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

Posts tagged “coffee

First ‘Lost Heart’ Impressions and Christmas Season Updates

Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…

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So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.

  1. I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
  2. Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
  3. I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
  4. Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
  5. I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
  6. I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
  7. I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
  8. MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
  9. I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
  10. Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?

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LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry.  The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack.  I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.

I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.

Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.

My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.

I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece.  NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.

So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of  another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.

Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…

OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.

DJ


NEW NOVEMBER ‘CDI’ FILM DEVELOPMENT AND UPDATES

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Coffee cheers to you all! So it was a great weekend for getting things done. I’ve been playing all kinds of catch up as we head into the end of the year. I’ve done what might be a final mowing of the yard and getting the firewood around. We had a good bout of wet cold with Halloween being rain, sleet and snow for most of the day/night. Now some argue for a better night or a less crappy night but that was part of the fun. The challenges of stomping around in a costume and accepting candy. I spent the day reaching out to a handful of old-school elementary school mates. I also called my mother early asking if my costume was done being sewn. She was confused until I confessed my tease and we talked about the great costumes she and my grandma Swope use to make us kids. My barbarian outfit pushed Grandma’s old sewing machine to the limit. My best costume was a robot made from a large box with tube arms and multiple dials, switches and such on the outside. I recall falling and all the friends having a good laugh as I could not stand back up. I was like a turtle on his back. I remember a great Halloween party at one friends house with games and such. I had a wonderful childhood and for that I feel grateful because as an adult I realize that is not always the case. So during the season I enjoyed many classics like THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and several others. Now we are onto the “Holiday season” that runs from Nov. to Easter and so it begins.

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I’ve started my Christmas shopping as I love giving gifts. I’m a person who will do that all year around but I like how during the season, we stop to have a drink and share a laugh together.  I had intended to have a Fall CDI party to replace the rained out Summer one but one thing after another kept falling on the schedule. I had weddings and memorials falling on the same day. We had just a busy life fall but that is the way of things. We just got done hashing out Thanksgiving whereas again it is near impossible to be in multiple places. So again I’m smoking a turkey and let me tell you it’s hard to find rolling papers in that size. Just kidding:)

We’re starting to revamp the CDI website for the new year ahead. Here is one of the narrative book commercials we did for Baker Publishing.

We also recently completed another commercial for a software company and that is the cool Victorian age pics people saw. We created content for a software demo and I was able to pull a small one day script from my work-in-progress feature script “Smoke & Mirrors”. So I’ve been wrapping up paperwork on that project and we hope to have the first invoice paid out next week so I can disperse. It is different working in the net 30, 60, 90 day corporate cycle. On the feature films we try to pay out ASAP to cast and crew as I know how freelancers need that. Check out http://www.cdiproductions.com to see some of the updates. We will be posting some casting notices also – so join us.

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We’ll be processing and dispersing more revenue to our investors as the films continue to expand and sell. This will be the first season all three of the biblical adventures (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER) will be all out on the market. Again these are NOT “faith-films” as per the new genre but films with faith at the heart of the stories. The films are not fluff and deal with deep issues that we all question and contemplate. WATCH all three together to get the greater story woven throughout the trilogy. That said I’ve also been slowly developing the next three films in the follow up trilogy.

NOTE: CDI is starting to release merchandise. A 40 Nights lobby card poster is available as are the Tee-Shirts from GHOST TOWN.  Look to the Collective Development Inc. Facebook to see upcoming product.

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WILD FAITH has continued to expand and amaze audiences in the power of the story. We are actively working to bring a TV series based on these characters to audiences. We have some good pieces moving on the board. If you have not seen this film yet with your family, please do take a watch.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – In December the Equus Film & Art Festival in Kentucky will be showcasing MBF. We also are looking at several other festivals. I see that as the DVD’s are becoming more available people are buying many copies to give as gifts to family and friends who would appreciate this story. I continue to be humbled by all the great communications I have been receiving from people. Yes. Many people are also discovering for the first time that I am not disabled, at least not in a ‘Paul Landings’ sort of way. That is to my credit and I’ll accept that but as I’ve said, my heart goes out to all those vets who cannot turn it off. It is their life. So if you know someone that could benefit from watching this film – recommend it or better yet buy them a copy as a gift. I’m excited to see in three years what has happened with this film. I’m waiting to see what film theaters will run the movie. The fact that it is on home video has made a few chains bow out due to policy. But theaters need to understand that 3 main groups exist. The theater goers. The home video watchers. And the in-between who enjoy both. The theaters can get their share of viewers plus some who enjoy on the small screen want to see it on the big screen when the opportunity presents itself. See the film however you can or want but take a watch.

