A week ago I was waking up early in Kalamazoo to return from our 15th anniversary showing and deal announcement on IN THE WOODS. I have a few more public events coming up soon. I do plan to attend the showing of STANDING POST that was done by one of my long time collaborators and features three actors I respect. I’m also happy that the crowd surrounding the East Lansing Film Festival will get a chance to see ASHES OF EDEN and also get some exciting news for the film. I am happy that this inspirational film will reach even more people. LOCKED IN A ROOM thrilled some folks in Canton last week and I got some great communications from fans watching stuff on VOD. On TV as I type is the making of John Carpenters HALLOWEEN. 21 days and 325,000 with Donald’s pay being 25k. I’m enjoying seeing how much fun those actors had making that little film that would be a king classic in the genre. It was also slammed hard when it first came out. John said much of it was from other artsy filmmakers unhappy they could not get the exposure and release they felt they deserved.
This past week had some of my people working hard to get things in order on BESTSELLER. We are planning time for the director and DP to come in and share ideas. I think we are growing close to a finished film on THE TERRORIST. We only have a few left in the pipeline. Which brings us to DEVELOPMENT.
I’ve got WASTELAND ahead of me this December and we launched the Facebook site where we will be featuring updates in cast, artwork and props. I’ve had some great meetings with a few people over the last couple weeks as CDI looks to increase the army. I look for smart, positive people with passion and willing to work hard. I’ve built everything in this industry I have brick by brick with few if any handouts. I found other like-minded people and together we faced battles – won some, lost some and moved forward.
As our sales team has been licensing films in the library we have been looking at franchising a few of the films. It is no secret that Lynn Drzick is interested in doing another IN THE WOODS. If the right script is agreed upon it may happen. Also VP of CDI, director Jeff Kennedy and I have had talks over KNIGHT CHILLS and we do have a rough idea of a follow-up. I may be paid to write a script that I’ve had in my head for many years for an associate this November. Discussions on several scripts that already have distributor interest and in some cases guarantees continues.
On some of these smaller scope projects I’m looking at upcoming filmmakers who have yet to reach an international level. I’m looking at people who don’t want to do this as a hobby but as a career path. Many of these people have personal ideas/scripts that can be enjoyable for a small pocket of fans but often does not lead to bigger things. While some are content with making films for fun many in the cast or crew have greater aspirations.
It’s a stairs step process to get to these levels of film success. By success I mean having a title that has sold tens of thousands plus units or is in rotation on TV networks or available in different countries. Once you start to take steps if others around you aren’t willing to do the same you sometimes have to distance yourself creatively for a while. Maybe just until they evolve to that next level. If you’ve done a string of quality projects and have started to frame yourself as a professional you cannot slip back. By you saying NO, you may be one of many that helps them evolve. This is hard when you know the people but if they are doing it for fun and you are building a career – conflict of interest. I’ve explained to a few friends in the field (not truly in the BIZ) I cannot just come play for fun. I spend that time on paid projects or developing paid projects. When you win as a producer you win for many artists. When a film breaks out into the international market the resume of all those artists increases. I don’t always feel that some artists, usually the young, fully appreciates this fact. The wages may be modest, the hours long but to have a credit on a film that really gets into the marketplace is so valuable. So take pride in your work and be happy that you are working on something that will help you. If you start out in our field just for the money you’re in the wrong field. There is good money to be made but it comes in time through hard, collaborative work.
For the last few years I’ve been gone on set shooting during October so this has been wonderful to be home. Like I said earlier, I would rather spend time developing and finishing projects of quality versus just doing to do projects that are just fun. I do things for fun (Reading, soccer, archery, guitar, brewing) and I often find filmmaking fun BUT since I am accountable and use investment versus donations – I take my work very serious. I’ve been in development talks with Shane Hagedorn (ASHES OF EDEN) and we plan to do a 2015 film. Add in the handful of other projects developing and the new year could be filled with exciting projects. I look forward to incorporating some new people into the tribe. I look forward to working with my tried and true. I look forward to sharing our stories with fans around the world. Right now, I’m looking forward to some more coffee, some breakfast and MSU putting a whoop on U of M.
Have a great weekend and be good to one another.
