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

Posts tagged “distributors

The Power of Teachers – CDI Updates

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Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.

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My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.

We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.

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My alumni school

I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.

Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.

High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.

I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.

I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.

I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience.  Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.

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FILM UPDATES

I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.

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LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.

LOOKING AHEAD

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BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.

https://www.prlog.org/12824284-snl-alumnus-victoria-jackson-returns-for-cdis-best-years-gone.html

Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.

  • We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
  • Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
  • We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
  • Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
  • Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects.  We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.

 

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I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.

As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.

Be safe and we’ll chat next week.

DJ

 

 


Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.

The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.

This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.

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I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.

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BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?

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OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.

So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.

I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.

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I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.

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WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut.  But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.

I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)

Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.

Be good to one another!

DJ


TEN Exciting Updates on this Fine November Day.

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I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.

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  1. AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
  2. Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch. 
  3. Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
  4. The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
  5. Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see,  I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
  6. Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
  7. Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
  8. The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
  9. Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
  10. MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.

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Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.

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Be good to one another.

DJ


Premiere Report and Fundraising Advice for Filmmakers

A beautiful and slightly chilly Sunday here in Michigan but I have the hot java to warm things up. Grandpa Jones playing the Bluegrass tune Mountain Dew on STING RAY music. It reminds me of some of the wonderful mornings at Robert’s Roost with my dear friends Robert and Ralphene in N. Carolina. Today I’m going to give the yard its first mow and rototiller the garden. Grilling is on-deck along with a little chilling later today.

Chasing the Star 

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So as a young actor I use to dread the trek into Detroit traffic and bustle for any meetings or auditions but I always found the “town” of Grand Rapids to be a much easier destination. Well, that has changed as Grand Rapids proper is a CITY no doubt. Our director of “Chasing the Star” Bret Miller, calls GR home and so last night we had a premiere kick off of the film at the UICA last night. It was a beautiful showing that showed the incredible camera work and art on-screen and I’ve never seen Dennis Therrian, our post sound and music supervisor so happy. The 5.1 surround sound mix was amazing and put you front and center of the action. We did a little Q&A after the film before heading to a local haunt which was a small joint with several pinball machines. I am not a fan of crowds and small places and so it was a celebratory king can of PBR and headed back home. I was up later than I usually stay up save being on night shoots on set. We had all three directors of the trilogy at the showing which was a special thing.

IMG_3109 2Jesse Low, Nathaniel Nose, producer Anthony “Tony” Hornus, Bret Miller 

A lot of creative talent between these individuals. (Tony included:) CDI seeks out the wildly original and imaginative artists who also work within a no-nonsense business structure. I also got to share some advice with other upcoming filmmakers, which is always rewarding.

My advice when asked –

First, don’t say YES to that which you cannot do. Unfortunately, many say yes figuring we’ll just figure it out as we go.  NOT WISE. Also, make the best of every opportunity. The question was narrowed to “how to finance your film?”

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It’s hard, REALLY HARD to initially get business people behind you. You earn it by strong preparation, solid execution and staying on a timeline that other business entities (distributors) can rely on.  Also don’t BS just be honest in these pitch meetings. Many of these people have been there, done that and gotten that Tee Shirt so don’t be a used car salesman. Also my advice was work out all agreements amongst production in advance of seeking or spending any investment money.

Why?

Once money does come in people change. People all have other ideas on how to spend budgets. They recall deal discussions differently. Deals cannot exist by hand shakes alone. Maybe at first but paperwork spells it out clearly. How much pay, when you pay and what you expect for that pay. Like bands many good creative teams break up because of misunderstandings. Eliminate that possibility by TCB (Elvis “Taking Care of Business”) before seeking out money. Also be reasonable about what amount you’re seeking and ask yourself if you can you really manage a project of that size. If no seek experienced help. By help I mean – Not “find me money” but “I now have this money can you help me manage my project” help.

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Also don’t make heroes out of incompetent business folk in your circle. I was asked – Why is it so hard for us to raise $? I said, because you all have peers walking about that have poisoned the wells with their screw ups. Yet they are hailed as heroes of their own PR spin. That is not tolerated in many industries but they are allowed to survive and sometimes thrive in our industry. They leave a ruined path of projects and poisoned wells for those that come after. When the area is too poisoned they move on seeking new areas to exploit where their screw ups are not as widely known if at all. The issue is that it’s a small industry overall.

What I enjoyed about last night is once again, the important word is AGAIN, we showed that Collective Development Inc. pulls from a clear well where business artists can invest knowing their investment is getting an A+ effort.

Back to Chasing the Star… 

The film is now heading for Lansing, MI followed by Royal Oak, MI and it was announced last night that the film will return for a run in Grand Rapids, MI at Celebration Cinema.

Celebration C-Lansing

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We’ll announce the GR dates soon! The national release is Sept 5th but if you get a chance to experience this on the big screen treat yourself.

FORTY NIGHTS

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Released by BMG April 4th to home video and will keep expanding its distribution to other countries. Take a watch if you have not and get ready for the third film releasing next Spring.

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A050_C008_0318MHIt has officially moved into editing with our director Nathaniel Nose and we should have theatrical poster and teaser trailer coming soon.

WILD FAITH 

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BTS photo (Hagedorn, Perry, Anschutz)

This amazing film was a main topic at a recent meeting with one of our distributors and the interest in the TV series is there. We just have to pull all the right elements together. The feature film now has a picture lock and has moved to music and sound design. Stay tuned for many great updates including the first official teaser poster now in the works.

MISC DEVELOPMENTS

We’re in discussion on several CDI past films re-releasing out into the market. I’ve been prepping development work on new projects and doing some script writing. But right now I have to get to some yard work. Time to refill the coffee cup.

Have a great Sunday and rest of your week. Perhaps I will see some of you at Celebration Cinema on Monday and/or Tuesday for the 7:30 shows in Lansing, MI.

Be good to one another.

DJ


Wrapping the Circus

Today’s time has been filled looking for the return truck to carry gear that came from LA. Several departments have been securing props and wardrobe for transport. Key Set PA is looking everywhere for walkie’s that did not get returned during the excitement of wrap. These are all elements to breaking down the circus. By circus, I mean -film circus. We’ve just completed another amazing task of telling a feature-length biblical-era movie told largely in the wild deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’ve been living out of a motel for weeks, working hard with a very talented group of artists. After reviewing footage, I can say that once again we captured some movie magic. It’s all about a group of artists who care about the product. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. Or maybe a disease:)

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We pick ambitious goals and we strive hard to try and achieve them. That’s the great pride I get from visitors to set who talk about our professionalism. The distributors who know we work hard to bring art with the solid business. Our last director here on “The Christ Slayer,” Nathaniel Nose suggested the slogan “The CDI difference” – which is actually quite catchy:) Hey, we don’t always do everything right here but we’ll get caught trying to do it right every time. Best Effort’s is our motto and when challenged we sometimes discover where our best effort stride actually IS. These films keep getting stronger because the people involved are giving their best efforts. Yes, they tire and slow like us all, but they take pride in their work.  They put the gloves and boots back on and attack each new day. It’s a huge collective effort and it always reminds me of the truth that lies at the heart of our company name – Collective Development Inc.

I will say a few words about the role of Jesus. He’s my 1st character I’ve played in a film twice. What an interesting and complex role to become twice. I’ve had several fine moments of pondering WWJD in different moments. I guess that’s what led to these stories in part. Well, Jesus has left the building and ascended to higher grounds. It’s mighty refreshing to let some of that heaviness go and to knock down some of that giant Jesus beard.

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I’m going to return home this week and need to go finish breaking down the circus. But ahead of us lies music and sound design for “Wild Faith” – a new domestic release for “Forty Nights” on 4/4/17, a Michigan premiere and theatrical release of “Chasing the Star” and “The Christ Slayer” is officially in editing.

I’m looking forward to seeing family (Happy Bday baby) and friends, soccer games and working in the garden and yard. Almost time to turn that soil and fire up the grill. I will say that I feel accomplished now having finished The Quest Trilogy.

Keep following- much more more to come. “Forty Nights” releases April 4th!

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An Artist’s Hope and Other Updates

We had a nice day of sunshine yesterday and that allowed us to get outside and do a little bit of yard clean up. Today the weather is back to wet and overcast but tis the way in Michigan. In a few short weeks we’ll be back in Yuma, AZ to film our third installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Let’s examine those films and the journey that these projects take.

