So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
(Daphne and Lulu)
I’m sitting back in my chair sipping a touch of coffee on a Monday morning. I first want to thank all our military vets for their service. It was a busy past week and this weekend was made even busier with travel. We went down south to visit a few elderly family members. They are down south in really nice assisted living homes. We got to visit, have an early Christmas for one who is doing really quite well even though they are in hospice. The other we celebrated an early birthday and what we made was some really happy memories. We stayed at the house of family in a basement full of beautiful antiques. The owner is a woodworker and so I got to see many great pieces including model cars and tractors all made of wood. We took our only dog Daphne with us on her final solo trip. She is not always the best car rider but had lots of fun once we were there. She is now sound asleep with her Lulu (our cat) who obviously missed her fierce. At the week’s end we’ll be bringing our new pack member home. We want to get a new puppy up to speed before I have to go off and film in the spring. The holidays allow us time to really bond and train a new puppy so this Friday a new little boy will be running about. He has had a few play dates to make sure the chemistry was good between the animals. While the cat Lulu might be a but stand-off at first, she was really into him.
“Hello, let me speak to Steven Spielberg, yes, I’ll hold”
This week we’re aggressively back into post and moving deals along. We did have a bit of a logjam threaten our work flow. It’s important to prioritize work flow properly. With Easter just around the corner we’re working full steam ahead to finish THE CHRIST SLAYER film. The color correction is underway. End credit works will continue. Sound design and music is being built each day. I plan to go out there for a few days to assist and give feedback. I hope to have theatrical roll out info this week to join the streaming, broadcast and DVD release. We’ll be doing a big PR release once I can confirm everything. The DVD artwork that the distributor is doing is just beautiful. I think I might be able to release a sneak peek here next week before revealing it in the PR release.
WILD FAITH – I’m waiting on some returned paperwork so I cannot announce our celebrity narrator but we recorded it last week. We’ll be announcing all the updates on this film in a PR release. Friday it went into evaluation with our theatrical partners to look at number of screens and regions. Our domestic deal is in the works and it’s really quite exciting. We’ll be delivering the film in Nov/Dec to BMG who will be distributing the film worldwide.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend has editing work being done on both the first trailer and the feature. It is looking great. I cannot wait for everyone to see the first look at our story of injured Marine Paul Landings.
(Above – DJ Perry as Paul Landings)
THE QUEST TRILOGY – We spoke early in this post about our third film THE CHRIST SLAYER that will be coming to audiences during the first of the year on the run up to Easter 2019. I do invite all of you to explore part 1 FORTY NIGHTS and part 2 CHASING THE STAR. Enjoy these two films with your family.
Our Spring film LOST HEART is being looked over by select talent. As any writer/producer a few of the roles were written with a talent in mind. So far the response has been strong. More on this as we travel down the development road towards production. I’m going to unpack from our trip and get after some of this work. I’ll leave you with a picture of our forthcoming new member of the pack.
Have a great week. Be good to one another.
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!
Good day to all of you out there. I hope your week was a productive one with some enjoyment along the way. I wanted to take a few moments to blog with all of you out there. I see again we have new international readers. We had a bit more heat this week in Michigan and that slowed the roll on yard work that I’m going to make up today. This week I finally hung a large theater sign in the office that I’ve had for a long time. I can say that my office is really getting there with organization of stuff. It is funny how I can chart my life by what film I was doing at a given time. I did an interview Q&A for the “Dead Quiet” movie that is saying it will show 1st quarter 2015. That is also the national DVD/VOD target for “Ashes of Eden”. I also think that “Bestseller” will be moving into theaters about that same time.
BESTSELLER – I’ve been a tad quiet on this film as it moves down the post line. I had the pleasure of watching the new cut of the film a few times this week to give notes. Most all my notes were on how pleased I was with how the 1st round of suggestions were incorporated. I’m excited because the pick ups and the trims to the film have me very excited. It is a tense and exciting film and Michigan is showcased in such a beautiful way. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen. More PR will be forthcoming as we approach an end-of-the-year premiere. Great job cast and crew!
ASHES OF EDEN will start a theatrical run in the Detroit area (Canton & Novi) in September and I’m excited for people on that side of the state to be able to see this fine film on the big screen. We got a great review from one of the TV networks I’ve dealt with before and so I think we will license there. Also a few foreign territories are moving forward with negotiations. I’ve enjoyed this collaboration and look forward to the next one with Shane Hagedorn.
We also will see other CDI/CDI associated films heading to the big screen and several have new distribution opportunities opening up. We will be meeting this week to discuss more of this and I have some distribution offers to consider. What films would you like to see on the BIG SCREEN? Re-issue of films? Feel free to let me hear your thoughts.
http://www.indieflix.com is the home of the first 3 shows of “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” and so check it out if you like tropic places, reality TV and/or bikini babes.
A TV pilot I did a few years ago in Canada may become a feature film. It is a comedy and deals with stock car racing and so that could be fun.
I’ve been having some great talks with my management about placement in a few larger studio films. I had materials sent yesterday on a film that might be in need of a strong supporting man. I really liked the director and so I gave my interest to go ahead with the send off. I know at least one studio project I’m slated to be in but I have to keep that quiet until they are ready to PR. I’m enjoying finishing up stuff that is on my plate. But I do have one eye on the future. We’ve had some great development talks and I see a few of our films moving ahead.
I want to close this chat early and go do some yard work before it is way too hot. I have observed all this world news with water buckets, racial tensions and pending war with Isis. How do I feel about it all? See we provide escapism from all these highs and lows in life and I know everyone has different views. I like awareness for diseases but also know how desperate others in the world are for water and to just see waste everywhere… Racial tensions/police tensions – time will tell the story. Isis – challenging the USA is well…not real smart. A common enemy is what often unites Americans and when that focus gets redirected…
So I’m going to return to some yard work. I plan on grilling and chilling a bit. A soccer match tomorrow and time with my brother and friends. I hope you all have a good week. I’m sorry to a friend or two who hit me up with indiegogo/kickstarter stuff – I don’t believe in that funding for profit earning films. For a non-profit or fan film – perhaps an exception. I just see more asking, asking, asking for unreasonable amounts/budgets that don’t/won’t usually get funded. I give to charity where I see fit and no challenge is going to change that. And I don’t play any online games. So if you have recently requested any of these things I politely decline.
And with that I bid you all a good day!