I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
I’m sitting in my big leather chair by my electric fire – The Candleberry Candle and sipping the hazelnut coffee. I’ve got sleeping dogs around me happy to have me back into the fold of the pack.
Shane Hagedorn rolling with the Collective Development OG’s:)
I’ve just returned from running with another pack of artists filmmakers creating an 1800’s action drama. I can honestly say it was some of the best fun I’ve had in many years. It reunited me with many friends and artists some that worked together last in this genre a decade ago.
Production Designer Jen Raine & Art Director Austin Two Feathers
It introduced me to a slew of new artists who I think appreciate the Collective Development Inc. approach and take to filmmaking. We use to do this as children for free – the make-believe. And now to pay people to create that same fun but with bigger toys and doing it day after day until we get our puzzle pieces. I got to observe seasoned film warriors work side by side with what will be the next generation of film warriors. I saw people realize that within a powerful problem solving group strong art can be born. I saw people forget past dealings with others and give us a chance to be a positive experience. I’m developing key crews and key to me starts with a 100% positive attitude. You can make several mistakes giving your best effort and from me you will get mentoring and compassion. That positive attitude is hard for many to keep in this industry – you don’t have to dig far to hear the horror stories. I’m a person who dislikes having my time wasted, who does? I’ve got several ways I can waste my own time and still enjoy it – I don’t need waste imposed upon me. I do shun people who purposely waste my time with unreasonable. Do I have any examples to help illustrate? Perhaps…
A mix of acting talent on set #wildfaith
One acting role in our recent film underwent several discussions before falling to a very talented, 200% positive (through the roof) ready for success gent. The first major look came by association – one of our producers had worked with this person. A read that was strong and a direction was set – but full disclosure of a change in residence lost this person the role.
Another option – a young hopeful gives a good read but ultimately has no vehicle. I’m not judging, but as an actor I can say that a phone and car are the two things you need to thrive in our smaller regional market.
Opportunity knocks again – As a talent when you get a call from a company that based on your previous work wants to hire you again – slam dunk? Not quite – instead of an easy transaction of business someone suggests a string of silly actions – not anything a production in pre-production can or will handle. It also speaks poorly of this persons maturity, character and true dedication to do what you need to do until your craft is accepted.
This casting string really created a well needed lightness to the pre-production talks. CDI is ran primarily by actor/producers and individually we’ve all had and some continue to have the struggles that come with acting. To see three actors shoot themselves in the foot was offset by the enthusiasm of the one who got to call BINGO!
Be prepared actors. (Take 2) Be prepared actors. Not just in your craft but in your professionalism. Not fixing that car because it is a pain in the butt. Not getting a job with flexibility of schedule. Don’t help yourself fail in an industry that is already difficult. By taking care of your business you can be ready for when opportunity knocks. Organized. Prepared. Ready to succeed.
We had a key position whereas because of a change in our shoot locations we had to make a change. One person visiting Michigan on another endeavor got a call and within two hours was onboard. They started the next day. Opportunity knocked and it will likely result in another hiring in the spring.
I’ve seen people I’ve hired before return with new battle hardness that made me smile. I saw the few situations we had handled with calm professionalism. Now some may have experienced their first feature run and decide short format is more their pace. Feature shooting is harder, longer and requires a different mental and physical endurance. With our larger budgets we often had additional on location pre production and additional shoot weeks. So to all my crew that traveled with us – I’m tipping my hat. To the ones there all the way through – be proud that is a true benchmark.
One additional planned day of battle footage and a few powerful moments with our films lead Shane Hagedorn. It was a really cool experience to see Shane ride this story out. He made it his and brought such a cool edge to the role. Our Lisa Smith who plays opposite him was such a find. Many of the actresses had a great take on the lead role. This actresses brought it out in Shane, it showed. The children, the outlaws, townsfolk, circus folks all cast with care and it shows.
My humblest respect to my fellow producing team – 1st AD Nate Robertson who TCB (Takes care of Business) on set and the staff who handles everything behind the scenes from accounting to PR and everything in between, we are ONE TRIBE. Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon) what an honor to story tell with you both again.
Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon)
Check us out on Facebook
“Wild Faith” coming 2017
I had a chance to see the first rough trailer for “Chasing the Star” and it exceeded my expectations greatly. I think because we’re dealing with a topic that people have such a limited insight to – how do we present that? And I think it was done in a beautiful fashion. Music is complete and dialog clean up is underway with sound design. VFX work is also underway. Bret Miller and CDI have a great follow-up with part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Which brings me to part 3 – This week I will be starting to put the business together on “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in the spring. More intense talks on this film in the coming weeks.
“40 Nights” is flowing in the positive direction and this week we’ll be discussing marketing efforts with Lightworx about “40 Nights” and the trilogy moving forward.
I’m going to go finish unpacking my vehicle that was packed up “Beverly Hillbilly’s” style – just needed a rocking chair on top:) Have a great fall morning and keep moving forward. Dare to dream. Create don’t hate.