I’m sitting in my big leather chair by my electric fire – The Candleberry Candle and sipping the hazelnut coffee. I’ve got sleeping dogs around me happy to have me back into the fold of the pack.
Shane Hagedorn rolling with the Collective Development OG’s:)
I’ve just returned from running with another pack of artists filmmakers creating an 1800’s action drama. I can honestly say it was some of the best fun I’ve had in many years. It reunited me with many friends and artists some that worked together last in this genre a decade ago.
Production Designer Jen Raine & Art Director Austin Two Feathers
It introduced me to a slew of new artists who I think appreciate the Collective Development Inc. approach and take to filmmaking. We use to do this as children for free – the make-believe. And now to pay people to create that same fun but with bigger toys and doing it day after day until we get our puzzle pieces. I got to observe seasoned film warriors work side by side with what will be the next generation of film warriors. I saw people realize that within a powerful problem solving group strong art can be born. I saw people forget past dealings with others and give us a chance to be a positive experience. I’m developing key crews and key to me starts with a 100% positive attitude. You can make several mistakes giving your best effort and from me you will get mentoring and compassion. That positive attitude is hard for many to keep in this industry – you don’t have to dig far to hear the horror stories. I’m a person who dislikes having my time wasted, who does? I’ve got several ways I can waste my own time and still enjoy it – I don’t need waste imposed upon me. I do shun people who purposely waste my time with unreasonable. Do I have any examples to help illustrate? Perhaps…
A mix of acting talent on set #wildfaith
One acting role in our recent film underwent several discussions before falling to a very talented, 200% positive (through the roof) ready for success gent. The first major look came by association – one of our producers had worked with this person. A read that was strong and a direction was set – but full disclosure of a change in residence lost this person the role.
Another option – a young hopeful gives a good read but ultimately has no vehicle. I’m not judging, but as an actor I can say that a phone and car are the two things you need to thrive in our smaller regional market.
Opportunity knocks again – As a talent when you get a call from a company that based on your previous work wants to hire you again – slam dunk? Not quite – instead of an easy transaction of business someone suggests a string of silly actions – not anything a production in pre-production can or will handle. It also speaks poorly of this persons maturity, character and true dedication to do what you need to do until your craft is accepted.
This casting string really created a well needed lightness to the pre-production talks. CDI is ran primarily by actor/producers and individually we’ve all had and some continue to have the struggles that come with acting. To see three actors shoot themselves in the foot was offset by the enthusiasm of the one who got to call BINGO!
Be prepared actors. (Take 2) Be prepared actors. Not just in your craft but in your professionalism. Not fixing that car because it is a pain in the butt. Not getting a job with flexibility of schedule. Don’t help yourself fail in an industry that is already difficult. By taking care of your business you can be ready for when opportunity knocks. Organized. Prepared. Ready to succeed.
We had a key position whereas because of a change in our shoot locations we had to make a change. One person visiting Michigan on another endeavor got a call and within two hours was onboard. They started the next day. Opportunity knocked and it will likely result in another hiring in the spring.
I’ve seen people I’ve hired before return with new battle hardness that made me smile. I saw the few situations we had handled with calm professionalism. Now some may have experienced their first feature run and decide short format is more their pace. Feature shooting is harder, longer and requires a different mental and physical endurance. With our larger budgets we often had additional on location pre production and additional shoot weeks. So to all my crew that traveled with us – I’m tipping my hat. To the ones there all the way through – be proud that is a true benchmark.
One additional planned day of battle footage and a few powerful moments with our films lead Shane Hagedorn. It was a really cool experience to see Shane ride this story out. He made it his and brought such a cool edge to the role. Our Lisa Smith who plays opposite him was such a find. Many of the actresses had a great take on the lead role. This actresses brought it out in Shane, it showed. The children, the outlaws, townsfolk, circus folks all cast with care and it shows.
