“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “Dan Chipman

Deceleration Into Life From Set Life –

Some of the amazing extras who helped tell our story “Silent Night in Algona”

I’m sitting in MY chair with a hot cup of hazelnut coffee. Outside is my first Michigan snow. For me if it’s going to be cloudy and overcast, give me snow. It’s pretty and brightens everything a tad. Now I know I have friends here from VERY warm places that don’t get snow. Now snow is quite magical and that first one always brings thoughts of those days as a kid and will various pets that made that so special. Catching snowflakes, snowball fights, snow angel and sledding. I have a few stories of drunken skiing with my cousin Jerry including one epic fence-destroying trip to one of the small ski mountains. The key to snow is being prepared. This means layers and layers and mind the gaps. -By that I mean where pant legs and boots meet. Where coat sleeves and gloves meet. Where neck might be exposed and of course a solid winter hat. We learn that as a young child from bus stop stays. This continued to elementary school recess that was always an outdoor adventure of ‘king of the mountain,’ snowball wars and snowy football games. In our secluded ‘Lord of the Flies’ neighborhood even more snow games were abound. Sledding was legendary that included a few ramps/jumps that would make Evel Knievel smiles with pride. The afterglow of our cold adventure was a round of hot chocolate, marshmallows optional. At night the even more fun and dangerous snow mobile pull of the sled around the plowed fields nearby. Kind of like being pulled on a tube behind a boat but the bumps and trees made for quite the challenge. I recall at least one time staying too long in the frigid and having to run my hands under warm water, the ache returning with feeling. I hope for my friends living in the no-snow zones I painted a little picture of living with frozen water.

One of the wonderful farms we filmed on – note the sky.

In Algona while filming “Silent Night in Algona” #SNIAthemovie we saw our actual first snowfall. Iowa and Michigan are alike in many ways but have their differences. We seem to have more variation in our landscapes where Iowa has lots of corn. To their credit I did see some hilly places and the sky there was just amazing. Maybe it is the less pollution or any number of factors but our location photos and our film itself captured these many awesome skies.

This project was ambitious as most of the #tribecdi projects are. I believe you have to reach to grow and so we often pick projects with various elements not easily obtained in independent films. Or with independent budgets might be a better term. Any project that takes us from our home state is more expensive. We found basic logistics to be a challenge and in hindsight a better battle plan can always be seen. The script could have been a touch shorter and we did tighten in a few places. The script was the final version that I had consulted heavily with my friend/co-star and mentor Rance Howard. He was a stickler on the farming techniques and perspective of 1940’s citizens. We went in with a battle plan and a tribe of artists. We spent months casting the “right” actors from around the country. This is a big part of directing and our producers work hard with our director and it showed in this production. But we had a large cast and with flying and lodging this is a major cost also. But the actors that signed on were there for the story. As a screenwriter I’ve never been more proud of all the feedback on the script. It was from 14 years earlier and is not perfect (is any?) and even in my own scene study I found a few ‘subtextual’ issues that I corrected. But we had the pleasure of knowing what was coming from the auditions. Now put those same amazing actors in proper wardrobe, locations and – MAGIC! MOVIE MAGIC!~

The actors were all on point and we captured some incredible cinematic magic. By capturing I mean our amazing crew. At CDI we work hard. Movies are hard. Bad movies are hard to make which is why I always give points for even bad films. Finishing deserves credit. Finishing with quality that passes worldwide QC (quality control) is worthy of kudos. But creating something handcrafted that has the story power to last decades is – a reward that you receive only after audiences have celebrated a story for many years. I think this film will be one of those. We at CDI are shooting for nothing short of a holiday classic. We made our go at that with THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) three biblical stories told together from a unique perspective. These films have been growing an audience for many years and are on their way to becoming a classic. You can watch the three films streaming on many platforms and in many countries.

