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

Posts tagged “ego

Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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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.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

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.

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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.

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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-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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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!

DJ

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Home is Michigan

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Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?

I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.

Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that  are…

  1. Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
  2. Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
  3. Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through.  This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude.  Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
  4. Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things.  Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.

OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community.  I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.

Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home.  Home is Michigan.

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Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature

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We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.

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If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.

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Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.

Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films

https://www.ranker.com/…/all-civil-w…/all-genre-movies-lists

We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on

Wicked Spring Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/

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Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…

THE QUEST TRILOGY 

Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.

SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.

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ACTING

Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted  collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.

MBF: facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow.  Coffee cup is low.

Be good to one another!

DJ

 

 

 


Destroying the Identity/Self and Film Updates

I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.

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So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall.  I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.

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WILD FAITH

After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.

THE QUEST TRILOGY

VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.

BMG Master

CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.

MBF

The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.

I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Movin’, Groovin’ and Getting Stuff Done

John the Baptist and Jesus

John the Baptist and Jesus

This is coming the morning after my usual Saturday postings. The delay started with the MSU game here and continued with a few friends watching TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – cool Halloween flick. So, you’re getting a first thing Sunday morning update. Another thing to note is the large audience I have here for my blog – Australia topped the list of readers this week. I will have to make extra efforts to get more film product there. It would be great to go film over there at some point

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature

One of the locations for the upcoming CDI feature “40 Nights”

By the end of this week I was tired of calls, meetings, emails, proposals and breakdowns. Besides the post work we’re getting ready to launch into CHASING THE STAR our second biblical era film. We’ve been interviewing directors and looking at reels from west coast talent. You want to find that person who has that right blend of experience and passion. Not just a willingness to try but succeed and improve upon our last endeavor. That is always the overall goal to streamline and make the process flow while learning as we go.

I don’t have any deep insights this week. This past week like all weeks are always full of disappointments and also exciting possibility. The disappointment is often in the actions of people. The exciting possibilities also come from the actions of people.

POSITIVE COMMUNICATION! Choose positive approaches to problems and always treat people with respect. Do you know what you get in return? Respect. Such a basic thing but I see people put their own foot in their mouth time after time. They often think they are being passive-aggressive clever but really they paint a sad picture of their personal security and identity. I’ve had people that I’ve watched – speak aloof with little to nothing to truly back it up. Those situations will often bring those individuals face-to-face with future hard realities.  That reality is that it takes a team and if respect is lacking – like in sports – they will trade you. You cannot thrive in team environments without respect. I’ve experienced so many people with a wide range of ego. I’ve seen some people evolve into very successful careers while others go one and done on feature films. The universe has away of self balancing itself and things will fall as they should. Be positive. Be kind. Respect others. Your chance at success will be greatly increased.

Movie updates

40 NIGHTS – We’re chugging down the line. This week we will be promoting the page on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website that allows you to sign up for your organizations interest in a theatrical showing. We will be announcing another company partnering with us from Michigan on this project so stay tuned.

Bestseller Premiere Poster

BESTSELLER – Looking forward to the Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I think the film will also be playing in Grayling, MI this year. We’re still trying to set a few Detroit area dates.

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set

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

ASHES OF EDEN – We just had two showings in Grand Ledge, MI at the Sun Theater and I hope this week we can announce some good news about TV play.

Dan Haggerty in

Dan Haggerty in “An Ordinary Killer”

AN ORDINARY KILLER is the film up next for our Sanctuary Spirits mixer Nov 19th with our friends at Red, White and Blue. This based on a true story of amazing detective work that led to the capture of a serial killer at 28 years. Please join us if you are able.

Sir Kallio stalks in

Sir Kallio stalks in “Knight Chills”

KNIGHT CHILLS our 1st CDI venture is getting a re-release with the new book that will be available both electronically and hard cover. We’re also still in active development on the sequel film.

C.U.J.O

This has been just a hard grinding week that gave us small moves on the board but important moves. I’m looking for another highly productive week. I was put on notice of another version of the C.U.J.O. script coming my way. It sounds like they are getting closer to setting shoot dates in 2016. I’m not going to lie – I’m getting to that point where I would love to create a character but I’ve just focused that energy on my script writing and wrapping up this end-of-the-year business.

Enjoy the remaining amount of weekend and have a productive week. I’m back to the hazelnut coffee and going to get a few things done.

Until next time!

DJ


Westerns, Weekend and Writers Advice

It is a rainy Saturday morning and I got up special to knock out my blog for the week. I found my domain expired and failed twice to get it reactivated. So I’m writing on a document and I’ll copy over later. It has been quite a week and I’m drained. Many decisions can fall back upon me to choose a direction. There are no guarantees usually on a direction so you have to trust your self and make the best one you can.

