Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
(Chilling at the new post studio – in the pines)
I’m sipping the coffee on this beautiful Sunday. The last couple days have been partially used to start the yard clean up. Some more wood logs got chopped up ready for the next cold day. The garden is going to become the new ‘chicken land’ along with some raised bed veggies and new blueberry plants to join the others we have. Every year different new yard endeavors are put into play. The zip line has not yet been installed.
In the office I started moving pictures and paintings around after I acquired a new painting of an ancient soldier. Once I started moving things around it became an afternoon of trying to get it just right. The nice part is all this can happen while taking business calls. I had one day where I was on the phone 10:30 to 2:30 straight – but lots of good business was done. This is also festival and awards season for us. We’re very selective about our festival selections. You can spend a lot of time and money pushing out to all these tests. Let’s start with the fest updates-
International Christian Film & Music Festival – Lost Heart is up for overall BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR (Jesse Low), BEST SCREENPLAY (DJ Perry), BEST LEAD ACTRESS (Melissa Anschutz), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Don Most), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Victoria Jackson) and the PEOPLE’s CHOICE nomination for ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (Melissa Anschutz) and ACTOR OF THE YEAR (DJ Perry)
I’m so happy for the film and the growing response to the film’s story as it makes it way out into the world. A big kudos to Melissa Anschutz who took lead on this film with a career defining performance.
ICVM Crown Awards this year happening at NRB in Dallas Texas in June both “MBF: Man’s Best Friend” and “Lost Heart” have been nominated as one of the 5 finalist in BEST FILM UNDER 250k plus they might result in some personal nominations in the 18 categories.
Again we’re appreciative of the recognition. Many of these festival submissions are done by our distributor but we sometimes do a few select submissions. All the monthly and small online festivals are just revenue gathering models. I’m not against these just not something we chase. If more people become aware and watch the film I guess that is the goal.
BEST YEARS GONE the last set of notes is being sent over this week and those will be implemented and the film will travel to our post studio. The last inserts of footage and such will happen there before music and sound begins. I’m going to try and make the studio hang once a week to review and enjoy this process. The BATTLE OF THE BANDS has been getting some great submissions on the FB page contest. We are announcing another celebrity judge in Mr. Joe Pullin who has worked on all levels of the music industry. His full bio will be posted this week! Merchandise is starting to creep out with a cool auto sticker set and soon iron on Tee shirt logos! Go to http://www.cdiproductions.com and go to the merchandise section. We plan to also start an artist showcase and sell other artists goods for a commission. That is in thew works also!
(Mr. Joe Pullin – our next celebrity JUDGE)
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Tis the Easter season and so we’ll ask that you put your sandals on and travel with us to the desert. Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer can all be watched on various platforms Amazon Prime, Encourage TV, Tubi, Pureflix just to name a few.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS is doing great and now that funding on another project is complete we can pour more effort in the direction of the TV series. We have planned to put the series in the Spring 2022 slot as we’re still getting past Covid and I’m needing more time to put this TV deal together. With eight 44 min shows this is a larger endeavor but one that I think will be coming soon. I have several follow up communications.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A CDI co-production “Locked in a Room” has gotten a new re-issue as AMERICAN LIAR now available on Amazon Prime. It is an R rated thriller with greed being at the heart of it. Shot in Detroit by writer/direction Larry Simmons – congrats to all the artists involved! Take a watch but watch out for “Mr. Creepy” 🙂
Discussions are underway for BESTSELLER to finally get out to a wider market. Knight Chills has multiple opportunities for a new release. WICKED SPRING is being worked on to release in HD.
WRAP UP: Many people are trying to navigate the storms of isolation, financial insecurity, stress, parenting and more. My goal is to work hard to create something stable. People feel “behind” as if a year has been stolen from them and in many ways it was. Now I’ve focused and worked very hard to keep my balance and in turn provide balance to the other artists struggling. I stated this week that I push forward with my “best efforts” daily, always. I try and not put any expectations beyond as it just adds stress because it is out of my control. Everyone is feeling the urge to RUN after the world Covid lockdown and that is creating a ME and NOW vibe rippling through society. Again I feel we make the greatest gains working together but everyone needs to pay attention to their own fire from time to time. You are no good to a circle of people if your own personal fire isn’t burning bright. I’ve tried to change as little as possible save what we had to for safety to give people an experience. In 2020 BEST YEARS GONE was that. This year is getting better Covid-wise but it still shadows over endeavors and people’s moods. But we will again do what we do and that is all we can do. Please be kind to yourself. Don’t hold your progress up to the same non-Covid standards. Don’t lean into what you do not do but what you were able to do. And be good to one another. This has been hard on everyone with some having it better and some worse. Help someone out this week in some way, shape or form and you will feel the joy of it. I’m going to carry on and we have lots of exciting announcements coming in the weeks ahead. Starting with more cast and crew will be announced for SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. Also business sponsorships will start this April and that is no joke!
Have a great week ahead.
Happy Father’s Day! It is a rainy, cold Michigan day. I am lucky that I got to spend some time with my daddy this morning. I enjoyed a little breakfast of cornbeef hash and eggs. Today I feel pretty good having just returned from a whirlwind scout up North with our advanced scout team for LOST HEART. That is our next CDI film that will start filming in July. I’m excited about some of the beautiful locations we discovered and new friends we’ve met. Yesterday I was a touch under the weather due to multiple conditions but I didn’t get my full sleep due to a cabin loft bed that seemed more fun when I was 12 years old. Add in second day of soccer sore, less sleep and perhaps the sip of peach brandy and I was just tired.
A Northern location scout – the team seen here with actress Kim Harsch (2nd from left) who co-stars in MBF. Also from left to right Anthony Hornus, Shane Hagedorn, Melissa Anschutz, Me and director Jesse Low.