One of our films that we produced with our former sister company Lionheart was WICKED SPRING. That film now managed by CDI is 20+ years old and is still entertaining audiences. It’s also getting a new release on HD/streaming and is a good example of a film that is a true classic. Unique in its perspective with roses and rocks thrown at it but a story that has kept audiences coming back from the earliest days on VHS and network TV. (I still have a VHS copy from TV with commercials)

WILD FAITH is another film on the way to classic status. We can cement that with the production of the WILD FAITH: Hastings tv series. We are adding the film to the title to help assure our tens of millions in fans can find the upcoming series. I’m looking at back half of the year to produce the 8 shows that make up season one. I will be getting on that business asap once I can get caught up on my SNIA (Silent Night in Algona) business. A few discussions were had but again the #1 thing is that the story is told proper. This project has suffered from bad studio/network notes in the past and has moved past those to become a film loved by many. So we will stay true to our story and find the right partners. If it isn’t broke don’t let others try and fix it. We will get this made and audiences will see some of their favorite 1800’s characters back in action. Giddy up!

LOST HEART versus BIGFOOT, UFO’S & JESUS – this film under both titles is doing really well with audiences. The film is such a charm that it has so many levels and layers of story that really should appeal to most audiences. It was kind of an experiment but so far I think it has been good one. It is another great holiday season watch. It also has some great music in the film from Roanoke and The Cash Collective (John Carter, Ann and their family). Worthy of a watch if you are trying to catch up with some of the CDI films. Melissa Anschutz shines as the lead and Josh Perry shows his dramatic and comedic mastery.

RETURN TO ALGONA-

Melissa Anschutz and Josh Perry are both back in SNIA. They both bring such fascinating characters that will once again inspire. Josh Perry left people in tears with his performance which isn’t a surprise at all. Josh doesn’t wave a “Down syndrome” flag ever but I’m just so damn proud of him. On two occasions I’ve observed individuals with Down syndrome observe Josh and you could see boundaries in their minds fall. Josh ‘The Ponceman’ Perry is a movie star make no mistake about that and these young people saw what they could achieve. Josh is an inspiration by his actions not his activism. Maybe there is a lesson in that.

I had a chance to meet more fans of MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND and I’m so pleased that the film sits so well with veterans. I hope that all of you will take a chance to watch this CDI story told by ‘SNIA‘ director Anthony Hornus. One of the hard drives is being sent to our editor Nathaniel Nose who is also supervising the VFX. Our director is upgrading his computer to allow better footage review. Our DP Dan Chipman is doing some rough assembly to seek out and identify some of the pieces of the story caught on the fly. Also the first batch of photo stills is being drawn out and color corrected to help become a color template for the films final look. We have been rolling out BTS stills captured by many of our cast and crew but the real GOLD is coming.

Also this week I’ll be taking a hard look at the feature projects in development. We plan to shoot a CDI feature this Spring before we roll into pre-production on the WILD FAITH TV series. I started to have some first talks about the next CDI feature which could become plural, features pending a few discussions. I have a few development meetings that will nudge things one way or another. But with both SNIA moving into post as BEST YEARS GONE continues its theatrical (last day today in Lansing at Celebration Cinema) before prepping for home video. Also FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is in final post mixing before we start a release schedule on this documentary. We will have a meeting over this property this coming week. We should be doing a final watch through in a few weeks. From there a premiere will also be discussed. But…not until it is done. And we just might be doing another documentary in 2022. As this year closes a new one lies right over the horizon. This week will be tying up more loose ends on SNIA, planning 2022 schedule, end of year dispersement and tax prep and writing. I love to write when it is cold and snowy and I know I have some days ahead of me. I have several properties/scripts I’ve been working on and a few possible work-for-hires so we’ll see with all of that. We have the Christmas tree up after I donned winter warrior Michigan gear and saw. Today we might add lights and another night the bells and whistles. I might go light a fire in the stove at the fort to finish settling back in. I have totes everywhere as I prepare to stow the gear until our next film adventure. Stay warm and be good to one another!

DJ


‘Best Years Gone’ Thanks you Owosso! Where Next? Other Updates on TribeCDI Projects!

The first sips of the hazelnut coffee taste so good on this chilly Michigan morning. Yesterday the sinus were a bit stuffed due to the weather changes but this morning I’m feeling good. We watched my alumni school Michigan State University put another win up for the season. If only our Lions could start doing the same. Either way, football, hot cider and the harvest has been a great welcome to Fall that is now officially here.

