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

Posts tagged “Afghanistan

Spring Updates, Spartans & Showcases

Usually I’m posting my blog first thing in the morning but I had a full morning of other activities and so now here we are together. I apologize for my tardiness:) I will give a few updates before my alumni school Michigan State University starts their tourney basketball game in a short while. My thoughts have been on spring and so many things are happening that I feel very optimistic about. I will pick a topic that ties into a few events of our own.

FESTIVALS

I love that film lovers can be exposed to product that is not direct mainstream and is often a showing ground for developing filmmakers. What I’ve learned in almost two decades of filmmaking is that they are great networking opportunities. Many ongoing relationships between writers, directors, producers, DP’s, actors and so on – start at festival events. I met fellow filmmakers at a NYC festival years ago and we ended up making a film in Mexico together. So when creative minds meet good endeavors can come about. Now on the other end – overspending on many, many, many festivals in the name of marketing versus going directly to distribution/licensing to start capital investment recoupment can be a mistake. IF a distributor does not like a product it does not matter how many small festivals you won – it won’t help you. There are only a handful of festivals that attracts buyers and even inclusion into those festivals does not assure anyone distribution. As a matter of fact only a very small % at those major festivals get a deal. Now I’m not saying don’t do any festivals because playing to a home crowd who often assisted in the making of the film is good. Targeting a few horror festivals for your horror film is not a bad thing. BUT a grand tour of festival partying that might see tens of thousands of dollars being spent vs returning on the investment is…well you do the math. We’ve seen a surge in festivals in the past few years and so the wreaths or laurels or whatever they call the “award logo” has lost a lot of value to distributors and even to audiences. SUNDANCE and a few others such as TORONTO has kept their value. Others will perhaps grow to become major festivals – I’ve watched that evolution first hand in my own home town with a pair of festivals. I’m proud that our ASHES OF EDEN movie will play first to the local Lansing audience. We used cast and crew from around the state of Michigan but it’s especially  nice that 3 Lansing area companies created this moving film. Often a lot of talk is centered on Detroit or the West side of the state but I think people will start to realize that right here in the heart of Michigan (LANSING) – talented artists exist. With ASHES OF EDEN, we’ve been given the great honor of closing the festival. You can follow here http://capitalcityfilmfest.com/info for updates. I know that we are working a deal for cast and crew and our sponsors to be given tickets but many family, friends and fans will want to know how/where they can buy tickets. That info will be coming to that festival site soon I would guess.

On the same day (April 13th) REALIZISM will play in the afternoon.

http://www.grfilmfestival.com/schedule/short-narrative-block/

REALIZISM, a cool short will a big message!  I truly LOVE my role in this film. It has me playing a touch comedic which is something I really enjoy. Mitch Nyberg directed the film and it is truly worth a watch if you are in Grand Rapids. If you want the double dose you can get in your car and drive to Lansing!

The interest in licensing films from the CDI library and our new arrivals is in full swing. I’ve had great talks last week with a few major TV networks. I can see the doors opening and that is good news for several of our products. You all will be getting many new announcements about our films playing in different territories, TV networks on various platforms. We just got word that the Afghanistan doc “Outside the Wire” is fully delivered for VOD and I will be announcing  where you can watch this powerful piece once I know.

Here is a current example from PR Newswire

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ups-two-week-celebration-of-easter-presents-the-greatest-stories-of-the-bible-251413651.html

BOOK OF RUTH, JOURNEY OF FAITH our hit biblical film is part of a BEST OF two-week showing of faith films with this Atlanta-based network. We might have some other exciting news forthcoming on the biblical film front. Look for some PR from us around Easter.

Also 180 degrees from this news – our Philippine based horror film “Darkest Night” releasing into Germany, Austria and Switzerland on March 28th, next week!

Our sales team is also working on some theatrical showcases that we will be announcing soon. This will basically be a once a week theatrical showcase that will go on for several months. We also have new reps in India and possibly the UK to help facilitate dealmaking in those territories.

“BESTSELLER” is about to start PHASE 2 of editing. This will be an intense polish with our director. I’m looking forward to getting you all a 1st look at a teaser here soon. I’ve got distributors begging for a 1st look on this film as well. I’m extremely happy with the 1st cut and so it is only going to get stronger.

“DONORS” the feature thriller starring Niki Saletta, Russ Clark and myself will have a premiere in May in Yuma, AZ. I will have more details on this in the coming weeks.

Aside from that – I’ve been putting the new desk to work on script writing. I just completed a film I was hired to write and what a joy that was. Another property of mine that’s been optioned by a studio – just paid their next tier option. (This is when a company pays increasing amounts of money for the exclusive rights to a property) They also reported pre-production is close at hand. You know this to be true when the option checks keep coming. Once in pre-production, a full purchase deal is executed, the film is assigned over and they move into production.

Following some of this success, I’m actually looking over the 20 or so scripts I’ve held back. I’m looking to see what films I can sell off. Basically, If I don’t see the script as an acting vehicle  I might as well sell it off to someone. So far this revisiting of script properties is turning into another good business venture. I’m in talks to pen another script as we speak. I’ll keep developing this avenue because I really do love writing.  My coffee, my imagination and I’m good to go. So if you are looking for a certain type of script or need something written or adapted – bring your check book and let’s talk.

