The first sips of the hazelnut coffee taste so good on this chilly Michigan morning. Yesterday the sinus were a bit stuffed due to the weather changes but this morning I’m feeling good. We watched my alumni school Michigan State University put another win up for the season. If only our Lions could start doing the same. Either way, football, hot cider and the harvest has been a great welcome to Fall that is now officially here.
This past week was great for tying up loose ends on BEST YEARS GONE that played Owosso, MI NCG all week. I was able to sneak into a day show on the last day with my dad. It was nice to have no pressure or expectations to meet and greet. It was nice to just relax into the story and just enjoy. The story is well put together with such great comments on the camerawork (DP Travis Hayward) the creative editing (Nathaniel Nose) – the music (Dennis Therrian and all our great guest artists). We know all of this includes the entire crew and cast. I heard lots of compliments on how the film walks the line with strong drama and outrageous comedy. And big kudos to Shane Hagedorn our director who kept the vision and created the fine blend story. NOTE: A BTS of the premiere event is on our IMDB.com page and we’ll go up on our FB page soon. Great job Dan Chipman.
We started with a two show screening premiere and that went great! We’ve been dripping out pics from that night on the BYG Facebook site. What a wonderful night and it was great to see the story on the big screen. The film was granted an extension playing all last week in Owosso, Michigan. Now we are looking at other cities both with NCG and other theatrical chains. We hope to bring it to our home town of Lansing, Michigan. Possibly Grand Rapids and the Detroit area and even Nashville, TN is being considered. This week after the theatrical we made a few adjustments to our mix and we’ll do a final review Weds before uploading the master to our distributor. I’m excited for people around the world to enjoy this story.
Today we are having a meeting for SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA to review our schedule and lock that so that cast agreements and flights can be booked. We’re working hard to get all our ducks in a row so that many things are done before our pre-production week on set. Algona is not a big city so we’re working with all the resources we have. The best resource is the people of Algona who are excited to have this story of theirs told, keeping it from being forgotten. This week I’ll do some PR about our product partners and we’ll announce a few more cast. I had a few great conversations with folks this week and that is what is nice about these adventures. I get to see some dear friends that I usually only see when filming. But today is a big day as we lock up the schedule and collectively look for problem/issues in advance. We have some of the best problem solvers working to tell this story so I feel very confident.
WILD FAITH is about to hit 5 million views on Encourage TV taking us even deeper into the tens of millions who have watched the film. I had a few more conversations with parties that could assist in getting the TV series launched. Creative Control has been the main goal for me as I’ve had a few projects derailed by “experts” on what a story needs or doesn’t need. We have several paths we could take to production and as I’ve always said it is not IF it is WHEN. Have you seen WILD FAITH? If not, please do.
MANS BEST FRIEND is playing new TV channels such as Charge TV which seems to be targeted at action and macho films by Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and DJ Perry, what? I have continued to encounter many more folks who love that film. I’m very proud of the film and the action sequences which are modest. I’ve had several people ask about ‘Paul Landings’ outcome and could there ever be a sequel. You never know and yes, I’ve thought about it. I have a good story in my head but we’ll see about that some other time. I’ve got a full plate.
LOST HEART/BIGFOOT, UFOs and JESUS – I had the pleasure of hearing from many who saw CDI’s last release under two different titles. I love this film and it always leaves me feeling good. Feeling down or just needing a boost of ‘feel good’ take a watch. Melissa Anschutz commands the screen and folks like Josh Perry turn in performances that will have people talking for years. This is the perfect time of year to watch this film.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Once we get past the beloved Halloween-fare it will be the holidays. I’m excited to continue the tradition of our trilogy. I again at the recent premiere got to hear from the fans of these films. Many are still learning about them and learning that there are three films in the series. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. See them in order. See them all.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – the final polished cut is getting close. This weekend the audio narration was being done. A pre-mix and a final mix and we’ll be ready for a premiere. Maybe just before Christmas but after Thanksgiving for sure.
SMOKE AND MIRRORS – Our short concept film that sprung from a commercial endeavor is completed. We’re in discussions about the various possible premieres for this film using it to also help the historic Dodge Turner House. We are exploring a virtual premiere also but getting together and seeing this on a big screen would be fun. It is roughly 14 minutes so not a long film. A few festivals could be in the future for this short film story. I have been working on the feature script which I’m calling ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS’ to add a slight difference between the two.
ODDS & ENDS
This week I got to throw some of my dialog off Curran Jacobs who is playing the lead in our next WW2 film. I’ve been having such a great time emerging myself in the 1940’s and preparing to tell this great story. We also had a great meeting with our director and the VFX supervisor and we identified all the VFX shots or shots that would utilize CGI additions or subtractions.
I had an offer for a lead in a short which I don’t typically consider but offered to look at the script and the details which I asked for. I got a script with no details and had to pry any info out. But to be honest when I saw the email with just the script (poorly formatted) and no information – it was a polite pass. I had another call about engaging as a work-for-hire writer. On the other end of the spectrum from the no detail communication mentioned previously- this email came with a great pitch/breakdown. Success will follow the hard work. One person did the bare minimum and the other had spent some real time in organizing and preparing for their endeavor. I will likely enter negotiations this week for a wonderful writing endeavor that I’ll do over the holidays. I’ve had a handful of these opportunities approach me which is what led me to consider representation. In time I may explore the representation aspect but for now I’m happy to handle the details.
I’m going to bring this to a close. I have a few yard tasks to accomplish and I need to get ready for two groups of folks today. The ‘schedule’ meeting this afternoon and later my brother and few amigos will visit. I think the first fire might have to be lit today. I hope each of you have a wonderful day and good week ahead. I’m excited for all the developments happening and also happy to be enjoying the Fall with the family. This shoot will be the only extended leave I took this year. But it will put us into post-production on another beautiful story. This story is built on the real history of Algona and we’re proud to be telling it.
Be good to one another and coffee cheers!
Upcoming First Looks at ‘Best Years Gone’ and ‘For the Love of Catch’ – BATTLE OF THE BANDS – Music Video New!
( Zen like Kwai Chang Caine-I loved Bruce Lee but David Carradine brought something special to the role)
As I sit here sipping the hazelnut coffee I’m listening to the chicken’s egg song. I can say that the egg dishes around here have improved greatly with the use of the home eggs. This is the start of my birthday month and the heat is finally arriving in Michigan. Yesterday the veggies and herbs got planted in the raised planters so we’ll see how that goes. This week was full of calls and business dealings lets look at some of that after I reflect a bit. Last week we talked a bit about a situation whereas someones actions were counter productive to the whole. While this could have been an isolation and remove, at least temporailiy instead I saw it as a learning situation. I talk about development versus cancel and so a productive, insightful conversation took place that clarified some of the expectations and also became a teaching moment for myself. I could have reacted negatively but with a little perspective, patience and listening – I’m happy to say that things are back to flowing along swimmingly with both parties having grown. Last week contained some gems. My point is that you can apply this to any situation in your own lives. Instead of growing drama the situation was used for growth and insight. I’m not a fan of drama unless on the screen. Many use it to gain attention, sympathy and/or to work LOUDLY to try and secure their worth. As I’ve said before and worth saying again, work quietly and effectively – trust me it is noticed by those who run things.
Who wants to talk movies? We have several really good things to report on. Where to start?
LOST HEART fresh off its showing at ICFF (Christian Oscars) and will compete this June 23rd (My Bday) in the Crown Awards for ‘Best Picture’ against 4 other films one that is MBF! The General Market release BIGFOOT, UFOS AND JESUS has started and it can be watched on Amazon Prime (See link below)
All our stories are meant to promote unity but even as this new release rolled out and you people negative judging off a film title. One person was outraged at the inclusion of Jesus WITH Bigfoot and UFOs and apparently we all will burn in hell for the title yet they have not seen the film. In the same thread someone did not WANT to watch it because Jesus name was listed in the title. PEOPLE ARE JUDGMENTAL! Period. Christians talk persecution and judgement yet they too judge and persecute just as good as anyone. I’m sure from the clothes that people once wore to church to whatever the gossip floating around the congregation was, people judge. I just ask people to watch and not judge a book by the cover. That is an old piece of wisdom. But I did have a lot of people reach out in kindness having watched the film. I’m excited to see how the roll out continues but these little observations are fascinating. So many negative, depressed people with filters that put a unhappy spin on everything. Press play. maybe you can change/clean up those filters and receive laughter, joy and ultimately health.
