I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee and also working with a Santa gift which happen to be reading glasses with blue-blocker to reduce eye strain. I think my eyes get a little worse on me every few years but these glasses seem to really help. I can’t attest to long-term. Since the Christmas week of activities we’ve gotten a nice white snowstorm. Our New Year’s Eve included an Uber-cozy eve with a sip at Midnight but bed shortly after that. I did not enter 2022 with any hangover or dehydration. I’m not into the dance party thing unless you count my listening/air MC at home to Beastie Boys or Public Enemy. I recently was in Iowa with a circus full of people and so I’ve enjoyed the slower, quieter pace of getting things done. 2021 had myself and CDI being very productive and we’re looking to do more of the same in 2022. I have to note turning on the TV and seeing Darby Hinton in a Christmas Hallmark film something with mistletoe in the title. Back to our updates:)
In retrospect and in no order some of the good, bad and ugly of 2021. The first is the sad loss of many good friends and family during the past year. That is something that I hope we don’t heavily repeat. And 2021 went out with the passing of Betty White at 99. I love all the fan flair especially the one claiming she sacrificed herself taking 2021 with her. She reminds me a bit of Rance Howard (RIP friend/costar) who worked right up until he died. Same with Bill McKinney and many more artists I’m sure. Age will continue to give you a unique perspective through your entire journey. But growing old can be a privilege.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – Filming this safely in 2021 was a major highlight. This highly ambitious home front drama was many years in the making. It is in the wonderfully creative hands of our editor and I’m excited to see the scenes come together. I’ve almost got the business all caught up and we’ll be putting some advance promo together. From there we’ll enter into some additional marketing/product talks with some of our sponsors and those coming on board. In Canada we have model building underway. I’m just so happy that we have all these puzzle pieces and can start to assemble. It is going to be amazing since all the artists gave everything they had. We’ve been releasing stills on our Facebook page so follow along.
BEST YEARS GONE (BYG) – This breath of fresh air which we filmed between the 1st and 2nd Covid lockdown of 2020. Shane Hagedorn and I shared a motto to have fun while filming. Everyone had been kept uncertain and in self-isolation and smiles and laughter were much needed. This film might be just what many people need. The humorous abilities of the CDI Tribe can be seen in several CDI films including strong moments in WILD FAITH and LOST HEART but BYG really takes it to another level. Adapted by yours truly from the book HOPE FROM HEAVEN by Karl Manke. http://www.karlmanke.com if you want to explore his works. I think another collaboration is on the horizon but right now we are discussing which book to bring to the screen. Any favorites? Lastly, I’m hearing that the film has been chosen as a participant in a London-based festival. That PR will be forthcoming once I get more info from our director Mr. Hagedorn.
Speaking of films that sprang from books – BESTSELLER is finally getting a home video release this year. The book written by Christopher Knight is a twisted tale of a tormented literary agent played by Melissa Anschutz. CDI was the producing entity and I’m happy that our existing relationship could give this film the deserved send off. In May the film will be ready for home video audiences and will widen the release in September likely to hit the prime October window for thrillers. This film is beautifully shot and showcases Michigan’s beauty. I’m excited to see new poster art and trailer for the home video release. I would love to turn another Chris Knight story into a film. We shall see…rumor is he also writes under another name also…
BEST YEARS GONE and BESTSELLER are not the only films rolling out in 2022. SMOKE & MIRRORS short just had a final tweak and is being prepped for a few fun festivals. The CDI/Red, White and Blue Project documentary film FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH just finished last week. Directed by Curran Jacobs, edited by Adam Towner, mostly shot by DP Dan Chipman – this feature length doc is being hailed as the best of its kind by wrestling historians. I’m proud to have been involved producing on this wonderful piece of history that was in danger of fading, lost to the past. That will not be the case after this film. Thank you to all the interview participates who made this work so special. We cannot wait to show the world this entertaining and informative film. We are looking at doing another documentary film in 2022 stay tune.
BIGFOOT, UFO’S & JESUS – Our inspirational film has found a great main stream audience under the alternate title by which LOST HEART appears on some platforms. Here is the amazing Josh Perry inviting you to watch. If you did not you should. Click below to watch on FB – I hope my linking here works.
