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.
Welcome friends from Malta and Mexico. I’m sitting down with my coffee and thinking back on what a productive week was had here at CDI. Last week those who read our blog got the early notice on Part 2 (Chasing the Star/CTS) of The Quest Trilogy releasing digitally before the Sept 5th date. Amazon and Christian Cinema both have the film now for those that cannot wait. After Sept 5th the DVD’s will start rolling out from retailers. We also are in the process of accepting the invite to show “CTS” at the 2018 festival. “Forty Nights” won ‘Most Inspirational’ so we’ll see how Part 2 does. So far the reviews have been strong and we know how audiences react. As I prepare for a few BIG pitch meetings I’m happy to show you all the TRILOGY trailers back-to-back. ENJOY
An actual TRILOGY trailer is being worked on. “The Christ Slayer” VFX is doing great. I got to see some of the work involved in the VFX work. The scene they are working on is the crucifixion scene. We’ll be rolling more out on this once we get “Chasing the Star” launched into the marketplace. We’re also putting the deal together for a church theatrical program in Novasota, Texas. In Nov and Dec they will license Part 1 & Part 2 to show. I can see the days ahead whereas the trilogy will play back-to-back during the holiday season.
Music work by the incredible Dennis Therrian continues. This month we’re going to push hard to finish the music and VFX. We had a good meeting with director Jesse Low to evaluate our final actions. Also the first poster is very close. I’m very excited about the potential of this film and beyond.
NEW SET UP
Potential deals loom for “Ashes of Eden” and a classic “Wicked Spring” – the latter is the Civil War film we produced 17 years ago when I had a sister company to CDI called Lionheart Filmworks. It was created in VA with director Kevin Hershberger and was directed at historic content. I split several years ago and we took all rights to “Wicked Spring” in exchange for our holding in Lionheart Filmworks. I’ve been happy to see the success Kevin has had with his TV series Legends & Lies and such. It is a great story that will speak to this generation.
The NEW Collective Development Inc. company website is weeks away from launching. The new CDI Youtube site phase one is up. It will be a great hub to find/buy/rent CDI content and merchandise. The TRIBE is on the move.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND/MBF
This project now has the business foundation in place. We’re going to push hard to see if we can hit our target window to shoot. Our casting process has been on-going and we’ve seen some great talent from around the country. We’ll be making the announcement on our director Anthony Hornus this week. Also we’ll start rolling out some of the attached cast and crew. I’m beyond excited by some of the wonderful talent. Bridgestone Multimedia Group will distribute worldwide.
So in summary, re-watch “Forty Nights” and watch “Chasing the Star” – please do leave online reviews and spread the word if you liked what you saw. I’m also happy to announce that the shake upper siding, (back and front) on the office are now installed. Just the cedar flash and rafters to go and the outside will be about done. We also had the first wood stove fire of the season yesterday. I’m ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. I want to film this fall and that just may be in the cards. Be good to one another.
It is a beautiful Sunday with the birds chirping and now a hot cup of coffee in my hand. The past week like previous ones was very busy but good progress was made in moving ahead. It was nice to spend time at home working on the yard/office and taking some great meetings. Today is exciting because we’re putting the garden in today. I’m also excited that one of our new apple trees that gave us two (2) apples last year is now LOADED. So that could mean hard cider. The raspberries and mulberries are also developing so more jellies and wines could be on deck. The hops have been moved and will now grow nicely up our lattice. I’ve been planting seed both literally and with new relationships and projects. Let’s look at a few.
“40 Nights” screening! Thank you to our friends at Reign. Our E.P. Rebecca Lawlor and actor Logan Kishi presented our film to a group of pastors. We ask, if you liked the film’s message and want to support this kind of content – please add “40 Nights” to your collection and post a review at movie sites (www.imdb.com) or retail sites (www.amazon.com). I’m told that five new screenings have opened up from this above showing and we have a growing list of church’s from our website we’ll be contacting. It’s a great movie to EXPERIENCE on the big screen.
