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

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A very good morning to all of you – hazelnut cheers to our new readers from Australia, Philippines, Ireland and more. I’m sitting and feeling – relief, joy, accomplishment…I’m still trying to capture that feeling. Last night was pretty crazy cool. Weds we went to the NCG and set levels for the film and the pre-showing videos which comprised of “For the Love of Catch” movie trailer and the music video for ‘Off to the Races’ featuring Vertical Bridge. In the past I’ve had some events that I primed up well for- one example that jumps into my mind is David Borowicz and I in Burbank, CA before WILD FAITH played the theater. He said let’s stop here and have ONE beer. It was the home of the 1 yard beers so that really started things off relaxed. I went into the premiere stone sober and first the first trailer started playing without the visual. They restarted it and it played great. The music video started way loud and then they turned it too low and finally brought volume back up. The aspect ratio on the feature was off slightly so bottom credits were being cut off. But they quickly readjusted. Visual, audio, aspect ratio- they had moved us to a larger theaters and the adjustments from Weds were not applied. My limited-tech self was wishing I had that yard sized beer in advance. The audience didn’t notice but we did and the second 8:15 show got the much better adjusted showing and this week the showings should be much more dialed in. But the interest and numbers for the showing resulted in us getting our run extended for the week! The kick off gremlins tried to mess with the showing but instead ended up having an amber ale with us after and they liked the film:)

I also enjoyed talking with Karl Manke the book author. The book is called HOPE FROM HEAVEN. It is an interesting feeling when you write a script and it is turned into a film passing by the director and the actors. It has to be another experience to have your book turned to a screenplay turned into a movie. Either way I think he enjoyed the experience but as a writer I know sometimes in your imagination you have it painted differently. But for me it is always a pleasure seeing the words brought to life. We will know this week if NCG is bringing it to other cities in Michigan. We have a few other chains we are in talks with and our goal is to get it to you. It is planned for roughly a Feb 2022 DVD/streaming release with our distributor. We are going out on the distributors general market main stream label. The film checks many of the boxes for a good inspirational story but the hardcore faith buyers seemingly don’t always like to see too ‘real’ of situations. The ‘Brady Bunch’ level crisis is usually what they like to focus on but that is slowly changing. Audiences loved the characters, the humor, the music (Dennis Therrian) and the edit (Nathaniel Nose) – I am going to sneak into a day show this week. Likely 2:45 show and home by dinner:)

This week we’ll be looking to see what could be done with SMOKE & MIRRORS the short we did off a commercial shoot for an audio software company Izotope. It is a precursor to a feature film we want to film from one of my scripts of the same name. We might do a steampunk happy hour fund raiser for the historic house or something online. We will have a few creative pow wows over this but however you see it will be entertaining.

SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is moving hard. The crew started getting agreements although our prep dates might fall back by a day. The office and AD staff are working on the set schedule which includes what we call a day-of-days that tells us actor start dates, work dates and final date so we can properly book flights and hotels. Transportation in will be a bit harder as all the close airports are small and limited flights. We are driving in with the prep team so we can bring more gear and such with us. The chill in the air this morning whispered “Wait until November.” – DOH! So this week we’re are back at it and with a more singular focus now that several projects have been concluded.

FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – is a feature length documentary produced by CDI in association with the Red, White and Blue Project Inc. a military focused non-profit. We’ll be locking up picture soon and sweetening the sound before we premiere this fine piece of work.

DEVELOPMENT

I’m not going to go on much about development this week but we are always in the state of development. Several possible projects are building and growing closer to a production green light. More doors are opening weekly that we are evaluating and looking to see if they make sense and match with our schedule. So please do make the time to go see BEST YEARTS GONE on the big screen and take a friend or two. If you have seen it take a moment to share your thoughts with a review on IMDB.com

We are going to go hit the flea market down the road and look for a few WW2 era props for the November shoot. We might have to get a few pumpkins and maybe even apple cider. I finished the hop harvest and we’ve still been waiting on some of the veggies late maturing like eggplant and Brussel sprouts. Wood cutting with Viking Thursdays might start soon. The days are still getting warm but morning and nights are getting chilly. Good sleeping weather when the window is open.

