I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and want wish a Happy Holidays to all of you. Welcome new readers and subscribers from UK, Trinidad, Tobago, Philippines, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and Africa, France and Ukraine. I left my cup to you all and give you my best wishes for a productive 2021. I’m wearing a nice new pair of warm pajamas and I feel blessed to have been gifted an assortment of love gifts. I also got some new technology that will assist with my 2021 business. I have a new JBL Charge speaker meant for speaker calls. I also have new apple I-bud things which I hope fare better than my past Bluetooths. A few new clothing items and an assortment for fun items. I enjoyed gifting and spreading some happiness to folks. I still have a handful of people to catch up with but I will all in good time. I love all the holiday wishes and I hope everyone had a safe Christmas. We went like Santa and did short drop off and visits. We did the zoom opening of gifts and while different and not the preferred celebration, we had fun. In person would have been better but until our elders in our family get the vaccine it was a smart call. We want them all around for the holidays 2021.
This is the time of year when I start to clean up and organize all my actor/filmmaker materials. It is also the time of year for LLC state file fees, end of year corp tax work and other non-sexy but required work. I for one am excited and pumped up for the new year. This is the time to create your goal lists for the incoming year and to see where you fell on your last years goals. I actually did quite well with my 2020 TO DO list and having all that extra time not meeting in person allowed me to get a LOT done. That said, I’m reading to be meeting at the ole fort again to plan new adventures. So use this time to wrap up 2020 and prepare for the year ahead. Write it down. Visualize it. Plan short goals on the way to greater goals. DON’T be afraid to fail because even failure will give you much needed experience.
SOME OF MY 2021 GOALS
- Do a 2021 select/fest run for LOST HEART and perhaps MBF who’s fest run got Covid squashed.
- BEST YEARS GONE is scheduled to be completed in June but we’re on schedule with about an hour edited. By the end of the year we hope to have a rough cut and locked cut by end of Jan. What I saw was amazing and I am beyond happy with what I’m seeing.
- This has to do with BEST YEARS GONE but I think we’re going to do a virtual Battle of the Bands that will end up seeing a song go on the soundtrack with a music video created by CDI. I have some interest from a few legit judges that will help in the process of deciding.
- CDI Merchandise Division will launch in earnest in 2021 pushing out with new BEST YEARS GONE swag. Try this one: https://www.ebay.com/itm/DVD-DOUBLE-FEATURE-Figure-in-the-Forest-2002-Heavens-Neighbors-2005-movie-/363016656566
- I plan to get WILD FAITH‘s TV series HASTINGS launched. Ideal filming would be 1st half of 2021 but if our timing is off we’ll swing it around to Spring 2022.
- We also plan to film SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA back half of 2021. Casting for our German-speaking actors is underway. We will announce heavily once we assign the last few units. I’m working on the writer/director script with Tony Hornus (MBF).
- Smoke & Mirrors short will be finished and we’ll take it on festival circuit for fun. But I’ve started my new work on Code Name: ASH the feature film version from which the short was taken. I’ve loved all the research for the new feature script.
- We are preparing to do the final filming on FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH documentary film. I’ll be putting the paperwork together for our next phase.
- I’m excited that we’re streamlining and updating our dispersement process at CDI. That’s a good thing because we’re getting larger and I still write every check by hand. This might not always be the case and I might invest in a few stampers but I still love it. On BEST YEARS GONE, I again had the pleasure of giving an actor their first paycheck ever. It’s a big thing to actors, a milestone and I remember it well. To get paid for your art gives hope. Hope that a path could be what was meant for you. The “shells and beads” is just a way of expressing appreciation for ones work and contribution.
- Writing- During the lock down I wrote the first season of Hastings allowing us to start development work such as assign directors, casting and some scouting. A few of my goals with writing in 2021 is to finish CODE NAME: ASH and my first real Sci Fi endeavor SEAWITCH is what I’m calling it as a working title. I know that development work for 2022 will also be underway. Development works at several levels and can take a few years to many years pending fate and filmmaking.
I’m staying with my existing battle plan. BEST EFFORTS. I would love to participate in a few outside projects should I connect with the material and schedule works. Let’s talk about that POSTING CASTINGS. I see postings from people just asking for actors within an age but they say nothing about the character, the story or the creative team. And you get desperate actors excited sight-unseen to a project listing. Now to be fair in a few cases the previous work is known which can be a positive and a negative pending quality. I understand the keeping a story somewhat private but you have to give the talent something. I would rather work on development or earning from the existing library versus participating in bad work. To get the best actors you need to get the talent exciting. If you think you have the next best thing have talent sign NDA (Non Disclosure agreement) and let them read the script. I would not participate in too many projects if they withheld the script save maybe a major studio film and even then…come on. So one of my helpful hints to get better talent is take some time in the description of the story. List the director and DP and if you like a talent let them read the script. It’s a two way interview and while it might be a great step for a talent, the production NEEDS to find that great talent to succeed with any quality.
Okay. I’ve talked a bit about my goals for producing with CDI, also myself as a writer and actor going into 2021. I hope we have a soccer season this year. I am stepping up and expanding some of the martial arts training preparing for X project or if I just need to unleash any Kung Fu fury. I might wrap things up here to go eat a little breakfast and go chop some wood. The house is in good shape with no real company but we still managed to create a small holiday mess. But as the new little gifts find their new place I’m grateful for what we have. I’ve got an abundance of the homemade beer and wine. Some great sipping gifts and as things lighten up I’m looking forward to clinking a few glasses and making plans.
Enjoy your new year safely. Cheers to a healthy mind, body and spirit. Think positive and kindness expelling any negative toxins and the spirit will soar. Replace repetitive news with music. Replace hate with create – and lead by example versus condensing communications. Actions are louder than words. All to often when some speak they “feel” empowered but their other actions dismiss their credibility labeling them a hypocrite. But actions are what actions are – a truth. If you give vs talk of giving that is powerful. Practice “green earth” vs just talking about climate change. Practice respectful communication in the spirit of unity.
Unity was the theme of last weeks blog. I had such a great response to my blog last week that I want to incorporate it into an upcoming press release. At CDI the spark of storytelling is a constant and will survive all circumstance until mankind is no more. It is greater than our daily priorities that others try to use and put us in a box of A or B when I am a Z:) It comes down to doing the right thing even if it puts a little loss on the sheets. From A CHRISTMAS CAROL and the heart-opening message of the business minded to CHRISTMAS VACATION whereas the employee bonus check doesn’t arrive. I think we can all look at where we can take less so we can enjoy the benefits that come with the spirit of giving to others. YOU CANNOT take it with you. Another lesson this year was – YOU ALWAYS THINK YOU HAVE MORE TIME (Thank you Steven Anschutz) so follow your passions be it as a hobby, part-time or full-time. Gift yourself that time dancing with your own fires of passion. Write, Read, Watch, Sing, Play, Create…do what you need to do. But spend that time to stoke the fire and it will make you a better person. You will share that feel-good fire with others and they will also pass it along. When faced with two-sided news always give the positive first. It puts someone in a more positive, receptive state-of-mind and allows them to better receive any off news. That “off” now becomes something to work on as we all must continue to do. So MUCH growth has happened in 2020 and while it was a challenge many old models were broken. New ideas, thoughts, processes and appreciations were born in 2020. Let’s put everything we learned into practice in 2021! I will see everyone next year.
Happy New Year!
Photo by Graham Turner
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee. I have lots on my mind. Artist or those who follow the dream of being an artist as a career start young. Many fail because the endeavor is hard. Not that many other things aren’t difficult but many just don’t fully “get” the artist mindset. As a young person it can be you against the world with little to lose and everything to gain. That is why many make their run at it by often moving away or by making personal sacrifice in hopes of gaining a foothold.
As you get older that dream may still persist but also life may lead you in other directions. People fall in love, become parents and sometimes they cannot keep up the battle financially. The significant others brought into this circle often battle to understand and be supportive. I’ve said before, when I get an opportunity to do what I love it creates a hardship of sorts for my significant other. Domestic tasks usually handled by two now fall upon the shoulders of one. But living with a frustrated artist can also be a detrimental state.
