Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
Don Most on set of ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend’
I’m sitting in my lazy boy sipping the hazelnut coffee. It has been nice to sleep in my own bed and be cozy with my family. We have recently enjoyed a wonderful CDI shoot in Corunna/Owosso area and enjoyed great home away from home service at Quality Inn in Durand, Michigan. We got to enjoy many of the fine eateries in the area and filmed at many of the landmarks in the area. Many know that our most recent film was MBF: Man’s Best Friend that had themes of military wounded and shelter dogs. I encourage anyone looking for a good family addition to visit our friends at the Shaiwassee Humane Society. I got to work with the amazing staff and with many of the animals there awaiting you. We had a great visit from Animal Planet and we’ll be the focus of one of the new shows “Amanda to the Rescue” this fall. We had ‘Duncan‘ the two-legged boxer join our cast and what an inspiration. The VFW provided a fish fry that made this non-fried food eater give in just this once.
Duncan on set with actor Greg Mason
As for the art itself – I was so proud to share the screen with so many incredible actors and to work alongside such a great dedicated crew. (See IMDB.com) In all my years of producing I can honestly say this crew was just on point. I look forward to working with them again. I went to places with this wounded warrior character Paul Landings that I’ve not been on camera. These externally and internally wounded soldiers who live daily with this heaviness pushed me to complete truth. As the role ended I almost felt guilty because for many there is no WRAP on their role. They will still wake up to disfigurement or mental anguish and issues. It is why suicide rates are so high because how long can they carry the heaviness? Now dogs have proven to help carry some of this heaviness and to bring joy back into their lives. Emotionally I gave everything I had and I feel good about that.
Also when I was coming into our business – I did not want to do 1) Soap Opera or 2) Action films to start with. Both in my mind limited how audiences would look at you. I have a long history of martial arts study and practice but mainly use it for health and to allow me to do many of my own stunts. In this film I showcase a bit of my training and that was truly enjoyable. It actually felt very natural and I was happy that the crew seemed to really enjoy what we captured. Most of my fight scenes in the past consisted of deconstructing so as to not appear trained. I want to thank my fellow actors who performed with me and John Lennox who helped me coordinate the scene. I hope audiences enjoy it.
Robert Bradley our dog coordinator and Big Poppa aka Brown Boy in MBF
We do have one more pick up day for the film. It is flashback footage and will show war footage and Paul before being wounded. That will be the icing on the cake. We will be releasing this film again with BMG targeting early next year.
Speaking of BMG we’re in the final stages of putting together something exciting for WILD FAITH. We’re looking at a few more summer theatrical runs before a fall home video release. We also might be playing a west coast festival after being approached. We will know more about that in the coming weeks.
BMG is also the distributor of our biblical adventure films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR (2016/2017 ‘Most Inspirational’ at ICFF) are in the marketplace – Amazon Prime and many other specialty sites selling DVD and streaming. Here is one of the many new platforms –
Read about CHASING THE STAR
This Christmas part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER will be rounding out the trilogy with a theatrical followed by an Easter 2019 home video release. The theatrical trailer will release in the coming weeks. Music moves into high gear with the feature starting this week with our composer Dennis Therrian.
So this week will include getting all the paperwork straight on MBF and catching up on yard work. I’m back to playing soccer today. It killed me to take a few weeks off but as the lead role in a film, an injury would have risked just too much. But today we’re back at it and I’m ready to roll. I hope you all have a great weekend. For those following along with our boy Luke, he’s going to have his third radiation treatment tomorrow on his sinus tumor. He is doing pretty good but of course I wish I could do more. He is still doing three walks a day, eating and drinking well just a tad slower.
Have a great Sunday!
I see that several new readers have joined us from India. Namaste my friends. A handful of years ago I co-starred in a great spooky thriller in India entitled “Karma: Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” – what fun. It played in theaters but did not make it here. When we get the streaming part of CDI up I want to try to get that film on our platform. It stars Carl Weyant that others will see this Christmas in our third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”. Speaking on this film, I’ve seen the first music draft of the trailer and now color corrections and final tweaks are underway. It is exciting to have this film preparing to meet the world around Christmas with a large targeted release next Easter. We also just had a bday for my co-star Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry! (Fist Bump)
GREEN LIGHT. I’m also proud to announce all funds are committed and MBF (Man’s Best Friend) was announced in Official Pre-Production. It will film in May/June in Michigan with an amazing team gathered around Anthony Hornus as director. I’m playing a title role in this film and I’m EXCITED about being able to watch the performances. We have a tech scout this coming week and I’ll be reaching out to possible crew.
