Welcome to May! TRIBE CDI Springing Into Action!
Hazelnut cheers to you all out there. Greetings to our new readers from Germany, China, Thailand, Ireland and more! In Michigan we’ve had another warm up before a small cool off coming this week. It was an exciting week full of new developments. On the home front it was a week of yard work and today will be the first mow of the season. The chickens have been laying eggs and that is exciting. They love their greens especially dandelion greens which are extremely nutritious. I tried some last year and while a bit bitter they could make a good meal. I have not seen any morels yet just inktip mushrooms. I’ve been harvesting catnip and soon rhubarb for wine-making. We are blueberries but they will not fruit this year. But the apple trees look full and the black raspberry and mulberry look like they will be abundant. This week we assembled two large stand up planters that we’ll use for veggies since the old garden became ‘Chicken Land’. I also worked on the steps coming across the wood bridge and the steps leading into the office. I hope we might be able to have a few CDI and family gatherings this year.
Having my two Covid vaccinations out of the way and no I did not have any side effects save maybe a touch more tired for a day. This allowed me to attend one of my first out-of-town business meetings which would have included a boat ride but the weather would not permit. But it’s exciting that the ice is breaking and projects are starting to move ahead in strength. I feel deeply for places like India having a major crisis and I’m happy to see the world stepping up to help where they can. Michigan too has had their issues but my hope is that things will slowly move towards a more normal.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA announced two more cast members in Charles Edwin Powell and The Ponceman. This week we’ll announce two more actors. Both have been leads for us bringing their unique presence to the film. My hint is that both actors were in MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’re adding to our crew weekly and one area that we’re looking to add depth to is our AD department. I had talks with a few last week and I want to keep exploring so when we get to projects like a TV series we can have the crew we need. If you are an AD please do reach out. AD is assistant director and work as the foremen of the set working to keep the schedule. We are also launching our sponsorship and product placement this month for those wanting to align their product and services with this WW2 holiday story.
BEST YEARS GONE is progressing as planned. The dialog edit is complete and next is sound design and music. We will also be going through the final Battle of the Band submissions and looking for our winner. The plan is to shoot a music video and play it at the premiere. We have a great plan for a premiere and will be looking to do that in July or August. The trailer for BYG is underway by the talent Nathaniel Nose who edited the feature. It should be done by end of the month! Merchandise beyond the auto stickers and such will be coming soon! Watch the merchandise site on http://www.cdiproductions.com for new items! Our distributor will start working on poster art soon which is also an exciting time.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – is in editing and the teaser should release soon. I’m excited to see all this come together and it might be the first in a series of documentary films.
SMOKE & MIRRORS is also finishing its post process. It had no real deadlines so it has moved slower than if we had investors to make happy. This gothic, steampunk short will be finished this year and the feature script is being worked on by yours truly.
BESTSELLER – This Christopher Knight book turned into a thriller will be released with BMG under its new general market label. This mystery-thriller stars Melissa Anschutz, myself, Ralph Lister, Lana Wood, Terence Knox and Taylor Nichols. I’m looking forward to this film getting a wide release into the marketplace.
LOST HEART is a pleasant surprise for many who think the story is another run of the mill Hallmark film with country music and redemption themes. It has Bigfoot, ufo’s and even the Devil’s Crossroads which appeals to its own market. So the General Market release will have different art and title but will be the same wonderful tale. The film is up for multiple nominations at the ICFF this month in Florida with our own Melissa Anschutz, Victoria Jackson and Don Most scheduled to attend. I will be riding post here in Michigan but I might get away to a fest later in the year. Nashville maybe? We will see.
I want to thank all the fans who have been watching the #tribeCDI films and reaching out with kind words for Man’s Best Friend, Wild Faith, Lost Heart and The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) among the many. Go to the page associated with Amazon and IMDB and leave a message. It helps to expand the viewership and offset the trolls who like to hunt films. Anyway, thank you so much for your support. You all are why we make the stories. To hear how well they’re being accepted and also affecting your attitudes so positively is a wonderful thing for the artists to hear. Most of the films can be seen free with ads on Amazon, Tubi, Pluto TV and Youtube (Encourage TV) so take a watch.
I’ve had some new business people reach out about more film ventures and we’ll see where that leads. I’ve been flowing with things and just working it step by step and things are happening. I’ve been having some great talks and texts with some industry friends – discussing their plans. I am continuing to seek a path literary-wise and slowly pulling my actor materials together. I’m not against outside projects at all even though I have turned several down. It just has to be worth taking my eye off the assortment of projects at CDI. Just like the re-assigning of BESTSELLER to BMG it is an effort to keep looking for opportunities for past stories while finishing the present ones and planning the future endeavors. But I truly love the people I get to work with.