The soundtrack for “40 Nights” is now available to purchase on iTunes. I truly LOVE this soundtrack. It’s beautiful back ground music for any occasion.
The next soundtrack will be the dark thriller “Bestseller” which we’re targeting June 7th release with the film also releasing to iTUNES. It can be purchased online – check out http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com also foreign negotiations will start in the coming weeks.
BUY “Bestseller” now
NEW PR about C.U.J.O. for those interested…
Jesse Low, our director from “40 Nights” has entered into developmental work on the next CDI feature he will direct this year. We will start putting the business together on it this June. We’re all excited to work with Jesse again and we’ll be announcing the project formerly soon.
We’ve also been in talks on a project with BlackJacket Films. They were the production team on the Tony Hornus film “Standing Post” film. I’m excited about the new opportunity here to take another great story to the screen. PreViz and concept art is being developed and the business deal is being worked out.
“Chasing the Star” – We got to spend some time in the edit suite reviewing nearly 50 minutes of the film. I also enjoyed watching the professional manner in which they conducted themselves. This film will be a wonderful follow-up to “40 Nights” and development on the third film “The Christ Slayer” is now underway.
Lot’s more happening but some are deals that are not yet done. I need to shift my focus here to working the dirt and doing some planting. So spend time with family and remember those who gave for your freedom.
Two days ago I was thinking about turning soil in the garden and also doing some training for soccer season. We had a flurry of snow the other night and that continues today. So the office wood stove has been getting a work out and I love the smell and vibe it puts out. I have a few more things to do to the office/fort this year but I was really happy to get the stove in.
When shooting “Chasing the Star” in Corunna, MI I was surprised to find a brew store at this little gas station sized store. I ended up getting some green foil tops for my upcoming bottling of “THE RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN” an October wine. I will let it age until the fall – this summer will be some “Tropic Thunder” (Banana/Coconut) sipping.
Speaking of CTS (Chasing the Star) we’ve been wrapping up paperwork and books while the master audio and visuals are being married. Editing should start this upcoming week and also work on a first teaser will begin. Several key meetings happening this week and really just making that full shift into post-production.
“40 Nights” has been a fun project to watch roll out into the marketplace including Walmart. I really feel that film will speak to people – not just church going folk but many people. It is a beautiful piece of art thanks to the stunning landscapes provided by Yuma, AZ. A lot of people worked hard on that film and I’m happy to see audiences get a watch. The feedback thus far has been very strong and I’m happy people are connecting with it.
Promotion – “Donors” DVD snuck into the marketplace in Feb. and we’re prepping for the April digital release. “Bestseller” will be releasing on DVD in May and so we will start promotions on that film soon.
“Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” promotion will continue with possibly some foreign and other event showings.
“Dead Quiet,” “District 19,” and “The Terrorist” are still out there and I’m sure will announce distribution developments.
Location scouting and director talks on the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY have begun. A final polish on the script this week.
Our CDI/Jesse Low project for the fall will start having meetings. I look forward to producing this Michigan based 1800’s story. There is talk of this being an on-going TV series.
I will be looking for a project perhaps just to act in this summer. I have a few films in talks but that always depends on their ducks lining up properly.
I have decided that I’m going to start pushing my writing aka selling scripts. I’ve been paid to turn a few books into scripts. I’ve had books written from my scripts. I’ve sold a few scripts and had a few produced here at CDI. I also have a few scripts that I could just sell. Those scripts are ones that I have no immediate plans to produce. I do also enjoy seeing others interpret my words be it by an actor, director or company. I will explore this path more.
I’m off to get some things done. Enjoy your day and may your week ahead be productive!
My head is spinning from recent activity and I’m gliding into a much deserved relax mode so I can spend a few moments with all of you. Busy. Very. But nix that I want to talk about FIRE. I’ve had a fascination with fire since and early age. I’m told that fire and clock were two of my earliest words. Interesting…I mean fire is transformation – the sacred change. It is creation and destruction united in a dance. I do appreciate clocks – my favorite might be my one and only Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise. I take that back I was also gifted an R2D2 flash drive. I have the Death Star plans! So the office is finally getting the antique stove installed tomorrow. It has been a couple years in the planning but now it is happening. The office “my fort” is a creative space and the warm fire will add to those fall and winter days and nights.
