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

Posts tagged “drama

Secret of the 3 A’s, Virus Effects and More…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ


The DEVELOPMENT path becomes more clear – journey on my friends…updates

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I’m sitting here with my cup of hazelnut coffee as the wind blows wildly outside. The rain started yesterday and carried throughout the night. We watched a few atmospheric spooky films last night including, “I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House,” directed by Oz Perkins, which was a well shot mind-twister. Also yesterday a few of the talent from the “Smoke & Mirrors” short were in studio to record ADR since it is content for an audio demo. I might get back to finishing that feature script once I have a few free moments.

Speaking of writing I’m about to begin work on a script that we will film next year. I was approached by an author who wanted me to turn his new book into a film script and shoot it next year. (Fall most likely) So this week ahead will be getting the business paperwork together on that.

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The storm cometh

Also I had a great project that I had put together with Rance Howard as my consultant. It is a WW2 era project that really has a wonderful message. I was approached at Norby Walter’s ‘Night of 100 Stars‘ Oscar party about writing and producing the project. To make a long story short I wrote many drafts of the script and things were moving slowly forward. I say slowly because new people kept being added into the mix that slowed it all down. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen and many of the cooks had their own agenda about what they wanted to shoot. Many of them tried to knock down and replace the story with their own pet project. These individuals were a bit older and hailed from Hollywood so that had to be the experts right? Not. So one last broken promise and I stepped back and made a string of films over the last several years. All that happened over there when I left was lawsuits against the Hollywood parties to recover “develop” money. We went on to make a string of movies, because we did not get mired in nonsense.

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Fast forward several years later- Wilcox, AZ. As I stood on that stage accepting our 7th award for Wild Faith I thought about the long hard path of that film. Had Shane Hagedorn not wanted to push for that story, it never would have gotten done. I had put it on the shelf to die after failing to get the support I needed and after dealing with a handful of shameful scam artists out of Hollywood. My mind has continued to return to this beautiful story that Rance Howard and I spent hours talking about. This story had also been shelved. My mentor, friend and co-star Rance who was to play the Grandfather role has now passed. I found the courage to pull the story off the shelf and restart a few initial communications. So far it has been met with a positive reaction. It looks like I will do a new draft to trim and reduce budget slightly. This film would go out Fall/Winter 2021 since we would have some unique aspects of this story to put in place. But it looks like CDI will be doing its first WW2 film if things all come together.

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WILD FAITH TV SERIES – The movie is still building momentum and I need to have some key conversations about where the series would live. We have a few great avenues to explore and I’m pretty sure we will make it happen. We need a few strong supporters and we’ll launch this Michigan-based TV series. I’m excited by the amount of talent on both sides of the camera we could use.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’m hearing the first theater announcing that they will be playing this powerful drama in our Veteran’s Day march to theaters, will be our friends at Celebration Cinema in Woodland. That will allow our friends and fans in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Know many of you know I’ve participated in many scary films but some great filmmakers. During this last week of the season look at IN THE WOODS, The 8th Plague, Darkest Night, Locked in a Room, Deadly Renovation, Donors, Bestseller, GPS the Movie even the early CDI films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. I’m sure I missed a few of these films but they run the gauntlet of spooky to those that are more gory. Check the rating and get your security blanket;) The short we just did with Nathaniel Nose might be developed from my larger feature script. I like the old black and white and Hammer films more than the boobs and blood. Now the 15 year old me really enjoyed them but at my age I’ve seen a lot of red-dyed corn syrup in the dead of night in some dirty house, hotel, forest cabin, prison or locked room. I might fit the keeper of the lighthouse better than these days warning those kids to STAY AWAY! He who warns:) I would act in the right horror film again but it has to be be a good script with a capable team. This last Victorian age short got me thinking about a few of the Vampire talks I’ve had over the years. I was always a werewolf fan but again not eager to go through that make up process.  Fangs might be easier:) So the question that has been put to me was – Will you do another horror film? The answer is yes if the story, team and business all add up. By business I mean paid and not just for me. Paid brings better cast and crew on the whole. I will not talk in absolutes because that is a fools talk. There are some exceptions to the rule but few, very few.

