Good morning. Coffee cheers. Well, today would have been one of the first holiday family get-togethers but alas we are not due to the lock down in Michigan. I have a good amount on my mind this week plus several good film updates on several of the projects.
I’m beyond happy that the stories we tell are being seen by millions and I’m receiving such uplifting fan mail that tells me what we do has a positive purpose. What WE do. That is an important word WE. We’ll address that more soon. The new CDI release is LOST HEART which is truly a ray of light filled with laughter and tenderness gifted to whomever takes a watch. I believe that the lessons inside our stories can be taken to heart for ALL people. From the negativity I’ve seen fly, EVERYONE can use a little story to remind us of the goodness in us all.
Lost Heart has 3 leads in it. Melissa Anschutz, to know her is to respect her dedication and love to the character’s she becomes. This film is a crown gem in her growing list of roles and stories. It is also deeply personal because of losing her husband to cancer and her own personal struggle with the disease, all while putting this movie together. Victoria Jackson who is a true comedic genius and is a tad outspoken in her political lean has drawn some praise and fire. Now add Don Most, who recently was heavily criticized by some and applauded by others for attending a ‘Happy Days‘ fundraiser for Biden. FOX took a PR piece on Lost Heart and really played the political slant almost like a TMZ piece. While it has added thousands of views it has angered some and so the days after the FOX story posted anger responses erupted from a few and the VOTE score on the film 1-10 dropped from mid 8’s to 3-4 over politics.
Political or not, it happens to all the children (movies) and while I wanted this child to be safe from bullies/trolls – people will vent their frustrations before taking accountability or accepting differences. Conservative MAGA or Cancel Culture Liberals – EVERYONE can use a good story with lessons about being good to one another and the value of kindness. I’ve been around long enough to know the drill. Friends, family, peers drive the score UP and the haters arrive and it goes down and fans start to bring the score back up and it will settle into a final score in a few years. Older audiences, myself included are not as savvy with computer reviewing so that is often not reflected. CDI works with respectful artists period from across the spectrum. I personally don’t ride the rollercoaster of hi’s and low’s. I try to live each film as a “drop the mic” moment and enjoy each day.
BEST YEARS GONE – The edit is coming along great with over 40 scenes cut. We’ll have a first edit in a couple weeks and the goal is to lock picture end of Jan. 2021. Let’s talk about that film in light of what we just discussed above.
Our motion picture has been adapted from a self-published book entitle “Hope from Heaven” by author and small-town barber Karl Manke, who by challenging state law during the Covid lock down earned himself the moniker of ‘America’s Barber’ whatever good or bad that name might bring. One man’s personal actions put him in line with the theme or agenda of others and against state law, an outlaw or patriot was born unto the media depending on the opinion piece. But I can say that Karl did not ask for the media circus and was not trying to be a flag bearer for anyone.
(One of several projects I was honored to work on with Dan Haggerty)
Enter our CDI (www.cdiproductions.com) a Michigan-based motion picture company since 1996 that has produced various films over the years and has found a niche of positive, well-told stories that often include a few life lessons woven within. CEO DJ Perry, often the screenwriter these days, gives credit to the early TV shows like The Waltons, The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams and Little House on the Prairie. These were shows strong in character development and story. Often with a treasure of a lesson buried at the heart of the story for the audience to dig up, leaving them with something to ponder beyond the screen.
“We believe that our stories speak to the entire spectrum of audiences – it doesn’t matter where you stand politically, our stories are for everyone.” – DJ Perry
The story seems simple enough, a young woman raising twin teen daughters as a single parent falls in love with a less than perfect man and conflict ensues. Also said, less than perfect man is an ex-race car driver who had a team and a dream with his cousin. This relationship ends due to the poor decisions whereas the thin threads of family are broken. These characters while extreme, are still relatable to most either in shared qualities or as the worst versions of ourselves in some alternate universe.
This political year combined with the Covid situation made filming plans even worse. CDI had originally planned to begin filming in April 2020 on ‘Best Years Gone’ the adapted film name. The well-written book was full of colorful characters and a nice blend of realism and mystery. The book and script both speak to imperfect relationships and the importance of forgiveness to the self. In the public arguments the means by which many communicate shows no desire to really be heard, understood or to find common ground. Most remarks are inflammatory and meant to injure the other party by slandering things they hold dear and sometimes sacred. This story had greater messages that can be applied to anyone.
