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
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
PS: The new trailer is almost done and I really do love it. I could not stop smiling.
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.
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.
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!
It’s once again a morning where we awoke to big flakes of falling snow. We are suppose to have several such days this week. I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking the state of the Union. My feeling is that once we get to the other side of this Covid and political election, we can start the healing. I’m happy that the vaccine is rolling out and that the most vulnerable are starting to get their first shot. I’m excited to gather in groups again to laugh, share and create. We’ve continued to move forward against all the opposing forces at work and I’m excited about where we’re going. I’ll leave the politics by saying I sincerely wish for a peaceful transition. I wish this new administration only the best just like the previous administration. As a life-long team-sport playing individual I hope that the sportsmanship between the parties gets better. When politics fixate on just tearing down the other party, the people lose. Coffee cheers to unity as we move into 2021.
The last two weeks I’ve worked with our upcoming director Anthony Hornus (director of MBF) on the transfer of script. By this I mean the transfer of understanding of each character, description and dialog. Many scenes were re-worked, tweaked and polished. We use that time to discuss production aspects, casting ideas and more. This is a development phase activity bordering on pre-production. The difference is funding and while we are almost a full ahead we’re also not quite there. But, I think by the end of this month we’ll be making that announcement. We’ll go full into locations, casting and key crewing at that point. This project will shoot in Iowa and so it’s looking at flights vs drive in’s and such. We’ve got some good experience at bringing the show as we did to Yuma, AZ three times. It takes a supportive community to tell a story at these smaller budgets. But I’m happy to report that is exactly what we have. Between our backers, distributor, the Iowa community and our on-going sponsors, once again we’ll tell a powerful story. This one made better because it’s based on a true event. The script will likely start going out to producers today or tomorrow.
Also coming at the end of the week just as I hit my limit for the day was the 1st rough edit of BEST YEARS GONE. Monday morning, I plan to watch the edit in full with good audio Real audio work doesn’t start until we lock the picture. This cut will start to be worked by editor and director to work toward that lock. I did watch the film in pieces on my phone with low audio. It’s exciting as the writer to see the characters and story come to life. As an actor it’s amazing to see a character you lived with come to life with all the other characters. My co-star Erika Hoveland, is so powerful and it was a real joy to tell this story with her. But the other quirky characters Mandy, Tinker, Jed, the Pats in our story, really make it for me. Dean Teaster had me laughing out loud watching. You all will see later this year when the film releases. We’re also going to start rolling out some of the official screenshots. Also we’ll be launching some fun merchandise dealing with this fine film. This project gave me confidence in what our great team can do even when faced with new challenges.
LOST HEART keeps rolling out and the fan mail keeps coming in thanking CDI for bringing some a heartwarming story to the screen. Launching this film in 2020 is also something we’re very proud of including the event filming. Here is the PRE and POST party if you have not seen them yet. They give some great insight to what the #tribeCDI is all about. Watch below and if you have not seen the film please do – would you believe it deals with BigFoot, UFO’s and more?
THE QUEST TRILOGY – As Easter lies ahead, many are enjoying the unique and fresh approach to these biblical stories. Here is a trailer for the trilogy of films. These parables are meant to tell a story and encourage us to live treating one another better. You can take these films as gospel or as just a good story with a lesson. Either way, they are an honest, respectful look at these stories minus any agenda save to tell a good story. The Bible is full of good stories and I appreciate all the fan mail from the worldwide audiences who took something from them. Watch them. You just might enjoy the story.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – The pilot feature film Wild Faith and the developing TV series ‘Hastings’ – we have some great battle plans being drawn up on this TV series. A few of our proposed directors and returning cast are reading the scripts for season 1. We have our ideal window to shoot but if we can pull this all together in that ideal window is unknown. We are undertaking something new and we’re also dealing with a world dealing with new challenges. But, the prep remains the same and at this point all development strengthens the endeavor. Each week that passes Wild Faith grows a larger audience. Just using our distributors streaming platform ENCOURAGE TV – Wild Faith has grown 80k viewers per week for 11 months now totaling over 3.5 million viewers. That is if only one person watched the film. My point is that as every week passes, the audiences are helping us to launch. I know that all the artists involved would love to revisit Hastings and the stories of Emmett and his family.
Thank you to all the fans out there. I could share more updates but I want to get after a few things today. The fans of MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND have also been letting their voices be heard. I’m thrilled that everyone is enjoying the stories and we’ll be working hard to make sure that continues. Every day work on the stuff you can control and don’t let your mental or physical time be wasted on what you cannot control.
Happy Sunday to you all. Be good to one another.
Good morning. I’m sitting here sipping the coffee and writing to all of you. I want to thank all our readers from around the world stopping by to touch base. I appreciate all the artists out there taking the time to stop by and share a few moments of their Sunday. I’ve been still doing lots of film work on the developing, post flow and and release and PR aspects. I have a few podcast interviews I’ve agreed to do. Here is a recent one. Isaac has been a long time friend and his “mission” is positive content.
What I try to explain is that at CDI we are not tailoring any film to FIT any particular audience save the age rating that we keep in mind. You don’t want to F-BOMB all over your PG film. I’m a lover of colorful language at times and I enjoy R -Rated entertainment. Sometimes it helps the story and sometimes it is just too much for my taste. Despite my start in horror films which I still love, I’ve always been more about atmosphere and mood vs slash and gore. I have several friends who that is their passion. I’ve reached a place where I enjoy the consistent flow of fan mail that says how this film or that film has helped them. As a writer I’ve really grown to enjoy those moments that ultimately teach us something good, bad or ugly. So bottom line we’re beyond grateful for the acceptance by the “faith film genre” but our films about faith – “those strong in faith, those lacking faith, finding faith, seeking faith, losing faith and holding on to what they have.”
Our films are for everyone to invoke tears, laughter and offer a different perspective through filters we all share. Moments of entertainment and escape from our own lives and to have a few message gems hidden within. The 50 year old me also loves not being up all night in a dirty location, covered in corn syrup (blood) which bugs LOVE by the way. Showing up on a western town set with a cup of coffee wearing a low hanging gun rig is a lot cooler to my body clock. I truly enjoy that after years of bringing other peoples stories to screen I’m finally getting my own stories told. And they are touching people and giving them hope and new understanding. I told someone in a meeting yesterday I’ve never been more proud to be a storyteller. I use to say that if we made a bad scene nobody dies on an operating table but we do have the ability to help many, many people. We’re still trying to pull the numbers in from our 2 day showing of LOST HEART on Encourage TV. We know it exceeded 30k views maybe as high as 100k and the beautiful notes followed.
