“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “child

Father’s Day and Cusp of a Birthday – Updates!

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Good morning my friends. Welcome new readers from Serbia, Israel and coffee cheers to you all. I want to also take this moment to thank all of you Father’s out there. Thanks to all the men who take on father roles and give guidance. I’m so grateful to have my father who was kind, strict, generous and taught us much by his actions. I still am amazed by everything he ‘balanced’ while dealing with marriage at a young age and raising two boys. His dream and his goal was to have a family. My goals have included the building of a film family. I also have been so lucky to have the family life I’ve had. I’ve loved my furry family as much as I would have any human child. I value all life and nurture where I can. I’m also on the cusp of a milestone birthday. This week I’ll add another mark on the number of times I’ve gone around the sun. So I have much to be thankful for. I’ve also watched my brother follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a wonderful dad. So to all of you out there – Happy Father’s Day.

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Let me see – we had a producers ‘meeting of the minds’ this past week over our next CDI film BEST YEARS GONE.  So much great pre-production has been underway including the announcement of Erika Hoveland who will be playing opposite me in the film. Our tribe of talent gets a little wider with each film. Our restrictions due to the virus are getting slightly better as small productions start to creep out for commercial day shoots and such. Any of these shoots where you see them just ‘going for it’ with no precautions is a good example of again hobby shooting. If you have no accountability to investors, cast/crew safety, state/union/insurance guidelines we are not playing the same game. It’s a lot to balance but we have a great game plan forming up by great people.

Having filmed for so many years where many of our families deal with our strange storytelling habit I have always made a point to try and be wrapped for the year by Thanksgiving. I don’t like to be filming between Thanksgiving and New Year save a few exceptions. That said, we’ve chosen the furthest shoot window possible. So our onset pre-production week will be end of Oct into early November. And the shoot will be 15 days in November wrapping out a handful of days before Thanksgiving. We’ll make the few needed story adjustments and the hope is we will be further down the road from these virus restrictions. We’ll also start some B-roll, beauty and VFX shots in advance. I’m so very excited to get shooting but you want to be smart when you do it.

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LOST HEART is being mixed together. The musical score, sound design and dialog. We have started as a group to discuss how we will premiere the movie. We might have an outside big screen premiere much akin to a premiere we did for DEADLY RENOVATIONS in AZ. A band, food and the ability to have people spread out some. Following that a run in theaters and drive in’s would be the ideal situation. This funny and heart warming movie will be just the needed thing for many out there.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND might play a few more festivals this year but the audience keeps building. Thank you to all the fans of the movie who have reached out. I can say the same for WILD FAITH and the development work on the TV series continues. I also had some people reach out to express their joy in finding The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) I think it is helping that people are realizing that there is three films that have interconnecting pieces. I had People ask if CDI will be doing more biblical adventures. I would like to when the timing is right.

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I’m excited to announce that a new deal has been made with ITN Distribution to get three of the CDI associated films back out into the marketplace. The previously mentioned Deadly Renovations, Donors and Darkest Night. More as that develops and they have new art and new release destinations.

I’ve been two weeks without my Movie Magic software because of my computer update to Catalina but it has now been fixed. So I can continue my weekly writing and I’m very happy about that. The yard has never looked better and we just added flowers and got more plants for the garden. I seeded a few lawn spots due to tree-cutting and behold it is filling in. Daily entertainment from all the birds and critters which we’ve been feeding has kept smiles upon our faces. I hope you all have a productive week and I look forward to speaking with you all next week. Keep your chin up if you’re facing hardship and just keep moving forward.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 


Love vs Fear – And Film Updates:)

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Good morning. The sun is shining and the buds are blooming on the apple and mulberry trees. The first sprouts of rhubarb are poking their way up also. I hope all my fellow artists and friends are getting by during this challenge. I still think it some ways that the alien UFO attack still might have been better than this virus. We had a short time where politics disappeared and people just focused on solutions versus blame. It is a unifying event by the threat but it has kept many of us separate from loved ones. This has caused some emotional and some financial pains – understandable. What disappointed me this week was the rise in division again. Here is the thing…