OK. It’s about time for me to relax with a RED EYE (Look it up) and get ready to watch MSU! WE ARE SPARTANS! This is the part where I scream and kick someone in the face right into the pit of DOOM!

Have a great end to your weekend!

DJ

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Casting, Collaborations and Coming of Spring

I think I actually felt spring in the air if you can imagine that. Once the snow goes we have some tree cleaning to finish, fence fix and our gazebo took a hit under the snow and ice. I’m excited to do a few cosmetic things to the new office this year, which is looking great.  It is truly the dream office and a great place to oversee the creation and on-going enterprises here at http://www.cdiproductions.com which has been kicking it strong since 1996. If you haven’t poked around the website do so as we’ve put several new updates on there. I also want to thank all our new blog fan adds from Australia. We are even now in talks to get more of our films released there and elsewhere. I’ve been asked to keep adding little tidbits of advice for aspiring filmmakers, actors and writers etc… I think people like the advice because it is brutally honest. No agendas here I just call it like I see it.

Let me see, filmmaker advice – best told by a story.

FILMMAKER CONFIDENCE – I had a good talk this week with a very talented artists on both sides of the camera. He was/is frustrated because of lack of progress and lack of control on moving a project forward. I like something he said – “I have confidence in the project but I lack confidence in myself.” That is a truthful statement but comes from a lack of experience. Imagine yourself a youngin’ standing on the edge of a swimming pool looking at the other side. Now we are talking width of the pool but you’ve never swam from one side to the other. Maybe you have your water wings on or maybe you don’t but you stare at that other side and you muster all the confidence you can. If you stand your ground and never dive in you will not reach your short-term goals. So finally with the right amount of encouragement  – you DIVE in!

You swim, swim, swim and behold you make it to the other side. You turn around and you do it again. And again. Pretty soon you are looking at the length of the pool believing that you just might be able to swim the length.

You have to BUILD that confidence with small realistic goals. You build it by DOING.  I will find out this coming week if this person jumped into the pool or is still standing on the edge. The point is that even in failure with an earnest attempt – that is success. So you took on some water and maybe you had to swim to the side before you reached the end goal- maybe next time. And next time you will have more confidence.

ACTORS – IF you are at that point where you want to be accepted as a professional – DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Let’s say that all together now. DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Work at a discount if you believe in developing these people but just say no. I see in our own state all these actors working the student films and free projects. That is where new upcoming actors get their experience and build their resume. So if you have experience and a resume that can compete professionally – GET OUT! Now if you are a hobbyist – sure do your community filmmaking deal, but don’t be surprised when professionals don’t take you serious. If you are in demand and you hold out – you force filmmakers to grow. It’s the whole, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Every time a professional actor does a free project – GO TO JAIL (Loss of name value) DO NOT PASS GO, DO  NOT COLLECT $200. An experienced actor beating out a bunch of newbie’s trying to get their first projects under their belt impresses absolutely nobody. Dive into that larger pool.

Now onto some updates! You know I like to give Blog readers advanced updates. So here we go!

DONORS, the thriller I did with Niki Saletta (7th Heaven) is complete. They will screen the film for investors this Sunday and plans will be made to get this ready for presentation to distributors. It is a cool little film that has some serious tension to it.

BESTSELLER released a new teaser poster this week and the rough cut is under review. Our director is making notes for a second round of editing as we speak. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great performances caught by a hard-working crew. We’ve got early interest on the film by distributors and I’m relatively happy with our work flow. The overall film will likely be done in August and premiere in Sept or Oct.

ASHES OF EDEN will also be releasing some new poster art. I’ve been bouncing some ideas with our director on a new opening of the film. We should be done with everything this month save maybe the final mix. It’s exciting because even as strong and enthusiastic as the test audiences were – the final product is so much better. We’re planning a premiere for cast/crew followed by a theatrical test run and that may lead to a wider release via one of our several distributors bidding for a first look. This will be one of the films to watch and it will help put Michigan once again on the map with international releasing.

And speaking of international releases – following last month’s release of the Michigan-Made “Locked in a Room” to Germany, Austria and Switzerland those same territories will be getting the Philippine darkness unleashed upon them. Yes. On March 28th, “Darkest Night” will release there. That makes three new films released in those territories in the last six months. So congrats to the CDI Sales Team for that. More territories are in the works and we will announce as it happens.

The CDI Associated doc film “Outside the Wire, Forgotten Children of Afghanistan” is also getting a VOD release soon thanks again to CDI Distribution. This is a powerful film by Anthony Hornus. It was filmed while embedded with the US military in Afghanistan. I encourage everyone to check out this powerful film when it releases.

MISC. NEWS

Other random news of events still developing include – a new casting for a CDI film on IMDB which you can search out under “40 Nights”. We will be doing a full PR release on this film in the weeks ahead. It’s a very exciting pet project and I’m happy to see this developing so fast. Actually we have development work underway on a handful of projects including an “Anthony Hornus” feature “Race to Judgment,” the “Soul Eater” film,  and a possible new association with Detroit’s AT RISK ENTERTAINMENT. There also might be a theatrical showcase of CDI films coming to the Detroit area so stay tuned for big updates in the weeks ahead. Additional studio talks, new rep from India joining CDI and the list goes on. Enough of all this – get out there and enjoy your weekend!