CDI has a strong reputation for staying on schedule, on budget and creating exceptional quality stories within business guidelines. This quality is by gathering talented artists and uniting them behind a story. UNIFIED BY A STORY! So is the way of the TRIBECDI. What is the tribe you say? The creation of a sacred artist space whereas the art of storytelling can be told unhindered by differences and distractions. A philosophy that demands respect towards one another as artists and only asks for your best efforts to be put forth without any added drama.
CDI has diverse, artistic individuals from all over the spectrum of beliefs and affiliations. In some those beliefs can be polar opposite and in other examples just differing priorities on taxation, spending or any of the various topics debated around dinner tables. The issue is that in a growing culture that becomes more inclined to try and gather to only like-minded groups finding that singular group at the larger level of inclusion is near impossible – you WILL end up working with diverse people and that is a good thing. At CDI we don’t endorse or support any one life path save the path of telling a good story. I think that many could learn from the environment we work to nurture and grow. We continue to refine and grow ourselves and the key is to keep the story in sight. While others flounder due to poor communication we are still able to speak to the audience as a whole. We create great little stories with powerful topics- often softened slightly by humor. The story a gentle reminder not to take life too serious as we only go around once and life is too short a ride to do it mad or with a chip on your shoulder.
Okay now my Top UPDATES
- According to our distributor Wild Faith is still growing an audience with the film ranking in BMG’s Top 5 on most platforms. We had HASTINGS talks and progress is being made.
- I’ve started doing the writer/director polishing passes on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. We are close to a full green light. We just have a few units to still assign in the project. Once we do expect some big PR announcements.
- I’ve been doing some writing on the new updated draft of the SMOKE & MIRRORS featured script. CODE NAME: ASH – I’ve had a wonderful time researching and writing and the short film will be done and released in 2021.
- The Quest Trilogy is being licensed for the season and I’ll notify as I find network and such featuring it. If any of you see it playing let me know.
- MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – If you enjoyed this film the dog who played Brown Boy is named Big Papa and he needs surgery. It is the same kind that a few of our own furry family had to have. If you enjoyed the film and want to help out a great guy Robert Ash, is needing help with the costs so if able think of donating at the link provided. https://www.gofundme.com/f/big-papas-surgery?fbclid=IwAR1g6JR1Kz8lDcM7laYtwgXU_Oz5N4EAAyhDlJQtJxGlhuMnQQWIXFrc7VA
- The doc “For the Love of Catch” will start rolling cameras again start of the new year!
- NEW merchandise is coming so that is quite exciting to me.
SPOILERS SO IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FINAL ‘THE MANDALORIAN” SEASON 2 FINALE STOP READING
(My bro and I are intergalactic bounty hunters in our spare time)
The POWER of storytelling. I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and give much credit to A NEW HOPE for me wanting to be an actor/storyteller. I was and still am a big Han Solo fan. Luke was always somewhat secondary for me. But in this time of hardship, stress and frustration for many Luke Skywalker is just what the world needed. The odds look to be just too much. The battle appears to be a losing one when “one X wing” how is that going to…wait a minute. Was that R2D2? Is that? Glove? Green lightsaber! I like millions had imagined scenes like what we saw unfold in our childhood imaginations. I loved seeing the JOY that overcame so many watching this unfold. I cried and I’m not even sure why. The need to through back to another time. To truly escape back to a Far, Far Away Galaxy. To have Luke Skywalker come and save the day – to save 2020. It again showed me the power that can come from storytelling. Now to bring it all full circle the haters will come for this show also. Maybe Mark Hamill will say something that offends someone or just going against the grain is what some need to do to get noticed. But for me it was collective joy. Seek a Collective Joy in 2021 and by our individual actions lets make 2021 the year we all want. Appreciate people as you get to spend time in 2021 even if they have different priorities versus yourself. Communicate respectfully and as if that person were in the room with you. If you want a better 2021 you need to do your part – actions. We will circle back and talk next Sunday for the last time before 2021. Be good to one another and have a Merry Christmas!
Last Note: These films are made with collective love by diverse artists who share the sincere hope each of our stories will bring you some amount of joy. A person drowning in negative filters will not ever see joy in anything and will actually want to destroy the experience of joy others may experience. But those icy haters should know we don’t EVER give up on you. We create and await that one day that our one story made you crack a smile, laugh aloud or shed a tear. We immerse ourselves in a made-up world and tell a story. All while giving up precious time with families and friends. As artists, we’re called to reach out with a story and try to melt the icy negativity that stretches across the hearts and minds of so many. To give them a chance to find some joy. To feel a story of Collective Joy. Here’s wishing JOY to you.