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I went to Northwestern Elementary School, Otto Middle School and Sexton High School. It is in Lansing’s public school system and before any right to choose. I believe given a choice many out of fear will choose to remain apart. Divided by race, creed, financial status or any number of things. I think going to public schools was one of the best things ever for me. The real world has divisions but many more sectors that cross over. Why? Because at the heart of it we all have hopes, dreams, fears and we all are born and will die. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity of my friendships. If someone was really in life threatening danger I would work to save them. It would not matter the color of their skin, how they were dressed, who they vote for, how they worship or where they call home. You could be wearing a BERNIE tee shirt or a MAGA hat, it doesn’t matter. I would try to save you. Those that think they are different when understand on their last few breaths that they are not. We are all the same. How we appreciate the life we have and those we share it with varies I’m sure.

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We are seeing the best of who we are in some of those working front lines to contain this virus. Where it came from? Misuse of nature or manipulation of the nature order of things, doesn’t matter. Blaming? Why? The mild differences between the way we feel on certain topics is made worse by these extreme situations. We are seeing love and hate – but know hate comes from fear. To love takes courage because of the fear of losing it and feeling pain beyond our control. A dear friend lost EVERYTHING in a house fire but gained a perspective and newfound appreciation for life that could only come by walking through that pain.

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We are walking through that pain. My sincere hope is that we gain that new insight to respect and appreciation. This is all someone else’s issue until you suffer a loss or the fear of that loss. In my business I have to make decisions all the time and some that are not always met with full agreement. But the ones held accountable are trying to do their best they can. When people see my name listed above theirs it doesn’t make me more powerful just more accountable. And in politics we have opposing sides who no longer play by gentlemen rules. (gentleladies too) If you misstep and we all do, they will use that against you. That is why many would rather be over-protective vs under protective but with the economical issues that will be politically weaponized it is unfortunately a lose-lose situation.   Know that deep down nobody wants death nor financial ruin and how to navigate that path is not a perfect science. Sometimes you need to get outside the emotional storm. Fear vs Fear is what we’re seeing.

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If you have a horrific car crash and are trapped in a burning vehicle you would not deny help if the person has different color skin, wears turban or Trump hat, is gay or prays on a mat facing East…you would accept the help. All I’m saying is, don’t be a bitch to fear. Now I’m a person who listens to people in the medical field not the political. I mean we all listen because they spend so much to try and grab our attention. They are just numbers until it is personal. How many would willingly accept a business set back if it meant saving the life of someone they loved, a mother, father, sibling, child? If someone close to you gets sick you will likely suffer that financial set back in some way anyhow. So let those accountable do their job and no matter how they do it I know people will face criticism. As a boss or employee, parent or child and definitely as artists we all face that. Because some people hold up their identity by going against the grain. Trolls on the internet. Gossipers in social circles. Art critics. We will get past all this and I hope your loved ones come out safe. Some unfortunately will not. But how many friendships will be damaged by the negativity once we get to the other side? I love all my friends and their priorities on various topics don’t change that. I am often disappointed by actions I see but I too have disappointed people.  Hence forgiveness. I hope many of you forgive one another after all this. That you know that all the irrational words, actions and deeds were done out of fear.

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FILM UPDATES

I knew I was going to speak on some of the current topics above but was so happy to get an email this morning.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY is now playing on one of the largest TV networks in Mexico. It might have further reach into Latin America I’m not sure. What I’m sure of is that millions of people are watching our stories. FORTY NIGHTS

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CHASING THE STAR

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and THE CHRIST SLAYER

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On behalf of the entire CDI family of artists we hope the millions of new viewers take something positive from these stories and make they part of their traditional watchings.

I also want to thank all the fans of WILD FAITH and MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND the fan mail is appreciated. I’m just so happy that we can bring some entertainment and thought to our audiences.

LOST HEART

We’re moving strong and I’m excited to see the soundtrack put to picture. This movie will be just the dose of happy that many need. I have more talks this coming week about the roll out of the film.

BEST YEARS GONE

We announced some of our talented cast and crew last week.

