Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
Sunny Sunday in Michigan although it is beyond chilly and only going to get colder. I’m happy to be up and about after a week of being under the weather. I was sick with a touch of the stomach bug that was going around when I was finishing post work on THE CHRIST SLAYER. A week of healthy and I got hit with a come and go fever riding with a head cold. I was mainly just achy and weak with sinus pressure and a deep cough. Now only a touch of the cough remains. I dislike being sick (who does?) as I always have lots going on.
I recently had an invite to be on camera for a young director I really like. I had to turn down his offer because it did not come with money. On the same day, I had six hours of business tax prep work that I did instead. That’s why I see some merit and perhaps fun in the hobby-side of the filmmaking game going on but it’s truly such a vast different game from what a few others are doing.
I think I have to just accept that filmmaking for some is like playing golf. They don’t play in the pro circuit earning but just enjoy swinging the clubs with friends. But if you do have your eye on the pro circuit you need to direct your energy and efforts towards that and those who are striving to that end. The longer you play in the hobby arena that’s lost time where you’re not prepping for the big game. You’re not learning the lessons that come with the true business of filmmaking.
Crowdfunding in film with only a few exceptions is just playing. It hurts many who never learn to pitch or to earn. I see people spouting with no idea of securities law just shotgunning for investors. People tote in their PR being professional but ride without insurance or workman’s comp. They’ve never done all the accounting, the 1099’s and K-1’s1099 and everything that comes with being a professional filmmaker. Now some will evolve but most will not. If you don’t have your chain of titles and releases, no major distributor will want to touch your endeavor.
I’ve stated that I work very hard on the business and still make the occasional mistakes. That is part of learning. So when I see people not even trying to step up business-wise it’s sad. Artistic talent that could grow into more is hampered by the business or lack there of. I’m wishing you all luck, sincerely. I want to see castings that pay more that IMDB credit and food. I would love to work a few days here and there on projects with new artists but their business has to be there. Otherwise it’s all just pretend. So when your career is not going how you want it stop pretending you don’t know why and look at what you’re doing. It’s kind of along the lines of that doing the same thing and expecting different results. Make 2019 different!
I had a conversation with a fellow filmmaker about a few recent postings. If someone says in their listing, ANY EXPERIENCE or NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED – pass and pass. That is a red flag of the quality of work. What they’re willing to accept. That might be okay for a community theater posting but don’t look for professional talent to come knocking. I know what we look for and it’s not Uncle Pete who thinks he wants to try something new. Or someone just looking to fill their spare time. So pending your own goals, vet the opportunities.
I do occasionally watch videos of artists as we’re always looking for possible additions to the CDI tribe. Most often in these videos I see inconsistent quality because of holes in cast or crew experience, poor story or inferior equipment. I’ve seen aspiring talent that puts something forth that frames themselves poorly. I’m not trying to knock anyone as we all start somewhere and I’ve been through it all. I recently saw someone spotlighted in a post. I don’t know this person but they often post about their projects. So I take the time to click thinking I might get a glimpse at what they can do in front of a movie camera. Instead I get cheesy selfies being used as promotional material. To someone who doesn’t know this person it doesn’t say hire me, it says waster of time. And it frames the person in a poor light – literally.
That’s my little insight and I hope a few of you use it to better your year. One solid project is better than 5 weak projects in terms of exposure. OK. Let’s look at a few CDI film updates.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is DONE! This film is not the largest budget project I’ve supervised but in scope it was a beast. We had VFX happening in Canada which included digital matte’s and model building. Sound design in period pieces is always harder since you have to shrub any sounds that don’t belong. The same goes for visuals. This film was delivered last week and it will play theatrical events in April. It will be available on the lead up to Easter both on DVD March 4th and streaming after that. If it plays in a city near you please treat yourself to seeing this on the big screen. I will let you know when theatrical show dates appear.