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LOST HEART – So we are closing in on the first rough cut and soon we will do a watch through before fine tuning the edit. Once picture lock it is over to Dennis Therrian for music and sound design. First of the new year you can start looking for PR to start rolling out. tcs_08 2

DEVELOPMENT – We discussed the development of several projects. I’ve just signed onto a project to write a script from a book manuscript and produce the feature film. Next week I’ll be talking with the distributor and get that lined up.

Additionally we have another project that will be slated to shoot in 2021 but will start casting in 2020. We’ll be making an announcement on this film also once I get the distribution in place.

We’re also exploring returning to AZ for some filming in our spring window. We’ll be entering discussions on this project also – you all know CDI LOVES AZ especially when it is 20 below zero in Michigan.

Other seeds are being planted with a few other great talents bringing their project to CDI to produce. When time allows I might also have to finish up the feature length “Smoke & Mirrors” script. We’ll have a great proof of concept short in the coming months.

As you can see we have a great slate of business forming up. I’m excited to once again at being hired to weave a film script and to see it brought to the big screen.  If you have a funded project that you want considered feel free to inquire about how a CDI associated project just might work.

Okay, today the ghosts and goblins will be replaced by turkeys and harvest baskets. We also need to pickle some beets that have been harvested. Tonight a little time with family and friends before diving into the work week. My first biz call is set for 10 am and I’m ready to get after November! Have a great Sunday and a good week ahead. Be good to one another.

DJ


The DEVELOPMENT path becomes more clear – journey on my friends…updates

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I’m sitting here with my cup of hazelnut coffee as the wind blows wildly outside. The rain started yesterday and carried throughout the night. We watched a few atmospheric spooky films last night including, “I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House,” directed by Oz Perkins, which was a well shot mind-twister. Also yesterday a few of the talent from the “Smoke & Mirrors” short were in studio to record ADR since it is content for an audio demo. I might get back to finishing that feature script once I have a few free moments.

Speaking of writing I’m about to begin work on a script that we will film next year. I was approached by an author who wanted me to turn his new book into a film script and shoot it next year. (Fall most likely) So this week ahead will be getting the business paperwork together on that.

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Also I had a great project that I had put together with Rance Howard as my consultant. It is a WW2 era project that really has a wonderful message. I was approached at Norby Walter’s ‘Night of 100 Stars‘ Oscar party about writing and producing the project. To make a long story short I wrote many drafts of the script and things were moving slowly forward. I say slowly because new people kept being added into the mix that slowed it all down. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen and many of the cooks had their own agenda about what they wanted to shoot. Many of them tried to knock down and replace the story with their own pet project. These individuals were a bit older and hailed from Hollywood so that had to be the experts right? Not. So one last broken promise and I stepped back and made a string of films over the last several years. All that happened over there when I left was lawsuits against the Hollywood parties to recover “develop” money. We went on to make a string of movies, because we did not get mired in nonsense.

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Fast forward several years later- Wilcox, AZ. As I stood on that stage accepting our 7th award for Wild Faith I thought about the long hard path of that film. Had Shane Hagedorn not wanted to push for that story, it never would have gotten done. I had put it on the shelf to die after failing to get the support I needed and after dealing with a handful of shameful scam artists out of Hollywood. My mind has continued to return to this beautiful story that Rance Howard and I spent hours talking about. This story had also been shelved. My mentor, friend and co-star Rance who was to play the Grandfather role has now passed. I found the courage to pull the story off the shelf and restart a few initial communications. So far it has been met with a positive reaction. It looks like I will do a new draft to trim and reduce budget slightly. This film would go out Fall/Winter 2021 since we would have some unique aspects of this story to put in place. But it looks like CDI will be doing its first WW2 film if things all come together.

