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

Posts tagged “Alumni

First Week on “Silent Night in Algona” Completed!

Teaser poster by Dean Teaster

Good morning from WILD HAVEN in Algona, Iowa! I want to thank you all for understanding my move to Saturdays for our little chat and update. I’m waiting on the coffee maker to kick out our Kona Blend Coffee which has to have a splash of Hazelnut for good measure. I will try to brainstorm some of the top highlights of mine from the week. It will also paint a nice picture of the amazing endeavor we are undertaking.

  1. Our friends at Heritage Park made the first four days enjoyable and productive. Also thank you to the Winnebago folks for allowing us to store our vehicles in their garages. We were thankful to Robert Bradley who immediately knew how to start and drive many of these older clutch vehicles. But they looked pretty amazing on camera so again thank you to these owners helping us capture history.
  2. Our staging area/base camp (Ranger Station) is quite the sight to see with all the period clothes, props and period vehicles. Our artists in these departments are doing such an incredible job. I have loved seeing the civilian clothes and the military and PW outfits. The job is not easy under any circumstances but this film challenges them to give their very best. We appreciate them so much.
  3. It was so great to reunite with some great actor friends that I’ve not seen in a good while. Charles Powell and I worked together on “The 8th Plague” and later CDI’s “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town,” makes his return to the CDI Tribe with a powerful role. Charles was quiet and polite until it came time for ACTION! David Reardon (MBF) also returns with a brilliant character that will surely thrill his fans. Garry Nation came ready to play and it’s always fun to see him work. We actually have some scenes together in the days ahead.
  4. Today MSU plays football again and we’re looking for another win. Speaking of MSU, I’m excited to have Carl Gilliard, a fellow MSU alumni with our cast. He and I have some great scenes together. I plan to do a little PR shoutout to share around the MSU news outlets. Go Green!
  5. The German actors all hit the scene and WOW! We have such a great group of actors overall but these German’s help tell a good amount of our story. They were really all so appreciative of the script and are here because of the story. I got to have a short chat with all of them. I was really taken by our PW antagonist Ben Schnau who’s isolating on-set process resembles some of my own process when on a shoot day. When I have intense work to do on camera I tend to get quiet and lost in myself/my character. I have had fellow actors be quite shocked to find me very personable off set. It’s because I always have so much going through my head either as talent or as a producer. But catch me at the fort for an informal meeting and you get a very different DJ.
  6. I’m so happy with our young lead ‘Samuel’ in from Texas. He found our midwest cold bitter but he’s getting thicker ‘midwest’ blood now. It’s a joy to watch someone at that age who is getting to ‘make believe’ on such a grand scale. At his age we had couch cushions and our imaginations. His parents were both actors at one time and his mother Stephanie, still acting, will be participating on this story as well.
  7. Speaking of mother and sons, we have my brother from another mother Josh Perry in with his momma Connie. We are so excited to have Josh back again with us and this role will be a challenge to see him lean into his anger. I know he will do a great job and I’m excited for the cast and crew who haven’t worked with him to be given that opportunity.
  8. The excitement and assistance of the community has been wonderful. The other day we had to stop at the Dollar General which also serves as a mail center and as a flatbed went by with our troop transport truck everyone rushed to the windows to watch. This story is this area’s history and once we finish this the story, the event will never be forgotten.
  9. On Sat the 13th on our day off we are doing a specially sponsored Smithfield Foods BBQ and a screening of BEST YEARS GONE in the local theater. A great thank you to our hard working cast and crew.
  10. We had a couple of VIP guests from our on-going distribution company visit. They loved seeing everything in action and the visit gives them an idea of the hard work that goes into the films they market. It makes the circle stronger and allows us to more easily tell these stories.

Speaking on the BEST YEARS GONE we have another Lansing, MI theatrical run at Celebration Cinema Lansing starting Nov 24th – 28th so people returning home for Thanksgiving can catch the movie. We were laughing putting together some promo – “Funniest Movie since Earnest Goes to Camp” – the film is funny and heartfelt. So far audiences have enjoyed the film theatrically and in a few months it will release worldwide. I’m going to wrap it up here as we have a tech scout at a few locations for next week. For those who don’t know what that is – you are not only looking at where to film a scene but where to stage a small army. I look forward to sharing more reports with you next Sat. Thank you for your support and know we are working to capture the powerful scenes so that next year we will have another great CDI release for you.

(One of the locations for the forthcoming week)

Be kind to one another.

DJ


Hometown ‘Best Years Gone’ Premiere and CDI Updates

Hazelnut cheers on a nippy Michigan morning. I’ve got the fire going by my chair as I sit and reflect on a very busy week of life and work. Last night we gathered at the NCG theaters in Lansing to debut our new CDI film BEST YEARS GONE, directed by Shane Hagedorn. We had a strong crowd for the 1st show which they moved into the bigger screen to handle our sales. Also they extended the theatrical run until Oct 21st, so have day out going to see a movie. It really did play great there and I was happy to see so many family, friends and fans of the films. I love that every day more folks will get to see the story we told. The feedback has been strong ands I know the ‘haters’ always find their way but so do those who appreciate the stories. And at a kick off event I get to shake hands, take pictures and meet some of these fine people.

