“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “budget

Mother’s Day Wishes and Stacking the CDI Slate

Hazelnut coffee cheers and welcome to all our new readers from the France and the European Union. Let’s also start by wishing all the mothers out there Happy Mother’s Day. I sent my momma good wishes this morning and will drop off a gift later and spend a few moments with her. We’re now several weeks into this stay-at-home order and I’ve been extremely productive. My entire neighborhood has been working on their yards building, trimming, raking, grooming and it’s a good use of energy. When I get my fill of computer and calls I go work the yard. I’ve been prepping the garden. A few potted plants are already in and the first rhubarb stalks have been harvested for upcoming wine making. I need one more things before I can make a batch of beer. Funny thing is I haven’t had anything with alcohol since our shut down of state a few months ago. But I will look forward to raising a few glasses once we can socialize again. Let’s see…

Momma and me

Momma tribute – I’m so appreciative to have had the attentive mother I had, unless is was General Hospital time:) She was active in all our school activities and taught us many life lessons. Love and appreciate any of your mother figures in your life.

FILM UPDATES:

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BEST YEARS GONE – This ship is fully financed and sitting in the harbor waiting to sail. We’ll make an assessment on Friday and communicate with our cast and crews. I believe our targeted window to shoot will be August but that depends also on the state of things. But our director Shane Hagedorn and DP Travis Hayward can work on their shots. We producers are working on setting everything up including some final casting and crewing. The character prep has been great fun and I’m so looking forward to telling this funny and heartfelt story – soon:) We will be announcing a few more actors and crew in the coming weeks. We’ll be ready to move ahead soon using common sense and safety as our guide.

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LOST HEART – This amazing tale filled with humor and heart is nearing the finish line. The music, sound design, VFX are all coming together and very soon we will have a finished film. I love comedy and I’m excited that this film We’re in talks to add some additional drop music to Dennis Therrian’s incredible score. Also have a fun cameo from another star. I will know more about the release roll out very soon.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND keeps expanding and the reaction by the fans has been humbling. If you have not seen this film make the effort. It is a good representation of the challenges many of our military veterans deal with. And dogs:)

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER – I did a great in-depth interview for ‘Faith on Film’ due out this month. These films are good watching at anytime but our strongest window is Thanksgiving to Easter. These films are expanding into more foreign territories. If you see them in your country send me a pic of the poster art of DVD covers, trailers. It is great to see them in all different languages.

WILD FAITH – This mid-western just keeps growing an audience. We’re in talks on the TV series with many entities and even in discussions about starting a western studio. The TV show HASTINGS will follow the on-going adventures of the Murphy family and friends. I’m excited about this TV series and I think we’ll have more to report soon.

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ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

We have a 2021 WW2 project that is coming together nicely. I had talks with a foundation that is going to be financing part of the budget. I’ve already had a few people step up and want to be involved as an investor and we haven’t even approached them yet. I will be doing the writer (me) and director (Anthony Hornus) process in the coming weeks. This is another beautiful story and will allow the CDI artists to play in yet another time period.

A documentary film and a few other features are in development. The animation division is being geared up and we are evaluating our scripts and looking at teams of animators. If you have strong animation skills feel free to drop a line. I’m moving forward in my writing on the developing SciFi film and maybe a few other pieces:)

I wanted to also put a shout out to musician/writer Ronnie Lee whose book ‘For Generations to Come’ will be releasing later this year. I gave some feedback while working on the audio book version and endorsed this artist. I’m reading an authors copy and it is such a great read. It make you feel like your are there. It has lots of pictures that helps bring things to life.

Our merchandise part of CDI will be growing this year also. Looking into drop-shipping on eBay and more. I’ve even got a call this week with a puzzle company to talk collaboration with CDI product. I’ve used all this time to get caught up, organized and prep to move ahead. We’ll have a few film projects lined up and ready to go.

I’m going to get on with my day. As always I’ve enjoyed my time with all of you. Again much love to my mother and to all the mothers out there. Stay positive and lean on love vs hate.

Coffee cheers!

DJ


SPRING Updates – Looking Ahead!

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I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee in my Oswald’s Bear Ranch cup. We were planning another UP Michigan trip when all this virus stuff erupted. Now we spent a good amount of time discussing that last week and so I’m not going to hammer that this week. In Michigan we have had our stay extended for two weeks. I’ll just call it confinement for all the things in my youth I got away with. Again it was a wonderful week of organizing, personal and biz calls and getting things done. Let’s start with our next film up – BEST YEARS GONE.

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This week we’ll load in the last financial piece and we’ll be all ready to sail once the storm passes. We’ve got a new schedule to review and I’m putting some fine tuning to the budget now that our day-of-days is more defined. We’re announcing more of our crew and cast and preparing to do a few ZOOM script reads. Shot lists are being prepared and I for one will be ready to get out and tell another story.

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I had some productive talks with our distributor and we’re already looking at marketing for the immediate and the year ahead. The Quest Trilogy has been playing strong during the holiday window which runs after Halloween on the run up to Thanksgiving through Easter. Many new countries like Mexico, Brazil and more have enjoyed our three biblical adventures. We spoke of them cutting a great TRILOGY trailer for the next ‘holiday’ season.

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NOTE: I also had the pleasure of watching Douglas James Vail’s new film 40: The Temptation of Christ – that also imagines the 40 days of Jesus in the desert. I enjoyed their beautiful locations, camera work and the unique way they handled the temptations. Take a watch if you enjoy these stories.

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LOST HEART is just finishing up music and will be turning to sound design this last month before we mix, master and deliver. There is going to be a big need for new content so I think we’ll get a good push with this story. We might have a few other surprises when it comes to this film. This week ahead the distributor is working to lock up DVD wrap art. I would guess we’ll see pre-sales start after a while but we’ll see if we do any exclusive TV runs first. I’m excited to put this fun, heartfelt movie out into the marketplace. – Soon.

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WILD FAITH / HASTINGS TV SERIES

The film is gathering fans as the distribution keeps getting deeper. Meanwhile we continue to have promising discussions on the TV series. If you have not seen the film please do and let me know your thoughts on a TV series. Like all the films, I had some fan mail on this film talking about the power of the themes and how nice it was to spend time in a world more simple.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also making the rounds thanks to all you fans out there. The reviews and word of mouth keeps growing our audience. I’m so excited that this film is making people ponder and discuss the topics. So watch with your family including the furry ones. As with any of the films just google the film in quotes and it will show where you can buy the DVD or watch the film. Again a big salute to all our service men and women who serve.

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At this time my thoughts are with all our family and friends and we all look forward to sharing a few in-person laughs. Soccer season is approaching and I’m in hopes that we can still enjoy that. The blossoms are starting to bloom on the newly trimmed apple and mulberry trees. The hops and rhubarb are also starting to get some size and that is fun to watch. I’m going to use this nice day to get some more outdoor tasks completed. I hope you all have a wonderful week and be safe!

DJ

 

 

 

 


Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

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To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

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I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

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I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

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BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

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The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

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This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 


Weighing In on Feature Film versus Commercial Production. Release Dates!!!

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New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.

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It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.

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I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.

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BTS of “40 Nights” – the camp of John the Baptist

Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:)  So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.

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I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.

  • The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
  • Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
  • MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
  • Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
  • LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!

Happy Sunday.

DJ

 

 

 

 


October Coming to a Close – Updates

Hello,

I hope everyone is having a good week. It was a long week filled with sadness, laughter, success and set back. But with my trusty hazelnut coffee I get to sit here and reflect back on some of it with all of you. First, our household has been much quieter with our reduced pack. Two sisters Lulu and Daphne are spending lots of time together. We will be getting another dog for Daphne to help train. She did such a wonderful job with our Luke. We really want to have a new guardian by the time LOST HEART shoots this coming spring. It might happen on the lead up to Thanksgiving since we will both have lots off time to make a new pack member feel welcome and loved.

