The snow is falling in the Michigan and it’s beautiful to watch. I’ve got the coffee going and my little side-kick Finn is sleeping beside me. It has been an exciting first month of 2020 thus far. I’ve been doing writing on what will most likely be the next CDI (www.cdiproductions.com) film. The title I’m working with is ‘BEST YEARS GONE‘ and I think represents a universal fear/worry that many have that their best years are gone. I just enjoy my personal journey as it unfolds. Maybe your best years are your ‘now’ years. The NOW years has you navigating with the most experienced YOU making the calls. The script is close to having a first draft and we’ll be moving forward once we have our ‘blueprint’ ready.
If you haven’t had a chance to watch MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND it is playing on Amazon Prime and several new DVD outlets keep emerging. Here is a “Character Reel” of me playing Paul, my wounded Marine. It has mild spoilers but I’m putting these together for my actors trek in 2020. Take a watch here –
With my new management ahead I’ve been trying to update materials but honestly it is hard. EVERYONE has a different favorite scene. Too funny. Too serious. So I will keep working on those materials. I still need a character reel for ole Jesus in THE CHRIST SLAYER and Ben Lily in WILD FAITH. Here is my cut of the current 2020 sizzle reel. Let me know your thoughts.
Several of my non CDI acting will be targeted at guest starring on network TV and co-starring in some foreign films. I’m open to any work but I usually have a few things I look for in a production and maybe it will help you.
- SCRIPT is KING – you need a great story to start with. I almost always ask to sign a NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the script.
- CHARACTER – you want a role that speaks to you
- COMPENSATION – This is not a hobby it is a career
- CAST – who else is cast? Paying me but not others can be a bad sign because you want quality across the board.
- CREW – DIRECTOR/DP/Prod Designer – The creative team is so important to the final product
- COMPANY – Do they finish? Do they get product to market? Organized?
Now if you’re just starting out you might choose to participate in something missing these points because you have no other choice. The experience of being on set – good, bad or ugly might be enough. My thoughts are on all the striving, thriving filmmakers out there because I hope to possibly participate one day but be smart and save yourself.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I want to have a trailer cut together that presents the three movies FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER together as one.
WILD FAITH – Fans keep growing and we’re working to bring audiences back into the world of late 1800’s in Michigan. We have some exciting opportunities developing.
LOST HEART – We’re about to lock up the picture and start sound design and music. This film has elements of WALK THE LINE and also lighter more comedic moments. We deliver the film in June to BMG and it will roll out to audiences soon after. Poster/DVD art will be coming and as soon as we lock the film a trailer is up next.
Okay my friends. I’m ready to also do some additional screenwriting this morning so I’m going to bring this to a close. For those under the snow storm effect I hope you stay warm. I got motivated and cut up a bunch of wood for the office stove so I’ll have to stoke that up in a few hours.
Have a great Sunday!
I’m sipping on my morning coffee and happy to be sitting down with all of you. Again our reader BASE jumped this past week by a substantial number. Many new countries joined us in our read. Maybe the subject matter hit home with some of you. Either way I want to welcome all our new readers. So grab your favorite relaxing beverage and join us. I hope you all in the path of the storms stayed safe. Michigan got some but our home town of Lansing was not too bad. We’ve had much worse in the past years.
I’m excited to see all the new year projects that are coming together. This is also the start of a new decade and I’m excited to see what our creative tribe will produce.
I’ve been working away on the new script. The book I’m turning into a screenplay is coming along great. I’m at the half way point and after a read through with one of our development producers, I feel great about it. I found a character I related to and decided to write from that characters point of view. It is a 300+ page book so limiting the POV is helping me to target the 90-100 page mark. I’m currently called it “Best Years Gone” which is more reflective of the script. The book may ride out under a different title which is just fine. Same story but two different approaches – I like to find those unique takes on a story. I will have the script completed this month. This will be a 2020 CDI production. We got some good news about one of the locations we may use to tell this story. It is a piece by piece building of what will be another CDI story.
The Sat reading event of …
…was cancelled due to the severe weather and will be rescheduled for May I’m told. I will pass along any info I get on that new date.
