Good morning from WILD HAVEN in Algona, Iowa! I want to thank you all for understanding my move to Saturdays for our little chat and update. I’m waiting on the coffee maker to kick out our Kona Blend Coffee which has to have a splash of Hazelnut for good measure. I will try to brainstorm some of the top highlights of mine from the week. It will also paint a nice picture of the amazing endeavor we are undertaking.
- Our friends at Heritage Park made the first four days enjoyable and productive. Also thank you to the Winnebago folks for allowing us to store our vehicles in their garages. We were thankful to Robert Bradley who immediately knew how to start and drive many of these older clutch vehicles. But they looked pretty amazing on camera so again thank you to these owners helping us capture history.
- Our staging area/base camp (Ranger Station) is quite the sight to see with all the period clothes, props and period vehicles. Our artists in these departments are doing such an incredible job. I have loved seeing the civilian clothes and the military and PW outfits. The job is not easy under any circumstances but this film challenges them to give their very best. We appreciate them so much.
- It was so great to reunite with some great actor friends that I’ve not seen in a good while. Charles Powell and I worked together on “The 8th Plague” and later CDI’s “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town,” makes his return to the CDI Tribe with a powerful role. Charles was quiet and polite until it came time for ACTION! David Reardon (MBF) also returns with a brilliant character that will surely thrill his fans. Garry Nation came ready to play and it’s always fun to see him work. We actually have some scenes together in the days ahead.
- Today MSU plays football again and we’re looking for another win. Speaking of MSU, I’m excited to have Carl Gilliard, a fellow MSU alumni with our cast. He and I have some great scenes together. I plan to do a little PR shoutout to share around the MSU news outlets. Go Green!
- The German actors all hit the scene and WOW! We have such a great group of actors overall but these German’s help tell a good amount of our story. They were really all so appreciative of the script and are here because of the story. I got to have a short chat with all of them. I was really taken by our PW antagonist Ben Schnau who’s isolating on-set process resembles some of my own process when on a shoot day. When I have intense work to do on camera I tend to get quiet and lost in myself/my character. I have had fellow actors be quite shocked to find me very personable off set. It’s because I always have so much going through my head either as talent or as a producer. But catch me at the fort for an informal meeting and you get a very different DJ.
- I’m so happy with our young lead ‘Samuel’ in from Texas. He found our midwest cold bitter but he’s getting thicker ‘midwest’ blood now. It’s a joy to watch someone at that age who is getting to ‘make believe’ on such a grand scale. At his age we had couch cushions and our imaginations. His parents were both actors at one time and his mother Stephanie, still acting, will be participating on this story as well.
- Speaking of mother and sons, we have my brother from another mother Josh Perry in with his momma Connie. We are so excited to have Josh back again with us and this role will be a challenge to see him lean into his anger. I know he will do a great job and I’m excited for the cast and crew who haven’t worked with him to be given that opportunity.
- The excitement and assistance of the community has been wonderful. The other day we had to stop at the Dollar General which also serves as a mail center and as a flatbed went by with our troop transport truck everyone rushed to the windows to watch. This story is this area’s history and once we finish this the story, the event will never be forgotten.
- On Sat the 13th on our day off we are doing a specially sponsored Smithfield Foods BBQ and a screening of BEST YEARS GONE in the local theater. A great thank you to our hard working cast and crew.
- We had a couple of VIP guests from our on-going distribution company visit. They loved seeing everything in action and the visit gives them an idea of the hard work that goes into the films they market. It makes the circle stronger and allows us to more easily tell these stories.
Speaking on the BEST YEARS GONE we have another Lansing, MI theatrical run at Celebration Cinema Lansing starting Nov 24th – 28th so people returning home for Thanksgiving can catch the movie. We were laughing putting together some promo – “Funniest Movie since Earnest Goes to Camp” – the film is funny and heartfelt. So far audiences have enjoyed the film theatrically and in a few months it will release worldwide. I’m going to wrap it up here as we have a tech scout at a few locations for next week. For those who don’t know what that is – you are not only looking at where to film a scene but where to stage a small army. I look forward to sharing more reports with you next Sat. Thank you for your support and know we are working to capture the powerful scenes so that next year we will have another great CDI release for you.