I noted that MBF or MAN’S BEST FRIEND is up for ‘Best Film’ at the ICVM Crown Awards in Texas this month. Covid kept this film from people submitted and now it is being recognized. Actually tribe CDI has two of the five films – good odds. I also had a few fans of the film pass their love along. One such person made note that Paul was an Oscar worthy performance. Oscars are very political and I’m not saying it would not be great to accept one but the response of the fans is better than peer acceptance. If Paul is respected as a good voice – mission accomplished.
BESTSELLER will be prepped for a new campaign with BMG under their General Market label. I’ve enjoyed dealing with Chris Wright on this new release. We will be looking at other projects that might get a new push.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – discussions are gaining strength and my hope is that some of the sponsors we are bringing on board SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA will follow us to the TV series.
Post-Production work on BEST YEARS GONE is racing around the track! A small pit stop has been made to polish up the audio on the first official teaser. Maybe we will look to release it on or just before my birthday on the 23rd of June. Music and sound design is being worked on daily and part of that is the soundtrack. We had a ‘Battle of the Bands‘ and our celebrity judges, producer team, director and composer had their work cut out. With songs from around the country we found the perfect song for our film. The winner’s song will appear on the soundtrack and we’re going to produce a music video with them. Our film’s Director of Photography Travis Hayward will be directing the video. As a child of the MTV generation I’m excited. I have a video of our director announcing the winning video and I think we’ll post that on the FB site tomorrow morning. A great way to kick off the week. Go to the FB site and watch what the judges had to say and you can listen to many of the songs yourself.
(The Christ Slayer – reuniting with this ‘brother from another Perry mother’ in SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA)
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is gaining momentum. We’ve been announcing new cast members and I’ve had some great talks with some amazing talent. We’ve also started to fill the crew spots starting with the recent announcement of Nathaniel Nose (Dir/Editor/FX on ‘The Christ Slayer’ and editor on the upcoming ‘Best Years Gone’) will be joining us as the FX supervisor and editor. We’ll be focusing on camera, G&E department in the coming weeks. We’re also making great inroads with the local people proud to have their local story brought to the world. Here is a great story that just ran –
We are starting to approach sponsors and businesses that want to align with our WW2 Christmas story. We will be announcing some of our loyal past sponsors excited to join us once again. Stay tune and if you wanna help with your company please do reach out.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH our documentary film on the almost forgotten grappling art being resurrected by a handful of martial art greats. Director Curran Jacobs is a two time world champion in the Catch-Can style and he manages to capture the collective passion for Catch in a arena often riddled with competitiveness and division. The process for this has been educational and will give us a template for future docs at CDI. The first official teaser will release on July 4th.
RIP to Ray Nikolaison
I’m not sure if I tackled every project update but we hit on a few main topic ones. There is a flea market down the road I want to visit. Now that I’m looking for WW2 relics/props it has taken on a new level of enjoyment. Today they cancelled the streaming memorial for Ray Nikolaison but we’ll get a link later. Ray was the man behind The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith and was a sales rep early on for FIGURE IN THE FOREST. RIP With that check on mortality go do something with loved ones and be kind to all.
Hazelnut coffee cheers! I want to welcome all our new readers from South Africa, Saudi Arabia and more. I’m surprised every week by the new countries joining us. In Michigan we had a big rain and all the ice and snow left us. A few more days and the mud dried as the ground unfroze and now Spring is upon us. Matter of fact in our state we just jumped ahead an hour. We’ve been cleaning up the yard from falling sticks. I’m prepping some logs to be split into firewood soon. The garden is going to be turned into ‘chicken land’ and we’ll move gardening to raised beds and pots. Blueberries will be added to the berry selection this year but like the rhubarb it will take a season or two for the fruit to come.
So tomorrow I will be getting the first of two vaccine applications. My parents and many of my loved ones have already been vaccinated and now they’re getting to my age group. Also tomorrow will be some banking as we prepare more film disbursements and I plan to open the new film account for our new WW2 drama. Our PR announcement below:
We are getting some amazing actor reads and we’ll be announcing more of the talent joining us. Location scouting will be next along with crew conversations. We did get an affirmative from Jesse Aragon, a great camera artist who brought the great images in The Quest Trilogy, Wild Faith and Lost Heart. We welcome him aboard the next journey. Dennis Therrian will be composing and doing our sound design on this powerful story but first he has BEST YEARS GONE.
BEST YEARS GONE has a new cut that is close to a lock. Our director and editor are working the final nuances. I think we’ll have a producing showing at some point here. From there it is onto music and sound design at the new studio. For those that don’t know our composer lost his house and studio in a fire. The house and studio have been rebuilt and we are about to take the studio on its maiden voyage. Also a trailer will be coming soon!
Additionally we’ve had some great artists submitting songs to the FB page for BEST YEARS GONE in our Battle of the Bands. Please do keep submitting your songs and stop by and take a listen to the ones that have landed.
This week we’ll be announcing another of our celebrity judges. Again the plan is to have the winning band actually perform at the premiere or the music video that will be created for our winner.
LOST HEART and MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND ate both getting a new campaign. Lost Heart is a cool and complex film whereas I had many fans reach out and say that they really enjoyed the film. They had no idea that UFO’s, BigFoot and the Devil’s Crossroads and humor play into the story. We felt that we had to pick a direction with the first campaign and so the drama, music and atonement were our pushed themes. The film is doing great and climbing charts at Tubi and other major outlets but we’re not getting male audiences unless by accident or association. (Watching with a wife or girlfriend) BUT when the men have watched it they have really enjoyed it. So a second campaign will be going after that male demographic that loves mysteries of the unexplained. So that will be an exciting campaign to get the audience that wasn’t going to bite. In the meantime we await to see if the International Christian Film Festival has any nominations for LOST HEART. So many deserving performances and the music…but we will see.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is getting to the end of its holiday run with Easter right around the corner. I truly do love this trilogy as it puts the stories in an easy to follow manner. It also approaches the events from a unique perspective. One such thing is in Forty Nights we examine Jesus when he “vision quests” into the desert where he is working on putting the words of the heart on the tongue. It shows him working some of it out yet people watching cry out, “that is not what he said.” EXACTLY he is shown developing his teaching. CHASING THE STAR some have said, “But the magi aren’t Christian.” BINGO as that did not develop for decades later and people should learn the history of the order of the magi. This films are not regurgitated same old, same old but sheds some light upon these events that connects the dots for many people. Everyone’s experience is different and so watch the three films and let me know your thoughts.
BESTSELLER could be getting a new major release which is an exciting proposal. KNIGHT CHILLS might be getting a special Blu Ray release. Also fans of WICKED SPRING, a new letterbox/HD version is in the works with BMG. We also have some new items making their way to our new merchandise section on the http://www.cdiproductions.com site. You can also watch most of the films w/ ads from Encourage TV also assessable from the CDI site.
Other development is underway including HASTINGS the Wild Faith TV spin off. We might have a few other scripts in development and that will assure the next few years are quite full. I’m going to get on with my day and I’m looking forward to our warmer days including the start soccer season. Last year’s season was cancelled but I hope everything rolls out just fine in 2021. I’m ready to get back out there! Until we chat again next week, be productive and be good to one another.
Good morning my good artist friends from around the globe. I saw many new readers from Peru, Ireland and Cuba just to name a few. I don’t know how it is in your part of the world but here in Michigan (Southern Canada) just kidding – the ice and snow started to melt showing us patches of earth. Spring is in the air and the wood bins are full for the final blasts of cold. Plans are being made for the Spring already with an expansion to the chicken-land enclosure and maybe an outdoor gazebo. Within the office I’ve been doing some tinkering here and there all while jamming to some good tunes. I think that is what led to the idea of the Battle of the Bands. BEST YEARS GONE which is closing in on a final cut will soon move into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. But we’ve used many featured artists on past films. WILD FAITH used Trace Adkins narrating vs singing but we’ve had several artists join us. On LOST HEART we got to hear John Carter Cash and his wife Ana with The Cash Collective and Roanoke featuring our young lead Taylor. Anyway, this was an idea to take a few of my music artists friends higher on the ladder and give them a chance to experience some of the other great artists out there looking to have their voice and stories told. So if you have original songs that you own all the lyric and music rights, submit the song(s) to the wall at – Facebook
In April our Judges will listen to the finalists and give their comments. From there our director will review and a winner will revealed. So submit your songs – rock, rap, country! Good luck!
