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

Posts tagged “Education

REFLECTIONS on a Unique Season – New CDI Updates!

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New readers from Denmark, Thailand and other countries around the world – welcome. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here by my side and I’m sitting down to give you a few updates on this Memorial Weekend. In my home state of Michigan it has been a bit of a challenge most recently with the rain causing multiple dams to break and at least one town needing to evacuate. Also our virus restrictions have eased some and my hope is that we don’t have spikes leading to a tightening down.

The American way of freedom and rights has been put to the test on many fronts. As a capitalistic society we have long put profit ahead of health and safety. Now because of an increase in communication and perhaps compassion? -the health of individuals is carrying weight because those that put wealth above health are being exposed and being held accountable. But for many their immediate livelihood also effects their health so we have a challenge is seeking that balance.

I don’t look down on people with less formal education because while some can recall all kinds of knowledge others have a knack with mechanics, electronics, skilled labor that also is important. What I see is that many just don’t understand virus transmission. Also those seeking proper information are being confused by opposing information made worse when a political agenda is attached. So people get frustrated and just get to a point of F#@%@%#@ IT!

Others need to fill their lives with conspiracy and such and those things have happened down through the ages. But friendly speculation can turn deadly when people take this as truth. I enter every conversation knowing I could be wrong. I try to ’empty my cup’ and learn from every interaction I have. I fear that in America during this election year that we’ll not get any relief until after the new elections. I read of people complaining because stores are trying to accommodate everyone’s concerns. Someone who refuses store rules should be out, my opinion. Just like NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE. People not following directional arrows because they are proving a point should be asked to leave. That business came up with rules that was best for them based on recommendations.

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Now we’re working on our policy and rules for working with CDI on our next film BEST YEARS GONE. We’re financed and ready to roll once we feel we can safely handle production and work within guidelines. Now if someone on the crew did not want to work under these set conditions they would not be hired. I don’t care if you think 5G towers did this and so-and-so says masks do nothing. If the policy is a mask on a hot set – you wear or we don’t hire you. A sickness of any kind can really stumble up a business or project. Those accountable for finishing the project need to make the best decisions and safe is better than sorry, as mom use to say.

We are currently targeting August to film but stand ready to push a month or two if needed. Things are looking better but if people start going total disregard – we could see our situation go backwards. Either way we will move forward with caution. We are soon to announce another cast member who recently worked with the tribe on LOST HEART. We’re happy to have them in the TribeCDI family. Stay tuned for more cast and crew updates and we’ll start announcing some of our sponsorship partners as well.

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LOST HEART – The music and sound design is almost done and mixing will be next. The color correction and VFX are also close to being done. We have a few surprise announcements also but we’ll wait for the ‘ink to dry’ as I like to say. We’ll be exploring how we want to premiere the film in the coming days. I’m really excited for people to enjoy this wonderful story and you will – soon!

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I’ve had wonderful fan mail from folks watching MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WILD FAITH and The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) and so while spending time with your family please enjoy the hard work of our artists.

DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

We’ve been hard at work here at CDI and soon we’ll be launching ‘COLLECTIVE COLLECTABLES‘ our merchandise division. The CDI Music Division and we continue to explore the animation opportunities. If you have skills and a reel from me a line – I want to see what artists are doing.

I’m happy to say we’ve made great strides on the ‘HASTINGS‘ TV series and our WW2 film for 2021 is over half financed. I believe we’ll have all our commitments by the end of summer if not sooner.

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WRAP UP

Be kind to one another as we navigate through these times. Channel your energy into what you can control. Adversity can create great new opportunities. You are forced out of your comfort zone and from that new place great ideas can spring. But the key to success is to be a doer. It is not enough to have a good idea you must vet the idea and if deemed worthy – do it.

Until next week. Zen your space. Be mindful of others. Create don’t hate!

DJ

 


Experience Education, Spirit Excellence Awards…Looking to 2020!