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LOST HEART – As far on the other side of horror is our in post feature. This comedy drama is at the hour mark in the rough edit. My the start of Nov we plan to have a 1st cut and I want to lock it up by Jan 1, 2020. Now this film does have some mystery associated with it by way of UFO’s and Bigfoot. This film is going to be touching and humorous and I look forward to bringing it to audiences worldwide.

MISC NOTES: (As I recall them)

  • Equus Film & Arts Fest has a ‘Going to the Dogs’ section and has invited MBF to play there in December in Kentucky. It could include a theatrical tour and another TV license tied in with their military outreach.
  • I’m looking at my schedule about participating in a book reading in Jan. for my stories included in “The Horse of My Dreams” in stores and online now.
  •  In our meetings the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine is getting good response. Made from fruit and hops all gathered on our property.
  • November I’m looking forward to a private screening of NECROLAND by one of my filmmaking peers Mr. Nathan Quinn.
  • A collaboration or two might be in the works – one of these just might be a western.

I’m missing a few things for sure but I smell breakfast and in a few short hours we are going to spend time with the Niece and Nephew and carve pumpkins. I wish my old buddy John Luginsland was with us. The smell plus the stringy insides usually left to a chorus of laughter as he vomited like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, good times.

Have a safe Halloween everyone. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


Production Ramble and Film Updates

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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PRODUCTION THOUGHTS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ

 

 


FINAL Countdown to Location Pre-Production and MORE…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ

 


Happy Easter Updates 2019

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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.

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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.

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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.

Physical DVD – Warehouse has confirmed they just received the DVDs – They will start shipping out pre-orders.  Family Video is also carrying the title.
Digital Purchase – It will go live on 5/6
For digital rent – it will go live on 6/24
MillCreek is repping Wild Faith into Wal-Mart – DVD + Digital will be released on 7/2 into Wal-Mart
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MBF: Man’s Best Friend” – This film is moving its way through dialog and sound design. The post work is closing in on the first hour and once we do a first viewing and a second pass we’ll be onto the music. This film should go to theaters in late Summer with home video in time for Christmas. I think people will enjoy this story.
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My ‘Happy Easter’ picture
LOST HEART” – Speaking of story, this film has got me very excited. It was recently proclaimed by a director friend of mine to possibly be some of my finest writing. I think what it has is great characters and a series of quirky and unique situations. Deep drama wrapped in laughter as we realize life is short. We have some great cast already announced and some exciting additions to announce in the weeks ahead. I’m having a first time call with one of our possible co-stars this week. She is truly a great actress and it would be an honor to story tell with her. Hint: She worked with George Lucas early in her career.
Next week it is back to working hard to lock in the last few pieces of this puzzle. We are in talks on sponsorships and product placement from many fine companies. If you want to discuss a business arrangement feel free to reach out to perrydj@aol.com – it might take me a few days to get to your email but rest assured I will.
Aside from these projects we have a lot of development underway. I’ll go into more of this as things fall into place. I’m going to let things settle here and after a few pages in a book I will likely drift off. Let tomorrow be a day of pause and reflection.
Happy Easter!
DJ

 


Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 


Top Ten Updates from Last Week

Still01Good 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. The “Chasing the Star” investors will be getting another ROI check this week. I truly do LOVE writing checks. It keeps the machine moving.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

DJ


Distribution, Doorways and Development

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The mornings have gotten a slight chill and the days have been warm and mild and thankfully devoid of the damp humidity. We have new readers from China so welcome! It has been an extremely busy week and much of the week I fought against excited energy that bordered on nervous a few times. I meditated on while those feelings tapped away and it was because I felt fear. See when you’re fighting and pushing hard to open doors you’re reacting, feeling and not just thinking. What happens when a door opens? Or when a couple of doors open? Do you have everything you need to step through? Which door do you step through first? Patience is also always a battle. I had a couple of days this week whereas good developments happened that were a result of previous actions. The “watched pot never boils” sort of lesson. Let’s look at some random updates in no particular order.

UPDATES

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Chasing the Star has been selected to play in the Lanett City Film Festival in Lanett, Alabama. We have more screenings, reviews and such as we build towards the Sept 5th national release. The first responses to the film buyers have been strong. Our distributor is crediting the quality of the film, cover art and the true gap in the mythology of the wisemen for our strong response/interest. The distributor has also engaged with Movie Guide for a promotional package that will target 100k+ contact list. 150k social media hits, special site take over and online radio promotion.

