What a week. This was my first week of my new year after my birthday on the 23rd. I have to say I felt blessed by all the kind communications I received. I had a few birthday moments and got to spend it with some of my favorite people. It was a humbling week because of soccer. We’ve won our last five games or so and last week on Father’s Day we had a match. A very good team who came with numbers in the 90 degree heat. We had just enough players to field a team and two of our players were nursing injuries. Since some of the “fathers” absent we played a long, hot, fierce battle and lost. The next day swollen knee which has happened at least one other time. So I felt like I needed a cane like Billy Idol in the 1980’s. But I went with a compression support and today the swelling is gone and aside from stiff – okay. Can I run on it? Don’t know. But wearing a compression sleeve is going to be a regular thing. Almost two hours running, sprinting, stop and start – takes the toll on these traveled knees.
The TOP interesting story and lesson from the week. We do have a commercial division and have done some high end videos for select clients. We were contacted by supposedly a company from the UK opening offices in MI and wanted video work done. Vetting verified the company, emailing party etc… So a quote was given, accepted and they were invoiced. It all seemed very easy – which I’ve had easy deals close before but…”if it seems too good to be true – it usually is”
A priority envelop came with a money order that exceeded the deposit. FLAG. The check looked 100% legit, bank checked out – but…why add INVOICE to the check line? Some vetting and a call to the bank. (No Ph# with the bank on check is a giveaway) the check was signed with the name of an actual former exec from the bank. It was a FAKE. The scam is an overpay and they want you to send the difference back. My guess is that the check is good enough to give the bank pause and they hope you move quick and send off theirs. IF these people read my blog maybe they can pack it in and go on the run before the FBI comes calling. We vet everything strong at CDI and so should you. Respect your time and make sure others do too. Poor guy had his name and company being used in a scam. Now he knows.
This week business kept moving forward. Several of the films #40nights, #donorsthemovie, #bestsellerthemovie, #ashesofeden continue to sell and expand. Please do support these artists and we’re close to foreign roll out on some of these films.
The soundtrack for “Bestseller” will release here soon. The art work is almost done and the paperwork signed. Following will be the soundtrack for “Ashes of Eden” – and I’m excited, cool tunes by cool artists.
More meetings on a slate of upcoming films this week. Camera tests underway and marketing discussions. Re-releases are gearing up their campaigns and the groundwork for taking CDI sales online is happening. New merchandise and licensing opportunities are being opened up.
Keep taking those little steps. Sometimes you can’t see the success that lies right around the corner. How close that next endeavor is – so don’t give up. BUT, if something is not working – make the adjustments.
Hello to everyone out there. I’m sipping away at my coffee on this beautiful day in Michigan. It has been a doozy of a week for most as more of our pop culture icons have passed away – Chyna, Prince. I think as we age and we see our actors, musicians and artists pass away if really reframes the world. It is why we as artists must also strive to step up and fill a purpose. A purpose to educate, entertain, comfort and encourage people in various ways.
The past weeks have been exciting with audiences purchasing/renting “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and now “Donors” has been released. I’ve had “fan mail” and communications every couple hours over the films. I think because of the main role in “40 Nights/Jesus” more of the feedback has been about that film but “Donnie/Ashes of Eden” and “Dr. Savior/Donors” are both worth meeting. The Walmart sales have been very strong in pockets but not across the board, so we have to just keep pushing the PR and redistribute stock internally to the stores that are moving more DVD’s. FishFlix, Amazon.com and others have been selling out online but restocking quickly. Ask your local retailers and that will help spread the distribution patterns. “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are now HD Digital On Demand so you can watch immediately.
ON DEMAND – Here are links…
ASHES OF EDEN
Feel free to leave reviews at any of these sites, IMDB.com, Amazon.com as these all help push the films.
