Welcome Poland, France and Australia. They’ve been following the blog and even readers are now hailing from China. I’m excited that so many artistic individuals are finding a community around ‘Clawing my way to the Middle’ blog. I’ve just gotten back in from running around including visiting my mom which has been fighting a cold. Actually many around me have been sick from my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and the list goes on. A party for my step-sister who just became a doctor MD was shortened due to illness. I just try to keep moving past it all and so far (knock on wood) only slight sniffle or cough first thing in the morning and fine after that. No soccer today because of Mother’s Day. I’m going to get to see an old friend of mine who flew in today but only because his mom is sick. So I’m going to finish this up and I think go till the garden. This week we worked on finishing the flashing and chimney cap on the office/fort plus some wood trim in the bath. It has been somewhat cold and wet the last few weeks but sunshine is on the way this week. I hope those of you able to- shared a few moments with your mothers or took time out to think about them. Let’s look at some of the week updates.
The big news on this front was the winning of ‘Most Inspirational’ at the ICFF in Orlando, FL. This is a great nod to all the cast and crew and as storytellers we could not ask for more. If you’ve seen the film and it did indeed inspire you in some way please do go to http://www.imdb.com (40 Nights/Forty Nights) Vote and leave your own story. I do know that foreign sales lie ahead.
Chasing the Star
This film has just concluded the last run in Michigan (For now) at the Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI so thank you very much! We’ll be discussing taking the film out of state prior to the Sept 5th national release on DVD/streaming/VOD with Bridgestone. We’ll be announcing the new DVD artwork soon that BMG developed.
The Christ Slayer
Editing continues as we close in on a rough cut. As I’ve noted before we’ll be working on the poster and first trailer.
The sound design and dialog clean up continues. I hope to meet this week over the poster art.
Development – I’ve been writing and working hard on setting the slate for the upcoming CDI projects. I’ve also been pondering what acting role I might enjoy next. I’m also in talks on a few possible work-for-hire writing endeavors. I’m always open to discussions on writing, acting and such. Just please make sure you’re funded:) I feel like I had a topic I wanted to discuss but for some reason I can’t recall it. I’m remember it half way through tilling the garden up.
Be good to one another and have a great day and week ahead!
Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.
Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith
Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.
‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.
40 Nights trailer
And the second film…
Chasing the Star trailer
And now the business of development on the third film is starting.
So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.
I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.
Have a great week ahead!
USA, Australia, Brazil and China are the top four countries where our readers are from. I’ve not been to any of the last three but I’m appreciative to you all. I’ve had films released in all three of those territories – following the USA. What I do love is the community of artistry. We’ve had a lot of rain this week but also signs of the coming fall. MSU football is getting close to kicking off and that is excitement. With my boy Luke on recovery the squirrels have come in force stripping roughly a third of my apples off the tree and making a play for the garden harvest. I cannot blame theme but we’ve got more than enough for them to eat without their garden raids.
This week was full of ups and downs but steady movement forward especially with post work and development work that is about to go full pre-production. I will speak briefly about one encounter. I had a business intro call that was set up to make introductions and set the foundation for future business. This was to be with an executive at a well-known company. Just because you are dealing with a larger corporation does not make them BETTER organized. It had been many years since I had to deal with attitude from someone. But, I always go in with respect and professionalism. That said, when someone line steps you sometimes have to put them into check. But, you must be willing to lose the business. The best business is not when someone tries to discount a property to leverage the best deal. I love when they are honest with what they really like and express a wish to do some same-side of the table negotiation and create a WIN-WIN. That is the difference between true leaders and those who were in a position and gone in 8-18 months. These people also represent the BRAND. I take great pride in our artists on both sides of the camera. I would rather develop the right personality versus working with an ass that may be talented but makes the journey sour. This one individual had a couple of possible reasons for their odd behavior but most stem from low self-esteem. He had another young female executive on the phone call and was trying to be manly by being confrontational. Well, that conversation did not go exactly how he planned it. Remember this people.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
Many think that a name tag, door plaque or desk moniker will automatically give respect. Initially people will respect the office but if the personality is unfit they become a joke. That only enhances their need to try to feel powerful by treating people poorly. I’ve had many people over the years treat me well only to have me observe them treating others they feel below them, poorly. Don’t be this person. I respect everyone on our projects from DP to he or she who makes the coffee. This person will likely continue to hurt their branding. Don’t hurt YOUR branding.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – As we move towards finishing Part 2 “Chasing the Star” more people are introduced to our biblical world in “40 Nights” – Also had the pleasure recently of taking several meetings over our third upcoming film “The Christ Slayer” which despite the attention grabbing title is a beautiful story.