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The ship stocked up even more this past week and we’ll be ready to roll when the storm passes. You can look us up on Facebook to follow the films or Collective Development Inc.  as a company. Our website http://www.cdiproductions.com is undergoing some updates. Including a subscription mailing list on the CDI site. We’ll be using that for future casting and crew calls and more. So take yourself over there and sign up to stay current.

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Even this blog here is going to undergo some revamping in the next couple weeks.

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I’ve had all kinds of great conversations- some personal and some business in the past weeks. Calls that maybe you were too tired to make after a long day of work. I don’t, can’t and won’t judge people as I don’t walk in their shoes. I would say do channel your energy into something positive. I’ve seen people type arguments longer than some college papers. These people could have written books, scripts, blogs but instead just throw names and negativity back and forth. I’ve actually gotten a lot of writing done and will complete much more. Some of these writings will become future stories and some will be sold. What is the return on your writings? Loss of friendships? High blood pressure? Lack of sleep?  Undeserved venting at those closest to you? Again I never claimed to be the greatest artist or any of that cocky nonsense. But I do outwork a majority of people. Not just in quantity of the work for the quality. How productive? Which projects did you put energy behind? Just evaluate and see if you can increase your peace of mind. I probably spent 15-18 hours a week in personal meetings before all this. I’ve been using all that extra time to be better prepared. And amazing opportunities continue to develop behind steady development work. There is no short cut.

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A beautiful pick by artist Jeff Butler

I’m going to go work in the yard and do some grilling today. Keep your chin up and stay busy with positive things that make you feel accomplished at the end of your day. Know that accomplished tasks which could be just reconnecting with a few people from your circle, can do wonders for yourself. Until next week be good to one another. Coffee cheers!

DJ

 

 

 


Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 


Father’s, Fun and Future Endeavors

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First I want to start out by raising a cup of coffee and toasting to all the father’s out there. I know my father was and continues to be a strong influence in my life. I laugh at my younger self who boldly told my father “I just want to be an artist, not a businessman like you!” – Well, that turned out different. This morning I was trying to organize my business TO DO for the week ahead. It’s always one foot in front of the other – steady as she goes.

My furry children get a lot of parental type love from me and I can only guess how complex it can get when you add in daycare, school, relationships, work…the worry of it all. I think my father can at least relax in the knowing that I’m doing something I truly love. When he can go to the cinema or turn on the TV and watch one of our films I think it gives him comfort. I still have strong memories of him at the kitchen table with his checkbook and all the bills laid out on the table. I do enjoy staying on top of my business. That gives me a good peace of mind. I look forward to a visit with dad later today. I get almost a weekly visit with him and that’s enjoyable. I can still get little nuggets of wisdom.

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As many of you know we just wrapped MBF and I’m almost all caught up on that paperwork. We’re about to assemble a small skeleton crew for a one day pick up of flashback war footage. It is a different ‘Paul’ I’ll be playing. My wounded Paul was a great challenge as I’ve discussed prior. This is before all that – I recall actual wounded vet Bobby Henline telling me of the day he was injured only remembering having coffee that morning. Imagine waking up months later to gruesome injuries, unbearable pain and a lifetime of living vastly different. We all have those sudden changes in life we’re never quite ready for. One of our crew members lost her brother unexpectedly after our shoot. You cannot imagine such drastic changes in life. It is why you need to appreciate each and every day.

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My furry child Luke has his last two radiation treatments this week. I do have to say it has made a big difference. We’ve also been using CBD dog treats from CA and alkaline water thanks to my buddy Nate. He has been enjoying life and aside from a few extra hours sleeping and some spotty times dealing with his med “high” he’s doing good. You hate to see anyone dealing with these kind of life issues but we all have them. Keep that in mind as you interact with people throughout your day. That caller on the frustrating phone tree could be also dealing with a dying parent or loss of a child. A touch more compassion never hurt anyone.

Back to films-  I’ve had many of our new friends and associates ask about our other films. Please watch and leave a review if you feel entitled to.