2021 had us filming music videos, releasing into theaters, traveling to Algona, Iowa and more. As noted earlier some friends and family like CDI’s Pappy won’t be traveling with us anymore. They are RIP and not dealing with the waves of life. These deaths, like the childhood neighbor remind us of the precious value of time. Spend time in good company and working towards goals that mean something to you. Life is short so commit to making steps towards whatever your creative endeavor is.
If you want to hear about our new year development we discuss that quite a bit in the previous few blogs. I want to film WILD FAITH: HASTINGS and while this endeavor is mighty we’ve been chopping away at it. Giddy up. A new CDI animated feature, a new dramedy, sequels and more in development as we enter this new year. I need to look over the CDI website and see where that needs to be updated. I want to once over the FB pages and see where I can enhance. End-of-year taxes for the projects is at hand but I have the best team ever for all that. I will spend the month also finishing the script I’m working on now. I’m in talks with a few projects to script write in Feb which is when we’ll also pull the business together on the first spring CDI film. I’m here in the 2022 and ready to march so put down the Christmas cookies and party hats it’s time to get after it.
Have a great first week of 2022!
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee while admiring the Christmas tree from last week’s harvest. I just realized when cleaning out my email messages that I missed a Christmas event/party I had planned to attend. DOH! I’m finally well-rested and attacking my TO DO’s with strength. It took a good part of a week to get caught up on my rest. I got most of the production totes stored and everyday we work hard to tie up the production loose ends from our previous SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (SNIA) film shoot. This week will also be full but I hope to get some more winterizing done. Several things in the yard need to get put away for winter. One of the nice refreshing things from last week was spending an afternoon with my dad and meeting my cousin for lunch. We meet so that I can pick up venison which is one of the main meats I eat. I actually made some venison steak chili yesterday that turned out great. My cousin and his boys are avid hunters. I enjoy nature and have hunted but I don’t find enjoyment in it. It is a very lean meat and healthy, something that the midwest hunters have enjoyed forever.
As we finish all the wrap up business on SNIA we’re prepping for post. One of the production drives have landed with the editor. We have established a production flow between editor and director. Our DP is doing a first batch of stills to help establish the color palette. He’ll be working with our director and editor in finding certain shots. Meanwhile a few VFX pick ups need to be looked at for a really cool sequence in the film. Dennis Therrian is being prepped on the film as he’ll be doing our sound design and composing our film’s score. Some VFX model work will begin soon in Canada with one of our amazing artists. Anyway the course for the film is being set and I’m excited for everyone to start looking at it.
At CDI we’ve been looking ahead to the future. I’ve been working on the next script for ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS‘ my working title on the reworking of the feature script. A short film SMOKE & MIRRORS was finished just as we started filming SNIA. A wonderful commercial piece that we used to do a proof of concept short. I think it does just that- gives a great look at what the full feature will be like. Nathaniel Nose directed the short and he is who we’re eyeing for the feature. The script is the key to everything. This will be a late 2022 or early 2023 shoot from my best estimates.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – For those who have seen the feature film “Wild Faith” you’ve been treated to a story for the whole family. Inspirational without preachy just good lessons from a more simple time. Now we have the first season (8 shows) ready to film. It will be part of several talks I will have in the coming weeks. The key with this is CREATIVE CONTROL. We are being selective at how we finance this property so we don’t have strings that will hamper the integrity of it. It will happen and our perfect timeline would be the second half of 2022.
The Spring is always an exciting time coming out of winter. We’ll be doing a feature or two this first half of 2022. We’ve been doing a heavy evaluation of properties and some of these will be included in my distribution talks ahead. But I really think I’ve landed on the right property. It will showcase all your favorite CDI troupe in a great story.
As a side note – this previous news made me think of a recent discussion. The story/script is the most important part of the process. For many filmmakers this is just an afterthought. We need a script and some actors and we’ll get to shoot all this cool stuff. CDI evolved in part because of how poor the scripts/stories were out there. I say this 100% from an actors perspective. That is why I’m always floored by the actors who will emotionally commit before reading a script/story. Anyone can be excited from a good pitch but having that translated to a tightly woven script is another thing. I know many actors who only read their parts and that too is having ‘blinders’ on. I also have told actor friends that you can glean information about their characters sometimes from what other characters say about them. EXAMPLE: You might find out your character has a wife, children or a pet from other character’s dialog. Perhaps gossip reveals that a character previously worked construction before their white collar job, all in the script. The whole story needs to be absorbed from the outside and the inside- internally and externally.