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The Christ Slayer

The bank account is open and the finalizing of people’s paperwork and getting their investment into the bank is always a task. People are busy but we work on tight timelines. We only have a few units to assign before we’re a fully functional battle station. Paperwork between crew started this week and next week some paperwork on talent will begin. Right now rooms, flights for the pre-prod team are the priority of the production office.

On cast we’re waiting for our schedule this week so we’ll know how many days talent will be required. Casting has been mostly a joy but you always get to those few hard choices. This past week we came to a few casting decisions after some healthy back and forth. We finalized casting on one of our last co-stars, a supporting role and a few featured roles from the AZ area. Each artist brings their unique talents to the screen. I’m so excited about the casting choices that were made.

I’m also happy that because of distribution being in place we don’t need to drop any ‘lure castings’ as I call them. That’s less than ideal casting but it’s done  with the possibility that it may help grab the attention of a distributor. I understand why this is done but it can have a backlash. Distributors we’ve spoken with will tell you that certain names are known but they’ve become known for less than inspired product. They spoke of the flood of films that basically takes (Insert animal) and (Insert Holiday) add (Insert lure casting) and repeat. Now, I respect the fact that it’s a business model but I need more to invest myself in. I need a story that means something to me deeply.

On schedule, on budget and our projects bring high artistic value.” That’s how we’re described by distributors and why we’ve been developing our ongoing business. I’ve said it before, you need to streamline your operation so that you can work with marketing teams whose job is to put the film into the marketplace. No excuses.

Cuter

T Rex and DJ Perry (Moses & Jesus) “innocent role” 

As I’ve done before I’ll give you a hint to the upcoming casting along with a story. First one of the roles WAS hard to find because it possesses a quality you can’t easily manufacture. In this case it was the “innocent role” which in “Forty Nights” was our T-Rex/Moses and in the upcoming “Chasing the Star” was filled by the amazing actor Logan Kishi. Thinking outside the box led me to looking at a certain spectrum of talent. From there I saw an actor who shared by last name. I looked at his materials along with dozens of others actors but kept coming back to the one with the famous last name:) His humor was right on point with the writing and he had that IT factor people talk about. In moving down the road in the casting process we discovered this talent had a sibling who also is an established actor. Another read for another role and BAM it has become a family affair. I’m excited that these two siblings will get to share in this journey together. People may assume I’m casting from family but I’ve never met these two brothers with the cool last name:) If we are related it’s buried up in the in the limbs of the ole family tree.

Two local actors who’ve participated with us before in Yuma, AZ have landed featured extra parts that while small are very important. (As all roles are) I’m sure they’re excited to be participating and we’re excited to have them.

In summary – We’re moving forward strong. I’ve been spending time with the story and it’s a joy to be able to imagine the talent in the roles on the page I’m reading. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I am also looking forward to a little sunshine and Mexican food!

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A few of the co-stars of the upcoming “Chasing the Star”

Chasing the Star

I’ve been assembling information for our end credits. This week we’ll also start moving over photo elements to the distributor. We should get our street date set in the coming weeks. I’m excited for audiences to get their first peek at the film. I’m trying to make it possible for our friends at Champion Church to see the film before we roll cameras on “The Christ Slayer”. They’ve helped us in so many ways as part of our Yuma team and I like to give them a special treat as a thank you.

40 Nights

DJ Perry as Jesus in “Forty Nights” 4/4/2017

Forty Nights

The Easter stuff is slowly making its way out and that brings us closer to the 4/4/17 release date. The nice part about this release is that we’ll create a nice flow between the releases of the three films.

Once “The Christ Slayer” releases around Easter 2018 my hope is to see the three films play together or over three nights on television. I’m anxiously awaiting the new artwork which I hope to see this week. Fingers crossed.

haddie

Lisa Lauren Smith drives the drama as Haddie in #WildFaith

Wild Faith

We’ve had many people reaching out about this film. I sincerely think we’ve got some gold with this film. The energy while making it was just powerful and cast and crew alike brought their A game. This week we’ll be seeing the first full cut of the story. I would say I’m excited but that would be an understatement. Keep following us and I’ll keep you updated after the first watch.

I’m not going to wax on about development at this time. Truth is I have much to turn my attention to and so I will cut this short. All of us artists appreciate your time and attention and in a few short weeks and months ahead we hope to entertain, educate and inspire you with your stories. That is an artist’s hope.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


WINS Of the Week

Ahhhh…coffee. Awoke to a beautiful light snow that adds brightness to what has been a dark week. Drizzle and dark clouds made the week drag a touch but I had much to do. I had lots of busy work with doing end-of-year taxes on our businesses. It’s surely the “unsexy” side of the business but it’s what keeps the machine working. We continue to refine our process and I appreciate everyone that works that end of the process. I want to welcome the additional countries reading the blog. Denmark is one of the new ones and I’m sure I have my host family and friends from my soccer days to thank. The week also had both post and development work grinding hard. Let’s look at a few of these updates.

WILD FAITH

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We’re sitting at about the 70 minute mark with editing. I’ve seen early snippets and continue to release stills and behind the scenes to our website and social media sites. I’m excited about the themes we get to bring to light in this powerful action drama set in post Civil War Michigan. Once I get the business at hand underway I want to return my attention back to the series. I know that I’ve got a few business calls to return this week showing me that we have good buzz.

THE QUEST TRILOGY

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DJ Perry as Jesus in FORTY NIGHTS

Forty Nights

The film is almost delivered both digital and paperwork. Again why so many filmmakers fail is because you must have all your process documented. Releases and agreements allow your film product to be taken to market. I know many films stumbled because of not having the required releases. It can hurt the film but also a distributor if it gets released and trouble arises. Years ago we had a film released by one of Hollywood’s top distributors and they insisted on using some box art that wasn’t cleared. We had communications against the art because it wasn’t our artwork, which made no sense. Long short, lawsuit. We were released because of our written objections. They had to yank the title. Our film sued, won and they had to pay a nice sum. But the film could have done more perhaps if someone would have made sure releases were in order. So while a pain in the ass it is a much-needed process. But when the filmmakers are at fault that can kill a film and bring unneeded legal issues so stay on top of your business unless you are just doing it as a hobby, not for profit.

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CHASING THE STAR

Poster work for the theatrical is underway. The film is maybe two weeks from being done and we’ll mix and master everything. VFX is the final piece and once that is inserted we have a fully functional battle station. The paperwork with Bridgestone is signed and sent and I’m awaiting the countersigned agreements. Following that we should get our final street date for release. I’m looking forward to our review as a complete film. Success is when the audience can get lost in the story. I’m proud of everyone working so hard.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER

This last film has been the main thrust of development. If everything stays the course we’ll enter official pre-production this week. Casting, crewing, VFX tests, location scouting are all underway. We announced Christine Solomon who will play opposite one of our new leads Carl Weyant. We’re soon to announce a few more supporting roles this week. I’m personally excited to return to the role I started in FORTY NIGHTS. It will be my first time returning to a character although it has almost happened several times.  I’m excited to explore this other end of the spectrum. I think one of the best developments this week was the return of Chef Eddie. He’s a gourmet chef who spoiled our crew while shooting “Chasing the Star” – and I for one am happy to have him back.

FUTURE

We do have a few development projects starting to take shape that could be the projects we shoot following THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I have a few other thoughts I could ramble on but I refuse to add any negativity into the pot. I can say I’ve been extremely disappointed by several developments and happy that other neglected issues are finally being addressed. I have always had the goal to provide entertainment and to try to expand minds and hearts via storytelling. I will continue that journey and as always I invite you to join us.

Be good to one another. Talk at one another, don’t yell.

DJ


Forge Your Destiny, Manifest Your Mythology

40 Nights Location photo

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature “40 Nights”

Hazelnut coffee is a flowing and soon it will be snowing and…welcome to 2016! I got up nice and early and had some communications with our post supervisor. We have a final “40 Night” audio file (music, sound design, mixed) and visual file (color corrected with intro/outro and VFX) and overnight they were “baking” the two together into one final film. That will be uploaded to the gent who has mastered the DVD for mass reproduction. Monday morning he gets the Closed Caption file to insert and move on to the manufacturer. From there the creation of DVD’s and shipping to the warehouses. So we are close to having a COMPLETED movie.

