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

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Attacking the New Year – Read if You’re Ready for 2020!

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Fellow coffee lover Victoria Jackson (Lost Heart – Coming 2020)

BATTLE OF THE BEVERAGES

The hazelnut coffee is flowing and so am I on this fine 2020 morning. It was a wonderful holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas and now I’m ready to roll. We had a nice and chill New Year’s Eve with another couple, old friends – making fondue and playing cards. I had one fuzzy navel that took me back to high school football games with schnapps. I did not miss waking up dehydrated with a pounding headache. I do social drink with friends after soccer games or during some informal film meetings, but not going for broke these days. Between my soccer, martial arts and film friends, I’ve had my day for sure. I’ve had a few friends over the many years who loved drinking maybe a little too much. I’m not to one to judge because I have drank like a Viking on several occasions, I just cannot pay the piper with hangovers. I have so much opportunity and even working as hard as I do I still miss opportunity here and there. I guess as I round the corner this year to 50, I can say that if it was between coffee and alcohol, coffee would win. My buddy TJ would say pour whiskey in it – Win Win:) So I hope everyone had a great holiday ending with our entering the new year. Now you get to make decisions about how you spend your time. What you do to your body/vehicle. How you go after your goals. Goal #31 – Get coffee sponsor for 2020!

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I have had much better luck getting booze sponsors vs coffee

GOALS

Dreams are the first step. Once you break down the dream into steps you can start to go after your dream(s). You have to have faith in yourself and having a solid plan gives you a plan. Just like a great script is the first step to give yourself a chance at a great story. Trust me those out there winging it and having success is few and even if they have blip of success, trying to repeat or replicate that is difficult. I’ve been doing this now a long time and I love what I do. I don’t look at anyone’s life and say, I wish I had that. I don’t pine for a fancy car, house, clothes or what-not. If you have health, family, friends and are able and allowed to create your art and grow your passion into a career, what more? Enjoy the journey even the hardships because they are forging you. I don’t enjoy seeing whining about setbacks while pursuing the arts. These situations/hardships often posted on social media walls telegraph a person is weak. Now admitting weakness in the right situation can be strength but often what I see is wasted time to get sympathy, or too get the other failed feathers to flock together in agreement or support.

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Pick which road you want to travel – excuses, blaming or solutions

In LA on my early trips I would see bars in the actor ghettos filled with people drowning their rejection (I’ve done it a few times) and enjoying the company of other with failure excuses. Now the coffee shops with the person who has a stack of notebooks, lap top and chatting up battle plans- might be the healthier person to collaborate with.

REDIRECT that ENERGY 

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Christine Marie has one of those desired attitudes – positive and talented – Wild Faith, The Christ Slayer, MBF, Lost Heart…

Those minutes writing all those texts could equal that fantasy sword and sorcery novel you always wanted to write. It could be that screenplay to show the world what you can really do ala ROCKY. Now that the newspaper has been mostly replaced by internet news – I scroll a bit first thing in the AM while coffee is brewing and the dogs out doing their business. Read your postings as someone with money or opportunity to provide in the arts. What would you look for? Talent is only one part. Attitude and this is my #1! Good attitude and seeds of talent and we can nurture. When shooting a film, a quick FB scroll during off time can almost predict who is going to report fresh to set and who is going to be dragging in less than 100%. If I see complain, complain, complain – do you think this is someone you want on your set, everyday for weeks? Would you invest money behind someone who is always pointing out flaws versus offering solutions to help, fix, increase.

BE THAT GUY/GAL ON SET, CREW OR CAST, THAT YOU MUST RE-HIRE

PRODUCTION COMPANIES – BE THAT ORGANIZATION THAT PEOPLE ENJOY AND TRUST WORKING FOR.

