“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “blood

Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

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To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

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I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

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I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

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BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

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The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

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This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

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PR, POLITICS and PREMIERE TALK

It looks like here in Lansing, MI we avoided most of the crazy weather. We had a little wind and snow but overall the sun gave us some melting.  It has been a busy couple weeks and I’ve just got to keep my patience and zen as many deals move about on the chessboard. I’ve had a few projects move a touch slower than I wanted but I will be happy for what did get done versus what did not. Let’s look at some of the positive steps taken in this past week. Before we get into that I will vent off on a small issue. IF you are a university who is making your money off film students in a film program. IF you make a solid film that really showcases good production value, performances and direction. The university SHOULD invest in promoting its own program. PROMOTION = ENROLLMENT = $ for the UNIVERSITY. I’m not going to waste too much time on this topic but I’m never surprised by people’s shortsightedness.

Also I’m surprised (No I’m not) that when local media is trying to promote a city/area to inspire others how only the hobbyist get recognized. What happened to real journalism whereas you seek out the real story. In our area it use to be our local media was only interested in local community theatre and now they are focused on local hobby filmmakers. Now you can give recognition to these aspects but they do not represent the professionals. POLITICS. To be direct it is why I like the business side of things. IF your art is good it will find an audience and sell. I feel as if these organizations and projects that put equal importance on SHOW & BIZ should be highlighted. Now for a long time now I’ve been content making my home here and that is good enough for me. Michigan artists are undervalued often on the world market and much of it is because many are seen as “Community Theatre/Hobbyist filmmakers”.  When the films and filmmakers that are making real business endeavors are overlooked for some social media panhandling a $500-$2,500 film that won dozens of remote festivals that never will get major distribution – it brands us. Now I consider myself MINOR LEAGUE so let’s get that straight. BUT we work hard to recreate a growing business like what Motown, Two Men & A Truck and many other business pioneers worked so hard to do. The worried parents of these starry-eyed filmmakers would be emboldened and given hope when they read of other business filmmakers making a solid go of it.  I’m content living below the radar most of the time because it saves me from the constant “I’ve got a great idea for a movie” talk that follows me. So let’s get onto some business updates!

A few months ago we saw our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” release into the German, Austria and Switzerland market. Now following that we just enjoyed a Feb 21st release of “Locked in a Room” to that same market. And next month March 28th will see the release of our 1st international collaboration “Darkest Night”. Also “Darkest Night” released recently to HULU PLUS and so that will help reach hundreds of thousands of new viewers.

Our CDI sales team is working hard engaging in talks with many new foreign territories. Also many great new deals are being negotiated on new upcoming product. “Ashes of Eden” has several buyers interested and once we have our finished film we will start that process. New poster feedback is being gathered from readers who can vote on http://www.ashesofedenmovie.com . Also our premiere is being discussed and we should announce on that soon. So look for a cast and crew premiere that will happen followed by a public premiere and theatre run. We’ve got excited interest from several distributor/studios in this film and our most recent ‘Bestseller”.

“Bestseller” is about done with the rough cut. I will be calling our editor today to get an update and soon we will screen the rough edit. I’m excited about this project and I think it will be a high intensity film. Patience:)

“7 Stones” is out on the market both streaming VOD and DVD so check out this powerful little drama.

While overseeing post work and sales I’ve been engaging in some major screenwriting action. I don’t promote this aspect much but I’ve been paid multiple times to pen original scripts and adaptations from books. I’ve had projects optioned ($ against a sale price) –  and I’ve had projects purchased and produced. I just finished a pet project script that I’m developing with an old school friend. Let’s just say that fans of “Book of Ruth” will be very happy. I’ve also got another script on deck to write after after that. The contracts are approved just need to be signed this coming week. I may also be taking on yet another project to write in the wake of an option/purchase agreement made with a studio in Florida. Some close to me know my furry boy Luke had knee surgery and so it has been good to hunker down from the cold and enjoy writing.

Also I’ve been doing some major internal CDI structuring with our accountant, lawyers and a film archive supervisor. All the CDI projects need to be put to digital to make it easier for delivery on all these new sales. This is again the BIZ side that has nothing to do with the artsy-fartsy aspects but it is what separates the professionals from the hobbyists. I love what I do but I don’t do it for just fun – I do it as a career. Therefore bad communicators, slackers, excuse makers will not find a home at CDI. Nothing like having your hard work and efforts wasted as something sits in limbo for years OR a film that lacks business structure leaving you with a well done home video to show family and friends. I’m happy that we have some new hardworking blood rolling with the CDI tribe. It’s quite an eye opener when they discover there is another way to do things. There is a better use of time and energy. Do we fall short and make errors? – Of course we do. But how many are really STRIVING! WANTING is NOT STRIVING. I mean really giving that extra effort at every turn that gets recognized. I’m talking about taking that pride in your work. Trust me, I know the difference by looking someone in the eyes. If it is just a JOB to you – find another industry because there is easier money to be earned elsewhere.  REMEMBER actions always speak louder than words.

ACT LOUDLY!

DJ