The coffee is fresh and hot and I’m sitting here in the lazy boy with all of you on this fine Sunday morning. I want to welcome new readers from the Czech Republic to the blog. I love that as the movies expand our circle of artists expands. The garden got some much-needed rain and is growing fast. We’re already enjoying lettuce for salads and on sandwiches. Also the large dead elm tree we had dropped is finally cleaned up. I spent a few meetings going outside and slowly feeding the outside chiminea and organizing the logs. Wood does not get wasted with the wood stove in the office and in the winter you need it. Also the siding is purchased and has been picked up to do the upper part of the office. I have a small bday/CDI gathering coming up so I did not want to try to do that this week. It will be a nice bday present to myself. I got to watch two good films this week that we’re not my own. One was “Wonder Woman” and I really enjoyed the film. It featured great action, locations and the production design for WW1. I also finally watched “In the Heart of the Sea” directed by my good friend’s son Mister Ron Howard. A great peek at life during that time period and how some thrived and fought to survive by the sea. It was said to be the inspiration behind MOBY DICK. I might have to try and tackle that book again. I fell asleep many times with that film on my chest trying to read it. Two very different films but both had great glimpses into other periods of time.
Let’s talk development first. I’ve been working hard to put everything in order here at CDI as all these great films roll out. Even other older titles are finding new life as people discover our films and potential $ still locked into some of them. The new slate of films I’m working on with the studio is coming nicely but I require another 12 month slate of smaller films until that deal can get going fully. So I might use this time to produce a few films that distributors have been asking for.
Knight Chills the film that kicked off CDI in the late 90’s has grown into a bit of a cult classic. It has been turned into a book that will release on paper and digital this Summer. It will be sold at Comic Cons as well with Source Point Press. I’ve written three sequel scripts now but the first two were too high of budget for what that small little film did. I did discover that it sold with Spectrum Films much better than we thought. The company liquidated and went under and we never recouped all our profits. The film sold again with another minor horror distributor and released to several countries. The bottom line is that a friend of mine in the Comic Con circuit via films, comics, books and graphic novels was a big fan of the film. He asked to write a book off the screenplay and we set up distribution with his Source Point Press. I’ve always thought the entire ‘idea’ could be a great franchise. I think this winter we’ll shoot the sequel. It’s a fun romp in the vein of TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. They want to do a book on the sequel and expand into graphic novels. Not bad for a little film thought up by the Kennedy’s and I all those years ago.
I’ve also finished a first draft of a new script we’ll produce either this Fall or next in Michigan. The working title is “Man’s Best Friend” and I feel it’s a powerful piece that will find a broad audience. We’ll soon start doing some advance casting trying to find a few of the required roles. I’ve been identifying the 3 new films in THE CONQUEST TRILOGY the BMG follow-up to THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) that will film once again in AZ. I’m also setting up talks with a few entities about the Wild Faith TV series. A few discussions also over literary representation after writing/producing the last 4 films. I’ve done several work-for-hire writing jobs in the past including adapting books to script. Soon I’ll be throwing my hat into the ring with some large production companies. I love to write and so I might get the right team behind me.
Let’s look at a few new updates on the CDI film front.
Forty Nights – I’ve had several buyers, promoters and PR companies contact me over this film and our trilogy and I’ve directed them over to our distributor. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with these films.
The Christ Slayer – This past week we got to see the 1st cut of the film. It was moving to see the 3rd film in this trilogy there on the screen. The film with no color correction, minus VFX and with minimal sound clean up was still beautiful. I also got to see the difference between Jesus in “Forty Nights” and now “The Christ Slayer” to fully see the evolution of the character. That can be said about several of the characters. They have started building some of the VFX modeling since we brought on our VFX folks. We had to get a special piece of equipment from New Zealand and that finally got worked out. Two scenes are still being worked but it will be a worthy add to the trilogy.
Chasing the Star – the film is delivered to our distributor and it is already creating positive dialog. See – http://lenovotips.net/news/The-Star-of-Bethlehem/
I’m excited to see this film pushed during the Christmas holiday season. It’s truly a biblical adventure that I think will help make that story seem more based in reality. I’ve said in many interviews that I wanted to take people behind the figurines of 3 wood or plastic nativity scene wise men and make them breath. I think we’ve done just that and while the film is darker in tone it paints the picture of why a celestial Messiah was sought after. Pre-Order this title when you can and prepare for an adventure.
