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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Rough cut almost done:)
Have a great weekend.