You must build bridges. But only with good character people in like minded partnerships. There’s a company that was presented to me by a close associate. This company does various services in the commercial industry. For about 18 months they were presented to me and finally we met. A few guys trying to carve their artistic path out from a sea of creatives. So on a project this company ended up doing two services for us and it was done with quality. A first step in a new relationship. Now a second project follows with a new creative director and only one of the two services would be required. One of the services was being covered as a result of direct negotiations with the director before filming or even hiring. Another advantage is the second task has more time to allow this one service to be done. A second step in a new emerging creative relationship – WAIT! In my opinion, one partner there did the service we had no need for. Now this opportunity would allow whomever does the second service a real chance to shine. This is not high pay but t’s not free, and it surely gives more creative than a commercial project. I’m about people who want the opportunity to participate with our artists but I feel like some of my time was wasted during those 18 months where I was being told these guys were eager for an opportunity to grow with us. So it goes.
MORE ADVICE ON WORKING FOR CDI
Most all hirings come from recommendation and standing accountable. Finger pointing and blame shifting is the worse thing you can do at CDI. There is not much of that because we pull those weeds. Strength comes in admitting a situation got the best of you. By recognizing that it shows strength and wisdom. I’m also looking to put people into a long term working relationship. Some of our people have been with us 16-20 years and counting. Once we work with someone I’m looking at…
1) Attitude – this is priceless. Are they CAN DO positive people? Do they inspire others? This also means sincere talk over gossip/poison. Keep your vulgar jokes and such until wrap and you’re with your friends. If you have experience over someone see that as an opportunity to share/teach not gloat. Be that valuable person.
2) Artistic passion – this is a drive to do something outside the cogs and wheels of society. It’s both divine and humbling all at once. Powerful enlightening stories that can give ease and escape to others in high stress jobs. Humbling in the fact that if you create a poor scene nobody flatlines on a table. Passion is a MUST in all our hires. If you are not passionate about a certain position DON’T do it. If you do it poorly or by dragging your feet, those attributes will be applied to your overall character.
3) Dependability – I once had a talented director work within a crew (Not directing). He failed at his tasks by the worse way – quitting. I like this person just fine but by policy I cannot risk any money behind this person going forward. If they quit at something small they could quit at something big. Another recent example also had a key crew member quit before starting a project in a poor way. This character example again makes him not suitable for re-hire. I like this person greatly and friendship wasn’t taken off the table. But the communications became less (none) because he knew I had less to offer him. On a positive when this person had to be replaced on the fly one of our “tried and true” stepped up into a position they had not done and won. It was an example of stepping up and that is likely why he’s been with us almost two decades.
4) Leadership – The last line I typed above ties into this bullet point. Upon working with us on a film, people will be evaluated in a few ways. Did a KEY step up and problem solve within his department? Did they keep their department on budget? Did they keep their department organized? Did they use all their resources? Attitude? Sometimes we hire a key that in retrospect needs to be placed under a more experienced key on future films. This is usually someone who really tried just lacks the organization skills and leadership, but worked hard. In some non-keys, we realize the hard work and notice leadership attributes that may lead to a promotion on upcoming films. Some people after the fact are evaluated and deemed a no rehire.
NOW if you’ve worked for us on a film and a second call to action hasn’t come it’s often not anything personal. It’s sometimes about finances, such as how many people can be flown here or there. It can be keys that surround certain directors and are requested. I guess I wanted to put this out there because crew like cast are artists. Actors are usually quick to think that something they did or did not do is why they were not hired. Sometimes it is an AGE or a LOOK thing. Crew feels the same thing at times so I wanted to shed some light. Rates of course are another factor but if I like working with a company I try my best to maintain that relationship. When you get out of line someone hungry is there to take your place.
“Chasing the Star”
OK. “Chasing the Star” is in editing and we also plan to have a first teaser in the coming weeks. Here is our new font to put into our teaser poster.
We’ll be having lots more promotional stuff rolling out soon. I’ve just finished polishing the 1st draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. That has been sent to the first few people to look at. I had great talks with our distributor this week on THE QUEST TRILOGY and I’m excited moving forward. VERY EXCITED!
Keep moving forward my friends. Be the person they want to hire and hire and hire…
Have a great weekend. Our first soccer game is today so I’m ready to do battle again this season. Happy Spring!
It is a rainy Saturday morning and I got up special to knock out my blog for the week. I found my domain expired and failed twice to get it reactivated. So I’m writing on a document and I’ll copy over later. It has been quite a week and I’m drained. Many decisions can fall back upon me to choose a direction. There are no guarantees usually on a direction so you have to trust your self and make the best one you can.
