Good morning my friends from around the world, coffee cheers. I want to welcome our new readers and followers. This blog started as a way for me to discuss film updates so that at family and friend get-togethers, I didn’t have to sit around and re-tell stories. People could read something and ask questions if they really wanted to know something. I do feel extremely blessed to be able to do what I love, which is writing, producing and performing in motion picture. I also use this blog to help other artists remain inspired and to give insights into my journey, that you can apply to your own journey.
This past week has been extremely busy. Let’s look at a few of the exciting things from the week. OR, let’s start with the not so exciting:) BIZ tax season – I’ve worked hard this past week to get expense reports and such around on the films for our accountants. The 1099’s are being generated and K1’s will be put together for investors. I want to thank a “Unicorn” for all the help in pulling this together. I have a few more things to submit this week but a big chunk was accomplished.
BEST YEARS GONE, is the current name of the new CDI film. This past week I finished the first draft and now I’m on my deep polish. Again, I always stress this and so I will yet again. SCRIPT is the blue print for all the artists to work off of. As artists we can all easily go off on our own tangents. A script/blue print keeps everyone in step – art teams, locations, camera set ups, lighting schemes, just everything.
I cringe at the stories of no script on a project. I’ve had a few outside CDI projects/directors try to sell me on the fact we don’t need one. It was a polite pass from me. I believe in improve and being open to inspired added dialog but you need a story line to touch back to. I’m beyond excited by this next script which will be the #1 film up for CDI, likely shooting in May. We will be having meetings on this in the coming weeks. Location scouting and some prep work will begin in the coming weeks also. We’ll start to put all the paperwork together and get things moving in February towards production. Now, I want to draw attention to the DEVELOPMENT time that is spent by the producer team before we hit on-set pre-production. If people wonder how our CDI projects achieve these bumps in production value and process it is by the hard work of the producers. We have an incredible team that grows as we take in new apprentices that share the same mind set of art within business.
About the story – it’s a drama, off-beat love story that is more relatable than the RomComs. This is the blue-collar, everyman’s story, and much like other CDI films it has some great messages woven into the fabric of the story. Our CDI stories are general market stories for everyone. Now you can still tell a clean story that children may enjoy, within the show we can see consequences and actions in motion. This in turn teaches by illustration of actions and outcome. I try to write realistic scenero with people from all walks of life. I’m happy that the “faith-film” market has accepted us into their audience but our films play great to everyone. Maybe a majority of the faith-films are cautionary tales or reinforcement of some aspect of belief. On a whole, early faith films were not good quality and were likely merely a fun medium to explore with your youth group. I agree with this and better yet, an audience united in a positive belief system rallied to support these endeavors.
Now, I have heard the knocks against taking an award at a faith film but let me present something I’ve observed. Many young artists fought hard often, not always against restrictive parents who maybe did not get their love of these outside films that illustrated action, sex and violence. Yes. That sounds like the Bible too. But they left their small towns for mighty cities of high art. To do their film but it’s not that easy. Any aspiring filmmaker will tell you funds is the key. Now the faith-film market started a small boom like the 80’s horror market. All these filmmakers struggling in the pits of the mainstream started looking to re-tool old scripts or create new ones. So the production circles of these faith-films have seen a surge of the prodigal sons and daughters returning to their organized church beginnings. I’m not judging anything that pointing out that the faith market is growing stronger as many “come home” to tell a story.
My writing always had that old 70’s/80’s style of writing. Things like “The Waltons” influenced my writing. JAWS. THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG. E.T. and in the 90’s my writing was liked but called too old fashion. Now I’ve continued to evolve as a writer, I believe I’ve taken on a COEN BROTHERS humor vibe adding that to the other nostalgic influences. Either way, I feel blessed to be using my gifts. When I first saw cut one of LOST HEART, it left me teary-eyed hearing lines I’ve written performed so powerful. And set in a world that our artists worked many hours to create. It was beautiful.
LOST HEART – Let’s talk about this film since I already started. I watched the proposed lock cut yesterday. I saw 2-3 places to just check an edit but it was so good. I dislike when people over-hype stuff. Don’t call something fire when maybe it’s just coals or smoke. Hey, it’s a game of getting eyes but you want the eyes you do get to feel satisfied. We all know that feeling after watching a good movie. Now I will say that there exists people that can’t turn off their critical IQ brain and enjoy a story. They have limited imaginations because they don’t work that “muscle” yet they crave it. We all do, hence why we have an audience. We supply imaginative get-away for others doing other jobs. But after that rant, the film is really strong and if it gets the right eyes, it could be the break through film for many to that next level.