LOST HEART has still been getting lots of national PR and on streaming sites like TUBI it has been climbing joining WILD FAITH. Critics are what they are but here is another review-
We have some exciting ideas bouncing with our distributor. The film seems to be hitting well with the female audience but isn’t drawing in men as much. BUT when men watch they are actually enjoying be causing of the fun UFO and Bigfoot elements in the story. So we might be designing some artwork that reflects some of that because it is a really fun movie. Like I’ve said, I challenge you to watch it and not laugh somewhere. Cry is a good possibility too. I had some fan mail that thought they were in for something lighter in tone like a Hallmark film but were surprised by the power of the drama.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also on the rise and the distributor thinks it can go even further with a new campaign so I’m looking forward to see new art, trailer and PR push. This film is really making the circle through the military friends and families marching towards 1 million viewers on Encourage TV and playing many more channels.
These three fine stories that I promise you are unique in their genre, are being featured on many sites as a series. Sony/Pureflix is doing a special Easter season push as is many of the outlets and platforms. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. What I love about the first one is that it depicts a time before Jesus started any ministry. When he was still crystallizing his teaching and how to “put the words of the heart on the tongue”. But many people were not happy or content to see a pre-Jesus. The man BEFORE he fully became what others now expect. It’s a unique perspective that some missed. But those who missed are people just looking to ‘devil the details’ and they often miss the lesson altogether. Enjoy the films and let me know what you think and if you see the unique perspective of a man who is a work-in-progress.
DEVELOPMENT & PRE
Several projects are in motion with our doc ‘For the Love of Catch‘ filming the next several weeks. Some VFX post work is being completed on SMOKE & MIRRORS a spooky short that we filmed with the CDI Tribe. HASTINGS continues to advance down the development road. The good news that will be announced this week is that SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is officially moving out of development into pre-production. We have been casting and will have more exciting announcements including the casting of our young female lead. It’s…
We’ll also start discussing crew and put several tasks in motion creatively. I’m beyond excited to have the CDI Tribe do a WW2 drama. I’m thrilled that this was the script Rance Howard and I spoke so many hours on. Being that this is all ‘based on a true event’ makes it even better that this moving story will be told to the entire world.
WRAP UP – If you are a musician with original music drop it on the wall for BEST YEARS GONE or just go listen to some of the great music being added. I want to thank Mr. John Two Hawks joining Dennis Therrian as our second celebrity judge with more to follow. I spoke with John yesterday which was a great catch up. I blame/thank John for my love of NIGHTWISH. John has played with them on a few occasions and I really enjoy their sound. His full bio can be seen on the FB site where the ‘Battle of the Bands’ is being hosted. IF you have a company that wants to align with either our next release BEST YEARS GONE or our new SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA WW2 film. If your product was around in 1944 we plan throw back packaging. And if your company was not well, we can make it look in the style of 1944. We will have many exciting supporters and sponsors to announce now that this is moving forward. I hope you all have a great week. Stay safe and be good to one another.
Good morning. Coffee cheers. Well, today would have been one of the first holiday family get-togethers but alas we are not due to the lock down in Michigan. I have a good amount on my mind this week plus several good film updates on several of the projects.
I’m beyond happy that the stories we tell are being seen by millions and I’m receiving such uplifting fan mail that tells me what we do has a positive purpose. What WE do. That is an important word WE. We’ll address that more soon. The new CDI release is LOST HEART which is truly a ray of light filled with laughter and tenderness gifted to whomever takes a watch. I believe that the lessons inside our stories can be taken to heart for ALL people. From the negativity I’ve seen fly, EVERYONE can use a little story to remind us of the goodness in us all.
Lost Heart has 3 leads in it. Melissa Anschutz, to know her is to respect her dedication and love to the character’s she becomes. This film is a crown gem in her growing list of roles and stories. It is also deeply personal because of losing her husband to cancer and her own personal struggle with the disease, all while putting this movie together. Victoria Jackson who is a true comedic genius and is a tad outspoken in her political lean has drawn some praise and fire. Now add Don Most, who recently was heavily criticized by some and applauded by others for attending a ‘Happy Days‘ fundraiser for Biden. FOX took a PR piece on Lost Heart and really played the political slant almost like a TMZ piece. While it has added thousands of views it has angered some and so the days after the FOX story posted anger responses erupted from a few and the VOTE score on the film 1-10 dropped from mid 8’s to 3-4 over politics.
Political or not, it happens to all the children (movies) and while I wanted this child to be safe from bullies/trolls – people will vent their frustrations before taking accountability or accepting differences. Conservative MAGA or Cancel Culture Liberals – EVERYONE can use a good story with lessons about being good to one another and the value of kindness. I’ve been around long enough to know the drill. Friends, family, peers drive the score UP and the haters arrive and it goes down and fans start to bring the score back up and it will settle into a final score in a few years. Older audiences, myself included are not as savvy with computer reviewing so that is often not reflected. CDI works with respectful artists period from across the spectrum. I personally don’t ride the rollercoaster of hi’s and low’s. I try to live each film as a “drop the mic” moment and enjoy each day.
BEST YEARS GONE – The edit is coming along great with over 40 scenes cut. We’ll have a first edit in a couple weeks and the goal is to lock picture end of Jan. 2021. Let’s talk about that film in light of what we just discussed above.
Our motion picture has been adapted from a self-published book entitle “Hope from Heaven” by author and small-town barber Karl Manke, who by challenging state law during the Covid lock down earned himself the moniker of ‘America’s Barber’ whatever good or bad that name might bring. One man’s personal actions put him in line with the theme or agenda of others and against state law, an outlaw or patriot was born unto the media depending on the opinion piece. But I can say that Karl did not ask for the media circus and was not trying to be a flag bearer for anyone.
(One of several projects I was honored to work on with Dan Haggerty)
Enter our CDI (www.cdiproductions.com) a Michigan-based motion picture company since 1996 that has produced various films over the years and has found a niche of positive, well-told stories that often include a few life lessons woven within. CEO DJ Perry, often the screenwriter these days, gives credit to the early TV shows like The Waltons, The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams and Little House on the Prairie. These were shows strong in character development and story. Often with a treasure of a lesson buried at the heart of the story for the audience to dig up, leaving them with something to ponder beyond the screen.
“We believe that our stories speak to the entire spectrum of audiences – it doesn’t matter where you stand politically, our stories are for everyone.” – DJ Perry
The story seems simple enough, a young woman raising twin teen daughters as a single parent falls in love with a less than perfect man and conflict ensues. Also said, less than perfect man is an ex-race car driver who had a team and a dream with his cousin. This relationship ends due to the poor decisions whereas the thin threads of family are broken. These characters while extreme, are still relatable to most either in shared qualities or as the worst versions of ourselves in some alternate universe.
This political year combined with the Covid situation made filming plans even worse. CDI had originally planned to begin filming in April 2020 on ‘Best Years Gone’ the adapted film name. The well-written book was full of colorful characters and a nice blend of realism and mystery. The book and script both speak to imperfect relationships and the importance of forgiveness to the self. In the public arguments the means by which many communicate shows no desire to really be heard, understood or to find common ground. Most remarks are inflammatory and meant to injure the other party by slandering things they hold dear and sometimes sacred. This story had greater messages that can be applied to anyone.
CDI has a strong reputation for staying on schedule, on budget and creating exceptional quality stories within business guidelines. This quality is by gathering talented artists and uniting them behind a story. UNIFIED BY A STORY! So is the way of the TRIBECDI. What is the tribe you say? The creation of a sacred artist space whereas the art of storytelling can be told unhindered by differences and distractions. A philosophy that demands respect towards one another as artists and only asks for your best efforts to be put forth without any added drama.
CDI has diverse, artistic individuals from all over the spectrum of beliefs and affiliations. In some those beliefs can be polar opposite and in other examples just differing priorities on taxation, spending or any of the various topics debated around dinner tables. The issue is that in a growing culture that becomes more inclined to try and gather to only like-minded groups finding that singular group at the larger level of inclusion is near impossible – you WILL end up working with diverse people and that is a good thing. At CDI we don’t endorse or support any one life path save the path of telling a good story. I think that many could learn from the environment we work to nurture and grow. We continue to refine and grow ourselves and the key is to keep the story in sight. While others flounder due to poor communication we are still able to speak to the audience as a whole. We create great little stories with powerful topics- often softened slightly by humor. The story a gentle reminder not to take life too serious as we only go around once and life is too short a ride to do it mad or with a chip on your shoulder.