This past week was great for tying up loose ends on BEST YEARS GONE that played Owosso, MI NCG all week. I was able to sneak into a day show on the last day with my dad. It was nice to have no pressure or expectations to meet and greet. It was nice to just relax into the story and just enjoy. The story is well put together with such great comments on the camerawork (DP Travis Hayward) the creative editing (Nathaniel Nose) – the music (Dennis Therrian and all our great guest artists). We know all of this includes the entire crew and cast. I heard lots of compliments on how the film walks the line with strong drama and outrageous comedy. And big kudos to Shane Hagedorn our director who kept the vision and created the fine blend story. NOTE: A BTS of the premiere event is on our IMDB.com page and we’ll go up on our FB page soon. Great job Dan Chipman.

We started with a two show screening premiere and that went great! We’ve been dripping out pics from that night on the BYG Facebook site. What a wonderful night and it was great to see the story on the big screen. The film was granted an extension playing all last week in Owosso, Michigan. Now we are looking at other cities both with NCG and other theatrical chains. We hope to bring it to our home town of Lansing, Michigan. Possibly Grand Rapids and the Detroit area and even Nashville, TN is being considered. This week after the theatrical we made a few adjustments to our mix and we’ll do a final review Weds before uploading the master to our distributor. I’m excited for people around the world to enjoy this story.

Today we are having a meeting for SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA to review our schedule and lock that so that cast agreements and flights can be booked. We’re working hard to get all our ducks in a row so that many things are done before our pre-production week on set. Algona is not a big city so we’re working with all the resources we have. The best resource is the people of Algona who are excited to have this story of theirs told, keeping it from being forgotten. This week I’ll do some PR about our product partners and we’ll announce a few more cast. I had a few great conversations with folks this week and that is what is nice about these adventures. I get to see some dear friends that I usually only see when filming. But today is a big day as we lock up the schedule and collectively look for problem/issues in advance. We have some of the best problem solvers working to tell this story so I feel very confident.

WILD FAITH is about to hit 5 million views on Encourage TV taking us even deeper into the tens of millions who have watched the film. I had a few more conversations with parties that could assist in getting the TV series launched. Creative Control has been the main goal for me as I’ve had a few projects derailed by “experts” on what a story needs or doesn’t need. We have several paths we could take to production and as I’ve always said it is not IF it is WHEN. Have you seen WILD FAITH? If not, please do.

MANS BEST FRIEND is playing new TV channels such as Charge TV which seems to be targeted at action and macho films by Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and DJ Perry, what? I have continued to encounter many more folks who love that film. I’m very proud of the film and the action sequences which are modest. I’ve had several people ask about ‘Paul Landings’ outcome and could there ever be a sequel. You never know and yes, I’ve thought about it. I have a good story in my head but we’ll see about that some other time. I’ve got a full plate.

LOST HEART/BIGFOOT, UFOs and JESUS – I had the pleasure of hearing from many who saw CDI’s last release under two different titles. I love this film and it always leaves me feeling good. Feeling down or just needing a boost of ‘feel good’ take a watch. Melissa Anschutz commands the screen and folks like Josh Perry turn in performances that will have people talking for years. This is the perfect time of year to watch this film.

THE QUEST TRILOGY – Once we get past the beloved Halloween-fare it will be the holidays. I’m excited to continue the tradition of our trilogy. I again at the recent premiere got to hear from the fans of these films. Many are still learning about them and learning that there are three films in the series. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. See them in order. See them all.

FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – the final polished cut is getting close. This weekend the audio narration was being done. A pre-mix and a final mix and we’ll be ready for a premiere. Maybe just before Christmas but after Thanksgiving for sure.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS – Our short concept film that sprung from a commercial endeavor is completed. We’re in discussions about the various possible premieres for this film using it to also help the historic Dodge Turner House. We are exploring a virtual premiere also but getting together and seeing this on a big screen would be fun. It is roughly 14 minutes so not a long film. A few festivals could be in the future for this short film story. I have been working on the feature script which I’m calling ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS’ to add a slight difference between the two.

ODDS & ENDS

This week I got to throw some of my dialog off Curran Jacobs who is playing the lead in our next WW2 film. I’ve been having such a great time emerging myself in the 1940’s and preparing to tell this great story. We also had a great meeting with our director and the VFX supervisor and we identified all the VFX shots or shots that would utilize CGI additions or subtractions.

