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!