I’m back in my chair relaxing by the fire. I’m recovering from a whirlwind couple days in the Kalamazoo, Michigan where we got together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of IN THE WOODS. This creature feature was released in a dozen countries and has grown into a true “cult classic”. I got a chance to see some of my old co-stars and our director, his wife and family. The night before we looked through all the concept art, posters and promo stuff. We looked at all the past business it has done and toasted a NEW distribution deal. The deal is for Blu-Ray release and VOD into the UK and other Europe nations to begin with. Friday was a radio show followed by a TV show and of course the nights screening. It was great to just enjoy what the film is and the life it has grown into. What it has grown into is a film that has audiences cheering, toasting and enjoying every bit of cheesy dialogue and clumsy monster. I’m very happy that the film hasn’t just disappeared but has grown in popularity.
Next up Oct 23 “Locked in a Room” will be playing at the Canton library in Michigan.
We are also gearing up for 17th East Lansing Film Festival with ASHES OF EDEN.
We are going to be making an announcement about this films distribution at the festival.
BESTSELLER and THE TERRORIST are continuing in their post production work.
Some exciting stuff is starting to develop also on the new film front. I announced recently my involvement in WASTELAND, Tales of the Desert. We announced our main cast of Nick X. Parson who will join David Gries and I in Nevada this December. There will be some cool developments on this project we will be releasing soon including some 1st teaser art and social media sites.
We look like we might be closing in on a deal with DONORS, another thriller. I’m going to keep this update short as I didn’t get much sleep the last two days. Also MSU is getting ready to play in just a few and so I’m going to take a mental break for a few hours here. I think some good food is in order. I want to once again thank all my fans out there. It was a pleasure to meet some of you last night and sign some posters.
I’m sitting here relaxing and thinking back on the busy week. It was truly a busy, busy week but I’m happy with all the new developments. I’m happy to report that almost all these business actions were all done against the backdrop of our emerging fall. Let’s look at some of the things that happened this week and let’s hope that I don’t forget any.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just concluded our theatrical run in Canton & Novi in Michigan. No sooner had we concluded and we have more good news concerning this film. I know that PR is about locked and loaded to share some of this good news with all of you. I enjoyed the nice comments from all the people who came out to see the film. This film has been a strong showcase for Lansing, for Michigan and for some of the best emerging talent in the region. There may be some new opportunities to see this film – stay tuned.
LOCKED IN A ROOM is getting a new Halloween season release from Echo Bridge Entertainment packaging us with some classics.
BOOK OF RUTH, Journey of Faith is now selling in a 2 pack at major retailers.
“GPS The Movie” that played CHILLER TV is getting a new release in November and heading to the foreign market.
BESTSELLER has started sound work and CGI/Graphic work. We are all excited to have this moving down the post production line.
THE TERRORIST is another film that is in post sound and we hope to have done at the year’s end.
I also was informed that my 1st feature I starred in called IN THE WOODS is having a theatrical screening to celebrate 15 years since the video release. That is the film that put me on the map first. While it does have a good cheese factor it has become a favorite of many fans out there. For all of you – some special news will be forthcoming! Stay tuned.
I think one of the biggest questions I get is WHAT’S NEXT? My management has been in talks with several casting agents as we try to find the right projects to showcase my acting craft. I’ve been introduced to some amazing production groups working on some amazing films. But I did have one extremely exciting project come to me. In the period of a week this film just seemed to just come together. The ink is dry, flight and hotel booked and I’m excited to announce this week my involvement in a SciFi/Western. I’m playing one of the leads and will be assisting in distribution via a CDI association. The official press release will be coming this week. It will be shooting out west in a famous State park and I’m beyond excited. The 7-year-old in me who wanted to be Han Solo is excited:)
I’m sure I missed a few updates – mostly development talks. We’re close to launching a few other films. Upcoming 2015 will be a BUSY year I can tell already. This weekend will be some fall clean up, football and archery. I’ve bottled up the TROPIC THUNDER wine and I think next week some hard cider might be in order. I’m also almost through my STAN REED SUMMER BREW and so time to get another batch of that going. Michigan folk know how to stay warm.
Have a great weekend!
I awoke to a light rain and I got the coffee flowing while making chili for todays MSU game. As I prepare to get into the movie updates for the week I want to thank our new Czech Republic readers for tuning in. I LOVE fall and it is really setting in here in the Michigan. It was a good week whereas many projects moved on down the line. I’m trying to get my brain moving enough to recall some of the stories that might impart some lesson. I’ll just jump into updates and we will see what flows.