"Don't Hate - Create" - DJ Perry

Last night I was working on my answers to a Yuma Sun interview. We’ve also got a few more story requests from magazines coming in. I’m starting to move these to the distributor so the PR department can organize. We will also start looking at event showings of the film leading up to the national March release. Once we have our screening link they will start their oversea sales.

Jesus in the wilderness

DJ Perry as Jesus in the biblical drama “40 Nights”

This coming week we’ll start pulling things together on “Chasing the Star” the second film in this QUEST TRILOGY. We had a big production meeting yesterday and it looks like a few days of our schedule will be shot in Michigan. The bear share will be in Yuma, AZ  but a few sets make sense to shoot here on our home turf.

The faith to follow

I’m happy to announce that our final script in the series has a first draft. We will be announcing that project once we announce “40 Nights” done and “Chasing the Star” prepping to film. I think we’ve found 2 of our 3 magi leads. We’ve been centering in on many other roles and I’m excited to see this project come together. It is a beautiful story and will be an excellent film that I can only hope will become a Christmas classic.

Celebration Cinema BESTSELLER

Boards at the Celebration Cinema giving local showtimes

It is funny I had a conversation with another distributor this week on a different project. They were VERY aware of “40 Nights” and expressed how deeply they wished they had that film. We would do X, Y and Z = coulda, woulda, shoulda. I had to paint a very clear picture for him. They stated before that advances and guarantees were not their thing because they did not need to. Why? Because they have new filmmakers who need a way into the marketplace. I know the filmmakers behind one of their upcoming titles. The director is a good guy. He has unfortunately attracted a local parasite… Anyway, the distributor has that product versus our “40 Nights” because he didn’t put his money where his mouth is when he could have. I had to politely, but directly, shut down his debate. One organization came with action (A 3 film deal) and one has just big talk – after the risk of production was over. “40 Nights” and all three films have a deal in place. This was done BEFORE we started filming the first one.

LESSON

If you want quality product like what I’m offering you have to speak with action (A deal). I’m about done chasing deals after the fact – except maybe in associated projects. So TALK IS CHEAP. I’m not looking for short cuts or pie-in-the-sky promises. I just want solid business partners to grow with. I’ve also discovered that our production outfit is rare. We do ambitious material with a proven market audience. We stay on schedule and budget. (Ask the E.P.’s on “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller,” “40 Nights”) And our turn around on finishing “40 Nights” is ten months. FYI: All three of those above films will release during the 1st half of 2016.

Ashes of Eden - Poster

These success stories have led to more projects being brought to our table to consider producing. Even with $ attached and acting offers, you must look at the material, the people attached and pay close attention to strings attached. 95% of the issues we’ve ever had come from people we did not choose but had put upon us as part of a deal. I’ve said NO to a lot recently because a paycheck is not worth just my time. I have a purpose. I am a storyteller and we want to create good product.

Funny that same conversation with the distributor – he stated, I left some money on the table. Did I? Their business model is only around money-grabbing one off’s, which is fine I guess. They want, action spy flicks or family films with dogs and horses. I told him while we’re creating product to be profitable I would much rather have a solid film with long term success and credibility versus a “flash in the pan” sale that dies once they realize beyond the poster and opening credits the film is…subpar. I stated, if money was all I was chasing I would not be in our business. There is much easier ways to make money but I don’t want to look back at my career at 80 years old and see I just made mindless reality shows (Some I do watch) or bad exploit films.  “A HORSE FOR EASTER” or “ST. PADDY PUPPY” – now I know people who do these films just like knock off slates that follow the studio mega hits. I just want more from my career when I look back. I’ve been creating for 20 years now and I can dream of making a few classics. Several films such as “Figure in the Forest” are still playing TV after several years. That longevity to me is success and so I will stay upon my path and try to create original product.

Fig-art

I guess it all goes back to creating your own mythology. You are defined by what you act in, produce, write and ultimately do – so keep that in mind. Also don’t be distracted by haters or what anyone thinks. They all have their own issues. I loved the article that someone wrote in response to a Huffington Post reviewer commenting on the new Star Wars film. Too many people willing to just stir the pot and create noise to get attention. All those people involved with the new Star Wars still made a movie whose merits will be debated for a lifetime. The goof who just tried to rip apart the film flaws is just an angry little-minded person. Somewhere along the line he got knocked down and never got up.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

That was one of my 2016 changes I made. As always, several fools in our field doing bad business. I pointed out to one of my producers ranting on a valid point, THAT person has to wake up and be THAT person. If you’ve wronged people, you’ve likely slept poorly. You’re likely living in partial hiding from people looking for you because of unkept promises or criminal activity. Their bridges are burning all around them and they have not an ounce of the one thing they so badly yearn for – RESPECT! It is nowhere to be found. WHY? Because you have to earn it. You can’t demand it. So while I don’t have any enemies there exists enemies to our business. I’ve risen above most all of that. I focus on our own. I likely won’t be paying attention when these people implode. I do feel a bit sorry for the person they could have been. But you reap what you sow.

MAKE A CHANGE!

Off for more coffee and maybe some breakfast. Have a great weekend and productive week ahead. As always, thank you for your time.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 


Casting, Candleberry and Create VS Hate

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The first snow of mention kissed the ground last night. It’s beautiful and welcome at least for a while. The harvest was finished yesterday with the pulling of the beets. A final mulch and mow and stowing the last of the yard items until spring. This morning has been all coffee (BREAKING update) I may have a new coffee sponsor – stay tuned. Speaking of sponsors, this morning has been wonderful with coffee and The Candleberry Candle Company! They have been a personal sponsor for a few years helping me find my mindspace to work on scripts. My zen to keep patience when dealing with accounting and BS technology issues. OK. Let’s be honest on that front. 98% of my technology issues are with my technological issues. From my earliest days of friends playing with the video camera – my buddy Darrel was always the camera guy. He could get the camera to roll back to the right VHS frame. We didn’t have editing back in the day. We shot one take in order. Boom box on set was our music. Those days were fun and free. Of course being young without the daily adult issues was more free. I cherish those days beyond words. I’ve worked hard to establish a worth in our business and I can’t just play. It reduces value and being part of something “bad” (maybe still fun) can make you go backwards. I’ve got management pushing me up into the larger films. I’ve got a few studios that have taken an interest in developing my branding. I still have fun when playing on set now – it just has to make sense business-wise.

"Don't Hate - Create" - DJ Perry

I had a funny message a few weeks ago but I was too busy to really even address it. It was from a filmmaker whom I had heard all good things about. Previously they had expressed to a mutual associate that they wanted to get a script in my hands. It was in the thriller/horror genre as I recall. With good recommendations behind them I even thought a future collaboration might be possible. I have a few horror scripts with interested distribution and foreign sales waiting. It has to be the right director and the project just is not front and center right now in development. They were working on a script and we inquired about bringing to the table scripts that made business-sense because business was there. I recall the idea being just lukewarm. Lot’s of people have their own scripts to do but if distributors/retailers don’t want it why shoot it? So fast forward and coming from Yuma shooting “40 Nights” I recall getting a script and reading it at the airport. It wasn’t bad as I recall just not anything I was into doing. Maybe I needed time away from playing Jesus before heading into the dark side again? But whatever reason – it was a pass. Now under some odd screen name I got contacted and scolded for talking SHI$% about their script and making a Jesus film. OK. They wanted to twist a dagger with a “So and so also just made the same Jesus film…” 🙂 First, you have not seen our film. Second, that is like saying, “someone else made a film about a haunted house” – okay. I’ve had rocks thrown at me for years and I’m okay with that. It is a badge of honor and respect – some of my celebrity friends have all confirmed – when hate starts you’re getting success. Now, when I got around to reading this message I wasn’t mad. To me, I saw a frustrated artist who took my rejection of a role as a rejection of his art.  Not true. I almost reached out because if he is a good artist this kind of negativity leads to career death. I can say that because I’ve seen it. That was the funny thing about our screening of “An Ordinary Killer” last week. A perfect movie? No. Art is subjective. It did sell out 12 of 13 theatricals, USA/Australia distribution and played on ABC. We made that film 13 years ago. WOW! And that was our 5th CDI feature and the library is much larger now. The point is I want people to succeed but by good business and hard work. No shortcuts and half-ass business. People who know me will say that I give you an honest opinion. I’ve had lots of experiences in our business and while I learn something new daily – I’ve gathered a good amount of knowledge.