DJ


Owosso Event, Editing & Enter Spring

We finally had a few days that were Spring-like in nature. I worked at the biz in the morning and spent a couple of afternoons working in the yard and new office. The dogs loved spending the 5 to 6 hours playing, sleeping in the yard. I build a compost bin after doing some on-line research as well as some yard grooming. The construction of the office really tore up the lawn. We also fired up the grill last night with the 4H pork chops and it was wonderful. I’m ready for another season of grill and chill. Also soccer season will be starting. I’ve done a good amount of strength training but I need to keep working the flexibility. I can see a few sore post game weeks ahead.

On the film front I have some good announcements and a few big meetings ahead. First is TONIGHT! I will be attending the event surrounding a fallen soldier from Owosso with our Afghanistan doc and country music acts. So I will be attending and I look forward to visiting Owosso once again.

We’ve been digitizing and editing on “Supermodel Showdown – Beauty Within” the TV series that is leading the new CDI TV division. I’ve also been reviewing work on “Donors” music score and “Ashes of Eden” editing.

Also we have the national release of “Darkest Night” this July and I’ve been reviewing some key art for DVD release. I’m excited to get that out to audiences. “Deadly Renovation,” “Locked in a Room” and upcoming “Darkest Night” – safe to say I’ve been working to bring you horror fans some new work.

Development work continues with some financial contributions on certain films. We don’t have a full go yet but I think very soon. We are in talks with many new companies/studios over licensing current films and participating in new films.

I’m excited to be in front of the camera again but it has to be the right project – by right I mean both business and artistically. I’m waiting to hear on one film that I really like so we will see what happens with that.

I might be missing a few topics but I have to go to an event with MSU Vet school this morning and then Owosso event tonight. Family birthday gathering tomorrow… BUSY WEEKEND.

I hope everyone had a great week and I wish continued success to all of you in the weeks to come. Be good and don’t look for short cuts. Hard work in gets results.

DJ


Costa Rica TV Show, Coffee and CDI Television

Coffee, coffee, coffee…I really do love the taste first thing in the morning. It has been a good and busy week. I wish we were onto some Springtime but it will be here soon enough. My mind is on the garden and what to plant this year. I’m also close to a second go on some beer making. The previous was like FOSTERS and this is a Killian’s Red variety. I will also be doing another wine. If the lilac flowers bloom hard maybe I will do another batch of that. I think its easy to tell I have grilling and chilling on the brain. It is also a time of planting new seeds that we will be talking about this time next year. Let’s look at some of the up’s and down’s that make up the weekly issues.

Special announce here – The reality show I did in Costa Rica has its legs under it. It has a famous producer waiting to view the final product. The show is being digitized to hard drives and editing is soon to begin. Look for an announcement here soon including the new CDI Television division.

“Donors” is having some amazing music composed for it. This film is about organ stealing and after the watch I can say it will make some people think twice about their actions.

“Ashes of Eden” is full steam ahead in editing and we actually just released “Road to Eden” the behind the scenes of “Ashes of Eden”. See http://www.ashesofedenmovie.com

Also we saw a release about the talks we are having with director Sergio Myers about ‘The 8th Plague” prequel “Soul Eater”. I can say that we are looking at locations and trying to find the second part of the funding.

“Deadly Renovations” is out there and seems to be doing good. I will say that our partners there are late with their 1st report. This is never a good thing and something that all distributors need to get serious about. Our sales company made a few TV sales and I was doing accounting. It is not fun work but it is what is required. I had done business with this company many years ago. They sold and paid out but the numbers were low. Now many years later they have a larger division handling bigger budget films. This is a test run back with them and so far I’m not happy with this reporting. In this age people talk. I had at least one call this week that resulted in two parties not doing business.

“7 Stones,” “Darkest Night” and other films are run by foreign sales companies and TV networks. More and more CDI Sales is dealing with direct selling because of lackluster effort by some companies. Not all of them I will have you know. We’ve had a few people who are doing their job and doing it well.

We have a big event coming up in April for “Outside the Wire” our non-profit doc film that follows kind donations in the US to orphans in Afghanistan. CDI Sales is now an official ambassador so if you have a company or wish to donate to this great non-profit be sure to contact me.

I’ve been in talks on a few acting projects. One film pushed as they try to get all their loose ends tied up. I’ve got two others that I’m in talks on. I think they are both great roles and only time will tell. Other than that I got my tax info in to my accountant. I continue to organize the new office and I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

If you’ve had a chance to watch “Locked in a Room” or “Deadly Renovations” leave a review on IMDB or elsewhere. I had a few autograph requests from “Locked in a Room” when DVD’s come out. Right now I think it is all digital release on Google Play, Amazon Instant, I-tunes and such. Well I’m going to have another cup of coffee and do some reading. I hope you all have a great Saturday!

DJ