I’m not so much into “shocking” people these days. If there is any shock I want to give fans/audiences is that person who watches Paul Landings in MBF: Man’s Best Friend and says “Is that DJ Perry?” that feels good. That film on Encourage TV (This is a paid by ads site where audiences can watch free w/ ads) but MBF is climbing to 700k watches and this is one stream. Our distributor monetizes dozens of streams and foreign territories. I’m excited to see all these films travel. The holidays are exciting because that is when families and friends watch films. And in these times of few recreational choices these stories are being watched more and more. I guess I just want to say thank you. To all the fans that have been with me since I was running bloody IN THE WOODS (Me as Rookie firefighter with Jim Grulich – fighting monsters) * Amazon Prime – to my newfound fans from playing Jesus in The Quest Trilogy, Ben Lily, Niles Cass, Paul and most recently the character study known as ‘Gil Gilles’ in BEST YEARS GONE now in post-production.
I’m going to ask you all to explore our films. Each one is truly hand crafted. You can tell the artists care about the stories. That has been true since the early days. You can see so much heart in Jeff Kennedy’s HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS – a beautiful PG-13 film that we placed too heavy of swearing into for our audience. I told you I like colorful language at times. A live and learn in many ways. Followed by FIGURE IN THE FOREST also directed by Jeff Kennedy which was a beautiful story led by Dean Teaster who many know from our recent films. These have been pressed into a 2 DVD “Classic CDI Collection” and I’m exploring talks of uprezing as these were made in the SD (standard def) days. For next year we do plan on releasing KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS the first two films from CDI that was our playing with the horror and comedy genres. It is nice to have existing copies of these films. Thank you to those that have purchased.
PICK THIS UP AND SEE WHERE WE STARTED FROM-
But lets give a run down on a few of the current films-
ASHES OF EDEN – If you’re excited about BEST YEARS GONE recently filmed – directed by Shane Hagedorn – check out his first collaboration w/ CDI. It stars Melissa Anschutz and you’ll see many of the #TribeCDI – I play a lovable drug dealer named Donnie:) It is a great story that premiered to a 600 person crowd at the CCFF to a standing ovation. Shane is great at weaving emotional scenes and it shows in this earlier effort. Check it out free on Amazon Prime, Encourage TV likely Tubi and Pluto TV. Here is the teaser!
I LOVE the new campaign underway for THE QUEST TRILOGY – they are told in this 3 fold story that starts in the present, falls back to the past and leaps to the future. The thread in the three films is the Devil and the Angels which makes this a unique story. It explores the possible effect of all these events from the perspective of the angels serving and fallen. Please do take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. Happy Holidays! Leave your comments on the IMDB, Amazon pages and/or to me here.
WILD FAITH – We are aggressively in talks with a few parties about bringing back the Murphy family and friends from WILD FAITH in a TV series currently titled HASTINGS. I have written the first season consisting of eight forty-four minute shows. I’m looking at a few ways to put this together business-wise. I had a few “first right of refusal” situations not legally but by using good business fairness. I had a very productive talk this weekend that might give us the results we are looking for. The pilot feature WILD FAITH shows what a powerful world was created and these ongoing stories strengthen and carry forth the evolution of these beloved characters. The bad news is that I’ve been enjoying the lack of facial hair and soon I might have to start that walk back towards Ben Lily. I guess I could do that.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – To answer a few fan questions – there is no immediate plan to do a sequel to MBF but never say never. Someone else asked if I had my eye on any action films. I still like films that are heavy on character drama and include action vs an action genre film. But do I have a Bruce Willis DIE HARD like movie in me? Giddy Up!
PS: There is a chance that MBF might play at the Capital City Film Festival Drive In Event since it was scheduled to play before the shut down and was nominated.
LOST HEART – A beacon of light and laughter that has been expanding across the USA and the world. I think the UK is getting to travel to Lost Heart. Our beautiful state of Michigan is giving a wonderful peek to the world. I haven’t gotten any real ‘Niles Cass’ fan mail, shadowed by that Josh Perry, love you buddy:) …but I’ve received many messages from viewers expressing their love of the story and characters. It brought them some comfort in these different and for many difficult times.
A few asked about the EVENT on ENCOURAGE TV. They are also playing the Cast & Crew Event – Enjoy!
PRE-PARTY FOR ‘LOST HEART’
The AFTER GLOW
The thing is I feel blessed by all the good things abound. I’ve always worked diligent and consistent as I find that gets bests results. Starting, Finishing and everything in between. I’m starting to develop a need for some breakfast although lunch is creeping up too.
We’ll be back in action finishing the filming on FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH doc film first of the year. We have some exciting merchandise conversations happening. We’ll be pulling the paperwork together on the WW2 film SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA early in 2021. Just take this time of holiday reflection to plan the upcoming year. What did you do that you want to repeat? What did you do that you want to remove? We’re all a work-in-progress and we can change our course with a handful of decisions. Be the change you want to see. Don’t worry about changing others just allow yourself to be a living example. Show people you are not lip service by leading by actions. Less talk and more self action. This holiday season be mindful to people and animals less fortunate and in need.
Enjoy the season.
Good morning. I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and enjoying sitting here with Finn and Daphne on this Sunday. I finally have just about everything from the BEST YEARS GONE shoot unpacked. I’m trying to use the older ‘classic mode’ on this WordPress.
The first in the CDI CLASSIC SERIES the Double Feature ‘Heaven’s Neighbors’ starring Aaron Jackson & DJ Perry and ‘Figure in the Forest‘ starring Dean Teaster and MaryJo Cuppone both directed by Jeff Kennedy! A GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFT! Click below to BUY:
We’ve just went through Thanksgiving which consisted of pie-drop off’s and goodie bags. We had our own little Thanksgiving and will be eating turkey leftovers for quite a while. We’ve also got the tree cut and put up in the house. We will likely do some decorating today. We also started on the outside which we do a little bit of decorating but we don’t go Chevy Chase with them. I’ve used this time to catch up on end-of-the year work.
LOST HEART – This movie is now popping up on DVD and streaming all over the marketplace. The EVENT showings on ENCOURAGE TV did great. We had tens of thousands of views and gained some attention for how we pulled it off in these trying times. We have new stories coming out in FORBES and THE LA TIMES. I will tune you all in to those when they hit. The other National PR on Huckabee and such was fun for our talent. I’m told Mike was a kind and generous man who really enjoyed our film. If you have not seen it yet I urge you to watch it with your family.
TUBI (Free with ads)
ENCOURAGE TV (Youtube)
Here are a few PR pieces
Watch with your family and leave us your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com (Lost Heart page) and amazon.com
I think the film is a wonder blend of heartfelt and humor with inspiring themes but not being overly heavy handed with the faith aspect.
BEST YEARS GONE – The ‘Gil Gilles’ mustache is gone but we have a hard drive full of scenes for the next CDI feature. We made an announcement last week that Nathaniel Nose has been brought on board as the film’s editor and VFX supervisor. I’m excited to have this film racing towards the finished edit. I had so much fun shooting this movie even with all the safety restrictions. We’re soon to start logo stamping a few stills and get that flowing. We will also be announcing more sponsors including UAS that we will feature this week.