The EGO of an artist is a powerful thing and often has to be balanced by knowledge. The decision to be made was – should we push ahead with filming this fall or put it next fall behind our upcoming “Chasing the Star” film. Also some changes creatively were being looked at with budgetary advantages.
Change can be hard to swallow when talking about scripts. I think for the most part certain changes are subjective. Is a revised draft different or better? People like to use that word better – EXAMPLE “I like this draft better.” – But that is subjective. Format. Page count. Many things can truly make a draft better. Scenes, locations and # of actors can make it BETTER for production. It is just an interesting world of ART meeting BUSINESS.
Two Cents of Advice-
Now this is GOLD. For aspiring screenwriters – So you’ve written your script draft and you’re shopping. You may encounter those who will say if X, Y and Z changes were made we might be interested to option/buy the script. You can spend much time and energy chasing your tail. Now if you counter with option/buy and I will give you 1-2 rounds of revisions free. Now that is a much better situation. Now you are both involved in the real process of development. You both have skin in the game. This way they won’t give you the run around. Many will turn up their nose but do your self a favor and walk away. It happens a lot. Also sometimes it’s done so that someone can simply put a fingerprint on it.
Now as mentioned prior in this blog, revisions can be made for just reasons. It is a sensitive fine line with writers and often why after they assign the script to an LLC they are not welcome. Writers can be a pain in the ass. Productions can bastardize scripts. It is a game of collaborative artists and at the end of the day. Choose your collaborators carefully.
“Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” delivery is underway. “40 Nights” has gone through dialog clean up and ADR is next where required.
Our “40 Nights” licensing deal is about finalized and other good news from a few early retailers who LOVED the trailer.
A deal on soundtracks is happening which will bring all the CDI and CDI associated scores to audiences.
We are concluding a CDI Commercial project for the client to use in Washington DC to represent their industry. We do handle some larger accounts (Not doing used car commercials) and so feel free to reach out if you have a project.
I recently turned down a film role acting because if everything happens orderly we will be shooting a CDI western this fall/winter ending just before the holidays. There are many exciting updates happening with this project. Lightworx Entertainment will distribute the western worldwide. They’re also handling our biblical series and “Ashes of Eden”.
We’re back to battling on the soccer field tomorrow and I think this week I’m going to explore making some more hard cider. The garden is doing great and giving us fresh veggies which is always nice. Enjoy your weekend and week ahead and I’ll blog with you next week.
Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.
“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)
“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.
“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor. I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.
I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.
We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal- our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.
So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script. I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?
“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.
We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.
I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.
This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.
I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.
I’m on my TAKE 2 with hazelnut coffee. Went about this morning and one of the things I’m most happy with is that I bought an antique, cast-iron, wood burning stove for the office. It will not go in right away because I have a few other tasks to complete. Home improvements just seem to be an ongoing thing. We also ended up stopping by to visit my brother and niece. He referred us to a Vietnamese place to eat lunch. It was really good so, if you’re in the Lansing area. (Nola Bistro)
So in the extreme heat we have going on I decided I needed to BLOG all of you before carrying this wood stove out to the office. I might just ramble this week as I’ve got much to download. So Tuesday was the first day of our Lansing run of BESTSELLER. It was nice to have a few close family and friends see the film on the big screen. Each showing has had an audience that gets the opportunity to see it in this format. We will move the film to a few other venues but the more important development is the domestic US/Canada deal that we will likely accept. It will play great on home video/VOD for the masses but IF you can see it big screen you really should. It will play tonight at 6:45 and 10:45 in Lansing at the Celebration Cinema. Here is the promo video from our 1st public showing. It was put together by Dan Chipman who has worked with us on a few projects now.
DONORS film announced that it had signed for domestic US/Canada with Jax Distribution.
ASHES OF EDEN closed caption work is being finalized and I can’t wait for worldwide audiences to get their look after Oct. 13th, 2015.
