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

Posts tagged “business

Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.

The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.

This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.

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I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.

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BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?

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OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.

So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.

I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.

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I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.

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WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut.  But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.

I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)

Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.

Be good to one another!

DJ

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Growth – Visualize the Harvest Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN OTHER NEWS…

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

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

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

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

Have a great Sunday and rest of your week.

DJ

 


Wild Faith-Mania and Another Film Preps To Shoot at CDI

So it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.

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Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz

It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.

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But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.

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I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance.  I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.

SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA  (LANSING) 

10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05

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In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…

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The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.

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Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.

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Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.

I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion.Master copy Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


Week’s Top Eight Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 


Keys to a more successful 2018

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

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

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 


Wave of Happenings – Just Keep Swimming:)

So I’ve got a busy Easter Sunday like everyone else and I have a good amount of info to get across. First let’s just talk about time – my thinking is not naturally inclined towards linear it tends to be more abstract. I saw a childhood friend of mine today. Yes, he’s part of the ole Saratoga Farms Goonie’s gang from our elementary school days.  FOND MEMORY: Frozen pond playing ice hockey with no pads – branches for sticks and a petrified mushroom as a puck. This buddy of mine caught a power shot to his nugget. He always did have a good-sized melon but it gave him a K.O. on the ice. He got up after a few with a small mushroom-shaped bruise on his forehead. Well, long story short – his mother passed away. She was the jolly German mom who was always positive and funny. She always had cool activities such as coloring the glow-in-the-dark shrinky dinks. I also think her German chocolate cake was one the best desserts I can recall. So it’s been almost 30 years since I saw this friend and his father. It was wonderful to visit even if it took a memorial to bring us all together. Another close friend lost his dad when I was filming in Yuma, AZ. He always had a beer for us guys and was willing to school us all in a game of pool. It’s just an odd feeling as our wisdom keepers around us start to fade away just as our gray starts to fade in. Interesting. Well…

FADE IN:

INT.  MY WRITING CHAIR – NIGHT

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Returning as Jesus in ‘The Christ Slayer’

The Christ Slayer

I’ve been in research and writing mode. I start with just a little bit each day and honestly that’s all the time I’ve had time for. End of year business has kept me busy and working on the wrap up on “The Christ Slayer” production. But that is almost complete and the film is in editing where the magic can start happening.

Chasing the Star

Next week we have our Michigan premiere for “Chasing the Star” which is open to the public.

http://www.uica.org/calendar/chasing-the-star

UICA showing

Following that –

Celebration C-LansingIt will be moving to other cities in the days ahead including this showed up on my news feed.

Coming to…?:) maybe a hint below…

http://www.emagine-entertainment.com/showtimes/movie/?title=Chasing+The+Star

The Temple Top

What will become of mankind? The Devil & Jesus debate the fate of mankind.

Forty Nights

This film is getting a wonderful launch during this Easter season. Here are some of the retailers that were quick to jump on this first telling in the trilogy. We thank you.

WORD ALIVE
CROSSROADS BOOK & MUSIC
GOOD NEWS BOOKS
BOOK STORE
BOOKERY INC
ABUNDANT BLESSINGS CHRISTIAN
CHRISTIAN BOOK & GIFT
MUSTARD SEED CHRISTIAN BKST
GALILEAN
CHRIST CENTERED LIFE STORE
MARDEL WAREHOUSE
TRI-CITY CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE
BREAD OF LIFE
GOOD NEWS BIBLE & BOOKS
NEW BIRTH MISSIONARY BOOKSTORE
WAY TO EMMAUS INC
LIVING ROOM BOOKSTORE LLC
EMMANUEL BOOKSTORE
CHRISTIANCINEMA.COM INC
GOOD NEWS CHRISTIAN BOOKS
LIGHTHOUSE BOOK & BIBLE
PATHWAYS CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE
CLC BOOKCENTER SONSHINE
HALLELUYAH WAY
BARNHILL CHRISTIAN RESOURCES
GREATEST GIFT & SCRIPTURE SUPPLY
BRIMAR – DBA J FARVERS
CROSSROADS
THE ARK BOOK AND GIFT
STEWART TRADING LLC
WILLAS BIBLE BOOKSTORE

This week the “Forty Nights” release has brought us all kinds of good PR. This is in the wake of the reviews and nominations by ICFF for four separate awards this May.

Forty Nights

One of the stories from the week

http://pilotonline.com/entertainment/columnist/editors-desk/hampton-roads-actress-and-philanthropist-work-on-christian-based-movie/article_85e0328c-6078-5fb4-9f67-a6fc7db11600.html

Here is one of the powerful reviews coming at the film. For those who take the time to share their positive experiences with us we’re humbly appreciative. We hope the trilogy of films will create positive talk, discussions and actions.

