(Last day on ‘Lost Heart,’ I was wrapped and spent the night working with craft service)
Ahhhhhhhh….chilly Michigan morning coffee sip. I’m enjoying the hazelnut coffee as I prepare to make some sort of attempt to describe this past week. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Last week I wrote on UNITY and that was a big hit. I’m a storyteller who loves to enrich audience’s life by entertainment and sometimes enlightenment. I have found that the story is one of the most effective ways to communicate. When people have conversation following a good piece of art it invokes meaningful dialog. People from all walks of life can come together and discuss the final show of The Mandalorian and debate themes, topics and differences. But they’re all united in their common love of Star Wars. In politics they should all be united in their love of our American system.
My belief is that both parties for decades now have drifted further from highlighting, promoting and pushing their party platforms and closer to no-holds barred character assassination. This includes trying to control how things are framed, presented and digested by the public. The reporters of days gone became known because they did not try nor want to be the stars, the story. But some due to their humble-approach, did become stars. Now we live in a time when people want to be “influencers” – what? We influence daily with our actions, words and deeds. I’ve seen the thirst for fame in these people and so the stories drift towards their opinions hammering the narrative to meet their goals. And where is the faith in the respected platforms? Faith that the masses will see the good in the endeavors and chose to back this person, party, platform. But some don’t have confidence in their platform and so they try to pitch, readjust, reframe a platform attempting to catch as much support as possible.
Example: Why is John Deere tractor better than Brand B
Just highlight the positives of what you are selling. No need to hammer brand B’s product customers will see this difference if it truly exists in terms of quality and performance.
Why should politics operate any differently? If you create the better product, better price point, better performance – you will never need to engage in cutting someone else’s rope short.
When I set out to make a movie, I don’t waste energy trashing anyone’s film – I just work towards making a successful story of quality. If I was running for an office I would not waste time tearing down an political opponent, I would just draw people to my platform.
Brand B tractor is a fine tractor but we at John Deere feel that we offer the better product and here is our list of why… but the cheap shots I’ve seen from both parties firing back and forth over the years, shows weakness in their stance. This weakening is what allowed a businessman with no real political experience to land in office. Running a corporation is very different because the power aligns with accountability. Our government is a system of checks and balances. It requires respectful communication and cooperation between the parties. This lack of – created a vacuum for someone from the outside to step in. Things happen much different in the two worlds and we saw many attempts at actions over four years that were deemed not legal in their process. Courts knocked it down and PR blame games took over. I joked we needed a good UFO attack to unify the world. We got a virus instead. This put the old HEALTH VS PROFIT question front and center. They need to flow together as one and not be positioned in confrontation. Healthy, long-living people can spend longer creating more on-going profit. But the medical system in the west has been reactionary vs preventative for a good long time. It is slowly changing and the unified collaboration of data and research is what allowed a quick ramp up on a vaccine. It was done quickly because PROFIT was set aside although the companies will profit. But best was the shared data to help deal with a health crisis facing us all. Can the world please tackle cancer next and be done with that horrible disease? If the cancer numbers had been highlighted and the spirit of collaboration embraced maybe it too would be a thing of the past.
Let’s focus on collaboration. What I see with social media and wall-debates is everyone feels a need to win vs lose and to gloat on that win. Lobbying to try and gather unanimous support vs same side of the table negotiations, talks, understandings.. Harsh ridicule used to drown out or squash any outside opinions but with no discussions. Unwilling to listen is the greatest form of disrespect. This also sounds like many organizations in their unwillingness. In science they have a process to drive towards truth but many outsiders have also been silenced by academic arrogance. Religion? Too many times to count. When I speak on religion I don’t cast any stones at divinity but at man-made institutions. Man-Made – If women want to jump on that bandwagon of also corrupting their institutions, please have at it. BALANCE should be the goal. We all have shared needs and concerns and we have different needs and concerns. I always think that the concerns of a person living on the Southern boarder of Mexico in Yuma, AZ will be very different from someone in Michigan. To find those common things that provide a mutual foundation and to take turns addressing concerns. I have seen HATE, not just dislike but HATE from people. Every time I see hate even pointing out something meaningful, I feel sorrow because that person is sick. Hate is a sickness. It starts with self-hate and preys on all the fears within us. If you hatefully denounce hate, you are still poisoning yourself. I see sickness all around which is why the positive fan mail from our stories have been rays of light. Our stories combat hate with love and leave some temporarily healthy, free of poison. This is only until the next projection of hate from that person and it builds. Unless habits are changed…HOPE.
