The coffee is fresh and hot and I’m sitting here in the lazy boy with all of you on this fine Sunday morning. I want to welcome new readers from the Czech Republic to the blog. I love that as the movies expand our circle of artists expands. The garden got some much-needed rain and is growing fast. We’re already enjoying lettuce for salads and on sandwiches. Also the large dead elm tree we had dropped is finally cleaned up. I spent a few meetings going outside and slowly feeding the outside chiminea and organizing the logs. Wood does not get wasted with the wood stove in the office and in the winter you need it. Also the siding is purchased and has been picked up to do the upper part of the office. I have a small bday/CDI gathering coming up so I did not want to try to do that this week. It will be a nice bday present to myself. I got to watch two good films this week that we’re not my own. One was “Wonder Woman” and I really enjoyed the film. It featured great action, locations and the production design for WW1. I also finally watched “In the Heart of the Sea” directed by my good friend’s son Mister Ron Howard. A great peek at life during that time period and how some thrived and fought to survive by the sea. It was said to be the inspiration behind MOBY DICK. I might have to try and tackle that book again. I fell asleep many times with that film on my chest trying to read it. Two very different films but both had great glimpses into other periods of time.
Let’s talk development first. I’ve been working hard to put everything in order here at CDI as all these great films roll out. Even other older titles are finding new life as people discover our films and potential $ still locked into some of them. The new slate of films I’m working on with the studio is coming nicely but I require another 12 month slate of smaller films until that deal can get going fully. So I might use this time to produce a few films that distributors have been asking for.
Knight Chills the film that kicked off CDI in the late 90’s has grown into a bit of a cult classic. It has been turned into a book that will release on paper and digital this Summer. It will be sold at Comic Cons as well with Source Point Press. I’ve written three sequel scripts now but the first two were too high of budget for what that small little film did. I did discover that it sold with Spectrum Films much better than we thought. The company liquidated and went under and we never recouped all our profits. The film sold again with another minor horror distributor and released to several countries. The bottom line is that a friend of mine in the Comic Con circuit via films, comics, books and graphic novels was a big fan of the film. He asked to write a book off the screenplay and we set up distribution with his Source Point Press. I’ve always thought the entire ‘idea’ could be a great franchise. I think this winter we’ll shoot the sequel. It’s a fun romp in the vein of TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. They want to do a book on the sequel and expand into graphic novels. Not bad for a little film thought up by the Kennedy’s and I all those years ago.
I’ve also finished a first draft of a new script we’ll produce either this Fall or next in Michigan. The working title is “Man’s Best Friend” and I feel it’s a powerful piece that will find a broad audience. We’ll soon start doing some advance casting trying to find a few of the required roles. I’ve been identifying the 3 new films in THE CONQUEST TRILOGY the BMG follow-up to THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) that will film once again in AZ. I’m also setting up talks with a few entities about the Wild Faith TV series. A few discussions also over literary representation after writing/producing the last 4 films. I’ve done several work-for-hire writing jobs in the past including adapting books to script. Soon I’ll be throwing my hat into the ring with some large production companies. I love to write and so I might get the right team behind me.
Let’s look at a few new updates on the CDI film front.
Forty Nights – I’ve had several buyers, promoters and PR companies contact me over this film and our trilogy and I’ve directed them over to our distributor. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with these films.
The Christ Slayer – This past week we got to see the 1st cut of the film. It was moving to see the 3rd film in this trilogy there on the screen. The film with no color correction, minus VFX and with minimal sound clean up was still beautiful. I also got to see the difference between Jesus in “Forty Nights” and now “The Christ Slayer” to fully see the evolution of the character. That can be said about several of the characters. They have started building some of the VFX modeling since we brought on our VFX folks. We had to get a special piece of equipment from New Zealand and that finally got worked out. Two scenes are still being worked but it will be a worthy add to the trilogy.
Chasing the Star – the film is delivered to our distributor and it is already creating positive dialog. See – http://lenovotips.net/news/The-Star-of-Bethlehem/
I’m excited to see this film pushed during the Christmas holiday season. It’s truly a biblical adventure that I think will help make that story seem more based in reality. I’ve said in many interviews that I wanted to take people behind the figurines of 3 wood or plastic nativity scene wise men and make them breath. I think we’ve done just that and while the film is darker in tone it paints the picture of why a celestial Messiah was sought after. Pre-Order this title when you can and prepare for an adventure.