Good morning my friends. Welcome new readers from Serbia, Israel and coffee cheers to you all. I want to also take this moment to thank all of you Father’s out there. Thanks to all the men who take on father roles and give guidance. I’m so grateful to have my father who was kind, strict, generous and taught us much by his actions. I still am amazed by everything he ‘balanced’ while dealing with marriage at a young age and raising two boys. His dream and his goal was to have a family. My goals have included the building of a film family. I also have been so lucky to have the family life I’ve had. I’ve loved my furry family as much as I would have any human child. I value all life and nurture where I can. I’m also on the cusp of a milestone birthday. This week I’ll add another mark on the number of times I’ve gone around the sun. So I have much to be thankful for. I’ve also watched my brother follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a wonderful dad. So to all of you out there – Happy Father’s Day.
Let me see – we had a producers ‘meeting of the minds’ this past week over our next CDI film BEST YEARS GONE. So much great pre-production has been underway including the announcement of Erika Hoveland who will be playing opposite me in the film. Our tribe of talent gets a little wider with each film. Our restrictions due to the virus are getting slightly better as small productions start to creep out for commercial day shoots and such. Any of these shoots where you see them just ‘going for it’ with no precautions is a good example of again hobby shooting. If you have no accountability to investors, cast/crew safety, state/union/insurance guidelines we are not playing the same game. It’s a lot to balance but we have a great game plan forming up by great people.
Having filmed for so many years where many of our families deal with our strange storytelling habit I have always made a point to try and be wrapped for the year by Thanksgiving. I don’t like to be filming between Thanksgiving and New Year save a few exceptions. That said, we’ve chosen the furthest shoot window possible. So our onset pre-production week will be end of Oct into early November. And the shoot will be 15 days in November wrapping out a handful of days before Thanksgiving. We’ll make the few needed story adjustments and the hope is we will be further down the road from these virus restrictions. We’ll also start some B-roll, beauty and VFX shots in advance. I’m so very excited to get shooting but you want to be smart when you do it.
LOST HEART is being mixed together. The musical score, sound design and dialog. We have started as a group to discuss how we will premiere the movie. We might have an outside big screen premiere much akin to a premiere we did for DEADLY RENOVATIONS in AZ. A band, food and the ability to have people spread out some. Following that a run in theaters and drive in’s would be the ideal situation. This funny and heart warming movie will be just the needed thing for many out there.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND might play a few more festivals this year but the audience keeps building. Thank you to all the fans of the movie who have reached out. I can say the same for WILD FAITH and the development work on the TV series continues. I also had some people reach out to express their joy in finding The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) I think it is helping that people are realizing that there is three films that have interconnecting pieces. I had People ask if CDI will be doing more biblical adventures. I would like to when the timing is right.
I’m excited to announce that a new deal has been made with ITN Distribution to get three of the CDI associated films back out into the marketplace. The previously mentioned Deadly Renovations, Donors and Darkest Night. More as that develops and they have new art and new release destinations.
I’ve been two weeks without my Movie Magic software because of my computer update to Catalina but it has now been fixed. So I can continue my weekly writing and I’m very happy about that. The yard has never looked better and we just added flowers and got more plants for the garden. I seeded a few lawn spots due to tree-cutting and behold it is filling in. Daily entertainment from all the birds and critters which we’ve been feeding has kept smiles upon our faces. I hope you all have a productive week and I look forward to speaking with you all next week. Keep your chin up if you’re facing hardship and just keep moving forward.
Be good to one another.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
This will likely be my last, okay as my wording jumps around, it WILL be my last post on this computer. It has served me well since just after GHOST TOWN in 2006 or so. I now have a new MacBook Pro and my main task is moving my software over. This last week was full of updates but I want to discuss something that can really benefit all of you working in film or any business. I will frame the situation without using names.