(One of the locations for the forthcoming week)
Be kind to one another.
I’m sipping my coffee and thinking about what a beautiful week it has been. It has been busy and will continue to be as we move towards the premiere of BEST YEARS GONE (Sept 18th tickets can be bought for that date 6pm and 8:15pm at the Owosso, MI NCG – Come Join the Fun!) and we also keep prepping on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. (Shooting in November) We will explore a few theatrical opportunities with the film but we’re looking at Q1 2022 likely Feb for the streaming/DVD home video release. We have all kinds of important work being done as we look to finish end of this new week. As huge amounts of data is being moved about for credits and thank you’s I also worry a touch. Because almost without fail we miss someone or have a name misspelled. It is the worst part of the final process. And changes are not easy and once delivered near impossible to change. Please know that on the rare occasions where this happens it has never been intentional. I know director Shane Hagedorn is excited as is our composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian. The daily updates are growing with excitement and enthusiasm. We want to bring this story to you. If you want to read the book that the film was adapted from you can google up and purchase “Hope from Heaven” by author Karl Manke.
Last night was special because I got to celebrate the wedding reception of Jackson Kennedy. He is the son of my business partner Jeff Kennedy, who directed several of the early CDI films. He was the young boy in KNIGHT CHILLS (CDI’s 1st feature film). Jackson was only like 3 but a bigger kid more the size of a 5 year old. Later it was discovered he was dealing with some hearing loss. Audiences even back in the day could be cruel with their words in reviews. He never asked for any of that so I’m so happy to see how well he has done in school and life by getting his Masters degree and working for a university and now married. Actually he and his wife Abby married a year ago during Covid and this was the anniversary. They had a wonderful reception for family and friends. For people who don’t know, my partner in CDI Jeff Kennedy, has dealt with severe back issues since before even his work on ‘Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town’ which would be his last CDI film he was directly involved with. It was good to see both he and Juanita so proud of their son Jack. I too was so proud of this young man and what he has become. Looking at him as a grown man illustrates again for me that indeed CDI has been storytelling for 25 years this year!
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA
Here is an interview piece from our scout trip to Algona, Iowa.
This week we’ll announce a few more of the German actors and we’ll also be announcing some of the amazing product partners and sponsors joining us in the telling of this powerful story based on true events. We are starting to put paperwork under our cast and crew. We will also start more intense work with various departments in the coming weeks. The 1st steps towards the production insurance is underway as of Friday. We will need it for locations, picture vehicles and more. Aside from all the business I’ve been working my lines and I’m excited to start reading off a few of my fellow actors.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – We had the pleasure of watching the 1st cut of the documentary on the history of wrestling. It was informative, entertaining and really educates anyone interested or curious about the history of the grappling arts. I’m very proud of the entire team and I think it could be the first of many. Director Curran Jacobs is also the lead actor in our upcoming WW2 film. He previously had roles in WILD FAITH and MBF but this will be his biggest challenge.
SMOKE & MIRROR – Our VFX artists had a few delays but this funny and hauntingly moody short film will be done mid month. I’ve also been working on re-tooling the feature film that were looking to have Nathaniel Nose direct. This will give audiences a good peek at the world we intend to create with the full feature.
WILD FAITH is a branding and I’m considering WILD FAITH: Hastings Season 1 as the more official title for the TV series. The interest is there now we just need to pull all the business together and look to a season 1 shoot likely 2022 if all goes smooth. I might get some artwork underway during this 4th Q of the year.
The window for THE QUEST TRILOGY will kick in after we get past Oct 31st – speaking of that spooky month – BESTSELLER the dark thriller by author Christopher Knight and starring Melissa Anschutz as literary agent Anne Harper will be getting a new campaign soon. I think most of the business has been delivered so I will keep you updated. Also an HD version of THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ is suppose to release in a new campaign. It was our first CDI associated animated film but will not be our last! The new special FX division is in the planning stages and I’m excited by where that can take us. LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT, UFO’S AND JESUS is growing a nice audience and WICKED SPRING HD version is about to get a new release. And we’re also looking at what films in the CDI library could also be introduced to a new larger audience.
