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!