Terry Jernigan and DJ Perry in "An Ordinary Killer"

Terry Jernigan and DJ Perry in “An Ordinary Killer”

RESPECT. I’ve given it and had several good advisors and mentors.

IF YOU GIVE IT – you too can learn, grow and thrive.

That one communication was just a good example of how not to build bridges. You get feedback and you get defensive – that shuts down any respectful communication. Do I practice what I preach?

1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

CHASING THE STAR – On Friday Bret Miller, our director and I, concluded a three-hour plus script meeting.  I’m happy to say we have draft 2 with the directors input. We moved a few scenes for pacing and flow and he had a few ideas that we put in there. Our distributors had purchased a suit and we were giving it a tailor. It is exciting and so that will start to go out next week.

On casting we’ve been looking at several reels – most on the west coast because we’re limited on flights. We also fly in several of our keys because that is just as important. They are stars on the other side of the camera. Funny. In Michigan I hear complaints when films come in and bring their keys. I will once again get back at them by bringing some of our Michigan keys. I can’t bring everyone and that is a hard balance. But once again some of us will depart Michigan in Feb for Arizona. Maybe that is why I can enjoy the snow.

"40 Nights" - the 1st film in the QUEST trilogy.

“40 Nights” – the 1st film in the QUEST trilogy.

40 Nights – This week my goal is to pull in the intro sequence and VFX. Sound design is closing up and our director loved the direction. The music score is also coming together. We released a teaser that used a snippet of music.

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

We’ve been re-mastered the CDI library in prep of some new VOD, foreign, TV deals and a possible CDI Online store. The book/DVD deal on “Knight Chills” is signed and some PR will release on that.

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set "Ashes of Eden"

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set “Ashes of Eden”

I thought some PR from our distributor was coming out on the “Ashes of Eden” TV deal. Something for next week! Closed caption deal on “Donors” releasing Feb 02. “Bestseller” is playing Grayling, MI Dec. 10th look for a new event page and updates. The national release date on “Bestseller” might be March 02 but we’re trying to confirm. I will confirm that artwork is being done and I’m looking forward to that.

Script, script, scripts… – I signed an NDA and had a book sent to me that will be followed by the script. A studio I’m working with sent me a script that they want me to star in. Also another couple of projects to consider/talk about  – one is a TV show reboot and the other a major film on par with C.U.J.O.. That project is moving forward and looks to shoot in 2016. I will say more when I can.

My alumni school

My alumni school

Let’s wrap this up. I’m going to watch MSU and maybe read a script.

Enjoy your weekend!

DJ

 

 


Showings, Cycles and Selecting Ones Path

Autumn is Upon Us

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.

Directors/Storytellers

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.

Why?

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.

Collaborations

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.

In-House

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.

Film Updates

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

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!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

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.

Sequels

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.

40 Nights

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.

DJ

CDI's Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

CDI’s Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate


Charting the Course and Preparing to Move!

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature “40 Nights”

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.

The storm cometh

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 Premiere Poster

“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!

In the upcoming

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

I’ve put a call out on “The Terrorist” but need to actually connect. I’ve got no new updates on “Dead Quiet”…

40 Nights

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.

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

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!

DJ

“I didn’t hear no bell” – Rocky



The Development Storm Cometh

The storm cometh
I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).

Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.

Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.

Development…
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.

Biz Topic…

REPRESENTION-

I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.

My Manager
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.

Other Updates

I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.

“I didn’t hear no bell” – Rocky


40 Nights
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.

CDI Films

I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.

Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.

– To bring this full circle

Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.

In Summary…

I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.

CDI – The Brand

We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.

DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
REPRESENT MICHIGAN.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)

Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.

DJ


Bestseller Deal, Ashes Theatricals, 40 Nights/Casting Updates….

Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.

UPDATES

Donnie from ASHES OF EDEN

“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor.  I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.

I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.

POST WORK

We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal-  our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script.  I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?

“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.

We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.

Parables TV

Parables TV

I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.

This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.

I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.

DJ


Happy 4th of JULY! Casting, Censorship & Current Events

HOT TOPICS – INSIGHTS

OK! I have my hazelnut coffee beside me as I work on a few business items. I think it’s good to first say thank you to all our military folks who allow us all the freedoms we enjoy. While we are far from perfect as a society here in the USA we do strive to better ourselves. I personally did not elect to be a politician and so my personal feelings on certain subjects are just opinions. I did choose to be a storyteller. Be you – Right wing, left-wing, wing nut, black, white, yellow, brown or purple – I want to entertain and enlighten you via motion pictures. I recall late last year getting fan mail from Egypt following one of our films playing the Cairo Film Fest. I got fan mail a few weeks ago from India over another film. I really love people’s cultures, traditions, foods and art. I think we are in a time whereas people are boldly putting mortal agendas onto divine heresy.   Words are symbols combined to convey meaning. I see communication breakdowns passing a few instructions down the film production line. Imagine various levels of educations, multiple languages, lacking the right word to describe something, unable to describe something  and the humanistic urge to put their own agenda and spin on something. Now multiple this by hundreds or thousands of years and things get very blurry.

JUDGEMENT

I would say preach whatever religion or outlook you wish. Shall and Shall Nots. But nowhere does anyone mortal have the anointed position to make judgement spiritually. People flock together to feel more confident in their own choices and decisions. Numbers don’t make one right. And each person may be judged (if you want to subscribe there) individually. But not by anything or anyone here – not in matters of soul, spirit or divine essence. If people would let people live and stand accountable in the end for their own actions – all would be better. Concern yourself with yourself, I say. The Golden Rule is beautiful because you don’t know if you are right. You can tell yourself that. You can quote from text that may or may not be accurate. But in the end IF you believe in judgement – what if you are wrong? What if a half-dozen people different from you in their beliefs are brought forth and asked if they would vouch for you as worthy. Did you give kindness, compassion and love to these and other people? Or did you pass hate, intolerance and judgement upon people. That feels like a power best left to scales held on a much greater divine level. When I see those who stand in high judgement I see the coming of their fall. When I hear talk so crazy or hate-filled – I imagine what great displeasure of someone who puts words into others mouth. People may await the return of a savior but from what I see – people should not be so excited by this unless God is grading on a curve. And those who think they have the cheat sheet created by authors – edited a thousand times – and hand selected for digestion again by Wise? Men? Be careful!

THE CLOAK THAT COVERS THE SPARK

The color of our skin is but the traveling cloak. Perhaps our body itself just the bio-organic clothes we wear over our individual sparks. I see how a spark within us could be created in the image of a greater – more vast powerful divine spark. Stripped of EVERYTHING mortal how are our sparks different from one another? Ponder that. I’ve often thought that while so many sit and await some return of a savior perhaps the people themselves have the power over when that someone will return, reveal or make oneself known. Should mankind evolve to a higher state where they are truly ready – maybe someone will step forth. It could happen:)

SYMBOLS – GOOD, BAD & UGLY

I have also done a Civil War movie in Virginia (Wicked Spring) and spent much time in the beautiful South. I was also born in the North, in equally beautiful Michigan. While I will be the first to say I’ve seen shunning and disparaging talks about people wearing different traveling cloaks everywhere. I’ve always been quick to step up on these conversations if in earshot. Some Brits talking about Indians. (From India) Indians (From India) talking about darker skin Indians. Japanese talking about the Chinese. Whites about blacks. Canadians about the Detroit Red Wings. Seriously – all shaped by our experiences with one another.  Be that good experience. I can say with all truth that in my travels IF people labeled me as an AMERICAN – I left them with a good impression of how we can be. FREEDOM TO BE. Just because we have the freedom to exercise something it is up to us to question should we. Where does the motivation lie? Pride, Shock, To Hurt, To Isolate, To Associate? Take a sensitive issue like FLAGS. What are flags? Symbols. These mean different things to different people. The cross. A dove. Crossbones with a skull. Symbols meant to rally, inspire, unify and identify. I keep hearing the comparison to the Nazi flag. The symbol on their flag was used first in Neolithic times. It has different meaning to the Chinese or the Indians. WW2 left dark meanings on a symbol that for thousands of years meant lucky. The beholder will see what they see. Today is a day that we celebrate the stars and stripes. I say it represents the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. We as represented by that flag – have done remarkable, shameful and unthinkable things. But UNITED WE STAND. Our goal is to add more GOOD to our list of accomplishments. Can we ever erase the BAD or UGLY? No. But the ratio can be off set by adding additional GOOD deeds. We are also a country of freedom that purposely limits censorship. The need for “Censorship” to me often shows a lack of faith in select individuals to make good choices. AND while those groups may be partial correct – (We make bad choices as humans all the time) – to error allows one to grow. You will fall learning to walk. We allow much free will in America and constantly try to adjust our compass. Politics and special interest of those who hoard of shells and beads (currency which = symbols on paper or metals) this will make change slow but it will change. For better? For worse? Flags can mean PRIDE or HATE. Flags can get a reaction of PRIDE or HATE. The stars and stripes do not bring tears of pride to inhabitants of a far-away village accidentally bombed in some drone attack. The stars and stripes proudly flew on the moon. A flag can be the good, the bad and the ugly. It often is all three.

