Good 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
It is wet and cold in Michigan as the Christmas activities come to a close. It was an enjoyable season despite the lack of a white Christmas. Right up to Christmas eve we were hard at work on “40 Nights” and now the machine has to start back up. We’re trying to deliver the film that first week in Jan. 2016. I’ve seen things I really liked about our flow and a few things that certainly need to change on the second film. “Chasing the Star” is the next film on deck. I had a wonderful Christmas despite a sinus cold that has been chasing me for a week. I think also when I let my guard down and relax some of that internalized grind manifests and well, I’m a little sick.
We had a relaxing Christmas eve and our day was nice with family. It was the first Christmas dinner with my divorced parents since that event. It has been over 15 years not sure how long exactly but it was enjoyable. I use to be more of a lone wolf – workaholic. I’ve rebuilt my home stone with my girl and the pack. We’ve got a lot of love in the household and we saw that over the last couple days. I’m a twice-over uncle thanks to my brother and wife and watching them is always fun. I guess the oldest said my name for the 1st time when I was running out to the car. She was banging on the screen door and saying my name. I look forward to when I actually do hear her say my name.
We had a nice dinner with some of my old school friends from my childhood. My one good friend is looking to RETIRE back to Michigan. I don’t see retirement in my future as I think I will need to create until the end. My mentor Rance Howard is in his 80’s and still working steadily along. That will likely be my path.
As stated “40 Nights” is almost done. As always it is a great undertaking with lots of communication. One of my keys has not done a great job on communication. Usually people don’t want to communicate when they don’t have the right words to say. Usually because they are behind schedule and they don’t have a good excuse for that delay. I continue to create opportunities for new people who have the artistic skill set. The idea is to see if they can operate in the real world. Not fun fan films and such but in the real world where many artists are all working hard to follow the blue print. Well, a few more days and we will see how that all ends up. The work I’ve seen has been wonderful. We will see – a tribe needs chiefs and followers. Some people are not equipped or yet ready to be chiefs.
Let’s talk about one of my challenges. Walmart is placing a big order for “40 Nights” and that is the main reason for our deadline. Walmart created some artwork they liked based upon past success of their marketing team. It shows a Jesus-like figure walking in the wilderness but does not reveal the face. They used a model/art they had which A) Is not me B) Is not our wardrobe – long short is that this will be Walmart’s exclusive cover. I had to accept business over art in this matter. Once the DVD is bought and put in a player or downloaded – we present our art, our story. I also think this will be the first of many, many movie covers over the lifetime of this project. But this one order alone will likely shoot this project into success.
I’m fighting the holiday slow down to see if I can get our “Chasing the Star” up and running in time to shoot before the desert of Yuma becomes unbearable. That is the desire and goal but everything has to happen in an order. Our LLC is formed, our paperwork done and now we have to get the bank account open. No rest:)
As we prepare to enter the new 2016 year it will be many releases – DONORS, ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER and 40 NIGHTS. A couple of films I acted in DIVISION 19 and DEAD QUIET might release in 2016.
I did get some writing done and I’m closing in on finishing two scripts. I’ve enjoyed my few moments with you this morning. My apology for not blogging yesterday. I had a family event and was a little under the weather. I’m going to be back on the horse trying to finish up projects and prep the new ones. I also love to look at my 2015 goals I made in Dec. 2014 and see how close I came. I do this every year and it is good to focus the energies.
I hope you all had a great Holiday season and I wish you a Happy New Year!
This is coming the morning after my usual Saturday postings. The delay started with the MSU game here and continued with a few friends watching TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – cool Halloween flick. So, you’re getting a first thing Sunday morning update. Another thing to note is the large audience I have here for my blog – Australia topped the list of readers this week. I will have to make extra efforts to get more film product there. It would be great to go film over there at some point
By the end of this week I was tired of calls, meetings, emails, proposals and breakdowns. Besides the post work we’re getting ready to launch into CHASING THE STAR our second biblical era film. We’ve been interviewing directors and looking at reels from west coast talent. You want to find that person who has that right blend of experience and passion. Not just a willingness to try but succeed and improve upon our last endeavor. That is always the overall goal to streamline and make the process flow while learning as we go.