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Welcome back my friends. I hope each and everyone of you had a good Christmas time with family and friends. I’ve had a wonderful week of just eating, drinking, laughing with our family. We had several celebrations and I’ve had a nice time touching base with people. I’ll be spending time with some family and friends this eve which has me missing a really cool event. On Christmas Eve I received notice that I was selected to be recognized for ‘Producer of the Year‘ for the 2nd Annual SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE Media Mingle. Also ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend‘ is being recognized for Feature Film of the Year. I’m beyond grateful for the recognition and I wish I could have attended. I did take the time to film two acceptance speeches and sent those over. I wish I could have been there in person but I need more than a week notice especially during this busy holiday season. But I am humbled and ever so appreciative to SOE and Skeeter Murray for this honor. Speaking of MBF…

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. A film that plays awesome on the big screen.

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One of my 2020 goals is to be a bit more out-going on attending events/film functions. I am going to be in-person Jan 11 at 1:00-3:00 in Grand Rapids at Baker Book House event. I will give address next week but I’ll be reading one of the two stories I have in the book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS. Come out and buy a book and I’ll sign it. I’ve had others ask and yes, bring any other ‘DJ Perry’ swag DVD, poster and I will be happy to sign that also.

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So again I want to thank Skeeter Murray who does a great job highlighting mid-west talent. Congrats to all the recognized artists and I’m truly sorry to miss the ‘media strut‘ – gotta love it! When I saw the awesome awards poster I had to laugh because they chose a pic from our “Wild Bunch” film fest adventure in AZ. Of course I’m the only one on the poster with sunglasses on. It’s my Snoopy “Joe Cool” tribute. (See pic at the TOP)

But seriously, being from the middle of the state I don’t keep up with the social film scenes in Detroit or the Grand Rapids area. This being a Detroit area event means even more to me. We are all Michigan. We’ve pulled a lot of great talent from the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, so I know the talent here.  Happily, I’ve watched the artistic communities grow in Michigan, from the UP of Michigan to the small remote towns around the state, all due to technologic advances. To be given recognition with a Lansing zip code is a great honor. Making it happen in the LA (Lansing Area) was our joke back in the day.

FILM FUTURE

I had an unpopular opinion of the film incentives only from a filmmaker stance. Those giant studio films can drive up rental expectations to the smaller outfits. More Michigan artists opportunities needed to be present vs the import of casts and crews. A film grant fund would be my choice. Qualified companies who have a track record of existing in the state for several years, eliminating the rush of new companies wanting to bite on the fund. Plus make the filmmakers come pitch their projects to a committee vs all this social begging. Help them learn to exist in real business environments vs seeking the short cut or easy path. As we know, those who use short cuts or take the easier path usually rob themselves of their experience education. Don’t shy away from the hard work you will need that grit later in your career. I HAVE SPOKEN. Guess who got Disney Plus for Christmas?

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Did anyone watch all 6 of these films this holiday season? I had a steady stream of beautiful fan mail from many of you over the holidays. I had many contact me over the biblical adventure trilogy to thank us and tell how their family really enjoyed the stories. I had Ben Lily fans reach out and number one question was about the TV series. And of course ‘Paul’ from MBF has a growing fan club out there. I enjoyed hearing from so many veterans and their families. The pleasure and honor is all ours.

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I had one rather amusing communication that a fan of one of my actor/producers was supporting them. She had watched several of the CDI films and she saw I was also into film. She recommended a few films I should watch made in OUR state. One was WILD FAITH and the other MBF, both feature great actors she said. I decided to have some fun and asked her about her favorite scenes. She replied that she loved all the rich characters in ‘Wild Faith’. In MBF she loved ‘Paul,’ especially the “bar scene” and thought the female prosecuting attorney was a real b@%$!. Yes, Melissa Anschutz, did bring it as the prosecutor.

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Overall it was fun to have someone recommend our films and give a few of her favorite scenes. I don’t always get such open and honest feedback. She tickled me when she replied she’ll stop telling her favorite scenes so she did not ruin these two great movies for me:) If I come across that communication again, I will have to let her off the hook. But she did make me smile. So during these winter months, please do take the time to watch our films and share your thoughts with me. I hope we make some of you smile.