As I’ve stated before, getting our daily filmed footage is only one of my goals. The other goal/priority is creating a memorable experience for the cast and crew. I think the latter will help us get the best footage. The cast and crew on Lost Heart should be very happy when they see where they will be housed. Lots to do in their down time also but we’ll be announcing more on that later.
I wanted to announce Mr. Don Most will PR this week but we’re combining that announcement with another exciting one. That is the additional of Josh “Ponceman” Perry to the cast of LOST HEART. If you saw THE CHRIST SLAYER you got to see what an amazing talent he is. I’m looking forward to our time on and off screen. We also announced a young actress Cassie Dean who will be working with us for the first time. We will work to make her feel welcome.
Our cast and crew is lining up and we think this might be one of our best productions yet. The story/script has gotten some great reviews and I look forward to having it brought to life. We always are trying to make the best story with our limited budgets. Many people don’t have any idea how hard it is to raise production funds. I’m sure some of my fellow filmmakers understand that plight. It’s why most all film projects fail to launch. CDI is not some big faceless corporation it’s actually a small Michigan-based production company trying to tell some good stories. I appreciate the artists and it is one of the traits we look at in our hires, appreciation.
This week is going to be working to get the final funds into the account. Getting the commitment and getting the actual money can be a task in itself. Many investors don’t always understand our timelines and that can hurt a production. We will also be announcing a few exciting new sponsors. We’ve been targeting Michigan-based companies and we’re proud to align with them.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film is now being mixed with a few final audio tweaks being done. We will deliver the film on June 30th and they are already gearing up the theatrical marketing. This week is putting the end credits together and soon we will have another completed film.
WILD FAITH – Our western is building its home video release. The digital rental on Amazon and other retailers will be June 24th. July 2nd is the official DVD release but some faith retailers were given a slight advance on the release. If you’ve seen the film please do leave us a review on IMDB.com or Amazon.com
I’ve gotten word the the legendary Lana Wood will be joining Darby Hinton at the HAPPY TRAILS VA STYLE film event in October I believe it is. I will keep updating everyone as I get more information.
A few of the discussions as of late have been about the WILD FAITH TV series. Once the film fully gets out there we’ll see if the characters in the film are a hit with audiences. If so we’ll be looking at bringing you a full season of the WILD FAITH story.
THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps adding audiences worldwide and I have enjoyed a handful of fans recognizing me from those films. Again if you haven’t enjoyed these films check out FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER on Amazon and other fine retailers.
This rain and cold is causing a postponement of my nephew’s Bday party and I too might have to reconsider a get together I was going to have for my birthday. Thunderstorms are not good for outside yard parties. But we did get the garden in and I also worked in some grass seed where needed. The rain is good for that. So this week will be more cast and crew agreements and working to lock locations. And…learn my lines. Yes. Even when you write the script you still need to work your lines although it is a touch easier.
I will let this end here and I’m going to organize my work from the scout trip so I can start Monday off right. Be good to one another and keep chasing your dreams.
I hope the weekend has been good to all of you. I’ve had a busy and productive week both in business and just in getting things done. Where to start? I started the week a touch low because like many families out there I have a sick uncle. He has been more of an inspiration and influence than he knows. His fun wear what he finds comfortable is practically a mantra. His storytelling is simple and engaging and I’ve been thinking of my uncle and cousins at this time. That said, it also reminds us that age not withstanding, that tomorrow is not promised. So boldly we move forward, creating and living.
Soccer has been fun and getting me into strong running shape. Running 70-80 minutes of stop and go in all directions will do it. I’ve been doing lots of yard work and prepping for the garden that is now planted. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkins and more are in the ground. I’ve also installed a retaining wall around the office porch. I need to put some grass seed down. All the stuff I enjoy doing while making business calls.
I’ve been organizing acting ands literary materials for future work with this new agency. I had a possible opportunity to write for a TV series but we’re in preproduction on LOST HEART and I don’t want to do any less than my best at either endeavor. Lesson here for people not to try and do too much and do poorly at both things. So first on deck is LOST HEART which I was the screenwriter on. It is a funny and emotional character study with the bizarre and wonderful Northern Michigan as the backdrop.
We announced Lauren LaStrada joining our cast last week and we will announce Cassie Dean this week. She will play a younger version of our lead in some key scenes. Also we’ll be announcing the addition of Don Most from Happy Days fame. He played a strong supporting role in MBF: Man’s Best Friend and will step to a co-starring role in LOST HEART. I’m exciting to have him joining us again.
MBF – The music pass is complete and now mixing is underway. I went into the studio last week and did my final narration. We will be working end credits this week and prepare for a final watch through. I’m excited for audiences to watch this film. If you have a soft spot for our military and/or animals, dogs in particular, MBF might be for you.
The Quest Trilogy – I’m going to be exploring merchandise in the coming year. I would like to see a few products available as we move into the next holiday season. If you take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER please leave us your thoughts on IMDB.com or amazon.com
WILD FAITH – This month digital rental becomes available on June 24th the day after my Bday! So do me a birthday solid and watch WILD FAITH with your family. I think all ages will really enjoy the film. Oct 17-19 WILD FAITH will play the Happy Trails VA Style festival. I think the film is playing on a Saturday. I will provide more info soon but I know Darby Hinton will be there to talk about the film and the genre. In July the DVD will release at various retailers. My goal is to see it at Cracker Barrel🙂
We have lots of development work on a handful of projects. I was also approached about a few possible acting roles. I will need to read the scripts and see if the characters speak to me. Exciting days ahead but right now I’m most excited about bringing the story of LOST HEART to life. Again we have more companies aligning with our film. Feel free to reach out on how your product or service can participate.
With that I’m going to go do some mulching around the office.
Have a great week.