I don’t have any deep insights this week. This past week like all weeks are always full of disappointments and also exciting possibility. The disappointment is often in the actions of people. The exciting possibilities also come from the actions of people.
POSITIVE COMMUNICATION! Choose positive approaches to problems and always treat people with respect. Do you know what you get in return? Respect. Such a basic thing but I see people put their own foot in their mouth time after time. They often think they are being passive-aggressive clever but really they paint a sad picture of their personal security and identity. I’ve had people that I’ve watched – speak aloof with little to nothing to truly back it up. Those situations will often bring those individuals face-to-face with future hard realities. That reality is that it takes a team and if respect is lacking – like in sports – they will trade you. You cannot thrive in team environments without respect. I’ve experienced so many people with a wide range of ego. I’ve seen some people evolve into very successful careers while others go one and done on feature films. The universe has away of self balancing itself and things will fall as they should. Be positive. Be kind. Respect others. Your chance at success will be greatly increased.
40 NIGHTS – We’re chugging down the line. This week we will be promoting the page on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website that allows you to sign up for your organizations interest in a theatrical showing. We will be announcing another company partnering with us from Michigan on this project so stay tuned.
BESTSELLER – Looking forward to the Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I think the film will also be playing in Grayling, MI this year. We’re still trying to set a few Detroit area dates.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just had two showings in Grand Ledge, MI at the Sun Theater and I hope this week we can announce some good news about TV play.
AN ORDINARY KILLER is the film up next for our Sanctuary Spirits mixer Nov 19th with our friends at Red, White and Blue. This based on a true story of amazing detective work that led to the capture of a serial killer at 28 years. Please join us if you are able.
KNIGHT CHILLS our 1st CDI venture is getting a re-release with the new book that will be available both electronically and hard cover. We’re also still in active development on the sequel film.
This has been just a hard grinding week that gave us small moves on the board but important moves. I’m looking for another highly productive week. I was put on notice of another version of the C.U.J.O. script coming my way. It sounds like they are getting closer to setting shoot dates in 2016. I’m not going to lie – I’m getting to that point where I would love to create a character but I’ve just focused that energy on my script writing and wrapping up this end-of-the-year business.
Enjoy the remaining amount of weekend and have a productive week. I’m back to the hazelnut coffee and going to get a few things done.
Until next time!
It took me a while to sign in to my blog here. There are so many media communication sites. I get communications coming from all sides. Email is still the best way to contact me but even that is getting more complex. This morning we had a great breakfast in what use to be a train station in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The chill today is perfect for all the football on deck. MSU, my alumni school plays in a few short hours. Lions on Sunday plus last regular season soccer match before play offs. It was another grinding week but extremely productive. Let’s look at a few of the wins this week.
I’m working the last few pages on “Chasing the Star” our follow-up biblical drama. I was so happy about how the “40 Nights” script evolved and how it translated to the screen. This follow-up has distribution and it appears all our funding commits are in place. So we are looking to return to AZ and film our second film for Lightworx Entertainment.
“40 Nights” has been exciting because we are now seeing dialogue cleaned up/balanced and environmental sound design. I got the signed paperwork on our licensing deal for management of merchandising. This movie should be complete end of November.
Now we have a partially funded western also being distributed worldwide by Lightworx. Not only will it be a feature film but used as a pilot for a TV series that we hope to shoot in Michigan. We have been in talks with several actresses over a lead role. Also some great Hollywood celebs may come out to participate. Funding talks continue and we have a real strong shot at doing this film before the holidays hit.
