Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
So we had unusually odd weather reports whereas they were calling for 4-5 inches of snow. Come on now Michigan, it’s almost May. Snow? Inches? This morning I heard our multitude of birds singing this morning outside and upon peeking – no SNOW! Yesterday I did a good amount of prep work outside in the yard prepping for the snow. The property which has had some changes including the addition of a storage shed, is looking right fine. I removed a small pond and moved an outside fire sitting area to make room for our Finn the runner. Also a new dart board is hanging and the first games took place last week.
I want to thank all of you again who follow along each week. I see a few artists from different countries stopped by for a read this week.
In all we have artists from over 80 countries stop by to get inspired. There are 195 countries currently in the world so we have some room to grow still. This past week consisted of various tasks both with family and with the film endeavors. We took another step towards moving into full green light on our new CDI film entitled LOST HEART. Four more of the investor units to move and we’re making a film. We had some great meetings last week so I hope that we can wrap it up this coming week. The sooner that we do this the more preparation time we will have. Lodging, casting, crewing, vendors and flights all need to happen once the ship is fully loaded (Fully financed) and is ready to sail. We are very close:)
Last week I hinted at one of the well known actresses that was reading LOST HEART for one of the lead roles. After speaking with her Friday, I got to hear how she absolutely loved the script. I was told her representation is often quite ‘stoic’ when it comes to projects but that they genuinely enjoyed the script. So I will get an agent intro this week and when we can make a firm offer they are ready. The July 15-31st timeframe is what we are aiming at to shoot at. Don Most who was one of the co-stars in MBF: Man’s Best Friend will be joining us again on this story in a much larger role playing opposite Melissa Anschutz. It is all coming together, I’m just anxious to get scouting, hiring and prepping! I’ve been having fun with a little character creation myself. I will be bringing Niles Cats to the small town of Lost Heart.
WILD FAITH – I have seen the proof DVD (See wrap above) and it looks and sounds great. They are in the warehouses and will start rolling out to retailers May 6th. This is followed by digital purchase and rent in June and Wal-Mart DVD release in July. Thank you to all the support of this film. I know many people want to see the film and those who have already watched it on the big screen want to own it. It’s a good one for the collection. I think audiences will really enjoy it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – THE CHRIST SLAYER
From one bearded mountain man Ben Lily in Wild Faith to another bearded gent with playing Jesus in The Christ Slayer. I’ve heard from a good many people who enhanced their Easter by seeing this film in the theaters and/or streaming and DVD. I still might have some local event to showcase this film. It was suggested that maybe all three play together so in the coming weeks we’ll explore a few options.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is close to being done with the first pass at dialog and sound design. We’ll likely be sitting down the 1st week in May to give notes and do a final pass. Meanwhile VFX, color correction are being completed and we’ll be working on a final trailer. I’m very excited about this project and I think audiences will really be taken in by this story.
I’ve got follow-up meetings this week on literary representation that could include acting representation targeting the foreign market. The agency has been reviewing my materials and the response so far has been very enthusiastic. They handle/represent some very talented folks and I would be honored to try this pathway with them.
CDI is also moving towards a few production collaborations that might include a slate of new biblical adventures and more. We have action, sword & sorcery and a few other great genres developing. I need to circle back and finish my SciFi script I have been working on when time permits. But all in good time. ALL these film endeavors are hard to pull together. Experience makes them easier but they are still always hard. We use to have to shop, shop, shop and shop our final films. We use to hit multiple festivals to try and lure a distributor to the table. Now we have theatrical and international distribution partners from the get-go and it can still be a climb. But if you are sincere you have to keep climbing. There is risk and sacrifice at every level. Also where you put your energy becomes more and more important the older you get. PICK YOUR COLLABORATIONS CAREFULLY.
I still see some filmmakers occupying the space where student and upcoming filmmakers exist to learn and grow. I think some stay in this safer space because the big game is much harder. MUCH harder. I’ve been asked why we don’t enter some of the regional film challenges or award events. Simply because that space exists for developing filmmakers to get a few marketing hooks to assist in reaching for that next level. We do attend a few select events if it matches the film property. So if you’ve done well in these events for a while, perhaps it is time to step up. If things start to feel safe that can mean stagnant as well. Just a few words to ponder on.
I’m going to refill the coffee cup. We have a family get together today to cover a handful of bdays that we’ve recently had. Thursday (my new day) is my first soccer game of the season. The change in day is nice because it will give more flexibility to my Sundays that often includes family events. I wish everyone well on their artistic endeavors this week. Keep chasing your dreams. Until next week my friends!