Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
The coffee is fresh and hot and I’m sitting here in the lazy boy with all of you on this fine Sunday morning. I want to welcome new readers from the Czech Republic to the blog. I love that as the movies expand our circle of artists expands. The garden got some much-needed rain and is growing fast. We’re already enjoying lettuce for salads and on sandwiches. Also the large dead elm tree we had dropped is finally cleaned up. I spent a few meetings going outside and slowly feeding the outside chiminea and organizing the logs. Wood does not get wasted with the wood stove in the office and in the winter you need it. Also the siding is purchased and has been picked up to do the upper part of the office. I have a small bday/CDI gathering coming up so I did not want to try to do that this week. It will be a nice bday present to myself. I got to watch two good films this week that we’re not my own. One was “Wonder Woman” and I really enjoyed the film. It featured great action, locations and the production design for WW1. I also finally watched “In the Heart of the Sea” directed by my good friend’s son Mister Ron Howard. A great peek at life during that time period and how some thrived and fought to survive by the sea. It was said to be the inspiration behind MOBY DICK. I might have to try and tackle that book again. I fell asleep many times with that film on my chest trying to read it. Two very different films but both had great glimpses into other periods of time.
Let’s talk development first. I’ve been working hard to put everything in order here at CDI as all these great films roll out. Even other older titles are finding new life as people discover our films and potential $ still locked into some of them. The new slate of films I’m working on with the studio is coming nicely but I require another 12 month slate of smaller films until that deal can get going fully. So I might use this time to produce a few films that distributors have been asking for.
Knight Chills the film that kicked off CDI in the late 90’s has grown into a bit of a cult classic. It has been turned into a book that will release on paper and digital this Summer. It will be sold at Comic Cons as well with Source Point Press. I’ve written three sequel scripts now but the first two were too high of budget for what that small little film did. I did discover that it sold with Spectrum Films much better than we thought. The company liquidated and went under and we never recouped all our profits. The film sold again with another minor horror distributor and released to several countries. The bottom line is that a friend of mine in the Comic Con circuit via films, comics, books and graphic novels was a big fan of the film. He asked to write a book off the screenplay and we set up distribution with his Source Point Press. I’ve always thought the entire ‘idea’ could be a great franchise. I think this winter we’ll shoot the sequel. It’s a fun romp in the vein of TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. They want to do a book on the sequel and expand into graphic novels. Not bad for a little film thought up by the Kennedy’s and I all those years ago.
I’ve also finished a first draft of a new script we’ll produce either this Fall or next in Michigan. The working title is “Man’s Best Friend” and I feel it’s a powerful piece that will find a broad audience. We’ll soon start doing some advance casting trying to find a few of the required roles. I’ve been identifying the 3 new films in THE CONQUEST TRILOGY the BMG follow-up to THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) that will film once again in AZ. I’m also setting up talks with a few entities about the Wild Faith TV series. A few discussions also over literary representation after writing/producing the last 4 films. I’ve done several work-for-hire writing jobs in the past including adapting books to script. Soon I’ll be throwing my hat into the ring with some large production companies. I love to write and so I might get the right team behind me.
Let’s look at a few new updates on the CDI film front.
Forty Nights – I’ve had several buyers, promoters and PR companies contact me over this film and our trilogy and I’ve directed them over to our distributor. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with these films.
The Christ Slayer – This past week we got to see the 1st cut of the film. It was moving to see the 3rd film in this trilogy there on the screen. The film with no color correction, minus VFX and with minimal sound clean up was still beautiful. I also got to see the difference between Jesus in “Forty Nights” and now “The Christ Slayer” to fully see the evolution of the character. That can be said about several of the characters. They have started building some of the VFX modeling since we brought on our VFX folks. We had to get a special piece of equipment from New Zealand and that finally got worked out. Two scenes are still being worked but it will be a worthy add to the trilogy.
Chasing the Star – the film is delivered to our distributor and it is already creating positive dialog. See – http://lenovotips.net/news/The-Star-of-Bethlehem/
I’m excited to see this film pushed during the Christmas holiday season. It’s truly a biblical adventure that I think will help make that story seem more based in reality. I’ve said in many interviews that I wanted to take people behind the figurines of 3 wood or plastic nativity scene wise men and make them breath. I think we’ve done just that and while the film is darker in tone it paints the picture of why a celestial Messiah was sought after. Pre-Order this title when you can and prepare for an adventure.