That is why you always see so many ‘special thanks’ in the end credits of a film. The “others” help a film get made usually by holding down the fort. Everyone has an artistic side to their nature but it’s those of us who are truly driven by it like a compulsion, an addiction to create who take a special someone. Many artists live in isolation of being truly understood. But there exists those who recognize and respect and love these traits in an artist and support them despite the hardships. These people are special and deserve to be recognized.
One of our close producer/actors at CDI just lost their special other. An intelligent and practical man whose art manifested through his cooking. Some cook and some make it an art and this gentlemen made it art. He actually did some craft service duties for us last fall on an upcoming short film. The director loved how positive and helpful he was and I think he finally was really getting it. It can be hard for the significant others to not be in that bubble. To see but not share in that enthusiasm that radiates from artists doing what their heart calls them to do. But on this occasion he was part of it. He felt it. The TRIBE. He enjoyed the experience so much that further talks followed whereas this might become more of a norm but alas it was not meant to be.
Saturday night just before the big lightning and thunder storm he went home, a tragic victim of an aggressive cancer. His last words were “you always think you have more time.” How profound and true these words are and they should be a wake up call to some and a reinforcement to others. These words inspired and haunted me but ultimately encouraged me to cherish the time we have here. To appreciate the people we share our time and lives with. So quit that miserable job and run that charter fishing business if that is what you always wanted to do. Don’t put off writing that book that has been in your head since college. Embrace the now and know time is fleeting. I think I have always tried to follow my passions and use my time wisely. Because one day our own sands of time will trickle down the hourglass and the journey will be done.
Let’s talk my favorite passion – storytelling and my favorite medium film.
BEST YEARS GONE – This story has been in heavy development with casting, costuming and consulting. We are looking at going old school by breaking the shoot up into a few shorter blocks grouping together scenes that require less and more. This is more like filming in the earliest days but will allow us to better control the size of the crew on certain days and damage control should we have any virus issues. I’ve just about got a handle on my character and others have been doing the same. It is now almost time to start getting those puzzle pieces/scenes. I think audiences will love this film again a powerful mixture of serious issues wrapped in humor. Life can be tragic but it can also be funny and sometimes both. This film captures that and we will once again be proud to bring that to audiences worldwide.
WILD FAITH – Worldwide this film has been expanding and is being viewed by millions of people. I think this is a great film again serious and humorous and is proving to be enlightening. I’ve read just some amazing fan mail about this movie. I’m so proud to say that all this attention and appreciation is building our audience to the TV series. We will be working hard over the winter to put the pieces in play. A spring 2021 shoot schedule would be ideal and I think it might all fall together. While it might not be everyones cup of tea (as if anything is) it is loved by many. Thank you to all the fans worldwide.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – I had several people reach out having finally got around to seeing this film. I’m guessing maybe it had something to do with National Dog day. This film is a bit more intense than some of the other CDI fare that has a good dose of humor but the subject matter required it. If you love animals and want to see a powerful drama please do take a watch.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’re prepping this trilogy for the holiday window fast approaching but you can watch at anytime. Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS, Part 2 CHASING THE STAR and Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER – enjoy!
LOST HEART – Our distributor has approved the EPK kit and so PR will start rolling soon. We have several of our stars doing national spots and the planning for our cast and crew screening is full on. Our goal is to have millions tune in for a one-night only event via ENCOURAGE TV. This will be an event with pre-show interviews and well wishes. Following that event the film will move to an exclusive window with one of the many interested networks and finally home video streaming and DVD. I was speaking with Josh “The Ponceman” Perry who is one of our stars yesterday. He absolutely owns the screen but I could say that about so many of the cast. I’m excited to show our artists and after that – the world!
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – Our in association documentary film about the origins of wrestling is underway. If you have an interest in wrestling and want to see how you could get involved feel free to reach out. We are gathering interviews and will make a great entertaining and informative film.
WRAP UP – The film work keeps moving forward. This weekend has been busy as we know have a coop with our “golden girls” getting adjusted. We fired up the new stand up freezer and stocked it with the pig and transferred over the venison. I also bottled the dark “Autumn Ale” and will likely rack the wine in the next week or so. The garden is growing with the fall veggies and even the hops are getting close. So I’ve felt a bit like a farmer as of late but I find it all very relaxing. I will leave us again with that powerful truth that we always think we have more time. So if you have things you want/need to do don’t keep pushing it off. DO IT.
Be good to one another and I’ll see you all in September:)
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee as a gentle rain falls outside. The morning started with bacon and eggs and that can’t be bad. I’ve had a very rewarding week and have been basking in a glow for much of it. Lots of good business unfolded this week but the highlight was a producers watch on the film at the media center on the big screen. It was epic and Michigan looked just incredible. It was the first time all us producers had been together in a good long while. And it was a watch full of laughter, tears and joy.
We’ve had a few ‘outsiders’ to the production circle watch the film and I really believe this film has something for everyone. We will use the next few weeks to set up as many theatrical, drive-in and other such event screenings as possible. I feel as we’re evaluated by several TV networks that someone will take an exclusive window before the streaming and DVD home video rolls out. UpTV, Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC – battle of the network stars. Just joking although we use to love watching that TV special.
If you want it to play in your area you need to reach out to the venue and get the name/contact info for mgt. We will be doing a few premieres and I really want it to play LA deeper into the year. Not sure with the state of things it will happen but we will see. I know we will be playing in the area we filmed in White Hall/New Era and would love to play Muskegeon too. So LOST HEART is about to be on the move and whether you see it on the big screen or your personal big screen we hope to bring you a few smiles.
Onto other film news…
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) will be getting a powerful new trailer showcasing all three of the films. The idea is to really start to promote the three together. When seen out of order or not seeing all three does effect the overall understanding of the story. As the window for these films (Thanksgiving to Easter) starts I’m excited. I love all the fan mail from around the world these movies have brought. These biblical adventures are a good watch at any time.
WILD FAITH – So exciting developments continue – apparently the film was nominated in 2019 for several categories at some Red Letter Awards. Nominated for BEST ACTOR (Shane Hagedorn), BEST ACTRESS (Lauren LaStrada), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Darby Hinton), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Christine Marie), BEST SCREENPLAY – (That DJ Perry guy), BEST DIRECTOR and EDITOR (Jesse Low) and BEST PICTURE. Their announcement went unseen and so…just more people feeling the power of this story.
HASTINGS the TV series is under active development and I have a series of talks and proposals that need to go out. As I told our team with the TV series it is WHEN not IF. Stay tuned and some of your favorite characters may be coming back to tell their on-going story.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – So for the first time since all this virus lock down I went for my dental clean. The receptionist is married to the dentist and they have seen all the films for several years now including his daughter. I got my temp taken and they gushed on how much they LOVED MBF and that it was their new favorite. She admitted that tears were shed watching the movie. I have to say this little exchange made my day because it reminded me that daily our stories are having an impact on people. The receptionist was former military and said usually she is yelling at the screen because of the things they do wrong in military films. She exclaimed that we really did our research because it was spot on. Again I’m so happy the military community respects the performance and the film.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – MBF director Anthony Hornus will be directing this WW2 era drama. We’re still in the development phase but things are coming together nicely. We are still looking for German and/or German speaking actors. Also we will be doing a national casting for the young boy lead in the film this fall.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – This is shaping up to be a great little show piece for the forthcoming development of the feature. Directed and edited by Nathaniel Nose (The Christ Slayer) this 12-15 min piece is another great CDI period piece. Early 1900’s – great location, car, clothes and a cast of quirky characters. I have some post discussions this week. David Gries is the lead in this short and again shows the amazing and talented folks we have the honor of working with. The poster art is also being worked on and we’ll release that once completed. A new CDI page will be coming to http://www.cdiproductions.com (Subscribe to the Tribe)
Victoria Jackson returning to the Tribe in ‘Best Years Gone’
BEST YEARS GONE – Were going to be meeting to identify the VFX shots and such that can be filmed before the main circus. We are still targeting end of Oct pre-prod and Nov shoot. Lots of talks with sponsors and such about this film that will be a great addition to the TribeCDI films. We have more cast and crew to announce and we’ll be doing that starting this week where we’ll meet the ladies from Gal’s & Ghouls:)
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – CDI is helping produce a documentary film about the history of catch-can wrestling. We’ve got a lot of great people appearing in the doc to discuss their passion for this old fighting art finding a new golden age. More meetings before cameras start rolling. With my love of martial arts this is a pure joy project for me.
