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

Posts tagged “compensation

Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

KNIGHT CHILLS

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

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To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

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I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

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I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

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BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

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The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

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This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

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Weighing In on Feature Film versus Commercial Production. Release Dates!!!

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New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.

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It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.

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I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.

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

Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:)  So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.

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I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.

  • The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
  • Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
  • MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
  • Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
  • LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!

Happy Sunday.

DJ