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

Posts tagged “David Gries


Auditions, Updates and Other News

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I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.

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As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.

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I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.

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I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful.  It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.

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This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.

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The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.

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WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.

I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF.  Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.

Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 


Wrapping up the 2018 Year – Looking Ahead to 2019

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New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.

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The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more.  Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.

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I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.

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Integrity matters.

When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE  – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.

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I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.

Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.

I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.

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We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.

WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.

I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ


Merry Christmas – Holiday Updates

Today is the 23rd of December – the final days of 2018 are coming to a close. I’ve been bouncing between the sound studio where the final touches are being done to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director will be coming in to work the final mix after Christmas. Speaking of – we’ve had one of three family Christmas gatherings. Yesterday we enjoyed a good meal and opened presents with my brother’s young ones. We had a good time and from there I went to a yearly holiday dinner at The English Inn, a cool turn of the century manor house turned into a restaurant. Prime rib was my choice as I only eat red meat a handful of times a year. I felt a little sluggish this morning likely due to the Guinness beer added on top, but it was a nice holiday treat with old friends.

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Today will be spent getting things around for the other two Christmas gatherings. I will be stoking on the fire in the office stove, trying out my new boiling vessel to make mulled spice wine. I do love that we got a powder of snow which makes it all so much more pretty.

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Some journeys will be finishing up, such as The Christ Slayer and new journeys lie ahead. I’ll start talking to our investors about our new film projects. LOST HEART which has distribution lined up will be setting up for a spring shoot. We’ve been looking at cast and directors.

Also some moves are being made on the much-anticipated sequel to CDI’s 1st film KNIGHT CHILLS. We’ve been reading new possible leads and discussing the script. Lots to set up before we would shoot this one but good development taking place. More on this soon.

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Also this year I want to package the original 4 CDI films into a DVD collection (Knight Chills, From Venus, Heaven’s Neighbors, Figure in the Forest) – the early years. Put BTS and interview material on there. Maybe do a few educational retrospectives. Because they were filmed in standard def many of these are having a hard time finding new distribution. We’ll see.

Merchandise is another 2019 goal – I want to see more of this. We might be pulling together the backers for this endeavor.

Representation – I have had several regional agents in the beginning. I’ve had CA/LA agents both large and small. In the recent years I’ve just rolled with legal and handled my own business. I cannot help but think that more could be done with the right representation. I will explore this more in the new year. I’m excited to get back in front of the cameras. This year wide audiences will get to enjoy Jesus (again) in THE CHRIST SLAYER, Ben Lily in WILD FAITH and Paul Landings in MBF.

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Speaking on MBF – we’re looking to release a BTS piece created by David Gries, directed by Mel Anschutz and shot my Graham Turner during our shoot. We’ll release either Christmas Eve or Day, maybe sooner:) The film’s first edit should be close to being complete. We’ll do a fine edit in the new year.

I’ve said it before but in advance on part 3 of The Quest Trilogy (The Christ Slayer) releasing, I would ask you all to watch Forty Nights and Chasing the Star. They are an excellent watch for the holiday season.

I’m going to fire up the creative engines and get to making new art. I do hope to be approached for participation in new creative acting endeavors. This might be the year RACHEL, RIFLE, FAMINE and a few other films launch. I also plan to produce 2-3 films this year with CDI.  What I’m meant to do, I will. Work hard and have faith in your path.

I’m going to get back to finishing up things here. My new furry boy Finn helped me rack the new GRAPE APE wine this past week. We had a little early sampling on our Viking Day this week. It’s our day of friendship and wood chopping. SKOL. I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Christmas. Let the spirit fill you and be good to one another. Keep some of this holiday cheer and carry it through the year with you. Allow others to have their opinions. Listen as much as you speak. Look for unity with your fellow citizens.

Peace to you all.

DJ


Pushing Christmas Sales and Prepping to Attack 2018!

I’m sipping coffee on this peaceful Sunday. Beside me is a new 5 gal of Green Goblin 3.0 wine started on Halloween and by 11/4 on the full moon it was bubbling like a possessed spirit had invaded it. See what I did there? The spirit, okay back to the blog. New readers/followers from The Netherlands, welcome. Readers from Israel has been following us and again, thank you. I love this space – open for artists to stop by and listen to a story or two. To get a few updates and let you know that these battles we fight to create our art are natural. Part of the process of healing people with the power of a story. A medium that weaves so many emotions through so many of the human senses.

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David Gries in THE CHRIST SLAYER

It’s been a strong week of organization and prepping to move into 2018. New announcements on MBF, our next CDI film. We added David Gries and Shane Hagedorn two other fine artists. I’ve worked with both of them and these roles are in caring hands. March will be a nice mix of old and new talent working together.   This coming week I plan to open the bank account. Small steps on the path to production.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY 

American Film Market is underway and BMG has Forty Nights and Chasing the Star there right now. We made some announcements that the films were making their way to the UK. I also see evidence that Asia might be getting the films next. I was notified of a Singapore government ratings for Forty Nights. I will seek to confirm but I really do hope that our fans to the East can enjoy these beautiful films.

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Domestically our recent goal now that we’re past Halloween, has been making people aware of the first two films in the marketplace for Christmas. Amazon Prime now has both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR. Watch them back to back and if you enjoyed them give them a little word of mouth or post a review. I think those films are just starting to travel a long journey of being exposed to artists worldwide.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER is the 3rd film in the trilogy and it’s moving right along. We released a still of it being worked on in post VFX. (Here)

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This third film will bring things together nicely. The poster is on the 3rd draft and getting stronger with each one. This film is preparing to enter music and sound design in Jan 2018.