I could go on about other projects either getting new releases or new development but I think you have a good picture of the situation. CDI is on the move and will just keep doing what we do. Music, Animation and many other exciting things will be happening at CDI in the near future. We keep adding to the tribe and the projects keep growing in number and scope. I saw a few posts this week about and from a MI company having all kinds of issues with one of their “producers” whose job should be to eliminate issues not create them. But once I saw who they were talking about it all made sense. Again just be careful who you create with. It should be a wonderful experience and not marked by drama and nonsense. As I watched all the LOST HEART cast and crew names scroll down the big screen I was deeply moved. From organizing after-school video camera shoots to where I am now is just…amazing. I am so thankful to be on this journey and with such amazing artists. If you like the style of storytelling CDI has gotten known for you will not be disappointed in CDI’s new offering LOST HEART. We’ll see you soon:)
Stay safe and be good to one another! Have an amazing week. Stay on target. Focus. Direct your energy to what you can control, enhance, organize and don’t forget to laugh daily.
The hazelnut coffee is here beside me on another beautiful day in Michigan. Let me again start by thanking all the readers we have in our artists circle. Here are just a few from last week –
This past week I had some of my first in-person meetings over CDI merchandise which will be “COLLECTIVE COLLECTABLES” and over a new documentary film CDI is assisting in producing. Also this week I did some major yard upgrades which included power washing and staining the deck. I love to work out there on nice days and today we’re having the mothers over for a first cookout. The yard is all trimmed up and cut and I will be adding some privacy screening this coming week. Also we’ve entered my Bday month – the countdown to the 23rd. It will be a good month as many wonderful updates are unfolding. Let’s take a look.
LOST HEART – The music and sound design is almost done and we’ll be starting to mix. VFX and color correction should also be almost done. We’ve been slowed a touch by weeks of not being in the same room/studio. The film is just the right amount of funny comedy and inspirational drama. I think they want an early fall release which means we might do a theatrical or I hope…a drive in run! How fun would that be and it was a goal prior to all this virus stuff. Along with Roanoke’s music we’ll have some music contributions from a very famous musical family. More on that soon. Plus we might have a great uncredited cameo:) Just so much fun with this film.
BEST YEARS GONE – So much fun we are about to do it all again. We announced last week the addition of Victoria Jackson to the project making this the second time she has joined the CDI family. The film also has a layer of small town race car culture in it. Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been tweaking some dialog to reflect that. We once again have some really cool cars that will play into the film. I’ve started dealing with sponsors for the film and we’ll start announcing those also. We’re aiming to roll cameras in August and right now we are looking at clearing those dates. We’ll still be making some major forthcoming announcements on cast. This film will be a fun one for sure! Find our Facebook page and follow us along.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – The films are marching forward into new territories. South Korea looks to be next following Mexico, Brazil and Latin America. So audiences will continue to adventure with FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. These films can be enjoyed by anyone and are surely to create discussion and dialog.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This beautiful film was recognized with nominations by the International Christian Film Festival for screenplay, filmmaking, most inspirational and I was nominated for an actor award for playing Paul. I did not watch the online awards so not sure if we won anything or not but it was an honor to be recognized. I hope we can attend at least one festival this year but we will have to see what opens up. Again if you have not seen this film please do. It has some powerful themes in it and will surely move you.
WILD FAITH – In a time of much strife I’ve been pleased to get so much positive response to this film with racial harmony at the heart of it. I’ve gotten some great fan mail from people around the country who are drinking in this film and the truth it lies out. Nothing is forced but it effectively illustrates that knowing and understanding go hand in hand. We are working to bring this world to audiences as a TV show. Just working on the financial part which is always the hardest. Take a watch and let me know if you see a TV show in there.
This past week also included investor dispersement on certain films. Also putting a new batch of actor residuals in motion which most will see just in time for Christmas when the union sends them forward. We’re putting materials together on our 2021 WW2 drama and excited about that. I have a few new proposals to help produce other projects that will come with their own money. But even those need to be weighed out because they all take time.
I hope everyone out there stays safe as we re-open and start to interact once again. As you move out into the world do so with a new found appreciation of one another. Allow people to have different opinion and ideas. Try to communicate better and also learn to listen. A common middle ground is what most will need to find as the world moves forward. The attitude of all or nothing is not exactly reasonable as the world is not black and white but a great spectrum of colors that flows between. The GOLDEN RULE of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, would work well as a guiding principal.
Be good to one another.
Welcome new readers from Vietnam, Canada, Israel and the UK and USA. We’re so very happy to have you joining us. With the spring forward in time we awoke to sunshine which is nice. Yesterday the winter stuff left and the spring stuff came out in the house. Snowmen decorations were replaced with rabbits and Easter items. We also did a full clean on the house and I’ve been working with the basement. I’ve been doing some repairs and cleaning after we got rid of our basement stove which we used at holidays but now we have two ovens with the new stove. So that older one moved along to a couple in need. Now I’m looking at getting a stand up freezer to replace our deep freezer. Organization of the homestead is an on-going thing. I’ve already started some of the yard clean up and I’ve enjoyed getting outside. Let’s look back on the week-
MBF: Man’s Best Friend which released at the end of 2020 is building momentum after its first WIN at the Equus Film Festival in Kentucky. This week we’ll be announcing a few of the new festivals and those in Bedias Texas can watch the film TONIGHT! See the ad above and so we’re excited that so many will get to see the film tonight.
We’ll also be announcing our participation in –
This is a large and growing festival in our backyard of Lansing, Michigan. We’re proud to be showcasing at this festival. The last time was the 600+ sell out of ASHES OF EDEN a few years ago. More details soon. Additionally we are officially in the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) in Orlando, FL where once again we’re up more ‘Most Inspirational’ feature film which is my favorite. Why? Because it represents ALL the artists and we did what we setting out to do. Under the ‘People’s Choice’ I was nominated for ‘Best Script,’ ‘Lead Actor’ (Paul Landings) and ‘Best Filmmaker’ now that last one is my least favorite because they named me personally when we all know it is a team. So I take that last one for the entire producers team that works so hard. Either way we are so very appreciative and proud of the story.
This beautiful film released the 1st trailer last week. If you missed it here it is again. Watch and share to your friends, family and groups. Melissa Anschutz stars with Don Most and Victoria Jackson and a slew of amazing talent. Music and sound design is underway as is VFX and color correction. We’ll be announcing DVD poster art in the coming days and working on our release. Enjoy and share!
WILD FAITH continues to be a top viewed film on Tubi, Valorous TV and Amazon Prime. Please do enter our world of Michigan 1875 and meet our cast of characters in this powerful drama. We’re putting the proposed deal together now for the TV series more once the ink is dry. This TV series will be a great thing for the state of Michigan. It will allow an opportunity for us to work with many artists in our state. Please do take a watch and let me know your thoughts. I look forward to playing Ben Lily again.
THE QUEST TRILOGY start your journey with FORTY NIGHTS follow it with CHASING THE STAR and bring it home with THE CHRIST SLAYER. This Easter watch the trilogy with your family and start a new tradition. These films are not ‘preachy’ and just present an interesting, powerful perspective to these stories. We also stole a page from ‘Star Wars’ and present these films in a cinematic fashion similar to the original three SW films. I think the merge of styles worked really well and I’m proud of this endeavor. It is what has given confidence to the WILD FAITH tv series mentioned above.
Rance Howard appeared in all three of the films. He told me playing the Devil was a career highlight after a career of ‘good guys’ he got to play the ultimate ‘bad guy’ – yes you did my friend.
BEST YEARS GONE is our next CDI venture. We announced Shane Hagedorn as our director. If you want to see his previous feature take a watch on ASHES OF EDEN on Amazon. We’re starting to roll out our cast members as we’ll enter official pre-production this coming week. We’ve been looking at DP reels from across the country and having talks. If you have a DP reel and want to be considered for the May shoot you can send it to me or to our director Shane.
We announced the first addition to the cast this past week. Some will recognize Jim from Man’s Best Friend as the Sheriff. I first co-starred with Jim in a monster creature feature IN THE WOODS, years ago. It was my first starring role. It will be a joy to once again share the screen with my old friend. Congrats to Jim! How about another cast announcement? I want to welcome another actor friend whom I’ve known almost as long as Jim. Mr. Greg Mason. Greg has been with Tribe CDI since our maiden film KNIGHT CHILLS those many years ago. Congrats to Mr. Greg Mason!