BESTSELLER is now in our post sound studio and our editor got to know Dennis Therrian, my post-supervisor. Again finding artists who are not only talented but take great pride in their work is the key. I’m excited to see the layers of music added to our final picture. CGI work and sound design will also be taking place as well as color correction. Be ready for many more updates in the coming months.
ASHES OF EDEN – yesterday we kicked off 42 showings of the film in the Detroit area. (Canton & Novi) and the first audiences went to the theaters last night. If you are in the area and you want to see a powerful, professional story told mainly by Michigan artists please do take a look. It is at the Emagine theater chain so go on-line and pick the best time for you. We look to be close to signing with another big theater chain and will be announcing more on our national distribution deal in the coming weeks.
This week saw me getting to review THE TERRORIST with a finished music score. Also DEAD QUIET released an advanced poster for the horror film slated to release in 2015. I had a small role in a SMALL TOWN SANTA, Christmas film for a producer associate of mine. It is now out on streaming and will start selling DVD’s in Oct so as you get closer to the holidays it could provide a nice watch. I look forward to seeing how it unfolds. I do a small role in DIVISION 19 and I’ll be keeping my ears open for updates on that project.
SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN shows 1-3 are now on Indieflix.com so check it out if reality TV and travel is your thing.
That really covers most of the projects in post or releasing. The big question I’ve been getting is – what next? We’ve got a handful of projects in development but I may be close to signing onto a new project. It is best described as a Sci Fi/Western and I had good Skype talks with the director. He extended an offer and we are talking terms. It would have me shooting a handful of days in December outside of Las Vegas. I will keep you in the loop on this project and my potential involvement.
This week had me catching up with several of my friends living elsewhere like Terry Jernigan and David Borowicz. I always enjoy reconnecting and sharing laughs with these friends of mine. Okay I’m off to stir the chili and get a few things around this morning. I hope you enjoy the remaining weekend ahead.
I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!
What a week with the friday morning/afternoon being a touch chaotic. The communication flow between people is one of the utmost important aspects of filmmaking. Let’s jump into some of this since I have running around this morning and I’m attending a wedding this afternoon.
BESTSELLER is a picture lock providing our director is happy with her small insert today but I think we’re onto the next phase. The materials are being moved about to their new destination and I’m excited for the scoring of the music to begin. We will be announcing that formerly this coming week but you heard it here first.
ASHES OF EDEN also has PR waiting to come out. We’ve been waiting for the theatrical link to go up at Emagine Entertainment so we can start heavy promoting our Sept 19th start dates. So if you are from the East side of the state of Michigan and want to see what all the hype is about – your chance is coming. Canton and Novi is where we will start the release and we’re also working towards setting up a showing in the Owosso, MI area. We had an amazing run with AN ORDINARY KILLER there and think people there would love the new film.
And speaking of AN ORDINARY KILLER it may be one of the films returning to theaters from the CDI library. I see GHOST TOWN also making a run in the coming months. If you have not seen either of these films on the big screen you are missing something.
AOE (ASHES OF EDEN) is also close to closing its 1st TV deal and we are in final stages of negotiations on the DVD, VOD National deal for 1st quarter 2015.
I have a new VOD multi national deal interested in several of the CDI library. We will do a test run with a few titles and see how that goes.
Thoughts from the week –
I still stand by the fact that many of the youth today don’t know how many more opportunities in our business exist now compared to a decade ago or so. I see more kids who have classroom experience but their real world experience is still playing catch up. Example – doing shorts, commercials, music videos and such do NOT fully prepare you for 3-5 weeks of feature filming shooting. It’s a self battle with endurance, focus and teamwork. I had to have a firm conversation or two this week with people over little issues. I think there can be a lack of appreciation of what it truly takes to produce a film properly. The UNSEXY parts of the business – the paperwork, accounting and on-going work opening up new opportunities to release. But this is what I do for a living and I love it. I’m extremely serious about my film work and the art we create because at one time even the idea of doing motion picture work was seen as a joke. Now our films get done with quality all while trying to create the best crew experience you can within a closed environment like a film set. I try to be fair and work with people and their issues or explain why I cannot. But if people start becoming too much of an issue – they just need to go work elsewhere. I know many people who found new respect for what we do once they had to go work on a less than organized film set. I’m not talking short films – where some say “I did this short and it ran perfect.” GREAT, it was 3 days! Come talk to me when you’re deep into week three and see how the ship is doing. Feature filmmaking is a long distant run not a sprint. Also being a pain in the you know what is an easy way not to get invited to sail next time around. I use to feel for the few bad apples but I try not to now. Some people do something silly and they just need to learn the hard way. When you have a lot of people doing the right thing you can’t waste too much time on that one person or so hurting themselves. It is often best to cut them loose and let them learn elsewhere. Knowing your craft is NOT enough. You having the right attitude is what is valuable.