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WILD FAITH TV SERIES – The movie is still building momentum and I need to have some key conversations about where the series would live. We have a few great avenues to explore and I’m pretty sure we will make it happen. We need a few strong supporters and we’ll launch this Michigan-based TV series. I’m excited by the amount of talent on both sides of the camera we could use.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’m hearing the first theater announcing that they will be playing this powerful drama in our Veteran’s Day march to theaters, will be our friends at Celebration Cinema in Woodland. That will allow our friends and fans in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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DONORS on Amazon Prime

Know many of you know I’ve participated in many scary films but some great filmmakers. During this last week of the season look at IN THE WOODS, The 8th Plague, Darkest Night, Locked in a Room, Deadly Renovation, Donors, Bestseller, GPS the Movie even the early CDI films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. I’m sure I missed a few of these films but they run the gauntlet of spooky to those that are more gory. Check the rating and get your security blanket;) The short we just did with Nathaniel Nose might be developed from my larger feature script. I like the old black and white and Hammer films more than the boobs and blood. Now the 15 year old me really enjoyed them but at my age I’ve seen a lot of red-dyed corn syrup in the dead of night in some dirty house, hotel, forest cabin, prison or locked room. I might fit the keeper of the lighthouse better than these days warning those kids to STAY AWAY! He who warns:) I would act in the right horror film again but it has to be be a good script with a capable team. This last Victorian age short got me thinking about a few of the Vampire talks I’ve had over the years. I was always a werewolf fan but again not eager to go through that make up process.  Fangs might be easier:) So the question that has been put to me was – Will you do another horror film? The answer is yes if the story, team and business all add up. By business I mean paid and not just for me. Paid brings better cast and crew on the whole. I will not talk in absolutes because that is a fools talk. There are some exceptions to the rule but few, very few.

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LOST HEART – As far on the other side of horror is our in post feature. This comedy drama is at the hour mark in the rough edit. My the start of Nov we plan to have a 1st cut and I want to lock it up by Jan 1, 2020. Now this film does have some mystery associated with it by way of UFO’s and Bigfoot. This film is going to be touching and humorous and I look forward to bringing it to audiences worldwide.

MISC NOTES: (As I recall them)

  • Equus Film & Arts Fest has a ‘Going to the Dogs’ section and has invited MBF to play there in December in Kentucky. It could include a theatrical tour and another TV license tied in with their military outreach.
  • I’m looking at my schedule about participating in a book reading in Jan. for my stories included in “The Horse of My Dreams” in stores and online now.
  •  In our meetings the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine is getting good response. Made from fruit and hops all gathered on our property.
  • November I’m looking forward to a private screening of NECROLAND by one of my filmmaking peers Mr. Nathan Quinn.
  • A collaboration or two might be in the works – one of these just might be a western.

I’m missing a few things for sure but I smell breakfast and in a few short hours we are going to spend time with the Niece and Nephew and carve pumpkins. I wish my old buddy John Luginsland was with us. The smell plus the stringy insides usually left to a chorus of laughter as he vomited like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, good times.

Have a safe Halloween everyone. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


RECAP and Looking Ahead with Projects

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The hazelnut coffee is flowing and I’m finally landed back in the Michigan and catching up. We had a wonderful whirlwind trip to AZ whereas we were met at the airport by ‘Doc’ our AZ transportation Captain in a new RV. We went to Wilcox and had a few days of great friends old and new including Darby Hinton * who beat me for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ in the very entertaining film ‘Bill Tillman and the OutLaws’ who also had my dear friend Lana Wood in a great cigar chomping role that reminded me of the mother in “Goonies” – just great.

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I also had just bought a $2 Johnny Cash album at the flea market ‘Live from Folsom Prison’ and lo and behold we spent time visiting with John Carter Cash, his wife Ann and son Joe who had a short film “Dragon Song” at the festival and promoting a new documentary “The Gift” about Johnny. Just wonderful people and abound and so thank you to Rock and Brenda who put the Wild Bunch Film Festival on. We took home 7 awards of the 13 nominations.

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BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR and ACTRESS, BEST CHILD ACTORS, BEST FAITH FILM and I’m forgetting one. Come on coffee! It will come to me.

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That same weekend we had Lauren LaStrada win ‘Best Actress’ again in Wild Faith at the Hollywoodivine International Film Festival in PA. The film took Honorable Mention for ‘Best Faith Film’ and won ‘Best Film’ overall. Josh Perry was there representing THE CHRIST SLAYER and WON for his role of Albus. We were all so proud of him.

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The weekend prior we were honored to have WON the Justice Award at Content 19 for WILD FAITH that was also recognized for SET DESIGN. Next week at the Green Mountain Christian Film Festival I’ve been nominated again for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ as Ben Lily. I’m proud of all the attention the films are getting.

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So if you have not stayed current these are some of the CDI films you can watch on TV or get the DVD.