For the record, I think protests often breed poison if the leadership is weak. They start with words crying of unjust but often turn to poison in one’s own mouth. Watching a group of extremists who wanted to win their position at all costs, clearly demonstrated their uncaring position about balance. I’m still greatly saddened to see the way sacred halls were turned into a scene like ‘Cedar Fest’ after MSU lost a big game. These turned into mobs of people burning things and being unruly. Again, someone lost the big game. And by their actions we all lost, because our character was tarnished. But our character on the world stage was being tarnished by those we elected with their on-going actions. We all have much in common and if the elected people cannot find those bridges and take turns making each other’s priorities something to discuss and enhance, maybe the wrong people were elected. But people can change…
I saw the political bodies House and Congress united in fear and renewed purpose finish their work. Even the most ambitious-party minded politicians had to ask themself what was/is their real “purpose” in service. Now I was looking for that UFO invasion but what we got was an invasion on our process of democracy. I watched some of the most sincere words come from the mouths of people where I had only heard negativity and blame previously. I saw a unity that did not exist 24 hours earlier. Now this unity was not the intent I’m sure but it will likely be the result. It has caused all Americans to sit back and re-examine much like the Covid virus. I think that many never slow down enough to truly ponder and Covid did that. Now we can ponder the past week’s actions. I hope that I never witness such poisoned individuals rabid with hate but I know that is unlikely. It will only get better when we all get tired of the taste of poison hate and seek the sweetest of love and listening.
All this writing and I have not yet got into any film updates. I know that many don’t want any views from their entertainers and I’m often one of those people. As a screenwriter and artists I like to observe, seeking to experience the event from all sides. To question why things happen. I cannot say what tomorrow will bring. But I can control my thoughts, action and deeds and keep the poison from my mouth. I feel bad for the sick wrought with hate. Start a change with what you can control – YOU.
- BEST YEARS GONE – The 1st edit is done and it’s being polished so we can take a watch end of this coming week. The reports from editing has been very encouraging with the story, acting and execution of the story being hailed. This all done in a small break during the Covid lock downs.
- We are going to launch a ‘Best Years Gone’ Battle of the Bands to give one artist(s) a chance to have their song in the soundtrack plus be involved in a music video.
- Merchandise for CDI films has been in development and will be making a big jump in 2021. Stay tune to http://www.cdiproductions.com for updates – SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE!
- As LOST HEART continues to expand in viewership here is an other PR article that I’m proud of because it really highlights the script. That is the issue with so many projects is they lack a powerful script that says something. http://m.digitaljournal.com/entertainment/entertainment/happy-days-star-don-most-opens-up-about-lost-heart-film/article/583626
- I love the time and process put into doing the final WRITER and DIRECTOR polish on the ‘SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA‘ script. Tony Hornus (MBF) and I spent 4-5 hours each day last week to go through every line of the script. To discuss each and every scene and motivation. We get to have advance discussions about what will be needed in production. We likely have one more day of work on it – maybe two.
- HASTINGS Tv show which is a spin off from WILD FAITH is being read show by show by some of the actors and proposed directors. Those reading the shows are expressing their joy in them. Shane Hagedorn star and one of the series directors said, “The shows are about being good to one another.” Sounds like something we could use. I’m in talks with several parties and I think this series is a matter of when not if.
