I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.
As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.
I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.
I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful. It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.
This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.
The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.
WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.
I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF. Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.
Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.
The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.
Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.
Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker, or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own STRANGER THINGS life.
I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.
The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings. There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.
I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.
This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.
MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…
THE CHRIST SLAYER!
Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.
Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.
Have a great Sunday!
Welcome readers this week from China and S. Korea. So while many think artists are always living the “star life” it’s often just like yours. My day started with a leaky shower head that decided to start leaking despite being quite new. It’s those moments when you sincerely wish you couldn’t just act or pretend to be a plumber or handyman but actually were one. So that led to a few trips to get hardware and ended up with a temp fix. We will be contacting the manufacturer due to the lifetime warranty. So my Sunday morning was not the peaceful one I had first imagined. So is life.
The week just flew by and I had so many things going. First development on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) continues with the announcement of Garry Nation and Melissa Anschutz joining the cast. We have many of our $ commits but are not quite far enough to move into pre-production. Also several new opportunities for cross-promotion (J-Roc) have developed. So while DJ the actor is disappointed a tad that instead of running the race it’s back to the barn for a few weeks. I might ACTUALLY be HOME for Halloween. That is nice. I enjoy doing that last film of the season just before Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I have adjusted and we’ll meet to target the after holiday window. We’ll be looking at Feb pre-production and March shoot. I’ve again had to remind myself of that spiritual storytelling reality that a project will birth when it is time. Don’t fight the flow and watch things unfold. Unfold they have…
I’ve had back and forth with our director Jesse and several others trying to finalize some specialized VFX within 10 sec of our footage. We’re close to zeroing in but have not as of yet. It is still all happening within the timeline of the music scoring which is in the final stretch. Very soon we’ll be doing a watch through with full music. The film was powerful when it was just sound effects so this next level will be awesome to watch/listen to. Stay tuned for new artwork and other extras as we get closer to bringing this to audiences.
Garry Nation in “Chasing the Star”
THE QUEST TRILOGY
I had some great marketing meetings this week and I’m excited. The films were praised for being epic and original. Many of the epic films being produced are remakes of great films like Ben Hur. It was brought up that if anything in a few decades filmmakers would be remaking these films. That was a unique way to look at it. I do have movies a few decades old still playing and finding new audiences. We’ll talk about one here shortly. So they (distributor/marketing) see the influence of Star Wars on the look and presentation of these films. And the unique/untold aspect to these films are also what excites them. The line in CHASING THE STAR that says something to the effect “They may not remember you but they’ll remember your deeds” – which is true. Many save certain scholars know of the existing patchwork history. When you talk the three wise men, faces don’t come to mind save plastic, wood or stone faces. I do hope that we will blaze new story ground in the mind’s of people when the think of Jesus in the desert, the magi’s plight and…well, you’ll have to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER next year. The first two films (FORTY NIGHTS & CHASING THE STAR) were sent to Texas for theatrical play this month and next. And, we’re at the end of finalizing the first foreign territory for CHASING THE STAR.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is progressing nicely on the visual and will be moving into music and sound in Jan. I will say that I’ve been watching the development of the poster for the film. COOL. That is my thoughts so far. It is just a great story again original in the presentation. Some beautiful characters creating beautiful moments. Lots planned for this title but no need to over promote when audiences should be watching Part 1 and Part 2.
WICKED SPRING – I’m happy to announce ahead of time to all of you that Bridgestone Multimedia Group will be releasing into the market place this wonderful Civil War story. I produced it with our team in 2000 and it rolled out in 2002 timeframe. We also just had the 150th anniversary so I wanted to re-release the film to celebrate that benchmark. The project will release in early 2018 and it is the first real digital release for it. Shot on 35 mm it was first released on VHS. I think the first audience was Civil War reenactors and history lovers. Now more of the mainstream will discover the film. And having used these fine people in our new film WILD FAITH I have something I wanted to say. These people/groups trying to attach some hate agenda to this living historian interest/profession is just wrong. Not sure of the facts but some of these events to raise money to preserve these historic sites had threats. People of all races and religions participate in these events. They have groups of black Americans who love history and are right they’re portraying the Colored Companies while some even portray Confederates. I’ve seen Asian and Indian people participating. These people united over a love of history. They dress and camp in the style of the period and talk, share and bond over history. These events promote understanding and healthy discussion. That has been my experience working with these people and if these threats are true that’s just too bad.
KNIGHT CHILLS – I’m going to look at the offer to have me attend a few of these comic cons. After listening to some of the fans out there I can see where it would be fun.
This week was great for meetings that looked at development of future CDI projects. Everything from financing to new distribution. Marketing to merchandising. I will just keep walking the path and crossing off the TO DO’s.
I’m gonna sign off and I’m sure I missed a few updates. Enjoy the season and we’ll talk next week. Thank you for stopping by.