I had an offer for a lead in a short which I don’t typically consider but offered to look at the script and the details which I asked for. I got a script with no details and had to pry any info out. But to be honest when I saw the email with just the script (poorly formatted) and no information – it was a polite pass. I had another call about engaging as a work-for-hire writer. On the other end of the spectrum from the no detail communication mentioned previously- this email came with a great pitch/breakdown. Success will follow the hard work. One person did the bare minimum and the other had spent some real time in organizing and preparing for their endeavor. I will likely enter negotiations this week for a wonderful writing endeavor that I’ll do over the holidays. I’ve had a handful of these opportunities approach me which is what led me to consider representation. In time I may explore the representation aspect but for now I’m happy to handle the details.

I’m going to bring this to a close. I have a few yard tasks to accomplish and I need to get ready for two groups of folks today. The ‘schedule’ meeting this afternoon and later my brother and few amigos will visit. I think the first fire might have to be lit today. I hope each of you have a wonderful day and good week ahead. I’m excited for all the developments happening and also happy to be enjoying the Fall with the family. This shoot will be the only extended leave I took this year. But it will put us into post-production on another beautiful story. This story is built on the real history of Algona and we’re proud to be telling it.

Be good to one another and coffee cheers!

DJ


HAPPY Mother’s Day! Also CDI’S TOP 10 UPDATES (There are some good ones)

My first sips of hazelnut coffee on this Sunday morning. I’ve been recovering the last two days from my first of the season soccer matches. My legs are in good shape but not ready for the constant run and directional changes. Yesterday my legs were stiff and tad heavy giving me the ‘mummy’ walk – “COIN!” (Old Scooby Doo reference)

I had a very productive week on many fronts and I’m just so pleased with how everything is moving along. But before we get into all the film updates let take this moment to celebrate mommas. EVERYTHING I’ve done in this life I’ve done because I was brought into this world. Every story that started as a spark in my imagination and brought to screen is because of her. (Dad also had something to do with it:) But I’m just so appreciative that I was given this opportunity. We will have the moms over this afternoon for an early dinner. A few love gifts and a good meal. I LOVE you momma:) Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. That counts if you mother child or animal, so again – thank you to all the mothers for what you’ve done, are doing and will do because that is what mother’s do. LOVE.

