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.
It’s once again a morning where we awoke to big flakes of falling snow. We are suppose to have several such days this week. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking the state of the Union. My feeling is that once we get to the other side of this Covid and political election, we can start the healing. I’m happy that the vaccine is rolling out and that the most vulnerable are starting to get their first shot. I’m excited to gather in groups again to laugh, share and create. We’ve continued to move forward against all the opposing forces at work and I’m excited about where we’re going. I’ll leave the politics by saying I sincerely wish for a peaceful transition. I wish this new administration only the best just like the previous administration. As a life-long team-sport playing individual I hope that the sportsmanship between the parties gets better. When politics fixate on just tearing down the other party, the people lose. Coffee cheers to unity as we move into 2021.
The last two weeks I’ve worked with our upcoming director Anthony Hornus (director of MBF) on the transfer of script. By this I mean the transfer of understanding of each character, description and dialog. Many scenes were re-worked, tweaked and polished. We use that time to discuss production aspects, casting ideas and more. This is a development phase activity bordering on pre-production. The difference is funding and while we are almost a full ahead we’re also not quite there. But, I think by the end of this month we’ll be making that announcement. We’ll go full into locations, casting and key crewing at that point. This project will shoot in Iowa and so it’s looking at flights vs drive in’s and such. We’ve got some good experience at bringing the show as we did to Yuma, AZ three times. It takes a supportive community to tell a story at these smaller budgets. But I’m happy to report that is exactly what we have. Between our backers, distributor, the Iowa community and our on-going sponsors, once again we’ll tell a powerful story. This one made better because it’s based on a true event. The script will likely start going out to producers today or tomorrow.
Also coming at the end of the week just as I hit my limit for the day was the 1st rough edit of BEST YEARS GONE. Monday morning, I plan to watch the edit in full with good audio Real audio work doesn’t start until we lock the picture. This cut will start to be worked by editor and director to work toward that lock. I did watch the film in pieces on my phone with low audio. It’s exciting as the writer to see the characters and story come to life. As an actor it’s amazing to see a character you lived with come to life with all the other characters. My co-star Erika Hoveland, is so powerful and it was a real joy to tell this story with her. But the other quirky characters Mandy, Tinker, Jed, the Pats in our story, really make it for me. Dean Teaster had me laughing out loud watching. You all will see later this year when the film releases. We’re also going to start rolling out some of the official screenshots. Also we’ll be launching some fun merchandise dealing with this fine film. This project gave me confidence in what our great team can do even when faced with new challenges.
LOST HEART keeps rolling out and the fan mail keeps coming in thanking CDI for bringing some a heartwarming story to the screen. Launching this film in 2020 is also something we’re very proud of including the event filming. Here is the PRE and POST party if you have not seen them yet. They give some great insight to what the #tribeCDI is all about. Watch below and if you have not seen the film please do – would you believe it deals with BigFoot, UFO’s and more?
THE QUEST TRILOGY – As Easter lies ahead, many are enjoying the unique and fresh approach to these biblical stories. Here is a trailer for the trilogy of films. These parables are meant to tell a story and encourage us to live treating one another better. You can take these films as gospel or as just a good story with a lesson. Either way, they are an honest, respectful look at these stories minus any agenda save to tell a good story. The Bible is full of good stories and I appreciate all the fan mail from the worldwide audiences who took something from them. Watch them. You just might enjoy the story.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – The pilot feature film Wild Faith and the developing TV series ‘Hastings’ – we have some great battle plans being drawn up on this TV series. A few of our proposed directors and returning cast are reading the scripts for season 1. We have our ideal window to shoot but if we can pull this all together in that ideal window is unknown. We are undertaking something new and we’re also dealing with a world dealing with new challenges. But, the prep remains the same and at this point all development strengthens the endeavor. Each week that passes Wild Faith grows a larger audience. Just using our distributors streaming platform ENCOURAGE TV – Wild Faith has grown 80k viewers per week for 11 months now totaling over 3.5 million viewers. That is if only one person watched the film. My point is that as every week passes, the audiences are helping us to launch. I know that all the artists involved would love to revisit Hastings and the stories of Emmett and his family.
Thank you to all the fans out there. I could share more updates but I want to get after a few things today. The fans of MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND have also been letting their voices be heard. I’m thrilled that everyone is enjoying the stories and we’ll be working hard to make sure that continues. Every day work on the stuff you can control and don’t let your mental or physical time be wasted on what you cannot control.
Happy Sunday to you all. Be good to one another.
The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.
Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.
Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.
Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!
OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST
“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.
“The Christ Slayer”
I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.
My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.