Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
It is wet and cold in Michigan as the Christmas activities come to a close. It was an enjoyable season despite the lack of a white Christmas. Right up to Christmas eve we were hard at work on “40 Nights” and now the machine has to start back up. We’re trying to deliver the film that first week in Jan. 2016. I’ve seen things I really liked about our flow and a few things that certainly need to change on the second film. “Chasing the Star” is the next film on deck. I had a wonderful Christmas despite a sinus cold that has been chasing me for a week. I think also when I let my guard down and relax some of that internalized grind manifests and well, I’m a little sick.
We had a relaxing Christmas eve and our day was nice with family. It was the first Christmas dinner with my divorced parents since that event. It has been over 15 years not sure how long exactly but it was enjoyable. I use to be more of a lone wolf – workaholic. I’ve rebuilt my home stone with my girl and the pack. We’ve got a lot of love in the household and we saw that over the last couple days. I’m a twice-over uncle thanks to my brother and wife and watching them is always fun. I guess the oldest said my name for the 1st time when I was running out to the car. She was banging on the screen door and saying my name. I look forward to when I actually do hear her say my name.
We had a nice dinner with some of my old school friends from my childhood. My one good friend is looking to RETIRE back to Michigan. I don’t see retirement in my future as I think I will need to create until the end. My mentor Rance Howard is in his 80’s and still working steadily along. That will likely be my path.
As stated “40 Nights” is almost done. As always it is a great undertaking with lots of communication. One of my keys has not done a great job on communication. Usually people don’t want to communicate when they don’t have the right words to say. Usually because they are behind schedule and they don’t have a good excuse for that delay. I continue to create opportunities for new people who have the artistic skill set. The idea is to see if they can operate in the real world. Not fun fan films and such but in the real world where many artists are all working hard to follow the blue print. Well, a few more days and we will see how that all ends up. The work I’ve seen has been wonderful. We will see – a tribe needs chiefs and followers. Some people are not equipped or yet ready to be chiefs.
Let’s talk about one of my challenges. Walmart is placing a big order for “40 Nights” and that is the main reason for our deadline. Walmart created some artwork they liked based upon past success of their marketing team. It shows a Jesus-like figure walking in the wilderness but does not reveal the face. They used a model/art they had which A) Is not me B) Is not our wardrobe – long short is that this will be Walmart’s exclusive cover. I had to accept business over art in this matter. Once the DVD is bought and put in a player or downloaded – we present our art, our story. I also think this will be the first of many, many movie covers over the lifetime of this project. But this one order alone will likely shoot this project into success.
I’m fighting the holiday slow down to see if I can get our “Chasing the Star” up and running in time to shoot before the desert of Yuma becomes unbearable. That is the desire and goal but everything has to happen in an order. Our LLC is formed, our paperwork done and now we have to get the bank account open. No rest:)
As we prepare to enter the new 2016 year it will be many releases – DONORS, ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER and 40 NIGHTS. A couple of films I acted in DIVISION 19 and DEAD QUIET might release in 2016.
I did get some writing done and I’m closing in on finishing two scripts. I’ve enjoyed my few moments with you this morning. My apology for not blogging yesterday. I had a family event and was a little under the weather. I’m going to be back on the horse trying to finish up projects and prep the new ones. I also love to look at my 2015 goals I made in Dec. 2014 and see how close I came. I do this every year and it is good to focus the energies.
I hope you all had a great Holiday season and I wish you a Happy New Year!