In March WILD FAITH will also be hitting theaters across the USA before releasing to home video. I also think we’ll be getting the new artwork very soon.
With both of these films finished we’ll be turning our attention to MBF. The Animal Planet promo was viewed over 420,000 times and I do hope they run the show next season where Duncan visited the set in Corunna, MI. We’re close to our first edit. From there a few tweaks and onto music and sound design. We’ll be delivering the film June 30th to the distributor. It looks like a theatrical followed by the home video run.
DEVELOPMENT of the new CDI films is underway. We’ll be launching the IMDB and putting our summary packages together. LOST HEART is next up so stay tune.
Okay. I’ve got a pork roast in the crock pot. I’m going to go check on that and do a few other things to get ready for the week ahead.
Have a great Sunday and we’ll chat next week.
I hope everyone is having a good week. It was a long week filled with sadness, laughter, success and set back. But with my trusty hazelnut coffee I get to sit here and reflect back on some of it with all of you. First, our household has been much quieter with our reduced pack. Two sisters Lulu and Daphne are spending lots of time together. We will be getting another dog for Daphne to help train. She did such a wonderful job with our Luke. We really want to have a new guardian by the time LOST HEART shoots this coming spring. It might happen on the lead up to Thanksgiving since we will both have lots off time to make a new pack member feel welcome and loved.
Speaking on loved ones, cherish them because our shared time is finite. One of our neighbors from our childhood passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. We got to catch up with childhood friends but unfortunately it came at a visitation. New childhood memories were made with the nice and nephew one night with pizza, pumpkin carving and seed roasting. This coming weekend we’ll have another reunion with my Uncle and cousins but also at a cost. My Aunt lost her short battle with cancer. She was the sun which everything went around and so they’re rightfully having issues adjusting. I am looking forward too sharing stories and laughter with my cousins.
This week I spent a good amount of time communicating with our film distributor as they prepare for AFM. For those not in the knowing it’s the American Film Market. A version of our MBF teaser is going to travel to AFM. The DVD/poster art for THE CHRIST SLAYER is being prepared. WILD FAITH deal is also in the works and I need to find out the details of the theatrical deals.
Part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – The Christ Slayer is in post sound and music. Also we engaged our colorist for the film’s color correction. That is now underway. We had both Carl Weyant (Longinus) and Melissa Anschutz (Mother Mary) into the studio. A few lines had to be fixed and that process went smooth. We also were treated to some opening music that shows carpenters building wood crosses on the hilltop as Mary watches. With the opening music it is so POWERFUL. I’m excited to have audiences go on this final adventure. Again if you have not watched part 1 or 2 (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star) buy the DVD or stream it from Amazon. Also many other great platforms are carrying them.
WILD FAITH is also heading back into the theaters as the strength and power of this film is being noticed. Our celebrity narrator is looking at availability and paperwork has been sent across. We’ve had various outlets contact us directly over wanting this film. All those communications are being forwarded and soon the entire distribution flow will be announced. Once everything is in their hands we’ll turn our attention back to the TV series.
Also with MBF our military vet/adoption dogs film, I’ve seen about 30 min of the rough film and I’m rather happy with it even in the rough state. It’s a powerful and moving film and something else to look forward to next year. We keep adding more official stills to our Facebook page. Please do stop by to see pics and get updates.
LOST HEART has gotten its first feedback from one of our proposed stars and it was everything I had wished for. We will start moving it out to others to read. I really do love the story and again it is filled with powerful themes.
Speaking of scripts – this past week I wrote a PSA (Public Service Announcement) script and the client loved it. Now I have to prepare a budget because we also might produce it with CDI. Again, we do some commercial work at CDI but it’s selective. I’ve also returned to doing some writing on my first SciFi script, which is beyond fun. I’ve also started to look at a few possible literary agents to help sell a few scripts that I don’t plan to produce.