Okay now we can return back to the other talk of films and such. So we’re about to do what is in a way, my first sequel. I’ve played many characters whom I felt deserved a continued story. JUDGES 2 got stumbled by the passing of Russ Stine who was slated to costar. Alex Kenwood, Mayfair, John (several), Stan Reed, Kendall and even Mason from “The 8th Plague” who died so Germany wanted a prequel. We still may do “Soul Eater” in the future once I find the right director. But the world shown in “40 Nights” is alive and we’re about to go play in it again. This happens right as audiences will be experiencing “40 Nights” on the big and small screen. Early reviews and the reactions from buyers has been very strong. We are starting on the 26th of Feb in Lansing & Grand Rapids Michigan, with screenings at Celebration Cinema.
It will also be hitting the shelves at Walmart on March 5th and other retailers start to get the film around April 5th. But I encourage everyone to experience it on the big screen. The camera work is breathtaking. Kudos to Jesse “Smooth” Aragon.
We’re on the launchpad with the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY “Chasing the Star” – this week we’ll be announcing lots of the talented people onboard. I had a chance to talk to a well known actress who burst on the scene at 21 and has kept a steady flow of films. She is busy getting ready to go film in Peru? We want her for this role and so I sent a sales link to our first film. She said, I’ll watch a few moments so I can have a conversation. She watched the film all the way through to the end, totally drawn into our world. She gave great remarks about all aspects and noted how you could tell the care and craftsmanship that went into the film. WOW! She started too by saying how smoke blowing is not her thing and honest was. I thought I was in for a harsh review but instead accepted praise for the whole team. She badly wants to be in our next film and if she gets back to the USA on schedule that just might happen.
The point is we are doing something right. The business people like us because we stay on schedule, budget and turn out unique art. Why the first is important is so that marketing teams can plan on you in advance. I’ve got a few great director buddies and I’ve never seen them turn something around in 10-12 months. And trying to get them to that playing field would likely cost our friendships.
Speaking of good business – I want to thank our friends at the Garmax Group for again sponsoring and riding with us on “Chasing the Star”
March is “40 Nights” but April is “Ashes of Eden” and “Bestseller” and “Donors” are May. So the ramp up to many releases – pre-production, promotions…you get the busy.
All that said, I’m also looking forward to another outdoor soccer season. My body is healed from a season of demolition derby and running like a 20 year old. Playing soccer weekly in a highly competitive league is my best weekly meditation.
The soundtrack deal is on the table and I have to finish that up. We’re leading off with “40 Nights” and moving down the line. More licensing deals and such will be coming as we make our way through all these deals.
It was great having films like “7 Stones” and “Figure in the Forest” playing on different television channels and people reaching out. I think this year we’ll be licensing the films to more networks and territories.
So IF you can get to one of the Michigan “40 Nights” screenings do so. Here is our newly remastered theatrical trailer –
We’re also working to bring it on the big screen to several other states. Church’s have submitted and asked to license the film at http://www.40nightsthemovie.com you can direct your church or organization there. The films were not designed business-wise to release as major theatrical but after finishing the film – it deserves it. So we’ll keep working it. I do know we are about to set some showings working with our friends in Yuma, AZ. Get ready Champion, it’s almost time.
Ah! Nothing like a good steaming cup of coffee on a snowy Saturday. I think I’ve been good at trailblazing ahead in filmmaking and not sweating the nay sayers. I DO care about our audiences and I DO care about the artists I work with. I want them to be proud to be part of a Collective Development project. The films have always been made with passion from the very beginning. So last night on the big screen, we did our first showing for our Michigan-based cast and crew of “40 Nights” that traveled to Yuma. A few significant other and special guests attended but I wanted to keep it intimate and low key. The theatrical version will be a more powerful 7.1 mix but even stereo, the film played powerful. What it will mean to each of you – that is what peaks my curiosity.