THE QUEST TRILOGY (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER) – For the holidays a new campaign is underway for our trilogy of films. Make it a family tradition to watch these three epic stories that shed some light into the dark corners. Watch the new promotional trailer and watch all three!
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND
With nearly 700k views on ENCOURAGE TV alone the powerful ballad of Paul Landings is making its way into the marketplace. You can watch it free with ads here –
WILD FAITH is one of those special films that brought forth lovable characters and showed audiences a world that is a throwback. A throwback to a simple time in the late 1800’s. This film has been seen by millions worldwide and the idea that this could becoming a TV series is exciting. If the series is going to move forward we’ll know soon.
The most exciting part of all this development on ‘Hastings‘ is that I’ve finished writing season 1. Eight 44 min shows that once again follow the Murphy family as they continue life after the events of WILD FAITH. I’m so happy because all the captured magic of the film is there. The characters were established and so it was a joy to write them. Also because of breakdowns that need to happen and the fact that if I wrote the first season it would lay a nice foundation. Who knows? I might take a backseat to other writers in our circle for a second season but to have a chance of cameras rolling by March we needed “blueprints” which equals scripts. I’ve enjoyed the day of feeling accomplished and I’m ready to start allowing our CDI development team to look at the shows. My thought was do I put them all out there at once or one at a time? The goal would be to have the first season DONE by November for a Holiday 2021 roll out.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (Development)
The back half of 2021 will be shooting this WW2 Christmas story that Mr. Rance Howard was my script consultant with. We had great conversations on WW2 and farming. He was suppose to play the grandfather but I’m sure he’ll be smiling from above.
We will start casting for our German leads so if you are German or can speak German please do reach out. We’ll also be looking for our young male lead. It is exciting to think of this beautiful “True story” to be filmed next year. We have a few units to still assign funding wise but already have commits. We’ll start the company early in 2021 and get that film prepped for an end of 2021 shoot!
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH
We’re in talks to get our camera team back shooting more interviews on the west coast. Also editing of the doc itself will begin in earnest. This is a great CDI side project that puts a spot light on a great art/sport.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – Digital VFX work is underway and we’ll be also getting the credits done. From there we look forward to a 2021 roll out on this cool short film that we will look to expand into a feature. The short was taken from one of my feature scripts which I need to finish up.
I’m going to wrap this blog up so I can return to winterizing the yard and do some tree decoration. My goals for the next few weeks include DEVELOPMENT work, dispersement of moneys earned to investors and prepping end of year biz taxes. I’m so excited for 2021 and overall I feel as odd as 2020 has been – we pulled out a pair of big wins with LOST HEART release and BEST YEARS GONE into post. So enjoy this time with family and friends and get ready for the new year!
Good morning everyone. WOW! Lots of new international readers from around the globe. Coffee cheers. This month has been a kick into a new gear as we’re preparing for a cast and crew premiere this weekend followed by two virtual premieres via ENCOURAGE TV (Nov 7th and 21st) and the start of filming end of this month on BEST YEARS GONE.
We’re looking at filling the new holes we have in our cast and crew. I know this environment has some people cautious and rightfully so but good communication is still a must. I had situations where I was chasing a few people down to try and get answers on availability. At the same time we had others (and still do) awaiting an opportunity to join the Tribe CDI on this next journey. My reminder is just for all of you to use good communication. I do NOT want artists I have to kick in the butt – CDI is full of aggressively passionate artists and that is what we are looking for. That said, many communicated very timely and I thank you. We are still looking at a few camera support and grip & electric roles. A few castings are still being discussed but the schedule is about done now and will start getting dispersed this weekend and start of the new week.
Along those lines I want to announce the additional of a humble Hollywood legend who is joining BEST YEARS GONE. My dear friend Lana Wood (Diamonds are Forever) will be playing a very funny part in the film. We’re all looking forward to seeing her and creating another wonderful story.
Our sponsors are starting to roll in also and with CDI films getting millions of eyes of exposure. This is becoming a great way for our partners to showcase their brands. I want to thank Lerma Transportation Inc. again for traveling with us again with their generous sponsorship. More to follow!
The LOST HEART project is so exciting as we get ready to show the world our next story. The cast and crew premiere has opened up some restriction-wise which is now allowing a few more to join. Our outside premiere will have a large drive-in like screen which will be a unique viewing. I go up there this Thursday to start the planning. After this event the national PR will continue and the film could play a few theater chains. I know they are hurting and we would love to help them if we could.
WILD FAITH and HASTINGS TV Series is gaining traction as the film keeps bringing 100,000’s of views a week and the 1st season of the TV series is almost planned out. I have a few meetings over the series in the coming weeks. We hope to roll cameras in the spring. Make the time to meet the WILD FAITH characters and enter into the world of 1870’s Michigan.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Thank you to all the good people reaching out after watching this film. The best thing I can say is leave a review and recommend it to friends and family. And the on-going question is will I showcase my martial arts in another film? If the right story calls for it is my best answer.
Speaking on that – I do have some new discussions about representation on outside films. My schedule is a bit busy but I do love the joy of just going off to act in a powerful story without the producer responsibilities. We will see this year is about full. Playing Gil Gilles in this next film will take me right to the holiday season.
One of my favorite things about the family and friend holiday season is THE QUEST TRILOGY. We did a unique trilogy of biblical adventures part 1 being FORTY NIGHTS, part 2 CHASING THE STAR and part 3 is THE CHRIST SLAYER. The distributor is doing a new trilogy trailer and I’m excited to see it! I think you will find these films different than many of the other films out there on this subject matter. So take a chance and take a watch this holiday season.
Also if you like the spooky and the haunting stories of the season I’ve done my share in my days. A few of the more frightening might be The 8th Plague, GPS, Deadly Renovation, Darkest Night, Bestseller, Darkest Night and if cheesy monster movies are your thing my first starring film IN THE WOODS might be your cup of tea.
An early CDI film that has a great fall look is FIGURE IN THE FOREST starring Dean Teaster and Mary Jo Cuppone and can be purchased on DVD with HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS (Aaron Jackson/DJ Perry) in a limited run double feature. This is part of the CDI Classic Collection and will make a great stocking stuffer.
I want to do the same thing with CDI’s 1st and 2nd films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS next year. I will start having it authored over the winter and will release it next year. If you haven’t seen the film KNIGHT CHILLS a good read and watch go hand in hand so consider buying the book.
Talking of books and stocking stuffers – the Cat book I participated in can be purchased now.
I’m going to wrap this up. I will say that the AUTUMN ALE has made an appearance at some of the meetings and was met with approval. It has a NEWCASTLE like taste if anyone is aware of the beer. We’re still harvesting from the garden and it’s about time to harvest another round of green beans. Who knows with the tomatoes a new batch of The Green Goblin? Maybe:)
SOON WE WILL SET SAIL! I’m going to update my master TO DO list and get things rolling for this coming week. I hope each and everyone of you enjoys the new season. I’m prepared for some hard work to get this next story in the can as we use to say when shooting film. Stay safe and be kind to one another including folks that have different opinions and perspectives than you. I will keep doing what I do and who sits in the White House will not change that for me.