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Wild Faith was full of hard work and FUN

Now both could have moments where they fall short but that is where ATTITUDE again plays in. Admit when you are wrong and that is strength. Apologize if someone saw your worst side versus your best side for a moment. I had a friend and collaborator once try to justify an artistic breakdown. There is no justification that is a failure. Admit that and move on with wisdom. Great artists who cannot communicate need to stick with a solo medium like painting or basket weaving. In high-school I had a saying, “that no girl was hot enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.” That same lesson can be applied to the arts. There is no artist talented enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.  I’ve heard stories of James Cameron (who I don’t know) first hand from cast members about James C’s early day rants. Maybe he has matured in his communication. I mean he is talented beyond belief, maybe one of the best storytellers in our time, but why a shitty attitude? He is living the dream the young artist in him only could imagine many years ago. Now I’ve never had a film run 100 million dollars over, so I don’t know certain levels of pressure. But especially those working on tighter budgets – attitude, gratitude and two way appreciation is the key. Remember who is providing paid work and an opportunity to showcase artistic services. And producers remember who the loyal, hardworking, positive artistic-providing cast and crew are.

Spirit of Excellence

HA! I get producer recognition at one event and I’m trying to tell people how to do things:) No. I’m just giving some insight to what works for us. SPIRIT of Excellence awards founder Skeeter Murray, who also does comedy amongst many things needs an apology. I could not attend last Sunday the awards deal and decided to do 2 videos. Well, previous to my filming the video I had watched Eddie Murphy host on SNL.  So Murray might have become Murphy:) So I’m sorry if I did butcher your name. Speaking of Eddie Murphy, filmmakers would enjoy DOLEMITE, IS MY NAME. It paints a great picture of an artist with lots of passion, who with his loyal just went after it despite lots of rejection. Good film!

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Okay, THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS book event that I will be attending will be at Baker Books on July 11th, 2768 E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI from 1-3 pm. Like I said last week, come out and get a book. Hear me read one of the two stories that has to do with movies:) Bring anything you want me to sign. I will bring a silver sharpie!

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I will find that perfect TITLE:) 

My screenplay that I’m working on now is coming along great. The hardest part is the title. The book author wants my help in titling so the book and film could have the same name. It doesn’t have to happen like that but has several pros. ‘HOPE From HEAVEN‘ is the current title but I think we can do better. I want to wait until the screenplay is done this month because as you peel away layers you get to the heart of the story that is often the right title. The script itself is coming along great and will translate to film nicely.

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I’ve been updating promo items personally and for projects. One of the decisions right now is should we do a WILD FAITH 2 sequel or push the TV series HASTINGS. We are also developing and evaluating a few projects for the CDI slate.

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I’m looking at this young man again for a couple possible film roles

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will have more theatrical showings, events, festivals, TV play and foreign expansion in 2020. Again thank you so much for all the fan mail on this and all the CDI films.

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LOST HEART is close to a locked picture. I will get a new update on that tomorrow but we are close. The film is so good and I’m excited to bring this to audiences Late Summer/Fall 2020.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Many people are taking the opportunity to watch these three adventure films set in the biblical times. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER. Discover these hidden gems being shown around the world.

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Too many to mention right now – lesson here. Don’t rush news out just to have something to talk about. Develop without distractions and trickle out the info until it is the proper time. Just my two cents – others may love the onslaught of communications when folks see possible work that lies ahead. For me, it can be distracting to respectfully answer back to all these people when trying to actually get to the place of moving forward. Again just use of time. Work smarter vs harder in 2020! I wish each and everyone of you a great start to your New Year!

Be good to one another.

DJ


Production Ramble and Film Updates

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It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.

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We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.

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Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.

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WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.

My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.

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PRODUCTION THOUGHTS

We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997.  In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.

A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.

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I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.

I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.

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I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.

If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.

Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying,  Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.

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I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!