Soccer season starts this week and I haven’t been doing the kind of running soccer requires. My cardio has been heavy bag work at best and so we’ll see how the gas tank is this week. I imagine a good amount of post-game soreness but for some reason that always feels so good to me. I’m going to let you all go so I can get the lawn mowed and might have to fire up the grill. Stay focused on your plans and don’t let small set backs derail you. Those failures are steps towards success if you keep at it. Experience can only be earned so don’t be afraid to do once you’ve evaluated the situation. I look forward to talking to all of you next week. Be good to one another.
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‘BATTLE OF THE BANDS’ LAUNCHED AND WW2 1944 IS THE NEXT STOP FOR CDI
Good morning my good artist friends from around the globe. I saw many new readers from Peru, Ireland and Cuba just to name a few. I don’t know how it is in your part of the world but here in Michigan (Southern Canada) just kidding – the ice and snow started to melt showing us patches of earth. Spring is in the air and the wood bins are full for the final blasts of cold. Plans are being made for the Spring already with an expansion to the chicken-land enclosure and maybe an outdoor gazebo. Within the office I’ve been doing some tinkering here and there all while jamming to some good tunes. I think that is what led to the idea of the Battle of the Bands. BEST YEARS GONE which is closing in on a final cut will soon move into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. But we’ve used many featured artists on past films. WILD FAITH used Trace Adkins narrating vs singing but we’ve had several artists join us. On LOST HEART we got to hear John Carter Cash and his wife Ana with The Cash Collective and Roanoke featuring our young lead Taylor. Anyway, this was an idea to take a few of my music artists friends higher on the ladder and give them a chance to experience some of the other great artists out there looking to have their voice and stories told. So if you have original songs that you own all the lyric and music rights, submit the song(s) to the wall at – Facebook
In April our Judges will listen to the finalists and give their comments. From there our director will review and a winner will revealed. So submit your songs – rock, rap, country! Good luck!
LOST HEART has still been getting lots of national PR and on streaming sites like TUBI it has been climbing joining WILD FAITH. Critics are what they are but here is another review-
We have some exciting ideas bouncing with our distributor. The film seems to be hitting well with the female audience but isn’t drawing in men as much. BUT when men watch they are actually enjoying be causing of the fun UFO and Bigfoot elements in the story. So we might be designing some artwork that reflects some of that because it is a really fun movie. Like I’ve said, I challenge you to watch it and not laugh somewhere. Cry is a good possibility too. I had some fan mail that thought they were in for something lighter in tone like a Hallmark film but were surprised by the power of the drama.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also on the rise and the distributor thinks it can go even further with a new campaign so I’m looking forward to see new art, trailer and PR push. This film is really making the circle through the military friends and families marching towards 1 million viewers on Encourage TV and playing many more channels.
These three fine stories that I promise you are unique in their genre, are being featured on many sites as a series. Sony/Pureflix is doing a special Easter season push as is many of the outlets and platforms. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. What I love about the first one is that it depicts a time before Jesus started any ministry. When he was still crystallizing his teaching and how to “put the words of the heart on the tongue”. But many people were not happy or content to see a pre-Jesus. The man BEFORE he fully became what others now expect. It’s a unique perspective that some missed. But those who missed are people just looking to ‘devil the details’ and they often miss the lesson altogether. Enjoy the films and let me know what you think and if you see the unique perspective of a man who is a work-in-progress.
DEVELOPMENT & PRE
Several projects are in motion with our doc ‘For the Love of Catch‘ filming the next several weeks. Some VFX post work is being completed on SMOKE & MIRRORS a spooky short that we filmed with the CDI Tribe. HASTINGS continues to advance down the development road. The good news that will be announced this week is that SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is officially moving out of development into pre-production. We have been casting and will have more exciting announcements including the casting of our young female lead. It’s…
We’ll also start discussing crew and put several tasks in motion creatively. I’m beyond excited to have the CDI Tribe do a WW2 drama. I’m thrilled that this was the script Rance Howard and I spoke so many hours on. Being that this is all ‘based on a true event’ makes it even better that this moving story will be told to the entire world.
WRAP UP – If you are a musician with original music drop it on the wall for BEST YEARS GONE or just go listen to some of the great music being added. I want to thank Mr. John Two Hawks joining Dennis Therrian as our second celebrity judge with more to follow. I spoke with John yesterday which was a great catch up. I blame/thank John for my love of NIGHTWISH. John has played with them on a few occasions and I really enjoy their sound. His full bio can be seen on the FB site where the ‘Battle of the Bands’ is being hosted. IF you have a company that wants to align with either our next release BEST YEARS GONE or our new SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA WW2 film. If your product was around in 1944 we plan throw back packaging. And if your company was not well, we can make it look in the style of 1944. We will have many exciting supporters and sponsors to announce now that this is moving forward. I hope you all have a great week. Stay safe and be good to one another.
JUNE 23rd Bday Thoughts and Reflections
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.
Auditions, Updates and Other News
I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.
As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.
I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.
I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful. It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.
This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.
The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.
WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.
I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF. Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.
Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.