- As we start the drive towards Easter season I hope people will take the time to watch THE QUEST TRILOGY. These are not preachy and propose an interesting perspective for seekers who might not align with the mainstream organized religious bodies. That is not to say that the various organizations haven’t enjoyed them as they all were nominated as ‘Most Inspirational’ winning twice but they were not created in a bubble. They relate very well to the world and I think the films have as many fans coming from a non-religious place. I’ve said it many times that you could be from a totally different faith from Christianity and still enjoy the films. Take a watch and see for yourself (Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star, Part 3 The Christ Slayer)
Okay I could go on about a few more updates but it is noon and I have things to do. Several of the films can be seen free on Amazon Prime, Encourage TV: Youtube and more so enjoy a few of the stories and please do let me know what you think.
Be good to one another.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the nurturing ladies out there. It is a slightly chilly Sunday coming off several wet days here in Michigan. The lawn needs a second mowing and I still have to till the garden ground.
This past week has included lots of development work on LOST HEART our next film. We have the last three units to assign before we move into full pre-production. We’ve had several talks and I think the last three will get claimed soon. It also helps that we will be dispersing money back to previous investors. For me, once we lock up the business we can focus on the creative. I had some schedule discussions this week with our 1st AD. It looks like we will shoot July 16-Aug 1st in N. Michigan. In about 2 weeks (or sooner) we’ll start bringing on cast and crew. The bank account is open and I’m awaiting the check book. Once we green light to pre-production the ball will really start rolling. We’ll also be announcing some of the great companies and businesses supporting us with sponsorship. It will be an exciting week ahead for LOST HEART.
We have also had some development discussions on KNIGHT CHILLS 2 which has been in talks for a while. This would be a collaboration and I’ve been working to set up the distribution aspects of the film.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – The entire 3 film series in out on Amazon Prime. You all can now watch all three back to back. FORTY NIGHTS. CHASING THE STAR. THE CHRIST SLAYER. Please do enjoy this extended biblical adventure. I’ve said before that the style was influenced by the Star Wars original trilogy. I look forward to hearing from more of you that have seen all three. They do stand alone but create a greater picture when all three are viewed. Congrats to part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER for taking 2nd place BEST FILM at the International Christian Film Festival in Orlando, FL.
- I have several sources talking to me about a new series of biblical adventures. We will see what the future holds.
WILD FAITH is now out on Amazon and other platforms for digital purchase. In June we’ll see digital rental and July will be the DVD release. Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Family Video and several outlets will be carrying this fine film.
- Again talks are happening about the possible TV series
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is finishing up color correction and sound design. A work-in-progress link was sent to the theatrical company for evaluation. I was watching the film now with all the dialog balanced and it is really engaging to watch. Music will be starting soon and we’ll also begin working the new full trailer.
This week I’ll continue my conversations with the possible agent for literary and talent. I’ve also had a few independent script writing opportunities arise. I will be exploring that. I’ve been pulling together my materials both as a writer and as talent. I’ve enjoyed the response from all of you to mountain man Ben Lily and of course ole J.C. from THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m looking forward to making a deal so that some of my future negotiations concerning acting and script can be handled by a 3rd party.
I’m asking my readers here to take a watch and leave a review. You can comment here as well. I’m going to wrap things up here. Eat a little something and we’re taking the mother’s to the zoo today. I look forward to a fun day of family stuff before back at it tomorrow. I have to work on writing out checks and dispersing to our backers. I really do love writing checks. To our artists, our backers – it always feels good. Again I don’t think I’ve ever been able to pay an artist their true worth but we do compensate and create.
Keep plugging along and we’ll chat again next week.
I’m sitting here sipping coffee and watching my squirrel buddy Gordy prepping for the high winds we are going to have. The last week was a combination of busy business and family business. I’ve been out of grandparents for a while but have enjoyed the company of my significant other’s grandparents. We lost one – a grandmother who was the center of the family. She had a long 89 years and her service was really nice. The family all came together and now they will have to re-adjust. We all have to keep doing that as we move forward. It once again made me see how special the work we do actually is. And the journey is also just as important as the destination. Let’s look at a few updates from the week.
LOST HEART – This is the film being pulled together to shoot in late April/May time frame. This past week we announced the addition of Mr. David Gries and Dean Teaster playing a major character at two different ages. We welcome them aboard.