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Speaking on loved ones, cherish them because our shared time is finite. One of our neighbors from our childhood passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. We got to catch up with childhood friends but unfortunately it came at a visitation. New childhood memories were made with the nice and nephew one night with pizza, pumpkin carving and seed roasting. This coming weekend we’ll have another reunion with my Uncle and cousins but also at a cost. My Aunt lost her short battle with cancer. She was the sun which everything went around and so they’re rightfully having issues adjusting. I am looking forward too sharing stories and laughter with my cousins.

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This week I spent a good amount of time communicating with our film distributor as they prepare for AFM. For those not in the knowing it’s the American Film Market. A version of our MBF teaser is going to travel to AFM. The DVD/poster art for THE CHRIST SLAYER is being prepared. WILD FAITH deal is also in the works and I need to find out the details of the theatrical deals.

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Part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – The Christ Slayer is in post sound and music. Also we engaged our colorist for the film’s color correction. That is now underway. We had both Carl Weyant (Longinus) and Melissa Anschutz (Mother Mary) into the studio. A few lines had to be fixed and that process went smooth. We also were treated to some opening music that shows carpenters building wood crosses on the hilltop as Mary watches. With the opening music it is so POWERFUL. I’m excited to have audiences go on this final adventure. Again if you have not watched part 1 or 2 (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star) buy the DVD or stream it from Amazon. Also many other great platforms are carrying them.

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WILD FAITH is also heading back into the theaters as the strength and power of this film is being noticed. Our celebrity narrator is looking at availability and paperwork has been sent across. We’ve had various outlets contact us directly over wanting this film. All those communications are being forwarded and soon the entire distribution flow will be announced. Once everything is in their hands we’ll turn our attention back to the TV series.

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Also with MBF our military vet/adoption dogs film, I’ve seen about 30 min of the rough film and I’m rather happy with it even in the rough state. It’s a powerful and moving film and something else to look forward to next year. We keep adding more official stills to our Facebook page. Please do stop by to see pics and get updates.

LOST HEART has gotten its first feedback from one of our proposed stars and it was everything I had wished for. We will start moving it out to others to read. I really do love the story and again it is filled with powerful themes.

Speaking of scripts – this past week I wrote a PSA (Public Service Announcement) script and the client loved it. Now I have to prepare a budget because we also might produce it with CDI. Again, we do some commercial work at CDI but it’s selective. I’ve also returned to doing some writing on my first SciFi script, which is beyond fun. I’ve also started to look at a few possible literary agents to help sell a few scripts that I don’t plan to produce.

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I also was encouraged to submit to a film shooting in fall 2019 as the bad guy. I sent my materials and if I am what they’re looking at I will read their script and do a short read. I am ready to get back in front of the camera again but it has to be the right project. This year audiences can see me as Jesus again, mountain man Ben Lily and injured marine Paul Landings. I thought maybe the DEAD QUIET film might release this year but it doesn’t seem like it will. This year I did do a commercial gig for “Our Daily Bread” and a music video for musician Trey Conner. I’m about trying something outside my box if the business is good and the project professional. What else will 2019 bring?

One thing I like to do at the end of each year is do a self-evaluation. Look at projects and project your goals for the new year. Look at what goals from the previous year were met and which ones were not. Writing this down so you can actually review next year is a very useful tool. From seed to harvest. Goals, destinations and such are all good but remember to enjoy the journey.

Have a great week and a safe Halloween.

Boo!

 

 


Growth – Visualize the Harvest Now

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Good morning everyone. Get your hot coffee beside you and settle in to discuss a few updates. Again as always I’m proud of all our readers from the world over. India, China, Sweden and more all joining us here to discuss life and art. Where to even begin? So I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to AZ for a business lunch and to discuss the future endeavors of Collective Development Inc. (CDI) moving forward.

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Some of the talks involved WILD FAITH which as you know is performing quite well in the theatrical market for just a small grassroots operation. The Goodrich Quality Theaters has expanded our release. Wild Faith now coming to HOLLAND AND GRAND HAVEN and FLORIDA! Please click the links and invite your friends and family!

HOLLAND:
https://www.facebook.com/events/244440026119489/?ti=icl

GRAND HAVEN:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1962675287380657/?ti=icl

GIBSONTON FL:
https://www.facebook.com/events/292497647953384/?ti=icl

Next weekend WILD FAITH and CHASING THE STAR will go head to head at the International Christian Film Festival. CDI will be well represented by EP Rebecca Lawlor and our duel nominated leads in WILD FAITH and our director Mr. Jesse Low. CHASING THE STAR was also nominated for soundtrack, Best lead actor, best screenplay and most inspirational. Both are up for Best Film so it should be interesting.

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We are working hard to get the film into other areas where the demand is high. Keep contacting your theaters and requesting the film and also getting us a contact to management speeds up the process. I’m very appreciative that the audiences are receiving the film so well.

Part of my AZ meeting was over WILD FAITH and the home video roll out. I will have to wait to make any final announcements on the future of the film but it looks very good. Not only for the feature film but for telling the ongoing stories of this group of beloved characters.

CDI will also be moving forward with a production deal. They like our ability to put the right team behind a script and to execute on schedule, budget and with quality. We’re in talks now to identify the slate of films that we’ll be doing over the next couple years. The first film under this deal will likely shoot this fall/winter with development starting soon after MBF (Man’s Best Friend) goes into post.

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MBF is coming together great. Cast and Crew are being brought on boards and we’ll start filming later next month. I’m very excited about the power of this story. I’ve almost got a firm hand on my character that I’ll be playing in the film. We have a powerful cast that will participating on this movie. I’m excited to “play” with these talented folks.

The meeting also talked about THE CHRIST SLAYER That will move fully into sound and music next month. The final tweaks are being done and we’ll be releasing the Official trailer this Summer. Maybe targeting my Bday month (June) as the release of the trailer. Along with Forty Nights and Chasing the Star – the trilogy will be complete. I’m excited to see where this all leads. We’ve been steadily recouping against our advances and this year will start even more TV/Foreign play. I’ve been getting lots of fan (e)mail on Forty Nights and I’m humbled by the kind words.

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All these smaller films have been directed at team building. Getting the right cast and crew in place around a certain script. I’ve noticed that many people struggle in this industry because they play the short game vs the long game. You have to invest with your time, do so with people going somewhere. By this I mean making the effort to grow and improve their game.

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Our budgets will be climbing slow and steady over the next couple years. We’re working to develop loyal tribal members who want to be part of good art and business. We’ve got deep contacts nationwide but we’re trying to develop our Michigan crew base best we can. We hire on accountability and we do vet people. Having a great attitude with a strong skill set is what we look for. I’m still amazed at how some step out of line wanting/waiting for something better to come along and allow others to step into their spot. Maybe they step out for better art? Maybe they hope for a better paying gig to come along. I would say the latter is more likely why some people step out of line. But a few paid weeks out of ones year to stay with a team constantly moving forward seems like a smart move. I’m just from a different time and have a unique way of thinking about these matters but it’s helped me survive all these years while watching many fall. Choose wisely.

IN OTHER NEWS…

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ASHES OF EDEN – This Shane Hagedorn directed piece is trending upwards nicely on Amazon Prime as people discover this little gem.

WICKED SPRING – This old gem is being discovered by a new audience online – also playing Amazon Prime.

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Before my biz trip I recorded a commercial narration for a director amigo – so if you occasionally start hearing my voice in the commercial arena you’ll know why. I’ve enjoyed doing these little gigs. Far easier commitment-wise versus the feature film work. So as I’ve said before – if you think I fit something make me an offer. Pending my schedule and your offer I just might say yes.

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I’ve got many things to do today including our second soccer match. We lost our first game 2-1 having only half as many players. That is our fault not theirs but we did good even with those numbers. Today should be much better and either way I love being out there kicking it again. The work in the yard continues. Might till the garden this week and the hops have already started to grow. I’m looking for my favorite mushrooms but they’ve not yet appeared.

Have a great Sunday and rest of your week.

