The soccer season has ended, the garden harvest is slowing and the leaves are starting to fall. But this heat wave seems hot as any of our true summer days. On a positive note I’ve been trying to master this new grill and get my temps under control and such. Last night I had a very successful go at pork chops. I had my old grill down to a science and so it’s like re-learning and developing a process with the new grill. I’m going to refill the coffee and we can chat on some of the developments last week. I think I’m going to just throw them out there – updates.
CHASING THE STAR – A new marketing campaign is starting Oct 10th via our distributor, driving traffic to the AMAZON. We’ve also been invited to again submit to International Christian Film Festival for 2018. It’s been submitted and now we wait. I think we’ll know more in March.
FORTY NIGHTS – We’re just finishing new theatrical licensing deals for this film in Nov. in Texas and CHASING THE STAR in December. I do think this is in Gary Nation backyard. So unless it clashes with possible shoot dates (Is that a dropped hint?) he could attend.
Both these films are being pushed for the holiday season and I think audiences will enjoy them.
Here is a good lesson from the last couple weeks. There is a program that shows faith-content who approached us about possible licensing. Now after some communication , we requested some clarification. What followed was a poorly communicated email that after being quite offending they apologized and blamed some personal issues. OK. STOP. If I’m sending an email communication to HBO (Which I did) I would NEVER respond in the way this person did if I was trying to build a bridge to business. IF I had some personal issue that was going to paint my communications – STEP AWAY FROM THE EMAIL! DO NOT COMMUNICATE until you get your head straight. I was just surprised that once again this is someone claiming a mission/path that’s inline with Christianity yet they communicate like that. JUDGMENTAL. CONDESCENDING. RUDE. Not good business practice. It could have just been a bad week but if that’s the case – don’t communicate. I doubt this avenue will work out but I’m good with that.
Let’s talk positive. I went to a biz event in Grand Rapids with my attorney/producing amigo John Mashni at CHOP & HUE. They have done color correction and some great VFX credit work for a few of our films. It was great to partake in their event and success. I saw a few familiar faces and met a few new ones. I really enjoyed myself. I don’t break away from the work too often but I’m glad I did. I will try to attend a few more events but I always have so much to do and when I take a break it is usually in solitude.
The Christ Slayer – the VFX work on this picture is moving along in strength. We started working on our first official poster ideas this week. We should have a locked picture with VFX by the end of the year.
That fits nicely with WILD FAITH that will be finishing up at year’s end. The response to the poster, trailer and BTS has been strong. I’m still looking to launch the TV series but I think it will take studios/networks watching the final film. The characters and world are so endearing it makes you want to see more. I did get some creative writing on show #2 this past week. We will see how it all plays out.
MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is our next CDI film. We had an announcement that Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. Our biz commits are flowing in and this week we’ll start announcing cast. We have two possible shoot windows – one that is before the holidays (Nov) and one that is after (Jan/Feb). It all depends on the speed of the financial commits. We’ve got two more weeks to push and see what will work best for production. That is a key question that aspiring producers should get use to asking. WHAT IS BEST FOR PRODUCTION? Many inexperienced producers make decisions that put production second. That is often where trouble starts. I’m so excited about the cast and crew lining up and I know once again we’ll put something strong onscreen.
This week was also spend prepping some other endeavors. One being a certain Civil War film that will be making its way back into the market in 2018. Also the original script I wrote for Wild Faith was turned into a book. I will be releasing the book to Amazon under the original title. The script was adapted into a new script for budget before heading into production. Instead of having the author Dee Freeman redo the book to match the new movie, I decided to leave the book story AS IS. I think it gives an interesting look at the movie that never was but allows a look at what inspired – WHAT IS.
Speaking of books I know the KNIGHT CHILLS book is now for sale at Comic Cons and I hope a new generation of readers/viewers experience the story.
BUY IT HERE – GREAT GIFT:)
As we welcome in the fall season I’ve been circling back and watching a few of the old horror films. This week I took a watch on Darkest Nights. It was fun to return to that mango estate in the Philippines and try to survive the darkest night. I miss all my cast and crew mates. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and I’m thankful to have had it.