So perhaps a good rule of thumb is A) Evaluate content fully, quietly B) Don’t sign on to anything without reading the entire story and vet the production’s reputation C) Once attached learn the entire story before focusing on just your role’s world/words – important information might exist within the script.
Just my two cents from my experiences. There is a great word EXPERIENCE.
The great GOOD, BAD and UGLY as I like to call it. The goal is to take this accumulated knowledge (Remember Bruce Lee’s – the best way to learn a technique is to get hit by it) EXPERIENCE and translate it and apply it to your situations allowing it to become WISDOM. Now I’ve had my fill over the recent years from some individuals severely lacking experience in certain areas. Yet that want to present from a point of assured confidence that dances in arrogance. Arrogance usually follows someone who has experienced and learned a little yet thinks it gives them license to talk down to someone. A teacher who forgets that he is also a student will be humbled.
From my associates in business I get many complaints about the youth in several areas. (never their use of technology) But I always point out that most of us who have found some success have done so with the assistance of good mentors. For some that starts with a father but not for everyone. It is those special people who come in your life and help shape you. I have had a handful of these people and I’m happy that I recognized by lack and their gain. I emptied my cup and showed patience, listening and learning. I am fond of the old KUNG FU (David Carradine classic) TV show where all the boys have gathered at the Shaolin Temple. They wait and are being watched. Each day they are asked to go home and as time advances and patience is lost – most leave. In the rain those few who remained seem to have the potential for sincere growth. They are invited into the hospitality chamber and served tea. The unmindful who gives into their urges and drinks immediately are asked to “please go home” – shocked the few get up to leave. One is stopped – “Not you, please sit.” When asked why he did not drink he responds that he was respecting the opportunity. He was waiting to drink- being mindful and appreciative of being there. My soccer player/coach, martial arts lifelong student and teacher and a camp counselor all influence how I live. To the frustrated elders know you can influence and guide the youth. To the youth, empty your cup of your perceived absolutes and learn. The journey is a two way street and the glue that binds it all together is RESPECT and LOYALTY. The latter cannot be taught save by example. Those few who observed loyalty and the benefits of the practice and decide to give in to this practice. It is hard for many to give up selfish ambitions mixed with a lack of patience – it often leads to isolation, frustration and hardship that lasts until mindsets change.
“Getting deep, Shaolin Monks, kung fu and drinking cups…What? What?” – Gil Gilles
BEST YEARS GONE has recently finished a second run in Lansing, MI over the Thanksgiving week. We might explore a Detroit area and Grand Rapids showing. Also we’re exploring a few key festivals mainly based on places we would like to visit. I’m in hopes that after my next conversation with our distributor that I’ll have some updated info on our home video release. I’m glad that the films are being met with enjoyment and laughs. I loved one review that likened it to STEP BROTHERS and JOE DIRT which I love Step Brothers but Joe…okay I see it:)
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer)- is now in season with the passing of Thanksgiving. Our distributor BMG wanted myself and Melissa Anschutz to do a promo inviting folks to subscribe to Encourage TV and watch. We were going to use a few places in Algona, Iowa as the back drop when filming but got too busy. We were going to shoot something at the office by the wood stove but decided we might save that for WILD FAITH promo. We shot in front of the Christmas tree, 3 takes- all funny and DONE. While doing some work last week I did play Forty Nights in the background. It was fun to watch and recall all the shooting we did in the deserts outside Yuma, AZ. Take a watch on all three and make it part of your holiday tradition.
I could rattle on about watching all the CDI films…but I’m sure you will get there in your own time as the nights grow longer and the outside colder. A good night to light a candle or fire and watch a good story unfold. I’ve got some yard clean up and some holiday shopping to do so I’m gonna wrap this up here. It was a pleasure to spend this time with you. Until next week. Be good to one another.
The Horse of My Dreams out now!
Good morning! I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me as I sit down to update everyone on our artistic endeavors and to chat about the state of things. Every day I’ve been spending the time organizing and catching up on personal and business calls. Many of the personal calls also reflect upcoming business. I’ve been using every one of these days to get organized. I had totes full of old paperwork some were 20 year old receipts that had faded into unreadable. Some were projects that had died or scripts that were submitted for acting roles and never launched. Either way I’ve kept the office wood stove burning. I’ve also found little bits of CDI history. A forgotten set picture or a lost story treatment – gems. What I did notice is that in the early days the efforts were more spread out and now they are more focused. Also so much paper – which I still remain a fan of in some ways. That said, every cash move was reported on Cash Distribution Forms sent to the office to be recorded to our software. That aspect has gone digital as many things have. I had 6 boxes of 35mm film for one of the movies and so I’ve been rearranging.