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  1. THE ACTOR – https://www.amazon.com/Actor-James-Russo/dp/B07D6Z6BCB/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1529241258&sr=8-4&keywords=The+actor  – A struggle of LOVE by director Jon Osman – shot in NYC and starts our upcoming lead in THE CHRIST SLAYER. You will see me in there supporting as a funny FBI agent.
  2. ASHES OF EDEN – https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Eden-Steven-Sutherland/dp/B07BLLJ6FN/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241414&sr=1-1&keywords=ashes+of+eden – Directed by our own Shane Hagedorn it stars Melissa Anschutz and Steven Sutherland and yours truly plays an ex-military drug dealer.
  3. WICKED SPRING – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HN718V/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241553&sr=1-1&keywords=Wicked+Spring – This classic film helped define my early career. I star with Brian Merrick in this Civil War tale that has been growing an audience since early 2000’s on TV and home video.
  4. FORTY NIGHTS – https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241671&sr=1-1&keywords=Forty+Nights  – I would say one of my biggest challenges playing a figure so shrouded in mystery. I give my everything in playing Jesus during this little understood time of his life. I co-star with my mentor and friend Rance Howard. It was also one of his favorites where he got to play THE bad guy.
  5. CHASING THE STAR – https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241791&sr=1-1&keywords=Chasing+the+Star  – I’m not acting in this second installment of THE QUEST TRILOGY but it sprang from my imagination and research. We’ve seen the statues of the wisemen every Christmas for many years but what is their story?

I thought these five films would give a nice start to people wanting to get to know Collective Development Inc.’s work.

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WILD FAITH has a few more theatrical runs in it before it preps for home video. There are a few exciting things being worked on with this film but I will save that for another day.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – Part 3 in THE QUEST TRILOGY is in music and sound design. I got to watch the final cut with temp sound/music and I was blown away. Now that Dennis Therrian is adding yet another powerful score the film will truly soar. I am waiting on the final color corrected trailer to come over this weekend from our DP Jesse Aragon. Once that is ready we’ll prepare the PR and release the theatrical trailer. We plan to have it play select theaters in Oct-Jan and home video on the Easter 2019 lead up. This film will bring all three together and audiences can truly enjoy the weaving of the tale throughout three films. I’m excited for people to see the beautiful dynamic between Carl Weyant and Josh Ponceman Perry. Soon:)

I have started to look at development for the next CDI film in association with BMG.  But for now… I’m going to get some breakfast and we’re going to go walk the flea market down the road. This afternoon will be some time spent with my dad followed by a soccer game in this heat. Daphne (our girl) got a new pool and so more swimming lies ahead for her. We also had a day of working on the office/fort and added some additional beams to help stabilize the second floor. I have quite a bit of stuff up there so it was a good call. I have ‘Dan the Druid’ to thank for that fine wood work along with his “Druid Jr.” helper. My brother Adam also came over and restructured the wood arch in the yard. The yard is back to its zen self with beans growing and berries ripening. I think more wine making lies ahead. With the amount of apples even a batch of hard cider could happen.

Toast life.

DJ


Updates and Director Announcement

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Francine York & Elvis

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I’m sipping HOT coffee on this freezing and frigid day in Michigan and I’m going to enjoy a few moments chatting with all of you. The New Year is underway and even one week into the new cycle I’ve observed several things. First 2016 did see several iconic people pass on. I lost an Aunt a few days after Christmas after a long 90+ years of life. She is the one I arranged to meet with Willie Nelson and she got sick the night before. If you haven’t heard that story – I met Willie and his troupe in Eureka Springs when filming “Book of Ruth” because he and Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty were old friends. On that same note Dan passed on in 2016 and that was a sad day. There was discussions with a studio of my involvement in helping to revive his popular series. It was not meant to be.

But overall 2016 was a great year business-wise with two new feature films in the “can” and a new deal between CDI and a distribution studio BMG. In the new year my father lost another brother – an exemplary kind and generous family man a few days ago. Additionally, I had worked on “Miracle at Sage Creek” with Francine York, best known by my dad for “Girls, Girls, Girls” with Elvis but she has a long and impressive resume. She and I were in a scene together and I remember in the make up trailer she kept looking at me. I asked if something was wrong and she replied, “If I was a 100 years younger” and laughed. She told me a few Elvis stories and signed a picture for my dad’s man cave. I followed her social media posts as she loved to watch old movies and tell great stories. When she passed I posted a simple note about the passing of a classy lady on her FB site. People (fans I assume) or more like one in particular just started ranting. PROOF! PROOF! Now in this day of fake news and false reports of death I understand but this person was just crass. That just brings me to the point of social media 2017. I was born well before social media and I view that as a strength. Let me try to explain…

