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.
Well, well, well last week’s blog entry made a large impact. We had maybe the most readers from around the world. It was crazy to see all the countries represented. It was a great week and I’ll speak on some of that. I’ll also give a few open spoilers before released in PR next week. But I want to sincerely thank all the people who joined me this past week. I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee here by my side and I’m going to get into some updates. I will note on a few things I noticed this week.
We had our 3rd film in THE QUEST TRILOGY – The Christ Slayer release to amazon, google play, Christian Cinema digitally. This film is unusual as it is available on home video (DVD will be March 4th) and will be releasing into theaters for Easter on April 19th. I had a big conference call meeting with the VP of BMG and 8 executives/employees from the theatrical company. I’ve never been in on a call quite like that as we’ve never had national releases. The call also touched upon WILD FAITH that releases into theaters March 23rd and will roll to home video after the platform release. I’m so happy that these films that do play great on the big screen due to the strong production values brought by our artists. I’ll be getting lists of where the films will play city and theater chains. I’m hearing that we have in MI early interest from Emagine, Celebration and Goodrich who carried the film before. Canada is being considered for theatrical and I hear that a deal in Brazil could be close. I was just proud to have all these talented people focused on our films.
I had a goal of making a trilogy of biblical adventures that would appeal to a broad audience like the Chuck Heston films of old. I’ve noticed that beyond the normal trolling that films with a religious topic or theme also get attacked. If you’ve watched The Christ Slayer and enjoyed it I encourage you to vote and share your thoughts. When you see a two sentence slam on a film versus an intelligent write-up/review it’s pretty easy to make up your mind on which review is more accurate. I’ve noticed on past films like Chasing the Star, that people don’t know their history. They complained that the film was dark. Ummm…King Herod’s reign was dark. They called it unGodly because it focused on a different religion with the Magi. Ummm…this is accurate and Christianity wasn’t close to being a religion. I don’t mind if someone doesn’t like something but when they claim something isn’t accurate is silly when only their education is what isn’t accurate. Lot of viewpoints are subjective but that doesn’t make it wrong. It just tells me that films like these were badly needed. So feel free to watch all three films now on Amazon but if The Christ Slayer plays near you in April please do check it out on the big screen.
Wild Faith should roll out new artwork and we should start to see more PR on this wonderful film. There are also some few things in play with the distributor that could lead to our TV series. We had good talks over this film which I think will play great all across this country. I hope my Canadian friends and fans get a chance to see this film on the big screen. But I learned that in Canada they have different ratings boards for each territory. So you could have to pay for multiple ratings but they still might elect to do just that. I’m excited to see this again on the big screen. We’ve remastered the film for the new release and added a great new addition to the film with a surprise story narrator.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend will have a first edit end of this week. We’ll spend two weeks refining the cut before moving it along to Dennis Therrian for music and sound design. The theatrical company has an early interest in the film and with a good amount of lead time we’ll be able to do some great marketing. We’ll also start work on a new trailer in April cut from the edited film. I’m excited that while we deal with all this new release business this film is right behind it.
And right behind that film is our newly announced movie LOST HEART. Our FB social media and IMDB pages are now active.
We will start announcing cast this week as we move forward. Also you will hear it here first but CDI will once again be teaming with director Jesse Low (Forty Nights, Wild Faith) on LOST HEART. We met with several talented directors and some of them could end up working with CDI in the future. But for this next journey we’ll be working with Mr. Low. Also we’ll be announcing Melissa Anschutz, who will be playing the title role of ‘Hannah’ in the film. A big congrats to them both and we’re looking at April/May timeframe to shoot. The film will again be distributed under a deal CDI has with BMG.
I’ve also been working hard on the end-of-the-year tax work for the films. On a personal level I’ve been in talks over finding the right literary agent to do work for hire writing and to sell a few scripts I don’t plan to produce. I’ve got a few outside CDI films I’m looking at for acting but we will see. Even if paid I don’t like working hard on films that never get finished. I have a few of those lingering in my past. But I believe I will be directed towards the right projects. I will be playing a fun supporting role in Lost Heart but you’ll have to wait to hear more on that.
Yesterday I spent some time cutting up firewood for the office stove. I’m going to work on finishing a few other business items today and get a jump on things for next week. Again I was just so happy to see the HUGE spike in readers and from so many countries. Keep following your dreams and telling those stories and creating that art. We’ll talk next week. Feel free to check out http://www.cdiproductions.com for other film updates. We will have a few holes in our casting that we’ll be looking for soon.
