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

Posts tagged “actor

What to Look For in a Film as Talent and More…

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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.

My name is Paul Landings

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.

  1. 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.
  2. CHARACTER – you want a role that speaks to you
  3. COMPENSATION – This is not a hobby it is a career
  4. CAST – who else is cast? Paying me but not others can be a bad sign because you want quality across the board.
  5. CREW – DIRECTOR/DP/Prod Designer – The creative team is so important to the final product
  6. COMPANY – Do they finish? Do they get product to market? Organized?

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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.

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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.

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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!

DJ

 

 

 


Star Wars Talk & CDI Film Updates

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ


2020 Casting Needs and New Official Title Logo For ‘Lost Heart’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hi DJ,
They can go to www.americanchillers.com (shopping maul) to order.
Please do order direct. This film is as close to a Hitchcock film that I’ve helped produce. I think Melissa Anschutz gives a great performance but wait until you see her in LOST HEART.
Now with all that said, I cannot recall playing the bad guy in a western. That could change as we’re looking at another possibly film that would have me playing…wait for it…an outlaw. I think I have a descent ‘outlaw’ face if you cover up that babyface.
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With our friends Norm and Susan from ‘The Double JJ Resort”
LOST HEART is closing in on the rough cut. The word is that it is running a little long but that is what thew fine editing is about. Often actors will be put back if a scene gets cut but that is them just looking at themselves and not the whole story. Too much fat can weaken a performance where something something taunt is more powerful.
* I recall in MBF when Paul gets served violation by the Sheriff we had about 4 line exchanges before we got to the meat. As Paul developed he doesn’t beat around the bush. He gets to the topic at hand when upset. We just right into the meat of the scene and it plays so much better. Edits are often good for everyone. Oh, except mine. Just kidding:)
This week we’ll start moving some artwork on LOST HEART over to BMG to start concept work on the DVD cover. I’m going to announce our NEW OFFICIAL font for the film. Enjoy.
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OK. I’m going to wrap this up. We have another family gathering celebrating two birthdays. I do love the holiday season and catching up with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
DJ


Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ

 



Auditions, Updates and Other News

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