Development talks for films beyond April 2016 are underway but I also have a few projects to act in that I’m watching to see when their schedule lands. The C.U.J.O. movie has been talked about prior and also my management is targeting a strongly anticipated TV series. Not sure if we’re looking at a guest starring or being a regular but I would be happy with either one.
WASTELAND poster is being sent and the director has been trying to target festivals that focus on Science Fiction. I also want to get updates on THE TERRORIST (Release dates) and DEAD QUIET (Premiere dates).
“BESTSELLER” is having an event showing at the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso, Michigan on November 1st. An EVENT PAGE coming soon! “BESTSELLER” is also being delivered to our distributor as is “Donors” so when I have release dates I will let everyone know.
In Lansing, MI we are kicking off a monthly CDI film screening starting in Oct. 15th at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge. I think it is $5.00 cover at door and the opening film is “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” – a smoky mountain western. It pits the two mountain men from DELIVERANCE – Bill McKinney & Herbert Cowboy Coward against one another.
I think Sanctuary Spirits will have some great whiskey specials. They have an apple and maple whiskey that is really good. I love their gin also. Not only can you have drinks there but you can buy bottles to take home. EVENT PAGE COMING SOON!
“Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for a release in less than a month. Here is a pre-sale link for BEST BUY
We will provide more ways for you to see this fine film in the weeks ahead.
In summary…working hard to finish up and deliver our current slate. We have some of the next slate funded and working on the ones after that. We are at a good place – working with distributors and making films to release directly into the marketplace. I’m really enjoying this new work flow. We will finish up this slate of films and look at moving to a few larger films. Patience is a virtue.
Have a great weekend and spend some time with friends and family.
GO MSU! Go LIONS!
It is a wonderful Saturday and the dogs are watching some Scooby Doo as I’m doing some morning film work over coffee. This was a week full of announcements, many business calls and exciting updates. We will look at some of those updates and discuss a few situations surrounding them.
I think last week we talked a bit about the temptation for struggling artists to take on parts that aren’t right or tasks that they are not suited to do. It was announced this week that CDI http://www.cdiproductions.com will be the new management/production company on the Michigan-based feature “Bestseller”. Due to my association with the lead Melissa Anschutz I was in the knowing on the journey she was undertaking. I was privy to all the bumps, blunders and lack of organization. I was aware of who was solving problems and who was creating them. I let most of it roll off with a shake of the head because it was not my issue. Even so, it disappointed me greatly. Any hardworking filmmaker will tell you how hard it is to finance a film. That’s because of the large number of potential investors who have been burned or who associate with those investors who have been burned. By burned I also mean – unfinished films or films that have had such bad business done that they are not able to be taken to market. If someone truly puts their BEST EFFORT (That legal term from last week) into a project and it still fails that might be a different story. But when someone doesn’t put a best effort forward and they fail – where is the accountability? Many want to take accountability when things are looking good. When the PR releases are spewing hype or one is prancing about set playing “Hollywood” looking busy BUT when things go wrong they are the first of the finger-pointers. You MUST “own” both the good and the bad if you are in charge. If you are a chaotic mess that is the ripples that you will send forth from you. If you radiate a calm center that too spreads throughout a production.
Screaming is NOT communication and shows weakness and frustration by the party doing so. I know personally an associate in the insurance realm who had to also deal with this chaotic force. I heard the stories from multiple people about this communication. You tie that with the lack of pre-production work and the picture is perfectly clear. Now on a personal level – I’m offended by people paid to guide who use inexperience against others to try to disguise their own shortcomings. A film set is full of challenges but the only ones you should be facing are those things you could not control with good pre-production work. I’ve halted shoots and pushed start dates when I saw a ship was not yet ready. If I see a place where leadership is lacking in a department – be it in the director, AD staff, office, anyone – I will rearrange or replace someone. You don’t just watch a boat fill with water and do nothing. If you are a lead producer or that staff – It’s your JOB to fix things that are broken. It’s your JOB to anticipate what could/or may break down and try to prevent a breakdown. It’s your JOB to fix something quickly, quietly with the least amount of attention or distraction. That means that this is not a dramatic “LOOK AT ME FIX SOMETHING” moment. The best producer work is often never seen or heard. It is known by the experience the cast and crew had and the final product they captured.