Have a great Sunday!
The great melt is underway here in Michigan. After record setting cold we are now getting an influx of warm air and the white world is giving way to browns and greens. The squirrels are out and about and I’m looking to see if one of the injured in the neighborhood survived the arctic blast. Something had attached it and it was visible injured but he was getting by. He was in a nearby tree as the worst of the snow blast hit us. We even but a box out with cloth and some food but he seems to have made it back to his hidden hole. I’m cheering for him to survive. I want to thank our new readers from Ireland. Let’s take a sip of coffee and see what happened this past week.
THE CHRIST SLAYER – we’ve entered into the season of The Christ Slayer and I could not be happier. We had a delay by a day with our digital purchase site on Amazon. The upload failed during the storms but is now up minus the artwork.
Amazon rent/buy digital:
For those who love to collect like myself – the DVD pre-order link:
On Christian Cinema:
One of my favorite reviewers is Matt Page out of the UK
BIBLE BLOG REVIEW
If you want the film to play theatrically in your area please contact
Stay tune for more info as this movie keeps rolling out.
We’ll be moving into more promotion on this wonderful film starting with the movie going back into theaters. Shane Hagedorn just did a great podcast that we’ll be sharing along with new reviews.
The theatrical set up is underway and soon I hope to have what cities it will play in soon. Same thing on The Christ Slayer for the Easter event screenings.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – It sounds as if we are about done with a first cut. They are adding some transitional drone shots and tweaking it. I hope to see the cut by the 15th of Feb so we can lock up the picture and move into music and sound design.
We’ve had several talks/meetings with possible directors on our next film LOST HEART. We’ve also been casting for several months and we’ll start to announce some of those talents. We’re targeting to shoot in April in Northern Michigan. It all depends on how fast the business can all be pulled together. That said, the LOI to distribute is in place and we already have some financial commits.
It is serious work to try and match the right project up with the right director. It is also a creative marriage between individuals for several years. So it is not something we take lightly. And sometimes we discover people that might not direct our next film but could be in line for something else in the future.
In a meeting Saturday if was said that the Michigan film community is small and everyone knows one another. I disagreed as when I first started the film community in Michigan was SMALL, SMALL, SMALL and you did know almost everyone. The Michigan community now is actually MUCH larger and I can say that I don’t know that many people in our community. I know some but not all and I don’t have time to meet everyone. I’m friends with film makers worldwide and I guess I know who I know. I don’t have the time to knock around the state at every mixer or function. I have an endless TO DO list but I guess being busy is a good thing. But I believe we meet the people we are meant to meet. I’ve noted before I’m open to select collaboration and work on projects as talent if the project is solid and has funding.
Aside from all this I have been doing the business taxes for the end of the year. What fun all that is:) It is part of the whole so I’ve been smiling and making my way through it. It keeps making the ship more organized and we’ll take that forward into the future.
Have a wonderful day and keep working hard to achieve your goals and dreams.
So I’m balancing my laptop as I sip my coffee and try to type. Lulu our cat has taken an interest in our new little furry boy Finn. Daphne our other dog is taking her time to warm up. It took her 3-4 days with Luke before he was totally accepted and it was a lifelong love affair from there. Little Finn has all the same courageous and brave attributes. He was his puppy pack leader. He’s slept great for two nights now and has had zero accidents. He had the outside potty down from his two visits. Play, sleep, explore and eat. Repeat as needed. It was an emotional tear to put this bundle of joy over the pain of losing Luke too soon. I joked that Luke’s ‘force ghost’ is coming to Finn and teaching him all the fun stuff as we sleep. He is his own little man but he will definitely be the new cuddle king and will grow into the protector. Even last night on the back porch Daphne was barking at the top of the stairs at whatever critter was wandering the yard to collect food. Finn ran up beside her to give his support. They shared a sniff as if to say, “I got this” and Finn bounced down the stairs first. No lack of bravery. After a hard month of loss in October the month of November is shaping up to be a thankful one.
This past couple weeks has been extremely busy with the movie business. I remember being in the midst of the storm, working five projects with different artists. Finishing sound design, listening to musical score, VO and title credits approvals, new trailer, new posters, finalizing deals, development but before frustration could ever sit in, I felt blessed.
