So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
I hope the weekend has been good to all of you. I’ve had a busy and productive week both in business and just in getting things done. Where to start? I started the week a touch low because like many families out there I have a sick uncle. He has been more of an inspiration and influence than he knows. His fun wear what he finds comfortable is practically a mantra. His storytelling is simple and engaging and I’ve been thinking of my uncle and cousins at this time. That said, it also reminds us that age not withstanding, that tomorrow is not promised. So boldly we move forward, creating and living.
Soccer has been fun and getting me into strong running shape. Running 70-80 minutes of stop and go in all directions will do it. I’ve been doing lots of yard work and prepping for the garden that is now planted. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkins and more are in the ground. I’ve also installed a retaining wall around the office porch. I need to put some grass seed down. All the stuff I enjoy doing while making business calls.
I’ve been organizing acting ands literary materials for future work with this new agency. I had a possible opportunity to write for a TV series but we’re in preproduction on LOST HEART and I don’t want to do any less than my best at either endeavor. Lesson here for people not to try and do too much and do poorly at both things. So first on deck is LOST HEART which I was the screenwriter on. It is a funny and emotional character study with the bizarre and wonderful Northern Michigan as the backdrop.
We announced Lauren LaStrada joining our cast last week and we will announce Cassie Dean this week. She will play a younger version of our lead in some key scenes. Also we’ll be announcing the addition of Don Most from Happy Days fame. He played a strong supporting role in MBF: Man’s Best Friend and will step to a co-starring role in LOST HEART. I’m exciting to have him joining us again.
MBF – The music pass is complete and now mixing is underway. I went into the studio last week and did my final narration. We will be working end credits this week and prepare for a final watch through. I’m excited for audiences to watch this film. If you have a soft spot for our military and/or animals, dogs in particular, MBF might be for you.
The Quest Trilogy – I’m going to be exploring merchandise in the coming year. I would like to see a few products available as we move into the next holiday season. If you take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER please leave us your thoughts on IMDB.com or amazon.com
WILD FAITH – This month digital rental becomes available on June 24th the day after my Bday! So do me a birthday solid and watch WILD FAITH with your family. I think all ages will really enjoy the film. Oct 17-19 WILD FAITH will play the Happy Trails VA Style festival. I think the film is playing on a Saturday. I will provide more info soon but I know Darby Hinton will be there to talk about the film and the genre. In July the DVD will release at various retailers. My goal is to see it at Cracker Barrel🙂
We have lots of development work on a handful of projects. I was also approached about a few possible acting roles. I will need to read the scripts and see if the characters speak to me. Exciting days ahead but right now I’m most excited about bringing the story of LOST HEART to life. Again we have more companies aligning with our film. Feel free to reach out on how your product or service can participate.
With that I’m going to go do some mulching around the office.
Have a great week.
New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.
The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more. Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.
I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.
When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.
I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.
Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.
I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.
We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.
WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.
I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.
Have a great Sunday!
I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.
So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall. I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.
After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.
CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.
The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.
I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.
Be good to one another.
– Happy 2015 everyone! I was up early and had the coffee flowing so I could travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to do a film commentary for the 15th anniversary release of IN THE WOODS. I awoke to a flurry of white that is supposed to change to freezing rain and back to snow. So we decided to reschedule the session. So you get my blog early and now we’ve got BBQ ribs in the crock pot and I’m going to get some office work and such done today. The holidays had me tired and some cold tried to get me but I beat it back. I don’t got the time to be sick! It was a great holiday filled with family and friends and I’m so ready to attack the new year.
We are close to announcing a couple of new film projects. Art work is underway on several films releasing and in development. Post production work keeps chugging along. We’ve been updating the http://www.cdiproductions.com website and I was stunned to see both the company site and this site had visitors/readers from over 70 countries. Let’s look at some updates in no real order.
– “Knight Chills II” script is underway and new artwork is underway. The book novelization to go with the re-release of the original will be underway this year also. I’m excited to re-visit this film. The 1st run moved 26,000 domestic units whereas much of that revenue did NOT come back home when the company went belly up. It was a major disappointment and set back at the time. This franchise is going to rise from the ashes.
– “In the Woods” 15th anniversary re-release is coming on Blu-Ray, PPV, VOD with the book by Nancy Gideon re-releasing also. There is some chatter about a sequel and a few ideas have been passed about but nothing solid.
