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

Posts tagged “communication

Attacking the New Year – Read if You’re Ready for 2020!

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Fellow coffee lover Victoria Jackson (Lost Heart – Coming 2020)

BATTLE OF THE BEVERAGES

The hazelnut coffee is flowing and so am I on this fine 2020 morning. It was a wonderful holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas and now I’m ready to roll. We had a nice and chill New Year’s Eve with another couple, old friends – making fondue and playing cards. I had one fuzzy navel that took me back to high school football games with schnapps. I did not miss waking up dehydrated with a pounding headache. I do social drink with friends after soccer games or during some informal film meetings, but not going for broke these days. Between my soccer, martial arts and film friends, I’ve had my day for sure. I’ve had a few friends over the many years who loved drinking maybe a little too much. I’m not to one to judge because I have drank like a Viking on several occasions, I just cannot pay the piper with hangovers. I have so much opportunity and even working as hard as I do I still miss opportunity here and there. I guess as I round the corner this year to 50, I can say that if it was between coffee and alcohol, coffee would win. My buddy TJ would say pour whiskey in it – Win Win:) So I hope everyone had a great holiday ending with our entering the new year. Now you get to make decisions about how you spend your time. What you do to your body/vehicle. How you go after your goals. Goal #31 – Get coffee sponsor for 2020!

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I have had much better luck getting booze sponsors vs coffee

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Dreams are the first step. Once you break down the dream into steps you can start to go after your dream(s). You have to have faith in yourself and having a solid plan gives you a plan. Just like a great script is the first step to give yourself a chance at a great story. Trust me those out there winging it and having success is few and even if they have blip of success, trying to repeat or replicate that is difficult. I’ve been doing this now a long time and I love what I do. I don’t look at anyone’s life and say, I wish I had that. I don’t pine for a fancy car, house, clothes or what-not. If you have health, family, friends and are able and allowed to create your art and grow your passion into a career, what more? Enjoy the journey even the hardships because they are forging you. I don’t enjoy seeing whining about setbacks while pursuing the arts. These situations/hardships often posted on social media walls telegraph a person is weak. Now admitting weakness in the right situation can be strength but often what I see is wasted time to get sympathy, or too get the other failed feathers to flock together in agreement or support.

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Pick which road you want to travel – excuses, blaming or solutions

In LA on my early trips I would see bars in the actor ghettos filled with people drowning their rejection (I’ve done it a few times) and enjoying the company of other with failure excuses. Now the coffee shops with the person who has a stack of notebooks, lap top and chatting up battle plans- might be the healthier person to collaborate with.

REDIRECT that ENERGY 

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Christine Marie has one of those desired attitudes – positive and talented – Wild Faith, The Christ Slayer, MBF, Lost Heart…

Those minutes writing all those texts could equal that fantasy sword and sorcery novel you always wanted to write. It could be that screenplay to show the world what you can really do ala ROCKY. Now that the newspaper has been mostly replaced by internet news – I scroll a bit first thing in the AM while coffee is brewing and the dogs out doing their business. Read your postings as someone with money or opportunity to provide in the arts. What would you look for? Talent is only one part. Attitude and this is my #1! Good attitude and seeds of talent and we can nurture. When shooting a film, a quick FB scroll during off time can almost predict who is going to report fresh to set and who is going to be dragging in less than 100%. If I see complain, complain, complain – do you think this is someone you want on your set, everyday for weeks? Would you invest money behind someone who is always pointing out flaws versus offering solutions to help, fix, increase.

BE THAT GUY/GAL ON SET, CREW OR CAST, THAT YOU MUST RE-HIRE

PRODUCTION COMPANIES – BE THAT ORGANIZATION THAT PEOPLE ENJOY AND TRUST WORKING FOR.

