Photo by Graham Turner
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee. I have lots on my mind. Artist or those who follow the dream of being an artist as a career start young. Many fail because the endeavor is hard. Not that many other things aren’t difficult but many just don’t fully “get” the artist mindset. As a young person it can be you against the world with little to lose and everything to gain. That is why many make their run at it by often moving away or by making personal sacrifice in hopes of gaining a foothold.
As you get older that dream may still persist but also life may lead you in other directions. People fall in love, become parents and sometimes they cannot keep up the battle financially. The significant others brought into this circle often battle to understand and be supportive. I’ve said before, when I get an opportunity to do what I love it creates a hardship of sorts for my significant other. Domestic tasks usually handled by two now fall upon the shoulders of one. But living with a frustrated artist can also be a detrimental state.
That is why you always see so many ‘special thanks’ in the end credits of a film. The “others” help a film get made usually by holding down the fort. Everyone has an artistic side to their nature but it’s those of us who are truly driven by it like a compulsion, an addiction to create who take a special someone. Many artists live in isolation of being truly understood. But there exists those who recognize and respect and love these traits in an artist and support them despite the hardships. These people are special and deserve to be recognized.
One of our close producer/actors at CDI just lost their special other. An intelligent and practical man whose art manifested through his cooking. Some cook and some make it an art and this gentlemen made it art. He actually did some craft service duties for us last fall on an upcoming short film. The director loved how positive and helpful he was and I think he finally was really getting it. It can be hard for the significant others to not be in that bubble. To see but not share in that enthusiasm that radiates from artists doing what their heart calls them to do. But on this occasion he was part of it. He felt it. The TRIBE. He enjoyed the experience so much that further talks followed whereas this might become more of a norm but alas it was not meant to be.
Saturday night just before the big lightning and thunder storm he went home, a tragic victim of an aggressive cancer. His last words were “you always think you have more time.” How profound and true these words are and they should be a wake up call to some and a reinforcement to others. These words inspired and haunted me but ultimately encouraged me to cherish the time we have here. To appreciate the people we share our time and lives with. So quit that miserable job and run that charter fishing business if that is what you always wanted to do. Don’t put off writing that book that has been in your head since college. Embrace the now and know time is fleeting. I think I have always tried to follow my passions and use my time wisely. Because one day our own sands of time will trickle down the hourglass and the journey will be done.
Let’s talk my favorite passion – storytelling and my favorite medium film.
BEST YEARS GONE – This story has been in heavy development with casting, costuming and consulting. We are looking at going old school by breaking the shoot up into a few shorter blocks grouping together scenes that require less and more. This is more like filming in the earliest days but will allow us to better control the size of the crew on certain days and damage control should we have any virus issues. I’ve just about got a handle on my character and others have been doing the same. It is now almost time to start getting those puzzle pieces/scenes. I think audiences will love this film again a powerful mixture of serious issues wrapped in humor. Life can be tragic but it can also be funny and sometimes both. This film captures that and we will once again be proud to bring that to audiences worldwide.
WILD FAITH – Worldwide this film has been expanding and is being viewed by millions of people. I think this is a great film again serious and humorous and is proving to be enlightening. I’ve read just some amazing fan mail about this movie. I’m so proud to say that all this attention and appreciation is building our audience to the TV series. We will be working hard over the winter to put the pieces in play. A spring 2021 shoot schedule would be ideal and I think it might all fall together. While it might not be everyones cup of tea (as if anything is) it is loved by many. Thank you to all the fans worldwide.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – I had several people reach out having finally got around to seeing this film. I’m guessing maybe it had something to do with National Dog day. This film is a bit more intense than some of the other CDI fare that has a good dose of humor but the subject matter required it. If you love animals and want to see a powerful drama please do take a watch.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’re prepping this trilogy for the holiday window fast approaching but you can watch at anytime. Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS, Part 2 CHASING THE STAR and Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER – enjoy!
LOST HEART – Our distributor has approved the EPK kit and so PR will start rolling soon. We have several of our stars doing national spots and the planning for our cast and crew screening is full on. Our goal is to have millions tune in for a one-night only event via ENCOURAGE TV. This will be an event with pre-show interviews and well wishes. Following that event the film will move to an exclusive window with one of the many interested networks and finally home video streaming and DVD. I was speaking with Josh “The Ponceman” Perry who is one of our stars yesterday. He absolutely owns the screen but I could say that about so many of the cast. I’m excited to show our artists and after that – the world!