I also will tell you that some great merchandise made its first appearance at the premiere and will be for sale soon online. Best Years Gone official handkerchief that people really loved featuring a few of the favorite tag-lines from the film. Also Gil Gilles approved lighters, papers, grinders and beverage cozies one with a built in opener. Fun stuff and the start of many as we start to develop the CDI merchandise line. Some ‘For the Love of Catch’ merchandise might also be on deck. Wicked Spring lunch box? maybe:) We also want to start featuring artists and carry their artwork on consignment. I LOVE seeing other artists succeed through hard work. Many expect things to just happen. I am part of a few social media filmmaker groups and I see so many unrealistic expectations. Also folks who wrote something and just think it will get funded if they just post a few messages. I called. Set meetings. Cold pitches in studio boardrooms. Many meetings where many turned up zero but eventually the right fit. But it never dropped in my lap. Do opportunities drop in my lap now? Yes. But that is after many years of struggle. So I just feel like I’m reaping the rewards of seeds planted long ago. So I’m saying even in this digital age you might have to get off your computer/phone, out of your comfort zone and go after it with a well thought out written out plan of attack. Or you can go back to social media funding where 95% of those endeavors fail to fund and if you want larger budgets that takes trust. So go build that trust and make your dreams happen. It also allows you to be pro-active versus passive which is where many like to dwell. But passive usually doesn’t prosper like pro-active.

Off to refill the coffee cup! Great job MSU! Have a great week and thank you to the full house who attended the premiere kick off last night. It was really nice to meet some of you and we’re all glad as the artists that we could give you an enjoyable night. The sign for me was that my face hurt from smiling and laughing and so I’m gonna take that as a good thing.

DJ


Exciting Developments – ‘Off to the Races’ Music Video – ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ & ‘Best Years Gone’ premieres, ‘Silent Night in Algona’…

I’m sitting here sipping the hazelnut coffee on this peaceful Michigan morning. I want to welcome the new readers from Italy, India, Pakistan and more. It is so nice to have an international circle of artists here. The last few weeks have been extremely productive and busy. This could not be more true of the film endeavors we’re working so hard on. Past, present and future all moving forward together. Outside of the film world we’ve been working in the yard with the chickens and the veggies and herbs. This past week I harvested the hops and we’ve been enjoying eggplant and other veggies. Today I plan on grilling up a few venison steaks after a late morning run to the flea market. I think the best way to try and organize the updates are with a bullet point list.