Until next week. Coffee cheers! Coffee Sponsors?
It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
Thinking of this fine man on this snowy Michigan morning – Mr. Rance Howard. I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and reflecting upon the past week and what lies ahead. I’m also very excited about the present day which is starting with spending time with all of you. I want to thank you all for joining us all. We have several new readers from all over the world. Okay I know what I can speak on that maybe some of you can apply.
For fear of sounding like the old man talking of walking to school with no shoes, read me there was not a known “industry” in Michigan when I started out. There was a handful of crazy artists scrapping together money for “short end” film stock. Pulling favors to allow one to edit or make analog transfers at TV stations in the dead of night. In 1989 to tell your parents you wanted to be a filmmaker you might as well been telling them you wanted to walk on the moon. Tax incentives come in and business media announce Michigan’s best incentive and suddenly people saw a new word – filmmaker.
Many people look for short cuts but I would suggest rather than short cuts (which only short cut your education) * THROW BACK LESSON – Senior year in high school I learned the REPEAT function in typing class. Using the free time to work on scripts and storyboards, I got away with it until just before final exams. I think my grades in that class were like A, A, A, C. Enter my life where I type all the time on contracts, scripts, proposals, pitches and so on. I would have more time to put elsewhere if I had been a faster typer. So don’t look to get around certain hardships. Change the way you look at it. A teachable moments for yourself. An opportunity to learn.
OK. So seek to waste less time and/or spend time wiser, not seeking short cuts. It’s that smarter versus harder approach. So where is this smarter attitude leading us you might ask? Smarter might be faster but faster is not always better. It’s the toxic variable or strings attached that come with certain choices. I had another week of developing opportunities and options. Some are for the company and some were on a personal business level. They are intertwined like quantum pairing:) But I have to remind myself and honestly it is not hard at this point in my life – to walk not run. If an opportunity is not a fluke it will not be there and gone. It strengthens and grows with each steady step.
I’m working out an agreement with a management company. I’ve desired for a long time someone who appreciated the art individually (me) and collectively (Tribe CDI) and works to the best interest of these endeavors. I’ve had many agents from a collection of smaller agents to one from a big 3 agency in Hollywood. It’s HARD to find representation that fits. Many have a hard time finding a rep at all but the right fit is RARE. I have many celebrity friends with long careers and they are still seeking that right fit. But, I think I’ve found a company/people I like and could be a good fit. Now, even without this new opportunity things are progressing strong in an upward direction. What is offered in part by this proposed arrangement is SPEED and SIZE.
SPEED: I recall a Hollywood lunch meeting with an arrogant agent from a major agency years ago. Without rehashing the whole story – maybe this person landed in a blessed place where they could with a phone call do what might take me months to do. But their power came from an appointment of position not an earned stake in creating motion picture. They were selling speed but at what price?
SIZE: I have been asked in a few high end meetings about my business goals? I answered, to do exactly what I’m doing now but for myself and my people to be better compensated for it. Can this new opportunity perhaps put our showcased projects even higher? I know that if we had strong P&A many of the CDI films would have soared to some decent box office receipts. But our films were built on a limited theatrical- home video model. Even that money was work to gather. That is the key for all filmmakers. The ONLY thing that makes it easier is your REPUTATION.
People have tried to figure out THE SECRET OF CDI. The answer is reputation. I/We’ve become known for 3 things. 1) On budget. 2) On schedule 3) Ability to assemble the right team behind a project * The last thing I have been doing since high school when I had tricked that old type writer to ‘repeat’ while I assembled the after school cast and crew for our silly videos.
Become known for these things and an abundance of opportunities may follow. That is why accountability is so very important and many artists avoid that. Talking accountability I recently had a non-film discussion with a young family friend. I asked him a question about how he had left a job. He prepared to give me a lie? An excuse? Justification? Instead he just took accountability for it because I think he knew he couldn’t get one by me.
* I think that is why many don’t engage me at functions or meetings…if you’re selling BS I will likely call you on that – maybe privately, maybe not.
My point was, I saw the relief in his eyes. I saw the power that washed over him by taking accountability. He had just up and quit this job by not showing up. He had later apologized and expressed a desire to return to work. His former employer was not prepared to forgive but he will remember the apology and who knows. And by taking accountability this young man took on a new strength and insight that he could possibly use in the future. This accountability leads to wisdom.
I think this conversation leads in nicely to the crew and cast talks we’ve been having on the new CDI film. A dramatic comedy with strong messages of hope, entitled BEST YEARS GONE. It’s an adaptation from a book that will be released in advance of the film. When I was approached with this opportunity I was prepared to say no if it wasn’t up to snuff. I can promise that even with money attached if a project is too outside my interest or the branding of CDI, a pass might happen. But CDI is a big garden that can accommodate many ventures of various genres. We’ve had several meetings to debrief and discuss cast and crew from previous projects. We’re always seeking the most artistically gifted with a positive “can do” attitude to develop.
Some of the past CDI directors…
* Side Note – I had a wonderful catch up conversation with an old school friend who has gone on to many great things including several government endeavors. We talked about people management. He spoke about the one person on a team often highly gifted but with a bad attitude. I said, I would not rehire the #1 guy and focus on the gifted #2 and #3 with good attitudes. Easier to inspire the best out of them. versus changing negative hard wiring. So now I work for the government. Just kidding. Wait! Do I? Like Elvis working with the CIA:) Hmmm…
My point – it’s about the journey not just the destination. As a former coach, sensei and camp counselor – I take even the few shortcomings personal. I’m about developing people where many are about using people. I see the potential to fail or succeed in a person. You try to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. A chaotic, disorganized environment would bring out the worst in some. We’re just about to build the new team and so you again you take accountability of past sets and look at all the variables. Also because of our budgets and just the scope of the story we can’t always work with everyone on every endeavor. That said, I’m excited to be working again soon with many of the ole TRIBE CDI this April/May. We’ll start making some announcements this week on BEST YEARS GONE.
LOST HEART – I’m looking forward to a sit-down with composer/sound designer Dennis Therrian this week. I’m excited to add all the audio layers to this charming and touching story of dreams. I’ll be following up to see what is also going on with our Nashville recordings. Poster art and trailer are being worked on and I hope to have something to share soon.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – HELLO TEXAS!
MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. I’m excited for a new audience to experience our story. We’ll keep expanding the showings at events and platforms. If you enjoyed this film and think someone else will also – please do share it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
This Easter help me make a tradition of watching the three films in the trilogy. FORTY NIGHTS focuses on the little known time Jesus spent in the wilderness. CHASING THE STAR presents a ‘what if’ you got to know the wise men magi. THE CHRIST SLAYER follows the Roman centurion who put the spear to Jesus on the cross. I can promise you that these films are unlike any other you have watched. We also see from the perspective of the angels both the fallen and faithful. They are a unique thread through all three films. RIP to Kirk Douglas who like Chuck Heston was an inspiration to me with their epic historic dramas. Please take a watch or re-watch and encourage some friends and/or family to watch. I watched them around Christmas and I’m very proud of what we created, collectively:)
WILD FAITH – Soon we’ll be entering into discussions over financing and distribution of a TV series spin off of WILD FAITH. If the time table works out I would love to roll cameras first part of 2021. Phase 1 – make our deal. Phase 2 – lock scripts/hires Phase 3 – shoot! If you have not seen this film treat you and your family to a watch. I’m happy to say just like several of the films I get weekly fan mail on this film. I’m passing on your howdy doo’s to Ben Lily. I am looking forward to having Ben and Hester return to the world of Wild Faith.
To wrap this up – I’ve got many people that I care and look out for as we journey. I’m excited about the prospect of SPEED and SIZE of the deals increasing to meet our needs better. But I also cannot tie my entire operations up. Blanket deals with no performance or exit clauses are often issue prone. I have meetings with my legal next week but I think slow and steady is better. I also think a trial period is helpful for both parties. My solution might just be to allow representation on a writer/actor level and production by a -la-carte not an overall. Also I always try same side of the table negotiations always. But sometimes when you receive harsh one-sided agreements it is from the scars of previous burns. We all have them. The secret is not to carry that over into your new relationships. If something or nothing happens on this front stuff is moving forward. The new screenplay I wrote will be produced this May and I’ve got a new character to become.
CDI in the Hollywood
Enjoy the day and the week that lies ahead. My congrats to all the Oscar nominations. I use to attend a yearly Oscar event “Norby Walters Night of 100 Stars” and might return at some point. I think we’ll be out in Hollywood next to show MBF.
Chatting it up with the vets of our industry like Martin Landau.
I’ve have had an opportunity to watch many of the films this year. What a great line up! They are all winners in my book. I could post my reviews but I have things to do today. Maybe next week we’ll compare my thoughts versus the actual outcome.
Oscar Night – going to Norby Walters ‘Night of a 100 Stars”
Doing some spring clean up with my buddy Finn
Good morning from Michigan, USA! While this past week has been a good introduction into spring with lots of yard clean up and arrangement, today we have icy rain and snow. It will disappear fast but I’m just getting use to the coffee and phone calls on the patio deck listening to the birds and watching the squirrels retrieve their winter stash of acorns. I’ve been doing a lot of wood cutting and it looks like the office wood stove will get a work out today. I was going to attend a first flea market of the season but with the snow I might have to pass. I’m sip my Michigan Cherry coffee and type with all of you.
My brother had a birthday and we got to spend time with family yesterday and a few days before that my niece’s birthday. My nephew Wes has the same bday month as myself. He is the 21st and I’m the 23rd so we’ll have that ahead. Aside from the family gatherings and the homestead clean up I’ve had lots of entertainment business abound. Let’s discuss a few.
I made my yearly visit down to the opening of the Capital City Film Festival happening now in Lansing, MI. In my early years I spent a good amount of time and energy working with the East Lansing Film Festival centering on the Michigan’s Own portion of the festival. It awarded films with awards and cash prizes. It took hours of watching films, meeting with judges and other planning so I know what goes into it. These days my schedule allows me to buy a ticket to spend a few hours supporting upcoming filmmakers in our area. The opening night was at Impression 5 museum which has been a favorite since I was knee-high to a grasshopper:) I had a lilac drink that intrigued me because we made lilac wine once. It was great but very labor intensive. I also enjoyed a local hard cider. I got to see a few friends I only see yearly at this event. I attended with fellow filmmaker Shane Hagedorn and had a good time. We did at least one red carpet photo but I did not see it so once of us broke the camera with our mug. He we are with a young actor/filmmaker who just happens to be the son of Mr. Craig Jones whom I’ve known since high school. How cool that they get to do film work as father and son.
Throwing some support at the Capital City Film Festival
Aside from supporting the local fest we’ve been very hard at work here at Collective Development and on a personal level. I started looking at literary representation mid last year talking with various agents and management companies. You want to get the right relationship as they will be dealing with people who value your art. I’ve had an agent at one of the largest agencies in Hollywood and it wasn’t a great experience. A few big deals were lost and while the agency inclusion did help with a few doors, the cons started to outweigh the pros. I’ve been riding with legal at my side making my own deals. Legal is good at dotting I’s and crossing T’s but they are not seeking new opportunities. But I finally had a conversation with an international agent that I find promising. They discovered my work via another studio executive and reached out. They are doing some additional reviewing of my work but I think I’ll be having a go at working with a new literary and talent agent. I’ll be putting a large focus on foreign projects as well as domestic USA films. Many of you know I’ve done films in other countries and that is always a great experience.
I’m excited to see what films we do over the next 10 years
I’m also in development talks on several projects with a few new collaborators. We have some great projects developing both in the family/faith market and outside that target market. It is an exciting time but don’t get me wrong, it is still HARD WORK. When people occasionally look at what we’ve accomplished or are accomplishing it occasionally sets off feelings of envy. You/they might be a better artist even though that is subjective but overall I just outwork people. Part of that is learning where not to waste your energy. Look for red flags and know when to say NO THANK YOU. Many do not realize that and spends lots of energy where their only reward is frustration.
Beautiful Northern Michigan
LOST HEART – This is what is front and center in development and fighting to move into pre-production. We have enough to make the journey but we are fighting to be able to add a few days of shooting ultimately creating a better product. We only have a few more pieces of this investment puzzle to remedy and move forward. A lot of development work is getting done now and so I believe strongly we will be rolling cameras in July!
Hester and Ben in ‘Wild Faith’
WILD FAITH – We just finished runs in Grand Rapids, MI and Biloxi, Mississippi and I’m trying to confirm West Virginia and other venues. The DVD will be rolling out next month and so all of you wanting to see this fine adventure tale will soon be able to. I will be checking on Amazon pre-booking which should start soon.
I will note that the TV series is one of the things being discussed in some of my development talks. I would love to play Ben Lily again and bring a series of stories to all of you.
Just in time for Easter
THE CHRIST SLAYER
The Christ Slayer just announced its first theatrical dates in Amarillo, Texas. We hope that myCinema will continue to book to the big screen. Those who want to watch in the privacy of their own home can watch it streaming or on DVD on Amazon Prime or other fine platforms. Thank you for all the fine fan(e)mail I’ve gotten. It warms my heart to see so many enjoying our stories. I know myCinema is working hard to get it in AZ but is having issue at Harkins because of Studio Commitments but call the theater and let them know. Yuma, AZ deserves to see it on the big screen.
