I’m going to have to build a boat if it keeps raining like it has in Michigan. We actually had 3 tornado warnings yesterday. The yard is now a jungle and once the rain lets up a mow will be badly needed. The only damage is I had to put log supports under the raised garden beds. Between the weight of the beds and the wet ground we had a sinking issue that threatened to topple one of the beds. Our house is on high ground with a good amount of sandy soil so no ponds forming. I’m happy that we’ve had no water in the house issues. I feel for the many that are having such issues – water damage is not fun.
I’ve had a busy week and used the rain as a reason to chain myself to my desk. I had nearly 100 checks to write on several projects for investor dispersement. Next week I will check addresses with folks and start to send those around. I really love being hands on and it really keeps me in touch with the projects. We have MANY film updates but I’ll start with a discussion on a common issue in all areas of business.
Negativity – Accountability – Best Efforts
Bad Mouthing, Shade, Hate – known by many names it is all powered by the same toxic traits. I don’t engage in the back and forth. I’ve seen many online arguments that have just gone on and on and on and on and on…I’m always thinking that a novel, screenplay, business plan or pitch could have been written using the same time and energy. I think because I will not waste time that is one of the reasons I just outwork people. While during the Covid and political divide spilling out everywhere with everyone having opinions and willing to share them – I wrote the first season of the ‘Wild Faith’ tv series. Eight shows each 44 min long. OR I could have just shouted my opinions into the wind.
So success will breed envy, jealousy and more. But many of these barbs don’t have any real power when something is gathering steam, momentum and more. I said once, like throwing rocks at a train. Never has a train stopped to confront rock throwers. Why? Places to go, people to see and things to do. I’ve give two examples.
I participated on a project whereas I was not supervising or in control. That usually means they brought the $ and they want to be accountable for it. So my words become suggestions, consulting versus orders. A project I was on encountered several issues as I had predicted and warned against. I received a call from a friend/associate who was in a meeting with the accountable person and a distribution company. Confronted with the issues and wanting desperately to look good to these folks, I was told that he tried to throw me under the bus. I laughed which was not the response they expected. I explained that first if he is in the room representing the project – he is accountable. And in this case the slightest due diligence reveals a VAST difference in production experience. I said, that anyone looking at our team will immediately know where the lack of experience was. The sad part is when someone refuses to take accountability that says something to people. Especially when the 3rd party knows who is accountable. Failing. Learning. Growing. All part of the process and successful people know it starts with accountability. Many will never learn that lesson. One thing after another goes wrong in their life and yet it is never their fault. Yet they are the common denominator is each equation.
I don’t throw anyone under a bus. I’m accountable all the way down the line. My expectations have been let down by the bad occasional hire, etc…but it’s still my accountability. I truly care about my crew and value the journey as much as the destination. I recently heard from a crew person whom we’ve worked with on a few projects now. Apparently they had a conversation with someone in the local film community whom I don’t value and would not work with. They know this because I let this person know my feelings directly many years ago. Now I could make a list of reasons why anyone approached by this person would just pass but I don’t go out of my way to voice this. I’ve been around long enough to know the bad apples soon get realized and discarded in our industry. I was told this person really disliked me and started saying ? I didn’t ask and don’t care. I’ve always tried to be fair and my life is invested in storytelling. I live by a creed of ‘Best Efforts’ and I like to let the work speak versus run at the mouth. Our former crew person simply stated their experience had always been positive and furthermore they didn’t think their company was a good fit to collaborate. This is smart vetting and is often harder when people are trying to say all the right things. This person just tried to “throw rocks at a train” – like how I brought that back:)
I know another local storyteller has had “shade” issues and sometimes our words or actions can accidentally trigger someone’s toxic traits. Sometimes just a person doing what they love while others took an easy road and are not unhappy – that can also set people off. My advice was to just carry on and don’t let it occupy your time, mind and efforts. Write that next great story. Some people get angry at on-going posts that advertise. For me, PR is a scheduled thing. Every project has phases and it all serves a business purpose not tied to any ego. I recall on a high school alumni site people unhappy about a local bar restaurant doing on-going postings of food and drink specials. Ads are everywhere and if it doesn’t apply – move on. My advice is control your own environment and stop trying to control everyones environment. Anyway, I shared because I thought maybe a lesson could be found within. Be good to others and you never have to worry about what is being said. Those that know you – KNOW. It also brought a smile to know that this person receiving such toxins stood up with their own truth and likely avoided a bad journey with very questionable individual. How many people do you wish you had not gotten involved with business wise?
Tally-Ho Onto the MOVIE updates!