Also this week we’ll be announcing the 1st casting call notice for this role. It will be posted on http://www.cdiproductions.com
We are looking for someone who resembles this picture. It is playing our main character at a younger age. It is a paid role and we’ll accept both union and non-union submissions. So you heard it here first. More casting calls will follow.
This week we’ll be announcing two new actresses joining LOST HEART. Both have worked with CDI on different films. We’ve also began some TOP SECRET model work:) We had one of our producers up North starting some initial talks. I, as the writer started by dialog and script note review with our director Jesse Low.
A learning note on this point – When I work with a director it is line by line, page by page because I want the director to REALLY understand the characters. Once they are fully understood we can change certain locations or interactions but they will respond in character. As a producer you want less page count. As a writer – the colorful descriptions might help cast and crew immerse themselves into the world. It is a balancing act whereas a director can strip it down to bar bones because they have shots and such in mind. But for landing quality talent it helps to paint the world. As I stated last week, I would not sign onto a film without reading the script. Maybe a Star Wars flick would be the first but the project I backed off from was not a Star Wars flick. When it has inexperience involved the need for a GREAT blueprint (script) becomes even more important. Also once I sign off the script to the director the writer goes on vacation. Even when actors ask me questions I try to redirect them to the director. Writers need to let go at a point. Many have issues doing just that and that causes problems on projects. So in development get all that solidified with your director. That is what we’ll continue to do next week. Here is Jesse Low working on WILD FAITH with DP Jesse Aragon.
Let’s MOVE to the WILD FAITH movie. This week was working with the distributor as they prepare for the theatrical release and the DVD/streaming to follow. This coming week we’ll announce and release the new poster art for WILD FAITH. I’ve been holding my breath waiting for the artwork. Once I saw it my first two impressions were – 1) Classically Beautiful 2) Lauren LaStrada is going to LOVE this cover:) There is my tease. Coming (back) to theaters this March! Remastered. Enhanced. Ready to Rock!
The month after on April 19th THE CHRIST SLAYER will roll out into theaters. I’m trying to make sure that Harkins gets it in AZ. That way all our Yuma, AZ family can watch it on the big screen for Easter. For those that want to watch now it can be seen on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema (and the list will keep growing) DVD will release March 4th so add it to your collection. People who have been sending ‘fan mail’ I greatly appreciate it. I love how into the story they are. You can watch these films as a stand alone but they also tell a story as a trilogy. The Devil and Angels story runs through all three. As more people realize the thread between all three films it will become more interesting to read people’s thoughts on the trilogy. I’ve seen the same few type ‘hate’ posts. Usually at Jesus. OK. If you don’t believe in Jesus, just enjoy the story. ROCKY and APOLLO CREED did not exist as real people but they still inspired determination, self-belief and the power of love for generations of viewers. If you live for Jesus, I hope you enjoy the film. It is not a documentary or a bio-pic but a story. The issue I see that stems from pockets of religious denominations is that they fight over details (the devil is in the details) and miss the entire meaning of the story. I read someone lamenting the darkness in Chasing the Star. Um…King Herod’s rule was dark. That is what I liked about The Passion of the Christ. The reality of crucification was played out and it was much darker than the pageants plays of the day. Someone commented negatively on the Magi, obviously not knowing the actual history. That is why that film felt important. Everyone knows the statues out front of the nativity scene but few really knew anything about them. Our take is not 100% as history often exists in fragments. Anyway, I’m very proud of the three films. Those that let themselves enjoy the story will take something away, their path matters not. So watch FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR and follow it up with THE CHRIST SLAYER.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’ve been reviewing the first cut and making suggestions. The film is very good. I’m out on a limb playing a wounded Marine. I feel that gravity because I represent the actual wounded. I can say that so many of my peers gave incredible performances. Maybe one of the best from Dean Teaster (played the Preacher in Wild Faith), Anschutz, Abell, Gries, Hagedorn, Most, Nations…I could go on. I think people will be happy with their involvement. I did get emotionally hit at the end of the film so I know it works. But we’re just working the story for pace. A few scenes to cut into later or cut out early. We’ll work toward a lock at month’s end with dialog clean up being the first task up for post audio/music.