The film really goes perfect with the Easter season but perhaps you might enjoy watching the entire trilogy of Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. The ending of part 2 makes more sense if you know about part 3. I think that is going to be a PR release on the lead up to Easter. Also I might discuss more about the trilogy as a whole.
CDI OG Mister Dean Teaster
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
In my post meeting last week it was noted that sound quality was really good and the dialog clean up was not as extensive as in the past. To be fair the locations were much more controlled versus being out in the desert like with our trilogy. Sound Design is happening at the same time and so once we get all this laid in MUSIC TIME. I will also be touching base with the visual team about VFX, Color Correction and a new trailer. Exciting times.
The Week Ahead…
This next week will be working towards disbursement of funds back at investors. Seeking a few new partners so we can move into official pre-production on LOST HEART. We are close and we could do the film with what we have now but I want to have the extra breathing room. It is easier on the cast and crew and ultimately might yield a better final product. Businesses wanting to talk sponsorship or product placement please do reach out.
Treat yourself to the book and movie
I’m going to go refill the coffee cup and organize for my forthcoming week. I have a friend coming in from Texas for a few days on family business so it will be nice to catch up with him. He was involved with the original KNIGHT CHILLS, CDI’s 1st feature film. KNIGHT CHILLS 2? You never know:)
Have a great Sunday and week ahead!
Happy Sunday to all of you out there. I’m sipping at the Michigan Cherry coffee and trying to recall some of my events of the past week. I ended up sleeping in a touch this morning. This week I did lots of yard clean up after the long winter. We’re shortening the garden, moving the outside chimera pit and stabilizing the floor on the garden shed. The last one included driving some 12 inch spikes in various places through multiple blocks of wood with a sledge-hammer. I did have an amigo over to trade-off with the hammering. I felt like John Henry the story on the man who hammered his way through the mountain beating the machine before expiring. Yesterday, the second day after I was SORE! I worked my core, front and back to the max. It is funny how I am use to swinging the axe but the hammer was a new addition. But that is what keeps the ole body strong. Filling bird feeders, gathering wood and I still have a list of things to do this week. After being chained to the desk for several hours there is nothing like a good work in the yard. But I’m sure you did not come here to hear about yard work. But once you do the work and put it out there to the universe it is a good way to not watch the pot waiting for a boil. A good fire outside or in the wood stove along with some hardy ‘viking work’ is good for mind. Last night I watched my Spartans play in the Final Four. They lost a hard-fought battle, playing hard to the end. I would be happy if I had one of the top four films in the country. I think the only time we did that was with Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town we were the #1 western rental in the US for 7 weeks. (Rentrak) and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks. Let’s talk movies.
Staying on the subject of westerns – WILD FAITH. Our Grand Rapids, MI run was extended. I have to see this week if we are still in Mississippi. I was told we are rolling into West VA but I will wait to see. There is a large push in the theatrical world for variety in films shown as seen in a recent VARIETY article. I think that Wild Faith is a powerful and entertaining film with a broad appeal. MyCinema is out there booking it across the country and we’ll see what communities it pops up in. I’m happy for anyone who gets to see it on the big screen as it plays great. I’m excited about the streaming and DVD release in May. I also hear tale that Walmart and other retailers will get it in June/July. I hope it makes it into Meijer like BOOK OF RUTH. Only because they have 1500 stores or so and it is one of my favorites. So if you get a chance to see it on the big screen, please do, you won’t be disappointed. I think you can pre-order DVD’s now on Christian Cinema and it should start appearing at more locations like Amazon, Target, Family Video… If you’ve seen the film hop over to IMDB.com and leave your review. I had a few great development discussions this past week which included talk on the Wild Faith TV series. Giddy Up.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I had talks this past week that might also result in CDI doing another biblical trilogy. I’ve had one in development for a while with three great stories told from a unique point of view. Part 3 of the series THE CHRIST SLAYER is available on DVD and streaming now. If you contact your local theater and ask them to book via myCinema they can put it on the big screen. We might do a special screening here in Lansing, MI on the big screen. My AZ friends please do reach out to Harkins Theaters and request it. MyCinema books through there all the time and our Yuma, AZ friends deserve to see this on the big screen. I’m anxious to see where it appears this Easter season but I’m even more excited to see where all three travel in the years to come.
Here is a great Behind the Scenes of The Christ Slayer
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This week I plan to get an update on where we’re at with the dialog mix on the film. Our director is doing a sound design cue sheet and I cannot wait for music. The film is in that quiet phase while the other films do their thing but soon it will have its time. It is due to be delivered to our distributor on June 30th which is part of the decision for the next announcement.
LOST HEART – is the next film for us. It is a charming and beautiful story of going home. Of finding oneself and examining the mysteries of life. We’re still in talks on the last few investment units on this film. Next week the account will be opened and we have the first checks rolling in. We’ve got a few sponsorship opportunities underway with some great businesses. If you have an interest in getting involved on that end please reach out to me directly. Casting and Crewing is all through the CDI site. http://www.cdiproductions.com and we do have a few castings to go. I’m extremely excited to move into pre-production on this film and with a few more small pushes we will be there. We are targeting rolling cameras in July!
DEVELOPMENT – As was mentioned above we have several projects in development. I’m excited about the stories we’ve told and the stories yet to be told. With the nice weather ahead I look forward to days working on the patio. I will not ramble on with these plans as that’s a little early.
This week I am going to try to step out to our local film festival’s opening night gala and support all the artists pushing to have their vision seen. I don’t feel like a MACK trunk hit me today so that is good. I might do a bit more work in the yard – maybe the June Bday party/CDI gathering might happen. It was postponed last year because my furry boy Luke was near the end of his journey. Our new addition Finn has brought immense joy into our lives and for that we are thankful.
Have a great day and week ahead.
I’m sitting here sipping coffee and watching my squirrel buddy Gordy prepping for the high winds we are going to have. The last week was a combination of busy business and family business. I’ve been out of grandparents for a while but have enjoyed the company of my significant other’s grandparents. We lost one – a grandmother who was the center of the family. She had a long 89 years and her service was really nice. The family all came together and now they will have to re-adjust. We all have to keep doing that as we move forward. It once again made me see how special the work we do actually is. And the journey is also just as important as the destination. Let’s look at a few updates from the week.
LOST HEART – This is the film being pulled together to shoot in late April/May time frame. This past week we announced the addition of Mr. David Gries and Dean Teaster playing a major character at two different ages. We welcome them aboard.
Also this week we’ll be announcing the 1st casting call notice for this role. It will be posted on http://www.cdiproductions.com
We are looking for someone who resembles this picture. It is playing our main character at a younger age. It is a paid role and we’ll accept both union and non-union submissions. So you heard it here first. More casting calls will follow.
This week we’ll be announcing two new actresses joining LOST HEART. Both have worked with CDI on different films. We’ve also began some TOP SECRET model work:) We had one of our producers up North starting some initial talks. I, as the writer started by dialog and script note review with our director Jesse Low.