Maybe let’s try a TOP TEN Updates

  1. FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH documentary is now in editing. We had a post meeting last week and we’ll even having a teaser trailer coming soon. This is about the history of the grappling arts and the evolution of “Catch” as told by those who love it the most. Hosted and directed by two time world champion Curran Jacobs. We have some great interviews. Big Kudos to Dan Chipman our mobile production and Adam Towner, B camera and post. This just might be the first of many documentary collaborations between #Tribecdi with The Red, White and Blue Project Inc. You can follow us on IMDB and Facebook as we have pages for both now.
  2. BESTSELLER – This “Hitchcock” like thriller adapted from the book by Christopher Knight has been signed for a new release campaign. This film stars Melissa Anschutz, DJ Perry, Ralph Lister, Taylor Nichols and Lana Wood. It has really only had a limited DVD release and so this new push will be much greater. It is R-rated (language and implied violence) but is done without being overly graphic. This film captures Michigan in the fall in all it’s haunting glory. I will have more info as we go but I believe the idea is a late summer/fall release!
  3. BEST YEARS GONE – the first pass on dialog clean up is complete. Last week our director and composer discussed music cues and even sound design ideas. Color Correction is happening as we speak along with the edit of our first official trailer. As if that wasn’t enough- we’re planning the premiere, manufacturing merchandise and more official stills are being prepped for delivery to our distributor (BMG) so they can begin poster art. Lotta fun ahead with this movie and I think audiences will really enjoy it. I need to add that the Battle of the Bands judging is underway by our team and celeb judges. We will be announcing a winner this month!
  4. LOST HEART is really a film that has a lot going for it. But to try and convey that via shelf art alone is hard. The film is a story is about music star Hannah Sweet going back to her home town for a funeral but the B story is the town of ‘Lost Heart’ itself. It started with fan mail before Christmas from men who had lost the remote and via wife/girlfriend and was made to watch ‘Lost Heart’ and really loved it. I recall one gent saying that he would have never watched that film except by his wife’s choosing. But he loved the Bigfoot, UFO (UFA?:) and humorous mystery in our story. In a meeting with our distributor I recall telling these stories after discussing the demographic audience that is being drawn to our story. A joke was mention that if the title was “Bigfoot, UFO’s and Jesus” the film would find its partially missing male demographic. Guys hanging out amongst themselves are unfortunately not going to randomly watch a film named ‘Lost Heart,’ which is a name I truly love. It was pointed out to me that a title like “Bigfoot, UFO’s and Jesus” would also attract more women who were equally into the mystery aspects, like my own cousin Angie. So I stand corrected. This GM release should add to our overall audience by revealing the wonderful B story of our film. It was a nice hidden gem inside our story but I think we need to be more direct. So a ‘General Market/GM’ campaign release is underway with a new title, poster art and trailer. I will share this new artwork at the end of this update. But I’m very excited because this film/story deserves to be seen by many, many, many more people from around the world. And so it will.
  5. WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – I want to do a polish up on the “Hastings” scripts for simple grammar mistakes but I had a few more connections start to open up on the WILD FAITH TV spin off. I’m excited to put that into play to shoot next year. I know the feature is growing an audience around the world and so the series would have a nice welcome audience.
  6. MBF/MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film has been working its way into the marketplace. I was told a new deal was just executed taking the film into Latin America. I know it is making its way into territories around the world. The top two questions I get with this film 1) Will you do more martial arts filming? I do have a great concept that will eventually make it to script. 2) What was Paul’s sentence, will there be a sequel? Right now I like keeping Paul’s fate in limbo with audiences. Will there be a Part 2? Never say never. If you have not watched this film – watch it. If you have and enjoyed it, pass it along. Thank you to the many fans of this film out there.
  7. The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – A special message is spread across these three stories. Actually several lessons are presented and the way the story is told – everybody can take something positive away. The film series just ran through the holidays at Sony/Pureflix and again I so appreciate all the fan mail letting me know how much you enjoyed our stories. It is humbling and powerful what can be done with a story.
  8. SMOKE & MIRRORS – This early 1900 short tale is getting the final touches. Maybe we’ll cut some teaser in the coming weeks. It’s spooky. It’s kookie. Wait a minute! It’s a really fun little film that was derived from one of my feature script. This will make a great feature film. All in good time.
  9. SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – We’re making great strides on all fronts. Last week we announced Garry Nation and David Reardon coming on board. Our German casting is almost complete. Discussions with the art departments has started in earnest as we prepare to create the world of 1944 Algona. This week we should start in on our sponsorship endeavors. We have a lot of excitement in these circles and we’re excited to align with these brands. To do what we do at these modest levels requires the assistance of the community and our sponsors. Thank you to all of those supporters past and present. And here is an additional cheers to our future ones! This week we should roll out two more of the great talent associated with this film. I’m beyond excited to tell this story. If your company or business wants to support this based on true events WW2 home front drama please reach out.
  10. TRIBE CDI – The biz of the biz, I had a VERY productive week working with Bank of America to streamline our fleet of films. All this is to help streamline our inner workings. This all can make a days work only a few hours. Also had a good meeting with another one of the team (Tiger) who oversees dispersement amongst a other things. We will be prepping some of those to go out in the coming weeks. Thank you. As you all support the films, we get to keep making the films. I’m excited to see in the next decade what stories are brought to life on screen! Thank you also to Dean Teaster (COO) and Gary Davison and his team. David Gries & Carl Weyant who maintain the website. #Tribecdi is not a catching hashtag it really does represent a tribe of artists and the business that supports it.

I just enjoyed a wonderful breakfast bagel with our own eggs and 4H bacon – so good. The yard is really looking good and the warmth is creeping into Michigan. I look forward to having many enjoyable meetings both business and social in the coming weeks. I’m going to end this here with some great new poster art for Lost Heart’s new general release. Be good to one another. Be safe and keep following your dreams.

Coffee Cheers!