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Talking about smiling – LOST HEART – We’re closing in on what will likely be our locked picture cut. We had a good meeting over the work flow to post sound just before the holidays hit. It will be really exciting to see music and sound sweetening begin. I’m extremely happy with the progress of this film. The story is dramatic with humor set within being told by a great group of quirky characters.

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Onward to 2020! 

I talked about development quite a bit last week. Things haven’t changed much on that front. We’re going to have fun evaluating some new projects. My screen writing assignment will continue as I close in on the first 1/3 of the script. So much great work to be done in 2020. I’ve been organizing everything here and prepping for the next wave of stories to be told. This is when you make those goals. Write them down. Look at what you achieved and what fell short. Look again at how you spend your time. Whom you spend your time with. Keep those toxic elements afar. Don’t be distracted by shiny objects. You would be surprised what even one day full of focused work, not scrolling FB, can create. Remember it is the journey not just the destination my friends. Be brave. One foot ahead of the other. As you encounter one another – Be good to one another. I’ll see you all next year!

DJ

 


Thoughts On Casting and December Updates.

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So with the weather change in Michigan from bitter cold to wet and warm, my sinuses were bugging me this morning. I also had to play ref for doggie wrestle-mania. Also with the snow melting I had to do some puppy proofing in the yard. Little Finn is starting to explore, dig, patrol and eat sticks, bark, mud. I had to harvest up the remaining wild grapes because grapes can cause kidney failure. He started some puppy classes and Daphne, our older dog has been teaching him good and bad. Before Luke got sick Daphne and he use to play fight every day. She is a touch out of shape but Finn is making her exercise daily. They are quickly becoming good siblings. Our only regret is that Luke did not get to take on a parenting role with a new little one.

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In between playing referee and doing work we’ve had TCM playing and I’ve enjoyed watching the many classic films. It is funny now how we can watch the credits and so many names are lost to me. I’m a lover of film and I still don’t recognize certain names that I’m sure were common household names at one time. But that is why we seek to make a few classic films that stand the test of time. To create those few roles that people will talk about for decades to come. I feel like I’m just coming into my prime as a storyteller both as an actor and producer. I also feel like my writing is finally being acknowledged and that’s a gift. But all the recent success is built upon many years of hard work.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

I think 2019 is finally the year to do the EARLY YEARS OF COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT which will be part film education. I would like to include the four first CDI films and the BTS and maybe a few retrospective interviews which might go on the social media. But before Michigan had a film boom it was truly a barren landscape with just a few filmmakers making a go at it. But KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS, HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST were our learning years and we paid close attention to the business. I would like to package them up into a definitive collection.

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Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Another area that I want to focus on is merchandise with our films. It’s something that I truly enjoyed throughout my life and I would like to be part of that tradition. I’ve had big ideas but like most filmmakers I’ve always been under financed. That is changing and I would love to put some of those plans in action. So feel free to drop a note here about any ideas for merchandise that you would like to see.

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This week many projects were taken to the next level. In 2019 we’re going to see three CDI films move out strongly into the marketplace. We’re now on the front lines of a new theatrical partnership our distributor has put together. I’m awaiting the home video dates on WILD FAITH that has been delivered to the distributor. Tomorrow the re-mastered theatrical version of WILD FAITH will go to the theatrical partners. I’m in hopes to have a much more detailed announcement next week. We are still putting the final touches on a few deal points. But it will be all worth the wait.