I get asked quite often if I will return to horror genre and the answer is of course, when I find the right story. I’ve had a few filmmakers upset at me because I passed on their film. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. Execution is an issue for all filmmakers. It’s hard to take the words and make it all come to life but when the script is not strong it makes the process harder. And many directors are also the writer so they can take any feedback very personal. I understand this ‘protectiveness’ and if the company is happy with the script and you’re not, a polite pass is the best option. But sometimes even the polite pass can bring out someones anger. I’m hoping for a strong script every time one is submitted to me for acting. We as actors all want that. So to get back on track, I’ve been asked about my return to horror genre and the answer is when the right deal comes across the desk.
I had some fans ask about the C.U.J.O. reboot. I know that King’s team is working to reel back in some of his ‘rights’ to his classic films CUJO included. I know that talks are continuing with the Sunn Classic Pictures team. How will the chips fall is unknown. I would love to be part of a King project someday in the future. Will it be a C.U.J.O. reboot? That is not up to me but I will let you all know what I find out.
Outside of all this work I’ve been in exploratory talks over obtaining a literary agent. I’m about to go into production on my 5th script and I’ve got several scripts I would be willing to sell off. It will all come together. I know I have more calls to catch up on this coming week. For those that I did not get back to – rest assured I will.
Enjoy your Sunday and Go LIONS!
I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.
So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall. I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.
After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.
CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.
The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.
I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.
Be good to one another.
Welcome friends from Malta and Mexico. I’m sitting down with my coffee and thinking back on what a productive week was had here at CDI. Last week those who read our blog got the early notice on Part 2 (Chasing the Star/CTS) of The Quest Trilogy releasing digitally before the Sept 5th date. Amazon and Christian Cinema both have the film now for those that cannot wait. After Sept 5th the DVD’s will start rolling out from retailers. We also are in the process of accepting the invite to show “CTS” at the 2018 festival. “Forty Nights” won ‘Most Inspirational’ so we’ll see how Part 2 does. So far the reviews have been strong and we know how audiences react. As I prepare for a few BIG pitch meetings I’m happy to show you all the TRILOGY trailers back-to-back. ENJOY
An actual TRILOGY trailer is being worked on. “The Christ Slayer” VFX is doing great. I got to see some of the work involved in the VFX work. The scene they are working on is the crucifixion scene. We’ll be rolling more out on this once we get “Chasing the Star” launched into the marketplace. We’re also putting the deal together for a church theatrical program in Novasota, Texas. In Nov and Dec they will license Part 1 & Part 2 to show. I can see the days ahead whereas the trilogy will play back-to-back during the holiday season.
Music work by the incredible Dennis Therrian continues. This month we’re going to push hard to finish the music and VFX. We had a good meeting with director Jesse Low to evaluate our final actions. Also the first poster is very close. I’m very excited about the potential of this film and beyond.
NEW SET UP
Potential deals loom for “Ashes of Eden” and a classic “Wicked Spring” – the latter is the Civil War film we produced 17 years ago when I had a sister company to CDI called Lionheart Filmworks. It was created in VA with director Kevin Hershberger and was directed at historic content. I split several years ago and we took all rights to “Wicked Spring” in exchange for our holding in Lionheart Filmworks. I’ve been happy to see the success Kevin has had with his TV series Legends & Lies and such. It is a great story that will speak to this generation.
The NEW Collective Development Inc. company website is weeks away from launching. The new CDI Youtube site phase one is up. It will be a great hub to find/buy/rent CDI content and merchandise. The TRIBE is on the move.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND/MBF
This project now has the business foundation in place. We’re going to push hard to see if we can hit our target window to shoot. Our casting process has been on-going and we’ve seen some great talent from around the country. We’ll be making the announcement on our director Anthony Hornus this week. Also we’ll start rolling out some of the attached cast and crew. I’m beyond excited by some of the wonderful talent. Bridgestone Multimedia Group will distribute worldwide.