  1. Oct 12th Nationally this book above will release. I have a story in it about our boy ‘Luke’ who passed a few years ago. I love contributing to these books and if you need a good Christmas gift these books make a fine one to give. Pre-Order here http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/the-dog-who-came-to-christmas/401231
  2. The short film SMOKE & MIRRORS that will condensed from my feature script is now complete. Our producers were reviewing yesterday and it is really good. That ‘steampunk’ era 1900’s setting is so fun to play in. I’ll be looking at at screening to benefit the Dodge Turner house where we filmed. It will premiere and we plan to let you all enjoy it during the Halloween season. We are even cutting a short promo teaser but I’m very happy with our end result. It was directed and edited by Nathaniel Nose who directed ‘The Christ Slayer’ with us.
  3. The music video ‘Off to the Races’ by Vertical Bridge the winner of the BEST YEARS GONE battle of the bands is done. We’re deciding between two logos but the video is badass and we’re talking about releasing it this week to fuel the hype of our upcoming MICHIGAN PREMIERE! I think we’ll release the music video tomorrow and also if you attend the premiere you can see it play on the theatrical screen.
  4. The feature BEST YEARS GONE is complete but the last few days have been working to tweak color correction and remove digital hiccups:) The film will be rendered to a theatrical file (DCP) used by the theaters. It will also get deliver to our distributor so their marketing team can review and they can start playing their home video campaign that will have DVD/streaming release in Feb 2022. The premiere Sept 18th at the NCG theaters in Owosso, MI is next Sat with both a 6pm show that is almost full and the 8:15 show that is filling up. Both will be great to attend with photos and meet and greets plus the afterglow at Romas. We have a lot of details to attend to this week in preparation but next Sat the first audiences will meet the Gilles Boys and the madcap adventure that follows. This was adapted for the screen (by yours truly) from Karl Manke’s book ‘Hope from Heaven’ and so you might want to read the book after you take a watch.
  5. SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA has started assembling crew paperwork which we’ll start dispersing this week. Once our schedule lands in our lap we’ll start doing our cast agreements, travel and such. We’ll be releasing PR on a few more of the German actors plus we’ll be announcing our product partnership with two more major worldwide brands. Those brands being Hormel/Spam and Hersheys, both play into our story. Other sponsors include Smithfield Foods, Lerma Transportation, The Candleberry Company and more in process. It really is great to have these amazing brands working with us. We’re working on a teaser poster along with a hundred other small details. If you want to align your brand with our WW2 Christmas film please do reach out.
  6. This week I also received a script in the mail (I love that vs electronic) for a future film project to see if I want to act in it. I had a few conversations about upcoming scripts/films to write/produce and we had a good chat at week’s end over the WILD FAITH TV series “Hastings” and we’ll see where that goes.
  7. In active development is the new VFX division that we’re working to build so that we can enhance VFX shots in our stories and also use this entity to develop our own animated programming.
  8. FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH our documentary film is now in fine tuning and I think will be the first of a series of films. I had productive talks this past week about another documentary film to shoot next year that will build upon this current one. But ‘For the Love of Catch’ is more than just a documentary film it will be a brand that we can do many things with including hosting, promoting and live streaming a possible event. The possibilities are really exciting. As I said before, if you love college, professional, or any type of wrestling – you will find this doc entertaining and informative. It filled in so many gaps in my casual knowledge of the grappling arts as a martial artist myself. I think this film will become one of the pillars of the grappling and it really pulls the history together so that its not forgotten. It bypasses the typical competitive nature of the different schools and illustrates the common history they all share. And the love expressed by these instructors for their art is apparent in the heartfelt words that are spoken in each and every powerful interview.
  9. I need to circle around and look at the CDI Classic Double Feature with Knight Chills and From Venus. New artwork and maybe an entire new campaign that could include Knight Chills HD streaming. I see it:) Do you own the 1st DVD in the CDI Classic Collection? Heaven’s Neighbors and Figure in the Forest– which one or both might also get the HD treatment with a new campaign. We will see – I need to get a few things off my plate first.
  10. I’ve been having a great time immersing myself in WW2 footage and films. IN HARMS WAY with John Wayne and Kirk Douglas is one I just watched. They had access to so many military vehicles like battleships, but it is John Wayne. My short hair helped me start to see my character in the mirror. The line work has been just awesome. I love the things that are said between the lines. Yesterday was Sept 11th and the tributes brought back many feelings and visions of patriotic unity in grief. I think this script speaks in these ways by looking at the examples of the past and we can apply that to our present. I’m really looking forward to telling this story.

If you are in the Michigan area and want to attend our premiere please do attend one of the two shows and the afterglow at Romas. My schedule keeps me working and recharging more than socializing at film mixers so if you and I haven’t met – feel free to introduce yourself. Leave me with a card or whatnot so I can explore your art. I recall leaving a few past film events with a pile of scripts, headshots and VHS tapes of films and reels. Now a card with a link can do much the same thing. We are exploring additional theatrical play as the distributor preps for home video and foreign sales. So if you are unable to attend the film could play closer to your home or streaming will follow early in 2022. But, if you want to meet some of the cast, crew, band members from “Vertical Bridge” the battle of the band winners – this is the event for you!

