I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
Welcome new readers from Sweden, France and Russia. I’ve been to Sweden years ago with my overseas soccer team. I’ve never been to France or Russia but you never know. This week marked the back-to-business full steam ahead. I had a wonderful holiday and truly appreciated the downshift in schedule. I had to keep some work flowing but it is important to take those moments to appreciate. You don’t want to keep moving your goals back. Allow your self to enjoy where you are and to reflect on what made that journey easy or difficult. Learn.
These two knuckleheads were clawing the frozen ground seeking food. I hooked them up. Needless to say, they are now very happy and have joined the DJ Perry fan club.
These five talented men – I’ve co-starred with all of them previous to “Wild Faith” – I’m excited for all of them to see what they created. It is a goal for cast and crew to be proud of their involvement. Some don’t always appreciate the endeavor until many years later and some understand the life and love we put into these stories as they live it. Be appreciative of the friendship, the art and opportunity. Films are HARD WORK.
New meets old guard as we announced two more fine actors going the cast of Man’s Best Friend – MBF. Curran has only worked with CDI on one previous film and Greg, well he was in CDI’s first film and has done many films with us, so he has OG status within the tribe)
This past week has been spent organizing for 2018 and prepping for the new 2019 films. We took a few steps closer to financing fully our MBF film. I’m excited to return to that role once I lock this business down. I’m trying to get it done by the end of the month.
Wild Faith new trailer dropped (HERE)
The response has been great. But I can say in all honesty that the film is so much more enjoyable. The trailer is strong but the performances and characters created by everyone just make the world a place you want to return. I’ve got a few companies to run the final film by. I’ve held back from assigning to our current distributor only because I’m trying to leverage the TV series. The world is great and I can see a great opportunity to showcase more of the strong Michigan talent. The final audio and visual tweaks are being made. We’re starting some theatrical discussions in Michigan. Also we’ll be discussing a cast/crew/media showing and a Michigan premiere. It will be a fun spring and summer showing the film followed by a fall/winter push to home video. Exciting to see where it all goes. Some big eyes will be on the final film.
Josh Perry (Albus) and DJ Perry (Jesus) on set “The Christ Slayer”
The holiday season was a wonderful push for the first two films released in The Quest Trilogy. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star did very well and I’m sure we’ll be seeing the results of that soon. It will continue to play Amazon Prime and add new platforms, networks and territories. As we get to the end of January we’ll start to roll out a new level of promotion on the third film The Christ Slayer. I actually had a nice catch up with Josh Perry, one of our co-stars. We’re all excited to finish the trilogy. The first meetings over music and sound with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian and director Nathaniel Nose took place. I was shown the new trailer in the works. The first official poster should also be close to ready at the end of the month. The film really looks great and the trailer will be another great look. The teaser was intense but the trailer…smiles all around.
New releases this year for ASHES OF EDEN, WICKED SPRING and more…CDI Publishing launched with If I have any readers that enjoy doing reviews please do.
Dee Freeman is the author of the book based upon the earlier Wild Michigan screenplay. I have a few other books to post once the deal is done. Teaster (Dean’s Teaster’s Ghost Town) by Bob Terrell might be next. The KNIGHT CHILLS book starts a tour this year with author David Hayes. Again great to be working with all these artists.
TO BUY the KNIGHT CHILLS book * and movie
Lastly, we will be announcing CDI’s new website. We’re going to be expanding into streaming films with great talks coming from some of your CDI favorite actors and crew on the making of these projects. Direct Casting information to deal with our rush of reels and a new Merchandising section. Swag and merchandise has been one of the most asked about things and so I’m going to make efforts to grow that. You can JOIN THE TRIBE: Don’t hate, Create! – I was asked to take this saying of mine and put it to a shirt. Perhaps:)
Okay. Have a productive week everyone and try to stay warm. I’m going to cuddle in with this guy for a few and visualize the week ahead. Never stop dreaming. Never stop doing.
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
I’m sipping coffee on this peaceful Sunday. Beside me is a new 5 gal of Green Goblin 3.0 wine started on Halloween and by 11/4 on the full moon it was bubbling like a possessed spirit had invaded it. See what I did there? The spirit, okay back to the blog. New readers/followers from The Netherlands, welcome. Readers from Israel has been following us and again, thank you. I love this space – open for artists to stop by and listen to a story or two. To get a few updates and let you know that these battles we fight to create our art are natural. Part of the process of healing people with the power of a story. A medium that weaves so many emotions through so many of the human senses.
David Gries in THE CHRIST SLAYER
It’s been a strong week of organization and prepping to move into 2018. New announcements on MBF, our next CDI film. We added David Gries and Shane Hagedorn two other fine artists. I’ve worked with both of them and these roles are in caring hands. March will be a nice mix of old and new talent working together. This coming week I plan to open the bank account. Small steps on the path to production.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
American Film Market is underway and BMG has Forty Nights and Chasing the Star there right now. We made some announcements that the films were making their way to the UK. I also see evidence that Asia might be getting the films next. I was notified of a Singapore government ratings for Forty Nights. I will seek to confirm but I really do hope that our fans to the East can enjoy these beautiful films.