Wild Faith – VFX work and sound design has been underway. Once music is applied this film is truly going to be something special. I love the film also because of all the special people involved in the making. We stayed in little lake side cabins and created this beautiful story. I do sincerely think that this film is a beginning of something more.
Well, I have a full day. A short flea market stop followed by a visit with my dad. Later if the fields hold we have a soccer match to play. I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-like figures out there who mentor and guide.
Have a great day and be good to one another.
On this day we remember our stories about where we were at when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember that I was having a morning much like today – hazelnut coffee, chill music and doing some film work. Dean Teaster called me to ask if I was watching TV, to which I said I wasn’t. I turned on to see one tower on fire and replays of the impact. BOOM! Another plane impact and we all know the story of the other planes. I remember MaryJo Cuppone’s flight attendant friend died in one of the planes. I remember Ed Schaefer in NYC being in the street dust after the impact. Killing is not divine. Hate is a choice. We are all neighbors in this world.
It has been a whirlwind of film activity. As we get ready to review some of the first numbers on “40 Nights” I’m proud of the growing base of viewers. The film did not roll out with huge fanfare but has become a film you hear about – you hear good things about and you seek it out. Here is one of my favorite reviews.
If you watched this film and enjoyed it – reach out and share it with someone.
Chasing the Star – the 2nd film in The Quest Trilogy has a first trailer which is still getting a polish. I expect we will roll out a new poster here soon. The music is almost complete and VFX has started. Our friends from CHOP & HUE have also joined the project – making this their second film with us.
The Christ Slayer – As soon as “Wild Faith” ship is out to sea I will start putting the business together on our third film in our trilogy. I’m actively looking at directors and speaking to talent and keys. We will look to shoot in the spring in AZ.
Our midWestern “Wild Faith” is loading the ship as I like to call it. The foundation work is well underway and this week we’ll open the account and start to prepare for the journey. We’ve identified most of our artist sailors of our cast and crew. This week we will finalize that process. I’m excited also by the idea of an ongoing TV series because of the great talent. I have ideas for many guest stars including many of your favorite legends of the genre. It looks like Mr. Darby Hinton will be joining our cast. He has a long impressive list of TV & film but many love him from Daniel Boone still playing strong on 3 networks right now. We also have a list of extremely talented actors from Michigan joining our cast. We’ll be announcing more of these cast and crew as we start signing deals.
Well, MSU is off this weekend. The Lions play in a few hours and so I’m going to get some additional work done around the yard. The garden is full and needs to be harvested. Speaking of, I bottled 2 cases of “Return of the Green Goblin” that came from last years harvest. I’ve been dealing with this mega beard during our humid heat but now we’re in a beautiful cool phase. Tonight I may even make a fire. Enjoy the remaining weekend and be good to one another.
Hello my friends out there. I’m writing this on Friday night to release around midnight because tomorrow is busy. We’re having the 2nd of basically three Thanksgivings or family gatherings. I’m not a huge fan of the history of the day but that is neither here nor there – the day has become one to gather with loved ones and be thankful. I can get behind that and so I’ve been enjoying some family time. I’ve been sneaking business in on these off days. Let’s see what we’ve been up to…
The producers decided to make Part 1 of the story FREE. Wrap your face to protect from the harsh sands and enter the WASTELAND!
“Knight Chills” deal was signed and so book cover/film artwork will begin. I also got some time to write on the sequel. We’ve had some cool talks with a few keys involved in this sequel.
Once we get this going we will look at “From Venus” to see what can be done there. We just have so much more technology at ours hands now. Some of these earlier films did not have all the bells and whistles we wanted. It will be fun to revisit some of these worlds.
The national release dates we are hearing –
“Donors” – Feb 2nd, 2016
“Bestseller” – May 3rd, 2016
“Ashes of Eden” has a new street date pushed in light of a TV deal. That announcement I’m told will release from distributor on Tuesday.