I smell the bacon and eggs almost done so I’m going to wrap this up and get a fresh coffee. After breakfast I’m going to go put a mow on the lawn. We are having the mom’s over for a late lunch that will have me manning the grill. I’ve been grilling with hickory chunks vs charcoal and that has been a switch. It burns much faster and hotter it seems. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your extended holiday weekend. Our MSU football team started off the season with a great win Friday night. Now if only the Detroit LIONS can do the same.
Be good to one another and have a great week ahead!
Coffee cheers to you all! So it was a great weekend for getting things done. I’ve been playing all kinds of catch up as we head into the end of the year. I’ve done what might be a final mowing of the yard and getting the firewood around. We had a good bout of wet cold with Halloween being rain, sleet and snow for most of the day/night. Now some argue for a better night or a less crappy night but that was part of the fun. The challenges of stomping around in a costume and accepting candy. I spent the day reaching out to a handful of old-school elementary school mates. I also called my mother early asking if my costume was done being sewn. She was confused until I confessed my tease and we talked about the great costumes she and my grandma Swope use to make us kids. My barbarian outfit pushed Grandma’s old sewing machine to the limit. My best costume was a robot made from a large box with tube arms and multiple dials, switches and such on the outside. I recall falling and all the friends having a good laugh as I could not stand back up. I was like a turtle on his back. I remember a great Halloween party at one friends house with games and such. I had a wonderful childhood and for that I feel grateful because as an adult I realize that is not always the case. So during the season I enjoyed many classics like THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and several others. Now we are onto the “Holiday season” that runs from Nov. to Easter and so it begins.
I’ve started my Christmas shopping as I love giving gifts. I’m a person who will do that all year around but I like how during the season, we stop to have a drink and share a laugh together. I had intended to have a Fall CDI party to replace the rained out Summer one but one thing after another kept falling on the schedule. I had weddings and memorials falling on the same day. We had just a busy life fall but that is the way of things. We just got done hashing out Thanksgiving whereas again it is near impossible to be in multiple places. So again I’m smoking a turkey and let me tell you it’s hard to find rolling papers in that size. Just kidding:)
We’re starting to revamp the CDI website for the new year ahead. Here is one of the narrative book commercials we did for Baker Publishing.
We also recently completed another commercial for a software company and that is the cool Victorian age pics people saw. We created content for a software demo and I was able to pull a small one day script from my work-in-progress feature script “Smoke & Mirrors”. So I’ve been wrapping up paperwork on that project and we hope to have the first invoice paid out next week so I can disperse. It is different working in the net 30, 60, 90 day corporate cycle. On the feature films we try to pay out ASAP to cast and crew as I know how freelancers need that. Check out http://www.cdiproductions.com to see some of the updates. We will be posting some casting notices also – so join us.
We’ll be processing and dispersing more revenue to our investors as the films continue to expand and sell. This will be the first season all three of the biblical adventures (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER) will be all out on the market. Again these are NOT “faith-films” as per the new genre but films with faith at the heart of the stories. The films are not fluff and deal with deep issues that we all question and contemplate. WATCH all three together to get the greater story woven throughout the trilogy. That said I’ve also been slowly developing the next three films in the follow up trilogy.
NOTE: CDI is starting to release merchandise. A 40 Nights lobby card poster is available as are the Tee-Shirts from GHOST TOWN. Look to the Collective Development Inc. Facebook to see upcoming product.
