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

Posts tagged “co-star

Deceleration Into Life From Set Life –

Some of the amazing extras who helped tell our story “Silent Night in Algona”

I’m sitting in MY chair with a hot cup of hazelnut coffee. Outside is my first Michigan snow. For me if it’s going to be cloudy and overcast, give me snow. It’s pretty and brightens everything a tad. Now I know I have friends here from VERY warm places that don’t get snow. Now snow is quite magical and that first one always brings thoughts of those days as a kid and will various pets that made that so special. Catching snowflakes, snowball fights, snow angel and sledding. I have a few stories of drunken skiing with my cousin Jerry including one epic fence-destroying trip to one of the small ski mountains. The key to snow is being prepared. This means layers and layers and mind the gaps. -By that I mean where pant legs and boots meet. Where coat sleeves and gloves meet. Where neck might be exposed and of course a solid winter hat. We learn that as a young child from bus stop stays. This continued to elementary school recess that was always an outdoor adventure of ‘king of the mountain,’ snowball wars and snowy football games. In our secluded ‘Lord of the Flies’ neighborhood even more snow games were abound. Sledding was legendary that included a few ramps/jumps that would make Evel Knievel smiles with pride. The afterglow of our cold adventure was a round of hot chocolate, marshmallows optional. At night the even more fun and dangerous snow mobile pull of the sled around the plowed fields nearby. Kind of like being pulled on a tube behind a boat but the bumps and trees made for quite the challenge. I recall at least one time staying too long in the frigid and having to run my hands under warm water, the ache returning with feeling. I hope for my friends living in the no-snow zones I painted a little picture of living with frozen water.

One of the wonderful farms we filmed on – note the sky.

In Algona while filming “Silent Night in Algona” #SNIAthemovie we saw our actual first snowfall. Iowa and Michigan are alike in many ways but have their differences. We seem to have more variation in our landscapes where Iowa has lots of corn. To their credit I did see some hilly places and the sky there was just amazing. Maybe it is the less pollution or any number of factors but our location photos and our film itself captured these many awesome skies.

This project was ambitious as most of the #tribecdi projects are. I believe you have to reach to grow and so we often pick projects with various elements not easily obtained in independent films. Or with independent budgets might be a better term. Any project that takes us from our home state is more expensive. We found basic logistics to be a challenge and in hindsight a better battle plan can always be seen. The script could have been a touch shorter and we did tighten in a few places. The script was the final version that I had consulted heavily with my friend/co-star and mentor Rance Howard. He was a stickler on the farming techniques and perspective of 1940’s citizens. We went in with a battle plan and a tribe of artists. We spent months casting the “right” actors from around the country. This is a big part of directing and our producers work hard with our director and it showed in this production. But we had a large cast and with flying and lodging this is a major cost also. But the actors that signed on were there for the story. As a screenwriter I’ve never been more proud of all the feedback on the script. It was from 14 years earlier and is not perfect (is any?) and even in my own scene study I found a few ‘subtextual’ issues that I corrected. But we had the pleasure of knowing what was coming from the auditions. Now put those same amazing actors in proper wardrobe, locations and – MAGIC! MOVIE MAGIC!~

The actors were all on point and we captured some incredible cinematic magic. By capturing I mean our amazing crew. At CDI we work hard. Movies are hard. Bad movies are hard to make which is why I always give points for even bad films. Finishing deserves credit. Finishing with quality that passes worldwide QC (quality control) is worthy of kudos. But creating something handcrafted that has the story power to last decades is – a reward that you receive only after audiences have celebrated a story for many years. I think this film will be one of those. We at CDI are shooting for nothing short of a holiday classic. We made our go at that with THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) three biblical stories told together from a unique perspective. These films have been growing an audience for many years and are on their way to becoming a classic. You can watch the three films streaming on many platforms and in many countries.

One of our films that we produced with our former sister company Lionheart was WICKED SPRING. That film now managed by CDI is 20+ years old and is still entertaining audiences. It’s also getting a new release on HD/streaming and is a good example of a film that is a true classic. Unique in its perspective with roses and rocks thrown at it but a story that has kept audiences coming back from the earliest days on VHS and network TV. (I still have a VHS copy from TV with commercials)

WILD FAITH is another film on the way to classic status. We can cement that with the production of the WILD FAITH: Hastings tv series. We are adding the film to the title to help assure our tens of millions in fans can find the upcoming series. I’m looking at back half of the year to produce the 8 shows that make up season one. I will be getting on that business asap once I can get caught up on my SNIA (Silent Night in Algona) business. A few discussions were had but again the #1 thing is that the story is told proper. This project has suffered from bad studio/network notes in the past and has moved past those to become a film loved by many. So we will stay true to our story and find the right partners. If it isn’t broke don’t let others try and fix it. We will get this made and audiences will see some of their favorite 1800’s characters back in action. Giddy up!

