I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
Welcome Poland, France and Australia. They’ve been following the blog and even readers are now hailing from China. I’m excited that so many artistic individuals are finding a community around ‘Clawing my way to the Middle’ blog. I’ve just gotten back in from running around including visiting my mom which has been fighting a cold. Actually many around me have been sick from my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and the list goes on. A party for my step-sister who just became a doctor MD was shortened due to illness. I just try to keep moving past it all and so far (knock on wood) only slight sniffle or cough first thing in the morning and fine after that. No soccer today because of Mother’s Day. I’m going to get to see an old friend of mine who flew in today but only because his mom is sick. So I’m going to finish this up and I think go till the garden. This week we worked on finishing the flashing and chimney cap on the office/fort plus some wood trim in the bath. It has been somewhat cold and wet the last few weeks but sunshine is on the way this week. I hope those of you able to- shared a few moments with your mothers or took time out to think about them. Let’s look at some of the week updates.
The big news on this front was the winning of ‘Most Inspirational’ at the ICFF in Orlando, FL. This is a great nod to all the cast and crew and as storytellers we could not ask for more. If you’ve seen the film and it did indeed inspire you in some way please do go to http://www.imdb.com (40 Nights/Forty Nights) Vote and leave your own story. I do know that foreign sales lie ahead.
Chasing the Star
This film has just concluded the last run in Michigan (For now) at the Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI so thank you very much! We’ll be discussing taking the film out of state prior to the Sept 5th national release on DVD/streaming/VOD with Bridgestone. We’ll be announcing the new DVD artwork soon that BMG developed.
The Christ Slayer
Editing continues as we close in on a rough cut. As I’ve noted before we’ll be working on the poster and first trailer.
The sound design and dialog clean up continues. I hope to meet this week over the poster art.
Development – I’ve been writing and working hard on setting the slate for the upcoming CDI projects. I’ve also been pondering what acting role I might enjoy next. I’m also in talks on a few possible work-for-hire writing endeavors. I’m always open to discussions on writing, acting and such. Just please make sure you’re funded:) I feel like I had a topic I wanted to discuss but for some reason I can’t recall it. I’m remember it half way through tilling the garden up.
Be good to one another and have a great day and week ahead!
I’m sitting here letting the coffee lull me awake. It has been a full week and I had many developments both personal and business-wise. I’ve been in our home state of Michigan and Winter has released its grip but the chill remains. We had a lot of rain last week which led to morel growth in our area. Yesterday while doing some yard work I found my second group of the tasty mushrooms. The one I found yesterday is the largest I’ve discovered to date.
The garden till is next this week so we can get seeds and plants into the ground soon. The hops are already growing like crazy with the black raspberries right behind them. This week I’ll be doing some work on the office which has been a phase by phase endeavor. I enjoyed a little meeting on Cinco de mayo with a few film friends enjoying RYE of HORUS provided by one of our sponsors at Sanctuary Spirits. (Pause) Okay, just had to take a time out as my brown furry boy was chasing a wild rabbit living near by out of the yard. That plays positive for keeping the garden safe. Today I’m excited because we’re kicking off our first soccer match today. I took the winter off to heal the aging body but I might have to work the subs more often. It’s an age 30 and over league meaning you can turn 30 during the season. That means doing battle with 29 year olds and such. In my weekly doings nothing challenges me like a power match whereas two teams are working to dominate a game. Individual battles whereas two people fight for the space, the possession of the ball and to score. No thoughts of business and such just a meditation of motion, action and teamwork. It comes in handy when confronted with film issues and you need that added push. I know how to fight towards a goal. To earn something not to be given something – where you have to take the ball away. The other team will never give you the ball. Life will not usually give you things you must earn them. All good lessons to learn. Okay, let’s talk film.
This cool western tale is now in music and sound design. About 40 minutes of dialog clean up and sound FX have been put into the film. Our designer and composer Dennis Therrian is loving the process. He loves the story, the acting and is feeling inspired. Development on the TV series is also moving forward. I would love to start shooting shows in 2018. A little hard work and that just might happen.