I get to work with all these fellow artists creating beautiful stories. I get to watch such talented actor friends become these roles. I know the hard work that our crews gave each day so that we could assemble the pieces. I was moved by the music that just injected the scenes with hair-raising emotion. What are these developments? A few early spoilers before the PR releases.
- The Wild Faith phase one deal is done. An actual purchase of the property will take place before a TV series moves forward. But that has to wait because as the kick off film in a new partnership/division WILD FAITH will be going into theaters in March 2019. This will be a wider release vs our limited showcase that did very well. We’ve added a new narrator that will start and end our story. He will be well-known to almost everyone and our own Melissa Anschutz got to be in-studio with him in Nashville. There is your hint:) We started delivering elements to the distributor and we’ll deliver the film later next week. The theatrical screens could be tens, hundreds or even a thousand plus as that is what is in their network. They LOVE the film and we know that this film is very timely so I hope many get to see it on the big screen. But any number of screens over our 10 or so we did on our own will be viewed as a success.
- THE CHRIST SLAYER is looking and sounding so powerful. It had a great response at mipcom and AFM markets. The new poster art is beautiful. We’ll be announcing that with our release dates that will include 2/4/19 broadcast/digital, 3/4/19 DVD and national “special event” Easter theatrical showings in April. This is all being done through BMG with their theatrical partnership. I’m so EXCITED to see this film on the big screen. Model building, digital matte paintings and more make this one of the largest scale movies we’ve produced.
- We have a batch of new teasers inviting families to watch FORTY NIGHTS and already CHASING THE STAR is being add to many Christmas line ups. I encourage you to take a watch or purchase for your collection. If you enjoyed the experience leave your thoughts on IMDB.com or Amazon. Both are on Amazon Prime along with many other great platforms and networks.
- MBF also made an early appearance at the film markets. We’ve had major interest including in the theatrical. A rough trailer made an appearance at AFM and we’ve polished it up and will announce Tuesday when and where audiences can see it. Also the first official poster will be released. Here is the bottom half of it above. MBF was one of my, if not my most vulnerable roles emotionally. After seeing the trailer and about 30 minutes of the rough cut I think I’ve succeeded in honoring the most important people, our vets. Dog lovers will also enjoy this story because it rings of truth. So much that ANIMAL PLANET is making it one of their featured shows on “Amanda to the Rescue” on Sunday nights. I’m told it’s one of the later shows.
- Development. LOST HEART. Often when I write I sometimes have someone in mind. I know literally thousands of actors and that gives good imaginative fuel to me as a writer. That doesn’t mean that the casting always falls that way, sometimes my imagination gives the better read. But often it works out and that leaves only a few castings to find. We’ve started to get in a few requested reads. The response to the script has been very good. I had good talks about it with our distributor. I’m excited about the upcoming slate of movies that CDI will produce. The theatrical aspect will be incorporated into this new production deal. Yes. PR will be coming out on this as we enter into the new year. 2019 will be exciting.
My last point that can be applied to your own situations. First, vet people, companies and projects. Valuable time can be wasted from your personal or business time on unrealistic or unattainable goals. I’m an optimist for sure but no matter how high I train to jump the peak of Everest will still remain out of my reach. But a path. Many, many steps. Good prep and planning and the goal of reaching the top is possible. Others profit from your time or efforts if you make it or not. These are dangerous people and performance is key. Actions vs words. I see many more projects getting launched and finished. At my various meetings I still hear the horror stories and they often include the same names over and over. So do yourself a favor and be careful where you put your trust and energy. This weekend while concluding some business with an executive I received this added note which I have to say made my day.
“BTW – thank you for the business partnership and friendship. It’s relationships like ours that I can point to as the reason why I love what I do.”
Generations of Collective Development Inc. directors
People have often looked for an agenda in me because of my kindness. It’s real. I can be tough when required and the trick is not to be tough on a new contact because of scars from old business wounds. I am proud of what I’ve done with others in this lifetime. I hope I have many more stories to tell before someone adds a RIP next to my name. The truth is we don’t really know. So how I get to my goals is more important to me versus just getting them at all cost. My goals will not be obtained by stepping on people or screwing people over. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I’ve made unpopular decisions. I’ve miscommunicated before. I’ve unintentionally hurt feelings. But my actions on this path tell people I’m sincere. This is my path. Like me. Dislike me. Nobody can question my dedication to the hard path.