INSERT: I see many people think that one film is going to put them over and in a few cases it has. But to think of that as the plan is not wise, in my opinion. You don’t know which one will be your defining one. Now ask an actor defined by a role, one role. Maybe not what you want. It’s why Jeff Daniels has had conflict over DUMB & DUMBER. But I will say, with that movie, he accomplished with Jim, what every comedic actor wants. Home run and after home run – so many funny scenes that made people laugh and feel good. I get it. There are PROS and CONS to both. I don’t think I’ve ever had that one film that everyone knows but several pockets of people worldwide know me for this project or that project. One of my goals in the next ten years is to unify my fanbase. Not sure how that is done exactly save maybe getting one big hit. But I’m sincerely happy to stay the course. I think I’m creating some of the best work of my career. I know with writing I surely am. As an actor, I’m pretty fearless. As a producer I seek to be fair, keep people safe and make something we will all be proud of. I also always want someone to leave a CDI set a better person than when they arrived. I’ve only failed there on a few occasions. I believe in the no bad student, bad teachers. Some of these crew people learned how to set up this or that but need teachers in process, protocol and respect. I value those leaders greatly and so should you.
So LOST HEART will be traveling to the sound studio this week. Music and sound design will start in full. We also have some recording going on in Nashville for the film. I’m excited to have audiences enjoy this film at the end of the year. We deliver in June to our distributor and the film should roll out soon after. Follow us on Facebook or http://www.cdiproductions.com COMING SOON – Poster art and we’ll start working on the trailer.
WILD FAITH has been growing an audience especially since it started playing free for those with Amazon Prime. Also, we’ve had a good quarter with DVD sales, thank you Walmart. I hope we continue to expand into more retailers and platforms and to our foreign friends.
The most exciting news is that we are making a real go at launching ‘Hastings’ the “Wild Faith” TV series. We’re exploring a few possibly interested funding prospects. That would put an 1800’s TV series right here in Michigan. Tribe CDI could welcome weekly “guest stars” and I would look forward to working with more of our Michigan talent. What do I always say, GET THOSE REELS READY.
I’ve been doing that myself. My MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND reel is together and I hope it inspires more people to find and watch the feature film. Thank you to all those that have reached out. I will consider more action roles, nothing like starting that at almost 50:) Funny I feel like I’m maybe 25 and my maturity might run lower at times due to my Peter Pan syndrome:) 2020 will have more showings and events starting with one in Feb. in Bedias, Texas. Seek out the MBF facebook site and follow along. If you have not watched this movie, take a chance.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
EASTER will be upon us in no time so maybe you can do me a favor and take a watch on the three biblical adventures. Bible not your thing? Cool. Just watch it has a fantasy tale. The beauty is that everyone can and will get something different from the films. It is like what you bring in is what you get out. There is a lot of depth and a true attempt to entertain the possibility of divine ‘probe’ self-weakened and sent to experience the human condition of weakness. By LOGIC, can all-powerful be all knowing? Like a great riddle, what is the one thing that could elude all powerful? Weakness. This trilogy looks at small moments overlooked in the greater story. But I also think the three films capture the spirit of truth. I claim to be an expect of nothing. I don’t harshly judge any save those who judge others. Exploring the great mysteries of the universe is a wonderful thing. It should bring daily joy in the exploration. People organize together out of fear and this is true with religion also. The truth is that you can share your stories and beliefs with others but your relationship is always one on one, intimate, no intermediate organizations required. That said, fellowship and community can be good for some but isn’t best for all. Follow your heart. Be still and listen.
And enjoy a thoughtful watch of our trilogy. A FB page exists for THE QUEST TRILOGY and each of the films. FORTY NIGHTS. CHASING THE STAR. THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m just happy that Tribe CDI is part of the rich tradition of holiday films. I love that we’ve done these Chuck Heston inspired films vs Hallmark status quo. I talked to Chuck Heston, years ago (Thank you Myke Michaels) and I had always wanted to work with him. He unfortunately, had a hip replaced and moved more into voice over work in his later years. I hope he is smiling looking down upon our CDI work. Also Rance Howard, friend, mentor, co-star who passed before seeing the final part 3 of THE Christ Slayer. He loved the boat scene in TCS with the Devil and Jesus, sitting and talking. This has happened after he has returned and he has the Ferrari mentality. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, if you drive a BMW it’s a good car not a great car, so you go around racing everyone to prove how fast you are. Once you drive a Ferrari, you don’t race anymore. You know you’re a great car and you have nothing to prove. It is just one of those special scenes that will stay with me forever. Take a watch and tell me/us what you think. You can comment on here and I will give the approve:)
I’m sure I might have missed a few things but I have to get cleaned up. I am playing one of my favorite roles today. UNCLE:) We’re having a family get-together to eat and catch up. Enjoy the journey by working hard when required and making the time to relax and talk- face to face. We have several informal meetings that are different from pre-prod meetings. Ideas and thoughts are proposed and formed when we’re together, but the real work is when we’re apart. In your alone time, you must learn to be motivated. Do this and great things will happen. Do not, and frustration and everything that comes with that will follow. This last process can be applied in any endeavor. Your own business.
Have a productive week.
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)