LOST HEART versus BIGFOOT, UFO’S & JESUS – this film under both titles is doing really well with audiences. The film is such a charm that it has so many levels and layers of story that really should appeal to most audiences. It was kind of an experiment but so far I think it has been good one. It is another great holiday season watch. It also has some great music in the film from Roanoke and The Cash Collective (John Carter, Ann and their family). Worthy of a watch if you are trying to catch up with some of the CDI films. Melissa Anschutz shines as the lead and Josh Perry shows his dramatic and comedic mastery.

RETURN TO ALGONA-

Melissa Anschutz and Josh Perry are both back in SNIA. They both bring such fascinating characters that will once again inspire. Josh Perry left people in tears with his performance which isn’t a surprise at all. Josh doesn’t wave a “Down syndrome” flag ever but I’m just so damn proud of him. On two occasions I’ve observed individuals with Down syndrome observe Josh and you could see boundaries in their minds fall. Josh ‘The Ponceman’ Perry is a movie star make no mistake about that and these young people saw what they could achieve. Josh is an inspiration by his actions not his activism. Maybe there is a lesson in that.

I had a chance to meet more fans of MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND and I’m so pleased that the film sits so well with veterans. I hope that all of you will take a chance to watch this CDI story told by ‘SNIA‘ director Anthony Hornus. One of the hard drives is being sent to our editor Nathaniel Nose who is also supervising the VFX. Our director is upgrading his computer to allow better footage review. Our DP Dan Chipman is doing some rough assembly to seek out and identify some of the pieces of the story caught on the fly. Also the first batch of photo stills is being drawn out and color corrected to help become a color template for the films final look. We have been rolling out BTS stills captured by many of our cast and crew but the real GOLD is coming.

Also this week I’ll be taking a hard look at the feature projects in development. We plan to shoot a CDI feature this Spring before we roll into pre-production on the WILD FAITH TV series. I started to have some first talks about the next CDI feature which could become plural, features pending a few discussions. I have a few development meetings that will nudge things one way or another. But with both SNIA moving into post as BEST YEARS GONE continues its theatrical (last day today in Lansing at Celebration Cinema) before prepping for home video. Also FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is in final post mixing before we start a release schedule on this documentary. We will have a meeting over this property this coming week. We should be doing a final watch through in a few weeks. From there a premiere will also be discussed. But…not until it is done. And we just might be doing another documentary in 2022. As this year closes a new one lies right over the horizon. This week will be tying up more loose ends on SNIA, planning 2022 schedule, end of year dispersement and tax prep and writing. I love to write when it is cold and snowy and I know I have some days ahead of me. I have several properties/scripts I’ve been working on and a few possible work-for-hires so we’ll see with all of that. We have the Christmas tree up after I donned winter warrior Michigan gear and saw. Today we might add lights and another night the bells and whistles. I might go light a fire in the stove at the fort to finish settling back in. I have totes everywhere as I prepare to stow the gear until our next film adventure. Stay warm and be good to one another!

DJ


DEVELOPMENT Engines Firing Up at CDI

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Good morning. The hazelnut coffee is flowing and needed this am. I awoke to my furry Daphne daughter throwing up my Minnetonka Moccasin slipper she put a chew on when I left her watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE vs her Cartoons. From there the morning has slowly unfolded as I worked to shake off the Michigan morning chills. WINTER IS COMING.

Now with winter many people moan and groan but I have always loved snow. If it is going to be cold we might as well have the pretty aspect too. Now the other thing I love about winter is the limiting of my yard work so I can focus on my desk work. This season is special because it marks the start of another phase of CDI development.

Master

First, the ink is dry on a deal for me to adapt a book manuscript to a screenplay and for CDI to produce it. Even the title has been left open on the book to see what ‘title’ arises. The reading of the book which is the 11th book for this author I believe. His name? Wait for the press release:) I might have a title by that time. But the characters are very well developed and I can already see the scenes forming in my head. This project will be late Summer/Early Fall shoot in Michigan. I look forward to a week of reading and after that my writing will begin. I’ve been taking lots of notes while moving through the reading.

Additionally we have things firming up on the 2021 WW2 project. It was shelved several years ago but recently that script kept coming to mind. So I followed my instincts and it seems like many variables including financing are firming up. This would shoot 2021 in the fall out of the state of Michigan. We will be doing some exciting announcements with this project maybe around Christmas:)

We’re exploring a collaboration in AZ with a filmmaker friend and we’ll see. It is a western genre script. Speaking of the genre – I had a fan reach out this week on GHOST TOWN. He watched that film after seeing our WILD FAITH movie. He was asking for more CDI westerns so between us seeking finance and distribution partners on the Wild Faith TV series and these possible collaborations, CDI western fans might get your fill.