We’ll be announcing more amazing talent as we go. We’ll also be locking more crew end of this week also. It is going to be another great shoot and I look forward to working with everyone. Follow our FB and IMDB page for this and all the CDI films. We’ll also be starting to talk to sponsors and product placement partners.
I submitted and had accepted my new story for the upcoming book on dogs at Christmas. I have two stories in the book release on horses and this fall 9/15 I believe…the book on Cats is released. I have one story in that book about our dear Lulu:)
I’m also returning to work on a few other screenplays. Development, development, development…and maybe a few TV shows:)
I’m off to get some breakfast and do a few things around here. Tomorrow I’m back on the attack with all our projects. Thank you all for your support. We appreciate it so very much.
Good morning my friends from around the world, coffee cheers. I want to welcome our new readers and followers. This blog started as a way for me to discuss film updates so that at family and friend get-togethers, I didn’t have to sit around and re-tell stories. People could read something and ask questions if they really wanted to know something. I do feel extremely blessed to be able to do what I love, which is writing, producing and performing in motion picture. I also use this blog to help other artists remain inspired and to give insights into my journey, that you can apply to your own journey.
This past week has been extremely busy. Let’s look at a few of the exciting things from the week. OR, let’s start with the not so exciting:) BIZ tax season – I’ve worked hard this past week to get expense reports and such around on the films for our accountants. The 1099’s are being generated and K1’s will be put together for investors. I want to thank a “Unicorn” for all the help in pulling this together. I have a few more things to submit this week but a big chunk was accomplished.
BEST YEARS GONE, is the current name of the new CDI film. This past week I finished the first draft and now I’m on my deep polish. Again, I always stress this and so I will yet again. SCRIPT is the blue print for all the artists to work off of. As artists we can all easily go off on our own tangents. A script/blue print keeps everyone in step – art teams, locations, camera set ups, lighting schemes, just everything.
I cringe at the stories of no script on a project. I’ve had a few outside CDI projects/directors try to sell me on the fact we don’t need one. It was a polite pass from me. I believe in improve and being open to inspired added dialog but you need a story line to touch back to. I’m beyond excited by this next script which will be the #1 film up for CDI, likely shooting in May. We will be having meetings on this in the coming weeks. Location scouting and some prep work will begin in the coming weeks also. We’ll start to put all the paperwork together and get things moving in February towards production. Now, I want to draw attention to the DEVELOPMENT time that is spent by the producer team before we hit on-set pre-production. If people wonder how our CDI projects achieve these bumps in production value and process it is by the hard work of the producers. We have an incredible team that grows as we take in new apprentices that share the same mind set of art within business.
About the story – it’s a drama, off-beat love story that is more relatable than the RomComs. This is the blue-collar, everyman’s story, and much like other CDI films it has some great messages woven into the fabric of the story. Our CDI stories are general market stories for everyone. Now you can still tell a clean story that children may enjoy, within the show we can see consequences and actions in motion. This in turn teaches by illustration of actions and outcome. I try to write realistic scenero with people from all walks of life. I’m happy that the “faith-film” market has accepted us into their audience but our films play great to everyone. Maybe a majority of the faith-films are cautionary tales or reinforcement of some aspect of belief. On a whole, early faith films were not good quality and were likely merely a fun medium to explore with your youth group. I agree with this and better yet, an audience united in a positive belief system rallied to support these endeavors.
Now, I have heard the knocks against taking an award at a faith film but let me present something I’ve observed. Many young artists fought hard often, not always against restrictive parents who maybe did not get their love of these outside films that illustrated action, sex and violence. Yes. That sounds like the Bible too. But they left their small towns for mighty cities of high art. To do their film but it’s not that easy. Any aspiring filmmaker will tell you funds is the key. Now the faith-film market started a small boom like the 80’s horror market. All these filmmakers struggling in the pits of the mainstream started looking to re-tool old scripts or create new ones. So the production circles of these faith-films have seen a surge of the prodigal sons and daughters returning to their organized church beginnings. I’m not judging anything that pointing out that the faith market is growing stronger as many “come home” to tell a story.
My writing always had that old 70’s/80’s style of writing. Things like “The Waltons” influenced my writing. JAWS. THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG. E.T. and in the 90’s my writing was liked but called too old fashion. Now I’ve continued to evolve as a writer, I believe I’ve taken on a COEN BROTHERS humor vibe adding that to the other nostalgic influences. Either way, I feel blessed to be using my gifts. When I first saw cut one of LOST HEART, it left me teary-eyed hearing lines I’ve written performed so powerful. And set in a world that our artists worked many hours to create. It was beautiful.
LOST HEART – Let’s talk about this film since I already started. I watched the proposed lock cut yesterday. I saw 2-3 places to just check an edit but it was so good. I dislike when people over-hype stuff. Don’t call something fire when maybe it’s just coals or smoke. Hey, it’s a game of getting eyes but you want the eyes you do get to feel satisfied. We all know that feeling after watching a good movie. Now I will say that there exists people that can’t turn off their critical IQ brain and enjoy a story. They have limited imaginations because they don’t work that “muscle” yet they crave it. We all do, hence why we have an audience. We supply imaginative get-away for others doing other jobs. But after that rant, the film is really strong and if it gets the right eyes, it could be the break through film for many to that next level.
INSERT: I see many people think that one film is going to put them over and in a few cases it has. But to think of that as the plan is not wise, in my opinion. You don’t know which one will be your defining one. Now ask an actor defined by a role, one role. Maybe not what you want. It’s why Jeff Daniels has had conflict over DUMB & DUMBER. But I will say, with that movie, he accomplished with Jim, what every comedic actor wants. Home run and after home run – so many funny scenes that made people laugh and feel good. I get it. There are PROS and CONS to both. I don’t think I’ve ever had that one film that everyone knows but several pockets of people worldwide know me for this project or that project. One of my goals in the next ten years is to unify my fanbase. Not sure how that is done exactly save maybe getting one big hit. But I’m sincerely happy to stay the course. I think I’m creating some of the best work of my career. I know with writing I surely am. As an actor, I’m pretty fearless. As a producer I seek to be fair, keep people safe and make something we will all be proud of. I also always want someone to leave a CDI set a better person than when they arrived. I’ve only failed there on a few occasions. I believe in the no bad student, bad teachers. Some of these crew people learned how to set up this or that but need teachers in process, protocol and respect. I value those leaders greatly and so should you.
So LOST HEART will be traveling to the sound studio this week. Music and sound design will start in full. We also have some recording going on in Nashville for the film. I’m excited to have audiences enjoy this film at the end of the year. We deliver in June to our distributor and the film should roll out soon after. Follow us on Facebook or http://www.cdiproductions.com COMING SOON – Poster art and we’ll start working on the trailer.
WILD FAITH has been growing an audience especially since it started playing free for those with Amazon Prime. Also, we’ve had a good quarter with DVD sales, thank you Walmart. I hope we continue to expand into more retailers and platforms and to our foreign friends.
The most exciting news is that we are making a real go at launching ‘Hastings’ the “Wild Faith” TV series. We’re exploring a few possibly interested funding prospects. That would put an 1800’s TV series right here in Michigan. Tribe CDI could welcome weekly “guest stars” and I would look forward to working with more of our Michigan talent. What do I always say, GET THOSE REELS READY.
I’ve been doing that myself. My MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND reel is together and I hope it inspires more people to find and watch the feature film. Thank you to all those that have reached out. I will consider more action roles, nothing like starting that at almost 50:) Funny I feel like I’m maybe 25 and my maturity might run lower at times due to my Peter Pan syndrome:) 2020 will have more showings and events starting with one in Feb. in Bedias, Texas. Seek out the MBF facebook site and follow along. If you have not watched this movie, take a chance.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
EASTER will be upon us in no time so maybe you can do me a favor and take a watch on the three biblical adventures. Bible not your thing? Cool. Just watch it has a fantasy tale. The beauty is that everyone can and will get something different from the films. It is like what you bring in is what you get out. There is a lot of depth and a true attempt to entertain the possibility of divine ‘probe’ self-weakened and sent to experience the human condition of weakness. By LOGIC, can all-powerful be all knowing? Like a great riddle, what is the one thing that could elude all powerful? Weakness. This trilogy looks at small moments overlooked in the greater story. But I also think the three films capture the spirit of truth. I claim to be an expect of nothing. I don’t harshly judge any save those who judge others. Exploring the great mysteries of the universe is a wonderful thing. It should bring daily joy in the exploration. People organize together out of fear and this is true with religion also. The truth is that you can share your stories and beliefs with others but your relationship is always one on one, intimate, no intermediate organizations required. That said, fellowship and community can be good for some but isn’t best for all. Follow your heart. Be still and listen.
