Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
I’m sipping on the coffee, still no personal sponsor but World Market has a great selection. Yesterday was the first actual snow for Michigan. The day prior it was tee-shirt weather and it’s now like 22 degrees and windy. The local SILVER BELLS parade got dumped on by pouring rain and blowing winds. I think the harsh weather is upon us but we Michiganders are prepared.
This week was full of meetings and exchanges that are setting the stage for the years ahead. We are looking at the slate of projects at CDI moving past “The Christ Slayer” the third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY.
I also have returned to my screenplay writing a bit each day. I find it relaxing and a nice escape from accounting and legalese. Unless on a paid schedule I usually write on whatever I feel at the moment. I think that the screenwriting will continue to develop as more people/companies are starting to take notice. I have scripts to finish but I also have had a few great ideas as of late for films I want to write. Winter in Michigan is great for writing as anyone who does it can tell you. I usually write late at night or early am upon waking. And people who ask me for advice on writing, the best answer is to write. Don’t worry about it being good, bad or ugly at first just get in the habit of putting it down on paper. Have you met the people who say, “It’s all up here” – pointing to their head. That doesn’t work good for keeping a team of people on the same page. I know many people who “wing it” without or with a partial script and 9 of 10 times you can fully tell. I’ve seen people beaming as they addressed a room full of people, bragging of making it up as they went. After watching the film, I would not brag. Worst yet is highlighting their own lack of understanding on what tilts the odds in your favor of finishing with a story that fits together like good craftsmanship. There is a reason strong screenwriters are sought after. And actors know the challenge of working with badly written dialog. Tis the season to write, so write:)
“Wild Faith” is in editing and we’ve been sharing several behind the scenes photos each week. Soon we will start releasing FIRST STILLS from the film showing you the final product. I think we captured something very exciting and the chances of a spin-off tv series is good. We’re about to shoot our one pick up day that flashes back to the Civil War. It will be a gritty, cold day and I think it will be perfect for our story. So many people have been involved in this film and it makes me happy to see a community come together over such a beautiful story.
We’ll soon be announcing the next phase of the deal. This month our investors are seeing their first returns. Once negotiations are concluded and the ink is dry I will happily announce what’s next for this film. I’m excited because as our first film in THE QUEST TRILOGY prepares to shift into second gear the second film…
Chasing the Star – is moving towards the finish line. The excited talks this week with our director (Bret Miller) and composer (Dennis Therrian) made me smile. Friday Bret and I shared conversation about what this film could bring the world audiences. I think that after watching this amazing journey on-screen people will have a new idea of the three wise men. If you’re jumping up, raising your hand saying, “I’ve had that shot” – prepare to have new light shed upon these three characters. Get ready to meet the wise men soon – more than just three statues in a nativity scene.
The Christ Slayer – we’ve been starting to look at locations and targeting casting of certain roles. The plan is to shoot again in AZ come Spring. It’s a beautiful story that will book end our trilogy nicely. The business for this film is gearing up now.
2017 lies ahead and that will mean good things for several of our properties. The end-of-the- year work has begun and all good so far. It is that BIZ part of SHOWBIZ that we’ve talked on often. Well, I’m going to get on with my day. I again appreciate all of you who stopped by to share a few moments reading of our endeavors.
The first sips of coffee are soothing on this November chilly morning. Yes, we’ve left the ghosts and goblins behind to end the harvest and prepare of the coming snow. Yes, I said it. It was a good year for the yard with many of the trees either showing good growth spurts or the trimming of some of the more problem trees. The garden had a wonderful year and I recently gathered a final crop of green beans and hops. I might use the latter in my next beer batch. Our youngest furry child has had a bout of illness lasting a good part of the year but he seems to be strongly on the recovery. It is good to see him active, talking, running and getting back to his old self. I’ve spent the last couple weeks getting settled back into home from a month off filming “Wild Faith” in Hastings, Michigan.
Wild Faith updates
The film was an amazing experience for all of us involved and I know the final product will be a worthy credit on people’s resume and in their memories. The time has been spent getting all our accounting updated and prepping for end-of-the-year business work. I also wanted to get everything updated so I could go into our one pick up day with confidence. We’re bringing a small crew back to shoot a day of flashback scenes that take place during the Civil War. The two actors in the scenes include Shane Hagedorn, our Emmett and a powerful Detroit-based actor we will be announcing this week. I’m excited about shooting these key scenes to our story.
You can see some of the fine cast and crew here on IMDB
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – This powerful film was reviewed with marketing in mind by the new corporation taking this film to the next level in 2017. The response was –
“-watched the full movie and loved it … PERFECT for our retail partners and target consumers.”
We’re reviewing paperwork and this week we’ll be putting this deal in motion. The deal is with Collective Development Inc. and will impact the trilogy, “Wild Faith” and several other films in the CDI library. We’ll be getting involved in co-productions following the last film on our current slate, “The Christ Slayer” (part 3 of The Quest Trilogy). I’ve enjoyed a beard and hair trim before prepping to return to a role I played in “40 Nights” – wonder what that might be?