The EGO of an artist is a powerful thing and often has to be balanced by knowledge. The decision to be made was – should we push ahead with filming this fall or put it next fall behind our upcoming “Chasing the Star” film. Also some changes creatively were being looked at with budgetary advantages.

CHANGE

Change can be hard to swallow when talking about scripts. I think for the most part certain changes are subjective. Is a revised draft different or better? People like to use that word better – EXAMPLE “I like this draft better.” – But that is subjective. Format. Page count. Many things can truly make a draft better. Scenes, locations and # of actors can make it BETTER for production. It is just an interesting world of ART meeting BUSINESS.

Two Cents of Advice-

Now this is GOLD. For aspiring screenwriters – So you’ve written your script draft and you’re shopping. You may encounter those who will say if X, Y and Z changes were made we might be interested to option/buy the script. You can spend much time and energy chasing your tail. Now if you counter with option/buy and I will give you 1-2 rounds of revisions free. Now that is a much better situation. Now you are both involved in the real process of development. You both have skin in the game. This way they won’t give you the run around. Many will turn up their nose but do your self a favor and walk away. It happens a lot. Also sometimes it’s done so that someone can simply put a fingerprint on it.

Now as mentioned prior in this blog, revisions can be made for just reasons. It is a sensitive fine line with writers and often why after they assign the script to an LLC they are not welcome. Writers can be a pain in the ass. Productions can bastardize scripts. It is a game of collaborative artists and at the end of the day. Choose your collaborators carefully.

On-Going Deals

“Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” delivery is underway. “40 Nights” has gone through dialog clean up and ADR is next where required.

Our “40 Nights” licensing deal is about finalized and other good news from a few early retailers who LOVED the trailer.

A deal on soundtracks is happening which will bring all the CDI and CDI associated scores to audiences.

We are concluding a CDI Commercial project for the client to use in Washington DC to represent their industry. We do handle some larger accounts (Not doing used car commercials) and so feel free to reach out if you have a project.

I recently turned down a film role acting because if everything happens orderly we will be shooting a CDI western this fall/winter ending just before the holidays. There are many exciting updates happening with this project. Lightworx Entertainment will distribute the western worldwide. They’re also handling our biblical series and “Ashes of Eden”.

We’re back to battling on the soccer field tomorrow and I think this week I’m going to explore making some more hard cider. The garden is doing great and giving us fresh veggies which is always nice. Enjoy your weekend and week ahead and I’ll blog with you next week.

DJ


Sum-of-the-Parts, Craftsmanship and Updates (of course)

Hello friend, fans, peers and lovers of the artistic journey. It has been cold in Michigan with an early snow and now icy rain is joining the party. Thankfully the coffee is brewing and I’m cozy and ready to share some of the updates and stories from the week. My weeks are often filled with success and setbacks and I think we all have that. Patience is also another quality that takes time to master. I’ve often described it as the difference between a pulse and a ray. A ray requires a steady stream of focus and it drains from  the source over time. In the simplified example, “The watched pot never boils”. Now the pulse is putting the focused energy into a focused action and letting it go. If you submit your script, resume, project or whatever to an opportunity – do so and let it go. If it consumes your every thought very little will get done on other fronts. If fate doesn’t make that opportunity happen you have to deal with the rejection or deal just not working out.  (I like to adopt the mentality that I will do what I was meant to do) Also you have to rebuild some momentum from zero. But if you are always creating new opportunities you get a constant flow of pulses going. I adopted the idea of taking one positive action a day to further my goals. That has now grown into a day full of positive things done but the returns are real. The opportunities that don’t work out are always balanced out by several things to do work out. Each week it is hard to be disappointed about something that did not happen when so much good did happen. Once you get this flow going it is hard to stop. Honestly only health issues can halt this flow and that is why it is important to spend time to maintain yourself. If you adopt these ideas as your own you will notice major improvements.

I’ve had some great talks this week with motivated individuals doing some great things. Jon Osman, is the director of “The Terrorist” and he is a driven man. You have to be to create feature film. It is even more effort to create good content. It is all about your associations and collaborations. Now he has had his success and setbacks but in the end he will stand tall. That is just how he is and I’m interested to see what he creates beyond this. I’m excited that we will see our collaboration come out in 2015.  Some will want to get ahead by taking the low road but I can tell you that while the high road may take longer, the journey will be better.

I’m disappointed often in people’s actions. People who lie in business. People who hoard credit. People who don’t take self accountability. People who are unprepared. People who oversell their abilities.