SUCCESS CAN BREED RESENTMENT
This week I also had conversations with people who are not quite feeling the love in their new-found success from some around them. I explained that if you have not transitioned to FULL TIME filmmaking/acting and are working a day job – many may secretly resent you. Why? Because they wonder why you can’t just be happy being as they are. Why do you feel like you need to do something greater? How dare you think you are better than me? To others you can often be that “in your face” reminder of the dream that he/she let go. Did they really want to go to coach sports? Did they always dream of owning a coffee shop? It’s harder to strive for true happiness. Some people can truly be happy playing their part in a job while others see it as a stepping stone to their dreams. If you can be happy in a 9-5 job that is a blessing. For some, they feel compelled to create. It doesn’t make creators any better it’s just what they feel a need to do. Often it creates self suffering for the artist in the journey but can lead to great satisfaction. You just can’t expect everyone to support your journey. When I see people throwing negativity I feel bad for them because it they put that same energy into their own dreams they would be much better people. It would help them be better people for sure. Instead they are the negative ones always casting stones. Keep smiling and keep moving forward.
It was just one of those weeks but it ended with true progress and some very promising news. There may be times where you walk against the blowing wind trying to slow you down. I say don’t pee against the wind and just keep walking steady. That’s what the week felt like but now things seem quite at peace.
Enjoy the struggle. If it was easy everyone would do it.
I want to start this blog by welcoming the new readers from Japan and Singapore! I’m very excited by how many international artists are following this blog. I tell many around me locally that my group I identify with are the sincere artist-doers from around the globe. The one’s who create within a framework of business that allows international exposure. I truly do celebrate the differences between us as people. When I see one group of people trying to put another people “in-line” I feel like we are not evolving properly. I LOVE the pride people take in their customs and traditions. From Philippine Balut to Canadian Poutine. Quail eggs in Mexico and delicious South Indian Coffee. My career has brought me so much more beyond just telling a story on the screen. I’ve met people, seen places, tried foods and heard stories unique in their being. This is part of the blessing/gift bestowed upon me by choosing this path.
Now I’m writing this blog in advance since I’m going down south to visit with some family. Sweet tea & Southern cooking is usually what lies in store. I’ve got a few topics to meditate upon as I relax from the normal hustle and bustle. Take some time to UNPLUG. I saw an associate on FB was talking about how at a family meal EVERYONE was PLUGGED into their phones. I told her that she and her family should put the phones in a basket if it is that bad. It will probably feel like withdrawals from some techno crack BUT it will be good for you. I easily can roll back the years, remembering the days of pagers and of no personal phones.
Now technology has made certain aspects of our industry easier. We’re in post production with http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com and I think we are VERY close to a locked picture. From there is will be the audio and graphics work including the final color correction. I have a smile as I type because I think again the artists on this project have created something wonderful. Only time will tell if others feel the same.
ASHES OF EDEN is in final negotiations on the National release that will happen 1st quarter 2015. And leading up to that release we will be doing more theatrical releases. Today was the last showing in Grand Rapids, MI and starting Sept 19th ASHES OF EDEN will play in Novi and Canton Michigan. I can’t wait for friends and fans on that side of the state to see the film.
I could go on for quite a while about other projects now in post production. Some are newly completed and soon to release. Others are still in development struggling to be made. I’ve been also trying to catch up on some script reading. I’ve been enjoying my read on a WW2 script recently presented. I’m also excited about a few of my new acting submissions via my management. I appreciate the sincere way that I’m being represented to casting directors and executive teams. The last two projects I’ve been submitted for …Wow! I’m just happy to have my work put before these people. If something clicks I’m ready to go do what I do.
I’m going to cut this short because I have to renew this blog site. Again I want to thank all of you out there. I hope you have a great weekend and week ahead.