FINALLY…MOVIE UPDATES

Finally! I know some of you are saying that. I usually take a step back on all those current issues but had many people ask my views. I had to ponder them for a while. Meanwhile in the film world GREAT things are happening.

TV DEALS

We announced our new Parables TV licensing for “7 Stones,” “Outside the Wire,” and “Standing Post” – congrats to those cast and crews.

ASHES OF EDEN Oct. 13th worldwide release and how about that poster art! I love it.

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

BESTSELLER – We will know Monday about the July 21st show date at Studio C Celebration Cinema BUT we have our week run at the south Lansing location from the 24th-30th of July and I’m excited that some home town folks can come see the film. Audiences have really enjoyed it. I’m in talks with a handful of distributors for VOD, foreign and such. We are close to setting up some dates in the Detroit, MI area. We also have been working several others in hopes of getting it to all of you. We’ve gotten your communications and we’re working on it!

DONORS does look like it is signing a domestic deal with one of the distributors CDI Distribution has been in talks with. More on this is the coming weeks.

CDI Distribution is in talks with the Philippines and India on some licensing of films. China may be next via one of our associations.

40 NIGHTS – I’m very excited by this film. I got my final notes over to our director/editor and I think we will be closing up the edit in the next couple weeks. I would love to have the film move to music and sound around July 15th. The first official trailer is also almost done and I love it. The great part is that the trailer is powerful yet the film itself holds so, so much more! Not one of those trailers where all the best parts are thrown into the teaser. We do have a place on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website where churches and organizations can sign up if they want a screening. We will push this harder once we release the trailer.

Jesus is the upcoming

Jesus is the upcoming “40 Nights”

UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS & CASTING 

I’ve finally gotten to a point where development (always ongoing) is ready to take front and center. I’ve been writing on a handful of projects which will have their own PR forthcoming BUT those of you who come here to this blog get the 1st drop on some of these developments. Let me bullet point a few as my fingers are growing tired and eggs are calling me.

CASTING

– We will be looking for (2) African-American Michigan-based talent. One is young girl 8-10 years of age and also a fine young lady of mid-late 20’s. We want to see dramatic resume reels and they can be sent directly to perrydj@aol.com and will be looked at by our development team.                                      NO OTHERS AT THIS TIME PLEASE.

SCRIPTS

– I’ve been working on the “Knight Chills 2” script and that is moving along nicely. It will possibly go into production this year.

– I have started in on the next biblical feature to be shot as part of our Lightworx Entertainment deal. It is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we are looking to once again shoot in AZ come Jan/Feb 2016.

A couple other scripts are also being worked on as time and inspiration hit.

ACTING PROJECTS

What is next acting-wise? I’ve gotten this question quite a bit as of late. We do have a few CDI projects as noted above that I will be participating in. Outside of that I’ve got a few projects my management has presented. It looks like I’m going to shoot a western trailer in August with an actor I truly admire. I’ve also been submitted directly to producers on a film to perhaps play a very famous person of history. Next week I’m also announcing my involvement in a studio project that has been coming together for a while. I had to get studio approval on everything but now that is all in place – SHAZAM!  My HINT: The original source material is a Stephen King book.

I might have missed a few things but it is the 4th of July. I need to go relax and eat some good food with family and friends. Be safe everyone!

DJ


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


First Watch on 40 NIGHT, BESTSELLER Expands and more…

It is a late night Saturday blog. It will actually post in the wee hours of Sunday but today was full and kept me away from my computer. It has been a good week of film business. Most of the week I worked from early morning until about 2:30 or so before moving to yard work. I had such a wild week full of many emotions as projects moved to different phases.

BESTSELLER coming off the sold out premiere started its run in Grand Rapids. That day leading up to the GR week of showings – had me feeling blissful. I had watched the 1st full cut of “40 Nights” the day prior. I was just stunned as I watched that film play out. It flowed so well and was moving in the performances and camera work. This was only a rough cut without music or sound – and what a great ending! I know what went into the shoot by the hard working cast and crew. It was such a good cut that if polished slightly it would be ready to roll into the next audio phase. We will do a few more test showings to get feedback and make minor tweaks. But I was so at peace because it was powerful to watch – even in this rough stage. I had a few great conversations about the film with people in the circle including our distributor. I’m excited to lock this edit by month’s end.

Back to BESTSELLER –

BESTSELLER playing on the Celebration Cinema screen in 5.1 was cool to watch. Seeing an audience JUMP and GASP in terror was truly a wonderful experience. We had a Q&A after this kick off which was nice to interact with an audience after they watched the film. There were a few aspiring filmmakers in the crowd and their questions are always fun to answer. The night ended with fish tacos and so that is pretty good.

Paperwork was exchanged this past week whereas CDI Distribution brokered TV license deals for OUTSIDE THE WIRE and STANDING POST for Red, White & Blue Non-Profit and also for the TV special – 7 STONES. We will be doing some official announcements but remember you heard it here first.

I’ve been writing everyday – I’m reworking an older script, writing on two others and outlining our next biblical faith drama. I’ve been enjoying this time with coffee and imagination. I look forward to seeing some of these go to the screen.

WASTELAND

The WASTELAND poster is just downright cool as all get out. I’m looking forward to that hitting some festivals and shooting Part 2 in the near future.

. Wasteland Poster with Credits

This Sci-Fi piece WASTELAND was so much fun to shoot.

A PASS –

Recently, I considered being involved in another feature – a comedy but it was just bad timing. I have lots going on in June with writing, promotion, distribution and getting the garden and yard around. I’m also going to be an uncle this month again and our soccer season is in full swing. I will start some heavy developmental film work soon. I have to admit –  the break after shooting “40 Nights” has been refreshing. As of today – the garden is now in and I did some clean up to the office porch. Productive day!

We had a rain out on soccer last week and I hope we don’t repeat that again. I’m going to do a few last things tonight before getting some well deserved rest. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a productive week ahead. If you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area and want to check out BESTSELLER it plays twice a day until the 11th of June.

Celebration Cinemas

DJ


Private & Public BESTSELLER Showings & More…

BESTSELLER Premiere info

BESTSELLER Premiere info

The heat arrived in Michigan this week and I actually had the first mowing of the yard for the season. Also friend/associate Dean Teaster has been working his chain saw art so I have a nice pair of benches next to the outside fireplace and a tiki totem pole in one of the garden beds. The hops from last year have started growing and this week coming I need to prep the garden to plant. I had many great phone calls this past week including director friends like Larry Simmons (Locked in a Room), Jon Osman (The Terrorist), Shane Hagedorn (Ashes of Eden) to name a few. It’s exciting as everyone is starting to talk new film ventures. Planting seeds of creativity and growing new stories. I had many other business discussions and as many of you know we are in for many exciting updates in the weeks ahead.

Before we get into these exciting updates let’s take a moment to put something out there for thought, discussion, change?