I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

DJ

 

 


Professional Soccer, Screenshots from MBF and Film Updates

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At the soccer match – Manchester United vs Liverpool

Good morning! I’m sipping the coffee and I see last week we had new readers from China, India and South Africa, welcome. Michigan has had some nice temps while the west side of the country has had HEAT. I’m not a big fan of that 85+ humid heat but as of late things have been wonderful. Yesterday I had a first which was attending a soccer match of Manchester United vs Liverpool. It was hosted at our MSU rivals stadium but we had a good time. The tailgate was fun and the game was enjoyable. The crowds were a test and we spent a lot of time in the car trying to get out of the lot and to the actual highway.  I don’t do well with large crowds but a few beers helped with all that. Today we have a soccer match of our own and the cool weather will be a welcome change.

I just did some billing for a few sales videos selling books. We do some commercial work at our company CDI. It just depends on the details so do feel free to reach out. That said, feature film will remain our main focus. Let’s look at a few of the projects.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY

Forty Nights is gearing up for its second seasonal run through the holidays. It will be joined by Chasing the Star which just recently won a silver Crown Award. These films were named ‘Most Inspirational’ 2017 and 2018 respectfully. Will The Christ Slayer complete the trifecta? You never know. The 3rd film is undergoing dialog clean up, sound design and music. We’re targeting a Christmas release and will roll into our Easter home video release.

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WILD FAITH

We’ll be having our West Coast premiere Sept 8th at the AMC in Burbank, CA. A small group of us will be attending to support the film. I’ve been inviting several friends living in the area so they can come out and enjoy the film. We’re still working on a few things for our home video release. Step by step as things move along. Also some good steps towards bringing a TV show to audiences.

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MBF

The footage is all on the computers and plans are being made as to how the film opens and our first teaser. We’re releasing screen stills one per week and a BTS video is also being worked on. Also our young lead David Reardon did a vlog of his experience and we’re releasing that is segments. Part 2 was just released today. So hop over to the MBF Facebook site to take a watch. https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

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This past week had more meetings with filmmakers in the area. Always nice to put a face with a name. I spent some good time screenwriting on the new script LOST HEART (working title). I’m very happy with the direction that’s going in. This week will have more of that plus I’m dispersing some $ to investors which always makes me feel good.  I have to bottle up some of the ‘Frankenberry’ wine because my wild grapes are turning and in a few weeks it might be harvest time. I’m making some wild grape wine. I’m also planning on more grilling and a little chilling this week. I hope you all enjoy the beautiful day and have a productive week.

DJ

 

 


NEW BLOG: If it was easy everyone could do it…

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(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)

Hello everyone,

It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.

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Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.

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On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

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Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”

Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.

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A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.

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“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.

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This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead.  Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.

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Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!

DJ


Advance, Enhance & Take the Chance – 2015

 

Well folks I hope your 2015 is off to a good start. I’ve jumped right into it with a bang and I’m excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I’m really happy at how enjoyable the holidays were and I do realize how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. A week before Christmas I was in a majestic place (The Valley of Fire) shooting what I would call R-Rated STAR WARS with our “Wasteland” film. It’s just funny because that film is what sparked my imagination and pushed me towards the path. Yesterday the editing on that 1st part of the film began in Florida. The website is now open at http://www.wastelandtalesmovie.com/.  A teaser will soon be released and I will start putting new talent in front of our director and we will be doing casting calls via the website so stay tuned if you want to enter the Wasteland.

I will be doing some producing on that film now that my filming as an actor is complete. I’ve been prepping for my next role that I’ll be announcing soon. It will be most challenging but I’m ready and willing to accept that challenge. It’s a period piece that will film some in Michigan perhaps and the balance/bulk of it in Arizona. Location scouting and some select casting work has been underway for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the other exciting news that I can be somewhat less mysterious about – maybe. 🙂