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – Our in association documentary film about the origins of wrestling is underway. If you have an interest in wrestling and want to see how you could get involved feel free to reach out. We are gathering interviews and will make a great entertaining and informative film.
WRAP UP – The film work keeps moving forward. This weekend has been busy as we know have a coop with our “golden girls” getting adjusted. We fired up the new stand up freezer and stocked it with the pig and transferred over the venison. I also bottled the dark “Autumn Ale” and will likely rack the wine in the next week or so. The garden is growing with the fall veggies and even the hops are getting close. So I’ve felt a bit like a farmer as of late but I find it all very relaxing. I will leave us again with that powerful truth that we always think we have more time. So if you have things you want/need to do don’t keep pushing it off. DO IT.
Be good to one another and I’ll see you all in September:)
New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.
It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.
I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.
Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:) So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.
I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.
- The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
- Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
- MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
- Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
- LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com
Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
It is Sunday and I’m fighting sleepy eyes – I went to bed at a good time knowing how much I had to do today. It’s been a long week and I’m often not 100% happy with what I accomplished for the week but I have faith it all adds up. Things keep moving along and additionally I had a few things this week that once again puts life into perspective.
A jolly, friendly man, David Bees, that I knew from a Las Vegas film I acted in and whom I sat with and socialized at the “Deadly Renovations” premiere passed away. He was not too old and again he announced he had cancer and that they gave him a year to live. Two days later he’s gone. I also just discovered that decorated musician Robbin Thompson, who provided a few songs on a soundtrack and who worked with us on our post work for “Wicked Spring” died last year. We had not spoken in a few years and I was sad to hear of his passing.
I’m content to have the weekly set backs and challenges because one day I won’t have those. I look at what I’ve done and it all has come from steps. Many, many, many steps that all add up. Let’s look at some of those steps –
“Bestseller,” “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” continue to roll out to digital on-demand formats. (iTunes, Google play, Amazon) and two (Bestseller, 40 Nights) were just added to DIRECTV. If you get an opportunity please do take a watch.
“Chasing the Star” is now 75 minutes into the edit and I’ll be reviewing this week. First pictures, teaser and more will be releasing in the coming weeks.
The metadata sheets and such for the “Bestseller” soundtrack is about complete and I’m excited to have that available for audiences.
I spoke to someone else who watched the “Dead Quiet” cut and said it’s really good so I’ll be excited to see that. I’ve still don’t have any updates on “Division 19” which I had a small role in. “The Terrorist” still needs a release and so a few more still to roll out. Since these are all closing up it is time to create some more product. Development is moving forward and more announcements will follow. I will say that if I didn’t have the fall and spring movies lined up someone (me) would have a haircut.
The last couple days have been around 90 degrees which I know my AZ friends are like, mild, but in Michigan that is HOT:) I had another soccer match today and so I hope we have a good number of subs. We’ve won all but one game and lost by one. I was absent from that game but I’m happy that we’ve been pulling together as a team.
I’m trying to update some personal marketing materials and keep everything else moving ahead. STEPS. Keep making them and know they add up. I use to say that if I did one thing a day to move the career forward by the end of the year – many steps taken. I have a Bday this week and I look forward to the next ride around the sun. I might have our CDI/belated Bday in July. This month we’ve had tree trimming and work on the office underway so things did not gel for a gathering this week. The full moon and the summer solstice are also this week. I had great Bday parties growing up usually packaged with my neighbor and friend Darrel whose Bday was yesterday. Those were good days. These are also good days – enjoy. Happy Father’s Day to my father who was always there for us. He taught me many valuable skills and characteristics. My children are all furry, they gave their daddy the Star Wars The Force Awakens Blu-Ray:)
Spend some time with your father or sit back and remember them. Enjoy the summer, family and friends. Keep making steps and you will be surprised how far it will take you.
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.
Last week I did some writing about overcoming chaos in your personal life or career. If you have a well build ship of “self” and a calm center you can brave the storm and get back to your calm waters. But you have to ask yourself “Did I sail into that storm”? “Did I think the PROS outweighed the CONS and change my course?” I guess part of the lesson is that if your own actions bring you into chaos you can’t go without blame. I’m happy to say that the waters here are calming and we are back to some smooth sailing. Are you saying enough with the damn boat analogies? Okay let’s look at this in a filmmakers view whereas it can apply in many other situations.