We have 4 other script/projects in various degrees of development. One of them is the new project that MBF director Anthony Hornus will helm. It is another CDI period piece that takes place during WW2. Distribution interest is in place and we’re building the funding pieces as we speak. Once I get done with my current writing I will work on the directors draft with Mr. Hornus. We will be putting a call out to actors of German ancestry who can speak German.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I’m excited to have all three of these films in the marketplace. I want to try and work on a TRILOGY trailer that pitches all three films at audiences. They are meant to be seen in order and together so I think that TRILOGY aspect has to be reenforced to our audience members.
WILD FAITH – We’ve almost finished putting some presentation materials together for ‘Hastings’ the WF TV series. I will be working with a new mgt company in trying to find the right home/partners for the series. This TV series would shoot in MICHIGAN! If you have Amazon Prime this film is free to watch. Please do and leave your review and comments on the Amazon/IMDB sites.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This amazing little film is also now free if you have Amazon Prime. We’re also seeing more DVD retails places since 1/7/2020 so I do recommend adding the DVD to your collection. It will play in Feb in Bedias, Texas and a handful of festivals and events. ICFF will be one of them and perhaps our home town festival CAPITAL CITY FILM FESTIVAL. We are planning on additional showings this year including in Hollywood for our amigos there. The response to this film continues to make me smile. Thank you to all of you that have reached out.
LOST HEART – So this past week we say edit 2 of the film. We have a watch and talk through session at the studio with Dennis Therrian who is prepping to do the music and sound design. The movie is REALLY GOOD. I’m excited for all the artists involved to see the final results. We’re prepping to do a bit of music work in Nashville in the coming weeks. The film will release late Summer or Early Fall is my best guess. We might have some art work to show soon and a trailer is next once we lock picture and move it to post audio.
I might bring this to a close. We have protein waffles almost done in my Death Star waffle maker which was a gift. I’m been outlining scenes for the script writing to hit hard again on Monday. I’m lining up a few meetings for next week at the fort. This week I plan to outline and assign some of the development tasks to our CDI producers. Updates to the CDI website including some casting announcements. http://www.cdiproductions.com
Aside from that I’m just getting ready for a decade of great new projects. Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.
(The Fort – Tribe CDI – 2019)
Welcome new readers from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, India and beyond. We’re in the final days of 2019 and so far it has just been a great season. This past week I’ve had a few meetings at the fort with the fire burning bright with ideas and friendship. We have some great updates to share with everyone but before that lets looks at someone else’s art.
Star Wars – (NO SPOILERS) – I went to see Star Wars at 7 years old and it was the seed planted in me to become a storyteller. Last week I got to see the final film in a series of interconnecting stories started by George Lucas. My issue with many films these days is just trying to do too much. Instead of one star ship in pursuit there has to be 100. Tension is created in moments. Those can feel stolen when trying to do too much. Character development is still king in my world of viewing hence by love of shows like BLACK SAILS. Bringing together all the ‘Star Wars’ loose threads was surely difficult but overall I really did enjoy the final film. That said, I feel truly like the torch has been passed. I feel like I do a good job of creating characters on the script page with depth. I feel we have stories to tell and we will. The goal is to create a few classics in this lifetime. In 2020 will see more writing, producing and continue to try and captures hearts and minds with our stories.
(WILD FAITH brand – Hastings TV series in development at CDI)
I see a lot of talented artists who spend a lot of time creating in someone else’s world. But the bottom line is you don’t own the brand. There are several filmmakers that do a great job creating fan films from video games or Star Wars and The Mask. That said, all that hard work is building someone else’s brand. I’m a fan of brands also but I let it influence my work but I don’t work with someone else’s brand unless hired to do so.
All three biblical adventures in THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) are all on Amazon. I was given an opportunity to produced these adventures with a ‘Star Wars’ feel. The cinematography and often the music was influenced by the Star Wars style. Star Wars was influenced from earlier works like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. A good reason for your own brand is that you don’t have to ask permission to create your own world. And if you succeed those people are becoming fans of your work. Again instead of the hardships of growing an audience around your brand, if you pick a strong brand with dedicated followers you can get a jump on exposure but…. I mean if you create a great Star Wars fan film you might get millions of hits. But try adding a price tag, although you cannot sell someone else’s brand, and it becomes like buying a knock off cologne. If a non-official derivative of someones brand is offered free you may get a lot of eyes but unless the creators take notice and hire you, you’re just building someone else’s brand. Beware of legal also with others brands. Just my two cents.