 

Wild Faith

As if all this wasn’t exciting enough – I have a new cut of Wild Faith waiting to review and that means we’re close to a picture lock. That means music and sound will be on deck with Dennis Therrian. VFX discussions have been happening and I’m excited about some of the creative and business discussions we’ve had. We’ve got all kinds of links. Who wants to see an extra created “Wild Faith” BTS video from our Civil War shoot. I really enjoyed making this film – let’s take a watch.

Next week it will be picking right up where we left off. I’m diving deeper into development on 2018 projects and we have a few possible projects to finish this year. As for now I have a garden to get prepped and a soccer season about to kick off.

Have a great Easter weekend. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Beautiful Sunday Updates

SpiritsSo I’m able to attract a distillery sponsor but still no coffee. Well, I’m sipping a nice dark coffee flavored with…you guessed it, hazelnut. I’ve been working hard to catch up on business and get back into the flow. I’m just about there.

Forty Nights

The Easter month has brought the beginning of our release schedule with The Quest Trilogy. We’ve started with the new release of “Forty Nights” – See here to buy the remastered DVD, digital stream to rent or own.

http://www.christiancinema.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=7766

CORRECT COVER

Funny story. Many themes are spotlighted in these biblical films. Several of these themes addressed are what works against organized religion to the everyday person. You have all these branches of the tree that all want to claim being the roots. But the tree has but one seed. While people argue to own divinity so much is missed. One retailer who deals in “Christian” merchandise passed on carrying the “Forty Nights” DVD. I found it amusing that here’s a gatekeeper who believes they have some sort of authority to judge. Meanwhile the film has been nominated by an international Christian body for several awards including “the most inspiring film” yet…

Therein lies the issues I have with the “status quo” of organized religion. The beauty of these stories produced by amazing artists will reach beyond the small genre audiences. They’ll reach audiences worldwide and not just the Christian audiences. I’ll be having conversations with our distributor about the possibility of another slate of biblical period films. I cannot see creating an inferior product just to appease one retailer gatekeeper. Make a film that people want to watch and empower those retailers that DO carry the title. I saw some of the communications and it put my artistic self directly against my business self. Now I’ve always said, we create the best art within our business lines. But, without a strong script you cannot get strong artists on board. You end up with watered down product and that’s not what I do.

I’m sure a good balance will be found. But this example is why I don’t get too high on the praise or the criticism. It just amazes me that some feel empowered to judge believing they have some real power. Actually the only power this one retailer had was over greed. They can try to impose their will by refusing unit buys unless it fits their view. I also thought about how commerce often works against spiritual when “Christian reviewers” where just hammering the film NOAH. Now I like Russell Crowe and thought the film was just okay with many “over the top” events but like I told one person in private – If it inspired one person to go read the source material and put them on a path towards God, would the film not be a success? After I make a film I strap on my business armor and enter the fight. The haters will always exist and they really don’t have much of an effect these days. I think this one situation bothered me because fresh off of playing Jesus I tried to get to discover the core of the man and his beliefs. What would he think of someone censoring in his name? It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that. I think much like the table tossing in the temple he would walk into their offices and crack the whip.

But I believe these parables were created to unite people not divide. So I hope audiences do continue to connect with the material and seek it out. Those like the censoring retailers will likely get forced out of business in time. The daily fan mail tells me that many are reaping the rewards of the positive messages. If you want to see “Forty Nights” and the other films demand them:) Seek them.

Chasing the Star

Release 2

So the film was watched and listened to again by multiple ears and eyes in studio last week to prep for the theatrical lay off. We’ve got a couple of weeks before our Grand Rapids premiere on the 22nd. After that they’ve announced my home town of Lansing, MI as the next stop. The play dates will be on the 24th and 25th of April at Celebration Cinema. More cities will be announced as we move forward. Again Sept 5th is the national DVD/Streaming release and it will be a wonderful Christmas time film for the entire family. I know the marketing team at BMG is already working on the release.

The Christ Slayer

Here is the video that our director posted with his SELECT shots from the film.

Sound has been married to picture and Monday editing will begin. I will be giving many more updates and you can join the FB site and follow us.

https://www.facebook.com/thechristslayer/

Wild Faith

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Our western is now in discussions over VFX work before we can lock the picture. We’ll have discussions with director Jesse Low this week. I will also be discussing poster art and marketing. The TV show is a real possibility and will be part of my business discussions this week. A busy week ahead.

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OTHER:)

We’ll be looking at the CDI library to possibly re-release some of our other films into the market. A few foreign sales talks are heating up and I will be exploring that. I’ve recently undergone a major hair cut to be ready for soccer that starts this month. I’m in good fighting shape thanks to the deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. We’ve been getting the yard around and soon the garden ground will be tilled. We’ve got many new projects that are just seeds. If we plant them in fertile grounds with a little TLC I’m sure we’ll have new projects sprouting soon.

Have a beautiful day and week ahead.

DJ