Wild Faith – VFX work and sound design has been underway. Once music is applied this film is truly going to be something special. I love the film also because of all the special people involved in the making. We stayed in little lake side cabins and created this beautiful story. I do sincerely think that this film is a beginning of something more.
Well, I have a full day. A short flea market stop followed by a visit with my dad. Later if the fields hold we have a soccer match to play. I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-like figures out there who mentor and guide.
Have a great day and be good to one another.
Photo by Scott Allen Perry
The desert heat is no longer with me here in Michigan. I came home to wet and cold weather but also to my family, bed and comforts of home. It has been major deceleration as I went from a wild circus of people on the constant move to a much more relaxed pace at home. Things slowing a touch was is a good thing since I had a good case of jet lag. I’ve been trying to sort through mail (and email), pay bills and unpack even as bouts of tired struck me at odd hours. I’ve had many people reaching out and I’m sorry that I’ve not been able to get back with everyone. I’ve had lots of wrap up work on the most recent film and catching up on immediate business.
This weekend was a good day catching up with family business first at my niece’s b-day gathering yesterday at the local science center, Impression 5. I took science classes there when I was in Elementary school with my buddy John. It’s truly a great place to take your children and I’m glad that the place has survived and thrived for all these years. Today I’m up North visiting family and celebrating another missed b-day. Speaking of missing b-day’s, my girl was good about me missing her b-day while in AZ and I do appreciate her holding down the fort in my absence. It’s a hardship for all our significant others when we go off to create these stories. I saw many happy faces when loved ones (cast & crew) returned safely from the deserts of Yuma. So I give me heartfelt gratitude to all of those significant others who worked hard to maintain households while we battled to tell our tale in the desert.
The Christ Slayer
If you’ve not been keeping up – we filmed the 3rd feature film in “The Quest Trilogy” entitled “The Christ Slayer” in AZ. We shot for three weeks and change with pre-production and wrap out. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment because it was a 3 part film series and also the first time I had played the same role twice. That role was none other than Jesus, so that was no easy task. It challenged me in many ways everyday but I want to say my director (Nathaniel Nose) and my co-stars who helped make the process so very special. Carl Weyant and Josh Perry made each and every day a unique experience full of smiles and fist-bumps. Christine, Mel, Shane and every other actor I was blessed to share the screen with made each day easier with their enthusiasm. Their love for the story and their roles inspired me and honored me as a writer. The crew consisted of many warriors I’ve worked with prior and once again they brought their best. I additionally had the pleasure of working with a handful of new artists who I think enjoyed the overall adventure. They all worked extremely hard and the desert proved to be no joke, but the final footage revealed the results of those efforts. BEAUTIFUL! To all the people of Yuma associated with this picture, we love you. We could not have done this without you. The biggest question I was asked by many there was IF this was our last film. It was the last of “The Quest Trilogy” but I’m happy to announce that I will be penning a second slate of biblical films. This process might have already begun. (Insert sly smile) They will be separate from the three films we explored in this current trilogy. We will likely be going Old Testament with these new films.
“The Christ Slayer” has entered post and we’ll be rolling out behind-the-scenes photos and powerful stills (Like the one above) in the coming weeks. Also a teaser trailer is in the works and will release in the coming weeks. Releasing spring of 2018.
“Forty Nights” will enjoy its new release on 4/4/17 and I encourage all of you interested in the trilogy to watch it. Our post team did a very good job re-mastering the film both audio and visually and Bridgestone has put beautiful new artwork worthy of such a beautiful story.
Chasing the Star
On the heels of this new release the second film “Chasing the Star” will enjoy a premiere on the 22nd of April. Following this will be various theatrical showings starting in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Royal Oak with many more planned. Once we’ve done our theatrical run we’ll be releasing nationally on Sept 5th, 2017. Follow our Facebook social media page for updates.
“Wild Faith” is close to a locked picture and will move into music and sound design. I can say that the initial talks on the TV series have been positive. I think we have a good chance at spinning off into a television series. I’m looking at the business of it now and also working on some of the creative aspects for upcoming meetings.