So again just like role playing, cos-play or any fun group activities, fan art has a place but film work is really hard work for someone else’s brand. My advice is do your own thing or work WITH an emerging artists to create a shared brand. Again I’m not a “my way is the only way” person at all. But I’m not into fan films or hobby films or anything that isn’t building our brand. Now you can build your skill set (acting, directing, writing) with the previous two mentioned types of films so there is value. I do appreciate anyone who uses their imagination to create. We just have long term goals and so those need to remain in focus for us. It is a hard industry to survive in. Take that from a survivor.
Please do enjoy the holidays with a watch on the trilogy and watch all three in order. Poor ‘Chasing the Star’ sometimes takes a few rocks because someone did not realize they were watching part 2 of 3 films. In time audiences will understand they are a trilogy and a bigger picture will emerge upon watching in order.
I also see a few people who thought the Magi story had nothing to do about Christmas. Maybe I should have added Heat and Cold Miser and a reindeer or two:) But for the few audience members who don’t get it, many DO get it. We don’t dumb down our stories but challenge and encourage people to talk and discuss often hard topics. So ENJOY a watch and discussion. At one of my distribution content meetings we had discussion about more biblical adventures. I might have my next three films and one of them is written. So we will see said the wise man.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – Due to the season where many are enjoying family and friends and watching films, I’ve gotten a spike in fan mail. This film has been generating a good buzz and we have some exciting events and showings coming up in 2020. But you don’t have to wait. You can watch on Amazon today! If dogs and/or support of our military touches you, please do take a watch.
LOST HEART – The fine cut is getting close. After a wonderful first cut by editor Scott Magie, welcome to the CDI Tribe, a second final cut is near. This week we had a post meeting with Dennis Therrian (music/sound), Jesse Low (Director) along with Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn and even John Mashni made a stop by. Come mid 2020 we will have a most excellent story to share with you all.
In the meantime – please watch the CDI Film collection and share your thoughts.
HOPE for HEAVEN – is the script I’ve been working on. It’s been developing in a wonderful fashion starting with some great characters. We’re working development on several properties that could go full green light in 2020/2021. A sequel to KNIGHT CHILLS, perhaps? We’ve had a few screen and camera tests. WW2 drama – coming together. Kids adventure film – might happen:) WILD FAITH TV series:) With some of the new meetings and opportunities before CDI, I promise we will continue to create. Thank you to all of you for your continued support.
Ok. We had a wonderful first Christmas gathering yesterday. Friends tonight and several gatherings in the week ahead, including two more family Christmas gatherings. I am down to just a little bit of shopping. I give thanks to those who sent a card or gave little love gifts, much appreciated. But the most important thing you can give anyone is a bit of your time, laughter and joy.
I’ve been questioned about my verbal non-involvement in politics. It’s because much like the ‘golden rule’ I believe in focusing on what we all could benefit from. When people are drained from endless debates, divided by priority differences and angered by the never-ending shortcomings of each another – I say relax. Sit back and watch a story with universal messages woven within. My friendships with people are more important than trying to convince someone I’m right about an obvious self-opinion. So set aside your differences and focus on what brings us all together. Fellow human beings trying to live a meaningful life with health and joy. Even if it is for a few days, try it and you might find it a better way to live, to cope, to exist, to grow, and to be the better you.
Fear leads to anger, anger to hate and hate to suffering – MERRY CHRISTMAS!
I’m told it is national coffee day, so my hazelnut coffee is to be recognized, cheers! The past week and the days leading up to it have been jam-packed with activity. On a personal level I’ve had a fill of loved ones facing health struggles including a dear Uncle of mine. Last weekend we got to visit and share a few laughs as he was always that family storyteller I looked up to. Sitting in his chair or around a fire up in Harrison we were always treated to mysterious and exciting stories. His tales of Bigfoot and strange lights in the sky can be seen as an influence in my writing like ‘Lost Heart’ which sadly he will not see. He is nearing the end of this journey and soon to start a new one.