Furthermore, If several projects that your associated with keep having issues, is it bad luck that you keep stepping into? Or are you part of the issue as a common denominator? Passing blame is weak and poor leadership. Accountability is power, take it. We’ve had various small bumps while working on all these projects associated with several films. Any bad communication is always my bad. I spend a good amount of effort trying to keep the communication lines strong and proper. Some days it can be difficult managing but once a good flow is established things really do flourish.
Enjoy the harvest of November. Be grateful for what came to be. Reflect and take accountability for what did not. How can you make a positive change and increase the harvest next year? Do the kind of business you wish to receive.
Have a great week ahead. Watch for those PR releases.
WOW! What a trip. I’ve been going out to LA since the 90’s when I was first invited by Wes Craven to come read for SCREAM 2. From those humble beginnings to standing on the stage before a mighty gathering of industry folk at the Burbank International Film Festival accepting a best film award with our tribe representing the mitten state.
I’m speaking of Wild Faith, our mid-western. It was nominated for BEST actor, actress and film. We did not take the other two awards but without Shane & Lauren’s chemistry we would not have won that award. That said, my ears were not filled with Hollywood smoke-blowing it was all sincere comments from people who laugh, cried and came into our 1875 Michigan world. The film is FUN with a message to ponder throughout it. The film gives a message like THE WALTON’S did or LITTLE HOUSE, I heard so many happy with the wholesome programming. Don’t get me wrong, I like my BLACK SAILS, GAME OF THRONES and such BUT when I do want something more tame it is often hard to find. I think WILD FAITH is a good response to that demand. This week I will be working on the home video deal. We still might have a few more theatrical/event showings. It plays so good at the theater. Great comments on the sound design, lighting, camera work and music as well as the performances.
I got to see old friends and make new friends. I got to really get to know people like Darby Hinton, his beautiful wife Shan and son Ryder who hosted our BBQ afterglow at their home. Often when I see people on set I’ve got a character looming right behind my eyes waiting to hear ACTION. I have accounting and checks payable on my mind. And lastly I stay focused and not distracting to the difficult task at hand. If I goof off that’s a green light to others to goof off. That wasted time adds up and production pays. Sun down and missed last set up. After 12 hrs people start losing their peak performance. I guess I’m saying it’s fun to mingle without the burden of production. I had one meeting with an esteemed peer I’ve known for 19 years. He was so surprised at my humor and laid-back nature. He thought I was ultra stern and conservative. I can be but that’s not my natural state of being. A close actor buddy whose been on several adventures with me – Amsterdam, Mexico…list goes on. He got a pass from the wife and kid to come hang a couple of days. After watching WILD FAITH he said he really enjoyed it and was happy that I was sharing more of ME via Ben Lily. He claimed that ole’ Ben is the closest to DJ Perry in personal mode. Ha! Anyway. See WILD FAITH and despite what you might hear about me, not knowing me. Ole Ben Lily is pretty close to an 1875 DJ Perry. We have different speaking voices because I had the better edgy-macation.
MBF – I will be releasing another screen still. I have to catch up with director Tony Hornus and check on editing. He stayed in MI to work after his overseas family vacation.
The Christ Slayer – I’m going to check with our distributor to see if any artwork is underway for the DVD. That release will be 3/4/18 with digital a few weeks earlier and we’ll do a limited theatrical release before that.
This holiday I’m going to push for folks to watch part 1 FORTY NIGHTS & 2 CHASING THE STAR of THE QUEST TRILOGY to catch up for the part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER release. If you haven’t watched them please do. You can leave review comments on amazon or IMDB – or not.
To circle back to the CA trip I want to thank so many friends for attending the screening or any of our gatherings. How cool is THE PIG N WHISTLE? Go there, it is awesome! Shepherds Pie and pints:) I loved seeing circle of friends melding, mixing, laughing and bonding. I love seeing that on film sets. It’s a secondary goal to finishing on time and budget. The ugg part was how long I’ve known many of you. 15, 18, 20+ years! Crazy! I say to you, make good friends and value those relationships. I’m just so grateful to have friends in an industry who allows this artist to feel part of the greater game despite my adherence to my MI zip code. My family, friends and roots in Michigan are my recharge and nourishment. But I will return again soon on business to visit the sunny, smoggy:) California!
PS: I will be posting more CA pics this Sunday.
Have a great week and be good to one another.