The Quest Trilogy
These three films rolling out with BMG are just starting their journey and I hope we’ll be watching them for many years to come.
The Christ Slayer (Third in the series)
We’re about an hour into the first edit and our director Mr. Nose is extremely happy. I want to get the first trailer in motion in the coming weeks. I’ve almost wrapped up all the final production business leaving only post work.
Chasing the Star (Second in the series)
The second film that follows the adventure of the magi just finished a week run in Royal Oak, MI and now is in Grand Rapids, MI at the Celebration Cinema for a week. This movie uses many artists from Michigan including Grand Rapids own CHOP & HUE who did our wonderful VFX space sequence. Our director Bret Miller calls GR home as well. So if you missed Lansing or Royal Oak enjoy an evening in GR and watch “Chasing the Star” this week.
Forty Nights (First in the series)
The first in our series released April 4th to DVD with remastered sound and visual. I will also drop it here ahead of the PR this week. At the International Christian Film Festival in Orlando, FL “Forty Nights” won MOST INSPIRATIONAL film. We were nominated for 4 awards but this nomination was the one I wanted to see us win. Why? Because our goal always is to inspire people with our storytelling but it also represents all the artists. Working together they created a film that was noted as being the most inspirational. Proud once again of our team. Next year they want Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer after that. The Trilogy is doing what we had hoped. One of our EP’s was there to accept and attend the festival on our behalf.
This week also consisted of development and work to prep some of the CDI library for new distribution. I was happy to wake up this past week to communications that a History class in Indiana (I believe) was watching “Wicked Spring” in class to show the humanity of soldiers during that horrific war. Some 17 years later and the film is still inspiring and teaching. This film is one of the films slated for a Special Edition release. We almost did this before but decided to wait and put it through our new deal. I will keep everyone informed. Once again I appreciate you spending a few moments with us on your Sunday to reflect back on the week.
Be good to one another!
A rainy yet peaceful Sunday as I eat some peanut butter toast and sip it down with my coffee. This past week was full of good developments and opportunities. Let’s jump into some of the updates. First, “Chasing the Star” has moved from Lansing, MI Celebration Cinema to Emagine’s Royal Oak, MI in Detroit.
After that the film will travel back to Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI for a week – where after that? We’ll see.
As you watch this film it would be great for you to travel over to http://www.imdb.com and search “Chasing the Star” VOTE and leave a REVIEW if so inclined. I enjoy seeing what audiences connected with. We have a couple of quality reviews coming up this week on the film. One really made me smile and was sent by our distributor Sat morning. Another highlight for me was watching “CTS” on the sixty foot high IMAX screen in 5.1 – sitting in the recliner seats. So nice, it was also the screening my parents attended.
This upcoming month of May will have members of our team traveling to Florida for the ICFF festival where “Forty Nights” is up for several awards.
The remastered movie is now available on DVD and streaming.
Here is one of the featured new sites at Wal-Mart.
OR our friends at Christian Book
I also know we’re prepping for foreign sales with all the films. I see some of our foreign readers commenting and I sincerely wish to get our products to your territories. Same as “Chasing the Star” if you’ve seen the film please go to http://www.imdb.com “40 Nights or Forty Nights” and VOTE/REVIEW.
The Christ Slayer
The third film in the trilogy is now in full editing. We’ve also been adding to the post-production team in the arena of VFX. We’ll be making some announcements on all that in the coming weeks . A first poster and trailer will arrive at some point here soon. We’re also going to be launching a new QUEST TRILOGY website in the coming weeks. Exciting stuff.
This has been an exciting project to move down the line. A VFX team is brought together. The “picture cut” has moved on to music and sound design and in a few months we’ll have our finished film. In the meantime the series spin-off is having serious talk. Lots of development work is being done on this endeavor. Hard work usually = progress.
Several additional projects are in development. I’m writing daily on new material. We’ll be making some announcements later in the year about the direction of some of these new projects. Aside from that I’m excited about getting the garden going and soccer starting next weekend. It will be time to tie up the cleats and kick some gr(ass).
I hope you all have a great end to your weekend and a great week ahead.