Now this situation on “Bestseller” is not isolated and this issue of poor management seems to be a pattern. Sometimes one doesn’t hire enough artists to properly execute a job or make sure that money truly finds its way onto the screen. You also don’t start playing “Hollywood” George Jefferson because you are connected to a large bank account. You treat those funds like your own funds and stick to the budget. Overruns are poor planning. A producer team is responsible for the hard work of all those artists. You represent how people will look at our state’s artists. Are we seen as capable leaders or forever doomed to feed on the scraps of others coming into our state. Now I did not have anything to do with this situation. As a matter of fact I turned down earlier invites on acting and producing. That rejection was based upon the fact that fires were already burning in PRE-PRODUCTION crisis mode. I also knew that much misinformation was flying everywhere either implying deceit or disorganization – both bad. Bottom line – I don’t like fixing other’s messes. The problem seems to be that while I’m hard at work finishing projects (2 features (Donors, Ashes of Eden) and 1 TV series (Supermodel Showdown) – someone else is at the local film festival mixers smoozing up any starry-eyed potential investor or novice filmmaker with a budget – selling a skill set they do not possess.
Now potential investors – YOU have a responsibility to vet people out and not get stung by the BUYER BEWARE. This “Bestseller” ship was professionally parked and the responsible parties removed. After that my company was recommended again to come manage. With a clean slate I listened and the deal was made. The ship is now being refitted and we will make one heck of a movie I can promise you that. I can promise this crew and cast will have an enjoyable experience filled with hard work but will be rewarded with respect. Those that know me can vouch that I take my film jobs very serious. I turn down lots of work because it must feel right. In this matter I wanted the truth out there. The fact that I don’t wander in many social circles I thought this direct statement best. I will say this to anyone out there unqualified to produce or unwilling to make the Best Effort – Stick with what you are good at and don’t muddy the waters. The sooner that the proper artists align in Michigan and the BS artists are benched – great things will come from our State. As we have more stories of success vs screw ups investors will start to take our artists more serious. So I ask you all to please clean up your act. For those who don’t – I would gladly testify at any arbitration or legal proceedings on how a film set should be ran. Enough of people giving half (if that) efforts and poisoning the money wells here in Michigan. I’ve been personally part of 2 projects that went south because of false promises from people. It hurt our momentum as a company but luckily our productivity outshines those few dark moments. One bad deal can kill others momentum and ruin dreams all together. And just how truly sad is that? I’ve made many friends in this industry around the world because of respect that grew from doing what was expected. I’m not in this industry to make friends first – I’m here to tell stories with other hardworking, passionate artists. Friendship and respect is earned. Period.
Okay, I’m off my soap box now. Other updates –
– It looks like I finally got my German invoicing all complete. It has been a good learning experience doing these foreign sales.
– “Ashes of Eden” new trailer is a week or so out from release. The trailer looks great. The film is having the dialogue polished and is almost done. Music and sound design is on deck.
– “Supermodel Showdown” I was in search of a few B roll tapes that we feared missing but I think those have now been recovered. The show is coming together and is looking great. Not as fast as I would like but there is no script. This is truly a reality show.
– I have agreed to play a role in “Bestseller” now that we are officially “in association” because with myself starring in 3 thrillers in the last 10 months it really boosts distribution. With CDI’s involvement I can say to all the artists that the film will get a release in several countries.
There is a possibility of another film shooting prior to “Bestseller” going into production but next week will tell. We have a window because of schedules and so will the chips fall right? That is the question:)
I hope you all have a great weekend and keep Clawing your Way to the Middle:)