Here are a few of the PRE-sale sites

http://www.christiancinema.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=7919

https://www.christianbook.com/chasing-the-star/9781945788239/pd/889043

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Fans of the 1st film in The Quest Trilogy Forty Nights keeps pushing out into the marketplace.

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Updates on Part 3 “The Christ Slayer” – the VFX work and fine tuning the edit is underway. Audiences will get a first peek at the teaser on Aug 7th and I’m very excited for everyone to get a watch.

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WILD FAITH is close to releasing a new BTS sizzle and the poster has been slow but is coming. I met with post supervisor Dennis Therrian on Friday and everything is flowing great. I know we’ll have an enjoyable film. I’m also looking at multiple pitch’s on the series which the working title is ‘Hastings’ after the town.

A lot of development work on M.B.F. short for ‘Man’s Best Friend’ which now has its letter of intent to distribute from BMG. Our business paperwork is being assembled and key crew and cast are being brought on. We’ll be doing some casting especially in the teen department. We’ll be approaching previous investors first and see where we’re at. Location scouting, scheduling and such is moving forward.

Aside from all that I’ve had strong movement forward on our new CDI website, agent talks and I actually did two reads this week for projects. One is a small dramatic piece locally for a non-profit and the other a film that would shoot in Europe next year. So I threw down a quick read and we’ll see what happens. Many of those reads consist of just a good reading and digestion of the story. After I usually do just 1 take of a few lines so they can hear their words and see my face. Once I hit send I don’t put too much thought into them. That is a good thing to refocus your energy. Again be the PULSE not the RAY. Fixation will not make anything happen any faster or at all. Focus on what you can control.

I’m going to wrap it up. The garden has been doing great and giving fresh veggies. We’ve tied two soccer matches back-to-back this second half of the season so we’ll see what today brings. I’ve almost got enough of the mulberries and rhubarb for the next wine endeavor. I’ll make that once I return from my U.P. walk-about next week. For those not from this area – the UP is the upper part of Michigan – rugged and beautiful. I’ll enjoy getting out in some major wilderness and recharging the mind and spirit.

Be good to one another and thank you for sharing part of your day with me.

DJ


WINS Of the Week

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

WILD FAITH

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

THE QUEST TRILOGY

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DJ Perry as Jesus in FORTY NIGHTS

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

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CHASING THE STAR

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

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THE CHRIST SLAYER

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

FUTURE

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

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

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

DJ


Casting, Crewing and Charting the NEW YEAR!

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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.

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as “Agent Michael Stilton” in THE ACTOR (photo credit: Wayfaring Photo)

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.

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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 perrydj@aol.com – 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.

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

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.

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“Chasing the Star”

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.

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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!

DJ

 

 


Riding Out Summer – Getting Ready For Fall!

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My alumni school

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.

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CHANGING CIRCLES

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.

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Digital ON DEMAND

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.

The faith to follow

COMING SOON

“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.

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DEVELOPMENTS

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.

DJ

 


Mentors, Marketing and Making Ready

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:)

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

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.

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The strength to look at the harsh trials of our industry and believe I could make it.

FILM BIZ UPDATES

NEW “BESTSELLER”

Many of our films are rolling out this month to various ON DEMAND platforms. Joining “40 Nights” on Google Play is now “BESTSELLER” –

https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/BestSeller?id=L4iC3L2ILbQ

SOUNDTRACK coming soon!

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NEW “40 NIGHTS”

“40 Nights” has released on VUDU and AMAZON.

http://www.vudu.com/movies/#!content/769068/40-Nights

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GIY2CBQ/ref=atv_feed_catalog?ie=UTF8&redirect=true

We have more teaser clips rolling out to promote the ON DEMAND roll outs.

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“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.

Travis in Action

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.

DJ


Happy Easter 2016- Updates

one with god

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.

Thecell

On set of “The Terrorist”

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.