DJ

PS: The new trailer is almost done and I really do love it. I could not stop smiling.


‘Best Years Gone’ Moves Into Music & Sound – CDI Updates and Sunday Rocking Chair Ponderings

Good morning partners. Hazelnut coffee cheers! We had a good rain last night and everything is becoming lush and green. Later today will be our first flea market visit to see if I can find any treasures. I love to look for personal props for certain characters. I was looking pretty close to ole Ben Lily as we moved forward developing the WILD FAITH Tv series spin off. I have a string of biz calls to do about the 8 show spin off. With our WW2 film a full go we’ve decided that the series HASTINGS will go up after SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. So I’ve had a full shave and a hair cut as I prepare for the next role. We announced two more actors last week with Dean Teaster and Samual Peterson joining the cast.

This week we’ll announce more cast and crew as we move through pre-production. We’ve almost cast our Germans which is so exciting. Just incredible talent and I’m again happy to say that about all our castings. So many exciting announcements that will be forthcoming.

Our holiday window of Thanksgiving to Easter is now complete. It will be fun to see how THE QUEST TRILOGY did with audiences this year. We keep growing our audiences each year and I truly do love getting all the fan mail. CDI will eventually do another trilogy of biblical films. One of the scripts is being studied for future execution and we hope to return to the desert in the near future.

MANS BEST FRIEND is starting its general market roll out. I have to say I loved the previous poster art but this poster captures ‘Paul’ in the eyes. And what a noble pic of Paul’s MBF. I think this film that got caught up in the Covid breakout deserves that renewed push. For a beat everyone was holding on licensing as the whole world adjusted. I’m so happy that it is getting its second wind. I was already getting LOTS of fan mail (NOTE: My silly spell check tried to turn ‘mail’ into ‘tail’ and that reads totally different. I’m happy to say this coming June at NRB the 5 best finalist films under 250k will compete for gold, silver and bronze. Both MBF and LOST HEART are finalists. So having 2 of the 5 nominated films feels good. It makes me proud of our artists and I do take pride in having written those scripts.

‘WRITING’ is a love that I hid for a long time only because I wanted to be seen as an actor first. The actor ME became frustrated at the lack of deep, powerful films. I’m comfortable now being considered a screenwriter along with an actor and ultimately producer. I’ve enjoyed writing short stories as part of my book contributions to this wonderful book series by Callie Smith Grant. (Revell/Baker) Each book focuses on animal relationships and sometimes centers around a holiday. Cats and Christmas is up next and so I’ll polish up my story and see if it makes the grade. The fun fact here is I was approached after WILD FAITH was seen in the theaters. From there I’ve contributed to three books now. The one coming out later this year (09/21) is on dogs. I like dogs:)

This morning as the rain storm passed, our team on the documentary ‘For the Love of Catch‘ hit the road. This is for the last filming segment of the doc. We’re set up to start editing and dialog clean up immediately after. They have been getting some great interviews from the world of grappling to discuss what they love about it. We’ll be doing a PR release and talking more about this in the coming weeks. It is being directed by our own Catch-Can World Champion Curran Jacobs. Big congrats to Dan Chipman and his mobile production home for capturing some amazing interviews. Adam Towner has been signed on to edit and work post. Stay tuned!

LOST HEART has been just playing so well to the family/faith audiences but as pointed out by fans, the film is so much more. Hence the upcoming general market release, but we’ll wait until I have more to report. But let’s address that term? market? We are all storytellers.

At CDI we don’t make “faith” films – but create stories with strong character development. In ANY story character development is king. And knowing the ‘faith’ of the character is the seed. Some seek faith, lack faith or try to hold onto faith. Maybe they lost all faith in mankind, themselves or their path to God. All these characters come from a different place. Those carrying status in religion might struggle with their faith while the downtrodden might live in appreciative faith. I have many ask about religion which has helped to build great civilizations but unfortunately usually is tied to conflict and war. I also think that someone’s seeking to understand divinity is a personal and private relationship, unique to each person. In my opinion it also doesn’t require any fancy study, conversion, certification, validation etc…to me DIVINE is a constant like gravity. Only mankind’s understanding changes but anyone actively seeking DIVINE is getting closer and closer to THEIR truth of understanding the constant. Many of my deep pondering are reflected in ‘The Quest Trilogy,’ historical fiction examining overlooked events or perspectives to try and gain a new insight.