So in summary, re-watch “Forty Nights” and watch “Chasing the Star” – please do leave online reviews and spread the word if you liked what you saw. I’m also happy to announce that the shake upper siding, (back and front) on the office are now installed. Just the cedar flash and rafters to go and the outside will be about done. We also had the first wood stove fire of the season yesterday. I’m ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. I want to film this fall and that just may be in the cards. Be good to one another.
I’m sitting in my big leather chair by my electric fire – The Candleberry Candle and sipping the hazelnut coffee. I’ve got sleeping dogs around me happy to have me back into the fold of the pack.
Shane Hagedorn rolling with the Collective Development OG’s:)
I’ve just returned from running with another pack of artists filmmakers creating an 1800’s action drama. I can honestly say it was some of the best fun I’ve had in many years. It reunited me with many friends and artists some that worked together last in this genre a decade ago.
Production Designer Jen Raine & Art Director Austin Two Feathers
It introduced me to a slew of new artists who I think appreciate the Collective Development Inc. approach and take to filmmaking. We use to do this as children for free – the make-believe. And now to pay people to create that same fun but with bigger toys and doing it day after day until we get our puzzle pieces. I got to observe seasoned film warriors work side by side with what will be the next generation of film warriors. I saw people realize that within a powerful problem solving group strong art can be born. I saw people forget past dealings with others and give us a chance to be a positive experience. I’m developing key crews and key to me starts with a 100% positive attitude. You can make several mistakes giving your best effort and from me you will get mentoring and compassion. That positive attitude is hard for many to keep in this industry – you don’t have to dig far to hear the horror stories. I’m a person who dislikes having my time wasted, who does? I’ve got several ways I can waste my own time and still enjoy it – I don’t need waste imposed upon me. I do shun people who purposely waste my time with unreasonable. Do I have any examples to help illustrate? Perhaps…
A mix of acting talent on set #wildfaith
One acting role in our recent film underwent several discussions before falling to a very talented, 200% positive (through the roof) ready for success gent. The first major look came by association – one of our producers had worked with this person. A read that was strong and a direction was set – but full disclosure of a change in residence lost this person the role.
Another option – a young hopeful gives a good read but ultimately has no vehicle. I’m not judging, but as an actor I can say that a phone and car are the two things you need to thrive in our smaller regional market.
Opportunity knocks again – As a talent when you get a call from a company that based on your previous work wants to hire you again – slam dunk? Not quite – instead of an easy transaction of business someone suggests a string of silly actions – not anything a production in pre-production can or will handle. It also speaks poorly of this persons maturity, character and true dedication to do what you need to do until your craft is accepted.
This casting string really created a well needed lightness to the pre-production talks. CDI is ran primarily by actor/producers and individually we’ve all had and some continue to have the struggles that come with acting. To see three actors shoot themselves in the foot was offset by the enthusiasm of the one who got to call BINGO!
Be prepared actors. (Take 2) Be prepared actors. Not just in your craft but in your professionalism. Not fixing that car because it is a pain in the butt. Not getting a job with flexibility of schedule. Don’t help yourself fail in an industry that is already difficult. By taking care of your business you can be ready for when opportunity knocks. Organized. Prepared. Ready to succeed.
We had a key position whereas because of a change in our shoot locations we had to make a change. One person visiting Michigan on another endeavor got a call and within two hours was onboard. They started the next day. Opportunity knocked and it will likely result in another hiring in the spring.
I’ve seen people I’ve hired before return with new battle hardness that made me smile. I saw the few situations we had handled with calm professionalism. Now some may have experienced their first feature run and decide short format is more their pace. Feature shooting is harder, longer and requires a different mental and physical endurance. With our larger budgets we often had additional on location pre production and additional shoot weeks. So to all my crew that traveled with us – I’m tipping my hat. To the ones there all the way through – be proud that is a true benchmark.