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – We’ve started to bring more crew members onto the new project. We had a few more castings which will be announced in time. Most of the departments are getting up and running. I’m excited that the German actors will be announced starting in July! A good amount of work has also been put towards bringing some national sponsors on board. Many had brands thriving in the 1940’s during WW2 and our story.
LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT UFO’S AND JESUS – The general market release is underway and the film in both incarnations is doing really well. I’ll get a better report this week when I have my meeting with our distributor. Have you seen the film? You should:)
MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film had an amazing premiere and after it ran afoul of the Covid crisis. Several of the theatrical and event showings were cancelled and never regained their footing. The film quietly was nominated at the NBR Convention in Dallas, Texas for a Crown award in ‘Best Narrative’ and overall ‘Best Picture’ at the convention. The film WON the Gold Crown for ‘Best Narrative’ and took SILVER (2nd) overall at the festival. I hope this gives the film an added boost because it deserves it. Directed by Anthony Hornus who is prepping for his next directorial ‘Silent Night in Algona’.
WILD FAITH and HASTINGS TV series – The film is growing by leaps and bounds approaching 5 million on Encourage TV and playing worldwide. The TV series was the subject of two meetings at the NRB and I will find out this week how that played out. The hope is to roll into production next year with the TV series.
BEST YEARS GONE – The music and sound design with Dennis Therrian is almost complete on the feature film. We will be having a race and outdoor showing on Sept 11th at Springport Raceway. We will promote this more as we move forward. Another theatrical premiere is being planned in Owosso, MI where the book author Karl Manke lives. On my birthday this week we released the first official trailer.
THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps growing as my fan mail keeps coming from people who enjoy the perspective of these three films. BESTSELLER has a new campaign coming. Same with WICKED SPRING now that we have an HD file. We’ll discuss what others from the CDI library to move ahead with. SMOKE & MIRRORS is almost complete. Our documentary FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is in editing and we’ll be releasing the first official trailer on July 4th! Our soccer match this week was rained out which my recovering knees are happy about. I’m going to go make a few eggs from chicken land here. I hope you all have a great week. Save your time and sanity and try to associate daily with positive, polite and productive individuals. Don’t sweat the negative folks as their actions have likely eroded any worth from their words.
Have a great Sunday and week ahead!
Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
Good morning to all of you out there. I’m happy to see all the readers from our Canadian neighbors, Germany, China, Australia and more… if you think someone might benefit from a read please do share our blog site. I’ve been sipping the coffee this morning as I ponder what I should discuss. The holidays are now truly behind us. The beautiful Christmas tree is now seasoning by the woodpile to give fire starting material as the last years tree does now. We had a touch of warm yesterday that melted some of the snow and had all the animals out enjoying the day and gathering food. I’ve been sharing some old peanut butter holiday cookies with the squirrels each day. Now they look in my windows as if to say – hey now.
So this week has been full of steady work and so I think I will random a few of these updates out there.
- End-of-the-year tax work on the movies. It’s not the most fun you’ll have in film but it comes with the territory. If you aren’t doing that work you’re likely a hobbyist and aren’t accountable for anyone’s money. Hobbyist is fine but when you do start working in film professionally do your required work. I see people who want to just play and I understand that but paying people (which requires tax work), union, insurance, state filings… the biz of showbiz. I want to thank my hardworking team. I’ve said it before, it is not easy to do things right and even with best efforts we make mistakes. But when people don’t even try…
- We’re banking more capital on CDI’s next movie MBF (Man’s Best Friend) and still in talks to assign the final units. We’ve got several projected plans pending what happens in the next few weeks. People think raising money is easy and it is not. Even when you stay on budget, schedule, assured distribution to the marketplace, talented artists – it can still be difficult. I think with the tax change it had many pausing until the new year. But we’ll lock it up soon.
- So “Chasing the Star” has been submitted to ICFF and the Crown Awards by our distributor. It was a strong Christmas season and we’ll start to feel that in the next few months. The biblical adventure is a worthy watch at any time of the year. As Easter approaches BMG will keep pushing both “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” we also are expanding into more foreign territories. I think Germany was most recent. Also what a great fan responses over the holidays. Thank you for all the communications.
BREAKING – So a good case point/example. I was sipping coffee and typing to all of you when I got a communication from one of my producers asking for additional info for our tax reporting. Forty minutes later – I’m back. But it’s why I don’t run the streets hard like I did as a younger man. Business pops up and you have to try to be prepared to keep the train a rolling. More coffee vs whiskey and more tea versus wine but I do still enjoy the sip with company. Being well rested is another key. Many people openly brag about how run ragged they are and how little sleep and such. It’s worn proudly like a badge of honor. But I don’t see a badge nor honor. I see a person admit that their time management is not good and likely most of their endeavors are wrought with mistakes and oversights due to being “tired”… put a spin on tired if you want but it still just plays as tired. Look how hard I work! Maybe look how smart I work is better. It’s the angst of the living artist. Look at me I’m suffering. Yes, when dreams are just outside your reach there is suffering. Usually self-induced suffering because we look at what we want and don’t have versus what we have and use that as steps to a new place. So in 2018 if you’re one of those who takes on too much – do less and do it well versus more and tired. I think you will like the changes it makes around you.