And enjoy a thoughtful watch of our trilogy. A FB page exists for THE QUEST TRILOGY and each of the films. FORTY NIGHTS. CHASING THE STAR. THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m just happy that Tribe CDI is part of the rich tradition of holiday films. I love that we’ve done these Chuck Heston inspired films vs Hallmark status quo. I talked to Chuck Heston, years ago (Thank you Myke Michaels) and I had always wanted to work with him. He unfortunately, had a hip replaced and moved more into voice over work in his later years. I hope he is smiling looking down upon our CDI work. Also Rance Howard, friend, mentor, co-star who passed before seeing the final part 3 of THE Christ Slayer. He loved the boat scene in TCS with the Devil and Jesus, sitting and talking. This has happened after he has returned and he has the Ferrari mentality. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, if you drive a BMW it’s a good car not a great car, so you go around racing everyone to prove how fast you are. Once you drive a Ferrari, you don’t race anymore. You know you’re a great car and you have nothing to prove. It is just one of those special scenes that will stay with me forever. Take a watch and tell me/us what you think. You can comment on here and I will give the approve:)
I’m sure I might have missed a few things but I have to get cleaned up. I am playing one of my favorite roles today. UNCLE:) We’re having a family get-together to eat and catch up. Enjoy the journey by working hard when required and making the time to relax and talk- face to face. We have several informal meetings that are different from pre-prod meetings. Ideas and thoughts are proposed and formed when we’re together, but the real work is when we’re apart. In your alone time, you must learn to be motivated. Do this and great things will happen. Do not, and frustration and everything that comes with that will follow. This last process can be applied in any endeavor. Your own business.
Have a productive week.
The snow is falling in the Michigan and it’s beautiful to watch. I’ve got the coffee going and my little side-kick Finn is sleeping beside me. It has been an exciting first month of 2020 thus far. I’ve been doing writing on what will most likely be the next CDI (www.cdiproductions.com) film. The title I’m working with is ‘BEST YEARS GONE‘ and I think represents a universal fear/worry that many have that their best years are gone. I just enjoy my personal journey as it unfolds. Maybe your best years are your ‘now’ years. The NOW years has you navigating with the most experienced YOU making the calls. The script is close to having a first draft and we’ll be moving forward once we have our ‘blueprint’ ready.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND it is playing on Amazon Prime and several new DVD outlets keep emerging. Here is a “Character Reel” of me playing Paul, my wounded Marine. It has mild spoilers but I’m putting these together for my actors trek in 2020. Take a watch here –
With my new management ahead I’ve been trying to update materials but honestly it is hard. EVERYONE has a different favorite scene. Too funny. Too serious. So I will keep working on those materials. I still need a character reel for ole Jesus in THE CHRIST SLAYER and Ben Lily in WILD FAITH. Here is my cut of the current 2020 sizzle reel. Let me know your thoughts.
Several of my non CDI acting will be targeted at guest starring on network TV and co-starring in some foreign films. I’m open to any work but I usually have a few things I look for in a production and maybe it will help you.
- SCRIPT is KING – you need a great story to start with. I almost always ask to sign a NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the script.
- CHARACTER – you want a role that speaks to you
- COMPENSATION – This is not a hobby it is a career
- CAST – who else is cast? Paying me but not others can be a bad sign because you want quality across the board.
- CREW – DIRECTOR/DP/Prod Designer – The creative team is so important to the final product
- COMPANY – Do they finish? Do they get product to market? Organized?
Now if you’re just starting out you might choose to participate in something missing these points because you have no other choice. The experience of being on set – good, bad or ugly might be enough. My thoughts are on all the striving, thriving filmmakers out there because I hope to possibly participate one day but be smart and save yourself.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I want to have a trailer cut together that presents the three movies FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER together as one.
WILD FAITH – Fans keep growing and we’re working to bring audiences back into the world of late 1800’s in Michigan. We have some exciting opportunities developing.
LOST HEART – We’re about to lock up the picture and start sound design and music. This film has elements of WALK THE LINE and also lighter more comedic moments. We deliver the film in June to BMG and it will roll out to audiences soon after. Poster/DVD art will be coming and as soon as we lock the film a trailer is up next.
Okay my friends. I’m ready to also do some additional screenwriting this morning so I’m going to bring this to a close. For those under the snow storm effect I hope you stay warm. I got motivated and cut up a bunch of wood for the office stove so I’ll have to stoke that up in a few hours.
Have a great Sunday!
OK. Pre-Star Wars I was SPEED RACER, MR. ROGERS and SCOOBY DOO.
I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from a ornate Star Wars mug with various scenes upon it. Like many in the storytelling business around my age some inspirational credit can go to George Lucas and the original Star Wars film in 1977. In anticipation for the last in the Skywalker story, yes we have tickets, we’ve been watching them all in story order. IF I was 7 years old and Part 1 of the Prequels was the first film I might have still liked the ships, lasers, etc…but ‘A NEW HOPE’ was just gritty and did not dumb things down for kids. We could take it George including Han firing first. When we went from the three prequels to SOLO, such a difference in the world and story telling. The prequels felt like video games with planned segments that really felt like watching your friend play a video game. But SOLO is like taking the best parts of James Bond and Mad Max put into a gritty ‘New Hope’ like world. ROGUE ONE again just better character development in a world that felt more grounded in reality.
I actually can speak into this having done a trilogy of films. It was important to try and keep the world cohesive despite the changes in style from director to director. Also because I have been looking at promo material personally and as a company, I’ve been playing The Quest Trilogy behind my accounting work. It’s very satisfying to have the linking storyline. It was always my goal to see if I could take some “obscure” stories from the Bible and tell them in a ‘Star Wars’ type fashion. The stories actually adapt over quite well and when you add what I call the “Chuck Heston – bible film effect”, you have our style.
I will say that it is a pretty sure bet that we’ll return to this genre again. One script is complete and the other two outlined stories are forming up. I’m not sure when all this may happen but we will see.
I also put my first SciFi script to pause while I finish writing the script for “Hope for Heaven” which is my working title. We are working with a few different titles but I need something when I write. It has many of the great qualities that ‘Lost Heart’ had by way of characters and story. I’m a good many pages into the story and how it starts can sometimes be the hardest. But it’s flowing and when I did do my first test read with one of our development people, it was strong. This film will shoot in late summer/early fall in Michigan. The nice part is via a few agent talks we might have a good lead on a very important casting aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing the writing this week.
LOST HEART rough cut by Scott Magie working with our director Jesse Low is looking good. I talked about the view last week. This week we’re prepping some things for the music and sound design to follow. I know that poster/DVD artwork is starting and that will be exciting to see. Again just proud to have this be part of the Tribe CDI films.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Following our premiere we saw a “best film” and “best actor” nods at the Hollywoodivine Film Festival and won ‘Best Film’ at the Equus Film & Art Festival. 2020 will have many more events and showings as the film moves out deeper into the world market. I’ve had several people reach out this week about how this film touched them. I’m so proud that it is becoming a voice for veterans and dogs. Two groups that truly understand loyalty and service. Watch it yourself on Amazon and other platforms and if you enjoy it add it to your DVD library.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Help us start a family holiday tradition with the telling of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. (All on Amazon and many platforms)
It has been a true joy to receive an abundance of fan mail on these films from around the world. I saw the breakdowns and the films are making their way to you. Some all our friends in other countries be patient, the CDI films are coming. Many of you already know that because you can watch the films on TV and DVD. If you have watched them feel free to vote and leave your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com and remember these are films.
WILD FAITH – This film also continues to be enjoyed and shared by new audiences. I had some fans from this movie also communicate this past week. They were Civil War era fans and so I had them seek WICKED SPRING. It was a Civil War film we produced back in 2000. It can be watched also on Amazon.