Screenshot

40 Nights:

http://www.christiancinema.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=6547

40 Nights/IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4473806/combined

 

Ashes of Eden - Poster

Ashes of Eden:

http://www.christiancinema.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=6142

Both can be found on IMDB.com to VOTE and leave a review also

Ashes of Eden/IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2387416/combined

40 Nights

DJ Perry as Jesus in “40 Nights”

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.

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

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.

Happy Easter!

DJ


RESPECT, ORGANIZATION and RESPONSIBILITY

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

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1st teaser poster for “Chasing the Star”

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.

AOKpremierejpg

Outside the Owosso theater before our premiere of “An Ordinary Killer” – NOTE the “yellow brick” my deal making cell phone. I was well known in Hollywood for that construction phone. I was always building.

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.

Rentrak week 1

RENTRAK REPORT of #1 spot for Collective Development Inc’s “Ghost Town”

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.

Release poster

International cast of “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” released in theaters across India in 2009.

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):)

Happy Saturday!

DJ

 

 

 


Star Wars: The Artist Awaken (No Spoilers)

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DJ Perry at waters edge while shooting “40 Nights”

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.

My 3rd BDay

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.

Travis in Action

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.

The Temple Top

What will become of mankind? The Devil & Jesus debate the fate of mankind.

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.

CTS_Poster_v3.2

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

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 Donors

(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.

DSC_0376

ASHES OF EDEN

“Ashes of Eden” TV and national release will also be in April 2016.

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“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!

DJ

 

 

 

 


MSU Lessons, Upcoming Showings and Looking For Talent

MSU

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!

DeanTeasterPoster

“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:)

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set

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

“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!

DJ Perry as Jesus in

DJ Perry as Jesus in “40 Nights”

“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.

The storm cometh

The storm cometh

“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.

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

“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.

DJ



Father’s Day – Future Showings, Castings and Distribution

Hazelnut coffee nourishes me from my morning haze. I had a few people over yesterday to celebrate the fact that on Tuesday June 23rd I will be one year older. I want to throw a  Happy Father’s Day out to all the fathers. My fatherly duties only extend to a pack of lovely animals. As I opened a few nice cards yesterday that spewed nice words on my character I thought of my dad. He taught and continues to teach me things all the time. I see more of him and that makes me smile. He has always been a fair, funny and stern man when required. He didn’t always understand the world of movies or the passion that drove me to follow that path. I think like many parents of artists – they worry and in many cases rightfully so. It’s a hard path where in days past you only got known usually after your death. Maybe this is more applicable to famous painters but it also applies to other artists I’m sure. I’m happy my father is still here to give wisdom, guidance and comfort. I see my parents as the training wheels and I’m happy both of mine are still attached to the bike. I got my father a little love gift that I will give him later but my gift will NOT be his favorite today. My brother and his wife Abby are going in today to have their second child. The Perry clan will add a new little life. We don’t know if it is a boy or girl but we’ll will be happy with either.  So dad is gonna be a grandpa again and that’s a pretty cool Father’s Day present. So the fathers or those that act in a father-like fashion congrats to you upon this day.

As I approach my actually B-day on Tuesday I have so much to be proud of as I reflect back on what has transpired on this journey thus far. It goes all the way back to “PLAYING” with the camcorder in high school and before that making “radio” dramas on tape with dialog and sound FX recorded on a tape player. Recently, I’ve again had the pleasure of watching hundreds enjoy our “PLAY” on the big screen. Let’s look at a few of these movie updates.

ASHES OF EDEN – WOW! What a full journey and starting in Oct it will really travel. We are releasing a clean(er) version of the movie. Our director Shane found himself in a place between SHOW & BIZ. He loves the raw version of his SHOW but the distributors main outlets require a slight adjustment. It is why we do more and more development/distribution work making films that will do well in the marketplace. Early on you can make films basically on spec within a business structure but many mistakes can be made. Does one scene or a handful of words kill a certain retailer and/or TV license? These are things that get looked at now when we are in development. I know Shane came from a hobby-esque film background whereas whatever struck the current fancy was created with little thought to distribution. Once you start partnering with investors (not social donations) you have a responsibility to them. Factoring in all these variables gets your story out to more. If you don’t take these variables under consideration it likely is a situation of showcasing your film to a couple hundred people and moving a few hundred DVD’s to family and friends. The path we’re on can be reflected in a recent sales report I received with over 285,000 DVD’s sold. That is what proper development can bring but sometimes compromise is required. I’m not saying the world won’t accept the thousands of filmmakers who do these films on the side as only art. I’m saying if you want to “PLAY” for a living you must factor the business in at all times. I’m so very proud of this film and I look forward to taking the next step with Shane. A great creative, hard-working mind who was a joy to collaborate with. Check out ASHES OF EDEN once it becomes available wide in October. This week we should see the new poster art surface.