You should just like a navigator look at each proposed journey. Damn I’m doing it again:) Okay… you should look at every opportunity presented and VET it out. Many actors/crew are so excited about the idea of a creative outlet and a paycheck that they fail to ask the questions that really matter. I think some don’t want to know the truth but when things go to hell in a handbag they are the 1st to be most vocal. OK. You trusted a liar and they lied. WOW! That is like trying to tap a cobra on the head and acting surprised when you get bitten. Also you have to look at the talent behind the camera – the director, DP, Art Director – the quality of equipment and the other actors involved. I’ve heard of starting filmmakers getting mad or defensive if talent asks to see THEIR reel. It is a collaboration and the door swings both ways. Just because someone can crowd fund raise a small budget doesn’t put them above vetting out. If they are experienced they will proudly point to a few examples of their work. If those people were riding on false ego – anger and defensive attitudes are usually what you get. I don’t really deal with that too much these days because I can usually smell inexperience and a chaos storm coming. You need to check your excitement and make sure you want to work with them. I will never do a project without reading a full script. Bad format and such in a script is a huge flag as that is the blueprint to an entire film. In the studio world a badly formated script heads right for the trash can. Maybe you should adopt a similar detection process. Why give blood, sweat and tears for something poorly captured that will take years if ever to finish and will likely only be seen by friends, family and a few local film festival goers if you are lucky. IF you are doing this as a fun hobby this doesn’t really apply to you. In summary be your own agent/management and keep that person apart from the artist. Make sure the boat you get on won’t sink once out to sea. Sorry I must have nautical theme on the brain.
This week had many small moves on the chess board but I did lock a “Soul Eater” pre-distribution deal with Germany that includes a nice cash advance once the film is delivered. I think since most of the film is interiors I will shoot in the winter and the outside scenes will have that FARGO like feel. I’m also working the licensing on 3 feature films also going to Germany for release. We have enough business under us now that we are also talking development on other projects including a WW2 film. Note that one film “7 Stones” fell out of this line up after they realized it was a short. They loved it but the run time killed it. It is a 47 min TV length and all the other deals are feature-length. Shorts are good director/writer business cards but not a good investment. They can help train a crew to get them ready for long format and showcase actors but will not bring the higher returns of a feature. Just a good lesson which I had pointed out even on this film but consultation is just that – advice to be taken or rejected. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to be right. It is a strong film and it will find its own outlets.
“Darkest Night” is on the runway for launch in July on VOD, DVD, TV. I’m excited to showcase the hard work of the cast and crew to the USA/Canadian audiences. Germany is also one of the buyers of this film so be ready German fans. We will get the film around the world as horror fans everywhere have been taking a great interest in this film. If you like intelligent horror (not just masked killer stalks kids) and like “Found Footage” format I think this could win a place in your heart. I like traditional filmmaking but I enjoy watching some of these “Found Footage” sub-genre films and was happy to make one. I will take audiences to the Philippine countryside and that in itself adds a great element. So PRE-ORDER now and let’s show these Philippine artists that we appreciate their work.
“Supermodel Showdown” TV series is moving steady along and I think by next week we will have show 2 edited and be into show 3. It is FUN. I know a handful of distributors already waiting to pounce on this so eventually you will see a small crew struggling in the jungle to film a show about beautiful girls learning about themselves on TV.
I might be producing and acting in another drama here soon in August. They are on a fast track to hit a window with one of the stars that needs to work within their current TV schedule. Another associated CDI deal is in talks and may come to light. That would film almost right after the drama ends in Sept. Also once “Ashes of Eden” is off to sound/music the next CDI/New House Ent/Aphtic film will move into more serious development. I’m very excited about that project!
I will end this blog how I ended my week – “Ashes of Eden” had a test audience screening on Friday with studio style survey. I will say that I always remain cautiously optimistic these days having had good films under-perform but I’m sincerely excited about this film. We did a major adjustment to the ending to enhance pacing and what I watched was one powerful scene after another that flowed to a powerful conclusion. I watched people in the audience weep. I’m not talking about watery eyes I’m talking about weeping. The surveys reflected ALL high marks and rated the performances and newly adjusted ending as the most powerful elements. I know this film will get a strong distribution push. I know it will connect with audiences. I will be curious to see this time next year what this film has actually done. I can make some powerful predictions but I would rather let actions speak over words. I’m proud of Shane Hagedorn our writer/director who also produced with our team. The journey has been ORDER throughout the process devoid of chaos. The respectful communication has resulted in a film that makes us all proud. I’m excited for fans to see this movie. It is easily some of my personal best work on both sides of the camera. This film will create new stars and make others shine that much brighter. I also think it will be a proud mark for Michigan and even our little town of Lansing. Soon my friends. Time to mow the yard before screening MAN OF STEEL and getting some good eats. Have a great weekend!