DJ

 


Week’s Top Eight Updates

IMG_3164Good morning to all of you out there. I’m happy to see all the readers from our Canadian neighbors, Germany, China, Australia and more… if you think someone might benefit from a read please do share our blog site. I’ve been sipping the coffee this morning as I ponder what I should discuss. The holidays are now truly behind us. The beautiful Christmas tree is now seasoning by the woodpile to give fire starting material as the last years tree does now. We had a touch of warm yesterday that melted some of the snow and had all the animals out enjoying the day and gathering food. I’ve been sharing some old peanut butter holiday cookies with the squirrels each day. Now they look in my windows as if to say – hey now.

So this week has been full of steady work and so I think I will random a few of these updates out there.

  1. End-of-the-year tax work on the movies. It’s not the most fun you’ll have in film but it comes with the territory. If you aren’t doing that work you’re likely a hobbyist and aren’t accountable for anyone’s money. Hobbyist is fine but when you do start working in film professionally do your required work. I see people who want to just play and I understand that but paying people (which requires tax work), union, insurance, state filings… the biz of showbiz. I want to thank my hardworking team. I’ve said it before, it is not easy to do things right and even with best efforts we make mistakes. But when people don’t even try…
  2. We’re banking more capital on CDI’s next movie MBF (Man’s Best Friend) and still in talks to assign the final units. We’ve got several projected plans pending what happens in the next few weeks. People think raising money is easy and it is not. Even when you stay on budget, schedule, assured distribution to the marketplace, talented artists – it can still be difficult. I think with the tax change it had many pausing until the new year. But we’ll lock it up soon.
  3. So “Chasing the Star” has been submitted to ICFF and the Crown Awards by our distributor. It was a strong Christmas season and we’ll start to feel that in the next few months. The biblical adventure is a worthy watch at any time of the year. As Easter approaches BMG will keep pushing both “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” we also are expanding into more foreign territories. I think Germany was most recent. Also what a great fan responses over the holidays. Thank you for all the communications.

BREAKING – So a good case point/example. I was sipping coffee and typing to all of you when I got a communication from one of my producers asking for additional info for our tax reporting. Forty minutes later – I’m back. But it’s why I don’t run the streets hard like I did as a younger man. Business pops up and you have to try to be prepared to keep the train a rolling. More coffee vs whiskey and more tea versus wine but I do still enjoy the sip with company. Being well rested is another key. Many people openly brag about how run ragged they are and how little sleep and such. It’s worn proudly like a badge of honor. But I don’t see a badge nor honor. I see a person admit that their time management is not good and likely most of their endeavors are wrought with mistakes and oversights due to being “tired”… put a spin on tired if you want but it still just plays as tired. Look how hard I work! Maybe look how smart I work is better. It’s the angst of the living artist. Look at me I’m suffering. Yes, when dreams are just outside your reach there is suffering. Usually self-induced suffering because we look at what we want and don’t have versus what we have and use that as steps to a new place. So in 2018 if you’re one of those who takes on too much – do less and do it well versus more and tired. I think you will like the changes it makes around you.

4. The Christ Slayer is locking up VFX and will move into studio for sound and music. The trailer will get a mix before releasing in a couple of weeks. The first poster is also looking to release next month. I’m excited to bring the last chapter of the trilogy to audiences and let them enjoy them individually or together.

5) Wild Faith. Yes. Quite the buzz building over this powerful 1800’s story. That time period is a favorite of many of us at CDI. We watched the most recent pass of the color correction with the theatrical 5.1 surround mix. WOW! Meetings this week about the premiere opportunities and theatrical roll out. I’ve had a few more talks on the TV series and I’m feeling good. Good about the fact that once people are brought into the town of Hastings, Michigan in 1875. Once they meet and grow close to the lovable characters in Wild Faith, that a TV series will happen. I am going to talk to broadcast sponsors also. I would love a MI based series as it would allow us to work with many artists in our state. If this is the first time hearing about this film look up the trailers, Facebook page or website.

6. WEBSITE – Collective Development Inc. is revamping its website to take us into the new years ahead. http://www.cdiproductions.com is still under construction but it will be a place for a) better casting info for people b) A streaming community with interviews, film advice, BTS and a movie watching club. c) Merchandise. I’ve been asked over the years about merchandise. I LOVED it as a kid, okay and as an adult. We will be seeking to enhance this area. Lunch box? Action figure? Posters?

7. The animated division is going to get more attention. Why? As a kid I loved cartoons and so why not. “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” is on Vimeo On Demand and will be releasing to Amazon. We’re also in talks on another collaboration that will be animated. More soon.

8. I’m reading a few scripts and I have several to get back to that I started before Christmas. Most are from past collaborators bringing new projects forth to see if I/CDI would be interested in involvement. Yes. I do enjoy going to work on other’s projects – it really is about the role and compensation is also a factor. I’m also trying to do my daily script writing but actually it’s been only a few times a week. Organize that time. I try to take my own advice.

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This is me returning a handful of hours later. That business work can take over that fast. I’m sure I might have missed a few updates but some of the deals are highlighted here.  I hope you all have a productive week.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 


Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 


Updates and Director Announcement

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Francine York & Elvis

THOUGHTS

I’m sipping HOT coffee on this freezing and frigid day in Michigan and I’m going to enjoy a few moments chatting with all of you. The New Year is underway and even one week into the new cycle I’ve observed several things. First 2016 did see several iconic people pass on. I lost an Aunt a few days after Christmas after a long 90+ years of life. She is the one I arranged to meet with Willie Nelson and she got sick the night before. If you haven’t heard that story – I met Willie and his troupe in Eureka Springs when filming “Book of Ruth” because he and Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty were old friends. On that same note Dan passed on in 2016 and that was a sad day. There was discussions with a studio of my involvement in helping to revive his popular series. It was not meant to be.

But overall 2016 was a great year business-wise with two new feature films in the “can” and a new deal between CDI and a distribution studio BMG. In the new year my father lost another brother – an exemplary kind and generous family man a few days ago. Additionally, I had worked on “Miracle at Sage Creek” with Francine York, best known by my dad for “Girls, Girls, Girls” with Elvis but she has a long and impressive resume. She and I were in a scene together and I remember in the make up trailer she kept looking at me. I asked if something was wrong and she replied, “If I was a 100 years younger” and laughed. She told me a few Elvis stories and signed a picture for my dad’s man cave. I followed her social media posts as she loved to watch old movies and tell great stories. When she passed I posted a simple note about the passing of a classy lady on her FB site. People (fans I assume) or more like one in particular just started ranting. PROOF! PROOF! Now in this day of fake news and false reports of death I understand but this person was just crass. That just brings me to the point of social media 2017. I was born well before social media and I view that as a strength. Let me try to explain…

THE ONION

People do not slowly get to know one another anymore – like peeling the layers of an onion. Getting to know people use to be like reading a book slowly learning things they share or differ upon. Now it’s more like a resume of everything all at once. Like online dating – I almost did it once at the start of it but it seemed too odd. What happened to opposites attract? With all the peer pressure created by social media I’m not sure this happens anymore. Compatibility matches? I mean, if someone just had all their attributes listed something is going to run against the grain. Oh, my God! They like rap music. Oh, they love cats. Oh, they like boxing or guns – barbaric. People can get accepted or disqualified by their lists which leads to segregation of people into groups. In the old days you could be friends with someone for weeks, months before you found out that they were Muslim or Jewish, as if it mattered. People are more often looking at how they are different versus alike and often attack those people who are different. You hate this person’s politics but what if they are a good parent. Maybe they give dinners to the homeless and volunteer…I think when you just try to look at a person as a list of LIKES, DISLIKES and GROUPS you don’t get the full picture.