Outlaws

Holiday blessings manifested last week as the films saw flow from our distributor. We’ll be doing an end of the year dispersement where it applies. AFM (American Film Market) is underway and the films are being represented and sold. I have a sit down in two weeks to discuss what new platforms, territories and networks are playing the films. The business part of it all is the grit and grind that it takes to be professional. Like the accountants and legal that keep things inside the lines. I had a wonderful gift this past week from one of these individuals/companies that help allow us to do what we do. I will not bog this down with details but I really appreciate all the support staff and producers who help keep all the ships sailing. Filmmaking is a team effort and our collective artists are all appreciated.

MBF: Man’s Best Friend – The positive response via email to this film has been wonderful.  We have some of our team that will be attending the Equus Film Festival. We will await to see if any nominations fall upon us before we doing any PR. This is a great Kentucky based festival that will happen this December.

LAUREL - 2019 FILM ENTRY

Now our film is DOG themed but they have a section that is ‘Going to the Dogs’ but also due to today being the official release of THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS in Jackson, Michigan. Here is our editor/author talking about the release –  https://jtv.tv/book-event-for-horse-lovers-sunday/

LOST HEART – I had meetings with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian over the transfer of locked picture which is targeted for Jan. 1st. Our first rough cut should be done by Thanksgiving so we are getting close. Audiences will enjoy this film. This week we will start moving element art over to the distributor so they can start conceptual cover art.

With the mass of social media making things very confusing – we’ve had many people see one or two of the films and insist they must see the others. We’re going to be inviting the masses to join us this holiday season.

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So enjoy with your own family or GIVE the gift of a good story to someone else. I’m going to leave this here so I can finish up and get back to my reading. I hope you each have a wonderful day and a great week ahead. My thoughts also go out to friend/co-star Austin Two Feathers who recently lost his beloved. The entire CDI Tribe has you in their thoughts.

DJ

 


BESTSELLER Trailer, ASHES of EDEN theatrical and more…

Okay! I made it. It was an early morning of activity that ended with us getting everything we need for the garden. The seeds, the plants and everything to get that underway. The pond that we finished now has fish in it and I love the little solar fountain that creates such a relaxing sound. The backyard is really coming together which is nice because that is where many of the recent film meetings have been happening. It was interesting that I recently read an interview with music producer Rick Rubin and much of what he had to say were lessons I apply to my life. The best meetings don’t happen around a boardroom table and controlling your environment allows your energy to flow positive. I think that is something many people find attractive. I had several meetings with a director on a soon-to-be-released feature that I’m a producer on and also co-star in. I was watching the edit and giving notes and suggestions. We really came up with a few good ideas to add layers to the film. He commented on how he enjoyed our talks because they always left him feeling positive and full of inspired ideas. That is what we as artists should do and in the best collaborations that is what happens. Not ego-wars and bullshit drama but solid strides and passing of creative ideas. This particular director is excited to work together again on his next feature and a TV show that he has in the works. Life is too short for bad working relationships and so if you are in one – finish your obligations and part ways with sincere well-wishes.

I’m sure many out there are not tuning into my blog to listen to my rambling on gardening:) Let’s get to some film updates…

“BESTSELLER” – The 1st trailer for this thriller based upon Christopher Knight’s book of the same name is DONE. Tomorrow we will be releasing a PR release with the link to the trailer. So watch the BESTSELLER FB page and such for this official release. I’m very proud once again of the cast and crew made up mostly on Michigan folks doing work at the international level. https://www.facebook.com/BESTSELLERTHEMOVIE

We have had early interest from distributors and so I’m excited to give them the look they have all been waiting on. Oh! And you too – the audience:)

“ASHES OF EDEN” continues to move forward with distributors. This week we had a few respond with their interest. We have some meetings being set that will be our first rounds of negotiations to see who can provide the best home. We also have some exciting news coming this week about the 1st Michigan theatrical releases. We have a deal on the table and pen and paper should meet this week. Once that is done a press release with full details will be forthcoming. Multiple theaters, multiple screens, multiple weeks, multiple showings – very exciting stuff for all involved.

Lots of development work is underway with many investor talks, script reviews and such. As we get these post production films into their final stages it will be exciting to get into production with a new slate of film work.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to sow some seeds to reap at a later date. That is what you should do in your creative life also. Sow the seeds of good honest collaboration. Sow seeds of mutual respect and hard work. Sow seeds of always giving someone more than what they paid for. Sow seeds of not cutting corners, holding yourself up to higher standards and taking pride in your work. Do this and your personal garden will be filled with bountiful rewards later down the path.

DJ