Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.
My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.
We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.
I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.
Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.
High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.
I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.
I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.
I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience. Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.
FILM UPDATES –
I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.
LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.
LOOKING AHEAD –
BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.
Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.
- We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
- Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
- We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
- Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
- Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects. We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.
As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.
Be safe and we’ll chat next week.
I’m on my TAKE 2 with hazelnut coffee. Went about this morning and one of the things I’m most happy with is that I bought an antique, cast-iron, wood burning stove for the office. It will not go in right away because I have a few other tasks to complete. Home improvements just seem to be an ongoing thing. We also ended up stopping by to visit my brother and niece. He referred us to a Vietnamese place to eat lunch. It was really good so, if you’re in the Lansing area. (Nola Bistro)
So in the extreme heat we have going on I decided I needed to BLOG all of you before carrying this wood stove out to the office. I might just ramble this week as I’ve got much to download. So Tuesday was the first day of our Lansing run of BESTSELLER. It was nice to have a few close family and friends see the film on the big screen. Each showing has had an audience that gets the opportunity to see it in this format. We will move the film to a few other venues but the more important development is the domestic US/Canada deal that we will likely accept. It will play great on home video/VOD for the masses but IF you can see it big screen you really should. It will play tonight at 6:45 and 10:45 in Lansing at the Celebration Cinema. Here is the promo video from our 1st public showing. It was put together by Dan Chipman who has worked with us on a few projects now.
DONORS film announced that it had signed for domestic US/Canada with Jax Distribution.
ASHES OF EDEN closed caption work is being finalized and I can’t wait for worldwide audiences to get their look after Oct. 13th, 2015.
40 NIGHTS – The 1st official trailer is DONE. The distributor is very excited to have this preview to introduce the project to worldwide buyers. All the people given a sneak peek really enjoyed the film. As a matter of fact financial commitments on the next couple films started to come in off just these sneak peeks. It is great to note that while I think the trailer is powerful the film itself is much greater. This is not one of those films that everything good was thrown into the trailer to lure people. This film trailer gives a taste of the journey ahead but the final film will be so worth the wait. PR will be done to introduce the trailer next week. Here is a screen grab from the trailer. ENJOY
Promotion of street dates (Ashes), theatrical release and domestic set up (Bestseller) and post-production work (40 Nights) – add a little commercial work and we’ve been busy.
Development has been full speed ahead. I’ve been planning between now and mid 2016. The script for a western is about ready and scheduling, casting, location scouting, budget refining and more has been underway. I will say that it is shooting in Michigan. No, we didn’t move to Georgia and the state can keep their incentive. (Yes. I know they killed it) I did an informal cast call (Two African-American actresses) last week in my blog. But that didn’t bring the acting reels out. Those casting duties will be addressed in good time.
The Winter/Spring 2016 film will be “Chasing the Star” and script work is moving right along. It is looking like it will also film in Yuma, AZ area. This is the 2nd film in the three picture deal that we have with Lightworx Entertainment.
I’ve had talks over a few films but unless the right role/project hits me – I have enough work to keep me very busy. KNIGHT CHILLS 2 is something that might also get done over the winter.
I could go on about more but I have a pair of apple trees to plant and a wood stove to haul. I’m very encouraged as I look from here and project five years into the future. The films we will make and the new audiences we will distribute to. I was so happy to have peers and mentors give such powerful reviews of both the “Bestseller” feature and the “40 Nights” trailer. I look forward to releasing the first official trailer to all of you. I also have the directors cut of the full “40 Nights” feature to review. I will be watching that very soon. (Thank you Jesse & Jon)
Have a great weekend!