I had an actor friend contact me and he has had some great work moving out into the market. As it is for many – he could still be ready for more and sooner vs later. This passion has to be controlled and not allowed to become desperation. It is sad because agency’s locally are not vetting projects hard enough. These crowd funded dreams are moving people into action well before they are possible. Casting calls, table reads and making people drive, spend gas and take time out of their life only to find they have a crowd fund with $25 bucks in it. That might buy pizza for a small table read. But why do agencies roll with these? To appear busy? To give their talent something to do? If you got a call once a month or every two months but it was real that seems better than a dozen BS auditions for pipe dreams. And I see self-proclaiming official film organizations promoting these social funding efforts. Why? It seems they should be hosting business workshops to educate filmmakers. Not promoting hobby handouts that almost never come to be. I know these are harsh words and only those engaging in this behavior will be angry with me BUT others of you know it to be true. I can scroll right past or unfollow something (true) but the content brands your organization. Your agency. I see people using a cause to try to get money from social funding but still no business accountability. You want to help? Do the work. Start a non-profit. So I had no answers for this friend – just “it is what it is…” I would have them contact your agent with a script and offer when fully funded. Stay home and eat pizza.

Onto business…

TODAY is a special invite showing for a few dozen people associated with the film BESTSELLER. The film is DONE:) That almost sounds odd to say. The project had a lot of issues prior to CDI getting involved but now that seems to melt away as the project is ready to show the public in two weeks (May 23rd). These two showings are being done in Christopher Knight aka Jonathan Rand’s home town and at a beautiful historic theater. We will be announcing some other play dates on the 23rd but also DVD’s will be for sale from Misery Bay starting on the 23rd of May. I’m happy that this film got the professional finish it deserved. We have long-term plans with Misery Bay and that is built on solid business. That is something I talk about here often. When good business is done it creates job opportunity for a lot of people. When bad business is done – just the opposite. Poison too many wells and you cannot support an industry. I will say it again here – We make errors in our business BUT we are sincerely trying 110% to do things the right way. And I see others that don’t even make the attempt – hard work will win the day over and over again. That is TRUTH. So a great heartfelt thank you to all the hard-working cast and crew of BESTSELLER. It is time to share your artistry with the world.

THE TERRORIST is a NYC based thriller that I co-starred in and helped produce. I got to watch the final film this week and it was great. It also has had quite the journey and is now ready to be seen by audiences worldwide. We are starting to show distributors who have been waiting – this month.

I actually have to turn quite a bit of attention back over to distributors – I’ve been focused on BESTSELLER in these final weeks. I also got a some feedback from a TV licensor and it looks like finally next week we will start to close on a few new TV deals.

“40 Nights” is creating lots of buzz. I released the 1st interview for the film here

http://www.examiner.com/article/michigan-s-own-dj-perry-talks-about-biblical-40-nights

the film is in editing and moving right along. I’ve also started releasing some stills as pencil drawings on the “40 Nights” Facebook site. I think it introduces several elements from the movie without giving you the full on epic look…YET:) I’ve also started my research on my next biblical that we have to do for Lightworx Entertainment and so that has been fun. I’ve also been finishing up a couple other scripts and in talks with some production groups on others. By this I mean, they work in association with CDI to produce a script from our vaults that has distribution.

I’m going to cut this short as I have to prepare to go up North today and share BESTSELLER. I just ask that the technology gremlins stay far away:) I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends and enjoying the show as an audience member. I hope to see some of you on the 23rd for the first public showing!

Have a great weekend and Happy Mother’s Day! (On Sunday)

DJ


Premieres, Parties and the Power of Positivity

It is a beautiful Saturday in Michigan and today is a good rest after a busy, busy week. I’m excited that I’ve been able to enjoy grilling and chilling outside. We had venison burgers and mushrooms last night. It’s been a couple of weeks driving hard towards our final goals while not being distracted by other distracting variables. I was witness to a few examples of drama this past week but avoided any participation. Drama, except when on the screen is something I try to avoid. It’s one of those distractions that often derails or delays people from their goals. I’ve gotten good at not falling into these traps. I will illustrate a few examples to perhaps help some of you out there. IF you think I’m talking about you – I’m likely not but you might be one of these people just for thinking that:)

The Power of Positivity

Some people just have broken, clouded, paranoid, delusional filters around them. You could say just about anything to them and they will pull an insult, attack or some negative slant from the communication. These poor souls will have a hard go of it in life/business until they reach some self realization. I’ve had previous business/personal relationships terminated because of these same issues. Insecurity, self-doubt and other self-defeating attributes can only be healed by the individual. They need to somehow learn to stop feeding their own negativity. I only allow those types X amount of time to figure themselves out or they are dismissed. I have more patience in personal vs professional. They often have to learn on their own where they cannot influence others with their drama. Unfortunately, this dismissal often creates even more negativity as these people seldom can accept blame. It’s ALWAYS someone else:) The world is against them. A self made pattern that these people are amazingly blind to.

Emails, text and written communication is worse. These individuals cannot tell directness from sarcasm and so forth. They project their own insecurities on the words. I’ve seen people refuse to compromise because they see that as weakness. What could have been fruitful on-going business relationships becomes one and done. Often these people are stricken with mis-directed anger that comes forth as spite and hate. Nasty venom from forked tongues that once spewed you cannot take back.

Others swallow their own poison – never venting on others but compounding their failure. If you’re downtrodden and negative because nobody will invest in your dream project it only makes it worse. People invest in positive people. If you carry negativity within yourself you will not inspire others to believe in your dreams. I call these people CHARLIE BROWNS. If you’re constantly complaining POOR ME and HO HUM on social media walls – you paint a picture of someone nobody would or should invest in. I see so much pitiful self bashing as much as I see hatred towards others. I see artists who don’t realize that some choices are just different versus better. I’ve seen people with no qualifications judge others. Those people who stand alone in their own glass house and foolishly throw rocks at others. It’s only a matter of time before they find themselves cut and broken in their own ruins of a shattered glass house. I’m happy to say in these situations I witnessed-  I stayed in silence and focused upon the important work at hand. But I see these toxic behaviors around me and it doesn’t surprise me when these people implode. Be happy, positive and productive. I truly would love to see these people change but only they control themselves.

The HUMBLE FIGHTER

All this leads also to the topic of tonight’s “fight of fights” GET READY TO RUMBLE!  I was a fan of boxer Manny PacMan prior to filming in the Philippines.  But after seeing how he has helped his nation with his success and how they honor him – my respect for him grew. He is a humble, spiritual warrior who gives his all each and every time. He has a depth of spirit that reminds me of Bruce Lee, another childhood hero of mine. Now, Mister Floyd can fight for sure but he really seems to have an ugly demeanor and messed up priorities.  I hope he gets taught a lesson that money can’t save him from. This example can apply to successful people in our film business. Wear success like a humble hat. People will respect that much more.

Onto film updates!

ASHES OF EDEN Oct. 6th is the new wide release. We are closer to announcing some west coast theatrical play dates. Stay tuned!

BESTSELLER – It is being final mastered!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

LIVE IN MICHIGAN? Do you want to see the 1st public showing of BESTSELLER in a cool historic theater? I will be there as well as many of the cast and crew. Info on how to get your tickets below.

MOVIE PREMIERE
“BESTSELLER”
BASED ON A NOVEL WRITTEN BY
CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT
MAY 23, 2015
7:00pm
$10.00 per person for viewing only
$20.00 per person for viewing and a DVD copy of the show
$30.00 per person for viewing, DVD and Backstage Meet & Greet
TICKETS
https://www.theoperahouse.org/tickets.php
“BESTSELLER” IS INTENDED FOR A MATURE AUDIENCE.

“40 Nights” – Post work is underway and this week we released our 1st Official Teaser poster.

40 Nights

NEW interview link below that gives some great insight into the filming of “40 Nights” – Interview by David W. King. Thank you my friend.

http://www.gardenoftheking.com/InterviewDJPerry40Nights.htm

THE TERRORIST – is also DONE. I need to watch my producers link of the final film. It will start playing for distributors in the weeks ahead.

WASTELAND Tales of the Desert Part 1 – We will have an official poster soon and I will let you all know where you can see this film play.

To bring this full circle – “Don’t HATE, CREATE! The secret is to keep moving forward and not being distracted by all the silliness that some individuals can create. Pull them like weeds from your garden and watch what grows.

I had one reader ask me about the film “IT FOLLOWS” – It was shot in Michigan and my brother watched it and liked it. I don’t think they reinvented the wheel with it but it IS a positive step for distributors to seek independent product. Radius, the distributor –  is owned by the Weinsteins who build their company on a handful of indie directors. I would love to see more companies with P&A $ take a limited chance on some strong indie films. So, I think this was a good thing and big congrats to that cast and crew.