Judgement is EVERYWHERE. That kind posting I did honoring my peer/acquaintance passing away was JUDGED. I don’t have to prove anything – I was just leaving a note to HER, like signing an obituary board. I don’t know how anyone has real friends anymore with everyone so judgmental. And people putting themselves out there on social media to strangers lures judgement. I have always liked the statement “He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones at others.” I hate to tell you but we all live in glass houses of the self. All I see is the rioting of glass houses smashing left and right. Judgement is often fueled by hate and we’re all human and make mistakes. Hateful, judgmental people wait for any opening to attack someone. It truly is sad and I don’t see this trend going away if people participate. Another small example – my mother is new to the whole internet experience yet she enjoys the interaction with past friends. She sent me a story that Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island) had passed away. She knew as a child I enjoyed that show and she did it out of love. Now Bob died many years ago and I was going to crassly point that out to her. (Pause, think, feel) I erased it. I almost took something done out of love and judged it with a negative. Instead I thanked her and pointed out he had passed some time ago. But others had already jumped to point out her lack of research. I guess in 2017 I’m going to participate even less in the social judgement. I have grown to love the UNFOLLOW button. I kind of have a three strikes of negativity rule and GONE. You cannot remove all the negativity but you can create your own sacred space and create positive good from there. Time better spent enriching people, lifting people and understanding people.

Try it and see how your life changes. If you took all these social media “rants” and put them together in a year’s time…I know people who’ve talked of writing a book but tell themselves “That’s too big a task – I could never…” yet at year’s end they’ve written a book worth of repetitive negativity and judgement. So when you wonder how I get so much done it’s just about my use of time. Use your time to create not just spread hate. Anyone can point out the obvious but it takes a powerful person to bring real change. Be that person.

FILMS

I spewed on for a while above but I think that storytelling is practicing what I preach. Tell a story- entertain, educate, enlighten people. That is what we try to do here. Let’s look at a few updates and I can let you get about your day.

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Actor Dean Teaster (Preacher Collins) in #wildfaith

WILD FAITH 

Above is an official STILL from the movie. It is my friend/actor Dean Teaster and his character represents much of what we spoke about in our opening. He is the preacher in the small town of Hastings but he has become blinded by emotional pain. This film has the opportunity to be a great force for unity and positive change. We might have a rough cut by month’s end. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew. Stay tuned!

THE QUEST TRILOGY

FORTY NIGHTS

After our digital and limited release in 2016 with Lightworx we’ve penned a new release deal with BMG for a worldwide release. It will start rolling out on 4/4/17 and new artwork and a digital remastering is underway. We were under a rush with Wal-Mart on the first release and so we’re happy to have this larger opportunity.

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Editing on #Chasingthestar

CHASING THE STAR

This follow-up film is almost complete. VFX and credit work is underway and we’ll be meeting this week over the rollout. I’m thinking maybe May theatricals and our wide release with BMG will be in September. I’m so very excited about this story. The film cut is powerful and shines a light on events that have passed into myth. Next week after our meeting I’ll have more to share on this film.

THE CHRIST SLAYER

My ongoing deal with BMG is based upon our ability to stay on budget, schedule and to bring a high level of creativity to these films. This starts with the script but quickly moves to the creative captain – the director. On these films, and all films actually, the trick is the right pairing. I know many talented directors but it is about who FITS. It includes their grasp on the material, being producer friendly (biz trumps art) and their ability to infuse the story with their special vision. I looked at many directors and their work. I spoke to a few – some knowing what I was inquiring about and others did not. Jesse Low was the perfect person to bring “Forty Nights” to life on-screen. When I started communications with Bret Miller for the good part of a year – he had no idea I was looking at him as the director of “Chasing the Star” and that was the key. He was never trying to find the right thing to say to land the job. I knew from certain scenes in his previous film that he could bring a mood and tone to our film. With one film left in THE QUEST TRILOGY, I had lots to consider with finding the right director. As always, with a calm mind, I was led to the right choice. I had worked with this director as an actor and he’s worked with me as an editor. His experiences over the last few years in Los Angeles prepared him for this film. His personal experiences led him back to Michigan and after multiple discussions over the material we had found our third director. I want to introduce you all to Nathaniel Nose. He is a fellow MSU graduate and one talented director/editor. We will be doing a press release this week but as always you heard it here first. I’m excited to once again be working with an old friend and he’ll enjoy the great team of artists we’ve assembled. Thank you to Nathaniel Nose for going on this journey with us. I will leave all of you with this news and hope that you’ll all stay warm and make 2017 a great year. Be the best you .

DJ

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Mr. Nathaniel Nose – director of “The Christ Slayer”

 


Casting, Crewing and Charting the NEW YEAR!

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A beautiful morning it has been to kick off 2017. The sun is shining and the coffee is flowing and we just had a modest meal of bacon and eggs. Last night we rang in the new year with some family. I got to share some samples of white whiskey made by wonderful traditional distillers. Also a touch of Sanctuary Spirits HOP TONIC and a few crafty beers. Shepherd’s Pie made sure to soak up most of the bite from the libations. We just stepped outside into the glorious sunshine that is radiating. The dogs played a bit and we reminded ourselves here in Michigan what the sun looked like. Yesterday I completed some organizing getting ready for the new year. Let’s look at a few of the final developments in our film work.

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as “Agent Michael Stilton” in THE ACTOR (photo credit: Wayfaring Photo)

The ACTOR was represented by Adler Ent. and I’m told they will have some news very soon about where this cool NYC based drama can be seen.

I still do not have any updates on DEAD QUIET – things have been dead quiet about the status of this film:) Maybe 2017 will be the year.

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WILD FAITH is in editing and on the social media Facebook site we’ll start releasing some actual STILLS from the movie versus behind-the-scenes. We’ll be closing in on a first cut in the weeks to come. The interest is there in a series so those materials will be developed. I will be looking for more key crew members should this series start to take shape. So AD’s, coordinators and other such keys feel free to start sending me a resume to have on file to perrydj@aol.com – also if you’ve worked with any of our other crew members please note that. The feature will be done this summer and start showings this fall.

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DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama “Forty Nights”

The QUEST TRILOGY

This amazing set of stories starting with FORTY NIGHTS will be releasing this year with our new partners at BMG. The release for FORTY NIGHTS will be around Easter 2017. Look for new artwork and the film is getting a remastering before the new release.

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“Chasing the Star”

CHASING THE STAR the second film in the trilogy released a powerful trailer at the end of the year. The film is close to be done as we move into credits, color correction and complete the VFX work. We’ll be doing some event showings leading up to the Sept 2017 general release. I’ve seen this film at various stages and I’m excited for us to share this story.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER is the third film and as we speak the business paperwork is being pulled together. We’re going to once again travel to AZ in March to film this final chapter. We’ve settled on our director and we start story meetings on Tuesday. We’ll be doing a PR announcement this coming week once they have their bio materials around. We’re looking for a few crew members to fill in on this film and if you are an actor we’ll be doing a casting call soon. West coast talent is actually better on this film due to limited flight budget. We also might be announcing a few cast members soon since we’ve been casting internally for a year plus. I’m really excited about filming this third piece of the story. It should release around Easter 2018.

We’ll be looking ahead at other projects in development. Change in the new year can come from changing old patterns, especially patterns that have had negative consequences. Last year we had many positive things happening and I can only hope to build off those advances. We have a wonderful team of artists and I’m looking forward to creating with them again in the new year.

Happy New Year to all of you!

DJ

 

 


Charting the Course and Preparing to Move!

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature “40 Nights”

I have friends in AZ excited that they are having their first under 100 degree day. Here in Michigan we have enjoyed a true fall complete with a nice chill. MSU is on TV and a good cup of coffee is beside me. It has been a week full of good hard work peppered with some great meetings. As I noted last week I was back and forth on some important decisions. Most of these have to do with scheduling. Our follow-up film to “40 Nights” is moving to advanced development. A rough schedule is being worked on so I can break the budget down. Location talks and such have started out west. Our casting call has been listed on IMDB Casting for a few months and we’ve looked at hundreds of reels. We’re looking more at west coast AZ & CA actors on that film due to transportation costs.

The storm cometh

Conversely we are looking at Michigan for this western project which will shoot in November or post April 2016 pending some talks later today and tomorrow. We had a good sit down and discussed the two films. It’s exciting to look ahead as we examined the pros and cons connected to each shooting option.  Next week we will roll some PR out that talks about our upcoming slate of films.