WILD FAITH has continued to expand and amaze audiences in the power of the story. We are actively working to bring a TV series based on these characters to audiences. We have some good pieces moving on the board. If you have not seen this film yet with your family, please do take a watch.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – In December the Equus Film & Art Festival in Kentucky will be showcasing MBF. We also are looking at several other festivals. I see that as the DVD’s are becoming more available people are buying many copies to give as gifts to family and friends who would appreciate this story. I continue to be humbled by all the great communications I have been receiving from people. Yes. Many people are also discovering for the first time that I am not disabled, at least not in a ‘Paul Landings’ sort of way. That is to my credit and I’ll accept that but as I’ve said, my heart goes out to all those vets who cannot turn it off. It is their life. So if you know someone that could benefit from watching this film – recommend it or better yet buy them a copy as a gift. I’m excited to see in three years what has happened with this film. I’m waiting to see what film theaters will run the movie. The fact that it is on home video has made a few chains bow out due to policy. But theaters need to understand that 3 main groups exist. The theater goers. The home video watchers. And the in-between who enjoy both. The theaters can get their share of viewers plus some who enjoy on the small screen want to see it on the big screen when the opportunity presents itself. See the film however you can or want but take a watch.
LOST HEART – So we are closing in on the first rough cut and soon we will do a watch through before fine tuning the edit. Once picture lock it is over to Dennis Therrian for music and sound design. First of the new year you can start looking for PR to start rolling out.
DEVELOPMENT – We discussed the development of several projects. I’ve just signed onto a project to write a script from a book manuscript and produce the feature film. Next week I’ll be talking with the distributor and get that lined up.
Additionally we have another project that will be slated to shoot in 2021 but will start casting in 2020. We’ll be making an announcement on this film also once I get the distribution in place.
We’re also exploring returning to AZ for some filming in our spring window. We’ll be entering discussions on this project also – you all know CDI LOVES AZ especially when it is 20 below zero in Michigan.
Other seeds are being planted with a few other great talents bringing their project to CDI to produce. When time allows I might also have to finish up the feature length “Smoke & Mirrors” script. We’ll have a great proof of concept short in the coming months.
As you can see we have a great slate of business forming up. I’m excited to once again at being hired to weave a film script and to see it brought to the big screen. If you have a funded project that you want considered feel free to inquire about how a CDI associated project just might work.
Okay, today the ghosts and goblins will be replaced by turkeys and harvest baskets. We also need to pickle some beets that have been harvested. Tonight a little time with family and friends before diving into the work week. My first biz call is set for 10 am and I’m ready to get after November! Have a great Sunday and a good week ahead. Be good to one another.
Welcome new readers from Sweden, France and Russia. I’ve been to Sweden years ago with my overseas soccer team. I’ve never been to France or Russia but you never know. This week marked the back-to-business full steam ahead. I had a wonderful holiday and truly appreciated the downshift in schedule. I had to keep some work flowing but it is important to take those moments to appreciate. You don’t want to keep moving your goals back. Allow your self to enjoy where you are and to reflect on what made that journey easy or difficult. Learn.
These two knuckleheads were clawing the frozen ground seeking food. I hooked them up. Needless to say, they are now very happy and have joined the DJ Perry fan club.
These five talented men – I’ve co-starred with all of them previous to “Wild Faith” – I’m excited for all of them to see what they created. It is a goal for cast and crew to be proud of their involvement. Some don’t always appreciate the endeavor until many years later and some understand the life and love we put into these stories as they live it. Be appreciative of the friendship, the art and opportunity. Films are HARD WORK.
New meets old guard as we announced two more fine actors going the cast of Man’s Best Friend – MBF. Curran has only worked with CDI on one previous film and Greg, well he was in CDI’s first film and has done many films with us, so he has OG status within the tribe)
This past week has been spent organizing for 2018 and prepping for the new 2019 films. We took a few steps closer to financing fully our MBF film. I’m excited to return to that role once I lock this business down. I’m trying to get it done by the end of the month.
Wild Faith new trailer dropped (HERE)
The response has been great. But I can say in all honesty that the film is so much more enjoyable. The trailer is strong but the performances and characters created by everyone just make the world a place you want to return. I’ve got a few companies to run the final film by. I’ve held back from assigning to our current distributor only because I’m trying to leverage the TV series. The world is great and I can see a great opportunity to showcase more of the strong Michigan talent. The final audio and visual tweaks are being made. We’re starting some theatrical discussions in Michigan. Also we’ll be discussing a cast/crew/media showing and a Michigan premiere. It will be a fun spring and summer showing the film followed by a fall/winter push to home video. Exciting to see where it all goes. Some big eyes will be on the final film.