THE ONION

People do not slowly get to know one another anymore – like peeling the layers of an onion. Getting to know people use to be like reading a book slowly learning things they share or differ upon. Now it’s more like a resume of everything all at once. Like online dating – I almost did it once at the start of it but it seemed too odd. What happened to opposites attract? With all the peer pressure created by social media I’m not sure this happens anymore. Compatibility matches? I mean, if someone just had all their attributes listed something is going to run against the grain. Oh, my God! They like rap music. Oh, they love cats. Oh, they like boxing or guns – barbaric. People can get accepted or disqualified by their lists which leads to segregation of people into groups. In the old days you could be friends with someone for weeks, months before you found out that they were Muslim or Jewish, as if it mattered. People are more often looking at how they are different versus alike and often attack those people who are different. You hate this person’s politics but what if they are a good parent. Maybe they give dinners to the homeless and volunteer…I think when you just try to look at a person as a list of LIKES, DISLIKES and GROUPS you don’t get the full picture.

Judgement is EVERYWHERE. That kind posting I did honoring my peer/acquaintance passing away was JUDGED. I don’t have to prove anything – I was just leaving a note to HER, like signing an obituary board. I don’t know how anyone has real friends anymore with everyone so judgmental. And people putting themselves out there on social media to strangers lures judgement. I have always liked the statement “He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones at others.” I hate to tell you but we all live in glass houses of the self. All I see is the rioting of glass houses smashing left and right. Judgement is often fueled by hate and we’re all human and make mistakes. Hateful, judgmental people wait for any opening to attack someone. It truly is sad and I don’t see this trend going away if people participate. Another small example – my mother is new to the whole internet experience yet she enjoys the interaction with past friends. She sent me a story that Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island) had passed away. She knew as a child I enjoyed that show and she did it out of love. Now Bob died many years ago and I was going to crassly point that out to her. (Pause, think, feel) I erased it. I almost took something done out of love and judged it with a negative. Instead I thanked her and pointed out he had passed some time ago. But others had already jumped to point out her lack of research. I guess in 2017 I’m going to participate even less in the social judgement. I have grown to love the UNFOLLOW button. I kind of have a three strikes of negativity rule and GONE. You cannot remove all the negativity but you can create your own sacred space and create positive good from there. Time better spent enriching people, lifting people and understanding people.

Try it and see how your life changes. If you took all these social media “rants” and put them together in a year’s time…I know people who’ve talked of writing a book but tell themselves “That’s too big a task – I could never…” yet at year’s end they’ve written a book worth of repetitive negativity and judgement. So when you wonder how I get so much done it’s just about my use of time. Use your time to create not just spread hate. Anyone can point out the obvious but it takes a powerful person to bring real change. Be that person.

FILMS

I spewed on for a while above but I think that storytelling is practicing what I preach. Tell a story- entertain, educate, enlighten people. That is what we try to do here. Let’s look at a few updates and I can let you get about your day.

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Actor Dean Teaster (Preacher Collins) in #wildfaith

WILD FAITH 

Above is an official STILL from the movie. It is my friend/actor Dean Teaster and his character represents much of what we spoke about in our opening. He is the preacher in the small town of Hastings but he has become blinded by emotional pain. This film has the opportunity to be a great force for unity and positive change. We might have a rough cut by month’s end. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew. Stay tuned!

THE QUEST TRILOGY

FORTY NIGHTS

After our digital and limited release in 2016 with Lightworx we’ve penned a new release deal with BMG for a worldwide release. It will start rolling out on 4/4/17 and new artwork and a digital remastering is underway. We were under a rush with Wal-Mart on the first release and so we’re happy to have this larger opportunity.

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Editing on #Chasingthestar

CHASING THE STAR

This follow-up film is almost complete. VFX and credit work is underway and we’ll be meeting this week over the rollout. I’m thinking maybe May theatricals and our wide release with BMG will be in September. I’m so very excited about this story. The film cut is powerful and shines a light on events that have passed into myth. Next week after our meeting I’ll have more to share on this film.

