It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.
I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.
Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ
I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development. At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.
I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?
CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH
So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.
LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.
WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.
Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.
The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.
DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.
Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.
“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)
Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.
Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
Hello to everyone out there. I’m sipping away at my coffee on this beautiful day in Michigan. It has been a doozy of a week for most as more of our pop culture icons have passed away – Chyna, Prince. I think as we age and we see our actors, musicians and artists pass away if really reframes the world. It is why we as artists must also strive to step up and fill a purpose. A purpose to educate, entertain, comfort and encourage people in various ways.
The past weeks have been exciting with audiences purchasing/renting “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and now “Donors” has been released. I’ve had “fan mail” and communications every couple hours over the films. I think because of the main role in “40 Nights/Jesus” more of the feedback has been about that film but “Donnie/Ashes of Eden” and “Dr. Savior/Donors” are both worth meeting. The Walmart sales have been very strong in pockets but not across the board, so we have to just keep pushing the PR and redistribute stock internally to the stores that are moving more DVD’s. FishFlix, Amazon.com and others have been selling out online but restocking quickly. Ask your local retailers and that will help spread the distribution patterns. “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are now HD Digital On Demand so you can watch immediately.
ON DEMAND – Here are links…
ASHES OF EDEN
Feel free to leave reviews at any of these sites, IMDB.com, Amazon.com as these all help push the films.
You must build bridges. But only with good character people in like minded partnerships. There’s a company that was presented to me by a close associate. This company does various services in the commercial industry. For about 18 months they were presented to me and finally we met. A few guys trying to carve their artistic path out from a sea of creatives. So on a project this company ended up doing two services for us and it was done with quality. A first step in a new relationship. Now a second project follows with a new creative director and only one of the two services would be required. One of the services was being covered as a result of direct negotiations with the director before filming or even hiring. Another advantage is the second task has more time to allow this one service to be done. A second step in a new emerging creative relationship – WAIT! In my opinion, one partner there did the service we had no need for. Now this opportunity would allow whomever does the second service a real chance to shine. This is not high pay but t’s not free, and it surely gives more creative than a commercial project. I’m about people who want the opportunity to participate with our artists but I feel like some of my time was wasted during those 18 months where I was being told these guys were eager for an opportunity to grow with us. So it goes.
MORE ADVICE ON WORKING FOR CDI
Most all hirings come from recommendation and standing accountable. Finger pointing and blame shifting is the worse thing you can do at CDI. There is not much of that because we pull those weeds. Strength comes in admitting a situation got the best of you. By recognizing that it shows strength and wisdom. I’m also looking to put people into a long term working relationship. Some of our people have been with us 16-20 years and counting. Once we work with someone I’m looking at…
1) Attitude – this is priceless. Are they CAN DO positive people? Do they inspire others? This also means sincere talk over gossip/poison. Keep your vulgar jokes and such until wrap and you’re with your friends. If you have experience over someone see that as an opportunity to share/teach not gloat. Be that valuable person.
2) Artistic passion – this is a drive to do something outside the cogs and wheels of society. It’s both divine and humbling all at once. Powerful enlightening stories that can give ease and escape to others in high stress jobs. Humbling in the fact that if you create a poor scene nobody flatlines on a table. Passion is a MUST in all our hires. If you are not passionate about a certain position DON’T do it. If you do it poorly or by dragging your feet, those attributes will be applied to your overall character.
3) Dependability – I once had a talented director work within a crew (Not directing). He failed at his tasks by the worse way – quitting. I like this person just fine but by policy I cannot risk any money behind this person going forward. If they quit at something small they could quit at something big. Another recent example also had a key crew member quit before starting a project in a poor way. This character example again makes him not suitable for re-hire. I like this person greatly and friendship wasn’t taken off the table. But the communications became less (none) because he knew I had less to offer him. On a positive when this person had to be replaced on the fly one of our “tried and true” stepped up into a position they had not done and won. It was an example of stepping up and that is likely why he’s been with us almost two decades.
4) Leadership – The last line I typed above ties into this bullet point. Upon working with us on a film, people will be evaluated in a few ways. Did a KEY step up and problem solve within his department? Did they keep their department on budget? Did they keep their department organized? Did they use all their resources? Attitude? Sometimes we hire a key that in retrospect needs to be placed under a more experienced key on future films. This is usually someone who really tried just lacks the organization skills and leadership, but worked hard. In some non-keys, we realize the hard work and notice leadership attributes that may lead to a promotion on upcoming films. Some people after the fact are evaluated and deemed a no rehire.
NOW if you’ve worked for us on a film and a second call to action hasn’t come it’s often not anything personal. It’s sometimes about finances, such as how many people can be flown here or there. It can be keys that surround certain directors and are requested. I guess I wanted to put this out there because crew like cast are artists. Actors are usually quick to think that something they did or did not do is why they were not hired. Sometimes it is an AGE or a LOOK thing. Crew feels the same thing at times so I wanted to shed some light. Rates of course are another factor but if I like working with a company I try my best to maintain that relationship. When you get out of line someone hungry is there to take your place.
“Chasing the Star”
OK. “Chasing the Star” is in editing and we also plan to have a first teaser in the coming weeks. Here is our new font to put into our teaser poster.
We’ll be having lots more promotional stuff rolling out soon. I’ve just finished polishing the 1st draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. That has been sent to the first few people to look at. I had great talks with our distributor this week on THE QUEST TRILOGY and I’m excited moving forward. VERY EXCITED!
Keep moving forward my friends. Be the person they want to hire and hire and hire…
Have a great weekend. Our first soccer game is today so I’m ready to do battle again this season. Happy Spring!