Josh Perry (Albus) and DJ Perry (Jesus) on set “The Christ Slayer”
The holiday season was a wonderful push for the first two films released in The Quest Trilogy. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star did very well and I’m sure we’ll be seeing the results of that soon. It will continue to play Amazon Prime and add new platforms, networks and territories. As we get to the end of January we’ll start to roll out a new level of promotion on the third film The Christ Slayer. I actually had a nice catch up with Josh Perry, one of our co-stars. We’re all excited to finish the trilogy. The first meetings over music and sound with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian and director Nathaniel Nose took place. I was shown the new trailer in the works. The first official poster should also be close to ready at the end of the month. The film really looks great and the trailer will be another great look. The teaser was intense but the trailer…smiles all around.
New releases this year for ASHES OF EDEN, WICKED SPRING and more…CDI Publishing launched with If I have any readers that enjoy doing reviews please do.
Dee Freeman is the author of the book based upon the earlier Wild Michigan screenplay. I have a few other books to post once the deal is done. Teaster (Dean’s Teaster’s Ghost Town) by Bob Terrell might be next. The KNIGHT CHILLS book starts a tour this year with author David Hayes. Again great to be working with all these artists.
TO BUY the KNIGHT CHILLS book * and movie
Lastly, we will be announcing CDI’s new website. We’re going to be expanding into streaming films with great talks coming from some of your CDI favorite actors and crew on the making of these projects. Direct Casting information to deal with our rush of reels and a new Merchandising section. Swag and merchandise has been one of the most asked about things and so I’m going to make efforts to grow that. You can JOIN THE TRIBE: Don’t hate, Create! – I was asked to take this saying of mine and put it to a shirt. Perhaps:)
Okay. Have a productive week everyone and try to stay warm. I’m going to cuddle in with this guy for a few and visualize the week ahead. Never stop dreaming. Never stop doing.
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
I’m sitting in a nice silence after returning from a family birthday event that featured MSU TV. Now my father and I both graduated from MSU and so I like the tradition. I’ve always liked that MSU could beat anyone on a given day but most of the time were underdogs. In the recent years they have become the team to beat. I do like how they keep their humble class and whip ass. I’m proud of how they represent. I was sitting outside on the porch of the office watching the night sky. I see some comparisons to filmmaking. I’ve always wanted to wear pride behind our company name. I try to run a fair ship and make dependable, creative content. I know that many that have worked with Collective Development Inc. have felt the teamwork and professional respect we try to extend. Many haphazard production entities can whirlwind a location or town and create an unwelcome environment for future productions.
The other part of my MSU comparison was just the tenacity that the teams are known for. I feel like that attribute, which existed before MSU, but was further honed by a university that exemplifies these traits. I think MSU has been playing up and down to their opposition. U of M has looked good but the Spartan mentality is not like others. Also with those few seconds I noted those who did not go to MSU start to waiver tonight when the chips were down. But those that went to MSU knew not to mourn until the battle is over. To the last second you fight to move forward. Breaking into the film industry is a battle and one that many lose. But for those who stand at the last twilight of a battle and go that last round – sometimes a foe falls. An obstacle is removed. A challenge is overcome. As I sat looking at the night sky I took several deep breaths and embraced that spirit. Along time ago I drew my sword and started my march forward. Other like-minded people asked if they could walk with me. Respect one another. None of that drama that follows so many of these powerfully, creative egos were allowed to walk with us. If you feed on that strife your path is elsewhere. Films are hard enough and should never be made worse by those variables. So a good team of people who don’t QUIT and you never know.
ADVICE: don’t quit.
It’s a really big read into the character of a person. Before trusting any budget upon an artist you have to know you aren’t dealing with a quitter. I know some talented artists that I just can’t hire. They quit on a task – large or small it doesn’t matter. Only the risk changes. If you give up easy – you’ll be working in some field outside filmmaking – just a matter of time. Filmmaking is not for quitters. They are a breed to themselves. They all have some internal, creative calling. Some will engage creativity where they can and try to keep the storytelling beast in a cage. Others will go full tilt. Here is where you must have a good plan of action or you’ll moth to the flame. For some this is just an illustration for a lifetime of frustration and for others it is literal. See you on the other side Smiling Joe.