40 NIGHTS – The 1st official trailer is DONE. The distributor is very excited to have this preview to introduce the project to worldwide buyers. All the people given a sneak peek really enjoyed the film. As a matter of fact financial commitments on the next couple films started to come in off just these sneak peeks. It is great to note that while I think the trailer is powerful the film itself is much greater. This is not one of those films that everything good was thrown into the trailer to lure people. This film trailer gives a taste of the journey ahead but the final film will be so worth the wait. PR will be done to introduce the trailer next week. Here is a screen grab from the trailer. ENJOY
Promotion of street dates (Ashes), theatrical release and domestic set up (Bestseller) and post-production work (40 Nights) – add a little commercial work and we’ve been busy.
Development has been full speed ahead. I’ve been planning between now and mid 2016. The script for a western is about ready and scheduling, casting, location scouting, budget refining and more has been underway. I will say that it is shooting in Michigan. No, we didn’t move to Georgia and the state can keep their incentive. (Yes. I know they killed it) I did an informal cast call (Two African-American actresses) last week in my blog. But that didn’t bring the acting reels out. Those casting duties will be addressed in good time.
The Winter/Spring 2016 film will be “Chasing the Star” and script work is moving right along. It is looking like it will also film in Yuma, AZ area. This is the 2nd film in the three picture deal that we have with Lightworx Entertainment.
I’ve had talks over a few films but unless the right role/project hits me – I have enough work to keep me very busy. KNIGHT CHILLS 2 is something that might also get done over the winter.
I could go on about more but I have a pair of apple trees to plant and a wood stove to haul. I’m very encouraged as I look from here and project five years into the future. The films we will make and the new audiences we will distribute to. I was so happy to have peers and mentors give such powerful reviews of both the “Bestseller” feature and the “40 Nights” trailer. I look forward to releasing the first official trailer to all of you. I also have the directors cut of the full “40 Nights” feature to review. I will be watching that very soon. (Thank you Jesse & Jon)
Have a great weekend!
What a beautiful day. I was out-of-town for a couple of days overseeing a commercial project. CDI has done a few select commercial projects in the past. It was a nice change of pace and extremely informative. It was for the manufacturing industry and I was totally impressed by what machines built by man are capable of. The process to create some of the common things we use is anything but common. The trip was enjoyable save some traffic which I’m not quite use to. But once home it was nice to return to business as usual. I’ve got some good updates but before we get into all that I will comment briefly on a much talked about event here in Michigan – the end of our film incentives. I see many film folk speaking like the end of everything film is upon us. When I started out filmmaking we had very few filmmakers in our state. (Michigan) The passion is here and if people want it to keep it thriving that is done by good business and art. I read several threads of communications from many types of people. I recall reading at least one thread that was quite combative. It centered upon a martial arts artist/actor? – who was in my opinion speaking truth on many levels but his brash presentation just weakened his words with pointless bragging and arguments. It’s one of the reasons I often don’t waste time posting publicly on such matters. This person appeared to be a martial artists and so I can relate to that “fight” mindset. He isn’t going to whine about what we had lost. I agreed with him that the former incentive program was geared to help draw outsiders to the state for a shoot versus growing Michigan filmmakers from within. When you own a house and have family/friends in Michigan you will get loyalty to our state. Put the power in the hands of outsiders and they will mostly leave to seek the better deal. In many ways they should because wise use of investment money is a must. But scripts do help dictate where something is filmed. Michigan filmmakers tend to create Michigan based films. Write what you know. Yes. Some artists benefitted briefly from what came into the state. Now, I’m not a politician or a corporate accountant and so I can’t say for certain if the incentive program was truly the best use of that money. I know that investing in out-of-state studio owners and such left a big black eye on our business. I’ve stated that many local filmmakers have little to zero business sense. They put all their faith into indiegogo/kickstarter/social give me campaigns. Are these people worthy of actual business investment? Usually not. So maybe out-of-state film business startups were the only good option on the table. I read posts of anger – calling for marches and threats of moving to GA and other states. Some historical business startups had incentives but many had no more than a vision, a plan and a passionate core of people. Many looking for short cuts would be further ahead if they had just taken the long road. So IF you love the state just roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make up your mind to learn to do things properly. Those who threatened to leave if the incentives leave – get going. Once the fist clenching, teeth gnashing is done – get motivated. Let’s take a look at some updates.
ASHES OF EDEN – This week we deliver the film and I’m excited to promote as this film gears up for release.