“Chasing the Star” – some amazing new stills will be rolling out. A poster, a trailer – all these great promotional items will start rolling out as we close in on the finish line.
“The Christ Slayer” – The returning cast are very excited by the third installment. I’ve been looking at and developing some of the important foundation elements of this story. I will enjoy the final trek into this world one more time as Jesus. A swan song to a beautiful role which has brought smiles to many people. I thank all of you audiences for that.
“Wild Faith” – Our team has started to line up our cast and crew for this 1800’s story that takes place in Michigan shortly after the Civil War. I’ve been engaged in discussions with key artists and we’ll have many more announcements soon. This week we announced Melissa Anschutz and Lana Wood joining the cast. I’m excited about the additional announcements. I love Michigan in the fall. I love westerns. I love my fellow artists who will join in telling the story. Each cast and crew is unique. I’m excited to be prepping to play a role in this film and to work with all these fine people telling this story.
I’ve got much more I could ramble on about but instead I’m going to pick from the garden and do a few things around the homestead. Be good to each other. Keep following your dreams. Keep clawing.
I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the early morning here in Michigan. We had a nice relaxing day up North after a very busy week of business. I want to welcome some of our new blog followers from India. Our international readers might enjoy some of the updates as we work to get more of our films to you.
I spoke about some “uninvited drama” last week. It has been put to rest. You have to seek to do that. Actually the less attention and energy you give it the better. I have a friend that I’ve known a long time. They seem to be going through an adjustment and break from a TOXIC relationship. I do note that they get into these long drawn exchanges of words. Now as someone who writes this blog, I know how much time they take to write. When people take all this additional time to debate what should not be debatable, it eats huge amounts of time with no payoff save frustration. DELETE and move on. Consider not posting things that will end up wasting your time if you are unable to IGNORE. To apply that to my life – if I was to take every critical personal attack to heart and waste all this time defending – little would get done. But in the time it would take to read or address these negatives – I’ve landed a new distribution deal. I’ve written another script scene. I’ve combed through a budget. Even a “Charlie Brown” (Whoa is me) statement will often bring a bunch of sympathy responses. Answering all those with a polite retort can eat a morning up or afternoon. So be careful what you throw out there. Someone who is feeling down and engages in such behavior risks only feeling down again for lack of productivity. Now push those feelings aside and get a list of TO DO’s done and I promise you will feel better. An issue might still exist but you did not feed it. You did not allow it to consume you. You controlled it and TCB baby! (Took care (of) business) Next time you feel like writing a short novel spewing the frustration over someones actions you can’t control – try ignoring it and taking care of yourself. Tackle that task that you’ve been putting off and I promise you – you will start to feel empowered. Less talk – more action!
To the FILMS…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – What can I say? My goal is that all three films will become a holiday tradition to watch. I think they have the power to do so but we will see in 20 years now won’t we. Family Video has joined our growing list of retailers and rental houses. Here is a new review that was sent over today –
I’ve heard of people watching the film multiple times for an uplift. I’ve been told of the DVD being given as a gift. I’ve enjoyed hearing what joy has come from the little film we artist created.
The second “Chasing the Star” should have its second cut. We will be reviewing this week. Things are in line with music and we will be addressing our INTRO and VFX soon! It is exciting to see it all come together and I’m so proud of our team.
I’ve started the hunt for the director of our third film, “The Christ Slayer” which despite the harsh title is a beautiful story. We’ve been dealing with returning cast and also starting to look at new artists. I will be excited to finish this trilogy next year.