In summary – good job MSU!
“Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” kicked off our screening arts mixer every 3rd Thursday at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. It was a good look back at our first western with CDI. It was released with Lionsgate and was the #1 western rental for 7 weeks. Top 10 for 17 weeks. More than all that it featured some great talent on both sides of the camera and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever shot a movie. Maggie Valley/Cherokee N.C. – We will announce the November movie on Monday. If you have any requests send me a shout out:)
“Ashes of Eden” is preparing to announce some news about TV broadcast but you can still catch it in select theaters. It played today and will play again tomorrow at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you have not checked out “Ashes of Eden” on the big screen this is a great theater to watch it in. Classic!
“40 Nights” – I’m waiting to hear this week about VFX updates. Also the film INTRO is soon to be underway. More sound design and dialogue clean up has been done. I’m excited for the musical score to begin. I’m ready to share this film with the world audiences.
“Chasing the Star” – the script is in the hands of several actors. The feedback has been wonderful. We’re looking into locations and preparing to film in Feb 2016. We will start hiring in December once the film is up and running. Our “40 Nights” director Jesse Low is attached to director our western in 2016. This has us looking at several possible directors. The second script in our deal with Lightworx is essentially about the quest of three magi.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event Nov 1st in Owosso, MI. I enjoyed this week at a dental cleaning – my dentist was all smiles when he told me he saw one of my films. I asked which. He said that he and his wife saw “Bestseller” at Celebration Cinemas. He said, “you were really intense – we loved it.” I thanked him for taking the time to go see it and promised him not to trash his office Franklin style. He was happy.
I’ve been closing in on finishing two scripts. One being the 3rd in the biblical film series. The other is Knight Chills 2. Two VERY different film scripts to be sure. I enjoy the writing and look forward to finishing those two up. Additionally just doing some budgeting work and we’re finishing up some other sales work. But I’ve also been enjoying the fall. It is getting frosty and I saw my first snow flakes today. Winter is Coming (CUE Game of Thrones music)
I’m sure I missed maybe an update or two but I need to kick my feet up. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.
It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.
I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work. Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.
SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated
I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day. (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.
This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.
Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from. Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.
Say when;) That’s for you Tony.
Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard. Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.
Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors
First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.
Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.
Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.
One Example for rejected films:
Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.
Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.
Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.
It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.
The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.
What happens often when it’s just starting to work –
Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.
Why all this director talk?
We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations. Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)
SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)
Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.
If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.
We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution) So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.
We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.
It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development. I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.
ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.
Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door- starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!
On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.
I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.
We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.
I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.
I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.
I have friends in AZ excited that they are having their first under 100 degree day. Here in Michigan we have enjoyed a true fall complete with a nice chill. MSU is on TV and a good cup of coffee is beside me. It has been a week full of good hard work peppered with some great meetings. As I noted last week I was back and forth on some important decisions. Most of these have to do with scheduling. Our follow-up film to “40 Nights” is moving to advanced development. A rough schedule is being worked on so I can break the budget down. Location talks and such have started out west. Our casting call has been listed on IMDB Casting for a few months and we’ve looked at hundreds of reels. We’re looking more at west coast AZ & CA actors on that film due to transportation costs.
Conversely we are looking at Michigan for this western project which will shoot in November or post April 2016 pending some talks later today and tomorrow. We had a good sit down and discussed the two films. It’s exciting to look ahead as we examined the pros and cons connected to each shooting option. Next week we will roll some PR out that talks about our upcoming slate of films.
I had some good talks with management and they are moving into talks with casting on a few TV series. I do like several of the TV series out there and the mini series offer a chance to really develop characters.
Speaking about TV:) We might have an exciting announcement next week on one of our films. You will have to wait to find out if final approval goes through but a TV deal is looming.