I often get treated respectfully because I give respect and if you are going to share my space I expect respect. But I do base a lot of my character judgement upon how people treat other people. How does that director speak to that product assistant? How does an actor treat the crew and vice versa? I’ve seen overblown egos in action. It often covers up weakness. I’ve seen the dudes wearing sunglasses inside at night. I’ve seen the girls who expect diva treatment. Weak. Weak. Excessive self E pic = weakness. I’m not sure people really look at why they do certain things. Compulsion? I know people who react the same way in every alike circumstance. They have to twist and make themselves inclusive to a discussion in some way. They wait for someone to stop talking so they can speak. It is like bad acting. They are waiting for a cue to start talking but they have listened and heard nothing. I’ve had weakness in my life and I’m sure I still do. But I live by KNOW THYSELF. I seek to know why I do certain things and if it’s healthy for me? Look at your actions and see if you can become stronger in character.

I had a situation I addressed whereas on a project (Not mine) a mistake was made. I actually saw lots of mistakes while participating but I always look at experiences as learning. I see things right or wrong and incorporate that into my own operations. I do admit I see more wrong than right but that is not always the case. It is a good case example of a project that will be the sum of its parts. All the artists involved will affect the final product. That is why I’m very picky. Now you will give opportunities to someone and they will rise or fall pending their passion and dedication. On this one project I noted how a few artists had been attributed to failure on another project. I was met with a somewhat defensive, even noble defending of their character. I wasn’t passing judgement on character but on empirical evidence.  We can choose to not discuss previous actions as someone might rather not hear others shortcomings. That is fine. But they still exist. I use this info in making decisions to create better teams of artists. So this information was not shared and these elements/variables were highly praised and defended as vital in their creative process. Out of respect – I let this topic go but upon viewing the final results – I will stick with my original assessment.  In a totally unrelated conversation I told someone – if you keep using the same variables in your equation don’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results. If you’re happy with that equation and results – great. But if you’re not – you need to look at changing variables to get different results. None of it for me is personal. It is my work. It’s no different from when I was coaching a team. Setting goals and having individuals strive to achieve them is no different from when I taught martial arts. Filmmaking is a team dynamic whereas individual artistic ability is blended with others to achieve a goal in storytelling. A film will always be as good as a sum of all its parts.

 

As we discussed – if you are going to DO you might as well try to do the very best you can. Pride in craftsmanship is something we should all strive for. As we know much of art is subjective but side by side quality often becomes clear. We all have had those moments of frustration – I recall more than one time on ASHES OF EDEN a computer may have warranted an Elvis treatment. He was rumored to have gotten mad and shot out a TV. I guess he could easily afford a new one:) In those moments where you are tempted to say, GOOD ENOUGH. It is those people who suck it up and say, NO. LET’S DO THIS RIGHT. That is what will define character and elevate others to a new level. Get a team full of people like that and you’re end quality will soar. These lessons seem more common sense versus some mystic wisdom but it is funny who it often eludes people. Note that most of the talk here is about the SHOW vs the BIZ. I often talk on the BIZ as many lack that but the SHOW is often the fun part. It is those trying times where it is NOT fun. Example – Ugg! Those lights are in the truck parked down the road and it is snowing. Do you A) Try to bounce some natural light and get an acceptable shot. B) Walk your ass and get those lights. I have people who will often say, “I GOT IT” and they are off. But many will just wing it and when the shot comes out uninspired – well?  This can be said about Art Direction, Camera moves and about every position. It might be a pain in the ass to get a small genny up so coffee can be made but how much more productive is a crew with hot coffee in the cold? It might be the thing that makes that person run and go get the light from the truck versus just shoot it as is. It is why passion is so important to our crews. If it is just a job go work elsewhere and make better money and easier work for sure. People who think filmmaking isn’t hard work they just don’t know.

OK onto some UPDATES!

ASHES OF EDEN – This is prepping for our early 2015 release. Very excited to share this film. I’m proud of the craftsmanship.

WICKED SPRING is getting a 2015 Special Edition release. More official PR soon!

DONORS just signed a domestic deal for 2015! More official PR soon!

KNIGHT CHILLS novel for 2015 to go with a new release. A sequel? Maybe:)

IN THE WOODS – 15th anniversary release starting with the UK

THE TERRORIST – Final post work for a 2015 release!

BESTSELLER – Post work is moving good. We expect an early 2015 premiere and theatrical run. Some good early interest!

WASTELAND: Tales of the Desert – This film is in Pre-Production and will shoot the 1st part of this collection of Sci Fi/Western stories in December.

Foreign sales talks are underway and I’m excited to get many of our films to new audiences.

Development on several films are in full swing. We’re excited to be announcing some of these as they move into pre-production but you all will just have to wait:) One reason is because the in boxes get slammed with submissions as soon as word gets out on a new film.

OK. I’m going to get some things done before watching MSU play some snow football  this afternoon.

Have a great weekend and even better week!

DJ


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

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

APPRECIATION

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

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

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

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

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

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

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

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

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

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

DJ