Okay now my Top UPDATES
- According to our distributor Wild Faith is still growing an audience with the film ranking in BMG’s Top 5 on most platforms. We had HASTINGS talks and progress is being made.
- I’ve started doing the writer/director polishing passes on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. We are close to a full green light. We just have a few units to still assign in the project. Once we do expect some big PR announcements.
- I’ve been doing some writing on the new updated draft of the SMOKE & MIRRORS featured script. CODE NAME: ASH – I’ve had a wonderful time researching and writing and the short film will be done and released in 2021.
- The Quest Trilogy is being licensed for the season and I’ll notify as I find network and such featuring it. If any of you see it playing let me know.
- MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – If you enjoyed this film the dog who played Brown Boy is named Big Papa and he needs surgery. It is the same kind that a few of our own furry family had to have. If you enjoyed the film and want to help out a great guy Robert Ash, is needing help with the costs so if able think of donating at the link provided. https://www.gofundme.com/f/big-papas-surgery?fbclid=IwAR1g6JR1Kz8lDcM7laYtwgXU_Oz5N4EAAyhDlJQtJxGlhuMnQQWIXFrc7VA
- The doc “For the Love of Catch” will start rolling cameras again start of the new year!
- NEW merchandise is coming so that is quite exciting to me.
SPOILERS SO IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FINAL ‘THE MANDALORIAN” SEASON 2 FINALE STOP READING
(My bro and I are intergalactic bounty hunters in our spare time)
The POWER of storytelling. I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and give much credit to A NEW HOPE for me wanting to be an actor/storyteller. I was and still am a big Han Solo fan. Luke was always somewhat secondary for me. But in this time of hardship, stress and frustration for many Luke Skywalker is just what the world needed. The odds look to be just too much. The battle appears to be a losing one when “one X wing” how is that going to…wait a minute. Was that R2D2? Is that? Glove? Green lightsaber! I like millions had imagined scenes like what we saw unfold in our childhood imaginations. I loved seeing the JOY that overcame so many watching this unfold. I cried and I’m not even sure why. The need to through back to another time. To truly escape back to a Far, Far Away Galaxy. To have Luke Skywalker come and save the day – to save 2020. It again showed me the power that can come from storytelling. Now to bring it all full circle the haters will come for this show also. Maybe Mark Hamill will say something that offends someone or just going against the grain is what some need to do to get noticed. But for me it was collective joy. Seek a Collective Joy in 2021 and by our individual actions lets make 2021 the year we all want. Appreciate people as you get to spend time in 2021 even if they have different priorities versus yourself. Communicate respectfully and as if that person were in the room with you. If you want a better 2021 you need to do your part – actions. We will circle back and talk next Sunday for the last time before 2021. Be good to one another and have a Merry Christmas!
Last Note: These films are made with collective love by diverse artists who share the sincere hope each of our stories will bring you some amount of joy. A person drowning in negative filters will not ever see joy in anything and will actually want to destroy the experience of joy others may experience. But those icy haters should know we don’t EVER give up on you. We create and await that one day that our one story made you crack a smile, laugh aloud or shed a tear. We immerse ourselves in a made-up world and tell a story. All while giving up precious time with families and friends. As artists, we’re called to reach out with a story and try to melt the icy negativity that stretches across the hearts and minds of so many. To give them a chance to find some joy. To feel a story of Collective Joy. Here’s wishing JOY to you.
I’m back in my lazy-boy for a few with my coffee at hand. I’ve been at my second stay with our crew at the Hilton thanks to one of our new CDI sponsors. These kind of deals really help filmmakers create the best environment to create within. The journey of a film is so important to how it comes out. I have to say that once again we’re working with such a great group of artists. Again I’m proud of how everyone is united in following safety practices because together we want to exit 2020 with a high note. The TribeCDI troupe is once again doing what we do best. That is telling a story and BEST YEARS GONE is methodically getting it done. We the Covid about we’ve been limiting any outside visitors and testing weekly. Shooting this time of year can bring cold and flu issues so the added precautions have been helping protect from all these.
Hospitality and Health is our position for craft plus. And by that I mean having a health professional on board to not only safely disperse craft for preventative measures. I even heard of work-out, stretching sessions in the morning although I have not participated. I have my own daily routines but it is a valuable role which has been making a noticeable difference. Meals have been prepared by another sponsor that being Sparrow Hospital. Again we have been working to make this shoot a safe and fun shoot.
Horses, hot rods, roosters, rockstars and more – I’m home to rest with family, do payroll, Covid Test and prepare for the last run. All this is excited but really its so we’ll have something exciting top talk about with you in 2021. We do have something exciting to talk about now!
LOST HEART – So on November 7th we had our first public premiere watch of the Melissa Anschutz, Don Most and Victoria Jackson led film. This film was shot in Michigan and is a wonderful blend of humor, drama and intrigue. I’m waiting on full numbers from ENCOURAGE TV but we know at least 20,000 tuned in to enjoy the story. That is easily the largest premiere we’ve had. Usually it’s theaters numbering 600 at max capacity. This was safer and reacher MANY more people. Melissa, Don and Victoria are off to Nashville today for The Mike Huckabee Show promoting the film.
This movie will play again Nov 21st free on Encourage TV. If you’ve seen the film please post your vote and review on our http://www.imdb.com page for “Lost Heart” – pass it along.
Once we get LOST HEART full launched past the premiere we’ll evaluate the offers to carry it exclusive for a while and I’ll let you all know. Further down the line will be streaming and DVD. It is exciting to see audiences finally get to travel to Lost Heart Michigan. How beautiful does Michigan look in the film? I know. It’s a place of great beauty.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is getting a new campaign to make audiences aware of these biblical adventures produced by CDI. They are meant to be watched in the order of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER (Present, Past and Future) – I know these films are expanding into many more countries. If it is in any of the 80+ countries that are part of our reading circle here please send me a picture. I love watching them in other languages.
WILD FAITH – I had some very nice fan mail this week that thanked CDI for making a film like WF. Both were from African American ladies who watched the film with their daughters. They really related to Grace and Haddie and it gave them conversation after the film. I’m happy to say that the strength behind the TV series is growing. We have multiple interested parties and we’ll look to put the deal in motion once we finish the endeavor at hand. But thank you so much to those that take time to send those messages. I sincerely am so happy that the film is being a bridge of understanding. Love over hate.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – this movie continues to grow an audiences via word of mouth and I hope this Veteran’s Day we can get some kind of watch party going. I’ve had a chance to meet a few of the fans of this movie in person. These men and woman were service folks so that made it all the more special.
I’m having a few issues with the new layout with WordPress. I lost part of my typing here so I’m going to wrap this up. I need to do some unpacking and about to eat some lunch. I want to thank everyone for stopping by.
Be good to one another!
Photo by Graham Turner
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee. I have lots on my mind. Artist or those who follow the dream of being an artist as a career start young. Many fail because the endeavor is hard. Not that many other things aren’t difficult but many just don’t fully “get” the artist mindset. As a young person it can be you against the world with little to lose and everything to gain. That is why many make their run at it by often moving away or by making personal sacrifice in hopes of gaining a foothold.
As you get older that dream may still persist but also life may lead you in other directions. People fall in love, become parents and sometimes they cannot keep up the battle financially. The significant others brought into this circle often battle to understand and be supportive. I’ve said before, when I get an opportunity to do what I love it creates a hardship of sorts for my significant other. Domestic tasks usually handled by two now fall upon the shoulders of one. But living with a frustrated artist can also be a detrimental state.
That is why you always see so many ‘special thanks’ in the end credits of a film. The “others” help a film get made usually by holding down the fort. Everyone has an artistic side to their nature but it’s those of us who are truly driven by it like a compulsion, an addiction to create who take a special someone. Many artists live in isolation of being truly understood. But there exists those who recognize and respect and love these traits in an artist and support them despite the hardships. These people are special and deserve to be recognized.