“Bestseller” and “Donors” have been finalizing their delivery of materials. We are excited about the Nov. 1st showing of “Bestseller” in Owosso, MI. Also “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” will kick off a filmmaker mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI on Oct. 15th. They make their own booze and I have enjoyed their bloody Mary’s and gin and tonics. See you there!
I’ve put a call out on “The Terrorist” but need to actually connect. I’ve got no new updates on “Dead Quiet”…
On the “40 Nights” FB site we’ve been adding BTS pictures each day. The distributor also has me doing a video vlog. Check it out! Follow! Share!
I’ve also been writing every day – usually first thing in the morning with my coffee. I finished the 2nd script in our biblical-era 3 picture deal and the ideas we’re flowing so I just kept going. I’m half way done with the third script. I love when it’s just flowing.
I need to catch up over the “Knight Chills: book/film deal and I’ll be sure to let everyone know the most recent updates.
Have a great weekend and enjoy the season!
It is half time of the MSU game and we’re teaching the Air Force team a thing or two about football. It has been rainy but we are getting back to the nice fall weather. We’re still pulling good from the garden and BLT sandwiches have been great. Tomorrow we have our first round of soccer play-offs. Last week we had a tough game but beat the team 6-4 after losing to them prior by a goal I believe. I had my first goal of the season which was great because I play defense. So we will hit it hard tomorrow and see what happens. We play a very good team. Beatable but very good.
This week was very productive. First, I’m very happy to announce my official first draft of “Chasing the Star” is done. It is the 2nd film in our 3 film deal with Lightworx Entertainment. The 1st movie in the series is “40 Nights” it’s now in post sound. I’m going to start doing some video updates at our distributors request.
The “Chasing the Star” script has the same depth and power that I loved about the first one. And I’ve almost got the third one mapped out. I thought they might be stand alone films and they are BUT…they do connect. I’m excited for a few people from “40 Nights” who might bring roles back in this second film.
A couple of actors who had small parts might be given larger roles in this follow up. We’ve also been looking at and discussing many actors for this film. We are looking mainly in the AZ and CA area whereas talent can drive to our location. Many more crew people will get a 1st look at the script this coming week. Anyway, I’m happy this draft is complete and now some scheduling/budget work can be done.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event showing in Owosso, MI take a look here please.
We also have an October 15th event showing of “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” in Grand Ledge, MI just outside Lansing. An event page will be forthcoming. We will be doing a movie a month and use the time to interact and meet some of the local film community.
“Ashes of Eden” releases nationally Oct. 13th and we should have word on some of the foreign territories we will be releasing to. Here is one retailer releasing it Oct. 20th
I hope to have home video release dates for everyone on “Donors” and “Bestseller” but we don’t have those yet. “40 Nights” would like to welcome THE GARMAX GROUP for their platinum sponsorship.
You will see their logo in front of the film. We might seek one other promotional sponsor for that opening billing. We are starting to look at some marketing. The licensing management deal is done. Also trying to lock distribution on soundtracks. Always something that needs to move forward on the TO DO list.
We also are closing in on finalizing the financing on a western era script. We have to get it done within a certain timeline or else we have to move it to the other side of “Chasing the Star” but we are pushing. I would love to be playing a rugged role in the fall/winter here in Michigan. It just might happen. We are prepping to play as we speak.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend and proceed on to a great week ahead.
It took me a while to sign in to my blog here. There are so many media communication sites. I get communications coming from all sides. Email is still the best way to contact me but even that is getting more complex. This morning we had a great breakfast in what use to be a train station in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The chill today is perfect for all the football on deck. MSU, my alumni school plays in a few short hours. Lions on Sunday plus last regular season soccer match before play offs. It was another grinding week but extremely productive. Let’s look at a few of the wins this week.
I’m working the last few pages on “Chasing the Star” our follow-up biblical drama. I was so happy about how the “40 Nights” script evolved and how it translated to the screen. This follow-up has distribution and it appears all our funding commits are in place. So we are looking to return to AZ and film our second film for Lightworx Entertainment.