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MBF has had a good showing at the first film markets. The feedback I received was commenting on the professional quality and strength of the story. Our first trailer was put together somewhat in haste due to a sudden demand for a first look after Mipcom. It was decided to spruce up the AFM teaser and release it as a first trailer. I’ve had many people reach out who support our military and/or dogs to comment on the story. This will be a wonderful film with a strong message and we look forward to bringing it to everyone. There is an initial interest in a limited theatrical release – more to be discussed once we get the film further done the line.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – If you’ve watched FORTY NIGHTS and traveled into King Herod’s lands in CHASING THE STAR, the next journey is coming. The Quest Trilogy will be complete with part 3. We’ve been working hard in the studio and the film is now sounding great! The picture is just epic and now the music is matching. Sound design is so much fun adding wind, animals, crowds, creaks, sails, swords and the list goes on. We’re adjusting dialog where it’s needed to create great from good. Post is a serious process that really seperates the professional from the amateur. It takes time to get there and those watching our films would notice a steady progression. Now when we sit in the IMAX watching it on the big screen I’m always taken back to those early days. Keep moving forward.

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LOST HEART is the film that is slated to be on deck for Spring 2019. A funny heart-warming drama that also deals with a few serious topics. Add a large dose of Michigan charm and I think we’ll have another great film. It will again be distributed under our deal with BMG. I’m also looking at Summer and Fall films and I know it will be a productive year ahead. I think we’ve found a few of our actors and some are returning favorites. We’ll be posting on this film as we enter the new year.

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I’m going to also use the winter to finish a few of my other scripts including my Sci-Fi script. I’ve had a few people talk to me about commercial and non-commercial projects in the new year. Again if your script is good. You’re financed and compensating your talent, and you think I fit something, run it by me. I know, I’ve offended a few people with passes on projects in the past, but it was done politely.  We are defined by what we say NO too. When I say YES, I put my all into it. I’ve got a few projects that I put a lot of myself into and they never got finished. A couple were well compensated projects but still the art is buried. So I look for quality and people who can finish.

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Speaking on this. I recently saw a project that looked interesting but before someone rearranges their day or even does a read, especially as a co-star or major role, I think signing a non-disclosure to read a script is in order.  If I have not worked with the group before, I do ask that the project be funded. Because reading, really reading can take 1-2 hours and if that time is spent, it should be worth it. There are exceptions, but I’m talking cold auditions for unknown parties. The response of “compensation is pending role and will be discussed if role offered” or “script provided only if cast”…whoa! What if the talent dislikes the script. Hours driving, memorizing, reading only to drop out after a read because of a poor script/blueprint. I don’t like my time wasted or to waste other’s time but will often do a quick “sketch” off sides if the story interests me. If they like the sketch the next step is to read the entire script if the film is funded. Nothing like those inexperienced filmmakers trying to raise 3.2 mil to do their first film. That’s like me and a few buddies building a spaceship out of lumber and junk to fly to Mars. Not likely. So, I’m going to remain open to working with some new folks but if you approach please do have your ducks in a row. I’m happy to see that happening with some of the Michigan groups. I’m beyond happy to see the success both in business and storytelling.

And with that…I’m going to make some lunch and do a few things around the house ands get ready for another great week. It has been a great mix of business and catching up with family and friends. I hope you also enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

DJ


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

HOT TOPICS – INSIGHTS

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

JUDGEMENT

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

THE CLOAK THAT COVERS THE SPARK

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

SYMBOLS – GOOD, BAD & UGLY

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

FINALLY…MOVIE UPDATES

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

TV DEALS

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

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

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

CDI Associated production releases Oct 13, 2015

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

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

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

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

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Jesus is the upcoming “40 Nights”

UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS & CASTING 

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

CASTING

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

SCRIPTS

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

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

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

ACTING PROJECTS

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

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

DJ


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

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

BESTSELLER

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

ASHES OF EDEN

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

40 NIGHTS

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

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

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

Education?

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

Maybe Government could be the answer?

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

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

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

New Growth

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

Advice

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

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

Interconnected

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

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

Peer Accountability

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

Investors

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

Respect earns Respect

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

How can we improve this?

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

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

EXAMPLE:

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

More Advice

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

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

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

CDI

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

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

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

The Secret

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

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

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

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

Wrap Up

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

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

Have a great weekend!

DJ