THE CHRIST SLAYER

My ongoing deal with BMG is based upon our ability to stay on budget, schedule and to bring a high level of creativity to these films. This starts with the script but quickly moves to the creative captain – the director. On these films, and all films actually, the trick is the right pairing. I know many talented directors but it is about who FITS. It includes their grasp on the material, being producer friendly (biz trumps art) and their ability to infuse the story with their special vision. I looked at many directors and their work. I spoke to a few – some knowing what I was inquiring about and others did not. Jesse Low was the perfect person to bring “Forty Nights” to life on-screen. When I started communications with Bret Miller for the good part of a year – he had no idea I was looking at him as the director of “Chasing the Star” and that was the key. He was never trying to find the right thing to say to land the job. I knew from certain scenes in his previous film that he could bring a mood and tone to our film. With one film left in THE QUEST TRILOGY, I had lots to consider with finding the right director. As always, with a calm mind, I was led to the right choice. I had worked with this director as an actor and he’s worked with me as an editor. His experiences over the last few years in Los Angeles prepared him for this film. His personal experiences led him back to Michigan and after multiple discussions over the material we had found our third director. I want to introduce you all to Nathaniel Nose. He is a fellow MSU graduate and one talented director/editor. We will be doing a press release this week but as always you heard it here first. I’m excited to once again be working with an old friend and he’ll enjoy the great team of artists we’ve assembled. Thank you to Nathaniel Nose for going on this journey with us. I will leave all of you with this news and hope that you’ll all stay warm and make 2017 a great year. Be the best you .

DJ

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Mr. Nathaniel Nose – director of “The Christ Slayer”

 


International Audiences, Updates, Advice

Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)

I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.

2015 Distribution Updates

CDI projects

ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.

REVIEW LINK

http://cinemaheadcheese.blogspot.com/2014/12/movie-review-ashes-of-eden-2014.html?m=1

DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come

WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!

We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.

HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.

BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.

 

NON-CDI RELEASE INFO

I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19  and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).

Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!

My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example  taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.”  I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water.   Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over.  We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you?  Do you give your best effort, always?  Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.

Happy Full Moon!

DJ

 


“Be True”

A quiet morning of sipping coffee and reflecting on the past week. On the domestic front this week saw Lions and MSU football kick off to victory. The garden is giving tomatoes, peppers and some beans in abundance. I bottled up the fall brew beer that I’ve named AUTUMN AMBER and is tastes good and with some age it will get even better. We used the smoker on some chicken and it came out great! So on the personal level I’ve been enjoying the slow transition from summer to fall. Let’s discuss some business shall we.

Evolution

First I’ve noticed that some of the things happening in the  our local film community will evolve on their own. My personal “community” is composed of doers from every state and other country’s creating art and telling stories to enlighten and educate the masses. We’ve discussed many of the issues that our state faces and I’m sure that is represented in every film community in every state. There are some that are chasing fame and working cons to try to grab a foothold. As I’m about to shoot a thriller this Oct. that is a complete re-shoot due to mismanagement I see that some of the individuals responsible are just moving to the next “mark”. Some are following their same game of deceit and bamboozling. I did step in to give warning to one young man who seems bent on getting ahead by any means. I just saw his attempted involvement with two other filmmakers that I call a friend. So I had to bring that to light because I don’t want to see others have their passion films damaged.  Be real and build a real career on real effort and work. Not claiming “uncredited” work on studio projects or falsely adding or promoting yourself as being part of something you are not.  I gave my warning but for you out there hiring or collaborating – you must also beware. Talk to people who have worked with these people prior. Remember like a job interview they are looking to say what they think you want to hear. A good speaker can bullshit a lot of people and you often won’t realize until it is too late. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way earlier in my career as well. I’ve got a finely tuned bullshit meter but we all can be a victim.