A learning note on this point – When I work with a director it is line by line, page by page because I want the director to REALLY understand the characters. Once they are fully understood we can change certain locations or interactions but they will respond in character. As a producer you want less page count. As a writer – the colorful descriptions might help cast and crew immerse themselves into the world. It is a balancing act whereas a director can strip it down to bar bones because they have shots and such in mind. But for landing quality talent it helps to paint the world. As I stated last week, I would not sign onto a film without reading the script. Maybe a Star Wars flick would be the first but the project I backed off from was not a Star Wars flick. When it has inexperience involved the need for a GREAT blueprint (script) becomes even more important. Also once I sign off the script to the director the writer goes on vacation. Even when actors ask me questions I try to redirect them to the director. Writers need to let go at a point. Many have issues doing just that and that causes problems on projects. So in development get all that solidified with your director. That is what we’ll continue to do next week. Here is Jesse Low working on WILD FAITH with DP Jesse Aragon.
Let’s MOVE to the WILD FAITH movie. This week was working with the distributor as they prepare for the theatrical release and the DVD/streaming to follow. This coming week we’ll announce and release the new poster art for WILD FAITH. I’ve been holding my breath waiting for the artwork. Once I saw it my first two impressions were – 1) Classically Beautiful 2) Lauren LaStrada is going to LOVE this cover:) There is my tease. Coming (back) to theaters this March! Remastered. Enhanced. Ready to Rock!
The month after on April 19th THE CHRIST SLAYER will roll out into theaters. I’m trying to make sure that Harkins gets it in AZ. That way all our Yuma, AZ family can watch it on the big screen for Easter. For those that want to watch now it can be seen on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema (and the list will keep growing) DVD will release March 4th so add it to your collection. People who have been sending ‘fan mail’ I greatly appreciate it. I love how into the story they are. You can watch these films as a stand alone but they also tell a story as a trilogy. The Devil and Angels story runs through all three. As more people realize the thread between all three films it will become more interesting to read people’s thoughts on the trilogy. I’ve seen the same few type ‘hate’ posts. Usually at Jesus. OK. If you don’t believe in Jesus, just enjoy the story. ROCKY and APOLLO CREED did not exist as real people but they still inspired determination, self-belief and the power of love for generations of viewers. If you live for Jesus, I hope you enjoy the film. It is not a documentary or a bio-pic but a story. The issue I see that stems from pockets of religious denominations is that they fight over details (the devil is in the details) and miss the entire meaning of the story. I read someone lamenting the darkness in Chasing the Star. Um…King Herod’s rule was dark. That is what I liked about The Passion of the Christ. The reality of crucification was played out and it was much darker than the pageants plays of the day. Someone commented negatively on the Magi, obviously not knowing the actual history. That is why that film felt important. Everyone knows the statues out front of the nativity scene but few really knew anything about them. Our take is not 100% as history often exists in fragments. Anyway, I’m very proud of the three films. Those that let themselves enjoy the story will take something away, their path matters not. So watch FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR and follow it up with THE CHRIST SLAYER.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’ve been reviewing the first cut and making suggestions. The film is very good. I’m out on a limb playing a wounded Marine. I feel that gravity because I represent the actual wounded. I can say that so many of my peers gave incredible performances. Maybe one of the best from Dean Teaster (played the Preacher in Wild Faith), Anschutz, Abell, Gries, Hagedorn, Most, Nations…I could go on. I think people will be happy with their involvement. I did get emotionally hit at the end of the film so I know it works. But we’re just working the story for pace. A few scenes to cut into later or cut out early. We’ll work toward a lock at month’s end with dialog clean up being the first task up for post audio/music.
Aside from this list of things to do – I’ve been writing out checks to investors and residuals to talent on some of our films. I’ve been prepping to do some VO work on a commercial project. I’ve got a few meetings in the next few weeks to discuss possible collaborations. So, I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Merchandise creation is under discussions. Sponsorship for the new film, the CDI website or even my blog. I’ve been trying to get that coffee sponsor. One big bag of coffee beans a month and I’ll put your company logo on here. And I’ll speak kind words about it weekly:) DING! Magnifico – only my Philippine DN cast/crew friends will understand that.
Pre-Order on Amazon now!
Have a great week ahead!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
A little peanut butter toast and coffee to greet me on this fine morning. Last night I got to toast my longtime friend and film associate Dean Teaster for his 60th birthday. His property was looking just amazing. You can tell he’s put some serious time into it and it’s a very zen place to chillax. The tree fort is amazing and the cleared forest around it with the strings of lights, looked magical. A classic rock band, catered BBQ and a HUGE bar fueled the gathering into the night. I released my first burning Chinese lantern (pretty cool) and also watched the BIG fight to end my night. I hope my buddy will enjoy many more trips around the sun. A great time was had by all.
This week was full of film developments on many fronts.
The Quest Trilogy –
THE CHRIST SLAYER continues to move down post production looking to release next year. Meanwhile most of the attention is currently on CHASING THE STAR. The official release date is 9/5/17 but a few retailers have released early. Here’s the first Faith and General Market sites that you can rent/buy from.
Simply Grace magazine will run a featured story on Chasing the Star in November and Television On Demand becomes available Oct. 2nd – additionally were once again invited to attend the International Christian Film Festival 2018. We’ll see if we can follow our great 2017 run we had with FORTY NIGHTS. Here are a few of the recent reviews.
So this week we’re getting our summary for our new project MBF out to our past backers. We’re also going to be approaching our many sponsors that have supported our past projects. If you’ve got an interest in learning more on investment and/or sponsorship for your product or service, reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally we’ve got first paperwork for a new deal on an older film in the library. Can you guess which film that might be? HINT: We’ve had the main theme of the film in our news headlines. Stay tuned!
This week business will continue to charge forward. At home – Our beans are slowing but the tomatoes are coming on fast and furious. My one pumpkin ‘Jack’ that was attacked has turned orange and so we do have one! The rhubarb/mulberry wine is ready to rack to the secondary. After a time in the secondary it goes to bottles. I’m also going to look at when we can do the shake siding on the office/fort. I really put in some time on the yard this past week which included discovering a large ground bee nest. I only got stung three times but now that’s been taken care of. Our furry boy Luke is on the mend and I hope that trend continues. Also today we have one of our last soccer games of our season before play offs. We’re looking like we might have low numbers today but we will battle with whatever warriors show up. Time to refill the coffee cup. Have a great week ahead.
On this day we remember our stories about where we were at when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember that I was having a morning much like today – hazelnut coffee, chill music and doing some film work. Dean Teaster called me to ask if I was watching TV, to which I said I wasn’t. I turned on to see one tower on fire and replays of the impact. BOOM! Another plane impact and we all know the story of the other planes. I remember MaryJo Cuppone’s flight attendant friend died in one of the planes. I remember Ed Schaefer in NYC being in the street dust after the impact. Killing is not divine. Hate is a choice. We are all neighbors in this world.