I wanted to share that screening with some good people – and we did. Thank you so much to the Lansing Media Center for hosting our cast and crew showing last night. It was great to see it on the big screen. Yuma, AZ-area cast and crew get ready. I’m very excited to show everyone there VERY soon.
Also we’re entering another phase in the filmmaking journey. I compare finishing a feature film to dropping a kid off at the bus stop, ready for their first day of school. At home, you can feed the child all the encouragement, love and preparation before the harsh world has contact. Our child is now on the bus. Creatively, what is – IS. Now the debates can rage – love it, hate it – why didn’t someone fund my film versus this…like I said in a post, “stepping out of the darkness where the masses wait with rocks or roses”-
Audiences will decide. I shift to business mode arranging things that will assist exposure of this film. My biggest regret on “40 Nights” after watching in studio was that it lacked P&A to show in theaters around the world. I thought it would play epic – last night at our first private viewing – it did. Much is credited to the capture of beautiful locations and the skilled hard work of our production team. A special credit to the vision of our director who translated the story from page to screen.
Feel free to sign up your local theater, church or venue for a screening opportunity. The page is on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website.
My upcoming director and editor on the second film got to attend the showing. I wanted to show them for weeks the cut of “40 Nights” as we prepped for part 2 “Chasing the Star” BUT I wanted them to see it EPIC. I wanted them to get to experience the world and I think they did just that. This second adventure will also be one for the books. Getting ready to chase the star:) Building the team.
I’ve talked about this before. I’m blessed with having played team sports from a young age. My father was big into sports and so that was part of my life. You rise and fall together and you participate in witnessing what can be done with proper COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION. Coordination is that synergy between it all and the lines run on professional respect. That is, respect for the story, that will all bear their names. As stated, my goal is to have my cast and crews be proud of the participating. These teams can develop over time but I’ve realized, some don’t really know what a team truly is. I am going to give an example and perhaps it will help someone, somewhere.
Three films with fixed budgets are contracted. A team is hired for project one. Project done. Proposed hirings again for project two from project one – A few want more compensation. (Who doesn’t) But the trilogy was outlined – it is a business plan. Now the end game goal, is to take the three completed films to sell NEW development at a studio or TV network. Or just raise budgets to reflect ROI from the trilogy films and move forward with a new slate. Budget increase will equal pay increase. Okay, everyone should be with me.
As a producer,I HIRE, yet as a writer or actor I’m often, THE HIRED. If you made an offer for a short time commit at lower rates (I did not say FREE nor for IMDB credit). These are rates with transportation, lodging, food and such. Now as an actor, would working under your assumed rate, on a short term project, by a company that hires repeatedly or on a regular basis. That sounds good.
To me, the quality has to be at a certain level for acting consideration, but I think when possible that quality should also be looked at by crews. I know many do pick and choose very carefully where to put their artistic heart. I understand schedule conflicts – why work always wants to land on one another versus nose to tail? It just does. But doing a project, that I believe in for a smaller rate. I’ve done it. And it won’t kill my yearly income by working a few days under rate. I have often nurtured relationships that would grow and expand in scope and budget over the years. The movie BOTTLE ROCKET shot immediately to mind. Several creative individuals that collaborated and still collaborate.
Back to the job offers, I watch people work on a series of free projects and turn around to tell me a rate offered is too low. Do I carry the burden that this person chose to play versus work? Other client(s) that did not pay? Whatever the case, now someone behind in bills, pushes to get more $$. Now, I’ve been successful as an actor because I respect the long game. A career of building respectful relationships that when the large paycheck opportunity comes along that person is happy to give it, because you gave so much when they had so little. Respect is real power. I give people a clean slate to make their own respect. Together I invite people to travel on a journey of storytelling. I’ve dedicated my life to following this path. I will be direct and people understand, I’m looking at the end game. A finished film. A story made by a team of artists. One that I can only hope everyone is proud to have worked on. Enough of this ramble.
I’m going to cut this short as I have some work to attend to and I want to finish a polish on a script. I’m almost there. That script is the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”…
Have a great Saturday! Keep clawing!