One of our close producer/actors at CDI just lost their special other. An intelligent and practical man whose art manifested through his cooking. Some cook and some make it an art and this gentlemen made it art. He actually did some craft service duties for us last fall on an upcoming short film. The director loved how positive and helpful he was and I think he finally was really getting it. It can be hard for the significant others to not be in that bubble. To see but not share in that enthusiasm that radiates from artists doing what their heart calls them to do. But on this occasion he was part of it. He felt it. The TRIBE. He enjoyed the experience so much that further talks followed whereas this might become more of a norm but alas it was not meant to be.
Saturday night just before the big lightning and thunder storm he went home, a tragic victim of an aggressive cancer. His last words were “you always think you have more time.” How profound and true these words are and they should be a wake up call to some and a reinforcement to others. These words inspired and haunted me but ultimately encouraged me to cherish the time we have here. To appreciate the people we share our time and lives with. So quit that miserable job and run that charter fishing business if that is what you always wanted to do. Don’t put off writing that book that has been in your head since college. Embrace the now and know time is fleeting. I think I have always tried to follow my passions and use my time wisely. Because one day our own sands of time will trickle down the hourglass and the journey will be done.
Let’s talk my favorite passion – storytelling and my favorite medium film.
BEST YEARS GONE – This story has been in heavy development with casting, costuming and consulting. We are looking at going old school by breaking the shoot up into a few shorter blocks grouping together scenes that require less and more. This is more like filming in the earliest days but will allow us to better control the size of the crew on certain days and damage control should we have any virus issues. I’ve just about got a handle on my character and others have been doing the same. It is now almost time to start getting those puzzle pieces/scenes. I think audiences will love this film again a powerful mixture of serious issues wrapped in humor. Life can be tragic but it can also be funny and sometimes both. This film captures that and we will once again be proud to bring that to audiences worldwide.
WILD FAITH – Worldwide this film has been expanding and is being viewed by millions of people. I think this is a great film again serious and humorous and is proving to be enlightening. I’ve read just some amazing fan mail about this movie. I’m so proud to say that all this attention and appreciation is building our audience to the TV series. We will be working hard over the winter to put the pieces in play. A spring 2021 shoot schedule would be ideal and I think it might all fall together. While it might not be everyones cup of tea (as if anything is) it is loved by many. Thank you to all the fans worldwide.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – I had several people reach out having finally got around to seeing this film. I’m guessing maybe it had something to do with National Dog day. This film is a bit more intense than some of the other CDI fare that has a good dose of humor but the subject matter required it. If you love animals and want to see a powerful drama please do take a watch.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’re prepping this trilogy for the holiday window fast approaching but you can watch at anytime. Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS, Part 2 CHASING THE STAR and Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER – enjoy!
LOST HEART – Our distributor has approved the EPK kit and so PR will start rolling soon. We have several of our stars doing national spots and the planning for our cast and crew screening is full on. Our goal is to have millions tune in for a one-night only event via ENCOURAGE TV. This will be an event with pre-show interviews and well wishes. Following that event the film will move to an exclusive window with one of the many interested networks and finally home video streaming and DVD. I was speaking with Josh “The Ponceman” Perry who is one of our stars yesterday. He absolutely owns the screen but I could say that about so many of the cast. I’m excited to show our artists and after that – the world!
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – Our in association documentary film about the origins of wrestling is underway. If you have an interest in wrestling and want to see how you could get involved feel free to reach out. We are gathering interviews and will make a great entertaining and informative film.
WRAP UP – The film work keeps moving forward. This weekend has been busy as we know have a coop with our “golden girls” getting adjusted. We fired up the new stand up freezer and stocked it with the pig and transferred over the venison. I also bottled the dark “Autumn Ale” and will likely rack the wine in the next week or so. The garden is growing with the fall veggies and even the hops are getting close. So I’ve felt a bit like a farmer as of late but I find it all very relaxing. I will leave us again with that powerful truth that we always think we have more time. So if you have things you want/need to do don’t keep pushing it off. DO IT.
Be good to one another and I’ll see you all in September:)
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee as a gentle rain falls outside. The morning started with bacon and eggs and that can’t be bad. I’ve had a very rewarding week and have been basking in a glow for much of it. Lots of good business unfolded this week but the highlight was a producers watch on the film at the media center on the big screen. It was epic and Michigan looked just incredible. It was the first time all us producers had been together in a good long while. And it was a watch full of laughter, tears and joy.
We’ve had a few ‘outsiders’ to the production circle watch the film and I really believe this film has something for everyone. We will use the next few weeks to set up as many theatrical, drive-in and other such event screenings as possible. I feel as we’re evaluated by several TV networks that someone will take an exclusive window before the streaming and DVD home video rolls out. UpTV, Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC – battle of the network stars. Just joking although we use to love watching that TV special.
If you want it to play in your area you need to reach out to the venue and get the name/contact info for mgt. We will be doing a few premieres and I really want it to play LA deeper into the year. Not sure with the state of things it will happen but we will see. I know we will be playing in the area we filmed in White Hall/New Era and would love to play Muskegeon too. So LOST HEART is about to be on the move and whether you see it on the big screen or your personal big screen we hope to bring you a few smiles.
Onto other film news…
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) will be getting a powerful new trailer showcasing all three of the films. The idea is to really start to promote the three together. When seen out of order or not seeing all three does effect the overall understanding of the story. As the window for these films (Thanksgiving to Easter) starts I’m excited. I love all the fan mail from around the world these movies have brought. These biblical adventures are a good watch at any time.
WILD FAITH – So exciting developments continue – apparently the film was nominated in 2019 for several categories at some Red Letter Awards. Nominated for BEST ACTOR (Shane Hagedorn), BEST ACTRESS (Lauren LaStrada), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Darby Hinton), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Christine Marie), BEST SCREENPLAY – (That DJ Perry guy), BEST DIRECTOR and EDITOR (Jesse Low) and BEST PICTURE. Their announcement went unseen and so…just more people feeling the power of this story.
HASTINGS the TV series is under active development and I have a series of talks and proposals that need to go out. As I told our team with the TV series it is WHEN not IF. Stay tuned and some of your favorite characters may be coming back to tell their on-going story.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – So for the first time since all this virus lock down I went for my dental clean. The receptionist is married to the dentist and they have seen all the films for several years now including his daughter. I got my temp taken and they gushed on how much they LOVED MBF and that it was their new favorite. She admitted that tears were shed watching the movie. I have to say this little exchange made my day because it reminded me that daily our stories are having an impact on people. The receptionist was former military and said usually she is yelling at the screen because of the things they do wrong in military films. She exclaimed that we really did our research because it was spot on. Again I’m so happy the military community respects the performance and the film.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – MBF director Anthony Hornus will be directing this WW2 era drama. We’re still in the development phase but things are coming together nicely. We are still looking for German and/or German speaking actors. Also we will be doing a national casting for the young boy lead in the film this fall.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – This is shaping up to be a great little show piece for the forthcoming development of the feature. Directed and edited by Nathaniel Nose (The Christ Slayer) this 12-15 min piece is another great CDI period piece. Early 1900’s – great location, car, clothes and a cast of quirky characters. I have some post discussions this week. David Gries is the lead in this short and again shows the amazing and talented folks we have the honor of working with. The poster art is also being worked on and we’ll release that once completed. A new CDI page will be coming to http://www.cdiproductions.com (Subscribe to the Tribe)
Victoria Jackson returning to the Tribe in ‘Best Years Gone’
BEST YEARS GONE – Were going to be meeting to identify the VFX shots and such that can be filmed before the main circus. We are still targeting end of Oct pre-prod and Nov shoot. Lots of talks with sponsors and such about this film that will be a great addition to the TribeCDI films. We have more cast and crew to announce and we’ll be doing that starting this week where we’ll meet the ladies from Gal’s & Ghouls:)
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – CDI is helping produce a documentary film about the history of catch-can wrestling. We’ve got a lot of great people appearing in the doc to discuss their passion for this old fighting art finding a new golden age. More meetings before cameras start rolling. With my love of martial arts this is a pure joy project for me.
I could go on about other projects either getting new releases or new development but I think you have a good picture of the situation. CDI is on the move and will just keep doing what we do. Music, Animation and many other exciting things will be happening at CDI in the near future. We keep adding to the tribe and the projects keep growing in number and scope. I saw a few posts this week about and from a MI company having all kinds of issues with one of their “producers” whose job should be to eliminate issues not create them. But once I saw who they were talking about it all made sense. Again just be careful who you create with. It should be a wonderful experience and not marked by drama and nonsense. As I watched all the LOST HEART cast and crew names scroll down the big screen I was deeply moved. From organizing after-school video camera shoots to where I am now is just…amazing. I am so thankful to be on this journey and with such amazing artists. If you like the style of storytelling CDI has gotten known for you will not be disappointed in CDI’s new offering LOST HEART. We’ll see you soon:)
Stay safe and be good to one another! Have an amazing week. Stay on target. Focus. Direct your energy to what you can control, enhance, organize and don’t forget to laugh daily.