Others who have not lived the same full life are facing challenges that make us ponder our purpose and value while living our relatively short time. I’m proud that I outlasted all the slings, arrows, naysayer and doubters to do what I love to do. If my time here were to end early, I’m happy and doing what I always dreamt of doing. I work with some amazing people and I think in our own way we are helping.
I’m not a person who puts high value to trophies and awards knowing that some are just vanity. But the awards that recognize the team work are the awards that matter most. The ‘Inspirational’ and certain individual awards to others like Josh Perry, stepping outside the limited views of society to be nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” makes my heart sing. Filmmaking is NOT an individual thing but a collective thing, hence Collective Development. Being that we’re not submitting to these festivals our distributor is, we have surprises every handful of days. Lets look at a bullet point of some of the updates.
- Hollywoodivine International Film Festival will happen next weekend and we have (3) films MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WILD FAITH and THE CHRIST SLAYER nominated for ‘Best Film’ – two of those for ‘Best Director’ and ‘Most Inspirational’ – All three of our film’s leading men were nominated being yours truly, Shane Hagedorn and Carl Weyant – just incredible. Lauren LaStrada again for “Haddie” in ‘Wild Faith’ – Josh Perry as mentioned above ‘Best Supporting’ – All three films nominated for ‘Best Cinematography’ – two nominations for Jesse Aragon and one for Patrick Dowdle. Lastly the amazing score of ‘Wild Faith’ by Dennis Therrian.
- Wild Bunch Film Festival will be happening on the same weekend. Ben Lily, Hester Thickett and Emmett will all be in attendance with Darby Hinton, who is my ‘Best Supporting Actor’ competition from another western film. I LOVE the genre and I’m looking forward to representing the film that garnished 13 nominations including again Dennis Therrian’s score. Other nominations include Best (Film, Faith Film, Produced Film, Best Lead Actors (Shane and Lauren), Best Supporting Actors (Melissa Anschutz and I), Best Narrator Trace Adkins, Best Children Actors for both Joe and Xylia and Best Director. If we win anything or nothing it will be a good moment representing the CDI TRIBE!
- In Randolph, VT the 1st Green Mountain Christian Film Festival will take place Oct 18-19. I think all three films MBF, Wild Faith and The Christ Slayer will play. Among the nominations announced thus far I was granted a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Nomination for ole Ben Lily in ‘Wild Faith’ – along side Burt Young from ROCKY fame who is an Oscar Nom and whom I met a handful of years ago at Norby Walter’s Night of 100 Stars. ‘The Christ Slayer’ is nominated for a ‘Most Inspirational’ with more nominations to come this week.
- LOST HEART editing is underway and we should be climbing to the 30 min mark and we’ve had some PR from Creative Motion and a few other publications. Look for PR to really hit hard 1st of the new year.
- I’ve had such powerful and heartfelt responses from those watching ‘MAN’S BEST FRIEND‘ and I cannot express how much that fills me with joy. I took a moment this week to read some of the wonderful reviews on our IMDB and Amazon page. I know that you can’t please everyone but overall I think the film is finding its audience. Thank you. The DVD is suppose to arrive this week on Amazon and once it does we’ll be sharing that with all of you.
- The book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS by Revall/Baker Publishing is now out and you can read two of my stories in there. You can get online or at your favorite bookstore. It will make a great Christmas present. Mom no need to get one Santa might have you hooked up this year:) I might do some book store readings or some other PR we will see. I have more books coming that will feature a few of my stories.
- BUY HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Horse-My-Dreams-Stories-Horses/dp/0800727185
- We are almost done with a second abridged version of a ‘book video promo’ we did for a publisher. It has been a lot of coordination but in the end it will be worth it.
- Development talks continue as we prepare for 2020 and what CDI will produce in the years ahead. We have some collaborative meetings in the weeks ahead and we will be charting a course soon.
I’m going to wrap it up here. Again if you haven’t seen the films in our library please do take a watch. You can also look at more of the film details on http://www.cdiproductions.com
Have a great end to your weekend and a wonderful week ahead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.