ASHES OF EDEN

FORTY NIGHTS – The Quest Trilogy Part 1

CHASING THE STAR – The Quest Trilogy Part 2

THE CHRIST SLAYER – The Quest Trilogy Part 3

WILD FAITH

MBF: Man’s Best Friend

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  • Also if you want to see some old school – my 1st starring film with monsters in it is called IN THE WOODS and can be found on Amazon.
  • Also WICKED SPRING now released by CDI but an older Civil War drama.
  • R Rated – Halloween fare could include DARKEST NIGHT, DEADLY RENOVATIONS and THE 8th PLAGUE if you dare:)
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DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

The office has the wood burning stove going. This week I will harvest the apples for a crisp. We have been enjoying the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine at our meetings. We missed a family wedding yesterday to attend a memorial for my Uncle on the other side of the family. A unique, funny storyteller who will be greatly missed. He would have enjoyed LOST HEART.

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LOST HEART is past the 30 min mark in the edit and I’m looking to move it to sound design and music towards the end ofd the year. The distribution is set and this will be another enjoyable CDI film.

This week we’re prepping for a short narrative film that is actually a demo for a software company. It is a Victorian age film short taken from a feature film script of mine entitled SMOKE & MIRRORS. It will be a fun project for sure.

We also will be pushing hard with the new momentum for the WILD FAITH TV series. Plus we have a few features we are developing foe 2020 and 2021. With that I’m going to close this blog up and enjoy the morning.

Peace to you all!

DJ

 

 

 

 


‘Man’s Best Friend’ Screens to First General Audience…

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And where do I even begin to describe last night? If you are not up to speed we had our Michigan premiere for our recent CDI film “Man’s Best Friend” at the NCG theater in Owosso, MI the home turf of our director Anthony (Tony) Hornus. In all my years I’ve been to premieres where after a showing people have all kinds of polite things to say. What I’ve found is that the screening itself doesn’t lie. With 270 people in each show you had a sea of viewers. The crying, laughter and even the occasional murmur such as “Shits about to go down now” give truth. We sit in our little studio mixing and watching with our small producers group but to witness a full theater absorb and react is…an artists dream.

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In many ways I am living my dream. I’m doing what always made me happy and what I feel confident doing. Last night I got to see many old friends and fellow artists. It was a joy to get beyond positive feedback from folks in the military and the general audiences. Nov 11th is the target date for theatrical in N. America. So if you have a film chain in your area reach out to their management and ask them to book the film. We will be pushing to get it to all the places that are being requested. It is a wonderful film to see on the big screen and kudos to our tech team for doing such a wonderful job. I’m still in morning coffee bliss after meeting so many of you last night. I’ve had several people tell me this was our best film to date and my best performed role to date. I will let all of you be the judge of that. I love them all but recognize the power in this role. I put in the work. I watched and communicated with many actual wounded warriors to create an ‘everyman’ like Paul Landings. All I can say is that I will never forget last night. It was truly special for me and to share it with all of those who came just made it that much more special.

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IF this is your first CDI film please do work your way backwards through our catalogue and watch the growth and development of our company. Once again I’m just so proud to have worked with all the artists in front of and behind the camera.

http://www.cdiproductions.com

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WILD FAITH will ride into Wilcox, AZ this October. We just found out that another Hollywood festival (Hollywood Divine International Film Festival) invited Wild Faith, MBF and The Christ Slayer to participate after being submitted by our distributor. I will get more info out on that event soon. IF you like to stay up on the developments please seek out and join our Facebook pages for these films.   I just opened an official folder at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND facebook site for the MI premiere pictures. In the next day or so the pictures will start being posted. So join us at our FB site and follow the CDI films as they rolls out across the nation.

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Aside from all the film work we’re doing final music with the amazing Dennis Therrian on a CDI commercial project. We’ll finish that up and deliver to the client. I’m almost done with LOST HEART clean up. We’re about 15 minutes into the rough edit of the film. Jesse Low has given his adjustments and so this week will be refining and digging into the next handful of scenes. This film will be under wraps being worked on while we promote the finished projects.

One of the biggest questions asked of me last night was what is next? Development is underway – rest assured. Stay tune. I’m going to make this a shorter blog today. I’m going to let all this positive energy soak in. I so enjoyed seeing everyone last night. I was up past my bedtime:) Thankful for 11:30 pm coffee:) Speaking of coffee, time to refill the cup.

Have a wonderful morning.

DJ

 


Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.

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While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.

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Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.

  • Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
  • Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
  • Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
  • Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone.  For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.

2nd AD directions

Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.

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The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.

Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.

DJ