DONORS – This thriller has signed a domestic release deal and a formal announcement will be forthcoming!
BESTSELLER – We are in talks with several distributors over home video release. Meanwhile, we will keep rolling our theatrical on the 21st of July at 7pm at Celebration! (South Lansing) and run through the 26th. We are in talks for showings in the Detroit area and others cities. Contact your local theater and request the film. We are trying to get it to you:) It is a great film to watch on the big screen.
40 NIGHTS – The film is close to sewing up the final edit. In the meantime our 1st official trailer is almost done. FX, Music and sound work has started and should be ready VERY soon.
The 1st release on my involvement in this film came out last Sunday and it literally went around the world. (Just look up DJ PERRY and C.U.J.O.) Some fanboy writers were upset by the idea of a reboot and others were just excited. I’m looking forward to participating in this film and other Sunn Classic Pictures being discussed. I see a good future of CDI working with Sunn Classic Pictures. I will say having read the script that this is not some low-budget reboot. I’m sure I will have some more official releases concerning this project soon.
I’m going to wrap this up. I’m working on approving a new CDI logo for “40 Nights” and I have some script work to finish this week. I hope many of you can attend showings of BESTSELLER in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve been enjoying watching the 1st season of TRUE DETECTIVES and so I think I need a dose of that. I had two belated B-day parties this weekend for my mom and dad. I got one of my final B-day gifts today which was a rototiller. I also found a few great things for the office. My brother made me a beautiful magnetic dry erase board for meetings. Battle Plans can now be drawn up in style. Soccer is also back in action tomorrow so time to lace up the cleats again. Have a great weekend everyone. I’ve had MANY set backs in my career and for those who were really hit by the incentives being cut forgive my tough love. The sooner you get to your PLAN B the better. Keep CLAWING YOUR WAY TO THE MIDDLE!
Yesterday we wrapped yet another motion picture. The term “in the can” doesn’t apply any longer but “on the drives” or some term would. We rolled in here three weeks ago from Michigan and with the collaboration of many artists both sides of the camera we once again did what we do. We finished on budget, on schedule and with this particular film the distribution deal is signed. “40 Nights” will be distributed by Lightworx Entertainment. The faith-based company is operated by Randy Maricle, the former VP of Operations & Marketing at Pureflix. I got to know him over the last few years and I was impressed by how he helped push “Gods Not Dead” into the marketplace. We had a couple of offers on “40 Nights” and while Lightworx not only offered the best deal – they also sweetened the pot. They have entered into a deal for me to write and produce two additional biblical era movies. I think I already know what the second one will be and have a few ideas on the third. But one step at a time. This film will immediately move into post and we have an aggressive release schedule ahead. Our distributor made a trip to the set on one of our big market days and got to see all the extras at work plus the animals. It is the kind of film that both my grandma’s would have truly loved. I think this film will find its way into the hearts of many and be a favorite for years to come. It is EPIC.
So now we wrap up the circus. We are having a wrap cook out today provided by the community who has been extremely supportive of our efforts. I think they saw the magic of what was happening. This film is the second I’ve had shot in this area and I think when it gets cold in the Michigan this might become a destination. I also saw a few great locations for our westerns. So I’m certain that we will be returning to film here in the future.
BESTSELLER music should be getting close to done. I can’t wait to return home to do a watch/listen through that film and get ready for our 1st showings in May. May also looks like it will be the month of the special WICKED SPRING showings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. May is also the National release of ASHES OF EDEN. This stretch into Summer is going to be busy with film releases and premieres. I also heard that DEAD QUIET is making its way through post production looking at fall showings.
We have a commercial project to shoot when I return and otherwise just overseeing all this film flow will be the focus. I also had a couple of acting offers present themselves. Right now I’m thinking about home, family and my own bed:) I’m also in negotiations to write a script for a company later this year so that is always fun. I like writing – just me and my coffee on the patio.
So that is the short recap. I’m very proud of the hard work by all our cast and crew here. Only a pair of longer days due to the desert sun which was our biggest monster. I think when we shoot here next time a month or two earlier will allow things to run even smoother.
Stay tuned for lots of more exciting updates in the weeks ahead!