I had some good talks with management and they are moving into talks with casting on a few TV series. I do like several of the TV series out there and the mini series offer a chance to really develop characters.

Speaking about TV:) We might have an exciting announcement next week on one of our films. You will have to wait to find out if final approval goes through but a TV deal is looming.

Bestseller Premiere Poster

“Bestseller” and “Donors” have been finalizing their delivery of materials. We are excited about the Nov. 1st showing of “Bestseller” in Owosso, MI. Also “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” will kick off a filmmaker mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI on Oct. 15th. They make their own booze and I have enjoyed their bloody Mary’s and gin and tonics. See you there!

In the upcoming

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

I’ve put a call out on “The Terrorist” but need to actually connect. I’ve got no new updates on “Dead Quiet”…

40 Nights

On the “40 Nights” FB site we’ve been adding BTS pictures each day. The distributor also has me doing a video vlog. Check it out! Follow! Share!

I’ve also been writing every day – usually first thing in the morning with my coffee. I finished the 2nd script in our biblical-era 3 picture deal and the ideas we’re flowing so I just kept going. I’m half way done with the third script. I love when it’s just flowing.

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

I need to catch up over the “Knight Chills: book/film deal and I’ll be sure to let everyone know the most recent updates.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the season!

DJ

“I didn’t hear no bell” – Rocky



Westerns, Weekend and Writers Advice

It is a rainy Saturday morning and I got up special to knock out my blog for the week. I found my domain expired and failed twice to get it reactivated. So I’m writing on a document and I’ll copy over later. It has been quite a week and I’m drained. Many decisions can fall back upon me to choose a direction. There are no guarantees usually on a direction so you have to trust your self and make the best one you can.

The EGO of an artist is a powerful thing and often has to be balanced by knowledge. The decision to be made was – should we push ahead with filming this fall or put it next fall behind our upcoming “Chasing the Star” film. Also some changes creatively were being looked at with budgetary advantages.

CHANGE

Change can be hard to swallow when talking about scripts. I think for the most part certain changes are subjective. Is a revised draft different or better? People like to use that word better – EXAMPLE “I like this draft better.” – But that is subjective. Format. Page count. Many things can truly make a draft better. Scenes, locations and # of actors can make it BETTER for production. It is just an interesting world of ART meeting BUSINESS.

Two Cents of Advice-

Now this is GOLD. For aspiring screenwriters – So you’ve written your script draft and you’re shopping. You may encounter those who will say if X, Y and Z changes were made we might be interested to option/buy the script. You can spend much time and energy chasing your tail. Now if you counter with option/buy and I will give you 1-2 rounds of revisions free. Now that is a much better situation. Now you are both involved in the real process of development. You both have skin in the game. This way they won’t give you the run around. Many will turn up their nose but do your self a favor and walk away. It happens a lot. Also sometimes it’s done so that someone can simply put a fingerprint on it.

Now as mentioned prior in this blog, revisions can be made for just reasons. It is a sensitive fine line with writers and often why after they assign the script to an LLC they are not welcome. Writers can be a pain in the ass. Productions can bastardize scripts. It is a game of collaborative artists and at the end of the day. Choose your collaborators carefully.

On-Going Deals

“Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” delivery is underway. “40 Nights” has gone through dialog clean up and ADR is next where required.

Our “40 Nights” licensing deal is about finalized and other good news from a few early retailers who LOVED the trailer.

A deal on soundtracks is happening which will bring all the CDI and CDI associated scores to audiences.

We are concluding a CDI Commercial project for the client to use in Washington DC to represent their industry. We do handle some larger accounts (Not doing used car commercials) and so feel free to reach out if you have a project.

I recently turned down a film role acting because if everything happens orderly we will be shooting a CDI western this fall/winter ending just before the holidays. There are many exciting updates happening with this project. Lightworx Entertainment will distribute the western worldwide. They’re also handling our biblical series and “Ashes of Eden”.

We’re back to battling on the soccer field tomorrow and I think this week I’m going to explore making some more hard cider. The garden is doing great and giving us fresh veggies which is always nice. Enjoy your weekend and week ahead and I’ll blog with you next week.

DJ


Bestseller Deal, Ashes Theatricals, 40 Nights/Casting Updates….

Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.

UPDATES

Donnie from ASHES OF EDEN

“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor.  I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.

I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.

POST WORK

We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal-  our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script.  I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?

“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.

We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.

Parables TV

Parables TV

I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.

This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.

I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.

DJ


Wrap, Distribution & What’s Next…

Yesterday we wrapped yet another motion picture. The term “in the can” doesn’t apply any longer but “on the drives” or some term would. We rolled in here three weeks ago from Michigan and with the collaboration of many artists both sides of the camera we once again did what we do.  We finished on budget, on schedule and with this particular film the distribution deal is signed. “40 Nights” will be distributed by Lightworx Entertainment. The faith-based company is operated by Randy Maricle, the former VP of Operations & Marketing at Pureflix. I got to know him over the last few years and I was impressed by how he helped push “Gods Not Dead” into the marketplace. We had a couple of offers on “40 Nights” and while Lightworx not only offered the best deal – they also sweetened the pot. They have entered into a deal for me to write and produce two additional biblical era movies. I think I already know what the second one will be and have a few ideas on the third. But one step at a time. This film will immediately move into post and we have an aggressive release schedule ahead. Our distributor made a trip to the set on one of our big market days and got to see all the extras at work plus the animals. It is the kind of film that both my grandma’s would have truly loved. I think this film will find its way into the hearts of many and be a favorite for years to come. It is EPIC. A002_C003_0316QN

So now we wrap up the circus. We are having a wrap cook out today provided by the community who has been extremely supportive of our efforts. I think they saw the magic of what was happening. This film is the second I’ve had shot in this area and I think when it gets cold in the Michigan this might become a destination. I also saw a few great locations for our westerns. So I’m certain that we will be returning to film here in the future.

BESTSELLER music should be getting close to done. I can’t wait to return home to do a watch/listen through that film and get ready for our 1st showings in May. May also looks like it will be the month of the special WICKED SPRING showings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. May is also the National release of ASHES OF EDEN. This stretch into Summer is going to be busy with film releases and premieres. I also heard that DEAD QUIET is making its way through post production looking at fall showings.

We have a commercial project to shoot when I return and otherwise just overseeing all this film flow will be the focus. I also had a couple of acting offers present themselves. Right now I’m thinking about home, family and my own bed:) I’m also in negotiations to write a script for a company later this year so that is always fun. I like writing – just me and  my coffee on the patio.

So that is the short recap. I’m very proud of the hard work by all our cast and crew here. Only a pair of longer days due to the desert sun which was our biggest monster. I think when we shoot here next time a month or two earlier will allow things to run even smoother.

Stay tuned for lots of more exciting updates in the weeks ahead!

DJ


NEW FILM ANNOUNCEMENTS AND PROJECT UPDATES

Coffee, snow and here we go! The last few weeks have been focused as we worked to stay on a developmental timeline for a film project. It is a project that we’ve only spoken about on a TV interview a few weeks ago. I don’t like to blow the trumpets on a project until full money is locked up in the bank. Our account opens on Tuesday and by the end of next week all funds deposited. This is a project that I was compelled to write and that really resonated with investors, actors and distributors. But even more important it resonated with me. I have to feel a connection to a role/film.

I often see films that make me wonder why they are lackluster in their execution but I think it starts with the core people. If you’re making a film only for projected profits or even just to make “something”… I think the special qualities never become fully realized. Think of some of your favorite films, even little films and they have heart. Now I’ve gotten on my soap box many times over the business aspects which we are also doing but the artistic is also important. When I see a project asking for volunteers in important artistic functions I know there is a good chance that the opening credits might be the best part about a project. I’ve also made sub par product in the beginning of my career but I can say it usually boiled down to budget, or lack there of. But even a few highly skilled artists with vision can do amazing things. Anyway, I’m not quite ready to fully announce this next project but at least I explained why. I will say that it is entitled “40 Nights” and is a period piece. We have some amazing talent on board and are still bringing a few more to task. It will shoot in Yuma, AZ in March so we will be departing this cold for a few weeks. Now let’s look at a few new film updates.