Domestically our recent goal now that we’re past Halloween, has been making people aware of the first two films in the marketplace for Christmas. Amazon Prime now has both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR. Watch them back to back and if you enjoyed them give them a little word of mouth or post a review. I think those films are just starting to travel a long journey of being exposed to artists worldwide.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is the 3rd film in the trilogy and it’s moving right along. We released a still of it being worked on in post VFX. (Here)
This third film will bring things together nicely. The poster is on the 3rd draft and getting stronger with each one. This film is preparing to enter music and sound design in Jan 2018.
For that to go in WILD FAITH needs to come out. The music first draft is DONE save tweaks and end credit roll. We’ll start putting that together now. I have high hopes that once the film is done the full merit of a series will be seen. We’re soon to sit and watch the film with the music in. Right now mixing and balancing is underway. The 10 sec of remaining VFX footage is what we’re dealing with still. But the plan is in motion and I’m confident we’ll complete that shortly.
We’ve also been delivering materials to our distributor for WICKED SPRING. It is an interesting feeling bringing that film to the forefront again. I did that role 17 years ago. Crazy. KNIGHT CHILLS had a new release with the book this year and that is a great little Christmas story. I’m smiling – but I will admit for people who have not been exposed to my work having KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS or IN THE WOODS be your intro is…scary. Zac, Frank and Alex are all great roles just not current representations. These films like others have gathered fans to which again I’m appreciative. My debate as of late was to accept invitations to participate in Comic Cons on occasion to celebrate these old works. I guess as I pondered it I got a touch of insight into Jeff Daniels who wants to be known for his dramatic excellence but people often just remember DUMB & DUMBER. How many sick, lonely, troubled and just bored people did that film make laugh? Giving relief by way of 90 mins of humor. Who are we to judge what people will enjoy? Hence art is subjective. Also some of these early films had so many rocks thrown at them. Some justified but many just the rise of the troll in this new medium of inter-webs:) I still hear the AOL dial-up. But if people can embrace these films more power to them. At the 15th anniversary to sit in the Alamo theater (Kazoo) and watch people shout, laugh and play the drinking game associated with IN THE WOODS was a joy. As we move through the present towards the future we must always make peace with our past. I’m getting there. I’m looking into the “Appearance circuit” although I’ve always wanted people to see the characters before the actor. I have met thousands of fans over the years and I’m appreciative. Although I don’t appear at many of these events it’s because of new work. I had a distributor friend ask if I was going to be at AFM. (Film Market) Actually I’ve had many ask. I told this person I was in MI overseeing post on two films while we prep for our new one. I would like to attend an AFM in the near future.
In addition to MBF prep we’ve been reviewing and looking at several other CDI & CDI associated projects. I think we’re preparing for another strong slate on films. As always I really do appreciate you stopping by. I hope the season is productive and wish you all a strong week ahead.
A little peanut butter toast and coffee to greet me on this fine morning. Last night I got to toast my longtime friend and film associate Dean Teaster for his 60th birthday. His property was looking just amazing. You can tell he’s put some serious time into it and it’s a very zen place to chillax. The tree fort is amazing and the cleared forest around it with the strings of lights, looked magical. A classic rock band, catered BBQ and a HUGE bar fueled the gathering into the night. I released my first burning Chinese lantern (pretty cool) and also watched the BIG fight to end my night. I hope my buddy will enjoy many more trips around the sun. A great time was had by all.
This week was full of film developments on many fronts.
The Quest Trilogy –
THE CHRIST SLAYER continues to move down post production looking to release next year. Meanwhile most of the attention is currently on CHASING THE STAR. The official release date is 9/5/17 but a few retailers have released early. Here’s the first Faith and General Market sites that you can rent/buy from.
Simply Grace magazine will run a featured story on Chasing the Star in November and Television On Demand becomes available Oct. 2nd – additionally were once again invited to attend the International Christian Film Festival 2018. We’ll see if we can follow our great 2017 run we had with FORTY NIGHTS. Here are a few of the recent reviews.
So this week we’re getting our summary for our new project MBF out to our past backers. We’re also going to be approaching our many sponsors that have supported our past projects. If you’ve got an interest in learning more on investment and/or sponsorship for your product or service, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally we’ve got first paperwork for a new deal on an older film in the library. Can you guess which film that might be? HINT: We’ve had the main theme of the film in our news headlines. Stay tuned!
This week business will continue to charge forward. At home – Our beans are slowing but the tomatoes are coming on fast and furious. My one pumpkin ‘Jack’ that was attacked has turned orange and so we do have one! The rhubarb/mulberry wine is ready to rack to the secondary. After a time in the secondary it goes to bottles. I’m also going to look at when we can do the shake siding on the office/fort. I really put in some time on the yard this past week which included discovering a large ground bee nest. I only got stung three times but now that’s been taken care of. Our furry boy Luke is on the mend and I hope that trend continues. Also today we have one of our last soccer games of our season before play offs. We’re looking like we might have low numbers today but we will battle with whatever warriors show up. Time to refill the coffee cup. Have a great week ahead.