This week consisted of lots of business. I have a series of envelopes ready to go to the post office Monday morning. That means after today back to meetings that kick off on Monday and continue through the week. It was nice having these past few days spent relaxing and watching the golden-red leaves rain down around us. I truly do love this season.
I did actually get a few quiet moments one night to work on some script writing. I’ve pulled out a few of the scripts I was working on before the “Wild Faith” shoot. That is always relaxing to get lost in a world and just create. I do love getting lost in the writing. I’m going to end this and move onto a few other things I need to get done. As always I appreciate all of you who take the time to join us and get a few updates and insights into the life and career of an artist.
Be good to one another!
I’m sitting in my big leather chair by my electric fire – The Candleberry Candle and sipping the hazelnut coffee. I’ve got sleeping dogs around me happy to have me back into the fold of the pack.
Shane Hagedorn rolling with the Collective Development OG’s:)
I’ve just returned from running with another pack of artists filmmakers creating an 1800’s action drama. I can honestly say it was some of the best fun I’ve had in many years. It reunited me with many friends and artists some that worked together last in this genre a decade ago.
Production Designer Jen Raine & Art Director Austin Two Feathers
It introduced me to a slew of new artists who I think appreciate the Collective Development Inc. approach and take to filmmaking. We use to do this as children for free – the make-believe. And now to pay people to create that same fun but with bigger toys and doing it day after day until we get our puzzle pieces. I got to observe seasoned film warriors work side by side with what will be the next generation of film warriors. I saw people realize that within a powerful problem solving group strong art can be born. I saw people forget past dealings with others and give us a chance to be a positive experience. I’m developing key crews and key to me starts with a 100% positive attitude. You can make several mistakes giving your best effort and from me you will get mentoring and compassion. That positive attitude is hard for many to keep in this industry – you don’t have to dig far to hear the horror stories. I’m a person who dislikes having my time wasted, who does? I’ve got several ways I can waste my own time and still enjoy it – I don’t need waste imposed upon me. I do shun people who purposely waste my time with unreasonable. Do I have any examples to help illustrate? Perhaps…
A mix of acting talent on set #wildfaith
One acting role in our recent film underwent several discussions before falling to a very talented, 200% positive (through the roof) ready for success gent. The first major look came by association – one of our producers had worked with this person. A read that was strong and a direction was set – but full disclosure of a change in residence lost this person the role.
Another option – a young hopeful gives a good read but ultimately has no vehicle. I’m not judging, but as an actor I can say that a phone and car are the two things you need to thrive in our smaller regional market.
Opportunity knocks again – As a talent when you get a call from a company that based on your previous work wants to hire you again – slam dunk? Not quite – instead of an easy transaction of business someone suggests a string of silly actions – not anything a production in pre-production can or will handle. It also speaks poorly of this persons maturity, character and true dedication to do what you need to do until your craft is accepted.
This casting string really created a well needed lightness to the pre-production talks. CDI is ran primarily by actor/producers and individually we’ve all had and some continue to have the struggles that come with acting. To see three actors shoot themselves in the foot was offset by the enthusiasm of the one who got to call BINGO!
Be prepared actors. (Take 2) Be prepared actors. Not just in your craft but in your professionalism. Not fixing that car because it is a pain in the butt. Not getting a job with flexibility of schedule. Don’t help yourself fail in an industry that is already difficult. By taking care of your business you can be ready for when opportunity knocks. Organized. Prepared. Ready to succeed.
We had a key position whereas because of a change in our shoot locations we had to make a change. One person visiting Michigan on another endeavor got a call and within two hours was onboard. They started the next day. Opportunity knocked and it will likely result in another hiring in the spring.
I’ve seen people I’ve hired before return with new battle hardness that made me smile. I saw the few situations we had handled with calm professionalism. Now some may have experienced their first feature run and decide short format is more their pace. Feature shooting is harder, longer and requires a different mental and physical endurance. With our larger budgets we often had additional on location pre production and additional shoot weeks. So to all my crew that traveled with us – I’m tipping my hat. To the ones there all the way through – be proud that is a true benchmark.
One additional planned day of battle footage and a few powerful moments with our films lead Shane Hagedorn. It was a really cool experience to see Shane ride this story out. He made it his and brought such a cool edge to the role. Our Lisa Smith who plays opposite him was such a find. Many of the actresses had a great take on the lead role. This actresses brought it out in Shane, it showed. The children, the outlaws, townsfolk, circus folks all cast with care and it shows.
My humblest respect to my fellow producing team – 1st AD Nate Robertson who TCB (Takes care of Business) on set and the staff who handles everything behind the scenes from accounting to PR and everything in between, we are ONE TRIBE. Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon) what an honor to story tell with you both again.
Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon)
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“Wild Faith” coming 2017
I had a chance to see the first rough trailer for “Chasing the Star” and it exceeded my expectations greatly. I think because we’re dealing with a topic that people have such a limited insight to – how do we present that? And I think it was done in a beautiful fashion. Music is complete and dialog clean up is underway with sound design. VFX work is also underway. Bret Miller and CDI have a great follow-up with part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Which brings me to part 3 – This week I will be starting to put the business together on “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in the spring. More intense talks on this film in the coming weeks.
“40 Nights” is flowing in the positive direction and this week we’ll be discussing marketing efforts with Lightworx about “40 Nights” and the trilogy moving forward.
I’m going to go finish unpacking my vehicle that was packed up “Beverly Hillbilly’s” style – just needed a rocking chair on top:) Have a great fall morning and keep moving forward. Dare to dream. Create don’t hate.
What a week with the friday morning/afternoon being a touch chaotic. The communication flow between people is one of the utmost important aspects of filmmaking. Let’s jump into some of this since I have running around this morning and I’m attending a wedding this afternoon.
BESTSELLER is a picture lock providing our director is happy with her small insert today but I think we’re onto the next phase. The materials are being moved about to their new destination and I’m excited for the scoring of the music to begin. We will be announcing that formerly this coming week but you heard it here first.
ASHES OF EDEN also has PR waiting to come out. We’ve been waiting for the theatrical link to go up at Emagine Entertainment so we can start heavy promoting our Sept 19th start dates. So if you are from the East side of the state of Michigan and want to see what all the hype is about – your chance is coming. Canton and Novi is where we will start the release and we’re also working towards setting up a showing in the Owosso, MI area. We had an amazing run with AN ORDINARY KILLER there and think people there would love the new film.
And speaking of AN ORDINARY KILLER it may be one of the films returning to theaters from the CDI library. I see GHOST TOWN also making a run in the coming months. If you have not seen either of these films on the big screen you are missing something.
AOE (ASHES OF EDEN) is also close to closing its 1st TV deal and we are in final stages of negotiations on the DVD, VOD National deal for 1st quarter 2015.
I have a new VOD multi national deal interested in several of the CDI library. We will do a test run with a few titles and see how that goes.
Thoughts from the week –
I still stand by the fact that many of the youth today don’t know how many more opportunities in our business exist now compared to a decade ago or so. I see more kids who have classroom experience but their real world experience is still playing catch up. Example – doing shorts, commercials, music videos and such do NOT fully prepare you for 3-5 weeks of feature filming shooting. It’s a self battle with endurance, focus and teamwork. I had to have a firm conversation or two this week with people over little issues. I think there can be a lack of appreciation of what it truly takes to produce a film properly. The UNSEXY parts of the business – the paperwork, accounting and on-going work opening up new opportunities to release. But this is what I do for a living and I love it. I’m extremely serious about my film work and the art we create because at one time even the idea of doing motion picture work was seen as a joke. Now our films get done with quality all while trying to create the best crew experience you can within a closed environment like a film set. I try to be fair and work with people and their issues or explain why I cannot. But if people start becoming too much of an issue – they just need to go work elsewhere. I know many people who found new respect for what we do once they had to go work on a less than organized film set. I’m not talking short films – where some say “I did this short and it ran perfect.” GREAT, it was 3 days! Come talk to me when you’re deep into week three and see how the ship is doing. Feature filmmaking is a long distant run not a sprint. Also being a pain in the you know what is an easy way not to get invited to sail next time around. I use to feel for the few bad apples but I try not to now. Some people do something silly and they just need to learn the hard way. When you have a lot of people doing the right thing you can’t waste too much time on that one person or so hurting themselves. It is often best to cut them loose and let them learn elsewhere. Knowing your craft is NOT enough. You having the right attitude is what is valuable.
SUCCESS CAN BREED RESENTMENT
This week I also had conversations with people who are not quite feeling the love in their new-found success from some around them. I explained that if you have not transitioned to FULL TIME filmmaking/acting and are working a day job – many may secretly resent you. Why? Because they wonder why you can’t just be happy being as they are. Why do you feel like you need to do something greater? How dare you think you are better than me? To others you can often be that “in your face” reminder of the dream that he/she let go. Did they really want to go to coach sports? Did they always dream of owning a coffee shop? It’s harder to strive for true happiness. Some people can truly be happy playing their part in a job while others see it as a stepping stone to their dreams. If you can be happy in a 9-5 job that is a blessing. For some, they feel compelled to create. It doesn’t make creators any better it’s just what they feel a need to do. Often it creates self suffering for the artist in the journey but can lead to great satisfaction. You just can’t expect everyone to support your journey. When I see people throwing negativity I feel bad for them because it they put that same energy into their own dreams they would be much better people. It would help them be better people for sure. Instead they are the negative ones always casting stones. Keep smiling and keep moving forward.
It was just one of those weeks but it ended with true progress and some very promising news. There may be times where you walk against the blowing wind trying to slow you down. I say don’t pee against the wind and just keep walking steady. That’s what the week felt like but now things seem quite at peace.
Enjoy the struggle. If it was easy everyone would do it.