I have been doing business with a studio. They have a script of mine under option. They have been ultra professional and cross T’s and dot I’s on contracts. Even better, their checks come and clear. Now they’ve talked to me about acting, producing and distribution. I know their roll out plan on a pair of their previous films. No smoke blowing in my discussions with them as what they’ve discussed matches/aligns with talks I’ve had with another BIG STUDIO. So far all good marks on this relationship. On another front – a partner/biz associate had been dealing with a key member on one of these films owed by the studio paying me an option. In casual discussion I was presented with news that directly conflicted with what I had been told by this said studio regarding distribution of their property. I looked at some public information posted on social media sites that confirmed this conflicting information. Essentially someone without the executive power to sell a film was doing just that. I had seen previous postings advertising this film selling but sometimes a small run for family, friends of the film is permitted. It is not usually sold or advertised widely as it can label a film as being “previously distributed” and devalue it. I simply took a few screenshots and asked the studio if they were aware of this and was it authorized. What tipped me off to something being “Rotten in Denmark” was this unofficial version being sold by an unofficial party was said to have been offered a distribution deal. That at least speaks good of the film:) Now my associate confronted this unauthorized party before and was met with side stepping answers. This unauthorized version was being sold and not by pirates in Asia or Russia, but a key(s) on the film. I assume legal stepped in and it was immediately halted. Now my associate was confronted by this guilty party. They were upset that public information was gathered and presented to the studio. Initially they denied selling the film even though the proof was all over the internet including reviews of the illegal version and my associate had a copy of the DVD in question is his hands. This guilty party was seemingly mad that the studio wasn’t going to ever work with them again. He wanted to know what producer/writer had brought this info front and center so he could be sure never to work with them. After this person denied selling the film he retracted his statement the next day admitting to selling a few DVD’s “Only X amount was sold and only because they needed Christmas money”. Yes. That is what I was told. Okay. Let’s recap again.
1) My associate is considering work with this person.
2) Information posted and presented is in direct conflict with other information known.
3) One party is by-the-book, contract heavy and follows through with said agreements including payment.
4) Second party avoids direct answers to presented questions. It is discovered he used rights without authorization and lied about it until they knew they were caught red-handed.
5) Guilty party is now mad at being caught and gives said excuses.
Okay. Now this party is mad at myself and this associate of mine for vetting out information that did not make sense. The guilty party wanted to know who presented the info but he knew. So, after admitting he DID sell the film, he said they would never work on anything with me involved. God. I hope so! That means anyone working with me is at least protected from that circle of deceit. Life throws you a finance curveball and this person gives in to lying and stealing…I feel pity for them. I don’t know this person. I never worked with this person. They are likely a fine artist but business is not just a game to play when it suits you. SHOWBIZ! I’ve had film rights stuck with a distributor that I wasn’t happy with. Hell, I was mad at them. But I can’t just go against agreements and do anything I want. Projects have managers who run the show NOT the investors. I’ve had to fight with my legal to get rights back on projects. Otherwise you are illegally re-assigning rights to a new distributor and creating an issue for them just by trusting you. Hence why you use a chain of titles. Your name and reputation is so important and this is an ultra small business community. A friend/associate of this guilty party also called me a jerk and wanted to know what my deal was. I had no deal other than seeking out some truth. I heard something that didn’t add up. I gathered some info and asked for clarification. Now, I’m a jerk. Someone else who makes positive message films but cheats, steals and lies and they are somehow a victim? Okay. So I’m done with all that but luckily this associate of mine won’t be doing business with this person. Let me tell you something. If they stole 30 units they would steal 300, 3000, 30,000 or 3,000,000 units. If they lie about something small in business they will surely lie about something big. I just implore you all out there to protect your business integrity and character. If you need help financially and can’t help yourself (swallow your pride and get another JOB) just don’t tank your future by dishonest business. This person could be the next big thing but if you sell out your trustworthiness, your career will die. I’m not mad at this person or those around who are justifying the actions. I just want some of you out there to reconsider when tempted to do something wrong. Even if you’re mad, frustrated or the other party is a jerk. If you’re a professional and you don’t have the right to do something – don’t! It could get you in big legal trouble. Ruin the domestic run on a film for a few hundred-dollars and you could get sued for millions in lost revenue. Good people can do desperate things when put in a bad situation. A man will steal food to feed his starving family. But selling yourself out to buy an XBox or some holiday gifts is not worth it. A gift-light holiday that still has love and honesty is better that the other option. You also are setting an example with your choices and behavior to people who look up to you. So I’m fine with the outcome but wonder what kind of world it is where the guilty plays the victim and the innocent becomes the scapegoat.
Onto the next updates:)
– Good meeting over film education program in Michigan
– Good meetings over upcoming CDI theatrical showings
– More TV deals underway with CDI films
– BESTSELLER FX about done and sound design is an hour + completed
– ASHES OF EDEN going national on April 7th
– Multiple foreign licensing underway with UK, Australia, Germany and more…
– Development on several CDI films moving along with one about to enter pre-production in Feb.
– Post-Edit work underway on “WASTELAND” film.
– Stay tuned this coming week for PR announcing release dates nationally on “Donors” and re-release of “Wicked Spring”
Keep moving forward and even though the road may be longer, steeper and rougher – remain on the highroad. There are no shortcuts and when they do present themselves they often come with compromises that will have long-lasting effects. Have a great weekend and a good week ahead!