In a matter of days the music video I participated in entitled ‘My Ghost’ by musician Trey Connor will release around the 14th. I am trying to see if I can arrange it to play before “Wild Faith” on one of these special screenings. I’m very happy with their work and the story put forth in those few minutes is really powerful.
Let’s talk about “Wild Faith” for a moment. I always knew if this film could ever be made it would be powerful. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns all those years ago. I feel bad for the dishonest folks in CA who almost killed this project. I’m so very happy that the power of the story would not die. It’s a different movie from the original screenplay which you can read via the novelization. In many ways things in the story changed but the heart of the story survived the transplant. Budget is the #1 reason why we had to go from page one through the script. Names were also changed to fit the new players of our story. I’m so proud that the story made it into existence. The response is more than I could have asked for. Sold out shows. Listening to people laugh and cry in the theater has been touching. I love that people are now understanding it is a FAMILY movie. A history class full of middle school children set up a special screening at Celebration Cinemas. How amazing is that.
If you want the film in your area you need to 1) Contact your local theater and request “Wild Faith” and 2) Get an email/name of the manager of that theater. 3) Get us that contact info. The film is now moving to Novi, Michigan near Detroit thanks to our friends at Emagine Theaters. It starts playing on April 6-12th and if that first weekend is good we’ll likely get another week added. We’re in talks to try to bring it to Hastings area where we shot. Also we’re in talks with theaters in West Virginia and South and North Carolina. I can see Texas and maybe GA in our future. We’ll bring the film wherever the demand is and the business makes sense. I do know that it will be traveling to Florida to play for audiences at the Christian International Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for several awards and many of our nominees will be present.
One of the main films “Wild Faith” is up against is part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – “Chasing the Star” which also has Dennis Therrian up for Best Score, myself for Best Screenplay and the overall ‘Most Inspirational’ which “Forty Nights” took last year. If you have not seen these two films both can be found on Amazon Prime, Christian Cinema and many other platforms. With this being Easter weekend both these films are a wonderful watch. “Chasing the Star” is more adventure and can be watched at anytime. There was no snow, jingles bells or Christmas carols. I know “Forty Nights” is playing Parables TV tonight I believe at 8:30pm not sure if that is EST or what so check your listing.
“Wicked Spring” is a beautiful Civil War era drama that our team produced many years ago. It can now be watched on Amazon Prime or the DVD has a great 44 min making of for those aspiring filmmakers. Joining this classic is “Ashes of Eden” which is now also on Amazon Prime. I really do appreciate all the fans that are now enjoying our past library.
I could go on about development and such but I will leave that to next week. I’m just going to again talk about collective compromise. Every great endeavor is usually the result of mixed collaboration. Led Zeppelin 12 years of compromise and collaboration. Individually or paired Page and Plant are still not the same as Zeppelin. I think too many people want/need to win so absolutely that it comes at the expense of the whole. Same side of the table negotiation. Whereas both parties walk away with some degree of satisfaction. These same ideas can be applied in all areas of life personal and professional.
Poor communication usually leaves both parties unable/unwilling to look for that common ground. Good communication starts with respectful communication EVEN if the opinions differ. Most people fail right out the gate with condescending communication which just says that they never entered with an attempt to collaborate. Many want to be heard but don’t care if they’re understood. That is failure. When I see people shouting at one another or vicious text communications – I just see venting. Good maybe for the person unable to cope but it does little to advance any understanding.
So now I try to see with compassion that people are so under their own self-inflicted negative rage. High blood pressure, anxiety attacks – people build their own prisons emotionally. So to bring this full circle – take yourself out of crisis-mode. Empty your cup of opinions and learn the art of good communication. Learn to collaborate with others and you’ll see amazing things happen. Life is too short to be angry all the time and for many this is just a phase in their lives. Whomever you are – be that someone in your actions and words that inspires others to be like you. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Try treating and speaking to others in the respectful manner you would like to be addressed. Before letting that “Conservative POS” or “Snowflake” comment fly from your irrational angered mouth or key board – STOP. Take a deep breath and be open to communicate, collaborate and yes, compromise.
Be good to one another. Happy Easter.
So it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.
Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz
It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.
But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.
I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance. I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.
SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA (LANSING)
10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05
In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…
The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.
Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.
“Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.
I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion. Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.
Be good to one another.