BESTSELLER – This film has had quite the journey. I’ve got an interview that I did recently (Not released yet) – that asked some pointed questions on production and I gave some pointed answers. I’ve flowed with the Q&A at a few screenings about production and went with the spin. The film almost never was due to mismanagement before we came onboard but I’m so proud of all the current artists involved with the RE-shoot. Their work resulted in the fine film we now have. We’re about to announce our next theatrical show date in Lansing with a DVD release party afterwards. We are also working on Kalamazoo and a few in the Detroit area. I would also like to see an Owosso, Michigan screening. So, more showings of BESTSELLER will be forthcoming. We also just got our 1st national distribution offer on the film. We will continue to evaluate these offers.

40 NIGHTS – So this past week our director/editor sat in with our assistant editor, FX supervisor and one of our other producers. This is our second wave of viewers that will give vital feedback. It will be used to create our second pass on the film. From there we will bring the other producers back in to review. We will have a locked picture in July.  Also the 1st teaser trailer of the film is being worked on. I’m excited to show audiences a first look as we’ve had so many reach out about this film. We’ve just opened a new database whereas you can sign up on the 40 Nights website if your church or organizations wishes a showing. This is in response to the requests we have been getting. So check out http://www.40nightsthemovie.com and sign up. I’m excited to also get the licensing of product underway.

Distribution Updates –

CDI Distribution has recently made additional TV deals on three film projects. One is with our non-profit friends at Red, White & Blue who work with military themed film properties. This includes the CDI associated doc “Outside the Wire” and “Standing Post” both are heading to TV. Also “7 Stones” will be playing at this network. Delivery is happening this week and I’m once again proud of all the artists involved.

Also I have been in talks with a new distribution entity via an introduction by our family/faith distributor. We’re looking for the right partner on grittier properties like our thrillers. The 1st round of talks focused on – DONORS, THE TERRORIST and BESTSELLER. The result was they’re interested in all three films. That doesn’t mean they will all land there but they could. But that was my morning yesterday before our little B-day gathering.

The Future-

Script-wise I’ve been doing some good writing. I’ve retooled one of the past CDI script properties and we will look at moving that forward soon. We will likely do some Michigan casting in the weeks ahead. I have to get the new draft of the script polished and over to our distributor. “Knight Chills 2” and another power drama I’m working on are very close to being completed. I also have been preparing to write the next script in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. I have had so much business going on that getting into the writing mindset was difficult for a moment because of that phone call or an immediate “TO DO” that always broke the mindset. But things are falling into a more even flow and the writing is once again going great.

Good Business –

Not to long ago I had a filmmaker in our state try to go behind my back to push his agenda with a contact. Bluntly – I don’t respect this filmmaker. By his own words and actions he is…a joke when it comes to management. His art is careless and his business disorganized. His personal character is… Let’s just say he is his own worst enemy. I normally would not even waste these words on this person but an opportunity to illustrate a good lesson is at hand because of another filmmaker associate out west. He actually asked permission to contact someone and asked if I would mind being used as a reference. This is how business is meant to be done. In the 1st example myself and at least one other person got a call to get the facts on this person. It was odd for this person to reference myself but not come through me. Why? This person knew I wouldn’t endorse him. The nice part of this story is that I wasn’t the only one who reported back with the same feedback. His actions defined him. Your actions will define you. Words lose value when they have no true integrity behind them. Be true-hearted in your words and deeds. The latter person in this story may do some solid business because he practiced good business. This other individual – buyer beware. Don’t buy into the BS that they are selling. Lots of these types are about trying to say what they think you want to hear – but there are also many sincere people. Trust your judgment.