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Wild Faith was full of hard work and FUN

Now both could have moments where they fall short but that is where ATTITUDE again plays in. Admit when you are wrong and that is strength. Apologize if someone saw your worst side versus your best side for a moment. I had a friend and collaborator once try to justify an artistic breakdown. There is no justification that is a failure. Admit that and move on with wisdom. Great artists who cannot communicate need to stick with a solo medium like painting or basket weaving. In high-school I had a saying, “that no girl was hot enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.” That same lesson can be applied to the arts. There is no artist talented enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.  I’ve heard stories of James Cameron (who I don’t know) first hand from cast members about James C’s early day rants. Maybe he has matured in his communication. I mean he is talented beyond belief, maybe one of the best storytellers in our time, but why a shitty attitude? He is living the dream the young artist in him only could imagine many years ago. Now I’ve never had a film run 100 million dollars over, so I don’t know certain levels of pressure. But especially those working on tighter budgets – attitude, gratitude and two way appreciation is the key. Remember who is providing paid work and an opportunity to showcase artistic services. And producers remember who the loyal, hardworking, positive artistic-providing cast and crew are.

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HA! I get producer recognition at one event and I’m trying to tell people how to do things:) No. I’m just giving some insight to what works for us. SPIRIT of Excellence awards founder Skeeter Murray, who also does comedy amongst many things needs an apology. I could not attend last Sunday the awards deal and decided to do 2 videos. Well, previous to my filming the video I had watched Eddie Murphy host on SNL.  So Murray might have become Murphy:) So I’m sorry if I did butcher your name. Speaking of Eddie Murphy, filmmakers would enjoy DOLEMITE, IS MY NAME. It paints a great picture of an artist with lots of passion, who with his loyal just went after it despite lots of rejection. Good film!

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Okay, THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS book event that I will be attending will be at Baker Books on July 11th, 2768 E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI from 1-3 pm. Like I said last week, come out and get a book. Hear me read one of the two stories that has to do with movies:) Bring anything you want me to sign. I will bring a silver sharpie!

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I will find that perfect TITLE:) 

My screenplay that I’m working on now is coming along great. The hardest part is the title. The book author wants my help in titling so the book and film could have the same name. It doesn’t have to happen like that but has several pros. ‘HOPE From HEAVEN‘ is the current title but I think we can do better. I want to wait until the screenplay is done this month because as you peel away layers you get to the heart of the story that is often the right title. The script itself is coming along great and will translate to film nicely.

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I’ve been updating promo items personally and for projects. One of the decisions right now is should we do a WILD FAITH 2 sequel or push the TV series HASTINGS. We are also developing and evaluating a few projects for the CDI slate.

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I’m looking at this young man again for a couple possible film roles

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will have more theatrical showings, events, festivals, TV play and foreign expansion in 2020. Again thank you so much for all the fan mail on this and all the CDI films.

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LOST HEART is close to a locked picture. I will get a new update on that tomorrow but we are close. The film is so good and I’m excited to bring this to audiences Late Summer/Fall 2020.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Many people are taking the opportunity to watch these three adventure films set in the biblical times. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER. Discover these hidden gems being shown around the world.

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Too many to mention right now – lesson here. Don’t rush news out just to have something to talk about. Develop without distractions and trickle out the info until it is the proper time. Just my two cents – others may love the onslaught of communications when folks see possible work that lies ahead. For me, it can be distracting to respectfully answer back to all these people when trying to actually get to the place of moving forward. Again just use of time. Work smarter vs harder in 2020! I wish each and everyone of you a great start to your New Year!

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.

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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

 


Updates from On-Location – Lost Heart

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Good morning from the Double JJ Resort in beautiful Rothbury, Michigan. If you have a family that loves waterparks, mini-golf, arcades, horse riding and such this is a wonderful place. Also if you are one of the people who like to knock a ball into a hole with a stick (golf) they have a beautiful course here. Such friendly service from everyone here. How they handle 50-70k people here for their music fest I do not know. But that said, our small army of artists is no problem for them.