Be good to one another.
So I’m able to attract a distillery sponsor but still no coffee. Well, I’m sipping a nice dark coffee flavored with…you guessed it, hazelnut. I’ve been working hard to catch up on business and get back into the flow. I’m just about there.
The Easter month has brought the beginning of our release schedule with The Quest Trilogy. We’ve started with the new release of “Forty Nights” – See here to buy the remastered DVD, digital stream to rent or own.
Funny story. Many themes are spotlighted in these biblical films. Several of these themes addressed are what works against organized religion to the everyday person. You have all these branches of the tree that all want to claim being the roots. But the tree has but one seed. While people argue to own divinity so much is missed. One retailer who deals in “Christian” merchandise passed on carrying the “Forty Nights” DVD. I found it amusing that here’s a gatekeeper who believes they have some sort of authority to judge. Meanwhile the film has been nominated by an international Christian body for several awards including “the most inspiring film” yet…
Therein lies the issues I have with the “status quo” of organized religion. The beauty of these stories produced by amazing artists will reach beyond the small genre audiences. They’ll reach audiences worldwide and not just the Christian audiences. I’ll be having conversations with our distributor about the possibility of another slate of biblical period films. I cannot see creating an inferior product just to appease one retailer gatekeeper. Make a film that people want to watch and empower those retailers that DO carry the title. I saw some of the communications and it put my artistic self directly against my business self. Now I’ve always said, we create the best art within our business lines. But, without a strong script you cannot get strong artists on board. You end up with watered down product and that’s not what I do.
I’m sure a good balance will be found. But this example is why I don’t get too high on the praise or the criticism. It just amazes me that some feel empowered to judge believing they have some real power. Actually the only power this one retailer had was over greed. They can try to impose their will by refusing unit buys unless it fits their view. I also thought about how commerce often works against spiritual when “Christian reviewers” where just hammering the film NOAH. Now I like Russell Crowe and thought the film was just okay with many “over the top” events but like I told one person in private – If it inspired one person to go read the source material and put them on a path towards God, would the film not be a success? After I make a film I strap on my business armor and enter the fight. The haters will always exist and they really don’t have much of an effect these days. I think this one situation bothered me because fresh off of playing Jesus I tried to get to discover the core of the man and his beliefs. What would he think of someone censoring in his name? It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that. I think much like the table tossing in the temple he would walk into their offices and crack the whip.
But I believe these parables were created to unite people not divide. So I hope audiences do continue to connect with the material and seek it out. Those like the censoring retailers will likely get forced out of business in time. The daily fan mail tells me that many are reaping the rewards of the positive messages. If you want to see “Forty Nights” and the other films demand them:) Seek them.
Chasing the Star
So the film was watched and listened to again by multiple ears and eyes in studio last week to prep for the theatrical lay off. We’ve got a couple of weeks before our Grand Rapids premiere on the 22nd. After that they’ve announced my home town of Lansing, MI as the next stop. The play dates will be on the 24th and 25th of April at Celebration Cinema. More cities will be announced as we move forward. Again Sept 5th is the national DVD/Streaming release and it will be a wonderful Christmas time film for the entire family. I know the marketing team at BMG is already working on the release.
The Christ Slayer
Here is the video that our director posted with his SELECT shots from the film.
Sound has been married to picture and Monday editing will begin. I will be giving many more updates and you can join the FB site and follow us.
Our western is now in discussions over VFX work before we can lock the picture. We’ll have discussions with director Jesse Low this week. I will also be discussing poster art and marketing. The TV show is a real possibility and will be part of my business discussions this week. A busy week ahead.
We’ll be looking at the CDI library to possibly re-release some of our other films into the market. A few foreign sales talks are heating up and I will be exploring that. I’ve recently undergone a major hair cut to be ready for soccer that starts this month. I’m in good fighting shape thanks to the deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. We’ve been getting the yard around and soon the garden ground will be tilled. We’ve got many new projects that are just seeds. If we plant them in fertile grounds with a little TLC I’m sure we’ll have new projects sprouting soon.
Have a beautiful day and week ahead.