4. The Christ Slayer is locking up VFX and will move into studio for sound and music. The trailer will get a mix before releasing in a couple of weeks. The first poster is also looking to release next month. I’m excited to bring the last chapter of the trilogy to audiences and let them enjoy them individually or together.
5) Wild Faith. Yes. Quite the buzz building over this powerful 1800’s story. That time period is a favorite of many of us at CDI. We watched the most recent pass of the color correction with the theatrical 5.1 surround mix. WOW! Meetings this week about the premiere opportunities and theatrical roll out. I’ve had a few more talks on the TV series and I’m feeling good. Good about the fact that once people are brought into the town of Hastings, Michigan in 1875. Once they meet and grow close to the lovable characters in Wild Faith, that a TV series will happen. I am going to talk to broadcast sponsors also. I would love a MI based series as it would allow us to work with many artists in our state. If this is the first time hearing about this film look up the trailers, Facebook page or website.
6. WEBSITE – Collective Development Inc. is revamping its website to take us into the new years ahead. http://www.cdiproductions.com is still under construction but it will be a place for a) better casting info for people b) A streaming community with interviews, film advice, BTS and a movie watching club. c) Merchandise. I’ve been asked over the years about merchandise. I LOVED it as a kid, okay and as an adult. We will be seeking to enhance this area. Lunch box? Action figure? Posters?
7. The animated division is going to get more attention. Why? As a kid I loved cartoons and so why not. “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” is on Vimeo On Demand and will be releasing to Amazon. We’re also in talks on another collaboration that will be animated. More soon.
8. I’m reading a few scripts and I have several to get back to that I started before Christmas. Most are from past collaborators bringing new projects forth to see if I/CDI would be interested in involvement. Yes. I do enjoy going to work on other’s projects – it really is about the role and compensation is also a factor. I’m also trying to do my daily script writing but actually it’s been only a few times a week. Organize that time. I try to take my own advice.
This is me returning a handful of hours later. That business work can take over that fast. I’m sure I might have missed a few updates but some of the deals are highlighted here. I hope you all have a productive week.
Be good to one another.
Today’s time has been filled looking for the return truck to carry gear that came from LA. Several departments have been securing props and wardrobe for transport. Key Set PA is looking everywhere for walkie’s that did not get returned during the excitement of wrap. These are all elements to breaking down the circus. By circus, I mean -film circus. We’ve just completed another amazing task of telling a feature-length biblical-era movie told largely in the wild deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’ve been living out of a motel for weeks, working hard with a very talented group of artists. After reviewing footage, I can say that once again we captured some movie magic. It’s all about a group of artists who care about the product. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. Or maybe a disease:)
We pick ambitious goals and we strive hard to try and achieve them. That’s the great pride I get from visitors to set who talk about our professionalism. The distributors who know we work hard to bring art with the solid business. Our last director here on “The Christ Slayer,” Nathaniel Nose suggested the slogan “The CDI difference” – which is actually quite catchy:) Hey, we don’t always do everything right here but we’ll get caught trying to do it right every time. Best Effort’s is our motto and when challenged we sometimes discover where our best effort stride actually IS. These films keep getting stronger because the people involved are giving their best efforts. Yes, they tire and slow like us all, but they take pride in their work. They put the gloves and boots back on and attack each new day. It’s a huge collective effort and it always reminds me of the truth that lies at the heart of our company name – Collective Development Inc.
I will say a few words about the role of Jesus. He’s my 1st character I’ve played in a film twice. What an interesting and complex role to become twice. I’ve had several fine moments of pondering WWJD in different moments. I guess that’s what led to these stories in part. Well, Jesus has left the building and ascended to higher grounds. It’s mighty refreshing to let some of that heaviness go and to knock down some of that giant Jesus beard.
I’m going to return home this week and need to go finish breaking down the circus. But ahead of us lies music and sound design for “Wild Faith” – a new domestic release for “Forty Nights” on 4/4/17, a Michigan premiere and theatrical release of “Chasing the Star” and “The Christ Slayer” is officially in editing.
I’m looking forward to seeing family (Happy Bday baby) and friends, soccer games and working in the garden and yard. Almost time to turn that soil and fire up the grill. I will say that I feel accomplished now having finished The Quest Trilogy.
Keep following- much more more to come. “Forty Nights” releases April 4th!