Many of our CDI/CDI Associated films are expanding. Every couple of weeks we’re announcing new pathways. Let’s look at a few developing.
- “Locked in a Room” is moving into a secondary distribution including a few new foreign territories. It is already in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it will be expanding again it looks like. This is a unique thriller by the awesome twisted mind of director Larry Simmons.
- PR this week will be announcing the return of the “Knight Chills” franchise. The new Facebook page is up although not much to it yet save the new trailer. It will release in 2017 with the book that is complete. https://www.facebook.com/KnightChills/?fref=ts
- 2017 will see several new releases as our deal making continues.
- “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” continue to widen their circle of availability. This past week we announced FAMILY VIDEO carrying this trio of films.
- The CDI Classic library is now digitized and so in 2017 some of these films will enjoy their first On-Demand or Blu-Ray releases. Some special edition DVD releases will also happen in 2017. (Wicked Spring:)
We discussed “Knight Chills” and while we’ve been keeping it under tight wraps – the sequel is in active development. We’re tweaking the teaser trailer for the sequel and we’ll be doing some strong PR on this exciting event in the near future.
A Jesse Low directed western project is in active development and nearing pre-production status. It’s inspired by a project we tried to launch during the writer’s strike years ago only to have it die a slow painful death. Yes. I too have failures. The heart of the previous story will beat strongly as we move forward with this new creative team. We will have some strong announcements concerning this project in the coming weeks.
- YES both the projects could provide some Michigan casting opportunities. So as I’ve said before – we like looking at “game footage” so get your acting reels together.
Men out there, words of wisdom – IF you plan to audition for a western (which we are trying to shoot this year) LET IT GROW, LET IT GROW! Same with our biblical films as we DO NOT like fake beards/hair etc… I think it comes from one project I had an association too – it was fine enough drama but it was so distracting because it looked like someone glued beaver pelts to people’s faces. I think that scare of all that hard work suffering because an actor can’t make the commit to grow hair/beard when required. So…there you have it.
Here is another little gem with casting at CDI anyway…always feel free to send an updated reel or clip to me. But to put minds at rest – if we’ve hired you before to no issues. (You trouble makers know who you are) Providing you brought your performance A-game and you were a sail NOT an anchor, you will be considered. You are often hand delivered under the nose of a director. My phone always rings more during casting times than non but I love you all the same. I just want some of you who don’t get called to know you were likely considered. Your location vs budget, age, look etc…all can factor into decisions but ole DJ remembers his co-stars. Some of you can attest to getting the calls out of the blue – sometimes years after a discussion. But keep your materials strong and current.
While on casting let me point out one other observation. I think this is important to many of those tween talent growing into adulthood. I follow a handful of promising talent that I am impressed by but waiting for the right project. I caught a glimpse of an actress I’ve followed and almost worked with – going through a public store with a couple co-stars. They were loud, obnoxious and created a few messes. Now, I’m not a saint and I’ve been kicked out of a few stores in college BUT I was not away on business representing a project and a company. I was just disappointed because I, as a company owner look for professionals that reflect well on our casting decisions. These young ladies I’m sure had no problems talking about their project but I felt like I was watching an episode of JACKASS. I guess this works for them and they might all be great actresses but I do think they will lose out on some roles because of how they paint themselves off camera/on set and off camera/off set. Yes. Wrap is called and it’s your free time but I think some professional behavior is desired by some productions. Like ours.
Alright, I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m going to go have another coffee and enjoy the day. Another soccer battle today. We won the last game so we’ll see if we can earn another victory.
