back even further to our micro-budget “Knight Chills” and “From Venus”. Everyone starts somewhere and these were some of the building stones upon my path.

“Ashes of Eden” has been undergoing sound design and composing while Shane and I look at numerous drop songs for the soundtrack. The premiere has been put into hold until we know when the film will be finished. Everything is a negotiation and I will not show some “work in progress”. We all want to show the finished film at its BEST! The trailer is exciting folks and we might have some exciting news once we do get to a premiere.

A handful of years after filming in Costa Rica the TV show “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” has some real legs. The first three shows are done and being looked at by several interested distribution parties. I don’t want to jinx anything but I do think you will see this zany adventure on the small screen sometime in 2014.  Staying with the TV theme I’ve been getting my feet wet with development on another TV series. It is funny how lots of talk on development is leaning in that direction. I think with cable making better and better film properties and the continued rise of reality TV – CDI will continue to develop some TV properties.

Yesterday between some prepping and packing we made a stop at the local zoo which was a nice side trip. Today we are having the mom’s over and some family to enjoy some pork loin roast in the smoker with apple glaze and apple chips. Tomorrow a breakfast with my father and after that I’m ready to go tell this next story. What a great team of artists being brought together to participate in storytelling.  I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living and give thanks every day. It wasn’t always so and I know the struggles many of you have out there following dreams. You might as well keep chipping away at it until you reveal what was meant to be within.

Let me see – the people who have tried the new AUTUMN AMBER beer have really enjoyed it. Nice complex flavors and has a nice little kick to it. More of the wine has been shared and some great comments from people. I wanted to do another batch of hard cider but we will see. Maybe something upon my return in a few weeks. Some time was spent freezing some tomatoes and last night some wonderful venison steak fajitas. It will soon be time to perhaps restock the venison. Today we will be enjoying pork from our 4H purchase. Okay, I’m off to get some stuff done around the house and I hope you all have a great Saturday.

DJ