(Above is from our Algona scout/prep trip- NOTE the cool car we will be using. One of many classic pre-1944 rides)

Okay. Flea market, lawn mow, venison grill N chill and prepare for a busy Monday! MSU had another great game and I hope our LIONS can do the same! I hope you all had a great weekend and stay safe, be kind and chase down those dreams.

Coffee cheers!

DJ


CDI Prepares For the Next Story-Voyage

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Hello everyone,

I hope the weekend has been good to all of you. I’ve had a busy and productive week both in business and just in getting things done. Where to start? I started the week a touch low because like many families out there I have a sick uncle. He has been more of an inspiration and influence than he knows. His fun wear what he finds comfortable is practically a mantra. His storytelling is simple and engaging and I’ve been thinking of my uncle and cousins at this time. That said, it also reminds us that age not withstanding, that tomorrow is not promised. So boldly we move forward, creating and living.

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Soccer has been fun and getting me into strong running shape. Running 70-80 minutes of stop and go in all directions will do it. I’ve been doing lots of yard work and prepping for the garden that is now planted. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkins and more are in the ground. I’ve also installed a retaining wall around the office porch. I need to put some grass seed down. All the stuff I enjoy doing while making business calls.

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I’ve been organizing acting ands literary materials for future work with this new agency. I had a possible opportunity to write for a TV series but we’re in preproduction on LOST HEART and I don’t want to do any less than my best at either endeavor. Lesson here for people not to try and do too much and do poorly at both things. So first on deck is LOST HEART which I was the screenwriter on. It is a funny and emotional character study with the bizarre and wonderful Northern Michigan as the backdrop.

Low Res Wrap

We announced Lauren LaStrada joining our cast last week and we will announce Cassie Dean this week. She will play a younger version of our lead in some key scenes. Also we’ll be announcing the addition of Don Most from Happy Days fame. He played a strong supporting role in MBF: Man’s Best Friend and will step to a co-starring role in LOST HEART. I’m exciting to have him joining us again.

A Father's Prayer

MBF – The music pass is complete and now mixing is underway. I went into the studio last week and did my final narration. We will be working end credits this week and prepare for a final watch through. I’m excited for audiences to watch this film. If you have a soft spot for our military and/or animals, dogs in particular, MBF might be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy – I’m going to be exploring merchandise in the coming year. I would like to see a few products available as we move into the next holiday season. If you take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER please leave us your thoughts on IMDB.com or amazon.com

Outlaws

WILD FAITH – This month digital rental becomes available on June 24th the day after my Bday! So do me a birthday solid and watch WILD FAITH with your family. I think all ages will really enjoy the film. Oct 17-19 WILD FAITH will play the Happy Trails VA Style festival. I think the film is playing on a Saturday. I will provide more info soon but I know Darby Hinton will be there to talk about the film and the genre. In July the DVD will release at various retailers. My goal is to see it at Cracker Barrel🙂

We have lots of development work on a handful of projects. I was also approached about a few possible acting roles. I will need to read the scripts and see if the characters speak to me. Exciting days ahead but right now I’m most excited about bringing the story of LOST HEART to life. Again we have more companies aligning with our film. Feel free to reach out on how your product or service can participate.

With that I’m going to go do some mulching around the office.

Have a great week.

DJ

 

 


Going Space Cowboy & Other Fine Fall Updates

get-attachment-1.aspxA beautiful fall day to be sure. After a stretch of perfect days that included a day trip to Hartwick Pines – we got to see the logging museum.  Interesting to see how people lived and worked in the 1800’s as lumberjacks in Michigan. Talk about some hard-working individuals. Since that trip we’ve had some rain causing the dogs to want to den inside. I’ve been bouncing between winterizing duties and film work. Sometimes both happening at the same time – thank you bluetooth zen:) Our last harvest of beans and tomatoes was gathered this past week. The eggplant and sweet potatoes are all that remain in the garden – WAIT! I take that back. And hops. I will use them in some winter beer that I plan to make. Speaking of – I bottled up the Tropic Thunder (Banana & Coconut wine) and now have plans to make a batch of Berry/Hard Cider this week.