I also was encouraged to submit to a film shooting in fall 2019 as the bad guy. I sent my materials and if I am what they’re looking at I will read their script and do a short read. I am ready to get back in front of the camera again but it has to be the right project. This year audiences can see me as Jesus again, mountain man Ben Lily and injured marine Paul Landings. I thought maybe the DEAD QUIET film might release this year but it doesn’t seem like it will. This year I did do a commercial gig for “Our Daily Bread” and a music video for musician Trey Conner. I’m about trying something outside my box if the business is good and the project professional. What else will 2019 bring?
One thing I like to do at the end of each year is do a self-evaluation. Look at projects and project your goals for the new year. Look at what goals from the previous year were met and which ones were not. Writing this down so you can actually review next year is a very useful tool. From seed to harvest. Goals, destinations and such are all good but remember to enjoy the journey.
Have a great week and a safe Halloween.
Photo by Dean Teaster
Good morning my friends. I’m indeed sipping the hazelnut coffee this morning and taking a moment to type to all of you. Our CDI team has been hard at work capturing the story pieces for our next film MBF: Man’s Best Friend. We have an excellent cast and crew working hard to make each day. This film will surely live up to the standards we’ve been trying to set for ourselves as storytellers. I’ve truly gone to some new places with this character Paul. A wounded war vet who is just trying to find peace. I think many of us are trying to do that and certain things give us that feeling. What happens when that peace is disrupted or taken away? This film is just growing in leaps and bounds gathering worldwide interest. It will be featured on an upcoming ANIMAL PLANET show called ‘Amanda to the Rescue’ this fall.
Me with my boy ‘Luke Brown’
We’ve got military supporters and dog lovers. The hearing impaired and spinal injury activists – all sorts of messages in this story that unfolds in small-town America. Please check out our social media site and join us on this journey. It’s fun to see the lifelong friendships being born through mutual, shared passion in storytelling.
Aside from this we have some exciting news pending on ‘Wild Faith’ pending only until the deal is done. We’re looking at setting up more theatrical screenings this summer as we move towards fall home video release.
I also just saw the new color correction for part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY trailer. Such a beautiful job. The film VFX is still being worked but I got to see some of the digital matte paintings and such inside the feature film. We have this great film about to join ‘Forty Nights’ and ‘Chasing the Star’ in the marketplace. That will happen as ‘MBF’ is in editing.
I’m so very proud of these films done by hard-working artists on both sides of the camera. If you’re a filmmaker work hard to do things right. I saw filmmakers online talking about locations. These are so important and can make or break the look of a film. If you don’t run an organized off-set and trash a location that defines all our industry. I’ve stated before about being accountable. We’ve had some poison-individuals in this state of Michigan who caused quite a bit of damage to projects and their self. Luckily several of them are gone having burned too many bridges. I noticed how several of these toxic people were hailed for…I’m not quite sure. But I do notice that talent especially seem to fear being ‘blacklisted’ for speaking truth. Don’t get me wrong ‘blacklisting’ exists. I will remove and refuse to hire toxic cast or crew. Occasionally one gets on board but they either adopt a new positive way to perform or they are made to walk the plank:) But I will always speak my truth if asked. If I disagree with something said, I will and politely try to explain my viewpoint. I would never fear being blacklisted by any of the people I deem toxic because they could not pay me enough to collaborate with them. Don’t get me wrong, I want these people to change for the positive. Most won’t and they’ll fade away like poorly written story. But some just might decide to try to live as the best version of themselves. But often taking the high road with integrity is harder and many are seeking selfish shortcuts. I was reminded of this behavior just recently in a discussion. You can choose to be part of the problem or solution. None of it really affects my world but I see the damage it does to others working hard to build their dreams. Our tribe honors accountability and that is why we are growing. Try that and see what it does for you and your community.
I’m going to bring this to an end because I have to prepare to film. I promise to have better updates once this ship lands. But sails are about to be raised and another great day of filming lies ahead. Have a wonderful day.