It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Good morning everyone. I first want to start my wishing my mother a Happy Birthday! She has always been supportive of the journey I’m on with storytelling via film. She is spending time with her significant other and we’ll have a nice dinner when I return from filming LOST HEART. My brother and wife are overseas on a wonderful vacation to Ireland. Tomorrow is my father’s Birthday and we just had a nice dinner with him. I gifted him a 1 gal beer making set. I do beer and wine 5 gal at a time and often share it with family, friends and film amigos. He can get the experience of what I do but on a small scale. I’m lucky to still have both my parents with me on this life journey. A few close friends have lost their loved ones recently and my thoughts are with them.
My dad to my right and Johnny Demarco on my left
So I’ve been pre-packing all week so that I can travel north for a month producing and performing in LOST HEART, our next CDI film. We’ve been announcing new talent coming on board and still have a few to announce. Here is the amazingly talented singer/actress Taylor Dupuis and I guess I can say the same about Victoria Jackson. Many will remember her from her Saturday Night Live run and the slew of TV/films that followed. They both play wonderful parts in this comedy drama.
Once this is completed I will have a week of rest and to set post in motion before a week-long vacation up in the UP of Michigan. We will be taking the dogs so they can have a few adventures also. My young furry boy Finn has been my shadow, especially during the fireworks. I know he will do well as the little man of the house.
WILD FAITH is now out on all formats digital and DVD. I’m told that in the fall it looks like it will do an exclusive run on one of the Subscription VOD platforms. If you do watch the film and enjoy it please do leave a review at the site be it Amazon, Wal-Mart, BestBuy or wherever you purchased plus on http://www.imdb.com – All this is in hopes that we’ll be doing a sequel script or on-going TV series. Thank you to all of you that have reached out to tell me how much you enjoyed the story. Keep the word of mouth going as I think the film message is needed in this day and age.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Ahead of us in the first season whereas all three films are released and can be seen together. It is meant to be watched as FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’ve noted that some people who watched only part 2 where slightly confused because they had not seen part 1. It is a trilogy whereas the angels and devil create a story thread throughout the three films. Many films do not examine what the events do/did to the angelic folk. They are great adventure stories that can be enjoyed anytime of year. Treat yourself to the watch. I know Amazon has all three but can be found on many platforms.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This powerful film will start rolling out into select theaters with myCinema in August. Home video in the fall. I know we’ve been very focused on the other CDI films but I think this movie might surprise and grab audiences. Wounded military vets and adoption dogs are the main themes. I will say that this role scared me at first. That doesn’t happen very often but when it does that is a good sign. I play a wounded Marine Paul Landings. While I’ve played other soldiers in films, many of them are from past wars like the Civil War. I know this film was made with a lot of help from military vets and I wanted to represent them well. I think I did and I’m so proud of the work all the artists did on this film. We will be planning a premiere in the town where we filmed. It will most likely be in late August or early September when we host the premiere. I should also start to have theater dates from around the country.
NEXT Sunday my blog update will be from up North as we prepare to capture the LOST HEART story. Thank you all for following along and I will be sharing some great pics in the coming weeks. You can follow the LOST HEART facebook page or http://www.cdiproductions.com landing page for LOST HEART.
Have a great week ahead and be good to one another.
I decided to type this the night before since tomorrow will be a day full of family. I’ve had three pork shoulders in a smoker pretty much most of the day. A mustard and applewood rub – it smells wonderful. While preparing for company I’ve enjoyed the slew of biblical films playing on TV in the background. It was a nice surprise to be reminded that we’re participating when I woke to a sent promo clip showcasing “The Christ Slayer” from https://my.upfaithandfamily.com/the-christ-slayer . It was sent by a friend/associate with some kind words.
Today I also noted “The Book of Ruth” was still selling strong at Meijer. Furthermore I was unexpectedly stopped by a fan of the CDI films. It’s nice when you occasionally can meet the good folks watching and supporting your films. “The Christ Slayer” is about to finish up a run in El Paso, Texas. It was great to play a few cities in the great state of Texas. I hope you Texans enjoyed the film and go back to watch part 1 “Forty Nights,” and part 2 “Chasing the Star” on home video. Part 3 is also available on digital and DVD now if the film isn’t playing near you. I know Yuma, AZ is working hard to get a showing there. I’m not sure what Harkins has been so stubborn but we are exploring a few other avenues. So, big screen or small screen (Not so small these days) please do make THE QUEST TRILOGY part of your viewing tradition. I think as more people realize that the three films interconnect that a few questions will be answered. There is a bit of a puzzle/mystery woven into the three films.
“Wild Faith” – Wild West Michigan style
A series of theatrical showings will continue but the home video release will be upon us. Here are some dates concerning the upcoming “Wild Faith” home video release.
Good morning out there everyone. I’ve got the hazelnut coffee fueling me this morning. What a week on all fronts. I went to a memorial yesterday for a high school buddy’s dad. I call it losing training wheels (losing a parent) and it’s happening a little more often now. It was a great reflection on life and again a reminder to us all to enjoy your relationships and to work hard to achieve what’s important to you. The family were surprised and so happy to see myself and another old-school friend.
Just like the many times we all shared laughing and partying around the campfire this gathering also included many toasts. That’s why the hazelnut coffee is my friend this morning. I’ve not had a hangover since New Year’s Day (Thank you Garrett) and this was a mild one, but thankfully it has now passed. I think since the old processor brain is moving slow I’ll just do a random list of updates.
TOP TEN UPDATES FROM LAST WEEK
- We had another digital trading card release last week and a new one will be releasing again this week. I think five from each film. I also know that “Character Cards” and a poster will be coming for the 3rd film in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” – stay tuned.
- WILD FAITH music score will likely be finishing up this week. Our composer had 8 minutes to go when we spoke last week. We’ll be sitting down with our director Jesse Low this week to discuss the finishing of the film. I can’t wait to do a new watch with the music beds set in.
- “Forty Nights” will be playing Texas in Nov. followed by “Chasing the Star” in Dec. – Iowa will also be showing “Chasing the Star” as part of a Christmas program in December. We’ve just been approached by another church wanting to license. I’m happy that these church’s are going through the proper channels for licensing and not just going pirate on showing the films publicly.
- Upcoming film MBF (Man’s Best Friend) brought on more financial commits and we’ve got sponsorships developing nicely. This week we’ll be announcing more cast members. We met last week and we’ve got our target dates set with cameras to roll in March.
- The book deal on WILD MICHIGAN is close to being done. It was based on the original screenplay before it was restructured for budget as Wild Faith. It will allow readers to experience the original story. It was adapted to book format by author Dee Freeman. It will be available for Christmas!
- The KNIGHT CHILLS book is for sale now on Amazon and will be releasing to retailers nationally. David Hayes was the author who adapted the screenplay/film to a book.
- The “Chasing the Star” investors will be getting another ROI check this week. I truly do LOVE writing checks. It keeps the machine moving.
- Development work continues on several other collaborations. A western, a biopic, a few horror films and a biblical drama. I do love working with other artists and bringing projects from the page to the screen.
- The announcement that one of the library films would be getting new distribution with BMG was made last week. The ink is dry and I’m happy to report “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama will be releasing early in 2018. The film has never had a digital release due to the initial release was on VHS. This beautifully shot 35mm film will find a new audience. A great “making of” will be included on the DVD. We are also looking at a special Blu Ray release also. PR on this will be forthcoming.
- I enjoyed several meetings this week at the office with a fire burning in the wood stove. I’m going to be doing many more sit downs in the coming weeks. I have sat down with many filmmakers in a meet-n-greet style and will be looking to do many more. Even if we don’t have immediate business I do like to get to know the minds behind some of these other projects.
In addition to the on-going film work I’ve been harvesting and storing everything from tomatoes to kale (A Melissa Anschutz fav at meetings) to mushrooms. My small patch of ink tip shrooms are nothing compared to the giant puff balls I got Friday at my friend’s place. We will be cooking some of those up tonight. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few updates but please do seek out and find your favorite film page on Facebook and follow the updates there.