I’ve been taking meetings and looking at filming the balance of our production slate for the next 2 years. We have many scripts and it just depends on several factors as to which gets moved into active development or pre-production. We’ve had a few wonderful meetings and with the new management involvement in 2020 I’m excited to see where it leads. I’ve been working on a few ‘Character Reels’ and a new 2020 sizzle reel along with what will be a CDI showreel.
Next weekend our first family Christmas starts and so I have a bit more shopping to do and we’ve been enjoying the season. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday season with your family and friends.
My hot hazelnut coffee just got served up in my Oswald’s Bear Ranch mug from Newberry, Michigan. It tastes just divine and so the quiet Sunday begins. Yesterday we went up North for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner because family was in from overseas. Unfortunately my alumni MSU did not take it to the Wolverines yesterday.
I’m working hard to bring the fleet of CDI films tighter together and to move CDI into new waters. Merchandise is one of the things we will continue to work towards. I want to explore the release of Blu Ray via CDI for some of the films. Also looking at re-releasing some of the ‘old school’ CDI films. Many know that the 1st CDI film “Knight Chills” has had a sequel in development. Things are truly moving on that front just the order of business keeps changing slightly.
Other development projects moving include the book I’m reading and breaking down to become a script. I love being paid to read and write and that is how I’ve spent the last two weeks. This week should be the last week on my read and I’ll start to organize my notes. What has made this easier is that I really love the character development. I will put out an early hint on CASTING. We will be SEEKING – twin girls 18-25 with some serious acting chops. If you know of anyone that fits we want to see a REEL of their work.
The other project coming together to shoot in 2021 with some serious development in 2020 will be a WW2 project. We’ll be looking to start casting during the first of the year. What we’re looking for is German looking actors and speaking German can get you considered for a larger role. So if you have an acting REEL again we would love to see it. Also some video of you speaking German would also be helpful. We will be doing something formal soon but as in the past- come to my blog and you get the early news.
Both of these projects have had the intended distribution lined up. I’ll be having a meeting with BMG this coming week to discuss overall plans for tribe CDI. Reels links can be sent here to the WordPress.
MBF – I want to thank all of you out there for your support and taking the time to watch the film. I spoke to a few people yesterday one in the military, who was worried about the heaviness of the film. I think there is much light in the film but the darkness is real, not the fluff found in many films. As part of a wonderful festival MBF will screen in a great time slot – Friday, 6:45 at the Ovation Theater at the Kentucky Horse Park, 4089 Ironworks Parkway, Lexington, Ky., 40511
I know that co-star Greg Mason and a few of our producers will be attending. I will let you know if more cast and crew can attend. You just know this is going to be an A plus showing and we’re excited to do so.
We are working on setting up a few other charity showings with the next one possibly in Jan. in Grand Ledge, MI. I also know one is being set up in Naples, FL for the first of the year.
WILD FAITH – I’m excited to have some discussions on this movie with our distributor this week over a follow up film or the TV series. The film has enjoyed a good run so far and I think people would enjoy seeing these characters again. Yes?
I’ve had a lot of fan mail as of late because of all the film. I enjoy communicating with you all even though I get behind. One fine gent was watching many of our films including my past westerns. He was asking if I’ve ever played an ‘outlaw’ and I had to think. I’ve played bad guys in several films GPS The Movie comes to mind. Donors. Deadly Renovations, Locked in a Room and let’s not forget BESTSELLER.
I heard another fan asking about where BESTSELLER can be found. This was the response from author Chris Knight. Be warned many of these are rated R for the violence.
I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.
I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.
Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ
I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development. At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.
I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?
CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH
So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.
LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.
WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.
Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.
The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.
DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.
Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.
“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)
Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.
I’m sitting here sipping coffee and watching my squirrel buddy Gordy prepping for the high winds we are going to have. The last week was a combination of busy business and family business. I’ve been out of grandparents for a while but have enjoyed the company of my significant other’s grandparents. We lost one – a grandmother who was the center of the family. She had a long 89 years and her service was really nice. The family all came together and now they will have to re-adjust. We all have to keep doing that as we move forward. It once again made me see how special the work we do actually is. And the journey is also just as important as the destination. Let’s look at a few updates from the week.
LOST HEART – This is the film being pulled together to shoot in late April/May time frame. This past week we announced the addition of Mr. David Gries and Dean Teaster playing a major character at two different ages. We welcome them aboard.
Also this week we’ll be announcing the 1st casting call notice for this role. It will be posted on http://www.cdiproductions.com
We are looking for someone who resembles this picture. It is playing our main character at a younger age. It is a paid role and we’ll accept both union and non-union submissions. So you heard it here first. More casting calls will follow.
This week we’ll be announcing two new actresses joining LOST HEART. Both have worked with CDI on different films. We’ve also began some TOP SECRET model work:) We had one of our producers up North starting some initial talks. I, as the writer started by dialog and script note review with our director Jesse Low.
A learning note on this point – When I work with a director it is line by line, page by page because I want the director to REALLY understand the characters. Once they are fully understood we can change certain locations or interactions but they will respond in character. As a producer you want less page count. As a writer – the colorful descriptions might help cast and crew immerse themselves into the world. It is a balancing act whereas a director can strip it down to bar bones because they have shots and such in mind. But for landing quality talent it helps to paint the world. As I stated last week, I would not sign onto a film without reading the script. Maybe a Star Wars flick would be the first but the project I backed off from was not a Star Wars flick. When it has inexperience involved the need for a GREAT blueprint (script) becomes even more important. Also once I sign off the script to the director the writer goes on vacation. Even when actors ask me questions I try to redirect them to the director. Writers need to let go at a point. Many have issues doing just that and that causes problems on projects. So in development get all that solidified with your director. That is what we’ll continue to do next week. Here is Jesse Low working on WILD FAITH with DP Jesse Aragon.
Let’s MOVE to the WILD FAITH movie. This week was working with the distributor as they prepare for the theatrical release and the DVD/streaming to follow. This coming week we’ll announce and release the new poster art for WILD FAITH. I’ve been holding my breath waiting for the artwork. Once I saw it my first two impressions were – 1) Classically Beautiful 2) Lauren LaStrada is going to LOVE this cover:) There is my tease. Coming (back) to theaters this March! Remastered. Enhanced. Ready to Rock!
The month after on April 19th THE CHRIST SLAYER will roll out into theaters. I’m trying to make sure that Harkins gets it in AZ. That way all our Yuma, AZ family can watch it on the big screen for Easter. For those that want to watch now it can be seen on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema (and the list will keep growing) DVD will release March 4th so add it to your collection. People who have been sending ‘fan mail’ I greatly appreciate it. I love how into the story they are. You can watch these films as a stand alone but they also tell a story as a trilogy. The Devil and Angels story runs through all three. As more people realize the thread between all three films it will become more interesting to read people’s thoughts on the trilogy. I’ve seen the same few type ‘hate’ posts. Usually at Jesus. OK. If you don’t believe in Jesus, just enjoy the story. ROCKY and APOLLO CREED did not exist as real people but they still inspired determination, self-belief and the power of love for generations of viewers. If you live for Jesus, I hope you enjoy the film. It is not a documentary or a bio-pic but a story. The issue I see that stems from pockets of religious denominations is that they fight over details (the devil is in the details) and miss the entire meaning of the story. I read someone lamenting the darkness in Chasing the Star. Um…King Herod’s rule was dark. That is what I liked about The Passion of the Christ. The reality of crucification was played out and it was much darker than the pageants plays of the day. Someone commented negatively on the Magi, obviously not knowing the actual history. That is why that film felt important. Everyone knows the statues out front of the nativity scene but few really knew anything about them. Our take is not 100% as history often exists in fragments. Anyway, I’m very proud of the three films. Those that let themselves enjoy the story will take something away, their path matters not. So watch FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR and follow it up with THE CHRIST SLAYER.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’ve been reviewing the first cut and making suggestions. The film is very good. I’m out on a limb playing a wounded Marine. I feel that gravity because I represent the actual wounded. I can say that so many of my peers gave incredible performances. Maybe one of the best from Dean Teaster (played the Preacher in Wild Faith), Anschutz, Abell, Gries, Hagedorn, Most, Nations…I could go on. I think people will be happy with their involvement. I did get emotionally hit at the end of the film so I know it works. But we’re just working the story for pace. A few scenes to cut into later or cut out early. We’ll work toward a lock at month’s end with dialog clean up being the first task up for post audio/music.
