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

Posts tagged “budgets

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.

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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

 

 

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A Fine Fall Day

Autumn is Upon Us

The Detroit Lions have just kicked off making this a traditional fall day in Michigan. I spent the morning organizing for our upcoming film shoot and also prepping a few things in the yard for approaching winter. I picked beans this morning while going over mental check lists.

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We’ve been putting paperwork under cast and crew this week for our western endeavor. I’m looking at the opportunity to work with some other talented artists. I see several productions that pool the cash resources in a few places and puts the sacrifice on the others. We spread the sacrifice across the board but pay by strict rates. Staying on budget – there is no special trick it just requires that you hire the right individuals. Individuals that understand the modest rates are so crew across the board can be paid. Crew working in all needed departments are what create good flow in production. It often requires working with what you NEED versus WANT and making it quality through artistry and good planning.

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“Chasing the Star”

Is everything done perfect? No, of course not – but the effort is always seen and steps are taken to course correct when required. Passion is a valuable jewel and many people lose sight of it. The best cast & crew for me is one that has the best passion for a story. Gaffers, grips, camera – creates mood and tone. Audio captures words that can change hearts and minds. Wardrobe and hair/make up help create believable characters to exist in world that the art department creates. Fore-men, office planning, coordinating of meals – all fueling the storytelling endeavor. I had to sacrifice much to climb to where I am now. I look for that hunger in people’s eyes. When a situation is hard I look for who states the obvious and who has problem solving skills. Who vents frustration and who is quietly focused because they are already planning multiple possible paths to travel. I love that we attract artists who want to be part of a powerful story. They understand their partial sacrifice to an endeavor is helping support the artists standing next to him. Many have been abused in the free and paid circles and so until someone knows differently they expect what they expect. I love giving people a good experience storytelling. That is why we have more people seeking us out wanting to participate on both sides of the camera. Empty your cup is an old zen saying we used in martial arts. Being open to a new experience without the taint of a previous bad experience but other people. If we carry that past negativity we take it into our sacred create space. Again in martial arts – the dojo. You bow and leave your outside world distractions at the door. You respect the new process of learning and exploring before you. When we do this we often discover great things about ourselves and in our example – create good storytelling.

A Journey Begins

One of the teaser posters for CDI’s “40 Nights”

In this blog I will encourage you to seek out some of the recent films

40 Nights, Bestseller, Donors, Ashes of Eden – check out some of the earlier films also and see what creative groups of people created working together. Send your feedback and comments here if you wish.

“Chasing the Star” – I’m reviewing a picture lock cut and post work in full speed ahead. As I said last week, new trailer and post art will be forthcoming!

Lots to do today so I’m going to cut this short.

Have a great week ahead!

DJ

 

 


RESPECT, ORGANIZATION and RESPONSIBILITY

I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch

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1st teaser poster for “Chasing the Star”

It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?

After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.

We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)

I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.

These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.

Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.

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Outside the Owosso theater before our premiere of “An Ordinary Killer” – NOTE the “yellow brick” my deal making cell phone. I was well known in Hollywood for that construction phone. I was always building.

But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined.  You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.

And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.

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RENTRAK REPORT of #1 spot for Collective Development Inc’s “Ghost Town”

If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.

To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.

Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.

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International cast of “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” released in theaters across India in 2009.

I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.

Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business.  Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!

Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)

Happy Saturday!

DJ

 

 

 


Showings, Cycles and Selecting Ones Path

Autumn is Upon Us

It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.

Directors/Storytellers

I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work.  Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.

SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated

I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day.  (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.

This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.

Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from.  Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.

Say when;) That’s for you Tony.

Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard.  Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.

Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors

First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.

Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.

Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.

One Example for rejected films:

Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.

Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.

Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.

Why?

It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.

The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.

What happens often when it’s just starting to work –

Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.

Why all this director talk?

We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations.  Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)

SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)

Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists  because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.

Collaborations

If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.

In-House

We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution)  So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.

We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.

It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development.  I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.

Film Updates

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.

Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI  – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door-  starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch  “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.

Sequels

I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.

40 Nights

We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.

I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.

I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.

DJ

CDI's Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

CDI’s Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate


Social Media Pros & Cons, Policy and Premieres

Another week down and the first signs of spring are showing despite the 2 days snowstorm that we had. I’m sipping my coffee and reflecting back on the week which was highlighted by the fact that I got an oak roll top desk for the house. I’ve got my office in full swing but I still wanted a place to work from in the house. I found one I liked and was offered a deal I could not turn down especially because it included drop off delivery. Let’s see what advice I can try to give before getting into updates.

SOCIAL MEDIA FUNDRAISING

We call this “tin can” shaking for handouts. We at CDI keep a policy of not supporting these campaigns in part because I know so many aspiring filmmakers that if I supported one we would be expected to support them all. Second, I don’t think this really helps develop business skills in filmmakers. Some of these campaigns allow people to keep money even if the full amount is not raised. I think this is the worst violator because I see people who every two months they have a new campaign for a new project. They set an unreasonable goal and when movie X doesn’t fund they cash out that account and move onto movie Y and movie Z and none of them ever get done but people give and people take. It reminds me of people on the corner with a sign and cup. Best situation would have been to budget properly, manage budget correctly and do it all on the business level. Now others might use it as an addition to a budget raised sometimes for post funds and sometimes for “marketing”. That to me is where it gets tricky. If marketing is giving money so a group can travel, party and try to get a pat or two on the back, I can’t support that. Now perhaps if it was a reasonable amount to create screeners and postage to send to distributors maybe but even that perhaps should have been planned on ahead of time. I just know a few people who were put in uncomfortable positions because of these campaigns. I think this would not sit well with investors either because if you can raise a set amount of money you can start to repay capital investment. I always say, a LIKE doesn’t = a BUY and when the family and friends finish giving money – the well dries up and usually only 10%-25% has been raised but that money will get used anyway. Note the project isn’t any closer to getting into the marketplace. Also if you promise perks and that is dependent upon raising ALL the money what happens when only a small % is raised? It all can lead to disappointed campaign backers, investors and potentially hurt the reputation of those who supported and/or endorsed it. You just have to be careful who or what you endorse and so the policy of not doing this works well for us. Bring a business plan and you never know. But if I’m giving away money it will be to the homeless vet with a disability versus a party fund for filmmakers.