I could go on about this or that but I really need to go get cleaned up. I’m about to become an uncle again today:) After I’ve got a soccer match to play. Our yard needs to also get cleaned up from the gathering yesterday.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

DJ


Premieres, Parties and the Power of Positivity

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

The Power of Positivity

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

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

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

The HUMBLE FIGHTER

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

Onto film updates!

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

BESTSELLER – It is being final mastered!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

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

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

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

40 Nights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DJ


Reflections as New Projects Emerge

It has been a whirlwind of business this morning. Just like on a film set I see the prep work in action. Slowly you start to relax as your tried and true start to do what they do. Movie making was always a thing of passion. I use to spend much of my days thinking on stories often from my reading on mythology and such. I would find myself slowly translating thoughts to ideas on paper. My lists on legal pads still show this ancient method of prepping. A day when card catalogs held the mighty information and Star Wars was the shit. The storytelling BUG started as organized play amongst children. We had heroes. Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Bruce Lee…the A-TEAM.

This organized play use to be that we were going to “play” the bar cantina scene from Star Wars. Everyone brought their own props. Ray gun toys wouldn’t get you shot 35 years ago. I think I ended up playing Greedo vs my hero Han because I could fall best out of the chair. This evolved to radio drama. Scripts. Walt Disney sound FX record. A tape player. We amazing told some stories using acting and sound FX. We further enhanced our ability to do voices by our limitless amount of prank calls. Radio stations loved and/or hated us I’m sure. Dad and the camcorder. To bring the play full circle – to being that kid again. Get a script. Bring props. Got camera. Act. Shoot. Shoot in order, 1 take with sound on set. (Boom box) Yeah boy. I was high-tech. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I knew that things would change. My mind held onto my children love of storytelling. I struggled to find a way to adapt it to the grown-up world. It took some time. I still learn every day. I’m humbled every day by what I don’t know. But I feed my hunger to learn something new every day. My last three weeks have been heavy with business. It was this desire to always give something a solid platform. By that I mean business. I reflected upon the simple days of Monster Theater, The Revolting Vomits and the Hippy Zombies, It is the journey started by sincere, real interest that put me where I am. I’ve met others that have followed this path from an early age.  I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. I just now realize what hard work they put into these films that created my heroes. I’m proud to be part of a revolving cycle.

This film played to my inner child. Sci-Fi in nature with some Road Warrior grit. I had a great time shooting this first segment. Take a look at   WASTELAND updates and 1st teaser trailer

From our friend at Alien Bee

http://alienbee.net/watch-the-first-teaser-trailer-for-wasteland-tales-from-the-desert-part-1/

The poster work is also underway and so we should have some additional updates in the coming weeks.

IMG_0316BADASS COMING OUT OF NYC

I know that Jon Osman and his team have been working hard on finishing THE TERRORIST. It is said to be finishing this week. I’m happy that his storytelling is releasing. Lots of talented folks in the NYC area no questioning that.

BESTSELLER – The work flow continues and we are getting close to announcing our first screening date of BESTSELLER. I can say that it will be a “Media Invite” – followed in a few weeks with the official premiere.

ASHES OF EDEN – I saw 1st draft of the DVD artwork. Looking good. Shane our director will finalize all that. Soon we will get to see what the wider USA thinks of this film. Shane is a storyteller. Beyond that he is a sensible business person. That right there – the combo – will get your career started. We are in development on a few projects. Once we get ASHES OF EDEN out to all of you we can focus more on what’s next.

WICKED SPRING artwork is about done. David Gries was our artists working with myself and the distributor. I also think a special treat for Michigan fans of the film or genre – big screen. We are talking about May showings at the theater. The film only played theaters in NY, LA and VA. I think it plays great on the big screen. The battle footage is pretty descent when a theater is generous with the sound levels. Cannons booming and such is awesome on the big screen. Again DVD and Blu-Ray release June 2nd.

DONORS – PR just announced our July 2nd release of this film. Dr. Savior is ready:)

We have much in the way of distribution and development underway but honestly, it is lunch time. So on this snowy day I’m going to go eat and get back at some more prep work.

WAIT A MINUTE! On What?

We are about to film…

OK. Off to eat.

Have a great Saturday!

