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

Posts tagged “budget

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.

KNIGHT CHILLS

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.

IMG952984

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.

images-1

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

IMG_1732

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.

horns

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.

thumbnail.jpeg

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.

48405389_10156556351235306_5958233779838386176_n

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

 

 

Advertisements

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

NYC Time Square

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.

dp-dark

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.

officemc

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.

Water to Wine

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.

IMG_1703 2

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

IMG_6725

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.

IMG_5755 2

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.

IMG_5744 2

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.

IMG_5771 2.PNG

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.

IMG_2839

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.

My name is Paul Landings.JPG

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.

Masterw:RLfix

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

IMG_4586

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.

31289202_2123458887890288_8465871223249698816_n

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.

Hester

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.

CTS_laurels3.jpg

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.

IMG_6476

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.

IMG_8042

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…

IMG_2218

 

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.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 9.47.10 AM

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.

IMG_5452

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.

IMG_6726

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:)

e2mbxPnhJ_EiH2qgoYKeew_r

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.

IMG_3164

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.

Still01

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.

IMG_3989

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.

dp-dark

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

yorkf01

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.

preacherconsiders

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.

IMG_2073

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

nn02

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