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

Posts tagged “class

Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.

The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.

This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.

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I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.

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BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?

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OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.

So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.

I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.

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I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.

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WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut.  But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.

I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)

Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.

Be good to one another!

DJ

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“Wild Faith” Rides Into 4 New Cities – Several Development Updates

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I’m sipping the hot hazelnut (coffee) on this frozen Sunday watching the squirrels eat the left over squash and strawberries from last night. I want to welcome our readers from Chile. We’re glad to have you with us as we recap another strong week of updates.

Let’s start with the music video I participated in as camera talent. I was approached about acting in ‘My Ghosts‘ a music video.  I was taken by the story/concept script for the music video. The artist (Trey Connor) was strong in his genre and style and the director (Tomaki Boaz‘s) previous work showed he’s a strong developing storyteller.

I was trying to match their premiere date with one of our “Wild Faith” showings to give them a nice plug. The dates did not work out and they released the music video yesterday. I’m proud when I see young people not just interested in ‘playing‘ with the camera but developing their business. One wrong variable can decrease overall production value if not addressed properly. I enjoyed seeing the happiness these young filmmakers had in presenting their final work yesterday. The producer was proud of producing her first music video, as she should be. Of course friends and family first rush to give their congrats. And I see one individual whose response was something like “Umm do you want my honest response?” – First by logic alone, anyone who references an honest response is ultimately saying that usually they are not honest in their responses. But this “bait” was an obvious setup for someone to go against the grain just for attention.  This producer wasn’t commenting on the video but the process of taking something from concept to final product. It’s a skill sorely lacking in many circles – you know who you are. So you’ve got this guy wanting to throw stones at young people not playing filmmaker but actually doing business as filmmakers. I usually stay out of such things but I had to call him on his withheld opinion. What enlightening words is he about to drop with his honest opinion? EVERYONE has or should have an opinion on everything – that’s called thinking. It doesn’t make anyones opinion any more special.  Many have been brought up in the age of “say anything behind a computer” where class, politeness and sincerity is often overlooked. If this person had something truly caring and constructive to offer they would offer it in a private discussion versus a public tease of offering judgmental, opinionated honesty. ** NOTE: This individual clarified their post and brings up good points on “bandwagon liking” everything out there. I’m glad to be wrong here but know the rock throwers will emerge. That too is a skill artists must learn – to suffer the slings and arrows of critics. I say don’t ride the rollercoaster of up’s and down’s – steady as she goes is the best policy.

I can tell just by the words people manifest if they lead a positive life that opens new opportunities or a negative life whereas the world is always keeping them down. I’m not sure what this guy will respond with but if I was looking to hire someone – I know which individual will likely be presented with new opportunities. It’s pretty easy to identify the people who will continue to fill themselves with venom and spread it. Social media actually makes it quite easy for employers to get a psychological profile on people. Negativity is a poison that nobody wants in their work environment. If Trey’s music is a far cry from your daily dose of death metal like SLAYER – cool. There are many who don’t get the art of those bands who growl and slam about in mosh pits either but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable for those others who embrace it. I’m just saying, having an opinion does not always require giving an opinion. Sometimes best to say less or nothing if you’ve got nothing nice to say. Honesty can be used to help or hurt, the intention is what I look at. When done to showboat publicly it’s mostly used to hurt. When done personally and privately it’s usually done to help. NOTE IT. Enjoy this music video created by some hardworking young people making their way into our industry. What I love is I don’t have to make any apologies for the work. It’s solid.

Music Video for Trey Connor’s ‘My Ghosts” 

Speaking of young people in our industry – I went to the local Lansing, Michigan CCFF mixer Thursday night to support this event. It is exciting to see so many passionate about our industry. Congrats to all those who work so hard  to provide that experience. It was good seeing a few old friends down there. The coconut shrimp and other eats were wonderful. I hope they have a very successful 2018 fest.

As “Forty Nights” contines to play strong on Amazon Prime and other platforms along with “Chasing the Star” – the 3rd installent is under construction. “The Christ Slayer” trailer is finished save conforming and color correction which will start next week. Soon audiences will get a peek at Part 3 which will be in theaters on the run up to Christmas and home video for Easter 2019. It looks amazing and that is because of all the talented artists led by our director Nathaniel Nose.

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We’ve just completed our Novi, Michigan theatrical run with “Wild Faith” and now we’re about to open in four new Michigan cities. HASTINGS! JACKSON! KALAMAZOO! BATTLE CREEK! These special event showings are happening because of you demanding it. Contact your theaters and get contact info for their management to pass along. We’re working on a dozen new showing locations and we’ll try to get close to you. We’ll keep moving and playing the film on the big screen all Summer until our Fall home video release. But do yourself a favor and go see it on the big screen. I may attend the first Hastings screening on Monday. So far we’ve had a great time touring with our (mid) western and I’m appreciative of our audience’s responses.

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Next month “Wild Faith” will join “Chasing the Star” in Florida for the International Christian Film Festival. Both are up for numerous awards but I’m just excited about more people being able to experience these films on the big screen. Rebecca Lawlor our main EP on all three films in The Quest Trilogy will be there to represent Collective Development Inc. – also attending will be Shane Hagedorn, Lauren LaStrada and Jesse Low – all three who were nominated for “Wild Faith” and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garry Nation attends for his nomination of Best Actor in “Chasing the Star“.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) – We’ve just received the last of our paperwork/funds and once I deposit the final check on Monday the new ship will be seaworthy. We’ll have our shooting script and shoot schedule set next week. Casting and crewing paperwork will be underway in the next two weeks. The process of “finding” the character has been interesting. I’m playing the title role in the film and love the challenges it presents. I’m excited about all the great talent we have gathering on both sides of the camera. This will be another great CDI story to tell. We launch the ship (roll cameras) in May and will finish in early June. Among the exciting developments is a visit from a major cable network to our film set. Let’s just say it has to do with ANIMALS🙂

I’ve also been in heavy writing and development mode – and I’m very excited about that. CDI is in talks on content creation for a few emerging studios. This could mean some very exciting on-going things for the tribe at CDI. We’ll also be announcing a new on-going commercial deal that CDI has with another major corporation. TV series and new feature films are all on deck. I’ve got a few really big meetings coming up this month. I’m actually more concerned with the travel arrangements versus the actual meetings. Talking business and films doesn’t stress me at all but travel and technology has done that on occasion.

I’m going to jump off here to seek some food and also do some creative writing. I hope some of you will make it to the “Wild Faith” showings. I have more meetings this week. I’ll also be prepping for my short upcoming business trip. I wish we had that teleportation technology in action. Enjoy the week ahead and be good to one another.

DJ