My humblest respect to my fellow producing team – 1st AD Nate Robertson who TCB (Takes care of Business) on set and the staff who handles everything behind the scenes from accounting to PR and everything in between, we are ONE TRIBE. Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon) what an honor to story tell with you both again.
Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon)
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“Wild Faith” coming 2017
I had a chance to see the first rough trailer for “Chasing the Star” and it exceeded my expectations greatly. I think because we’re dealing with a topic that people have such a limited insight to – how do we present that? And I think it was done in a beautiful fashion. Music is complete and dialog clean up is underway with sound design. VFX work is also underway. Bret Miller and CDI have a great follow-up with part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Which brings me to part 3 – This week I will be starting to put the business together on “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in the spring. More intense talks on this film in the coming weeks.
“40 Nights” is flowing in the positive direction and this week we’ll be discussing marketing efforts with Lightworx about “40 Nights” and the trilogy moving forward.
I’m going to go finish unpacking my vehicle that was packed up “Beverly Hillbilly’s” style – just needed a rocking chair on top:) Have a great fall morning and keep moving forward. Dare to dream. Create don’t hate.
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!
I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).
Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.
Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.
I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.
I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.
I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.
Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.
– To bring this full circle
Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.
I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.
CDI – The Brand
We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.
DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)
Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.
This has been just a wonderful week. Busy but seeing things come together and working hard to begin new endeavors. I would have to say that a great part of my week was attending an awards dinner for the Michigan Hall of Fame 2015. My father’s undefeated 1960’s Haslett football team was inducted. He has been there many times in my life at everything from soccer games to our movies. He is the one always beaming with pride at whatever my brother and I might achieve. It was great to be there for him. We were proud of our dad and it is fun to see old warriors all together again. It is also why I can’t stop fighting on the soccer field each Sunday. Use it or lose it. I hope I can keep that motivation burning for all the years ahead. That was an extremely cool event this week.
This week I also had lunch with an old friend and a relatively new friend. They knew each other from law school. It was great to just talk life – past, present and future. I found myself with two unique friends coming from two very different areas of my life. Bottom line – SUSHI ROCKS.
NEW FILM UPDATES
As “ASHES OF EDEN” starts the run down to release in October (13th) this semi-closure has allowed director Shane Hagedorn and I to discuss our future possibilities. We have another sit down coming up here soon but I think we might have some exciting future news.
“BESTSELLER” just finished a week run in Lansing, MI and now we’re working out our additional dates at new locations. Maybe Benton Harbor? Portage? Mt. Pleasant maybe? Muskegon?
I can also tell you we have just about finalized a domestic US/Canada home video deal. This will get BESTSELLER on TV/VOD and such 1st quarter 2016.
“40 NIGHTS” – The big news this week was the drop of the trailer by our distributor Lightworx Entertainment. I’m curious to see how people connect to the story. The film truly is becoming everything I wanted it to be. Jesse Low, our director, did a great job. It was a fun and challenging shoot in real desert conditions. My feet are only now returning back to normal after having sandal marks grilled onto the tops of my feet.
Below is the link for the Official PR Release
Today I wanted to let the trailer get out there and do its own thing. So, today I tried to just let it go. I had other non-film things (We are remodeling a bathroom) to attend to. I loved hearing the enthusiasm to the release from my inner circle. I even started getting communications from different people from around the world. When you accept a role like Jesus you expect rocks with the roses. I feel that the experience we shared is honest and the story – powerful. – The mysterious way we are moved to tell certain unique stories. “40 Nights” like all films are a COLLECTIVE effort by many artists. The final product is the result of on-going DEVELOPMENT until it reaches the audiences. I’m very proud of the entire cast and crew.
That said. We’ve been very busy here at CDI prepping development on two new features. Casting is now active on IMDB Casting. Locations are being scouted. Business is being conducted. The second project CHASING THE STAR is the follow-up biblical story. In our series of three films with Lightworx Entertainment, this next one would be considered a prequel.