The first snow of mention kissed the ground last night. It’s beautiful and welcome at least for a while. The harvest was finished yesterday with the pulling of the beets. A final mulch and mow and stowing the last of the yard items until spring. This morning has been all coffee (BREAKING update) I may have a new coffee sponsor – stay tuned. Speaking of sponsors, this morning has been wonderful with coffee and The Candleberry Candle Company! They have been a personal sponsor for a few years helping me find my mindspace to work on scripts. My zen to keep patience when dealing with accounting and BS technology issues. OK. Let’s be honest on that front. 98% of my technology issues are with my technological issues. From my earliest days of friends playing with the video camera – my buddy Darrel was always the camera guy. He could get the camera to roll back to the right VHS frame. We didn’t have editing back in the day. We shot one take in order. Boom box on set was our music. Those days were fun and free. Of course being young without the daily adult issues was more free. I cherish those days beyond words. I’ve worked hard to establish a worth in our business and I can’t just play. It reduces value and being part of something “bad” (maybe still fun) can make you go backwards. I’ve got management pushing me up into the larger films. I’ve got a few studios that have taken an interest in developing my branding. I still have fun when playing on set now – it just has to make sense business-wise.
I had a funny message a few weeks ago but I was too busy to really even address it. It was from a filmmaker whom I had heard all good things about. Previously they had expressed to a mutual associate that they wanted to get a script in my hands. It was in the thriller/horror genre as I recall. With good recommendations behind them I even thought a future collaboration might be possible. I have a few horror scripts with interested distribution and foreign sales waiting. It has to be the right director and the project just is not front and center right now in development. They were working on a script and we inquired about bringing to the table scripts that made business-sense because business was there. I recall the idea being just lukewarm. Lot’s of people have their own scripts to do but if distributors/retailers don’t want it why shoot it? So fast forward and coming from Yuma shooting “40 Nights” I recall getting a script and reading it at the airport. It wasn’t bad as I recall just not anything I was into doing. Maybe I needed time away from playing Jesus before heading into the dark side again? But whatever reason – it was a pass. Now under some odd screen name I got contacted and scolded for talking SHI$% about their script and making a Jesus film. OK. They wanted to twist a dagger with a “So and so also just made the same Jesus film…” 🙂 First, you have not seen our film. Second, that is like saying, “someone else made a film about a haunted house” – okay. I’ve had rocks thrown at me for years and I’m okay with that. It is a badge of honor and respect – some of my celebrity friends have all confirmed – when hate starts you’re getting success. Now, when I got around to reading this message I wasn’t mad. To me, I saw a frustrated artist who took my rejection of a role as a rejection of his art. Not true. I almost reached out because if he is a good artist this kind of negativity leads to career death. I can say that because I’ve seen it. That was the funny thing about our screening of “An Ordinary Killer” last week. A perfect movie? No. Art is subjective. It did sell out 12 of 13 theatricals, USA/Australia distribution and played on ABC. We made that film 13 years ago. WOW! And that was our 5th CDI feature and the library is much larger now. The point is I want people to succeed but by good business and hard work. No shortcuts and half-ass business. People who know me will say that I give you an honest opinion. I’ve had lots of experiences in our business and while I learn something new daily – I’ve gathered a good amount of knowledge.
RESPECT. I’ve given it and had several good advisors and mentors.
IF YOU GIVE IT – you too can learn, grow and thrive.
That one communication was just a good example of how not to build bridges. You get feedback and you get defensive – that shuts down any respectful communication. Do I practice what I preach?
CHASING THE STAR – On Friday Bret Miller, our director and I, concluded a three-hour plus script meeting. I’m happy to say we have draft 2 with the directors input. We moved a few scenes for pacing and flow and he had a few ideas that we put in there. Our distributors had purchased a suit and we were giving it a tailor. It is exciting and so that will start to go out next week.
On casting we’ve been looking at several reels – most on the west coast because we’re limited on flights. We also fly in several of our keys because that is just as important. They are stars on the other side of the camera. Funny. In Michigan I hear complaints when films come in and bring their keys. I will once again get back at them by bringing some of our Michigan keys. I can’t bring everyone and that is a hard balance. But once again some of us will depart Michigan in Feb for Arizona. Maybe that is why I can enjoy the snow.
40 Nights – This week my goal is to pull in the intro sequence and VFX. Sound design is closing up and our director loved the direction. The music score is also coming together. We released a teaser that used a snippet of music.
