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.
It is a wonderful Saturday and the dogs are watching some Scooby Doo as I’m doing some morning film work over coffee. This was a week full of announcements, many business calls and exciting updates. We will look at some of those updates and discuss a few situations surrounding them.
I think last week we talked a bit about the temptation for struggling artists to take on parts that aren’t right or tasks that they are not suited to do. It was announced this week that CDI http://www.cdiproductions.com will be the new management/production company on the Michigan-based feature “Bestseller”. Due to my association with the lead Melissa Anschutz I was in the knowing on the journey she was undertaking. I was privy to all the bumps, blunders and lack of organization. I was aware of who was solving problems and who was creating them. I let most of it roll off with a shake of the head because it was not my issue. Even so, it disappointed me greatly. Any hardworking filmmaker will tell you how hard it is to finance a film. That’s because of the large number of potential investors who have been burned or who associate with those investors who have been burned. By burned I also mean – unfinished films or films that have had such bad business done that they are not able to be taken to market. If someone truly puts their BEST EFFORT (That legal term from last week) into a project and it still fails that might be a different story. But when someone doesn’t put a best effort forward and they fail – where is the accountability? Many want to take accountability when things are looking good. When the PR releases are spewing hype or one is prancing about set playing “Hollywood” looking busy BUT when things go wrong they are the first of the finger-pointers. You MUST “own” both the good and the bad if you are in charge. If you are a chaotic mess that is the ripples that you will send forth from you. If you radiate a calm center that too spreads throughout a production.
Screaming is NOT communication and shows weakness and frustration by the party doing so. I know personally an associate in the insurance realm who had to also deal with this chaotic force. I heard the stories from multiple people about this communication. You tie that with the lack of pre-production work and the picture is perfectly clear. Now on a personal level – I’m offended by people paid to guide who use inexperience against others to try to disguise their own shortcomings. A film set is full of challenges but the only ones you should be facing are those things you could not control with good pre-production work. I’ve halted shoots and pushed start dates when I saw a ship was not yet ready. If I see a place where leadership is lacking in a department – be it in the director, AD staff, office, anyone – I will rearrange or replace someone. You don’t just watch a boat fill with water and do nothing. If you are a lead producer or that staff – It’s your JOB to fix things that are broken. It’s your JOB to anticipate what could/or may break down and try to prevent a breakdown. It’s your JOB to fix something quickly, quietly with the least amount of attention or distraction. That means that this is not a dramatic “LOOK AT ME FIX SOMETHING” moment. The best producer work is often never seen or heard. It is known by the experience the cast and crew had and the final product they captured.
Now this situation on “Bestseller” is not isolated and this issue of poor management seems to be a pattern. Sometimes one doesn’t hire enough artists to properly execute a job or make sure that money truly finds its way onto the screen. You also don’t start playing “Hollywood” George Jefferson because you are connected to a large bank account. You treat those funds like your own funds and stick to the budget. Overruns are poor planning. A producer team is responsible for the hard work of all those artists. You represent how people will look at our state’s artists. Are we seen as capable leaders or forever doomed to feed on the scraps of others coming into our state. Now I did not have anything to do with this situation. As a matter of fact I turned down earlier invites on acting and producing. That rejection was based upon the fact that fires were already burning in PRE-PRODUCTION crisis mode. I also knew that much misinformation was flying everywhere either implying deceit or disorganization – both bad. Bottom line – I don’t like fixing other’s messes. The problem seems to be that while I’m hard at work finishing projects (2 features (Donors, Ashes of Eden) and 1 TV series (Supermodel Showdown) – someone else is at the local film festival mixers smoozing up any starry-eyed potential investor or novice filmmaker with a budget – selling a skill set they do not possess.
Now potential investors – YOU have a responsibility to vet people out and not get stung by the BUYER BEWARE. This “Bestseller” ship was professionally parked and the responsible parties removed. After that my company was recommended again to come manage. With a clean slate I listened and the deal was made. The ship is now being refitted and we will make one heck of a movie I can promise you that. I can promise this crew and cast will have an enjoyable experience filled with hard work but will be rewarded with respect. Those that know me can vouch that I take my film jobs very serious. I turn down lots of work because it must feel right. In this matter I wanted the truth out there. The fact that I don’t wander in many social circles I thought this direct statement best. I will say this to anyone out there unqualified to produce or unwilling to make the Best Effort – Stick with what you are good at and don’t muddy the waters. The sooner that the proper artists align in Michigan and the BS artists are benched – great things will come from our State. As we have more stories of success vs screw ups investors will start to take our artists more serious. So I ask you all to please clean up your act. For those who don’t – I would gladly testify at any arbitration or legal proceedings on how a film set should be ran. Enough of people giving half (if that) efforts and poisoning the money wells here in Michigan. I’ve been personally part of 2 projects that went south because of false promises from people. It hurt our momentum as a company but luckily our productivity outshines those few dark moments. One bad deal can kill others momentum and ruin dreams all together. And just how truly sad is that? I’ve made many friends in this industry around the world because of respect that grew from doing what was expected. I’m not in this industry to make friends first – I’m here to tell stories with other hardworking, passionate artists. Friendship and respect is earned. Period.
Okay, I’m off my soap box now. Other updates –
– It looks like I finally got my German invoicing all complete. It has been a good learning experience doing these foreign sales.
– “Ashes of Eden” new trailer is a week or so out from release. The trailer looks great. The film is having the dialogue polished and is almost done. Music and sound design is on deck.
– “Supermodel Showdown” I was in search of a few B roll tapes that we feared missing but I think those have now been recovered. The show is coming together and is looking great. Not as fast as I would like but there is no script. This is truly a reality show.
– I have agreed to play a role in “Bestseller” now that we are officially “in association” because with myself starring in 3 thrillers in the last 10 months it really boosts distribution. With CDI’s involvement I can say to all the artists that the film will get a release in several countries.
There is a possibility of another film shooting prior to “Bestseller” going into production but next week will tell. We have a window because of schedules and so will the chips fall right? That is the question:)
I hope you all have a great weekend and keep Clawing your Way to the Middle:)