Aside from this list of things to do – I’ve been writing out checks to investors and residuals to talent on some of our films. I’ve been prepping to do some VO work on a commercial project. I’ve got a few meetings in the next few weeks to discuss possible collaborations. So, I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Merchandise creation is under discussions. Sponsorship for the new film, the CDI website or even my blog. I’ve been trying to get that coffee sponsor. One big bag of coffee beans a month and I’ll put your company logo on here. And I’ll speak kind words about it weekly:) DING! Magnifico – only my Philippine DN cast/crew friends will understand that.
Pre-Order on Amazon now!
Have a great week ahead!
I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.
As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.
I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.
I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful. It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.
This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.
The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.
WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.
I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF. Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.
Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.
New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.
It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.
I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.
Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:) So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.
I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.
- The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
- Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
- MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
- Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
- LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com
Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!
The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.
Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.
Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker, or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own STRANGER THINGS life.
I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.
The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings. There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.
I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.
This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.
MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…
THE CHRIST SLAYER!
Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.
Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.
Have a great Sunday!
WOW! What a trip. I’ve been going out to LA since the 90’s when I was first invited by Wes Craven to come read for SCREAM 2. From those humble beginnings to standing on the stage before a mighty gathering of industry folk at the Burbank International Film Festival accepting a best film award with our tribe representing the mitten state.
I’m speaking of Wild Faith, our mid-western. It was nominated for BEST actor, actress and film. We did not take the other two awards but without Shane & Lauren’s chemistry we would not have won that award. That said, my ears were not filled with Hollywood smoke-blowing it was all sincere comments from people who laugh, cried and came into our 1875 Michigan world. The film is FUN with a message to ponder throughout it. The film gives a message like THE WALTON’S did or LITTLE HOUSE, I heard so many happy with the wholesome programming. Don’t get me wrong, I like my BLACK SAILS, GAME OF THRONES and such BUT when I do want something more tame it is often hard to find. I think WILD FAITH is a good response to that demand. This week I will be working on the home video deal. We still might have a few more theatrical/event showings. It plays so good at the theater. Great comments on the sound design, lighting, camera work and music as well as the performances.
I got to see old friends and make new friends. I got to really get to know people like Darby Hinton, his beautiful wife Shan and son Ryder who hosted our BBQ afterglow at their home. Often when I see people on set I’ve got a character looming right behind my eyes waiting to hear ACTION. I have accounting and checks payable on my mind. And lastly I stay focused and not distracting to the difficult task at hand. If I goof off that’s a green light to others to goof off. That wasted time adds up and production pays. Sun down and missed last set up. After 12 hrs people start losing their peak performance. I guess I’m saying it’s fun to mingle without the burden of production. I had one meeting with an esteemed peer I’ve known for 19 years. He was so surprised at my humor and laid-back nature. He thought I was ultra stern and conservative. I can be but that’s not my natural state of being. A close actor buddy whose been on several adventures with me – Amsterdam, Mexico…list goes on. He got a pass from the wife and kid to come hang a couple of days. After watching WILD FAITH he said he really enjoyed it and was happy that I was sharing more of ME via Ben Lily. He claimed that ole’ Ben is the closest to DJ Perry in personal mode. Ha! Anyway. See WILD FAITH and despite what you might hear about me, not knowing me. Ole Ben Lily is pretty close to an 1875 DJ Perry. We have different speaking voices because I had the better edgy-macation.
MBF – I will be releasing another screen still. I have to catch up with director Tony Hornus and check on editing. He stayed in MI to work after his overseas family vacation.
The Christ Slayer – I’m going to check with our distributor to see if any artwork is underway for the DVD. That release will be 3/4/18 with digital a few weeks earlier and we’ll do a limited theatrical release before that.
This holiday I’m going to push for folks to watch part 1 FORTY NIGHTS & 2 CHASING THE STAR of THE QUEST TRILOGY to catch up for the part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER release. If you haven’t watched them please do. You can leave review comments on amazon or IMDB – or not.
To circle back to the CA trip I want to thank so many friends for attending the screening or any of our gatherings. How cool is THE PIG N WHISTLE? Go there, it is awesome! Shepherds Pie and pints:) I loved seeing circle of friends melding, mixing, laughing and bonding. I love seeing that on film sets. It’s a secondary goal to finishing on time and budget. The ugg part was how long I’ve known many of you. 15, 18, 20+ years! Crazy! I say to you, make good friends and value those relationships. I’m just so grateful to have friends in an industry who allows this artist to feel part of the greater game despite my adherence to my MI zip code. My family, friends and roots in Michigan are my recharge and nourishment. But I will return again soon on business to visit the sunny, smoggy:) California!
PS: I will be posting more CA pics this Sunday.
Have a great week and be good to one another.
Thank you new readers/watchers – I appreciate you all. The wrist is still healing so video update again. Enjoy!
Hello friends. It has been a whirlwind week of negotiations and talks on the home video deal for WILD FAITH. The film will be playing in three cities this week – Grand Haven, Holland and Florida. (See below)
This is also the last of the off location pre-production on MBF. Our prep team starts in on Thursday and a week from that date cameras roll. We’re incorporating many new elements into this shoot. Some by way of new crew, new location (somewhat) and new cast in certain roles. We have a few exciting announcements coming this week. One is the addition of a co-star that will be well-known to some. He was a co-star on one of prime time TV’s biggest hits. We had a nice character talk yesterday and I’m beyond excited because he’s the right talent for the right role.
Becoming a character is serious business especially when representing…
Our schedule has caused a few switches in our casting but that always happens. By the time you get to the premiere you could never imagine anyone else in those roles. I’m trying to keep my TO DO list updated. I’ve been very happy with the time I’ve spent with ‘Paul’ my new character in MBF. To say he has been a challenge would be an understatement. My study of wounded warriors both physical and mental has been extensive. My appreciation and respect elevated as one fully recognizes the sacrifices made. I’m excited to see this story told and I hope that it changes minds and hearts.
Home video sales continue on “Forty Nights,” “Chasing the Star,” “Wicked Spring,” and “Ashes of Eden” which can all be watched on Amazon Prime. I’m touched by the beautiful emails that I’ve received from viewers of these films. If you have not watched any of them please do take a watch. You can recommend it to others on the Amazon site. DVD’s can also be purchased from the Amazon site. All our artists deeply appreciate your support.
Aside from these distribution, pre-production and actor work – we’ve been in development for our fall film. I think working with our distributor we might have landed on the right property. But I don’t want to go too far off on this direction.
If the WILD FAITH home video deal can get settled here in the upcoming weeks the distributor might get involved with expanded and marketing our theatrical a bit more. If the home video release is strong we will get a sequel or TV series moving behind it. There are a lot of moving parts with this deal and I’m doing my best to stay on top of it. I think everyone will be very happy with the final results.
I want to take these last few lines to celebrate my Mother and all those who give as mother’s do. I got to spend the morning with my beloved momma. She has always been supportive even when my dreams seemed unrealistic and far-fetched. I know many out there have been through this phase. Some have that support and others do not. But that is one of the reasons this blog exists. It is proof that you can follow your own path and create. It is not easy and if you can be happy and do something other than be an artist – I recommend it. But for the others – keep at it. Work smarter. Learn daily. Value your character in your dealings. Defend the artistic process and muster the courage to keep walking. One step after another – steady as you go and after a while – turn around and see how far you’ve come. My mother nurtured me to believe in my imagination and motivation – to achieve when you believe. Thank you momma. I love you.
I’m going to finish up here because I have some additional MBF work to finish. So far I’ve packed sock and underwear so I’ve got that going on. A busy but exciting week as we head towards onset pre-production. I’ll give you another update soon. You can also follow https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Be good to one another.
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
I’m sipping coffee on this peaceful Sunday. Beside me is a new 5 gal of Green Goblin 3.0 wine started on Halloween and by 11/4 on the full moon it was bubbling like a possessed spirit had invaded it. See what I did there? The spirit, okay back to the blog. New readers/followers from The Netherlands, welcome. Readers from Israel has been following us and again, thank you. I love this space – open for artists to stop by and listen to a story or two. To get a few updates and let you know that these battles we fight to create our art are natural. Part of the process of healing people with the power of a story. A medium that weaves so many emotions through so many of the human senses.