I was a bit under the weather the 1st day and a half of pre-production but most likely due to the stress of the transition from home to location. Trying to remember to pack everything personal and business and making the move. But several breaks overseeing the golf course with deer prancing about and such put me right back on track. It is amazing to see everything fall into line but it happens through hard work and communication. I’ve very proud of how this production is coming together. I also want to announce two more amazing cast members joining us. Sherryl Despres and Michael Walton will be coming to LOST HEART🙂

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While we have been here we’ve had the great joy of talking with several people who have seen our previous release WILD FAITH, which released on DVD nationally July 2nd. It is always a thrill to actually get to speak with your audience about the film. I sincerely hope that audiences continue to connect because a TV series might be around the corner. That would be great for our state and give lots of opportunities to weekly guest star talent. If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do. I know it can be purchased at Wal-Mart and many online retailers.

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The Quest Trilogy is also out there and it is NOT just a holiday trilogy. And while it is pulled from the lesser known corners of the bible and the lore surrounding it – they are adventure films. As an influence we also got to go for a STAR WARS look with the three films. So if you decide you want to catch up with CDI’s biblical adventure films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER, check your TV stations or rent/purchase the film via Amazon Prime or other participating platforms.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been getting marketing materials out to NAGRA/MyCinema who is booking our theatrical. I’m excited to see this film roll out to theaters followed by a home video launch in the fall. If you support our wounded warriors and/or love dogs this film will pull at your heart strings. Follow us on Facebook or at http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Aside from all this I recently completed two new stories for my contributions to an upcoming book. The book on horses that I have two stories in will be out this September I believe. Pre-Order here-

All this ties into the push with my literary work. I’m in hopes of announcing some new partnerships this fall. I’m going to get back to film work here but wanted to stop in and say hello. I appreciate all of you following along and supporting this endeavors. Cheers! Back to the hazelnut coffee:)

DJ

 

 


C3 = Communicate, Collaborate and Compromise…Happy Easter

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I see that several new readers have joined us from India. Namaste my friends. A handful of years ago I co-starred in a great spooky thriller in India entitled “Karma: Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” – what fun. It played in theaters but did not make it here. When we get the streaming part of CDI up I want to try to get that film on our platform. It stars Carl Weyant that others will see this Christmas in our third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”. Speaking on this film, I’ve seen the first music draft of the trailer and now color corrections and final tweaks are underway. It is exciting to have this film preparing to meet the world around Christmas with a large targeted release next Easter. We also just had a bday for my co-star Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry! (Fist Bump)

GREEN LIGHT. I’m also proud to announce all funds are committed and MBF (Man’s Best Friend) was announced in Official Pre-Production. It will film in May/June in Michigan with an amazing team gathered around Anthony Hornus as director. I’m playing a title role in this film and I’m EXCITED about being able to watch the performances. We have a tech scout this coming week and I’ll be reaching out to possible crew.

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In a matter of days the music video I participated in entitled ‘My Ghost’ by musician Trey Connor will release around the 14th. I am trying to see if I can arrange it to play before “Wild Faith” on one of these special screenings. I’m very happy with their work and the story put forth in those few minutes is really powerful.

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Let’s talk about “Wild Faith” for a moment. I always knew if this film could ever be made it would be powerful. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns all those years ago. I feel bad for the dishonest folks in CA who almost killed this project. I’m so very happy that the power of the story would not die. It’s a different movie from the original screenplay which you can read via the novelization. In many ways things in the story changed but the heart of the story survived the transplant. Budget is the #1 reason why we had to go from page one through the script. Names were also changed to fit the new players of our story. I’m so proud that the story made it into existence. The response is more than I could have asked for. Sold out shows. Listening to people laugh and cry in the theater has been touching. I love that people are now understanding it is a FAMILY movie. A history class full of middle school children set up a special screening at Celebration Cinemas. How amazing is that.

