Sipping the hazelnut coffee on this fine October morning. We have had a last spurt of warm and midweek it is suppose to go chilly again. Yesterday, I got my final mow on the yard. We harvested the last of the plants including a few more decorative gourds. I’ve been cutting and splitting wood for the winter ahead. Yesterday afternoon we got to have a nice outside fall gathering with my brother and his family. Pumpkin carving, apple crisp, cider and soccer plus add in a bit of leaf fun. I love this season!
Our development of the film projects continues on. Let’s look at a few of the updates from last week.
- FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – is a wonderful feature length doc that fills in the missing history of this grappling art. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. It was presented by the leading authorities in such an entertaining way. The DVD is open to pre-order now for a Nov 1st release and/or you can rent/buy it now. https://www.amazon.com/gp/video/detail/amzn1.dv.gti.3bc38d35-d79e-49e9-82a6-e87ff63b4040?autoplay=0&ref_=atv_cf_strg_wb
- BEST YEARS GONE is another release from this year. An award winning dramedy that will make you laugh, cry and ponder. You can buy/rent from here – https://www.amazon.com/Best-Years-Gone-Lana-Wood/dp/B09R4KDXGJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2JUJIK4KVPU9K&keywords=best+years+gone&qid=1666530725&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIxLjIzIiwicXNhIjoiMC45OSIsInFzcCI6IjEuMjUifQ%3D%3D&s=instant-video&sprefix=best+years+gone%2Cinstant-video%2C118&sr=1-1 – And…if you want to read an in-depth review, you can do so here – https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fronnielee.rocks%2Fbest-years-gone-movie-review-by-ronnie-lee%2F%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR1AL4lf8DCIxzPwRgU-0p4je7kNIFHj1KfKNw0avyDR25NjxRbbRkvawvM&h=AT0-ucPZlOsNalVICvt7_1cyBe5Gh38thIaNrYSscZu5PfJ70KPxjGT2vokU2piIUPgdERcaa3G2t1PFyH1CpyLmJpbn6c-l00Dv0qMxMNVs3vxrnDIUbiH4CmtNVUP-wVieTKcYrnFuQcaf1SQufAg&tn=H-R&c=AT3LjCNz1EGR425orlMSHaN9h6RT070C39M9yk8LNKiwmb8xkHJ-aw1wuBh55Vu6UebSWPuIOzGWKGvAs1kKXmjL3gsizF9MOoNfAChhLVI9r8o5LkYvVlMzXhTf-aEQ_wsBEqsiKqbs1ySEMZXHpocAEHuNgyPWmrpbF0Xlme0Q-rNUmz6gfir3gikxLQqgJW3Llr1VjV90qkC9YRZs6moJ – We look forward to your reviews too!
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – This is the last project for us to finish and release this year. We’ve sent an email to our cast and crew asking any of the team planning to attend the Dec 9th Fridley Theatre premiere in Algona, Iowa to RSVP by Nov 1st. We’ve got a list going and every ticket will be gone. Once we get RSVP’s on cast and crew we will start looking at extras. For those not part of the Iowa premiere – it will play to the public that night and for two plus weeks pending demand. We will also be setting up a Michigan premiere in the hometown of our director Anthony Hornus. This will be at the NCG theatre in Owosso. We might play the week after the Iowa or jump to after Christmas if we get too close. I know Celebration Cinema will be bringing it to Lansing and Grand Rapids. We will be looking to play the Detroit area and would love to have a Hollywood run. The film is looking and sounding amazing thanks to the hard work of Dennis Therrian. The VFX and color grading is getting close to done. Mid November we’ll be pulling all the elements together into a final film. Some exciting news, I saw the rough cut of the new trailer on Friday. I am so proud of all are artists and cannot wait for people to see.
- HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE – I’m so very excited that the #TribeCDI will be moving from one epic period piece to another. We have been preparing documents to assist in bringing onboard our product partners and sponsors. Our scouting trip was very successful last week. While a few days may be shot on the actual island we need interiors and such that we can control. We also need to not be dependent on a ferry or the few stores on a small island. So movie magic will be happening but it will all be shot in Michigan. We had some great meetings this last week and we’ll be making some exciting announcements soon. One of those exciting announcements just might be our director. I will be starting the writer/director script polish this week. Once I sign off it is up to the director and talent. We will be shooting in October of 2023! We are already hard at work.
- SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE is in script development. I am happy to say that I’m about 1/3 of the way through the first draft. There is a lot of research with this project and that is something I’ve immensely enjoyed. It has been an intense journey and the drama of it all is brutal and enlightening. I’ve had several times that after writing for a few hours I had to go work my hands in the dirt for a while. I will have my first draft by Jan 1st and from there we will start to look at production development.
- WILD FAITH just passed the 6 million mark on Encourage TV. This will can be found on countless platforms to enjoy. We have many fall themed films from SMOKE & MIRRORS, BESTSELLER, LOST HEART, BEST YEARS GONE and MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Enjoy them all with your family! Thank you for all the fan mail about these titles! Amazon Prime has most all of them.
- I had a great call out of the blue about another film project. This call took me back almost to the very beginning. A project that was in development many moons ago has interest and a proposed budget. This film is in the horror-genre with a large dose of mystery/investigation at the heart. Discussions were on how things have changed in the 25-30 years production-wise. I gave my interest in moving these talks forward. It takes time to develop things so the earlier you can start the better. More on this project if it becomes active. By active, I mean funded:)
- That is not the only project that was discussed in development this week. Following the release of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH, our team is discussing both another doc feature and a feature film. In the wake of projects I always get a rush of pitches on scripts and projects. I tell my tribal folks to be ready for this rush. It can be a time killer 95% of the time. People are wanting badly in this industry and it can be truly maddening. Every outsider is a variable that can rock the boat. It is why we are so careful with how we build our projects and with whom. Life is too short to be wasting time. If you have a funded project we might look at it but we are at no lack of stories, scripts or endeavors. I can say with confidence that we’ll be doing more docs in the FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH series. Thank you to everyone who has supported the first one. It is really powerful and informative and I’m proud of it. Take a watch!
- This week I’m going to be sending KNIGHT CHILLS materials off to the Blu-Ray folks and check on the up-rez and progress on the new Ghost Town trailer. Both should be available next year as HD and streaming. After those get underway we will be working on FIGURE IN THE FOREST and AN ORDINARY KILLER. Classics:)
- PONDERING/TIPS/OPINION – This week was interesting due to various conversations. As we start the process of looking towards future projects, sometimes as far ahead as two or three projects, we examine ENERGY. Positive energy manifests in how people are in their day-to-day. There are people who are just always a joy to be around. They make a journey enjoyable. They are CAN DO people not CANNOT do people. They look at the glass half FULL versus half EMPTY. They work hard and EARN the opportunities, by giving their BEST EFFORT. I laugh to myself when I hear some people think they’ve paid enough dues and they are deserving of….it would be like a martial artist telling the sensei when they feel ready to test for a belt. These positive people don’t seek short cuts or to get ahead by stepping on others. That is a VERY common thing is the outside world for sure. While common there, it doesn’t thrive here at CDI. Some people are just not cut out for long form media like movies. They do better with smaller, simple short format endeavors. Or they cannot positively interact with people for that many weeks. I heard someone else make a statement that they will deal with whatever for the sake of using some artists, even if they are negative and a pain. They can have them! I will take a positive, good person with talent and develop that versus drag some negative person along. It is about the journey and not just the art. Ideally you want both but the journey will be long remembered. So work with good people you like. Develop the people who respect and have gratitude for the opportunity. We have big things ahead and so we want to develop our team even stronger. Lots of things happening behind the scenes. Just be that person that producers want to have on board.
I want thank everyone again for stopping by. Subscribe here and perhaps our website http://www.cdiproductions.com and our CDI Youtube channel. I love that you all come from various places around the globe. I’m going to finish up here and do a few more things around the yard and get ready for a busy week ahead. I hope you take all these updates as an inspiration of what a group of artists can achieve when they work together in a positive manner. Have a great week and be good to one another!
Hazelnut cheers to you all out there. Greetings to our new readers from Germany, China, Thailand, Ireland and more! In Michigan we’ve had another warm up before a small cool off coming this week. It was an exciting week full of new developments. On the home front it was a week of yard work and today will be the first mow of the season. The chickens have been laying eggs and that is exciting. They love their greens especially dandelion greens which are extremely nutritious. I tried some last year and while a bit bitter they could make a good meal. I have not seen any morels yet just inktip mushrooms. I’ve been harvesting catnip and soon rhubarb for wine-making. We are blueberries but they will not fruit this year. But the apple trees look full and the black raspberry and mulberry look like they will be abundant. This week we assembled two large stand up planters that we’ll use for veggies since the old garden became ‘Chicken Land’. I also worked on the steps coming across the wood bridge and the steps leading into the office. I hope we might be able to have a few CDI and family gatherings this year.