Have a great week ahead and enjoy your Sunday.
A beautiful morning it has been to kick off 2017. The sun is shining and the coffee is flowing and we just had a modest meal of bacon and eggs. Last night we rang in the new year with some family. I got to share some samples of white whiskey made by wonderful traditional distillers. Also a touch of Sanctuary Spirits HOP TONIC and a few crafty beers. Shepherd’s Pie made sure to soak up most of the bite from the libations. We just stepped outside into the glorious sunshine that is radiating. The dogs played a bit and we reminded ourselves here in Michigan what the sun looked like. Yesterday I completed some organizing getting ready for the new year. Let’s look at a few of the final developments in our film work.
The ACTOR was represented by Adler Ent. and I’m told they will have some news very soon about where this cool NYC based drama can be seen.
I still do not have any updates on DEAD QUIET – things have been dead quiet about the status of this film:) Maybe 2017 will be the year.
WILD FAITH is in editing and on the social media Facebook site we’ll start releasing some actual STILLS from the movie versus behind-the-scenes. We’ll be closing in on a first cut in the weeks to come. The interest is there in a series so those materials will be developed. I will be looking for more key crew members should this series start to take shape. So AD’s, coordinators and other such keys feel free to start sending me a resume to have on file to firstname.lastname@example.org – also if you’ve worked with any of our other crew members please note that. The feature will be done this summer and start showings this fall.
The QUEST TRILOGY
This amazing set of stories starting with FORTY NIGHTS will be releasing this year with our new partners at BMG. The release for FORTY NIGHTS will be around Easter 2017. Look for new artwork and the film is getting a remastering before the new release.
CHASING THE STAR the second film in the trilogy released a powerful trailer at the end of the year. The film is close to be done as we move into credits, color correction and complete the VFX work. We’ll be doing some event showings leading up to the Sept 2017 general release. I’ve seen this film at various stages and I’m excited for us to share this story.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is the third film and as we speak the business paperwork is being pulled together. We’re going to once again travel to AZ in March to film this final chapter. We’ve settled on our director and we start story meetings on Tuesday. We’ll be doing a PR announcement this coming week once they have their bio materials around. We’re looking for a few crew members to fill in on this film and if you are an actor we’ll be doing a casting call soon. West coast talent is actually better on this film due to limited flight budget. We also might be announcing a few cast members soon since we’ve been casting internally for a year plus. I’m really excited about filming this third piece of the story. It should release around Easter 2018.
We’ll be looking ahead at other projects in development. Change in the new year can come from changing old patterns, especially patterns that have had negative consequences. Last year we had many positive things happening and I can only hope to build off those advances. We have a wonderful team of artists and I’m looking forward to creating with them again in the new year.
Happy New Year to all of you!
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.
Our day of intense heat gave way to the nice cool day we now enjoy. I will get to talking more on biz here soon but I thought I would get some of the other random thoughts out of my head. I also want to Welcome new readers from Poland and Brazil. I love all the international friends that follow the blog. It is a small world after all:)
To me, the imagination is the great first teacher of the acting craft. Many of us were making space ships from couch cushions and pretended to be tracking monsters on our forest walks. All this just carries over naturally. I think we get hindered by sheer magnitude of trying to make it as artists in a world of shells and beads. (Money) After being in an acting class at the Community College years ago I left after about an hour. Much like “drama club” in high school it was not my thing. I was getting together with friends and making short films. I didn’t like the silliness in those classes. I took another stab at an acting class at MSU with a teacher named Joyce Ramsey. You could tell that silliness was NOT what she was about. She was brutally honest and no nonsense. She gave a public shake down of each of us after our day one. Funny, she gave about the same assessment that I’ve been given by at least one movie studio. She said I could play leading man to the featured gas station attendant. But she declared, “you will be a stronger actor when you leave my class.”
I was NOT in the theater program. I was NOT in the cliche of students in the college “drama” circles, but she invested in me. She would catch me if I came out of character. She empowered me with confidence to trust my own choices. I think she really understood how deep my well of imagination ran. I think, I was one of her favorites – at least in that class. She knew movies were my interest not the stage. Even so, she encouraged me to audition for play THE DOLL HOUSE, going up at the college, even if just for the audition challenge. To honor her request, I did and was offered the male lead. With a smile, I turned it down but left with a confidence that I could survive and thrive amongst these stage actors. I’ve thought of her several times over the years with the success I’ve had. She was older when she taught and I was not sure what happened to her. I looked her up a few months ago and became friends on social media. I had intended to reach out and let her know how her words had helped me to climb where I am now. I heard she passed away yesterday at 89 years old. Now she knows all – I hope she has a good rest and I’m sure she helped many like myself. Thank you Joyce.
The strength to look at the harsh trials of our industry and believe I could make it.
FILM BIZ UPDATES
Many of our films are rolling out this month to various ON DEMAND platforms. Joining “40 Nights” on Google Play is now “BESTSELLER” –
SOUNDTRACK coming soon!
NEW “40 NIGHTS”
“40 Nights” has released on VUDU and AMAZON.
We have more teaser clips rolling out to promote the ON DEMAND roll outs.
“Chasing the Star” the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY following “40 Nights” is in post with editing passing the sixty minute mark. We should have a locked picture at month’s end and move into music and sound design.
We have NEW development talks underway with Shane Hagedorn, Jesse Low and BlackJacket Films over scripts.
Additionally I’ve been having a few talks over script sales. I’ve recently had discussions with a director in Hollywood over acting in a film for a week or two this summer. Additionally the garden is in and the yard is looking very zen. I love all the wildlife. I have a busy week ahead and I feel ready to sail forward. We have another soccer match today and I’m looking forward to that.
I hope you all have a great end to your weekend and a productive week ahead.
Hazelnut coffee is fresh and hot and helping me awaken on this sunny yet chilly morning. As I sit here and take a few moments to ponder the past week I’m appreciative of everything going on in career and life. It’s a fine line of balance that is not easy to achieve and is harder yet to maintain. Relationships should always hold stronger than any possessions, the return is much greater. As of late, I’ve had to adjust back to the darker days and chilly climate of Michigan that is so very different than Arizona. It was nice to be back in my own bed with my local family and friends, but it’s exciting being elsewhere- working like mad to capture such great footage. Tomorrow we start the first of three prep days before we resume shooting on “Chasing the Star,” the 2nd film in our QUEST TRILOGY. The hardest part of the shoot with the desert, camels, goats, sheep, donkeys, extras, wind storms and such is now complete. Now we have just solid drama unfolding all shooting inside controlled sets. I’m excited to get these final pieces and put this story together for all of you.
I’ve recently heard word that “Division 19” and “Dead Quiet” are close to done. Also “The Terrorist” should release later this year. These films alone would make me very happy but…we still have “Donors” and “Bestseller” releasing this spring and on April 5th both “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” release nationally.
BUY NOW! AND if you’ve seen either of these films please do leave a review.
Ashes of Eden:
Both can be found on IMDB.com to VOTE and leave a review also
Ashes of Eden/IMDB
In the spirit of the day where people celebrate the sacrifice of the man known as Jesus, I do hope you all enjoy some of these inspirational films. It was an honor, a challenge to try and better understand this unique man. I encourage you to take a watch and experience the stories.
Lastly, I’m excited to film the last days on “Chasing the Star” over the next couple days. We will be working with some talented Michigan folks associated with our director. Most of our keys were already in place but this shoot will allow me to evaluate some others in action. I look at attitude #1 meaning positive problem solving skills, manners and good cooperation with others. With keys it’s about accountability, leadership and strong communication. We’ve got at least two other feature films prepping to shoot in the months ahead so be someone people want to hire. I hope all of you make the most of every opportunity and enjoy the journey.
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)
So literally I just came back from watching STAR WARS The Force Awakens – I will not give any spoilers here, I promise.
I will talk about how at 7 years old I was changed by what I saw on screen with the original STAR WARS. I’ve never had any lack of imagination and that film set a generation soaring. It had that cathartic effect they talk about with the ancient Greek drama plays. It was almost an enlightening of sorts and I was thankful to be part of that. I wanted to be Han Solo when I was seven and Han was likely one of my 1st “roles” played in basements and backyards with couch cushions formed into our own “Falcon” spaceship.