Wild Faith – VFX work and sound design has been underway. Once music is applied this film is truly going to be something special. I love the film also because of all the special people involved in the making. We stayed in little lake side cabins and created this beautiful story. I do sincerely think that this film is a beginning of something more.
Well, I have a full day. A short flea market stop followed by a visit with my dad. Later if the fields hold we have a soccer match to play. I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-like figures out there who mentor and guide.
Have a great day and be good to one another.
I’m sitting here letting the coffee lull me awake. It has been a full week and I had many developments both personal and business-wise. I’ve been in our home state of Michigan and Winter has released its grip but the chill remains. We had a lot of rain last week which led to morel growth in our area. Yesterday while doing some yard work I found my second group of the tasty mushrooms. The one I found yesterday is the largest I’ve discovered to date.
The garden till is next this week so we can get seeds and plants into the ground soon. The hops are already growing like crazy with the black raspberries right behind them. This week I’ll be doing some work on the office which has been a phase by phase endeavor. I enjoyed a little meeting on Cinco de mayo with a few film friends enjoying RYE of HORUS provided by one of our sponsors at Sanctuary Spirits. (Pause) Okay, just had to take a time out as my brown furry boy was chasing a wild rabbit living near by out of the yard. That plays positive for keeping the garden safe. Today I’m excited because we’re kicking off our first soccer match today. I took the winter off to heal the aging body but I might have to work the subs more often. It’s an age 30 and over league meaning you can turn 30 during the season. That means doing battle with 29 year olds and such. In my weekly doings nothing challenges me like a power match whereas two teams are working to dominate a game. Individual battles whereas two people fight for the space, the possession of the ball and to score. No thoughts of business and such just a meditation of motion, action and teamwork. It comes in handy when confronted with film issues and you need that added push. I know how to fight towards a goal. To earn something not to be given something – where you have to take the ball away. The other team will never give you the ball. Life will not usually give you things you must earn them. All good lessons to learn. Okay, let’s talk film.
This cool western tale is now in music and sound design. About 40 minutes of dialog clean up and sound FX have been put into the film. Our designer and composer Dennis Therrian is loving the process. He loves the story, the acting and is feeling inspired. Development on the TV series is also moving forward. I would love to start shooting shows in 2018. A little hard work and that just might happen.
The Quest Trilogy
These three films rolling out with BMG are just starting their journey and I hope we’ll be watching them for many years to come.
The Christ Slayer (Third in the series)
We’re about an hour into the first edit and our director Mr. Nose is extremely happy. I want to get the first trailer in motion in the coming weeks. I’ve almost wrapped up all the final production business leaving only post work.
Chasing the Star (Second in the series)
The second film that follows the adventure of the magi just finished a week run in Royal Oak, MI and now is in Grand Rapids, MI at the Celebration Cinema for a week. This movie uses many artists from Michigan including Grand Rapids own CHOP & HUE who did our wonderful VFX space sequence. Our director Bret Miller calls GR home as well. So if you missed Lansing or Royal Oak enjoy an evening in GR and watch “Chasing the Star” this week.
Forty Nights (First in the series)
The first in our series released April 4th to DVD with remastered sound and visual. I will also drop it here ahead of the PR this week. At the International Christian Film Festival in Orlando, FL “Forty Nights” won MOST INSPIRATIONAL film. We were nominated for 4 awards but this nomination was the one I wanted to see us win. Why? Because our goal always is to inspire people with our storytelling but it also represents all the artists. Working together they created a film that was noted as being the most inspirational. Proud once again of our team. Next year they want Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer after that. The Trilogy is doing what we had hoped. One of our EP’s was there to accept and attend the festival on our behalf.
This week also consisted of development and work to prep some of the CDI library for new distribution. I was happy to wake up this past week to communications that a History class in Indiana (I believe) was watching “Wicked Spring” in class to show the humanity of soldiers during that horrific war. Some 17 years later and the film is still inspiring and teaching. This film is one of the films slated for a Special Edition release. We almost did this before but decided to wait and put it through our new deal. I will keep everyone informed. Once again I appreciate you spending a few moments with us on your Sunday to reflect back on the week.
Be good to one another!