Out in Sept 2020 – more contributed writing
Also I’ve been just enjoying all the great music I’m exploring and re-exploring. I watch news 2 maybe 3 times a day. Morning, maybe lunch and dinner and every night I end with a book. I’m always reading about a dozen titles at once but get that phone away and out of your hands. The phone is YOUR tool. It works for YOU. You do not work for IT. Work with it on YOUR time. I’ve helped a few people break this mindset and I think they are living healthier.
This time in our history has the obvious viral and economical set backs but I’ve seen many positive results also. I’ve seen fathers take time to dance with their daughters. I’ve seen family take time to craft up birthday signs for a drive way wishing. I’ve seen people revalue, reprioritize, reexamine their wants, needs, time management, appreciate relationships or lack of, their beliefs, their habits, their forgotten goals and dreams. Many are taking a deep breath and feeling thankful if they can still pull in unhindered air. They are looking behind them and seeing where they’ve been and what they’ve been through. What were the rewards? What were the sacrifice? Wisdom is in the pondering of the past reflection and applying that to decisions and direction moving forward.
Honestly I’ve never been so proud to be a storyteller. In the best of times our stories are just one of many distractions. Occasionally seen and embraced and acknowledged for the experience given. I always have said that if we make a bad scenes or have a moment of disconnect nobody dies on a table. But the power of a story is mighty. Whoever wrote the pen is mightier then the sword was right. Storytelling at its best offers you a near religious experience. People were losing their ability to listen. To really listen to a story – not mental armchair how you could one up some filmmaker. I had a major breakthrough in my thinking a while ago. I always felt this and acted on this but I really understood it once I spoke it.
Should I be more advanced in a medium like motion picture – it doesn’t make me anymore an artist than anyone else. We could love a medium we are not particularly skilled at. By experience that skill can and will improve. But I never see anything less than an artist. We both will have mediums we currently excel at and other mediums we’re passionately working hard to hone. I will judge, as we all do by display of character, actions especially when done quietly and… can’t give all my secrets:)
I look forward to meeting and working with more artists. In the past I’ve observed a lot of ‘flim flam’ artists building paper walls of ego, craving attention more than art. The same ego that drives many to lose their financial integrity versus perceiving the investment to be seen as a war chest used to get this story to the world. I know many projects started and never finished. Sad. But true.
But like the emerging butterfly you can come out of artistic hibernation as a more organized, more self aware, goal defined you. No email boxes should be littered with junk. Folders on the computer. Streamline. Many fail because they truly are not ready when opportunity presents itself. Some love to work tirelessly, looking for that opportunity but once they actually find it they are afraid. We all get scared inside with new situations and I always go back to John Wayne, Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. Something like that, but I think it’s accurate.
This is a time where life has slowed and children are at home. We’ve been excited because many family, friends and fans of past work have been meaning to watch this or that CDI film. The great part is that people have been taking the time. Hundreds of thousands of new viewers and growing on ad sites like TUBI and PLUTO TV that pay us via advertisers so that you may watch for free. Other like Amazon Prime are showing the films. So if you are at home take the time to watch the collection. The Quest Trilogy might be getting some Easter promo with a new trailer and some cool promo gifs. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER – I’ve had some great fan mail from these films. Thank you. It’s a fresh not overly sanitized look at these little known biblical moments and told in a cinematic heroic style epic involving angels and mankind. We’re talking about setting WATCH PARTIES and having our actors and crew do Q&A after. We’re looking into that and we hope to announce a few sessions.
Here is one of the CDI collaborations with Thunder Toad Animation. If you love the OZ stories this is for you. Beloved characters animated from original sketches and voiced by some talented actor folks including yours truly as…can you listen and guess? From children to grandmothers who doesn’t love OZ. This is the first animated venture by CDI but I will state here now that CDI is exploring the animated division now. THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ also has an incredible music score. One of my favorites – please take a watch and enjoy…
LOST HEART – So everyone is working in their solitary and communications continue. I had talks with our distributor and so we’ll be announcing new updates as we get closer. We deliver the film in June so music, sound, VFX and color correction is all underway. Tally HO!