I plan on aligning all our business and setting up for a strong 2018. There is a good chance we may film another feature or two this year but nothing is solid on the slate. As I noted before, I’m back to my daily writing and making some great progress. As the sun returns and temps warm I look forward to a productive year ahead. Thank you all for your support. (Cheers with a sip from the coffee cup)
Good morn to all of you out there. I’ve got my trusty morning coffee by my side to sip as I interact with all of you. As of late we’ve got a new sponsor with Sanctuary Spirits who make outstanding liquors but that is not what I am into for my morning wake up. But I want to welcome them – they will be gracing the meeting table at some of our pow wow wrap ups. We’ve got several whiskey drinkers in our group so they will be happy. On that same front we might roll out a brand of adult beverage as part of a merchandising tie in. But I’m still looking for that sponsor for coffee. We’ve also enjoyed some beautiful weather almost sixty degrees which after freezing temps days ago is just…odd. We did a bit of yard clean up and I got some wood around in the office for the next freeze. Let’s jump into a few film discussions as I know that most did not stop by to hear me ramble about coffee and booze.
Let’s start with Wild Faith, our mid-Western. We watched the 1st rough cut and I have to say I was just stunned. First this film has been a long time in the making and maybe it is a lesson for patience. A film when be made when it is supposed to be made. The messages contained in the story are so important and powerful for the day we live in now. EVERY actor did an amazing job of bringing something special to the role. I know the vibe that happens with a cast on most projects and that is special. But when the writing flows and the artists behind the camera capture the performances and magnifies it with solid art, wardrobe, camerawork and the coordination it requires to create – I cannot even put it in words. I watched the first time for story and flow and the following time to look at tweaks. I found 5-6 small tweaks that were minimal and so my hat is off to Jesse Low our director who also cut the edit. I’ve been working in biblical for a while so it was a refreshing change to change time periods and worlds. The film will get tightened and prepped to move into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. I think this film has great spin-off possibilities for television and when I return from AZ we’ll be dealing with this.
Coming out of post-production with Dennis Therrian is our second film in THE QUEST TRILOGY, Chasing the Star – directed by Bret Miller. This story we’ve been low-key on but I assure you it is anything but. I got to see some of the VFX opening sequences and the final VFX will be dropping into the film this week. Final sound design around these drop in’s and the picture will be complete. 5.1 mix will be up next and dropping our credits in. I know that the plan is to do a Michigan premiere in April. I’m trying to have a AZ showing in Yuma prior to shooting the third installment next month. We will set up theatrical and event showings from May -August and on 9/5/17 we release nationally with Bridgestone MultiMedia Group. A poster and more PR will start rolling out as we bring this film to a finish.
The first film in the trilogy “Forty Nights” had a Wal-Mart run last year and Sony Home Entertainment is releasing digital. We’ve remastered the film audio and visual for the new April release with Bridgestone (BMG) and it is exciting to have this film releasing.
“The Christ Slayer” has its business almost all done. I want to thank everyone who got behind the financial business as that is what makes projects go. The bank account is filling up and our pre-production team has flights booked for AZ. We have two weeks left here in prep and one additional week in AZ. We had good progress this week with wardrobe and our director Mr. Nathaniel Nose. Casting and crewing is down to the final few – mostly local AZ folks. I’m excited to be stepping back into this powerful role and work with some amazing people. Some concept art has been under development and location scouting has been underway. Full speed ahead!
On other fronts we’ve got a deal on the table for foreign for “Bestseller” so that will be evaluated this week. The library evaluation will lead to some new releases on some of the properties. Our goal will be to keep pushing and bring these stories to you.
“Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith”
I’ve heard that the “Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” film is getting a new General Market push I believe with Universal Pictures. Look for it at more major retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart and other retailers. I’m sure this is being done on the run up to Easter. One link below –
On the DEVELOPMENT front a handful of projects are being discussed. Some have partial pieces in place (say that fast three times) and soon we’ll be looking ahead. Aside from all this film work I’m looking forward to lacing up my cleats and getting back on the soccer field this Spring. If you are enjoying this sunshine do something fun. If you’re dealing with the storms – keep your powder dry.
Have a great day.
(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)
It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.
Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.
On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”
Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.
A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.
“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.
This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead. Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.
Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!
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.