This weekend the FX and opening credits are being dropped into BESTSELLER. Next week we will have a marketing meeting with Chris Knight over the roll out of the film. Dennis Therrian is working on scoring the film as he does a final pass on sound design. The film may also be releasing another trailer soon. The film has really come to life and with so many distributors asking about it I’m confident it will please the masses.

WICKED SPRING new DVD artwork was released as well as the June 2nd release date. The distributor has begun talks with retailers and I am planning a few theatrical showings to kick off the PPV, VOD, BluRay-DVD re-release. I’ve had many fans reach out already to share their excitement. Thank you so much.

ASHES OF EDEN is rolling out nationally in May and we are all excited to promote this title. The reviewers are enjoying this film and I think audiences will also. I know that at least a 1st draft of a follow-up project with Mr. Hagedorn may be in his hot little hands.

Wicked_Spring_DVD_CoverFRONT_ONLY

A slew of films were sent over for review by a couple of TV networks. I expect a couple of titles to be picked up. I have to follow-up on several foreign sales deals underway.

KNIGHT CHILLS II also released some 1st artwork and that script is moving right along. A shoot time has not yet been set but I would guess autumn 2015. The interest is there and I’ve even had some 1st distributor talks. Beware!

WASTELAND teaser should be getting close to done. The movie poster is being painted, yes I said painted. And the film edit should be about half way. We have also started some 1st talks with a CGI individual about the Sky Marshal ship. All very cool stuff!

DONORS – Official release next week with release dates and other information!

I have a 9:30 am coffee meeting with our director on the yet to be fully discussed film. So I’m going to wrap it up here and refill the old coffee cup.

Enjoy your weekend!

DJ


Crowd Funding Space Stations & Clowns Killing Our Industry

I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee before starting my day. I will be up North without my computer tomorrow and so I thought I would write my weekly blog update in advance. I want to thank all those who follow the blog on here from 13 countries. I enjoy using this as a way to praise, inform, vent and offer insights to our entertainment industry. The lessons discussed can be used in various industries but I speak about what I know best. Let see where to begin…

MEDIA

Let’s talk about our local entertainment media, not all, but some of them. I find it absolutely crazy that some projects get immense spot light when they have no chance of launching. You don’t see someone wanting to open a new steak house begging for donations so they can first buy the building (For 175k) and after that beg for an additional million plus dollars to put the… (business?) (venture?) I’m not even sure what to call it so let’s call it a pipe dream, in motion. This approach is so unreasonable. Since when is a begging venture worthy  of being spotlighted in the media? Sadly  that defines what is happening in our area. With so many newsworthy projects due attention someone deemed a begging project, that won’t even achieve the 1st goal, worthy. Thankfully I saw  that this project doesn’t take any money if it can’t raise all of it. It only has a few days left and is not even close. But why was this even attempted? Did these people honestly think that they would be successful? No accountability to perform. Unreasonable budget. No real track record. I had a better chance of digging up Templar buried treasure in my back yard. Despite that some media got behind it as did various industry people. It must have been on the off-chance it succeeded those people might get considered for work. It makes those people look as film uneducated as those trying to do something way beyond their reach. Are all these folks just playing ass kiss –  being too afraid to just speak it plain? If you’re factoring business logic into it all – it’s no different from community theater. As I’ve said, there is a time and place for that but these people are in hopes that someone will plop down hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim. When was the last time someone wanted to do Shakespeare at the local theater raised a hundred thousand dollars plus for their show? Exactly.

I’m so thankful that a handful of filmmakers in the area are doing good business! Real honest to goodness film business. I hope these filmmakers help define us as a film community. Because anyone in the business who reads an article like I read will just shake their head with disbelief –  “Ah silly little Michigan wanna be filmmakers.” This is what others do say about us when they read that nonsense. I’ve fought almost two decades against the backwoods mentality people assign to Michigan filmmakers. I feel proud when I see “Gods Not Dead” or any of the distributed films from a small handful of filmmakers. But as for the media – I ask you to embrace these projects that celebrate good art within a business framework. These projects with good management & business plans have earned the right to be recognized. But don’t support silliness.

I swear I am going to start a social funding campaign to do something crazy like build a space station or beg for someone to support me financially so I can try to earn a place on the Olympic soccer team at forty plus years old. I mean if I posted campaign people would say, “Come on DJ” or “That’s unreasonable” –  BUT raising a million plus dollars by begging – sure SUPPORT. LIKE. SHARE. Please…if you can do that UNICEF, The Red Cross or any number of legit organizations would love to have you as a fundraiser. Now nothing personal as I don’t know most of these people and they likely would not appreciate my honesty BUT I would be the one person truly giving them helpful information. Or I could just LIKE something and once the time expires and the campaign fails I’m still just fine. Just a small waste of my time and credibility supporting something that was never going to happen. But when this happens we as a community are not fine. We are just that much more a joke to certain professional circles who are really working in the career field. And people ask why my production circles consist mostly of business-art doers from all over the world and not just from my local area. There is your answer.

LEADERSHIP

I got a good response a few days ago because of a posting about clowns needing to get out of our business. Now many the people I mentioned above are NOT clowns but just misguided artists but we also do have our fair share of clowns. One popped up for a second this week on a project only to spout some nonsense in a voice mail and unfortunately remind us that you are still around. Investors must VET out your management staff. Let’s say that you actually have a business plan. You get investors to back your film plan. You seek out experience to help assure your project is successful but instead you hire a fast talking joker. The blame goes both ways with BUYER BEWARE. I always say, 2 weeks of vetting can save two years of litigation. Now this person doesn’t deserve any communication save from the legal department. This clown is just lucky he wasn’t sued for major damages. In my opinion he should stay under his rock and hope nobody comes after him.

Why DJ are you so unhappy about this? Good question –

If you actually have a person or group that would like to see a film made (maybe the first of many) and they get burned…what happens?  Right. That well dries up and furthermore at every gathering of those with income to invest – IF film investment comes up – likely the response will be A) Stay away from film investment B) Hire someone outside the state because locals are not experienced. So you can see how one film screw up can have a run down effect on your (You aspiring filmmakers) projects. Still those hindered by these screw ups in our area will still endorse, LIKE and accept every move some of these folks make. It reminds me of a saying about SHI#@%# where you sleep. So when there is a lack of work in your region you can partially thank those who helped ruin it. You can’t blame everything on film incentives. Being positive, professional, passionate, hard-working people who turn out good product is what will bring more work to the area.

BACK ON TRACK

Let’s get back to talking about actual business. “Ashes of Eden” finished its 1st theatrical run and we will soon be announcing more theatrical play dates. We also are entering into domestic (US/Canada) talks and I can say we are targeting 1st quarter 2015. Look for additional theatrical and TV play prior to that national release.

“Bestseller” is about to enter medium GRIT editing. If you’ve ever polished rocks you know you have ROUGH, MEDIUM, FINE and POLISH. That pretty much sums up editing work. We’ve captured our required puzzle pieces and now the Medium edit begins. Test audience after that followed by a fine edit. Lastly, we polish up with color correction/CGI and such. It is going to be a very suspenseful film. This film rose above the initial issues and will be the first of a series of great films.

Music work on “The Terrorist” is underway and sounding great from my talks with director Jon Osman.

In talks with a few foreign territories on “Donors” so stay tuned…

Our recent development talks have gone great on at least one project that could have us filming at year’s end. I’ve also been in talks to possible play the bad guy in a Mad Max like film. We will see. Overall I’m just really enjoying working around here on post work, wine making, office organizing and such. I don’t work to just work – it has to be the right project and with the right people. Speaking of such – the yard/garden is looking good and I’ve got to prepare for my short trip North. An old-school soccer buddy will be getting hitched next month and the posse of amigos will be off to a cabin for a few. I do have another soccer match on Sunday so I will be back to do battle.

Have a great weekend and week ahead.