DJ


New Distribution, Updates and Observations

In the upcoming "Dead Quiet"

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

Hello everyone! I want to welcome our new readership from Greece. It has been a busy week here in the good old USA. I’m not going to touch the powder keg that is Michael Brown/police relations but I can say I’ve been a smart ass to the police as a teenager. I’ve been roughly questioned and searched BUT I’ve never hit or tried to take a gun away from a law enforcement officer. All actions have consequences some tragic and some with wonderful outcomes. Other high points this week – the new Star Wars trailer. I was an absolute Star Wars fanatic and I’ve said in many interviews that I got into acting largely because I wanted to be Han Solo when I was seven years old. I’m excited to play my 1st role this December in a Sci-Fi western “Wasteland” playing a shady space pirate type. I flatly refuse to accept the three prequels in my mythology of Star Wars. I think they were mostly poorly casted and some of the plot holes were too far for me to jump. A jedi-knight in my mind would have never left a poor women enslaved to a flying worm. Period. But I’m personally a fan off JJ (the new director) and with the old cast back I feel the excitement from when I was a child.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I have great respect for Native American rights and therefore can’t fully attach myself to the traditional meaning of thanksgiving. You don’t accept help from your neighbor and one day decide to take his house. But the Natives have figured out the white man’s greed and casinos are a great revenge. Plus you can see Tom Jones sing:) I do like the idea of family, friends and being thankful – reflecting upon all that is good in our lives. As Americans we do have it better than many who struggle each and every day for basic rights and necessities. We went up North and feasted with family and watched our Michigan Detroit Lions win. Today we are having more family over and yet another feast. We are doing two turkeys and I’ve been smoking one which was started at 4 am this morning. Tomorrow we are getting the Christmas tree so we will be flowing right into the next holiday. I do love having a fresh tree in the house. I also planted a new tree in the yard. My brother gifted me a red wood tree “RED” which we had for several years. That ice storm last year put the kill on poor Red who is now a Harry Potter-like wand hanging in the office fort. My brother bought me a Giant Sequoia. It should survive in Michigan better and so it took the spot where “Red” once was. This week I also tried my hand at venison jerky and from all reports it was a success. I’m going to fire up a beer batch this coming week to share with my amigos.

Movie Biz

This week I address a question to the social media public about social funding. More specific the type that accepts donations in exchange for perks and allows you to keep said funds even if the goal amount is not reached. In doing this the campaign people default in the perks because most are tied to having a finished project. Give A in exchange for B once C is completed. But if C is never completed B cannot be given yet A is kept. By logic it sounds like fraud. Or another way – I’m hosting an event and selling signage sponsorships. I take that money for said promotional signage and never hold the event. I posted asking for failed campaign people (Lots of them around) to give me their thoughts. The post was read by hundreds and not one comment or LIKE. An associate also shared or re-posted this posed question and only one filmmaker liked it. It was a director we’ve worked with and my guess is that he has never engaged in that social funding fraud and so felt comfortable posting. Now this only pertains to these ENTERTAINMENT properties. If you are raising money to offset funeral costs of Uncle Sal’s passing and you raise 1k of the 5k campaign and use it to offset the costs – great! That is a different story. So all I can say is that a lot of guilty filmmakers or weak spine filmmakers afraid to rock the boat because they have friends/associates engaging in this type of campaign. Bottom line is use that energy more wisely and do yourself a favor and learn some business along the way. I’ve said the same thing about enterprising criminals that if they put the same energy into legit business they would be successful. As a joke I am going to create some goofball campaign in the near future to showcase this but I just can’t believe nobody has ever pointed this out. Someone will end up one day with 25 group action in small claims court. I think that is the protection for these people. Who is gonna chase $50 or $100? Instead they brand filmmakers as hucksters and investment opportunities dry up. So next time you have trouble getting something financed maybe blame the never produced social media crowd. Let’s get to some real business.

Movie News

It was announced that “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama is going to get a reboot this spring with the Winters Film Group. We’re targeting a wider audience and I’m excited to get this film out there on PPV, VOD and a new version of DVD and maybe Blu Ray. The hour-long making of when be included amongst the extras.

“Donors” the horror/thriller will also be releasing this 2015 also signed to the Winters Film Group. This creepy film examines the dark seedy underbelly of kidnapping and organ stealing.