A nice example in Forty Nights is the showing ‘Jesus’ working to put the words of the heart on the tongue. Some watchers following along with their scripture wait to jump on the words and claim their superiority in finding supposed flaws. The purpose was to show human flaw in Jesus. That mighty things like LOVE are hard to put into the perfect words. The purpose was to show the journey to those final words. It still makes me chuckle when I see people upset about John and Jesus seemingly not knowing each other….the post baptism conversation and later flashbacks between John and Jesus obviously showing a pre-existing relationship. The baptism was a ritual passing of the torch but their casual talk away from the masses was meant to show they knew one another well.

Later in the desert, we see Jesus struggling to find the perfect way to teach what he knows. Some of the greatest minds in certain fields cannot teach what they know. Being a teacher is not easy because you have to paint a picture to enlightenment for another persons imagination and intelligence to grasp onto. Those three films are full of contemplative gems and many have discovered some personal truth by watching them. For some they just miss the point – I like the Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon I think) scene whereas Bruce tells a student not to just focus on the pointing finger alone or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory. I think the old saying of ‘the Devils in the details’ is another funny way to say this. Some people are so worried at hoping to increase their “religious” status by winning some ‘Bible Jeopardy’ that they miss the lesson of the parable all together.

And so scholars continue to debate and the facts alter and change as new “experts” appear. Science and Religion have more in common then they think and to me it’s fascinating that they don’t always co-exist well. Anyway, I think that the trilogy was my “Noah. I want you to build an ark.” moment. You want to know my feelings – watch the films. I tried to connect the dots in a way that made sense to people who cannot truthfully function on blind faith alone. You will find a deep sincere reverence that permeates all three stories. The trilogy conjures all the right emotions and feelings because in the medium of film it’s show me versus tell me where you can. It’s when the story rises beyond just show and tell to actually allow one to FEEL the story. It’s an art. I’ve gone on a while here. I could and have filled books with my thoughts on these matters. But your relationship with divine or choice to not interact or accept is deeply personal. I like to speak with the stories to those still seeking their personal truth and maybe help clarify aspects of things for those who feel to have found divinity yet still seek to fully understand it. I have a suspicion that only on our final walk will we fully understand.

Okay let’s shift gears!

BEST YEARS GONE – based upon the wonderful and quirky writing of Karl Manke in his book ” Hope from Heaven” (You can buy it:) comes the story of unconditional love, dreams gone awry and generational communication issues. We now have the film after a wonderful edit by Nathaniel Nose (Dir./Editor The Christ Slayer) and has now landed at Dennis Therrian’s studio. We’ve had two post sessions so far and what a lift to the spirits. While this film will have all the trademark emotional beats it truly marks what I feel to be a big step comedically. It is for me for certain. Now growing up I thought I was going to be a stand up comedian with strong observational humor like George Carlin. In my personal life I would say I have a healthy sense of humor maybe too much. (I have been known to pull a prank or two) I have to say I had such a wonderful time filming this. It was the adventure that unfolded in the Covid storm and we were appreciative to have all our precautions rewarded with a safe journey. Now we’re into talking music and the dialog is also popping better than ever due to innovative software, gear and the growing experience of our sound team. The deal with BMG is signed. Next week we’ll start feeding them marketing deliverables. Poster art will be underway as we deliver choice screen captures. Additionally the first official trailer is being cut and so maybe end of May we can rock that out.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS!!!! It is still underway and we are getting some KICK ASS music submissions. Keep them coming and you just might end up in this film. We’ve really enjoyed listening to all the great original music. Kudos to all of you. Keep on rocking!

I want to get back on path with my writing. I want to finish my new SMOKE & MIRRORS feature script. You’ll get to enjoy the short film likely this fall. I saw some of the VFX work and I’m smiling. My SciFi script is another goal to at least get my first draft. The 1st season of HASTINGS is being edited for missed commas and such. I think we had a nice chat and I gave you all a good update on the films. In short – it has been busy. But I’ve also been getting some great moments observing the new hens in our “chicken land” enclosure. Some major wood chopping against a few mighty logs that I swear were made of iron. I will soon bottle up some of the berry wine that has been aging. We recently toasted off Best Years Gone will some lilac wine aged several years. It was enjoyed by all. Amazing what the natural world has to offer. Until we speak next week. Be good to one another.