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For that to go in WILD FAITH needs to come out. The music first draft is DONE save tweaks and end credit roll. We’ll start putting that together now. I have high hopes that once the film is done the full merit of a series will be seen. We’re soon to sit and watch the film with the music in. Right now mixing and balancing is underway. The 10 sec of remaining VFX footage is what we’re dealing with still. But the plan is in motion and I’m confident we’ll complete that shortly.

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Knight Chills 20th Anniversary

We’ve also been delivering materials to our distributor for WICKED SPRING. It is an interesting feeling bringing that film to the forefront again. I did that role 17 years ago. Crazy. KNIGHT CHILLS had a new release with the book this year and that is a great little Christmas story. I’m smiling – but I will admit for people who have not been exposed to my work having KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS or IN THE WOODS be your intro is…scary. Zac, Frank and Alex are all great roles just not current representations. These films like others have gathered fans to which again I’m appreciative. My debate as of late was to accept invitations to participate in Comic Cons on occasion to celebrate these old works. I guess as I pondered it I got a touch of insight into Jeff Daniels who wants to be known for his dramatic excellence but people often just remember DUMB & DUMBER. How many sick, lonely, troubled and just bored people did that film make laugh? Giving relief by way of 90 mins of humor. Who are we to judge what people will enjoy? Hence art is subjective. Also some of these early films had so many rocks thrown at them. Some justified but many just the rise of the troll in this new medium of inter-webs:) I still hear the AOL dial-up. But if people can embrace these films more power to them. At the 15th anniversary to sit in the Alamo theater (Kazoo) and watch people shout, laugh and play the drinking game associated with IN THE WOODS was a joy. As we move through the present towards the future we must always make peace with our past. I’m getting there. I’m looking into the “Appearance circuit” although I’ve always wanted people to see the characters before the actor. I have met thousands of fans over the years and I’m appreciative. Although I don’t appear at many of these events it’s because of new work. I had a distributor friend ask if I was going to be at AFM. (Film Market) Actually I’ve had many ask. I told this person I was in MI overseeing post on two films while we prep for our new one. I would like to attend an AFM in the near future.

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In addition to MBF prep we’ve been reviewing and looking at several other CDI & CDI associated projects. I think we’re preparing for another strong slate on films. As always I really do appreciate you stopping by. I hope the season is productive and wish you all a strong week ahead.

DJ


Rolling Forward with Films

It has been bitter cold this weekend and I’ve been trying to keep a small cold at bay. At least we’ve had a few days of sun which is a good change from the dark clouds over Michigan. This past week was our first week of official pre-production on “The Christ Slayer” so.. busy, busy – let’s take a look back at our week. (Coffee sip)

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Teaser poster for “The Christ Slayer”

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We’re moving forward with shooting our third and final installment of The Quest Trilogy – entitled The Christ Slayer. I’ve been ignoring lots of the angry noise flying about around us in the news and just focusing on the load of work before me. That in itself has been quite consuming and refreshing. Friday we opened our new bank account and we’ve started to fuel up the ship. It was a two-hour bank trip dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s but now that’s set. Casting and crewing is about 80% complete since we’ve had the pleasure of team building over several films now. We’ve got many returning faces and a few new ones and in a few weeks we’ll again be in Yuma, AZ filming.

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Casting – I’m very excited about several of our new casting choices. Christine Solomon and Carl Weyant will be wonderful to work with. This week we’re announcing a few new supporting actors via PR but I will let you faithful readers know in advance. Ms. Lana Wood and Mr. David Gries will be joining our cast. I’ve worked with both of them and I’m excited to have them onboard. We’ve also been reviewing reels and reads and feel very close to making a few additional casting decisions.

Crewing – we’re still in talks on a few crew positions but those cards are falling quickly into place. I’m excited to have our chef Eddie back on board. Great food goes a long way with people working away from home.

Stay tuned for more updates!

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Chasing the Star – we’re getting to the last VFX shots and the mixing of the final film. We’re also about to go over end credits which is painful because almost always you end up with a misspelled name or worse yet, miss someone completely. I’m excited that we’re so close to being done. I am going to try to set up a screening of the film for our Yuma folks prior to filming the third. We’ll also be doing a premiere in Michigan before moving into certain theatre chains. Our deal with Bridgestone Multimedia is complete and we’ll be getting the home video street dates very soon.

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DJ Perry and Jesse Low (Director) on set of “Forty Nights” – the camp of John the Baptist

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We should have some new artwork to review in the coming weeks. The release date for the remastered “Forty Nights: film will be 4/4/17 and we’re also exploring some in-store signings. This film was beautiful before but we had such a tight release schedule last year with Wal-Mart that the film wasn’t as polished as we wanted. That said, people enjoyed the beauty previously but now we’ve got a film that’s a bit closer to our director’s vision. I’m also excited about foreign sales to start rolling on this first film.

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Wild Faith 

As of Friday our director/editor was working the last scene of the film. After that we’ll review, polish and lock it up. From there we’ll move it into post sound/music as “Chasing the Star” is moving out. I’m going to start looking at trailer and teaser poster work on the film. We’ve had LOTS of interest in this movie and so I do want to explore the possibility of the tv series.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT 

As mentioned above, the tv series could put our teams to work for several months. We’ve also got a few feature films in development. I also had an update on C.U.J.O. which is moving a bit slower but larger budget studio films tend to follow that pattern. The dog trainer may come visit us while in AZ. Aside from those developments I’m focused on the role at hand. I’ll have a clear head on what I want to pursue once “The Christ Slayer” is behind me.

Have a great weekend.

DJ

 


NEW BLOG: If it was easy everyone could do it…

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(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)

Hello everyone,

It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.

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Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.

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On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

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Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”

Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.

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Pureflix On-Demand

A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.

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“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.

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This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead.  Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.

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Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!

DJ