– Assigned to Winters Film Group by CDI Distribution – 3 films. “Ashes of Eden” will lead the charge with an early release. “Donors” and the “Wicked Spring” re-release will follow. I’m told next week release dates will be set.
– CDI Releasing is also looking at directly releasing two of its earlier films “Figure in the Forest” playing multiple TV networks and “Heaven’s Neighbors” both directed by CDI’s Jeff Kennedy.
– CDI is looking at releasing more of the library into theaters in 2015.
– Foreign sales could really start picking up. We know the fans are out there and we want to get more of these stories out to them. Deals are underway and we hope to have some exciting announcements on this front.
– “Bestseller,” “Dead Quiet,” “The Terrorist” and “Wasteland Part 1” are all in post production and should all see releases in 2015.
I’ve had several projects approach me to consider acting in. One recently came from a studio head and is a pilot film that could spin-off into a series. The distribution is all set up and I’m looking forward to hearing more on this project. Also I might have a new work-for-hire script writing project which would be fun. I’m also working on a CDI commercial project which will shoot for a client this year. Overall I can say that 2015 will be a busy and productive year. I hope this holds true for each and every one of you that has put in the hard work. It doesn’t just happen but when you work smart and work hard the results will come.
After a few days of rain and storms we have a beautiful day upon us. I was out and about this morning and found a few great items for the office. Yes, maybe they would be more suited for the Knights of the Round Table, but so be it. Monday is my actual birthday and I’m looking forward to one of our only morning soccer matches Sunday. That night I’ll ring in my Birthday with some of my old school mates. The following Saturday I will have a small gathering to celebrate more properly since my birthday falls on a Monday this year. I’m looking forward to a relaxing day with some good food and family. Now let’s get onto a few entertainment updates…
A reality TV show that I directed a few years ago is finally getting a featured trial run next month. The first three shows will be shown and if the audiences responds well they want the full series. This company will also represent the series to 3rd parties worldwide. There will be a press release on this mid-week once everything is completed. I’m excited to just have this journey shown as it truly was fun and entertaining and I think others will also enjoy it.
Also a PR release will roll out VERY shortly on “Ashes of Eden” that was recently offered a Michigan theatrical deal. That is now in play and the film will start in two cities (Lansing & G.R.) and may expand from there. The showings will start the 2nd week in July – so stay tuned! Meanwhile, we’ve been getting more interest and offers in the worldwide distribution rights of the film. It’s a lot of back and forth but I think we’re making some real progress. I’m excited to see where the film ends up but without a doubt it will end up where you audiences can take a watch. We had a BIG movie producer give high marks on the production value and performances. That in itself could lead to another offer.
The dates on the pick up shoot for “Bestseller” are firming up and we’ve had a few solid meetings to get this ball rolling. It’s only a few small puzzle pieces we need to shoot but they are important in the overall. The first trailer has really sparked some new interest in the film. I’m excited to finish this one up because I think people will really enjoy it.
I also just watched the full screener on the thriller “DONORS” that is about to start making the rounds to distributors. I have some meetings over this completed property next week as well. SPOOKY FILM:)
“The Terrorist” locked picture looks money and I’m excited that the final music and sound design process is now beginning. The director is very happy and wants me to participate in his next feature and TV series. I would be honored to work with him again, BINGO:)
Things have been quiet on “Dead Quiet” front but I’m in hopes that a trailer will be released soon. The movie should be very scary and I know I have several fans out there who appreciate those films.
In regards to acting – I’ve got some really big things developing with my management company. It will be fun to see how that all unfolds but some TV guest spots and appearances in studio motion pictures could soon be at hand. I’ll be ready to look at new acting projects once this “pick up” shoot on “Bestseller” is over at the end of July. Some good developments with my writing projects that could lead to producing/acting work. I’ve got more paperwork to review but I’ve been impressed by the business efforts of a company that wants to do an association with CDI. I like that they are willing to put in the hard work versus just trying to kickstart some free handouts. That usually leads to trying to make a film on a few thousand dollars and mostly ends up looking that way.
So with all this said – I’m off to work in the yard, the office and to do some grilling. I’m close to completing another trip around the sun and I’m okay with that. Life is good with great friends, family and being blessed to do what I truly love doing.
I hope you all have a great weekend.