It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
I’m so happy to be relaxing with a cup of streaming coffee from the new coffee maker that we now call “The Cylon” because it is chrome with cool blue lights. The office also got a new coffee maker. The Holiday season and year is coming to a close. I feel blessed that all we had to deal with is the big downed tree that will be cut up this week. I know many friends/family had to deal with the results of the ice storm. Many were without heat, water, power and many suffered more damage. I did have a large branch bounce off my ride but it was protected by the 1/2 inch of ice that covered it. I did have a relative pass on Christmas eve and I know many people deal with that as it is just part of life. I really enjoyed 2013 for many reasons both professionally and personally. Several things that happened will surely be springboards to another busy 2014. Not a ton of new developments since last week as people had to deal with the storms and/or holidays. The next blog will be in 2014 so I’m waiting to give any major updates until that one. I’m also still finalizing a few deals that got help up. I imagine those will close this week so we can start the new year with some new business!
SNOW is a large force of nature in many folks day. In Michigan the Great Lakes gave us some protection and so we have a beautiful blanket but a reasonable amount. I’m sipping the hot coffee and giving all of you a little update before I put in two days of work on the new office. We are going to finish up the electric on it and this past week was organizing my desk and added another bookshelf. Last week was a cautionary tale told as a tribute to an old friend. This week is vastly different. At Collective Development Inc. http://www.cdiproductions.com we have engaged in working with other promising filmmakers. We go into association and use our experience to help others emulate the success we’ve had while trying to help them avoid our past errors. This usually works only as well as someone listens. I will say that some of the associations become the foundation of long-term maybe lifetime collaborations while others are the first and last. I’m very focused upon this task of storytelling. I will ultimately only work with the same. I will first talk about one of these collaborations. ‘Locked in a Room” directed by Larry Simmons. By his admission the film was going to be an exercise and he expected it to be a few rungs higher than a student film. When we first talked I told him I don’t play. If we did this we did it right. The proper marketing and PR, high prod value, distribution friendly cast and worldwide distribution. We had professional differences of opinions on occasion but all done with respect. He discovered how much more BIZ work was involved with SHOW+BIZ. He knew a lot from the music world BUT film is audio, music, fx, color correct, quality control – so many more layers than just audio and LONGER! Ten 2 min songs is 20 minutes and we are dealing with just under 2 hours of product. Many people can manage a short be it narrative or commercial but a feature is another beast. I think Larry learned so many lessons that he will carry over to our next projects. That said, I was so proud of Larry. We finished the film, shopped the film and now Echo Bridge Entertainment has released it. They have a studio level distribution set up to handle Lionsgate and Miramax material. They released us a touch earlier than our March 7th release and boy did it come out with a bang. Google Play is becoming one of the new powerhouse venues pushing instant downloads. We came out debut at #20 and it has moved to #12. This painful piece of art so many hours to create is now in the mix with major Hollywood releases and standing its ground and climbing. It is scary as I saw people in the theaters hiding and yelling at the screen:) More than just the exposure and profit that can follow Larry is a role model. Not just to his kids as a man following his dream but to many aspiring filmmakers. This nice write-up is in celebration of black cinema and those that create it. Even more Larry can stand as an inspiration to other filmmakers in Detroit, MI be they black, white, asian, hispanic, middle eastern – doesn’t matter. STORYTELLERS are one TRIBE! The haters will come out as they are as sure as the Northern star. My script is better. Why can’t I find backers. Those who feel left from the limelight. Smile and keep moving I say. I like the old saying that if someone comes with their cup already full I cannot help you. Many are not open to listening. Listening is not weakness it is wisdom. A common question I get is from people who want to work with me/CDI. Be a good listener. Be a doer. Don’t come with your cup full to the brim – I will have nothing to offer. I don’t like to spill.
GREAT LINK TO THE STORY ON LOCKED IN A ROOM SUCCESS STORY
Other updates –
“DONORS” http://www.donorsthemovie.com is looking to lock up picture and have it over to us for music score in two weeks.
Development talks/meetings going strong. New scripts are being reviewed. Some budgeting underway. “Race to Judgement,” “Soul Eater,” and many others.
Some exciting news coming on CDI TV. The new Parables TV Network deal for “Figure in the Forest” and “Wicked Spring” are on the forefront of the TV movie dealings.
“7 Stones” is rolling out to the 1st distribution folks.
A pair of biblical features following the success of “Book of Ruth” is close to pre-production.
Westerns are certainly on the development slate. After “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” released to #1 western rental for 7 weeks, top 10 for 17 weeks. This film has grossed well over a million dollars with Lionsgate and we are looking to recreate this success. Soon it will be time to strap on the gun rigs again!
“Ashes of Eden” editing is going great. I can only say that this film has dynamite dramatics. Check out the trailer teaser if you want a look. A lot more on this film as we get a little further down the line.
Well, I think it is time for a coffee refill and to get ready to work on the office.
Stay warm. Stay safe. And have a wonderful weekend.