DJ


Filmmaker Pitfalls + Distribution & Development

It’s a chill morning in Michigan and I’ve got my trusty coffee by my side and I’m ready to share a few moments with all of you out there. It has been a good week of business and personal so let’s get into a few topics that were floated by me this week. Let’s start with a question that comes up often. I’ve been asked about my thoughts on “Social Fundraising” or social handouts as I like to call it. I’m mostly against these Kickstarter and other “fundme” campaigns for several reasons. Let me explain myself before everyone questions my answer. Now I am going to relate this to what I know, that being filmmaking.  So this may not apply to other justifiable causes such as raising money for illness, funeral expenses, transplants and other real NEEDS. I’m not talking NEED but people and their WANTS…Big difference.

Did you ever know that kid who was always spoiled, bothersome? Like I recall kids begging their parents for quarters to feed into video game machines back in the day. Yes. They use to cost a quarter:) Someone would give the kid a dollar or a few quarters just so the adults could be left in peace to talk alone and socialize. It is that, “At least they are staying out of trouble” mentality. So that kid goes off and likely after a short while is back with his hand out again and again… People will again give a few dollars to him so that he goes away. But I can assure you, if that kid was borrowing that money or had earned those quarters from hard work, he would not be as loose – keeping that flood of coins dropping into those machines. When it’s your money or money that is borrowed with expected results – the appreciation and use of those funds is much more focused.

Someone else I know called it “Mercy Giving” because it is easier to give a little versus hurting feelings. Maybe this is seen as positive or is it? If something ventured is obviously lacking in quality but people give to it anyway it does make one question why? Why?  As a parent, would you encourage your child to take up “corner standing” with a cup and sign that says, TOO HONEST TO STEAL, TOO UGLY TO PROSTITUTE?  Would you throw money at someone building a house that is nowhere near being up to code and will likely with end up overgrown and forgotten because it is red tagged?

I don’t overly think on these things as people will quit giving when the results are always the same. My world view is different, maybe a tad more realistic. Despite what people think, we don’t live in a world where everyone who plays wins. I think people who are actually in SHOW BIZ – (Let me break that down because not all who play are in the business) SHOWBIZ  – That is where quality art meets business in a blend that results in something that can be sold in the marketplace. More novices are into the SHOW but not truly SHOWBIZ. They want to focus on the art because that is fun – the interviews, the mixers -all fun. Fun – Even if the process is only creating content nobody really wants. And so they ask, ask, ask for others to give, give, give – so they can create nearly unwatchable, unsellable material. Now if this is a hobby, which for many at this level that is what it is – and that is exactly how your filmmakers learn and grow. But after once or twice of allowing filmmakers to play why continue to support? Maybe this is acceptable?

I mean golf is an art of sorts but I don’t see people kickstarting so they can get a new set of top-of-the-line clubs and a years worth of greens fees. (I’m sure someone has tried:) But unless this person was playing golf at a level whereas true PRO development was required/justified this just sounds silly and many sane people don’t do it.

I think handouts dull the sword.

How you say? There is no accountability to be had if everything is just given because this is again that kid with quarters. He is never grilled after on how well he spent the quarters. “Did you get a high score?”  “Did you get an extra ball or get a match?” (Pinball reference people) No. You were just given money so to be “out-of-the-way” for a while occupying your time. That is until they want the next handout. These are all things you would do with a child but I see it happening everyday with adult artists. But if artists are truly striving to excel both at business and art those will be the survivors. Nobody would drop coins in the hat of an awful sounding corner/subway playing guitarist, unless it was for them to stop.  So I guess I’m just saying support the arts responsibly. Look for those that truly have developing qualities. Look for those that are looking to eventually stand on their own two feet not just be blindly supported. Give your money to the hungry or homeless instead.  If you are over 25 and still taking handouts to produce sub par product – and I use that term loosely because someone would actually have to want to purchase this film for it to truly be a product. By purchase I also mean beyond your 100 family or friends that are expected to support you otherwise your glares will make them uncomfortable at every holiday or local gathering:)

So in summary, I guess if the person only comes begging at the table once in a while and consistently is given a few coins to go distract himself – maybe that is acceptable to some. But I just can’t endorse that sort of action. I won’t support or LIKE something just for a half ass effort. In our business we face acceptance and rejection daily and that is part of the business. Success and failure hardens the steel and makes you refine your process. I just ask those out there who seem to be like a needle skipping on a record (Another reference – look it up) – What do you want to be? How do you want to be seen? Is your art evolving in quality? Are you ready to earn true success with increasing quality and business refinement or do you want to continuously beg for handouts only to create material that is never challenged and would not survive in the worldwide marketplace. Begging for financial handouts is not a business plan. “We hope to get into a high-profile film festival” is NOT a marketing plan. As many of our artists seek the easiest way the Chinese, Indians, the Europeans…the world over are all pushing their creative artists to survive and thrive in a business environment. Meanwhile we reinforce mediocrity and endorse begging as a business plan. It is sad but true as we are losing ground to others willing to put in the hard work. OK. Ask me how I really feel about all that:) Embrace the hardships you face because it with sharpen your sword and make your steel strong.

Enough sword and steel babel…onto film news:)

On the distribution TIP – we now have a few distribution offers on “Ashes of Eden” and the film screeners continue to be requested. More interested parties are coming to the table every few days. It is getting exciting and we will be announcing our Summer Michigan theatrical VERY soon!

Our thriller “Bestseller” is about to schedule its one  day of pick ups. That film is really looking great and after the release of the 1st trailer last week we have several distributors waiting to see the final film.

On development updates we’ve got several new funders looking at projects of their liking. I think we will soon be moving into some pre-production on  some of these new films.

A couple of big budget film projects are back in motion again with new funders. We will wait to see if these projects move forward but things get complicated when talking tens of millions of dollars. When you really see how big the game is that is when you get down on someone who can’t even conduct fundamental business. I am learning leaps and bounds every day but you must challenge yourself.

Additionally, I did some wild lines for the dark thriller “The Terrorist” this past week. I’m very happy that the picture is about locked and is looking powerful. We’re going to polish up the audio and we will see this film released at year’s end.

On the acting front, I was in talks on an indie project that just didn’t add up at the end of the day. Again if you’re not a hobbyist and you’re doing this as a career you have to look at the complete picture. I do have one other local indie I’m still having talks over – no telling if that will work out or not. Don’t be afraid to say, NO.

As I vet out projects I’m very content finishing up the post projects on my plate. My new acting management is really trying to get that right 1st big studio film under me. Several talks are underway with casting directors, producer and directors. I have opened myself up to consideration on a few TV projects also. There is a big trend towards TV mini series and such so I will keep myself open to these opportunities. I like the idea of guest spots more but if the right series came along I might consider something on-going.

Enough business for the day:) I pointed out what I did in regards to social funding because if new filmmakers never learn the art of business they will be replaced by those who do. There are always exceptions one can argue but on the whole I would say many are just too lazy to learn the valuable business lessons required to play at the highest levels of our film industry. OK. I’m going to do some work in the yard and relax from my long week. We got the new floor in the office/fort last week and so more tinkering may be the order of the day. Tomorrow is Father’s day and so I will be spending some time with Pa Perry and family before heading off to the soccer field. It has been a good season and as always the workout is second to none. I’ve also been enjoying the WORLD CUP matches and look forward to the USA playing on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

DJ

 


Project Updates and Possible New Year Direction

I’m sipping down the hazelnut coffee and getting ready to go out and about to a few estate sales. We went last weekend and got a few cool things for the house/office. So we are going to do that today since we are supposed to have more cold and snow. It was a full week between all the movie business and yard work that consisted mainly of the raking many, many  leaves. I’ve had a chance to enjoy with my amigos a few of the Autumn Amber beers I brewed up. I’m going to do some wine over the winter I’m just not sure what as of yet.

This week while sipping that Amber beer with Shane Hagedorn and Dennis Therrien we watched/listened to the sound design on “Ashes of Eden”. The tweaks were being made last week and this week music kicks into high gear. We had some deep discussions on character themes and direction on the music. We should have a finished film by Jan. 1st and we will look at plans to showcase it at that point.