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If you want the film in your area you need to 1) Contact your local theater and request “Wild Faith” and 2) Get an email/name of the manager of that theater. 3) Get us that contact info. The film is now moving to Novi, Michigan near Detroit thanks to our friends at Emagine Theaters. It starts playing on April 6-12th and if that first weekend is good we’ll likely get another week added. We’re in talks to try to bring it to Hastings area where we shot. Also we’re in talks with theaters in West Virginia and South and North Carolina. I can see Texas and maybe GA in our future. We’ll bring the film wherever the demand is and the business makes sense. I do know that it will be traveling to Florida to play for audiences at the Christian International Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for several awards and many of our nominees will be present.

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One of the main films “Wild Faith” is up against is part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – “Chasing the Star” which also has Dennis Therrian up for Best Score, myself for Best Screenplay and the overall ‘Most Inspirational’ which “Forty Nights” took last year. If you have not seen these two films both can be found on Amazon Prime, Christian Cinema and many other platforms. With this being Easter weekend both these films are a wonderful watch. “Chasing the Star” is more adventure and can be watched at anytime. There was no snow, jingles bells or Christmas carols. I know “Forty Nights” is playing Parables TV tonight I believe at 8:30pm not sure if that is EST or what so check your listing.

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“Wicked Spring” is a beautiful Civil War era drama that our team produced many years ago. It can now be watched on Amazon Prime or the DVD has a great 44 min making of for those aspiring filmmakers. Joining this classic is “Ashes of Eden” which is now also on Amazon Prime. I really do appreciate all the fans that are now enjoying our past library.

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ASHES OF EDEN

I could go on about development and such but I will leave that to next week. I’m just going to again talk about collective compromise. Every great endeavor is usually the result of mixed collaboration. Led Zeppelin 12 years of compromise and collaboration. Individually or paired Page and Plant are still not the same as Zeppelin. I think too many people want/need to win so absolutely that it comes at the expense of the whole. Same side of the table negotiation. Whereas both parties walk away with some degree of satisfaction. These same ideas can be applied in all areas of life personal and professional.

Poor communication usually leaves both parties unable/unwilling to look for that common ground. Good communication starts with respectful communication EVEN if the opinions differ. Most people fail right out the gate with condescending communication which just says that they never entered with an attempt to collaborate. Many want to be heard but don’t care if they’re understood. That is failure. When I see people shouting at one another or vicious text communications – I just see venting. Good maybe for the person unable to cope but it does little to advance any understanding.

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T Rex and DJ Perry (Moses & Jesus) on set “40 Nights”

So now I try to see with compassion that people are so under their own self-inflicted negative rage. High blood pressure, anxiety attacks – people build their own prisons emotionally. So to bring this full circle – take yourself out of crisis-mode. Empty your cup of opinions and learn the art of good communication. Learn to collaborate with others and you’ll see amazing things happen. Life is too short to be angry all the time and for many this is just a phase in their lives. Whomever you are – be that someone in your actions and words that inspires others to be like you. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Try treating and speaking to others in the respectful manner you would like to be addressed.  Before letting that “Conservative POS” or “Snowflake” comment fly from your irrational angered mouth or key board – STOP. Take a deep breath and be open to communicate, collaborate and yes, compromise.

Be good to one another. Happy Easter.

DJ

 

 

 

 


Home is Michigan

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Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?

I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.

Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that  are…

  1. Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
  2. Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
  3. Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through.  This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude.  Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
  4. Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things.  Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.

OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community.  I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.

Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home.  Home is Michigan.

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Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature

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We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.

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If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.

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Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.

Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films

https://www.ranker.com/…/all-civil-w…/all-genre-movies-lists

We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on

Wicked Spring Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/

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Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…

THE QUEST TRILOGY 

Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.

SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.

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ACTING

Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted  collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.

MBF: facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow.  Coffee cup is low.

Be good to one another!