We’ve been re-mastered the CDI library in prep of some new VOD, foreign, TV deals and a possible CDI Online store. The book/DVD deal on “Knight Chills” is signed and some PR will release on that.
I thought some PR from our distributor was coming out on the “Ashes of Eden” TV deal. Something for next week! Closed caption deal on “Donors” releasing Feb 02. “Bestseller” is playing Grayling, MI Dec. 10th look for a new event page and updates. The national release date on “Bestseller” might be March 02 but we’re trying to confirm. I will confirm that artwork is being done and I’m looking forward to that.
Script, script, scripts… – I signed an NDA and had a book sent to me that will be followed by the script. A studio I’m working with sent me a script that they want me to star in. Also another couple of projects to consider/talk about – one is a TV show reboot and the other a major film on par with C.U.J.O.. That project is moving forward and looks to shoot in 2016. I will say more when I can.
Let’s wrap this up. I’m going to watch MSU and maybe read a script.
Enjoy your weekend!
This is coming the morning after my usual Saturday postings. The delay started with the MSU game here and continued with a few friends watching TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – cool Halloween flick. So, you’re getting a first thing Sunday morning update. Another thing to note is the large audience I have here for my blog – Australia topped the list of readers this week. I will have to make extra efforts to get more film product there. It would be great to go film over there at some point
By the end of this week I was tired of calls, meetings, emails, proposals and breakdowns. Besides the post work we’re getting ready to launch into CHASING THE STAR our second biblical era film. We’ve been interviewing directors and looking at reels from west coast talent. You want to find that person who has that right blend of experience and passion. Not just a willingness to try but succeed and improve upon our last endeavor. That is always the overall goal to streamline and make the process flow while learning as we go.
I don’t have any deep insights this week. This past week like all weeks are always full of disappointments and also exciting possibility. The disappointment is often in the actions of people. The exciting possibilities also come from the actions of people.
POSITIVE COMMUNICATION! Choose positive approaches to problems and always treat people with respect. Do you know what you get in return? Respect. Such a basic thing but I see people put their own foot in their mouth time after time. They often think they are being passive-aggressive clever but really they paint a sad picture of their personal security and identity. I’ve had people that I’ve watched – speak aloof with little to nothing to truly back it up. Those situations will often bring those individuals face-to-face with future hard realities. That reality is that it takes a team and if respect is lacking – like in sports – they will trade you. You cannot thrive in team environments without respect. I’ve experienced so many people with a wide range of ego. I’ve seen some people evolve into very successful careers while others go one and done on feature films. The universe has away of self balancing itself and things will fall as they should. Be positive. Be kind. Respect others. Your chance at success will be greatly increased.
40 NIGHTS – We’re chugging down the line. This week we will be promoting the page on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website that allows you to sign up for your organizations interest in a theatrical showing. We will be announcing another company partnering with us from Michigan on this project so stay tuned.
BESTSELLER – Looking forward to the Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I think the film will also be playing in Grayling, MI this year. We’re still trying to set a few Detroit area dates.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just had two showings in Grand Ledge, MI at the Sun Theater and I hope this week we can announce some good news about TV play.
AN ORDINARY KILLER is the film up next for our Sanctuary Spirits mixer Nov 19th with our friends at Red, White and Blue. This based on a true story of amazing detective work that led to the capture of a serial killer at 28 years. Please join us if you are able.
KNIGHT CHILLS our 1st CDI venture is getting a re-release with the new book that will be available both electronically and hard cover. We’re also still in active development on the sequel film.
This has been just a hard grinding week that gave us small moves on the board but important moves. I’m looking for another highly productive week. I was put on notice of another version of the C.U.J.O. script coming my way. It sounds like they are getting closer to setting shoot dates in 2016. I’m not going to lie – I’m getting to that point where I would love to create a character but I’ve just focused that energy on my script writing and wrapping up this end-of-the-year business.
Enjoy the remaining amount of weekend and have a productive week. I’m back to the hazelnut coffee and going to get a few things done.
Until next time!