I’m going to go work in the yard some so have a great weekend.

DJ


ASHES, BESTSELLER, 40 NIGHTS and WASTELAND Updates

I’m up nice and early sipping on my favorite coffee. It has been a great adjustment back into work flow here in Michigan. I’ve really just been tightening my focus on what needs to be done and eliminating distractions. We have been wrapping up the last of the loose ends on “40 Nights” which has about run its course. The ship is docked and the cargo unloaded and now the film is being assembled. It signed worldwide distribution prior to shooting and that is a welcome change. No shopping just finish and deliver. We are excited about what is going to happen with this film. It is the 1st in our 3 picture deal with Lightworx for biblical era content.

Additionally this new relationship opened a new opportunity for “Ashes of Eden” our inspirational crime drama. We were on a path to a domestic release but recently had additional theatrical interest in the film and in the wake of “40 Nights” worked a new deal for worldwide distribution with Lightworx. Lightworx Entertainment is ran by my friend/associate who was a VP formerly at Pureflix overseeing films such as “God’s Not Dead” with their marketing and distribution roll out. ASHES is in great hands with Lightworx and I think this expanded deal is well deserved. Congrats to the entire cast and crew.

“Bestseller” – Now this project is exciting as we get to the end of the post production road. It was a unique project in how we at CDI became involved. What previously could have been a loss for the Michigan film community has turned into a great relationship with an amazing author. He’s going to get a watch through on the final film towards the end of the month. Music, FX and sound work has been solid and we will be showcasing this to the media May 9th prior to the May 23rd screening which will be the 1st public premiere showing in Chris Knight’s (Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand’s) home town. We’re excited that this story has translated so well to the screen and look forward to his additional stories that lie waiting to be told on the big screen. We’re also locking the 1st theatrical dates now and DVD’s will be for sale alongside the theatrical releases. Congrats to the cast and crew of this fine film.

“Wasteland Tales of the Desert Part 1” – I’m told this film is DONE. This 1st part will travel the festival circuit and be used to show the other investors. If all flows – the other segments will get cast and prepped to shoot. I’m excited to see it with all the music, sound and FX in place.

Yesterday I had some talks over a few more movies in the CDI library going to TV. It could be as many as 4 with additional high interest in “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” but those deals will have to be made by our new distributor.

Lastly, I will return to script writing here soon. I’ve got two personal scripts to finish up. One or both could film this year. I am also planning my next biblical era film to write and produce for Lightworx likely to shoot in Jan. 2016. So I will enjoy the approaching Summer and oversee the flow of content. It will be a great year and I again appreciate all of you.

Happy Saturday!

DJ


Freezing Temps and Finish Lines

This morning was chilly here in Michigan with temps at 9 degrees and falling. But the blowing snow is even more crazy. I know that our friends on the far east coast are getting it much worse. This morning after a coffee warm up we went out and about. We like to go visit estate sales looking for antiques or collectibles for the house or my office. We’ve truly found some wonderful treasures and it also usually includes breakfast which is a nice bonus. We braved some crazy snow and found some great items. One thing for the office is a like-new professional rotating DVD holder. I will use that to store copies of some of my CDI films kept in the office. Also found a few antiques for the office porch. Add a few other items which begged to follow me home and the trip was an overall success.

Books are one of the things that I enjoy collecting at these sales. I enjoy the feeling and smell of the paper. Even as I work with my new script, I NEED the paper. I’ve had many people in our organization who want to go all digital with paperwork. It’s fine for moving data quickly but at the end of the day paper is tangible. If a drive crashes you could lose important docs unless you have many back ups. So yes, I’m old school in my love of paper. I am a fan of wood also which is what I tend to collect. Some of you might have seen the wooden hammer pic I posted last week. It’s indeed a prop of mine for our upcoming film.

Let’s discuss the new film…

I’m encouraged by legal – not to fully disclose on this film for about another week. I can say the LLC is formed. The bank account is now open. The documents are all in process and things are all coming together smoothly. We also have some interesting things happening with distribution. This film will have distribution signed before we shoot. We have had more than one company show interest in this new film. The deals being offered are getting more interesting and next week will reveal even more. So a bit more patience here please and in time all will be revealed.

POST WORK

WASTELAND, our associated CDI, Sci-Fi film is 80% done with editing on Part 1. A small teaser is about to release. First poster art is being completed. All exciting stuff!

BESTSELLER – We went into the studio and did a few small dialogue tweaks to enhance the quality of a line here or there. The visual is about locked now and following will be the color correction. Music is our next layer and as we move steadily towards the finish line lots of exciting updates will be coming.

THE TERRORIST may be fully finished next week. I have a call scheduled with our director but I think we are just about there.

DVD art on WICKED SPRING, ASHES OF EDEN and DONORS is moving towards being completed.

Theatrical, TV  and foreign sales talks have been very steady. We’ve got a little commercial work in development. The work overall has been steady and I think following some upcoming meetings – we may have features launching back to back.

I also had some good talks with my management on upcoming acting projects. They’re happy for my next lead role and I’ve purposely kept my schedule open past March. They have several developing projects that they want me to participate in.

Aside from all that. Let me see. I caught up this week with a few filmmakers I’ve known for quite a while. Some collaboration was discussed but it was not the right fit for either of us. I told this particular individual that the great part is – “you don’t need us and we don’t need you.” So basically, when/if it does happen it’s because the project was the right fit.

On another front – I got a report that again someone (A filmmaker) was unhappy because CDI won’t support social crowd funding as it applies to filmmaking. We’ve got a polite policy in place on all that. If others are offended by that and offer negativity back – we will ignore them. Our beliefs on doing business obviously don’t match up. earlier I spoke of a talk whereas the business did not align. It was professional and this person left me with a “God Bless”.  Now this other individual seemed like he came off rude and unprofessional.

My simple advice to him.

If you’ve got your own company you’re entitled to do as you see fit. If you want to beg for donations – great. Our investors, partners, distributors and such see social-funding actions as last-ditch efforts to get funding by a hobby filmmaker or someone pushing a project that nobody wants to invest in. NOW. Before those of you out there doing social funding get your knickers in knots – I’m not saying you have to agree with them, with me or our company policy. Do your own thing. Follow your own path. Good luck. May the force be with you. NEXT.

I’ve had a lot of communications recently about KNIGHT CHILLS 2. The script is moving along and I think fans of the first will get a healthy dose of what they so enjoyed the first time around. The film itself will be much stronger in regards to the production due to all the experience and advances in technology since 1997.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Work steadily at whatever you’re building. Things happen less by chance and more as a result of hard work. If you want to get ahead you must move when others rest. Work when others play. When you work, work smart. Know your goals. Plan. Execute. Follow through. Keep trimming away those variables around you that are not sincere, supportive or loyal.

Keep Clawing and Make IT HAPPEN!

DJ


Advance, Enhance & Take the Chance – 2015

 

Well folks I hope your 2015 is off to a good start. I’ve jumped right into it with a bang and I’m excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I’m really happy at how enjoyable the holidays were and I do realize how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. A week before Christmas I was in a majestic place (The Valley of Fire) shooting what I would call R-Rated STAR WARS with our “Wasteland” film. It’s just funny because that film is what sparked my imagination and pushed me towards the path. Yesterday the editing on that 1st part of the film began in Florida. The website is now open at http://www.wastelandtalesmovie.com/.  A teaser will soon be released and I will start putting new talent in front of our director and we will be doing casting calls via the website so stay tuned if you want to enter the Wasteland.