Having my two Covid vaccinations out of the way and no I did not have any side effects save maybe a touch more tired for a day. This allowed me to attend one of my first out-of-town business meetings which would have included a boat ride but the weather would not permit. But it’s exciting that the ice is breaking and projects are starting to move ahead in strength. I feel deeply for places like India having a major crisis and I’m happy to see the world stepping up to help where they can. Michigan too has had their issues but my hope is that things will slowly move towards a more normal.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA announced two more cast members in Charles Edwin Powell and The Ponceman. This week we’ll announce two more actors. Both have been leads for us bringing their unique presence to the film. My hint is that both actors were in MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’re adding to our crew weekly and one area that we’re looking to add depth to is our AD department. I had talks with a few last week and I want to keep exploring so when we get to projects like a TV series we can have the crew we need. If you are an AD please do reach out. AD is assistant director and work as the foremen of the set working to keep the schedule. We are also launching our sponsorship and product placement this month for those wanting to align their product and services with this WW2 holiday story.
BEST YEARS GONE is progressing as planned. The dialog edit is complete and next is sound design and music. We will also be going through the final Battle of the Band submissions and looking for our winner. The plan is to shoot a music video and play it at the premiere. We have a great plan for a premiere and will be looking to do that in July or August. The trailer for BYG is underway by the talent Nathaniel Nose who edited the feature. It should be done by end of the month! Merchandise beyond the auto stickers and such will be coming soon! Watch the merchandise site on http://www.cdiproductions.com for new items! Our distributor will start working on poster art soon which is also an exciting time.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – is in editing and the teaser should release soon. I’m excited to see all this come together and it might be the first in a series of documentary films.
SMOKE & MIRRORS is also finishing its post process. It had no real deadlines so it has moved slower than if we had investors to make happy. This gothic, steampunk short will be finished this year and the feature script is being worked on by yours truly.
BESTSELLER – This Christopher Knight book turned into a thriller will be released with BMG under its new general market label. This mystery-thriller stars Melissa Anschutz, myself, Ralph Lister, Lana Wood, Terence Knox and Taylor Nichols. I’m looking forward to this film getting a wide release into the marketplace.
LOST HEART is a pleasant surprise for many who think the story is another run of the mill Hallmark film with country music and redemption themes. It has Bigfoot, ufo’s and even the Devil’s Crossroads which appeals to its own market. So the General Market release will have different art and title but will be the same wonderful tale. The film is up for multiple nominations at the ICFF this month in Florida with our own Melissa Anschutz, Victoria Jackson and Don Most scheduled to attend. I will be riding post here in Michigan but I might get away to a fest later in the year. Nashville maybe? We will see.
I want to thank all the fans who have been watching the #tribeCDI films and reaching out with kind words for Man’s Best Friend, Wild Faith, Lost Heart and The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) among the many. Go to the page associated with Amazon and IMDB and leave a message. It helps to expand the viewership and offset the trolls who like to hunt films. Anyway, thank you so much for your support. You all are why we make the stories. To hear how well they’re being accepted and also affecting your attitudes so positively is a wonderful thing for the artists to hear. Most of the films can be seen free with ads on Amazon, Tubi, Pluto TV and Youtube (Encourage TV) so take a watch.
I’ve had some new business people reach out about more film ventures and we’ll see where that leads. I’ve been flowing with things and just working it step by step and things are happening. I’ve been having some great talks and texts with some industry friends – discussing their plans. I am continuing to seek a path literary-wise and slowly pulling my actor materials together. I’m not against outside projects at all even though I have turned several down. It just has to be worth taking my eye off the assortment of projects at CDI. Just like the re-assigning of BESTSELLER to BMG it is an effort to keep looking for opportunities for past stories while finishing the present ones and planning the future endeavors. But I truly love the people I get to work with.
Soccer season starts this week and I haven’t been doing the kind of running soccer requires. My cardio has been heavy bag work at best and so we’ll see how the gas tank is this week. I imagine a good amount of post-game soreness but for some reason that always feels so good to me. I’m going to let you all go so I can get the lawn mowed and might have to fire up the grill. Stay focused on your plans and don’t let small set backs derail you. Those failures are steps towards success if you keep at it. Experience can only be earned so don’t be afraid to do once you’ve evaluated the situation. I look forward to talking to all of you next week. Be good to one another.
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We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.