Aside from this list of things to do – I’ve been writing out checks to investors and residuals to talent on some of our films. I’ve been prepping to do some VO work on a commercial project. I’ve got a few meetings in the next few weeks to discuss possible collaborations. So, I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Merchandise creation is under discussions. Sponsorship for the new film, the CDI website or even my blog. I’ve been trying to get that coffee sponsor. One big bag of coffee beans a month and I’ll put your company logo on here. And I’ll speak kind words about it weekly:) DING! Magnifico – only my Philippine DN cast/crew friends will understand that.
Pre-Order on Amazon now!
Have a great week ahead!
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
Good morning out there everyone. I’ve got the hazelnut coffee fueling me this morning. What a week on all fronts. I went to a memorial yesterday for a high school buddy’s dad. I call it losing training wheels (losing a parent) and it’s happening a little more often now. It was a great reflection on life and again a reminder to us all to enjoy your relationships and to work hard to achieve what’s important to you. The family were surprised and so happy to see myself and another old-school friend.
Just like the many times we all shared laughing and partying around the campfire this gathering also included many toasts. That’s why the hazelnut coffee is my friend this morning. I’ve not had a hangover since New Year’s Day (Thank you Garrett) and this was a mild one, but thankfully it has now passed. I think since the old processor brain is moving slow I’ll just do a random list of updates.
TOP TEN UPDATES FROM LAST WEEK
- We had another digital trading card release last week and a new one will be releasing again this week. I think five from each film. I also know that “Character Cards” and a poster will be coming for the 3rd film in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” – stay tuned.
- WILD FAITH music score will likely be finishing up this week. Our composer had 8 minutes to go when we spoke last week. We’ll be sitting down with our director Jesse Low this week to discuss the finishing of the film. I can’t wait to do a new watch with the music beds set in.
- “Forty Nights” will be playing Texas in Nov. followed by “Chasing the Star” in Dec. – Iowa will also be showing “Chasing the Star” as part of a Christmas program in December. We’ve just been approached by another church wanting to license. I’m happy that these church’s are going through the proper channels for licensing and not just going pirate on showing the films publicly.
- Upcoming film MBF (Man’s Best Friend) brought on more financial commits and we’ve got sponsorships developing nicely. This week we’ll be announcing more cast members. We met last week and we’ve got our target dates set with cameras to roll in March.
- The book deal on WILD MICHIGAN is close to being done. It was based on the original screenplay before it was restructured for budget as Wild Faith. It will allow readers to experience the original story. It was adapted to book format by author Dee Freeman. It will be available for Christmas!
- The KNIGHT CHILLS book is for sale now on Amazon and will be releasing to retailers nationally. David Hayes was the author who adapted the screenplay/film to a book.
- The “Chasing the Star” investors will be getting another ROI check this week. I truly do LOVE writing checks. It keeps the machine moving.
- Development work continues on several other collaborations. A western, a biopic, a few horror films and a biblical drama. I do love working with other artists and bringing projects from the page to the screen.
- The announcement that one of the library films would be getting new distribution with BMG was made last week. The ink is dry and I’m happy to report “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama will be releasing early in 2018. The film has never had a digital release due to the initial release was on VHS. This beautifully shot 35mm film will find a new audience. A great “making of” will be included on the DVD. We are also looking at a special Blu Ray release also. PR on this will be forthcoming.
- I enjoyed several meetings this week at the office with a fire burning in the wood stove. I’m going to be doing many more sit downs in the coming weeks. I have sat down with many filmmakers in a meet-n-greet style and will be looking to do many more. Even if we don’t have immediate business I do like to get to know the minds behind some of these other projects.
In addition to the on-going film work I’ve been harvesting and storing everything from tomatoes to kale (A Melissa Anschutz fav at meetings) to mushrooms. My small patch of ink tip shrooms are nothing compared to the giant puff balls I got Friday at my friend’s place. We will be cooking some of those up tonight. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few updates but please do seek out and find your favorite film page on Facebook and follow the updates there.
Have a great week ahead and enjoy your Sunday.