“Donors” is on the last % of sound design and the music there (Also composed by Dennis Therrien) is done. I’m thinking this film will be completed at about the same time as “Ashes of Eden”. They are two very different films in scope and subject matter.

“Bestseller” – The accounting is full updated and I’m happy to say we are right on budget. We have some great plans for this film marketing wise and E.P. Christopher Knight and I have been discussing that. The film will truly stun people with the intensity. I’m very proud of the work put forth by all the artists on this film and they will be proud to be part of this film.

I’ve noticed that on other sets – people walking about as if that is the last place they want to be. I’ve seen the looks on their faces that people get when they are at a JOB. Yes. It is a job but when you are passionate about what you are doing it FEELS less like work and more like an OPERATION. OPERATION STORYTELLER – I want to always try to hire passionate people. If you are in it only for the money – get out. There is easier ways to make a paycheck. If you are in it for 15 minutes of fame – get out. Go do a reality show or be involved in a police chase down a major national highway with news choppers flying overhead. Our work is hard but so rewarding because as the movie rolls out we will always remember what we went through to capture that footage.

OK. I told myself that “Bestseller” was my last film for the year but I was wrong. I came home and had four different opportunities present themselves. I wasn’t looking to tackle anything large as I value my holidays and my family time. I did agree to appear in a film shooting in-state because a friend of mine is playing one of the leads and the filmmakers have a track record of good work.  I will talk more on this once I get my paperwork signed. So more to come…

I’ve been trying to have a few more international talks with distributors. We just had our Civil War film release last week into Germany, Austria and Switzerland and it will be followed by two more with that company. I’m ready to really hit this hard in 2014 and have some great contacts opening up. Also pushing to see what the deal will be on our TV Reality show “Supermodel Showdown – Costa Rica” that has the first 3 shows complete. Say it with me, more to come…

One of the most interesting things that happened this week I can only partially speak on because of good NDA type business. NDA for those scratching your head is “Non-Disclosure Agreement” but I can give a rough idea. A former major studio was recently acquired by the founder of another major studio. One of their people reached out to me after following my career since 2005. I was told that it is their job to monitor the young blood and that people there are impressed by what we’ve done.  They said, “I” and I corrected them to say “we” because everything has been done by many artists) I will take credit for a leadership role but that has been the way since we first got our neighborhood/school friends around with a video camera to make little skit movies. So I had a 3 hour conversation that had insightful stories and answered many questions I’ve had over the years on studio development. I have to say my head was spinning but I think they felt the same way. I’ve discovered that I’ve been doing things very similar to some other very successful people but on a smaller scale. Also in a world that is becoming more and more compartmentalized – broad range thinkers are growing scarce. If nothing happened from this point I would feel as if I’ve already been gifted great insight that will carry me further. That said, I’m now suppose to communicate with the big honcho next week. He’s pretty direct, brutally honest and no bullshit. I was told that I was somewhat hand selected because I might be a good fit for working with this studio. I will put no expectations on the meetings because either something works out and we do business or I’ve gained a new mentor – maybe both. It was funny to hear a clinical review of me as an actor – “Not strikingly attractive but very pleasant on the eyes and all your characters draw audiences in.” I had to laugh but it was a cool example of how the business/creative minds look at things. It was discussed that I produce stuff I want to act in and that I’m not just a producer-for-hire…wait how much $? Just kidding. We did discuss what we had going over here – informal pitching. We talked about my potential willingness to produce their material in the future and just participating as talent. So again we will just wait and see but it could be a new avenue.

OK. I’m off to travel into this beautiful snow fall and do a little shopping. Ho! Ho! Ho! Wait! Thanksgiving first:)

DJ


Advice, Ashes, Apples, Adventures and Ales

I’m sitting on the couch with the pack (dogs) and sipping the morning java. I have soccer on the TV as I send around the morning emails locking down some casting on our upcoming thriller “Bestseller”. Advice for young filmmakers and for actors. First working a schedule around an actor on lower budget is a kiss of death. When working with limited funds you MUST work the schedule that is best for your production. Only a very experienced crew can make a few adjustments to schedule and it better be for a good reason. Talent that sells you in a certain territory is a good reason but you still have to be so careful. OK. Other end of the spectrum is talent. Now if you are trying to make a career in film and are not yet established giving hard limits on your schedule availability is a fast way to being replaced. I do understand that some people have BIG life events and those things should come first and so accept the consequences.  I’ve had aspiring actors miss out on roles because they couldn’t miss a day of class (film). That is funny because I know as someone who went to college (MSU) that class could be skipped for any number of reasons and seldom had any real redeeming reason save friends, beer, girls. Another actor may have a conflict with a play and again nothing against that but you have to know where your career path lies. So don’t expect a production to move all around your best schedule because what is best for you might not be best for a film. The film’s needs must come first.

I had a great chat this morning with an actor friend who has had quite the career and that is Mr. Terence Knox. Terry and I have done a couple of films together, “An Ordinary Killer,” “Ghost Town,” and “Deadly Renovations” and we may add another to that mix.  I know I’ve spoken about mentors before but they really are so important to have. I’ve been blessed to have many starting with my own father who was and still is my first mentor. As I get older I use more and more of his lessons. I had another great talk with Rance Howard this week who is another mentor and dear friend of mine. He is always the N. star of good movie business advice. I’m happy to give an advanced announcement that it looks like he and I will be working together again here soon. I’ve been asked to saddle up and star in another western. Rance will be playing my grandfather in the film and together we are supposed to go shoot some camera tests and promotional shots in New Mexico this December. I’m looking forward to a return to the genre and to working with old friends.

For those loving the season of fall like myself I did a promotional push on a “Triple Dose of Terror” highlighting “Locked in a Room,” “Deadly Renovations” and “Darkest Night”. I want to thank Robert Gwinn for the promotional artwork I truly appreciate it. I know that “Donors” is almost complete and I saw a great new cut of “The Terrorist” formerly “Benjamin”. I’m excited about both of these projects. Speaking of the horror films feel free to check out some of the older ones like “GPS,” “The 8th Plague,” or “Blood Ties”.  If you are braver still you can go back even further to our micro-budget “Knight Chills” and “From Venus”. Everyone starts somewhere and these were some of the building stones upon my path.

“Ashes of Eden” has been undergoing sound design and composing while Shane and I look at numerous drop songs for the soundtrack. The premiere has been put into hold until we know when the film will be finished. Everything is a negotiation and I will not show some “work in progress”. We all want to show the finished film at its BEST! The trailer is exciting folks and we might have some exciting news once we do get to a premiere.

A handful of years after filming in Costa Rica the TV show “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” has some real legs. The first three shows are done and being looked at by several interested distribution parties. I don’t want to jinx anything but I do think you will see this zany adventure on the small screen sometime in 2014.  Staying with the TV theme I’ve been getting my feet wet with development on another TV series. It is funny how lots of talk on development is leaning in that direction. I think with cable making better and better film properties and the continued rise of reality TV – CDI will continue to develop some TV properties.

Yesterday between some prepping and packing we made a stop at the local zoo which was a nice side trip. Today we are having the mom’s over and some family to enjoy some pork loin roast in the smoker with apple glaze and apple chips. Tomorrow a breakfast with my father and after that I’m ready to go tell this next story. What a great team of artists being brought together to participate in storytelling.  I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living and give thanks every day. It wasn’t always so and I know the struggles many of you have out there following dreams. You might as well keep chipping away at it until you reveal what was meant to be within.

Let me see – the people who have tried the new AUTUMN AMBER beer have really enjoyed it. Nice complex flavors and has a nice little kick to it. More of the wine has been shared and some great comments from people. I wanted to do another batch of hard cider but we will see. Maybe something upon my return in a few weeks. Some time was spent freezing some tomatoes and last night some wonderful venison steak fajitas. It will soon be time to perhaps restock the venison. Today we will be enjoying pork from our 4H purchase. Okay, I’m off to get some stuff done around the house and I hope you all have a great Saturday.

DJ