(Shane Hagedorn and DJ Perry greeted and chatted with many folks at the Lansing premiere)

My dad still wonders how I’m able to weave the story and all the dialogue into a script. I told him all those times of being assured of not paying attention or having my head in the clouds – THAT – whatever it is – IMAGINATION – it allows me to get lost in the story and manifest it. I’m awaiting word on another deal that would have me writing a script this winter and produce it next year with CDI. Add in the TV series of HASTINGS that is gaining momentum and 2022 could be a fun year of storytelling. Here are the Lansing showtimes- https://www.showtimes.com/movie-times/best-years-gone-156830/lansing-mi/

But before we get to 2022 we have a very exciting and important story to be told – SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA! I cannot believe that the pre-production caravan will depart next Saturday. Producers, director, art, AD, office and transportation will be doing final prep for the shoot that kicks off on Halloween. I had a wardrobe fitting last week and between the scene study which is feeling on point and the dapper WW2 uniform – game on.

We have some additional sponsor support from the Iowa State Bank so we want to thank them. This past week we filled several of the few cast and crew spots remaining. Just one or two cast/crew to go and that will work itself out. We had a few changes from illness or unexpected commits but our team will go and end the year with one great story. This week I need to pull together final props and production stuff traveling with me. I have to finish packing my clothes which needs to include cold weather gear. The nice part is this film I have like one uniform and a few hats unlike the multiple wardrobe pieces worn as Gil in BEST YEARS GONE. I am going to enjoy this final week of prepping things. There are several friends I only get to see while filming so again I’m excited to tell this story with our artists.

I know that this is the perfect season to release BESTSELLER, our thriller getting a campaign reboot but I do not have dates yet. My favorite film of the season is the animated ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, which I’ll be watching to this week. WICKED SPRING HD is heading out to streaming and might be playing on certain platforms. I need to circle up with our distributor on a few projects but I’ve been quite busy with one film releasing and one going into production in under two weeks. FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH feature-length doc is in the post-mixing phase and I was thinking of premiering SMOKE & MIRRORS with it at the same time. Like the cartoons you use to get before a show.

I’m putting the coffee away this morning because of the chill. I just poured the last cup and I’m going to finish this up. My next update will be from Algona, Iowa! Today we might hit the flea market seeking prop items and a stop at Tractor Supply to get some food for the chickens. They are putting on winter weight and still giving the eggs out. It is nice to always have that abundance of eggs and you do taste a difference. My alumni MSU had another good game yesterday but our Lions still struggle. I want to again thank each and everyone of you who attended our showings. If you want to leave a review you can go to our BEST YEARS GONE page on http://www.imdb.com and vote and leave your thoughts. I hope you all have a productive week ahead. Be good to one another.

Coffee Cheers!

DJ


Week B4 Location Pre-Production, MBF and More…

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Good morning to everyone out there. The week has been a busy one for sure. Where to start? Before doing this I was working down my list of TO DO’s nearly 20 items deep trying to get a jump on tomorrow. We are very close to on-set pre-production on LOST HEART. We’ve been meeting on cast, crew and various vendors and sponsors.  Tomorrow we’ll be announcing two of other female actresses joining the cast. One is an amazing musician/actress and the other a SNL alumni, so stay tuned for that tomorrow. You can follow our FB site for LOST HEART at

https://www.facebook.com/lostheartmovie/

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We’ll also be announcing another major sponsor this week – which I can say enough how much that helps independent filmmakers. Some of our sponsors are already listed on the FB site and see http://www.cdiproductions.com where another LOST HEART page will be going up. Friends old and new will be coming together to tell a Michigan story.

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WILD FAITH – I’ve started getting some fantastic emails from people who have watched and enjoyed the film. It is now for DIGITAL RENTAL on Amazon Prime and many platforms. On July 2nd it will release to DVD. Thank you to those who have pre-ordered. We’ll look at the TV series or sequels once the worldwide audience has spoken. I would love to do a Michigan based TV series. It would provide some great opportunities to showcase the talent here. Rent/Buy but I would love to read your reviews either on here or better yet posted to amazon.com, IMDB.com or wherever you have rented/purchased it. Giddy up!

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been quietly prepping this film for distribution 1st to theaters with home video to follow. I had the pleasure to watch the film through this past week and I was just amazed at the powerful performances made stronger but the score by “Tricky T” 🙂 We’ll have a premiere after we get done filming LOST HEART. It will likely be in the Owosso, MI  area where our director hails from. The themes of military vets and adoption dogs will touch the heart’s of many. Get ready for another wonderful Michigan story brought to you by the tribe at CDI.