One additional planned day of battle footage and a few powerful moments with our films lead Shane Hagedorn. It was a really cool experience to see Shane ride this story out. He made it his and brought such a cool edge to the role. Our Lisa Smith who plays opposite him was such a find. Many of the actresses had a great take on the lead role. This actresses brought it out in Shane, it showed. The children, the outlaws, townsfolk, circus folks all cast with care and it shows.
My humblest respect to my fellow producing team – 1st AD Nate Robertson who TCB (Takes care of Business) on set and the staff who handles everything behind the scenes from accounting to PR and everything in between, we are ONE TRIBE. Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon) what an honor to story tell with you both again.
Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon)
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“Wild Faith” coming 2017
I had a chance to see the first rough trailer for “Chasing the Star” and it exceeded my expectations greatly. I think because we’re dealing with a topic that people have such a limited insight to – how do we present that? And I think it was done in a beautiful fashion. Music is complete and dialog clean up is underway with sound design. VFX work is also underway. Bret Miller and CDI have a great follow-up with part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Which brings me to part 3 – This week I will be starting to put the business together on “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in the spring. More intense talks on this film in the coming weeks.
“40 Nights” is flowing in the positive direction and this week we’ll be discussing marketing efforts with Lightworx about “40 Nights” and the trilogy moving forward.
I’m going to go finish unpacking my vehicle that was packed up “Beverly Hillbilly’s” style – just needed a rocking chair on top:) Have a great fall morning and keep moving forward. Dare to dream. Create don’t hate.
(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)
It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.
Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.
On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”
Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.
A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.
“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.
This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead. Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.
Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!
Welcome one and all to my “Clawing My Way to the Middle” blog. It is noon and I’m back to sipping the last of the coffee while putting a few thoughts down on here. This week was full of meetings and interviews – vetting and exploring as we continue to move forward. Last week we announced “Wild Faith” our next film with director Jesse Low. The heat wave snapped with the storm yesterday in Michigan and I’m very happy about that. I’m more of a cool weather person and so we’re soon to transition into my favorite time of year. I picked a load of veggies yesterday from our garden. We’ve been enjoying fresh everything daily from tomato on sandwiches to steamed beans and squash. The rain also has the yard filling in dead spots from the brutal heat. My hair and beard are mountain man crazy (Is that a hint?) so the heat was mildly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the weekly recaps.
The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” is moving steady down the post-production tracks and so if you’ve not seen part 1 – take a watch.
Chasing the Star
This week we should start looking at VFX work. The music and sound design is underway with that talented Dennis Therrian. Our INTRO will again be done by CHOP & HUE. We plan to have our first premiere before Christmas and I’m excited for audiences to see it. I had a dental cleaning and my dentist right away wanted to know how the second film was coming. He and his daughter attended the first one in the theater and loved it. So we have a built in audience waiting for part 2.
The Christ Slayer
Next month we will start to pull some business together on this film. The script is out to the returning players. I was happy to get such a beautiful response from our returning talent. I’ve been talking with other possible players and looking at behind the camera players also. I’m excited about shooting the last of the three in the QUEST TRILOGY.
Wild Faith will be officially entering pre-production as our business paperwork comes together this week. We’ve been looking at reels and reads and I’m excited about the cast coming together. We’ve been discussing the business behind this pilot feature and a possible 10 show season #1 to be shot in Michigan.
Knight Chills 2 – We’re prepping some PR that will detail our development underway with our friends at BlackJacket Films. Camera tests and casting have been quietly taking place. Distribution talks are underway both for the 20th anniversary re-release of the original and our follow-up feature.
Additional talks have been underway with Jeff Kennedy, Dean Teaster and Anthony Hornus and we might see new projects from all of them in the near future.
This week is full of more meetings but I’ve been enjoying the on-camera prep work I’m doing. We have the first round of soccer playoffs this eve so I’m looking forward to that. We finished 3rd overall and it’s been a great season. That intense running in the heat has me in good shape so running around in the woods should be a breeze.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead!
PS: Luke is home and doing very good from his bout of illness.