I will be doing some producing on that film now that my filming as an actor is complete. I’ve been prepping for my next role that I’ll be announcing soon. It will be most challenging but I’m ready and willing to accept that challenge. It’s a period piece that will film some in Michigan perhaps and the balance/bulk of it in Arizona. Location scouting and some select casting work has been underway for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the other exciting news that I can be somewhat less mysterious about – maybe. 🙂

We have release dates for our films releasing with the WINTERS FILM GROUP. I must allow the honor of announcing the “Ashes of Eden” street date to come from Shane Hagedorn. He’s very excited for the national release. Also we have a couple large foreign releases in talks now. I was talking with Parables TV about this film on Friday. They love it. It’s on the cutting edge being a crime drama infused with a healthy dose of faith but also not cramming the religious aspect down your throat. We’re greatly looking forward to audiences of all walks of life watching and enjoying this film. It gives a very humanizing look at the life police/law enforcement officers have to deal with. It looks at the challenges that face both parents and children in this day and age. It’s funny because I told Shane before the film was ever completed that he must also prepare himself for “haters” – (I believe that is the term) Basically, if you start to find success some insecure artists who have not yet been given that opportunity to succeed will resent you. Why his script? Why his film? Why? Why? The answer is usually better quality product, better business or both. I had truly hoped that Shane would not have to experience any of that but I knew better. Before the film was released someone trolled the voting on a data base in hopes it would hinder the film. It did not.  Because distributors actually watch and evaluate based on their expertise and sales projections. Now as of late the film has also been given to a cross selection of  film reviewers and once again the response has been very good. I expect sales to also be quite good.  You can’t let those things even slow you down. When your audience becomes hundreds of thousands to millions vs a few hundred friends you learn to just let it roll off you. A few will always hate and that itself will keep them trapped in a cycle of failure.  I would always rather just smile and create. If you’re still fighting for your respect and your success don’t hate. Try to examine what makes these other artists  successful. I would say don’t imitate their art but imitate their business practice or principles. Don’t EVER fake it to make it. Build from mild success to modest success to great success. Keep it real and keep building and one day your success will start to multiply because it is REAL!

Let’s talk some REAL UPDATES:)

“Wicked Spring” will also be re-releasing soon. While an official PR release is forthcoming I’ll give my loyal readers a hint. It would make a nice gift to put in an Easter basket:) Now “Donors” will also be announcing their release date soon. Audiences will have a great opportunity to enjoy these films releasing the first half of the year. I hope you add them to your collection or viewing experiences.

Finishing up early this year will also be the horror film “Dead Quiet” – I hear they will be targeting fall for their big push. “Bestseller” is now in post sound/music and I’ve been seeing the FX/graphic work in progress. I’m VERY excited to see this film completed and premiere. “The Terrorist” feature was getting close to done in late December so I expect to hear some good news from our director soon.

I was in talks on a few more CDI films heading to TV. One will likely be our doc film “Outside the Wire” done with our friends at the RED, WHITE and BLUE PROJECT.

“Heavens Neighbors” and “Figure in the Forest” are looking at a new release in 2015. “Knight Chills” will be re-releasing with the novel to help promote and prep folks for the sequel that is coming. “In the Woods” re-release – trying to get that commentary done. We had one date reschedule because of snow and we’ll see if we can make it tomorrow. They had a 90 car pile up yesterday right where I have to drive through. So if it’s bad I’m not chancing it. I had the cold zap my battery one day last week and once I got it jumped and was off to my teeth cleaning I narrowly avoided a fender bender right in front of me. I had to BUDDY COLT*  the car to keep from a crash but I did. (See * JUDGES movie)

This week ahead will be more development and prepping for delivery on these films heading out for distribution. Also a studio tour, theatrical talks on a few films and finalizing some artwork. It’s great weather for getting these things done. No nice sun and yard/garden work to tempt you just bitter winds and snow that would make a polar bear cold. So I’m going to focus on my film work and also write on the two scripts I’ve been working on. It all keeps the machine moving forward and I’m happy to stay busy. At CDI we are accepting some commercial work. We’ve got a cool project for a client lined up this spring. We’ve done some high-end commercial work in the past and we’re going to occasionally start taking on select projects here and there. So if you have a commercial project that you want considered – feel free to ask. If we don’t take it on I can always recommend someone whose work I approve.

I think that is all I have right now. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but once again, thank you for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week and keep clawing your way to the middle! Accept that most things don’t come easy and enjoy the work. While others refrain, complain, abstain you advance, enhance and take the chance to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail but you must be as prepared as possible and fight fiercely to succeed.

Welcome to 2015! Go get it.

DJ

 

 


Talking Development and Looking Forward to 2015

A week ago I was waking up early in Kalamazoo to return from our 15th anniversary showing and deal announcement on IN THE WOODS. I have a few more public events coming up soon. I do plan to attend the showing of STANDING POST that was done by one of my long time collaborators and features three actors I respect. I’m also happy that the crowd surrounding the East Lansing Film Festival will get a chance to see ASHES OF EDEN and also get some exciting news for the film. I am happy that this inspirational film will reach even more people. LOCKED IN A ROOM thrilled some folks in Canton last week and I got some great communications from fans watching stuff on VOD. On TV as I type is the making of John Carpenters HALLOWEEN. 21 days and 325,000 with Donald’s pay being 25k. I’m enjoying seeing how much fun those actors had making that little film that would be a king classic in the genre. It was also slammed hard when it first came out. John said much of it was from other artsy filmmakers unhappy they could not get the exposure and release they felt they deserved. WASTELAND - Coming in 2015

This past week had some of my people working hard to get things in order on BESTSELLER. We are planning time for the director and DP to come in and share ideas. I think we are growing close to a finished film on THE TERRORIST. We only have a few left in the pipeline. Which brings us to DEVELOPMENT.

I’ve got WASTELAND ahead of me this December and we launched the Facebook site where we will be featuring updates in cast, artwork and props. I’ve had some great meetings with a few people over the last couple weeks as CDI looks to increase the army. I look for smart, positive people with passion and willing to work hard. I’ve built everything in this industry I have brick by brick with few if any handouts. I found other like-minded people and together we faced battles – won some, lost some and moved forward.

As our sales team has been licensing films in the library we have been looking at franchising a few of the films. It is no secret that Lynn Drzick is interested in doing another IN THE WOODS. If the right script is agreed upon it may happen. Also VP of CDI, director Jeff Kennedy and I have had talks over KNIGHT CHILLS and we do have a rough idea of a follow-up. I may be paid to write a script that I’ve had in my head for many years for an associate this November. Discussions on several scripts that already have distributor interest and in some cases guarantees continues.

On some of these smaller scope projects I’m looking at upcoming filmmakers who have yet to reach an international level. I’m looking at people who don’t want to do this as a hobby but as a career path. Many of these people have personal ideas/scripts that can be enjoyable for a small pocket of fans but often does not lead to bigger things. While some are content with making films for fun many in the cast or crew have greater aspirations.

It’s a stairs step process to get to these levels of film success. By success I mean having a title that has sold tens of thousands plus units or is in rotation on TV networks or available in different countries. Once you start to take steps if others around you aren’t willing to do the same you sometimes have to distance yourself creatively for a while. Maybe just until they evolve to that next level. If you’ve done a string of quality projects and have started to frame yourself as a professional you cannot slip back. By you saying NO, you may be one of many that helps them evolve. This is hard when you know the people but if they are doing it for fun and you are building a career – conflict of interest. I’ve explained to a few friends in the field (not truly in the BIZ) I cannot just come play for fun. I spend that time on paid projects or developing paid projects. When you win as a producer you win for many artists. When a film breaks out into the international market the resume of all those artists increases. I don’t always feel that some artists, usually the young, fully appreciates this fact. The wages may be modest, the hours long but to have a credit on a film that really gets into the marketplace is so valuable. So take pride in your work and be happy that you are working on something that will help you. If you start out in our field just for the money you’re in the wrong field. There is good money to be made but it comes in time through hard, collaborative work.

For the last few years I’ve been gone on set shooting during October so this has been wonderful to be home. Like I said earlier, I would rather spend time developing and finishing projects of quality versus just doing to do projects that are just fun. I do things for fun (Reading, soccer, archery, guitar, brewing) and I often find filmmaking fun BUT since I am accountable and use investment versus donations – I take my work very serious. I’ve been in development talks with Shane Hagedorn (ASHES OF EDEN) and we plan to do a 2015 film. Add in the handful of other projects developing and the new year could be filled with exciting projects. I look forward to incorporating some new people into the tribe. I look forward to working with my tried and true. I look forward to sharing our stories with fans around the world.  Right now, I’m looking forward to some more coffee, some breakfast and MSU putting a whoop on U of M.

Have a great weekend and be good to one another.

DJ

 


Filmmaker Advice and Announcements

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I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here  in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results.  If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…

ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.

I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.

To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.

BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.

THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.

We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.

NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions.  The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.

Keep clawing your way to the middle!

DJ