DJ

 

 

 


On the EVE of 2018! Looking Ahead…

e2mbxPnhJ_EiH2qgoYKeew_rGood sunny, arctic morning to you from Michigan. It’s 8 degrees today and with windchill…it is bitter. So the Christmas season is about at an end with people looking forward to the coming year. I have to say that 2017 was a pretty good year. I loved our U.P. trip exploring the upper reaches of our great state. We also had our challenges like anyone else such as our furry boy who faced a few medical issues once agin. I’m glad to say he’s now doing great aside from despising the chilly cold. I lost some beloved friends from childhood, mentors and others close to me this year. They will no longer need to debate or navigate the small issues of life. They rest at peace while the remaining group of us look forward to 2018. I hope 2018 can be a year of better communication between people. Better could be translated to say respectful communication. I saw so much negative operating outside our sphere while at the same time being impressed by our positive approach to our endeavors.

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Again if someone has a different culture, religion, viewpoint on something indulge it. It might not change your stance but it might refine your reasoning. I said it last week, practice not saying anything in text/posts that you would not say to that person directly. And if you’re a person who says you would – SAY IT TO THEIR FACE – do it. Communicate with someone, interpersonal communication. It was an odd course in college but I can see where that is now lacking. I get asked for advice often about our filmmaking endeavors. Become a good communicator and try to always keep your word. Good communication goes for everyone. The better a director can communicate to his keys the better. Conversely you must become a good listener as well. With decreasing attention spans that is hard for many. This is also a good hint to actors. I see many what I call 50% actors. By that I mean, don’t be a great actor when speaking and go blank when your listening. By truly listening you are reacting which is at least 50% of acting. Look at your own work and see if this is a problem you might have. Do you keep missing that casting opportunity? Take an honest look and see if this is something you need to do. It is an easy correction but just requires awareness and acceptance.

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Last year we worked hard to bring our films to you. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star – parts 1 & 2 of The Quest Trilogy hit the holiday scene hard. As we head towards Easter I think the push will be towards Forty Nights. The Christ Slayer – part 3 will be going into music and sound design. We’ll be releasing a new poster and trailer heading into Feb. I got to see 75% of the new trailer and I was floored by what I saw. Everything we’ve learned shooting the trilogy really comes full circle in the last chapter. It was also a huge joy to see Forty Nights and Chasing the Star playing together on Parables TV. I see the day of all three playing together during the holiday season.

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WILD FAITH – The 2018 year will kick off with this mid-Western tale. As a treat we released this PR with a link to our new theatrical trailer.

https://prlog.org/12684106

Claw story

We’ll be meeting more in the new year to talk premiere, theatrical and home video. It will be exciting. For everything that the trailer IS it is not the best of this film. The movie really excites me in a way that is hard to do after 50 movies+. I think it will become a favorite especially for lovers of the time period and genre.

Speaking on the genre WICKED SPRING our 2000 Civil War film will be getting a new release with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. Other CDI films will be getting new life in 2018. We’ll also continue our march into foreign territories.

It’s now time to push hard and bring on the last of our investors on our next CDI project which is MBF (man’s best friend) a powerful tale about our military vets and shelter dogs. You’ll be reading about more cast and crew and updates as we move forward.

I’m going to cut this short. We’ve got a few things to do around here before we welcome in the new year. We’ll be spending time with a few friends tonight likely with some chill music, cards and some good eats and drinks. I will not be waking up with any hangover. Leave that to you young bucks. Those of you who do blow it out party style get a ride. You don’t want the legal or additional results from an accident.

See you all next year! Be good to one another.

DJ

 


First Showings, Winter Snowing’s and What’s to Come!

 

Travis in Action

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”-

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“40 Nights” – the 1st film in the QUEST trilogy.

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.

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BTS of “40 Nights” – the camp of John the Baptist

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.

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.

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1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

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”…

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Have a great Saturday! Keep clawing!

DJ