“Dead Quiet” is starting to make some noise as they head towards the finish line for a 2015 release.

“The Terrorist” also is wrapping up post-work for a 2015 release.

“Ashes of Eden” is being prepped for its release and should announce a release date by years end. Also some foreign sales are underway.

“Bestseller” is being worked on with the score, sound and visual FX all coming together. This will have a premiere early in 2015 and I’m very excited from what I’ve seen/heard thus far.

Other re-releases are being looked at including a deal that should have several of our CDI films releasing in India. Many know I co-starred in a film “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” that released wide in theaters there in 2009. I’m excited that a bridge to our product is being constructed.

The announcement of the novel being written off the “Knight Chills” script has sparked some interest in the sequel. The prequel to “The 8th Plague” is also in talks with a new director. A few other (for now secret) projects are getting very close to launching. Some major business talks begin again 1st week of December to see if we can lock up a few things before the year ends. I’ve been in talks with my management over a few high-profile projects. I’ve been in talks on a few other new independent projects and so I’m excited to see what projects/stories I end up doing. Well, I need to go refill the water pan in the smoker. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

DJ


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ

 


Filmmaker Advice and Announcements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep clawing your way to the middle!

DJ

 

 


When Work Reflects Your Efforts – Updates

What a week, what a day… where to begin? We had a blitz of media leading up to the Lansing, MI release of “ASHES of EDEN” that kicked off last night. It will keep playing in theaters for another week and starts the Grand Rapids, MI run on Monday. We’ve received new national distribution offers this week to consider and will keep hitting the theatrical cicles. I think Detroit area is next for this film. We also have a nice support of directors DVD, posters and T-Shirts. Our first night was a great kick off and we had a handful of the stars show to do some signings.

I was with my CDI associate/close friend Dean Teaster who tied the knot last night. It was a great dinner and social and I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. I tried a bevy of drinks last night and was reminded of my age with a small ache this morning. I was able to meet up with our “Ashes of Eden” keys and enjoy the exciting stories from the nights first showings. So if you have not had a chance to see the film please do. (Look at the CELEBRATION CINEMA websites)

On deck is our final pick up shots for the dark thriller “Bestseller” and we have all those details just about worked out. It will be fun to return and capture these last few pieces. It will included a little bit of in-water work but at least I won’t be bumping my head on ice:)

An exciting drop that I will give you here first is that “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” will look to launch on Indieflix’s AFTERDARK programming this forthcoming Friday. It is funny with a little sexy mixed into it all. The 1st three shows will be available on there and I think audiences will enjoy this adventure.

We are also about to start shopping “DONORS” which is another thriller starring Niki Saletta best known for “7th Heaven” and also co-stars in our upcoming “The Terrorist”. She does a wonderful job in both films and we are happy to have her artistry.

My parents both had birthdays this past week and we are have a party for my dad today and likely hosting a dinner with my mom first of the week. We’ve been using the smoker and grilling a lot and soon fresh garden veggies will be in abundance. Besides yard work that I need to get done this weekend we are going to put a cleaning on a new purchase. It is an old late 1800’s hutch that Doc Holiday would have been right at home with. It needs a little work but will be a great piece in the office.

My only advice this week for filmmakers or anyone working in art as business – don’t allow yourself to be dragged into peoples drama. Don’t associate with people that will tarnish your good name and work. Let those people isolate themselves and they will burn themselves out. It is funny how when I hear of projects that are disorganized cluster%##@@’s – I’m never surprised to discover that one of those handful of known screw ups is somehow involved. VET people out! If you are going to invest (I didn’t say donate like these social hand out sites) invest – talk to people. I would be happy if anyone were to talk with our past E.P’s because you would hear that we stayed on schedule, budget and handled ourselves professionally. Now, I’m not the only one that runs a tight ship in this area but there are only a few. There are many BS’ers out there trying to tell you what they think you want to hear and others still that will laugh and tell you how disorganized they are as if that is truly funny. No. Funny is when your work reflects your effort.

I need another coffee before going to see how we are going to clean up this old timey hutch.

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll talk with you all next week. If you go see “Ashes of Eden” feel free to send me your comments here.

Be safe.

DJ