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The Quest Trilogy ( Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) – If you are enjoying CDI films and want to watch a trilogy of adventure films set in the biblical times- The Quest Trilogy. Take a watch and join the viewers from around the world experiencing these stories.

I am not going to wax on about any subjects today simply because I have a long TO DO list as noted that I want to chip away at. The garden is growing nicely and this week we had a new roof put on. It took about 3 hours and I admired their work flow. The roofers and the clean up support staff. EAGLE EYE ROOFING in Mason which was recommended after they just did a roof job for fellow CDI producer Anthony Hornus. OK. I hope you all have a wonderful week. When I write next week I will be preparing to leave for on-location pre-production for a week before cameras roll.

Have a great day!

DJ

 


JUNE 23rd Bday Thoughts and Reflections

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So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.

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WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.

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LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A  small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.

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We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.

LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.

So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.

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I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.

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  • NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.

While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.

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I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.

DJ


Want Versus Wise – Know the Difference

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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.

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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.

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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:)

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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.

DJ

 

 

 


Welcome 2016 – Let’s Dance

Happy 2016! It is a new year and once again here we are back to CLAWING OUR WAY TO THE MIDDLE. There are about 4,700 of you that gather to listen to this one artist ramble as I make my way through this world. Many of you found your way to our place via Facebook and Linkedin – but what I LOVE the most is that you all come from 80 countries. USA has the most readers but Australia and Brazil are not far behind. That said, I have not been to either of those countries but I must plan to.

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Many of you were very interested in “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller,” and “40 Nights” all of which will release in 2016. As will “Donors” and this has to be the year of “Dead Quiet” I’m sure. “The Terrorist” is coming. I would just like to once again say how much I appreciate the interest all of you have taken in what we’re creating. I think “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” showcase two very different sides of my acting. The funny thing is that they might release in the same month. I’ve seen the national artwork for “Bestseller” which is very moody and cool. We’ll be releasing a 1st look at that soon. I’ve gotten a peak at “40 Nights” Walmart exclusive artwork and soon so will all of you.

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ASHES OF EDEN

Here is the “Ashes of Eden” artwork to be looking out for. I LOVED playing the role of Donnie in this film. I also enjoyed our use of classic cars. MICHIGAN is well REPRESENTED!

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I’m excited to make another film with Shane Hagedorn so I’m sure that will be discussed more in 2016.

We’ve been on a crazy push to finish “40 Nights” because of a major order by a retailer. We’ve had all stations pushing full ahead and we still have a bit to go. I would complain but we’ve got distribution, guarantees and eager retailers so…I’m not complaining – I’m adapting. I know at every level of the game from here up will have some of this pressure. It is the business at work and that is what will allow you to keep creating.

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DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama “40 Nights”

While the post pace has been a bit of a frenzy on “40 Nights” I’m proud of our team. I’ve been proud of all my teams. It is a special thing to all share credit on creating a motion picture. You all are bonded by that film forever. And when a film becomes special to an audience they too share in that special thing. I had a Bday party to attend today and it was at Star Wars! Again:) I’m enjoying that special thing I felt in my early childhood. There is now 4 films in MY mythology of Star Wars. Yes. I chose to NOT ACCEPT the other 3 films. That would take a lot more time to explain.

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2016 is now here. I’m excited to be finishing up a few projects so I can focus upon the new crop of films. Our second film in our QUEST TRILOGY,  entitled “Chasing the Star” (quest of the magi) is moving forward. It’s been slowed by the holidays but we’ll see if we can catch up. It’s a busy time of year for many but these things we’re doing, our on timelines, are set by weather conditions.

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I did finish the first draft of our third film in the QUEST TRILOGY …… and we’ll be announcing that title with some teaser art in the weeks ahead. I’m close on the 1st draft of the new KNIGHT CHILLS 2. I’m also wanting to return my focus to a drama MAN’S BEST FRIEND. I do love writing and have a good amount of hazelnut coffee to power on.

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Sir Kallio stalks in “Knight Chills”

I had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I kept it chill since fighting a small sinus cold.  I used the time to keep communications flowing on finishing “40 Nights” and discussions with our distributor. We also did a 3 way trade on bedroom sets. My brother and wife got a new set so our guest room got a beautiful set that’s been in the family for a long time. Our guest bedroom set went to yet another family member – so it was a touch crazy for a few days. But the guest room has never looked better.

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My alumni school

My alumni school Michigan State University who won the BIG TEN in football,  played in the playoffs to go for the National title. We took an ass kicking. I’ve thought our QB has been hurt and subpar for weeks. I would have ran with our two back up QB’s that came through in spades when we needed them against Ohio State. But Alabama was at the top of their game and it showed. Congrats! Next year.

Get your goals straight and attack 2016. If you got knocked down in 2015, stand up, brush yourself off, fighting stance!

Fight!

DJ