It has been a whirlwind of film activity. As we get ready to review some of the first numbers on “40 Nights” I’m proud of the growing base of viewers. The film did not roll out with huge fanfare but has become a film you hear about – you hear good things about and you seek it out. Here is one of my favorite reviews.
If you watched this film and enjoyed it – reach out and share it with someone.
Chasing the Star – the 2nd film in The Quest Trilogy has a first trailer which is still getting a polish. I expect we will roll out a new poster here soon. The music is almost complete and VFX has started. Our friends from CHOP & HUE have also joined the project – making this their second film with us.
The Christ Slayer – As soon as “Wild Faith” ship is out to sea I will start putting the business together on our third film in our trilogy. I’m actively looking at directors and speaking to talent and keys. We will look to shoot in the spring in AZ.
Our midWestern “Wild Faith” is loading the ship as I like to call it. The foundation work is well underway and this week we’ll open the account and start to prepare for the journey. We’ve identified most of our artist sailors of our cast and crew. This week we will finalize that process. I’m excited also by the idea of an ongoing TV series because of the great talent. I have ideas for many guest stars including many of your favorite legends of the genre. It looks like Mr. Darby Hinton will be joining our cast. He has a long impressive list of TV & film but many love him from Daniel Boone still playing strong on 3 networks right now. We also have a list of extremely talented actors from Michigan joining our cast. We’ll be announcing more of these cast and crew as we start signing deals.
Well, MSU is off this weekend. The Lions play in a few hours and so I’m going to get some additional work done around the yard. The garden is full and needs to be harvested. Speaking of, I bottled 2 cases of “Return of the Green Goblin” that came from last years harvest. I’ve been dealing with this mega beard during our humid heat but now we’re in a beautiful cool phase. Tonight I may even make a fire. Enjoy the remaining weekend and be good to one another.
Welcome one and all to my “Clawing My Way to the Middle” blog. It is noon and I’m back to sipping the last of the coffee while putting a few thoughts down on here. This week was full of meetings and interviews – vetting and exploring as we continue to move forward. Last week we announced “Wild Faith” our next film with director Jesse Low. The heat wave snapped with the storm yesterday in Michigan and I’m very happy about that. I’m more of a cool weather person and so we’re soon to transition into my favorite time of year. I picked a load of veggies yesterday from our garden. We’ve been enjoying fresh everything daily from tomato on sandwiches to steamed beans and squash. The rain also has the yard filling in dead spots from the brutal heat. My hair and beard are mountain man crazy (Is that a hint?) so the heat was mildly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the weekly recaps.
The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” is moving steady down the post-production tracks and so if you’ve not seen part 1 – take a watch.
Chasing the Star
This week we should start looking at VFX work. The music and sound design is underway with that talented Dennis Therrian. Our INTRO will again be done by CHOP & HUE. We plan to have our first premiere before Christmas and I’m excited for audiences to see it. I had a dental cleaning and my dentist right away wanted to know how the second film was coming. He and his daughter attended the first one in the theater and loved it. So we have a built in audience waiting for part 2.
The Christ Slayer
Next month we will start to pull some business together on this film. The script is out to the returning players. I was happy to get such a beautiful response from our returning talent. I’ve been talking with other possible players and looking at behind the camera players also. I’m excited about shooting the last of the three in the QUEST TRILOGY.
Wild Faith will be officially entering pre-production as our business paperwork comes together this week. We’ve been looking at reels and reads and I’m excited about the cast coming together. We’ve been discussing the business behind this pilot feature and a possible 10 show season #1 to be shot in Michigan.
Knight Chills 2 – We’re prepping some PR that will detail our development underway with our friends at BlackJacket Films. Camera tests and casting have been quietly taking place. Distribution talks are underway both for the 20th anniversary re-release of the original and our follow-up feature.
Additional talks have been underway with Jeff Kennedy, Dean Teaster and Anthony Hornus and we might see new projects from all of them in the near future.
This week is full of more meetings but I’ve been enjoying the on-camera prep work I’m doing. We have the first round of soccer playoffs this eve so I’m looking forward to that. We finished 3rd overall and it’s been a great season. That intense running in the heat has me in good shape so running around in the woods should be a breeze.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead!
PS: Luke is home and doing very good from his bout of illness.
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.
Ah, the hot sips of Hazelnut coffee greets my morning once again. Old Saint Nick must know my love of the smooth java as I got several bags of the fine stimulating stuff. Insulated jeans and cargo pants, a few sweatshirts and such greeted me as this is Michigan. When “out and about” I tend to love my boots but more likely these days you will find me comfortably wearing my slippers about. I got several pair this year. One pair for the house, the office and one to “roll in” when I don’t feel like changing up to take a drive to the studio. I also enjoyed the gift giving and watching others open and enjoy such finds. The food has been wonderful. From ham to lamb, shrimp to scallop potatoes. I stayed away from all sweets but enjoyed more than enough of everything else. Tonight is a yearly outing with some of my oldest friends (Hard to beat 1st grade) with a delicious steak in my future. To note the other 2 best 2014 steaks. A tie between the one from Eric Nelson’s wedding (Lansing Country Club) and Dean Teaster’s wedding! (Dusty’s Cellar) so we will see how the Knight Cap fits in there. I’m usually a venison eater but once in a while that steak is just heavenly.
I’ve done a pretty good job of not engaging in too much business over the last few days. It’s exciting to move into 2015 and like a present you unwrap, see what lies there. I’m exciting for so many new films finishing up – releasing and re-releasing!
New poster work has been underway for “Wicked Spring” and “In the Woods,” with plans to do a new commentary for the latter celebrating 15 years. 2015 will see a book release for “Knight Chills” with a sequel film in development. “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors,” “The Terrorist,” “Division 19,” “Dead Quiet,” and “Bestseller” will all roll out in 2015. The new Sci Fi/Western “Wasteland” will have the 1st part assembled by Spring and will return to shooting the others parts this year.
In the works is a new powerful drama with Anthony Hornus directing. A new biblical-era dramatic feature will be finalizing its business in January and gearing up for a spring shoot. Development is underway with a new film collaboration with Shane Hagedorn. (Exciting) My management is working on several options for studio/network projects. My writing projects are building with two screenplays underway now. One optioned script may move into production this winter still and I’ve been asked to consider another Work-For-Hire writing just days ago. BUSY but fun work:)
In recap, I can see the forthcoming year will be filled with great storytelling adventure. I wonder what words I’ll be typing here a year from now? Perhaps thinking back on the releases of these forthcoming films in 2015 and hinting at what projects will be on deck for 2016. I will enjoy a few more days of family and friends – organizing and preparing myself for the busy year ahead. I already have meetings and such lining up which is all good. That is progress in motion and moving ahead in creation. So enjoy these few days of continued holiday before once again rolling up the sleeves and attacking the work ahead.
Happy Holidays and wishing you all a great start to your new year!