David Gries in THE CHRIST SLAYER
It’s been a strong week of organization and prepping to move into 2018. New announcements on MBF, our next CDI film. We added David Gries and Shane Hagedorn two other fine artists. I’ve worked with both of them and these roles are in caring hands. March will be a nice mix of old and new talent working together. This coming week I plan to open the bank account. Small steps on the path to production.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
American Film Market is underway and BMG has Forty Nights and Chasing the Star there right now. We made some announcements that the films were making their way to the UK. I also see evidence that Asia might be getting the films next. I was notified of a Singapore government ratings for Forty Nights. I will seek to confirm but I really do hope that our fans to the East can enjoy these beautiful films.
Domestically our recent goal now that we’re past Halloween, has been making people aware of the first two films in the marketplace for Christmas. Amazon Prime now has both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR. Watch them back to back and if you enjoyed them give them a little word of mouth or post a review. I think those films are just starting to travel a long journey of being exposed to artists worldwide.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is the 3rd film in the trilogy and it’s moving right along. We released a still of it being worked on in post VFX. (Here)
This third film will bring things together nicely. The poster is on the 3rd draft and getting stronger with each one. This film is preparing to enter music and sound design in Jan 2018.
For that to go in WILD FAITH needs to come out. The music first draft is DONE save tweaks and end credit roll. We’ll start putting that together now. I have high hopes that once the film is done the full merit of a series will be seen. We’re soon to sit and watch the film with the music in. Right now mixing and balancing is underway. The 10 sec of remaining VFX footage is what we’re dealing with still. But the plan is in motion and I’m confident we’ll complete that shortly.
We’ve also been delivering materials to our distributor for WICKED SPRING. It is an interesting feeling bringing that film to the forefront again. I did that role 17 years ago. Crazy. KNIGHT CHILLS had a new release with the book this year and that is a great little Christmas story. I’m smiling – but I will admit for people who have not been exposed to my work having KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS or IN THE WOODS be your intro is…scary. Zac, Frank and Alex are all great roles just not current representations. These films like others have gathered fans to which again I’m appreciative. My debate as of late was to accept invitations to participate in Comic Cons on occasion to celebrate these old works. I guess as I pondered it I got a touch of insight into Jeff Daniels who wants to be known for his dramatic excellence but people often just remember DUMB & DUMBER. How many sick, lonely, troubled and just bored people did that film make laugh? Giving relief by way of 90 mins of humor. Who are we to judge what people will enjoy? Hence art is subjective. Also some of these early films had so many rocks thrown at them. Some justified but many just the rise of the troll in this new medium of inter-webs:) I still hear the AOL dial-up. But if people can embrace these films more power to them. At the 15th anniversary to sit in the Alamo theater (Kazoo) and watch people shout, laugh and play the drinking game associated with IN THE WOODS was a joy. As we move through the present towards the future we must always make peace with our past. I’m getting there. I’m looking into the “Appearance circuit” although I’ve always wanted people to see the characters before the actor. I have met thousands of fans over the years and I’m appreciative. Although I don’t appear at many of these events it’s because of new work. I had a distributor friend ask if I was going to be at AFM. (Film Market) Actually I’ve had many ask. I told this person I was in MI overseeing post on two films while we prep for our new one. I would like to attend an AFM in the near future.
In addition to MBF prep we’ve been reviewing and looking at several other CDI & CDI associated projects. I think we’re preparing for another strong slate on films. As always I really do appreciate you stopping by. I hope the season is productive and wish you all a strong week ahead.
Welcome readers this week from China and S. Korea. So while many think artists are always living the “star life” it’s often just like yours. My day started with a leaky shower head that decided to start leaking despite being quite new. It’s those moments when you sincerely wish you couldn’t just act or pretend to be a plumber or handyman but actually were one. So that led to a few trips to get hardware and ended up with a temp fix. We will be contacting the manufacturer due to the lifetime warranty. So my Sunday morning was not the peaceful one I had first imagined. So is life.
The week just flew by and I had so many things going. First development on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) continues with the announcement of Garry Nation and Melissa Anschutz joining the cast. We have many of our $ commits but are not quite far enough to move into pre-production. Also several new opportunities for cross-promotion (J-Roc) have developed. So while DJ the actor is disappointed a tad that instead of running the race it’s back to the barn for a few weeks. I might ACTUALLY be HOME for Halloween. That is nice. I enjoy doing that last film of the season just before Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I have adjusted and we’ll meet to target the after holiday window. We’ll be looking at Feb pre-production and March shoot. I’ve again had to remind myself of that spiritual storytelling reality that a project will birth when it is time. Don’t fight the flow and watch things unfold. Unfold they have…
I’ve had back and forth with our director Jesse and several others trying to finalize some specialized VFX within 10 sec of our footage. We’re close to zeroing in but have not as of yet. It is still all happening within the timeline of the music scoring which is in the final stretch. Very soon we’ll be doing a watch through with full music. The film was powerful when it was just sound effects so this next level will be awesome to watch/listen to. Stay tuned for new artwork and other extras as we get closer to bringing this to audiences.
Garry Nation in “Chasing the Star”
THE QUEST TRILOGY
I had some great marketing meetings this week and I’m excited. The films were praised for being epic and original. Many of the epic films being produced are remakes of great films like Ben Hur. It was brought up that if anything in a few decades filmmakers would be remaking these films. That was a unique way to look at it. I do have movies a few decades old still playing and finding new audiences. We’ll talk about one here shortly. So they (distributor/marketing) see the influence of Star Wars on the look and presentation of these films. And the unique/untold aspect to these films are also what excites them. The line in CHASING THE STAR that says something to the effect “They may not remember you but they’ll remember your deeds” – which is true. Many save certain scholars know of the existing patchwork history. When you talk the three wise men, faces don’t come to mind save plastic, wood or stone faces. I do hope that we will blaze new story ground in the mind’s of people when the think of Jesus in the desert, the magi’s plight and…well, you’ll have to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER next year. The first two films (FORTY NIGHTS & CHASING THE STAR) were sent to Texas for theatrical play this month and next. And, we’re at the end of finalizing the first foreign territory for CHASING THE STAR.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is progressing nicely on the visual and will be moving into music and sound in Jan. I will say that I’ve been watching the development of the poster for the film. COOL. That is my thoughts so far. It is just a great story again original in the presentation. Some beautiful characters creating beautiful moments. Lots planned for this title but no need to over promote when audiences should be watching Part 1 and Part 2.
WICKED SPRING – I’m happy to announce ahead of time to all of you that Bridgestone Multimedia Group will be releasing into the market place this wonderful Civil War story. I produced it with our team in 2000 and it rolled out in 2002 timeframe. We also just had the 150th anniversary so I wanted to re-release the film to celebrate that benchmark. The project will release in early 2018 and it is the first real digital release for it. Shot on 35 mm it was first released on VHS. I think the first audience was Civil War reenactors and history lovers. Now more of the mainstream will discover the film. And having used these fine people in our new film WILD FAITH I have something I wanted to say. These people/groups trying to attach some hate agenda to this living historian interest/profession is just wrong. Not sure of the facts but some of these events to raise money to preserve these historic sites had threats. People of all races and religions participate in these events. They have groups of black Americans who love history and are right they’re portraying the Colored Companies while some even portray Confederates. I’ve seen Asian and Indian people participating. These people united over a love of history. They dress and camp in the style of the period and talk, share and bond over history. These events promote understanding and healthy discussion. That has been my experience working with these people and if these threats are true that’s just too bad.
KNIGHT CHILLS – I’m going to look at the offer to have me attend a few of these comic cons. After listening to some of the fans out there I can see where it would be fun.
This week was great for meetings that looked at development of future CDI projects. Everything from financing to new distribution. Marketing to merchandising. I will just keep walking the path and crossing off the TO DO’s.
I’m gonna sign off and I’m sure I missed a few updates. Enjoy the season and we’ll talk next week. Thank you for stopping by.
Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.
People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.
With Shane Hagedorn
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.
The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)
With Tony Hornus
Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.
I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.
I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)
OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.