The cold chill outside makes me want to write…

I’ve also been putting some attention on a few script properties of mine. Some folks are likely not aware that I’ve done quite well with my scriptwriting. I’ve got a good stock of scripts that I’ve written over the years. I’ve written in many genres and really enjoy the overall process of creating. I’ve been paid to turn several books into screenplays and other scripts are originals. Some I’ve seen produced and others have been sold off to third parties.

Which ones do you sell DJ?

Good question. If I don’t see them as an acting vehicle they are often open game to sell. Some require a larger budget and will provide me with a good vehicle later so I’ve kept those on the down low. I’ve recently been letting a few be read here and there and that has led to a few option/buy offers – which at this time, I denied. A couple of my scripts I really know how I want to see them executed on-screen. Those I’ve held back to be worked with later. Anyway, more business is developing from the script side of things and so I’ve decided to finish up a half-dozen or so scripts that I’ve still got in process.

ASHES OF EDEN will play at 2014 East Lansing Film Festival. I was involved in the early days of the ELFF. Earlier this year we were approached at the Capital City Film Festival after we had sold out and asked if we were submitting to ELFF. I’m not a huge festival person but I surely do owe Susan Woods, their festival founder, for such great past networking. A good example is Taylor Nichols (Boiler Room) who we just had act in BESTSELLER. I met him back in 1999 and just last year was my first time working with Taylor. So long short is we accepted and we’re proud to be bringing one of the most exciting local projects back home and to my alumni campus. GO MSU!  We will be making an announcement at the festival concerning the film’s national release. Also we might have a few foreign release announcements. I’m very proud because this film used many artists from our local Lansing area. Your work will be seen internationally.

Other Collective Development Inc. associated projects underway include the thriller BESTSELLER. The film is now having music composed by the talented Dennis Therrian. I’m appreciative of the fan support this film has had already. I can promise a tense nail-biting story.  We’ve already had some great professional comments about the film trailer thus far. Once again, this film will also find a great distribution sprawl thanks to all the artists involved on both sides of the camera.

What’s NEW?

Other big news includes a new CDI Associated project called “Wasteland, Tales From the Desert” that will shoot Part 1 this December. The film is a series of woven stories all set on a harsh alien world. I’ve signed on to co-star/co-produce in the film. With the spotlight on me I’ve been able to showcase several great actors to the director that I’ve worked with on past projects. (Good reason to keep your reels up to date) Pre-production work is well underway. I’m excited to be shooting in the Valley of Fire State Park in AZ. CDI has already been involved in a few films shot in AZ.  I also co-starred in a Las Vegas film a few years back and so that is helping. Bottom line.  I’m excited to go play space cowboy for a few in December.

Lastly, I want to thank my management for the hard work I’ve already seen underway. I’ve got some great business underway for the last quarter of the year. I think the most exciting thing is that despite all the good things that unfolded in 2014…2015 is going to be even better:)

Have a great Saturday and go MSU!

DJ


CREWING, CUTTING and CONGO BONGO

The beautiful full moon has passed us and the days have been a mix of warm and chill as the fall fights to take over from summer. We were stopped in our semi final soccer match but had a great season and what fun and weekly exercise. The garden has allowed us to make some eggplant dishes and wonderful accents to each meal with beans, peppers and tomatoes. The beer making is done and now it ages a touch but I think I may have to have a couple of those this weekend. Next week I will also start my slow packing for my upcoming filming.  I’m co-starring with Melissa Anschutz who was great to work across on “7 Stones” and I look forward to working with some new cast mates as well.

As mentioned above the crewing of “Bestseller” will continue and I look forward to working with these talented artists. It is my favorite time of year to film. The cold and haunting night will bring such a vibe to the film. For fans of this genre you can whet your thirst with the TRIPLE THREAT of films “Deadly Renovations,” “Darkest Night,” and “Locked in a Room”. Two of these films are delivering masters to Germany for play there, in Austria and Switzerland. “Deadly Renovations” is also starting its Scandinavia run so please do check it out. I’m very happy to have a new distribution partner for these territories.