DJ


Stoke the Inner Fire, the Art of Patience, the Circle of Producers

Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.

First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.

Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.

My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.

So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.

Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.

FILM UPDATES

BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.

As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)

MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.

THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.

LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.

In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.

Be good to one another!

DJ


40 Nights Prepares to Drop First Trailer and Other Ramblings

Good afternoon!

I’m on my TAKE 2 with hazelnut coffee. Went about this morning and one of the things I’m most happy with is that I bought an antique, cast-iron, wood burning stove for the office. It will not go in right away because I have a few other tasks to complete. Home improvements just seem to be an ongoing thing. We also ended up stopping by to visit my brother and niece. He referred us to a Vietnamese place to eat lunch. It was really good so, if you’re in the Lansing area. (Nola Bistro)

So in the extreme heat we have going on I decided I needed to BLOG all of you before carrying this wood stove out to the office. I might just ramble this week as I’ve got much to download. So Tuesday was the first day of our Lansing run of BESTSELLER. It was nice to have a few close family and friends see the film on the big screen. Each showing has had an audience that gets the opportunity to see it in this format. We will move the film to a few other venues but the more important development is the domestic US/Canada deal that we will likely accept. It will play great on home video/VOD for the masses but IF you can see it big screen you really should. It will play tonight at 6:45 and 10:45 in Lansing at the Celebration Cinema. Here is the promo video from our 1st public showing. It was put together by Dan Chipman who has worked with us on a few projects now.

Boards at the Celebration Cinema giving local showtimes

Boards at the Celebration Cinema giving local showtimes

LINK BELOW

DONORS film announced that it had signed for domestic US/Canada with Jax Distribution.

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

ASHES OF EDEN closed caption work is being finalized and I can’t wait for worldwide audiences to get their look after Oct. 13th, 2015.

40 NIGHTS – The 1st official trailer is DONE. The distributor is very excited to have this preview to introduce the project to worldwide buyers. All the people given a sneak peek really enjoyed the film. As a matter of fact financial commitments on the next couple films started to come in off just these sneak peeks. It is great to note that while I think the trailer is powerful the film itself is much greater. This is not one of those films that everything good was thrown into the trailer to lure people. This film trailer gives a taste of the journey ahead but the final film will be so worth the wait. PR will be done to introduce the trailer next week. Here is a screen grab from the trailer. ENJOY

DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama

DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama “40 Nights”

Promotion of street dates (Ashes), theatrical release and domestic set up (Bestseller) and post-production work (40 Nights) – add a little commercial work and we’ve been busy.

BUT

Development has been full speed ahead. I’ve been planning between now and mid 2016. The script for a western is about ready and scheduling, casting, location scouting, budget refining and more has been underway. I will say that it is shooting in Michigan. No, we didn’t move to Georgia and the state can keep their incentive. (Yes. I know they killed it) I did an informal cast call (Two African-American actresses) last week in my blog. But that didn’t bring the acting reels out. Those casting duties will be addressed in good time.

The Winter/Spring 2016 film will be “Chasing the Star” and script work is moving right along. It is looking like it will also film in Yuma, AZ area. This is the 2nd film in the three picture deal that we have with Lightworx Entertainment.

I’ve had talks over a few films but unless the right role/project hits me – I have enough work to keep me very busy. KNIGHT CHILLS 2 is something that might also get done over the winter.

I could go on about more but I have a pair of apple trees to plant and a wood stove to haul. I’m very encouraged as I look from here and project five years into the future. The films we will make and the new audiences we will distribute to. I was so happy to have peers and mentors give such powerful reviews of both the “Bestseller” feature and the “40 Nights” trailer. I look forward to releasing the first official trailer to all of you. I also have the directors cut of the full “40 Nights” feature to review. I will be watching that very soon. (Thank you Jesse & Jon)

Have a great weekend!

DJ