“40 Nights” has been exciting because we are now seeing dialogue cleaned up/balanced and environmental sound design. I got the signed paperwork on our licensing deal for management of merchandising. This movie should be complete end of November.
Now we have a partially funded western also being distributed worldwide by Lightworx. Not only will it be a feature film but used as a pilot for a TV series that we hope to shoot in Michigan. We have been in talks with several actresses over a lead role. Also some great Hollywood celebs may come out to participate. Funding talks continue and we have a real strong shot at doing this film before the holidays hit.
Development talks for films beyond April 2016 are underway but I also have a few projects to act in that I’m watching to see when their schedule lands. The C.U.J.O. movie has been talked about prior and also my management is targeting a strongly anticipated TV series. Not sure if we’re looking at a guest starring or being a regular but I would be happy with either one.
WASTELAND poster is being sent and the director has been trying to target festivals that focus on Science Fiction. I also want to get updates on THE TERRORIST (Release dates) and DEAD QUIET (Premiere dates).
“BESTSELLER” is having an event showing at the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso, Michigan on November 1st. An EVENT PAGE coming soon! “BESTSELLER” is also being delivered to our distributor as is “Donors” so when I have release dates I will let everyone know.
In Lansing, MI we are kicking off a monthly CDI film screening starting in Oct. 15th at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge. I think it is $5.00 cover at door and the opening film is “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” – a smoky mountain western. It pits the two mountain men from DELIVERANCE – Bill McKinney & Herbert Cowboy Coward against one another.
I think Sanctuary Spirits will have some great whiskey specials. They have an apple and maple whiskey that is really good. I love their gin also. Not only can you have drinks there but you can buy bottles to take home. EVENT PAGE COMING SOON!
“Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for a release in less than a month. Here is a pre-sale link for BEST BUY
We will provide more ways for you to see this fine film in the weeks ahead.
In summary…working hard to finish up and deliver our current slate. We have some of the next slate funded and working on the ones after that. We are at a good place – working with distributors and making films to release directly into the marketplace. I’m really enjoying this new work flow. We will finish up this slate of films and look at moving to a few larger films. Patience is a virtue.
Have a great weekend and spend some time with friends and family.
GO MSU! Go LIONS!
Minus the humidity this has felt like fall. My hazelnut coffee welcomes me and football (GO MSU) is all over the TV. This past week I helped my mother move into her new condo and today a good part of our bathroom remodel will be complete.
I did not get my script work done this week that I wanted to but that will change. It looks like we are moving forward strongly with our 2nd biblical film in our series with Lightworx Distribution, “Chasing the Star“. Our funds are committed and so this development process will move ahead once I finish that 1st draft to get to key members. We will again be filming in the Yuma, AZ area.
We also are closing in on our final financial commits for “Wild Faith,” our last CDI film of 2015. It will shoot in Michigan and is being distributed under our deal with Lightworx Entertainment. I’m excited to do one more film before the holidays. Let’s look at a few other updates!
“Ashes of Eden” is prepping for its 2016 release and we may have a few more theatrical showings leading up to the release.
“Bestseller” will be doing an event showing on Nov. 1st in Owosso, Michigan at the Wrought Iron Grill. More will follow before the spring national release. “Donors” will also be releasing nationally in the spring.
“40 Nights” sound design and ADR/dialog work is coming along great! We hope to have a premiere in December before Christmas. April 1st is the worldwide release date for the film to home video. The initial response from retailers has been great.
Casting calls for both “Chasing the Star” and “Wild Faith” can be found on IMDB casting. This process is well underway and we have seen some great talent.
We will be announcing a once a month CDI movie night that will be at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. We will be kicking off this month I believe on Sept 24th with the smoky Mountain western “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” on the big screen.
“Knight Chills” the book and movie combo will be coming together for a winter release. This is all to get things ready for the production of “Knight Chills II” with shoot dates TBD.
I’m reviewing a deal now for our soundtracks to become available for purchase and I’m excited to have them in my collection.
We have had so much good business flowing and we are streamlining and preparing for a great 2016. I’ve got a few studio/network acting products coming together as many of you know. Just keep working smart and good things will come.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!