I’ve been working on the final touches for the first (3) TV shows of “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure”.  It really is entertaining and informative for anyone with interest in modeling, photography and/or the making of a reality show. This TV show gives a look on both sides of the camera. These three shows will be used to set up the deal for the entire series. I hope everyone enjoys this unique endeavor and if the right deal is made audiences will get to go immerse themselves in the jungle of Costa Rica at Congo Bongo. (Look it up:)

“ASHES OF EDEN” is really coming to life with some sound design and music. Talks on outside music are moving a tad slower than I would like but welcome to the entertainment business. The trailer has been making its way to the eyes of a few possible distribution partners. The response has been very good but the best part is that our film is very strong. It is not like some where the trailer has the only good couple parts. We didn’t even scratch the surface.

I had some great new distribution talks this week and also some development meetings.  This is all step-by-step work but by working hard you will realize in time how much you have actually put in place. I am supposed to take part in a test shoot in New Mexico on a western. They’ve approached me about playing the lead. I’m excited because it would/could reunite me with an actor from my past that I LOVED working with. Also development on that TV series I agreed to participate in also had meetings this week.

So today will be time spent with the family and pack up North.  We will likely be watching MSU take on the Fighting Irish. I’m enjoying the days in between all this film work and feel blessed in many ways. I hope each of you continue to use your creativity and be good to one another. Have a great weekend and a productive week ahead.

DJ


Cast & Crew and MSU:)

What a great start to the fall with some leaves starting to slowly litter the ground. Tomorrow is the first of our soccer play offs and today we will be talking the dogs swimming again. Last week we did that and it was fun to see Luke (Our youngest furry son) swim for the first time. He did have to learn that you can’t smile and swim at the same time because you drink up water. He learned quickly and it was fun to see him try something new. The garden is continuing to give and it is so nice to have fresh veggies on a daily basis. The eggplants are growing and that will make for a future tasty treat. Let’s get onto some business updates shall we…

It has been an ever-growing stream of resume’s flowing into us for the production of “Bestseller”. This film is really shaping up to be what I believe to be a crown gem of a project. Casting and Crewing is underway and many are people who I’ve worked with our my keys have worked with. Again accountability is the name of the game when it comes to hiring. On a CDI project it is about keeping your drama for your momma unless it is on the screen.

Support departments are about filled and this week will focus on camera, G&E departments. We have our two camera operators filled between our DP and 2nd Camera. Also we are closing in on our final locations and I can say they are all beautiful. Michigan has so much to offer in the way of beauty. So I have been working character development also and I have a creative discussion with our director later in the day. A new website will keep you informed of updates and that is http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com

“Ashes of Eden” released its theatrical trailer and this week I’m excited to show a few of the distributors I work with. I think they will be very pleased and so as we move towards the finish line with this film I’m curious as to the future impact of this story.  I’m very proud of all the artists involved and again I think it will be a real feather in the cap for Michigan.

“Supermodel Showdown” gave a sneak peek to 3 different interested parties and all three were extremely positive. We may have a deal looming behind the completion of the 1st three shows. Seek out SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN THE COSTA RICAN ADVENTURE on Facebook for some advance news on this project.

There are of course many other pieces moving on the chessboard but these are the major movers of the week. I’m still engaged in some studio story development on a project but the CON to all that is the time in development. Studio or Network projects can carry a nice payoff but also take 3-5 years of development whereas it can get shelved at anytime especially if your executives get replaced. But I’m learning quite a bit on their development process and just taking it as a learning process and not letting myself get too far ahead in my thinking.

Well I’m off to watch MSU for a few followed by that walk/swim with the dogs. I need to recharge the batteries for the countless hours this week on the phone, emails, editing suite.

Have a great weekend!

DJ