We are about to start signing deal memos on “Bestseller” in the coming weeks. We’ve been in talks with vendors and I’m excited about what this group of artists will create. I’ve been spending some time with my character role and looking forward to bringing this to life. Some of my contacts in Hollywood are now becoming aware of what we are shooting and we will be bringing a few actors in to work with our mid-west talent. They have had some great feedback on our revamped script and we are doing our production breakdowns. This should be a very smooth shoot and a great way to end the year. So prepare for a new website and PR on some of our great talent attached.

ASHES OF EDEN! The film is in final sound design and scoring and we are on course for a November Michigan premiere. Before that audiences will get a strong look at our film via a theatrical trailer which will release tomorrow! I’m excited about showing people a peek of this powerful film. I’m going off survey responses from our test audiences. We also have submitted and may have a few known music artists joining our talented local music acts. I’m excited to again show our interested distributors our new marketing piece. I also excited to show all of you!

BENJAMIN has been re-cut with distributor feedback and retitled THE TERRORIST. All the talk from over there in that camp is that we also have something very special. So this is another film that I’m excited to get out to audiences. Another riveting drama.

SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN. The question of if this TV series is going to strike a fancy has been answered. We did a promo piece and that was shown to 3 different parties all of which responded positive. One responded so positive that it was a board room showing in London and we have an offer coming in next week. The negotiation process starts but we do have a fun, entertaining show and this might be a great start for CDI TV. Will I end up producing a few reality shows? Maybe. We will see.

I also have a TV series in development with a major studio that could be great fun. This is my first time working within this TV studios development process but I will learn from it I’m sure. If it happens it would have me co-starring in my first TV series. I know I’ve avoided that prior but this would have me on the writing/producing team so I re-considered. It still could fall apart or get shelved but so far so good.

Many of our scripts are in development pipelines being evaluated by money sources. I think 2014 will surely see a handful of these get made. I’m enjoying this time of productivity. Some is from work previously done finally coming to and some are new growth. EVOLUTION is the word I’ve been in meditation on. I can roll with whatever the universe brings because I know that it is all just evolving energy. I see great storytelling ahead.

So as you can see I can be concerned about issues in our local circles but I cannot get overly invested. Those overselling themselves to the inexperienced will continue to do so. Those chasing that 15 minutes of fame by the “fake it to make it” technique will continue for some. Others will continue to not see true opportunities presented to them and do things half-ass so they can move quickly to the next venture out of desperation. I was inspired watching a PBS doc yesterday on the torch passing between film and digital. The passion of storytelling by storytellers is the underlying golden thread. That is where I belong. That is who I am. The same child like artist who first picked up a camcorder to start telling little stories. I’ve matured in business from good mentors and experience good and bad. My wanting to bring our art to the wider world that only happens with distribution and dependent upon good business has pushed me forward. So I do care a lot about those around me. But I can only be a compass by example alone. I cannot and will not take part in a bunch of drama that I read about daily on all these social media outlets. While others talk I’ve always been one taking action and I have to stay that course. The artists that work with me will always get my best. I don’t understand and can’t try to understand those others. So I will keep tending my garden, loving and laughing with true friends and family and telling stories. That is all I can do. So I implore those out there to always give more than someone paid you for. Always give your best and use the passion inside you. Don’t sell yourself out for shells and beads or lures of fame. That is all fleeting but the stories you tell. The art – that can live on and on.

Be true.

DJ


From Ashes New Growth Can Come

After a string of just wonderful days we finally have some rain but for all the blooming plants this is much-needed. This week we did some major clean up on our sticks/tree limb pile after we had some cutting down around the new office. I got to burn, burn, burn this material into ash to till into the garden. There is something very powerful about burning away old dead growth and created new fertile ground. I can apply this in many ways to events unfolding around me. I think that we all carry a certain amount of negative weight built up from people and events around us. I work hard to try to not create negativity myself and keep my energy flow positive. I succeed more often than not and often nobody ever knows when I struggle to eliminate negativity. That flow will not stop if you repeat actions or continue to work with others that generate this negativity.