Dead Quiet is still brewing out there in post. A DIVISION 19 film is also still doing that post thing. OK. I’m heading up North eh..so I wanted to get this to all of you early. If you like what you’re seeing pass (Blog or film links) pass them along. It’s been nice to hear from all the people thrilled by BESTSELLER and moved by 40 NIGHTS. Have a safe weekend and a productive week.
A beautiful fall day to be sure. After a stretch of perfect days that included a day trip to Hartwick Pines – we got to see the logging museum. Interesting to see how people lived and worked in the 1800’s as lumberjacks in Michigan. Talk about some hard-working individuals. Since that trip we’ve had some rain causing the dogs to want to den inside. I’ve been bouncing between winterizing duties and film work. Sometimes both happening at the same time – thank you bluetooth zen:) Our last harvest of beans and tomatoes was gathered this past week. The eggplant and sweet potatoes are all that remain in the garden – WAIT! I take that back. And hops. I will use them in some winter beer that I plan to make. Speaking of – I bottled up the Tropic Thunder (Banana & Coconut wine) and now have plans to make a batch of Berry/Hard Cider this week.
The cold chill outside makes me want to write…
I’ve also been putting some attention on a few script properties of mine. Some folks are likely not aware that I’ve done quite well with my scriptwriting. I’ve got a good stock of scripts that I’ve written over the years. I’ve written in many genres and really enjoy the overall process of creating. I’ve been paid to turn several books into screenplays and other scripts are originals. Some I’ve seen produced and others have been sold off to third parties.
Which ones do you sell DJ?
Good question. If I don’t see them as an acting vehicle they are often open game to sell. Some require a larger budget and will provide me with a good vehicle later so I’ve kept those on the down low. I’ve recently been letting a few be read here and there and that has led to a few option/buy offers – which at this time, I denied. A couple of my scripts I really know how I want to see them executed on-screen. Those I’ve held back to be worked with later. Anyway, more business is developing from the script side of things and so I’ve decided to finish up a half-dozen or so scripts that I’ve still got in process.
ASHES OF EDEN will play at 2014 East Lansing Film Festival. I was involved in the early days of the ELFF. Earlier this year we were approached at the Capital City Film Festival after we had sold out and asked if we were submitting to ELFF. I’m not a huge festival person but I surely do owe Susan Woods, their festival founder, for such great past networking. A good example is Taylor Nichols (Boiler Room) who we just had act in BESTSELLER. I met him back in 1999 and just last year was my first time working with Taylor. So long short is we accepted and we’re proud to be bringing one of the most exciting local projects back home and to my alumni campus. GO MSU! We will be making an announcement at the festival concerning the film’s national release. Also we might have a few foreign release announcements. I’m very proud because this film used many artists from our local Lansing area. Your work will be seen internationally.
Other Collective Development Inc. associated projects underway include the thriller BESTSELLER. The film is now having music composed by the talented Dennis Therrian. I’m appreciative of the fan support this film has had already. I can promise a tense nail-biting story. We’ve already had some great professional comments about the film trailer thus far. Once again, this film will also find a great distribution sprawl thanks to all the artists involved on both sides of the camera.
Other big news includes a new CDI Associated project called “Wasteland, Tales From the Desert” that will shoot Part 1 this December. The film is a series of woven stories all set on a harsh alien world. I’ve signed on to co-star/co-produce in the film. With the spotlight on me I’ve been able to showcase several great actors to the director that I’ve worked with on past projects. (Good reason to keep your reels up to date) Pre-production work is well underway. I’m excited to be shooting in the Valley of Fire State Park in AZ. CDI has already been involved in a few films shot in AZ. I also co-starred in a Las Vegas film a few years back and so that is helping. Bottom line. I’m excited to go play space cowboy for a few in December.
Lastly, I want to thank my management for the hard work I’ve already seen underway. I’ve got some great business underway for the last quarter of the year. I think the most exciting thing is that despite all the good things that unfolded in 2014…2015 is going to be even better:)
Have a great Saturday and go MSU!