At about the same time we – me and all my friends also got into DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Epic tales, heroics and overcoming trials and tribulations – it all fed into what would push me into my career. I feel blessed to be a storyteller. I spent the back end of this week watching actors speak words I had scripted. It’s always magic to see artists of all ages from many places perform/pretend/be – doing what you also love to do.
Today with STAR WARS, I got to go back and be inspired – to drink at the creative fountain that started me down this path. It was a different experience today – I am also a storyteller. I work with artists who gather footage the same way by overcoming issues and gathering pieces of a cinematic puzzle. That will be edited into a final story. Blending it with sound and music and mixing into a final product that will hopefully move and inspire others.
It is no secret – the QUEST TRILOGY that we’re currently producing is directly stylistically based on Star Wars. That was part of the original pitch – the stories of that time period easily lend themselves to the heroes journey as Joseph Campbell would say. Our 1st in the series “40 Nights” is almost done. It was one of the most challenging roles for me and it wasn’t. Once there in the moment it was easy to be where I needed to be. But the meditations and self discovery of the man was complicated. I’m so proud of everyone involved. We have a large retail order awaiting us and so we were asked to move up our time table on finishing the film.
We’re prepping the ship to shoot the second film “Chasing the Star” which centers on the quest of the magi. I was feeling pressure finishing “40 Nights” and prepping “Chasing the Star” but why exactly? I meditated on that quite a bit as of late. Here is what I learned about myself.
- Every time you declare to make a film you have a chance to fail. I’ve succeeded more times than failed but those occasional failed projects do haunt you.
- The more success you have the more that pressure to not fail haunts you. When you have nothing to lose it is easy to be brash.
- Every film has so many moving parts and seldom do they all happen in perfect sequence.
- Scripts that require a near perfect sequence can be frightening
We require shooting when the desert is not at peak. “40 Nights” had some hot days and the final day hit 100 degrees. I’m trying to shoot earlier to make things easier. But can individuals do what they need to do in a given time? My job is to make sound choices that will result in success. We had a western nearly ready to shoot this fall with 75% of the funds. With winter and the holidays looming we pushed likely to a fall shoot. Now all these things have to fall into place to shoot BEFORE it becomes hell on earth in the Yuma desert. I was concerned about any bumps that result in a push because the desert heat doesn’t care. We need to let go of what we can’t control and work with what is before us. So we’re trying to get us prepped for late Feb/early March 2016. We will see if we can do that. I put so much pressure on myself because of how many artists are helped when we succeed. I don’t like to let people down more especially – our people. But I thought there had to be something even greater. What is that pressure, urgency and such? More meditation. The answer
- Every project pushed, delayed, stumbled is one film less that I’ll produce in my lifetime …and I may mourn that one day. I could have done one more.
I can say that casting on “Chasing the Star” has been full speed ahead. We’ve gotten many, many reels and our director asked for several reads. We’re focusing on our three magi leads right now. Soon we’ll begin working on our supporting cast. We might have found 2 of our 3 main leads. That is exciting for anyone who has been involved with casting. Not finding the right cast has shelved many films. So we’ll see if those attachments become solid in the next couple weeks.
(Russ Clark in “DONORS”)
We had to correct something on “Donors” that caused our distributor to push that release from Feb. to April 2016. For artists waiting on that film to release two months can feel like another two years. Patience is a big thing in this business.
“Ashes of Eden” TV and national release will also be in April 2016.
“Bestseller” and “40 Nights” both seem to be releasing in March 2016.
I’m closing in on a first draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. I almost typed the name – but I think we need to wait. Did I mention PATIENCE:) But I’ve had some exciting talks with cast on that third film. I even released the rough first 36 pages and that gripped the actors. It ties all three together nicely.
I’m also planning to finish the KNIGHT CHILLS 2 script here soon. I’ve just been beyond busy. I had word that things are moving along strong on C.U.J.O. and I’m reading a few possible scripts. (For acting not producing)
It’s bitter cold here in Michigan after some unnatural warmth. Stay warm. Stay safe. Happy Holidays! Go see STAR WARS The Force Awakens and dare to dream!
I’m sitting in a nice silence after returning from a family birthday event that featured MSU TV. Now my father and I both graduated from MSU and so I like the tradition. I’ve always liked that MSU could beat anyone on a given day but most of the time were underdogs. In the recent years they have become the team to beat. I do like how they keep their humble class and whip ass. I’m proud of how they represent. I was sitting outside on the porch of the office watching the night sky. I see some comparisons to filmmaking. I’ve always wanted to wear pride behind our company name. I try to run a fair ship and make dependable, creative content. I know that many that have worked with Collective Development Inc. have felt the teamwork and professional respect we try to extend. Many haphazard production entities can whirlwind a location or town and create an unwelcome environment for future productions.
The other part of my MSU comparison was just the tenacity that the teams are known for. I feel like that attribute, which existed before MSU, but was further honed by a university that exemplifies these traits. I think MSU has been playing up and down to their opposition. U of M has looked good but the Spartan mentality is not like others. Also with those few seconds I noted those who did not go to MSU start to waiver tonight when the chips were down. But those that went to MSU knew not to mourn until the battle is over. To the last second you fight to move forward. Breaking into the film industry is a battle and one that many lose. But for those who stand at the last twilight of a battle and go that last round – sometimes a foe falls. An obstacle is removed. A challenge is overcome. As I sat looking at the night sky I took several deep breaths and embraced that spirit. Along time ago I drew my sword and started my march forward. Other like-minded people asked if they could walk with me. Respect one another. None of that drama that follows so many of these powerfully, creative egos were allowed to walk with us. If you feed on that strife your path is elsewhere. Films are hard enough and should never be made worse by those variables. So a good team of people who don’t QUIT and you never know.
ADVICE: don’t quit.
It’s a really big read into the character of a person. Before trusting any budget upon an artist you have to know you aren’t dealing with a quitter. I know some talented artists that I just can’t hire. They quit on a task – large or small it doesn’t matter. Only the risk changes. If you give up easy – you’ll be working in some field outside filmmaking – just a matter of time. Filmmaking is not for quitters. They are a breed to themselves. They all have some internal, creative calling. Some will engage creativity where they can and try to keep the storytelling beast in a cage. Others will go full tilt. Here is where you must have a good plan of action or you’ll moth to the flame. For some this is just an illustration for a lifetime of frustration and for others it is literal. See you on the other side Smiling Joe.
In summary – good job MSU!
“Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” kicked off our screening arts mixer every 3rd Thursday at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. It was a good look back at our first western with CDI. It was released with Lionsgate and was the #1 western rental for 7 weeks. Top 10 for 17 weeks. More than all that it featured some great talent on both sides of the camera and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever shot a movie. Maggie Valley/Cherokee N.C. – We will announce the November movie on Monday. If you have any requests send me a shout out:)
“Ashes of Eden” is preparing to announce some news about TV broadcast but you can still catch it in select theaters. It played today and will play again tomorrow at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you have not checked out “Ashes of Eden” on the big screen this is a great theater to watch it in. Classic!
“40 Nights” – I’m waiting to hear this week about VFX updates. Also the film INTRO is soon to be underway. More sound design and dialogue clean up has been done. I’m excited for the musical score to begin. I’m ready to share this film with the world audiences.
“Chasing the Star” – the script is in the hands of several actors. The feedback has been wonderful. We’re looking into locations and preparing to film in Feb 2016. We will start hiring in December once the film is up and running. Our “40 Nights” director Jesse Low is attached to director our western in 2016. This has us looking at several possible directors. The second script in our deal with Lightworx is essentially about the quest of three magi.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event Nov 1st in Owosso, MI. I enjoyed this week at a dental cleaning – my dentist was all smiles when he told me he saw one of my films. I asked which. He said that he and his wife saw “Bestseller” at Celebration Cinemas. He said, “you were really intense – we loved it.” I thanked him for taking the time to go see it and promised him not to trash his office Franklin style. He was happy.
I’ve been closing in on finishing two scripts. One being the 3rd in the biblical film series. The other is Knight Chills 2. Two VERY different film scripts to be sure. I enjoy the writing and look forward to finishing those two up. Additionally just doing some budgeting work and we’re finishing up some other sales work. But I’ve also been enjoying the fall. It is getting frosty and I saw my first snow flakes today. Winter is Coming (CUE Game of Thrones music)
I’m sure I missed maybe an update or two but I need to kick my feet up. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.