I can also say that in our industry seeking “fun” in the most child-like manner is fully acceptable. I always strive to have “fun” on our film sets because it translates to the screen. I’ve trial run with individuals on films whereas some I will not produce with again and others it is a no-brainer. Much of that is if they are listeners. Some people have a need to make the decisions via insecurity and are often not open to advice. Almost all the “associated” CDI features are constructed in a consulting fashion. I feel in any situation the best option should win despite who comes up with it. No pride or ego but this works only if someone is open to all possibilities. I think people and their lack of communication skills often lead to these bad decisions. A good idea presented poorly never gets accepted as the wrong tone/approach/lack of respect gets a defensive reaction and a good idea will go unheard. If you can offer sound advice that could PREVENT issues because possibly you’ve had that issue in the past – it becomes painful if someone doesn’t want to accept or discuss something because it did not originate with them. In situations where this has happened I may perform as talent with the right material and right compensation in the future but I will not produce again with them.

Now also I added to some conversations on the dreaded IMDB StarMeter this week. It is corrupt because desperate talent looking for a short cut have learned to manipulate it. Entire companies have emerged just to feed the egos and play on the insecurities of these people. It is pretty easy to spot and professionals are not fooled. It actually plays against those who cut corners. I’ve been deeply disappointed when I discover these actions but I cannot save anyone from themselves. It is a personal integrity issue and while I cannot control all people’s actions I will work to discourage and eliminate these factors from our dealings. WORK BEGETS WORK. POWERFUL PERFORMANCES WILL GET NEW OFFERS. It is very simple really and I know a large number of people use negative tactics from attempted investor stealing to buying “marketing packages” to boost some ego rating. I just refuse to lower myself or our company actions to those levels. I would rather take the long path and arrive with my dignity and integrity intact. I hope many of you can say the same. If not – consider correcting your path. Character is important to me and others and I’m not talking in a script:)

I had a good couple of days working on “Holiday Miracle” and while they are still developing as a team they worked hard and they were having fun! I can also say that Dean Cain was a friendly professional and being a Michigan boy – of course he is:) I think they will have a great feel-good film! Thank you again to that entire cast and crew for letting me come play with you all.

I did fall behind a bit on script reading this week. I had a few acting opportunities come my way and I’m having good discussions on those. On development we are making some good steps with some new bridges forming with foreign partners. Many of these companies have already realized some success with films I starred in so they have been great to work with. Our CDI Sales Team is starting to get momentum going forward. I had a handful of offers on our films from a foreign source and more are developing. I had a pain sending out a screener to a foreign company and I’m not use to wasting that kind of time – but I will get a process down. Fully developing a sales team will take a bit of time but to have success right out the gate is giving me great hope for this new direction.

I also took a few more steps on the path to personal management. I think this opportunity could speed up timelines, increase revenue flow and prove to be a good way to do a few studio produced projects. I see the path pretty clearly and so it is about visualization, execution and patience. The last one can be hard and I consider myself to have a descent amount of patience. So earlier we talked about people looking for a short cut and that stems from lack of patience. It is hard but if you can control this many more things in your life will flow better. Stressing about things that are not yet in your control will harm your health mentally, physically and make you into a person that others find – unattractive to deal with. This creates set backs and causes patience issues and…a vicious cycle.

So in summary I think the more you engage in sincere respect and compassion to your fellow artists – the more attractive as a working partner. You become a sail to whatever boat you’re upon and not the dreaded anchor of negativity. If it becomes too stressful and you become too jaded I say, get off the boat. This career is not worth it if it turns you into someone who family, friends and peers grow to dislike. I’m here to say that if it ever loses the “fun” aspect for me I will exit this career. I have chosen “Brewer” as my second career:) Often you can protect that “fun” by eliminating those negative influences. You can almost look at the lessons of childhood. The ones who did not share, were bully like in nature or didn’t play nicely with others – they didn’t get the invites to B-Day parties, after-school backyard football games or whatnot. These lessons are the same now so which kid were you? I was usually the one organizing all these activities but I guess that was just my nature. I still have friends from 1st grade on up that I see on a weekly basis so I guess those values have stuck with me. They have carried over into my film career and I will continue to nurture the positive relationships. But if other relationships go negative I will burn them away like dead branches. From Ashes new growth can come forth.

Speaking of ASHES now a shameless plug

http://www.ashesofedenmovie.com

Rough cut almost done:)

Have a great weekend.

DJ