BEST YEARS GONE – I’m excited to announce that our WASTELAND DP Travis Hayward will be serving as director of photography. Travis has worked several times inside the CDI Tribe and has been developing his reputation for capturing amazing images worldwide. This is an exciting thing for me as an actor having enjoyed my previous working experience with him. He has a good feel for kinetic action and that will play nicely into this story. The ship is continuing to pull everything together. I cannot say when we will sail but we plan to be one of the first sailing once the storm has passed.
I have to say that with all the downtime at home for people I’ve been having productive and enjoyable conversations on all kinds of business. Become the change my friends.
My head is spinning from recent activity and I’m gliding into a much deserved relax mode so I can spend a few moments with all of you. Busy. Very. But nix that I want to talk about FIRE. I’ve had a fascination with fire since and early age. I’m told that fire and clock were two of my earliest words. Interesting…I mean fire is transformation – the sacred change. It is creation and destruction united in a dance. I do appreciate clocks – my favorite might be my one and only Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise. I take that back I was also gifted an R2D2 flash drive. I have the Death Star plans! So the office is finally getting the antique stove installed tomorrow. It has been a couple years in the planning but now it is happening. The office “my fort” is a creative space and the warm fire will add to those fall and winter days and nights.
Okay now we can return back to the other talk of films and such. So we’re about to do what is in a way, my first sequel. I’ve played many characters whom I felt deserved a continued story. JUDGES 2 got stumbled by the passing of Russ Stine who was slated to costar. Alex Kenwood, Mayfair, John (several), Stan Reed, Kendall and even Mason from “The 8th Plague” who died so Germany wanted a prequel. We still may do “Soul Eater” in the future once I find the right director. But the world shown in “40 Nights” is alive and we’re about to go play in it again. This happens right as audiences will be experiencing “40 Nights” on the big and small screen. Early reviews and the reactions from buyers has been very strong. We are starting on the 26th of Feb in Lansing & Grand Rapids Michigan, with screenings at Celebration Cinema.
It will also be hitting the shelves at Walmart on March 5th and other retailers start to get the film around April 5th. But I encourage everyone to experience it on the big screen. The camera work is breathtaking. Kudos to Jesse “Smooth” Aragon.
We’re on the launchpad with the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY “Chasing the Star” – this week we’ll be announcing lots of the talented people onboard. I had a chance to talk to a well known actress who burst on the scene at 21 and has kept a steady flow of films. She is busy getting ready to go film in Peru? We want her for this role and so I sent a sales link to our first film. She said, I’ll watch a few moments so I can have a conversation. She watched the film all the way through to the end, totally drawn into our world. She gave great remarks about all aspects and noted how you could tell the care and craftsmanship that went into the film. WOW! She started too by saying how smoke blowing is not her thing and honest was. I thought I was in for a harsh review but instead accepted praise for the whole team. She badly wants to be in our next film and if she gets back to the USA on schedule that just might happen.
The point is we are doing something right. The business people like us because we stay on schedule, budget and turn out unique art. Why the first is important is so that marketing teams can plan on you in advance. I’ve got a few great director buddies and I’ve never seen them turn something around in 10-12 months. And trying to get them to that playing field would likely cost our friendships.
Speaking of good business – I want to thank our friends at the Garmax Group for again sponsoring and riding with us on “Chasing the Star”
March is “40 Nights” but April is “Ashes of Eden” and “Bestseller” and “Donors” are May. So the ramp up to many releases – pre-production, promotions…you get the busy.
All that said, I’m also looking forward to another outdoor soccer season. My body is healed from a season of demolition derby and running like a 20 year old. Playing soccer weekly in a highly competitive league is my best weekly meditation.
The soundtrack deal is on the table and I have to finish that up. We’re leading off with “40 Nights” and moving down the line. More licensing deals and such will be coming as we make our way through all these deals.
It was great having films like “7 Stones” and “Figure in the Forest” playing on different television channels and people reaching out. I think this year we’ll be licensing the films to more networks and territories.
So IF you can get to one of the Michigan “40 Nights” screenings do so. Here is our newly remastered theatrical trailer –
We’re also working to bring it on the big screen to several other states. Church’s have submitted and asked to license the film at http://www.40nightsthemovie.com you can direct your church or organization there. The films were not designed business-wise to release as major theatrical but after finishing the film – it deserves it. So we’ll keep working it. I do know we are about to set some showings working with our friends in Yuma, AZ. Get ready Champion, it’s almost time.