We have release dates for our films releasing with the WINTERS FILM GROUP. I must allow the honor of announcing the “Ashes of Eden” street date to come from Shane Hagedorn. He’s very excited for the national release. Also we have a couple large foreign releases in talks now. I was talking with Parables TV about this film on Friday. They love it. It’s on the cutting edge being a crime drama infused with a healthy dose of faith but also not cramming the religious aspect down your throat. We’re greatly looking forward to audiences of all walks of life watching and enjoying this film. It gives a very humanizing look at the life police/law enforcement officers have to deal with. It looks at the challenges that face both parents and children in this day and age. It’s funny because I told Shane before the film was ever completed that he must also prepare himself for “haters” – (I believe that is the term) Basically, if you start to find success some insecure artists who have not yet been given that opportunity to succeed will resent you. Why his script? Why his film? Why? Why? The answer is usually better quality product, better business or both. I had truly hoped that Shane would not have to experience any of that but I knew better. Before the film was released someone trolled the voting on a data base in hopes it would hinder the film. It did not.  Because distributors actually watch and evaluate based on their expertise and sales projections. Now as of late the film has also been given to a cross selection of  film reviewers and once again the response has been very good. I expect sales to also be quite good.  You can’t let those things even slow you down. When your audience becomes hundreds of thousands to millions vs a few hundred friends you learn to just let it roll off you. A few will always hate and that itself will keep them trapped in a cycle of failure.  I would always rather just smile and create. If you’re still fighting for your respect and your success don’t hate. Try to examine what makes these other artists  successful. I would say don’t imitate their art but imitate their business practice or principles. Don’t EVER fake it to make it. Build from mild success to modest success to great success. Keep it real and keep building and one day your success will start to multiply because it is REAL!

Let’s talk some REAL UPDATES:)

“Wicked Spring” will also be re-releasing soon. While an official PR release is forthcoming I’ll give my loyal readers a hint. It would make a nice gift to put in an Easter basket:) Now “Donors” will also be announcing their release date soon. Audiences will have a great opportunity to enjoy these films releasing the first half of the year. I hope you add them to your collection or viewing experiences.

Finishing up early this year will also be the horror film “Dead Quiet” – I hear they will be targeting fall for their big push. “Bestseller” is now in post sound/music and I’ve been seeing the FX/graphic work in progress. I’m VERY excited to see this film completed and premiere. “The Terrorist” feature was getting close to done in late December so I expect to hear some good news from our director soon.

I was in talks on a few more CDI films heading to TV. One will likely be our doc film “Outside the Wire” done with our friends at the RED, WHITE and BLUE PROJECT.

“Heavens Neighbors” and “Figure in the Forest” are looking at a new release in 2015. “Knight Chills” will be re-releasing with the novel to help promote and prep folks for the sequel that is coming. “In the Woods” re-release – trying to get that commentary done. We had one date reschedule because of snow and we’ll see if we can make it tomorrow. They had a 90 car pile up yesterday right where I have to drive through. So if it’s bad I’m not chancing it. I had the cold zap my battery one day last week and once I got it jumped and was off to my teeth cleaning I narrowly avoided a fender bender right in front of me. I had to BUDDY COLT*  the car to keep from a crash but I did. (See * JUDGES movie)

This week ahead will be more development and prepping for delivery on these films heading out for distribution. Also a studio tour, theatrical talks on a few films and finalizing some artwork. It’s great weather for getting these things done. No nice sun and yard/garden work to tempt you just bitter winds and snow that would make a polar bear cold. So I’m going to focus on my film work and also write on the two scripts I’ve been working on. It all keeps the machine moving forward and I’m happy to stay busy. At CDI we are accepting some commercial work. We’ve got a cool project for a client lined up this spring. We’ve done some high-end commercial work in the past and we’re going to occasionally start taking on select projects here and there. So if you have a commercial project that you want considered – feel free to ask. If we don’t take it on I can always recommend someone whose work I approve.

I think that is all I have right now. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but once again, thank you for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week and keep clawing your way to the middle! Accept that most things don’t come easy and enjoy the work. While others refrain, complain, abstain you advance, enhance and take the chance to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail but you must be as prepared as possible and fight fiercely to succeed.

Welcome to 2015! Go get it.

DJ