Now onto some updates –

– As a recent PR release pointed out “Darkest Night” will release into Germany, Austria and Switzerland on March 28th. This is the 3rd release to those territories and we are currently working on getting more of our titles into this territory and many others.

– We are working on getting the CDI library organized with everything digitized for future delivery.

– The “Donors” film is completed and we are looking at a premiere in Yuma, AZ before going to our distributors.

– We’re also looking at doing another film that would be based in AZ again. We are getting very close to releasing some info on this project. Right now talks with distributors are underway and a few are already on board. Some early casting on IMDB has begun and I’ve been looking at a LOT of reels. Sorry but NO reel NO consideration. Young children can be an exception once in a while but experience gets 1st looks.

– First draft of a script that I’ve hired to write is complete and I’ve been doing a second pass and polish. CDI will also be producing it and so I’ve been having some great talks about distribution on it already. Stay tuned!

– These distributor talks have extended over to ASHES OF EDEN which is VERY close to being done and we will have some possible news on the premiere next week. BESTSELLER’s 1st CUT is being reviewed and notes gathered for the second pass at month’s end. Both of these films have distributors excited to review and they will without question find a home. I’m excited for audiences to enjoy the storytelling. Also THE TERRORIST is moving into sound design and music after a final edit polish.

– A theatrical showcase of CDI and CDI associated films is happening in the Detroit area. We are finalizing the deal and looking at a line up that will include weekly showings. If you ever wanted to watch the entire CDI library on a big screen this could be your opportunity. This type of program is also in talks to happen in the near future in the Lansing area. We will have a good template to follow once this Detroit deal is complete. Look for PR on this soon!

– CDI TV is making some small steps but those could turn into major strides mid year. Again stay tuned!

– Some incredible talks this past week with a studio that we’re in talks of doing ongoing business with. I’m starting to send packages for evaluation this week. I’m also being talked to about participating as an actor in a few of their films. So I will be transitioning into some studio level films for acting but I am doing via the producer path instead of the actor/agent…path. I see big things on the horizon and I’m honored that they want to bridge a deal. This is also a nod to all the artists who I work with who know how to follow through and collaborate as professionals. Those cast and crew that work with CDI know our sights are set high and we work hard to achieve it. I have patience and will do this right. I refuse to cut corners or step on people to get where I need to go. I hear the horror stories weekly and I say it again, be cautious in who you choose to work with. Two weeks due diligence can save two years litigation. If it sounds too good to be true it usually is. Be smart.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but I’m ready to get on with my day so thank you again for your support in following my blog. I was recently made aware of how many followers I have from all over the world. I’m humbled and hope some of these reflections can help you on your own path. Dream but also be prepared to work hard to make those dreams happen.

DJ


Keeping Focus and 2014 Teases

I’m enjoying sipping the coffee on this chilly morning. I slept sound last night after some long moments in the cold yesterday shooting on the film “Dead Quiet”. I got to have some extreme FX make up done with some latex which I’m still peeling off in little pieces. It was nice to see Gabrielle Stone and work again with her. It is hard to believe it was 4 years – oh, how time flies. I also met some real nice cast and crew and I think they will pull off a good film.

It has been a busy week of business as many opportunities that have been worked on for some time have been opening up. It appears that the western that I’ve signed on to star in is moving along and once they do a formal PR announcement I will discuss more. It appears that the faith films in the vein of “Book of Ruth” could be going into production in 2014. Looking at sales reports we should be doing more of these. There appears to be an option against purchase on one of my scripts looking promising. Production and distribution options via a studio could be looming as discussions continue on that front. I’m excited about that because while we are doing some good direct sales with CDI Distribution I would love to focus more on production and less on funding and distribution. Also with budgets climbing into multiple millions having some additional experience of a studio would be welcome.

On the post front, “The Terrorist,” “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” will all be coming out in 2014 and we will find a home for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV show. With 3 shows completed and being shown I think we will narrow down and find a home soon. Also many of the CDI library will also be expanding their audience into the foreign market.

Overall I would say that my plate is full. I’ve had 3 other possible acting projects for 2014 start discussions with me and I’m excited by the possibility of those. I enjoy the occasional “just acting” as it provides a much more relaxed journey. As I’ve mentioned before I also am happy that the state of Michigan has had more feature film production happening. Some of the best advice that I’ve ever had or given was to just do your thing. Do it to the best of your ability. (this means producing especially) Don’t keep looking over your shoulder. By this I mean, don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing – focus on what you are doing. I’m so busy with running our business and when I’m not busy with that I’m enjoying family and friends – I don’t keep up with everything everyone else is doing. It is not an arrogance it is a management of time. I have only so much time. I can spend it doing my development, production and distribution duties as well as evaluate acting offers. I’ve got an obligation to give my best. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make errors or fall short – but that is happening with my focus. Imagine if I spent more time stalking people’s work to see what they are doing. I don’t wish for what others have I just build my own and keep moving. Plain and simple – I outwork people. I also try to always give my best. That said, so should you. And between those projects remember to live.