A few development talks on our next project with Jesse Low. We’ll be announcing something on that maybe around Christmas. It will shoot in 2016.
The foundation of the “house” (film) “Chasing the Star” is about to be set. I had to get some paperwork around this past week. It is much easier to focus on paperwork when it is cold and wet outside. Coffee (David Hayes) and I just TCB’d. That is an Elvis saying that I take to heart. Taking Care of Business. I try.
Had good negotiations on a script that’s being re-optioned. I got half way through one script I was reading. I started the book I was sent to look over for a film role. Aside from reading others work I’m closing in fast on a first draft of “I can’t tell you yet” but the 3rd script in the QUEST trilogy.
The 1st film “40 Nights” is about to be all pulled together. The intro, VFX, sound, music – all the elements. The last two steps will be color correct and final mix to 5.1 surround. We released a teaser about a week ago. This was a small test snippet after already releasing the official trailer. Check it out on the “40 Nights” Facebook site and JOIN US:) Everyone is excited to see this film as a finished project.
We’ve also been digitizing the CDI library. Many of the films were stored on tapes of various types. One had to have some fixing. Thank you Scott! We have offers extended on more TV play so we’ll be presenting for 2016. Some of the films are getting a great repackaging – VOD did not exist when some of these films released. Also some have not had a BluRay release yet. So lots of fun stuff with the earlier films. We still have lots of people watching “Darkest Night,” “7 Stones” and many others. Thank you for reaching out.
“Bestseller” is getting ready to release early December in Grayling, Michigan. I’m working on Kalamazoo and Detroit area still. We’ll keep playing it leading up to the national release. The film plays great on the big screen. I also can say that “Bestseller” was the film that cemented the upcoming “C.U.J.O.” role. Is that a hint? I don’t think so. Maybe?
Lastly, in 2016 we’re going to try and launch an online store, theater and such. CDI will keep evolving and working on collective developments:)
Have a great weekend. I hope my alumni school MSU has another good week on the grid. Our Lions made us proud on Thanksgiving – great job!
Be good to one another out there.
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!
As I sit here sipping a bit more hazelnut coffee I ponder all the things we could touch upon this week. I also want to take a moment and thank all my readers from different countries. We are all cut from the same cloth just different mountains, trees and grasses. I just returned from running around this morning that included a stop at SEARS. I was stopped by someone I didn’t know smiling and pointing before asking my name. ASHES OF EDEN bringing in new fans and I love it. I know many friends, family and fans who went to (some are there now) in the theaters watching the film. It has been fun having one of the films play in our hometown/state. Let’s talk about that a touch…
In 2002 we shot AN ORDINARY KILLER and the only HD digital projectors were in California and traveling with the National auto show. We encoded for it and rented one of those traveling projectors for just under a week. We had the best theatrical run with 3,400 people in 5 days with 12 sold out showings and one still over 200 seats sold. We took those numbers to LA and at that time it would be a transfer to film and creating film prints. Shipping on those things was big $ and so P&A money would have to be spent. The thing is that we beat Harry Potter in that theater run but the cost of a theatrical was beyond us.
In 2006 we shot our smokey mountain western “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and we ran it an entire summer in conjunction with a theme park. We sold steady but in a limited area but for many, many weeks. I would have loved to play more theaters but we refused to go back to DVD/BlueRay projection. The HD projectors by this time 2007/8 were only between 500-1000 in the USA and that was reserved for studio films billing the new Digital as they would IMAX or THX – bottom line too expensive still.
Now it is 2014 and I’m happy to report most all modern theaters are digital and we now have an in-demand film. This run is a partnership run not a four wall (rent out) and we are able to supply content. The cost is more in line and now theatrical could be part of our revenue stream. We will be opening CDI Theatrical and looking back into the CDI library to do some special screenings.
I will be going with some friends tonight to watch what could be one of the last showings at Celebration Cinema. Remark that I said at Celebration Cinemas:) Also we will be playing the film in the Detroit area and beyond but you have to wait for the official word on all that. We also had yet another distribution deal step forward that includes some possible foreign. I’m just happy that we are at a level where we can bring high quality content in the same format as the studios. Stay tuned for much more CDI action to grace the big screen!
“Bestseller” pick ups are about all set. By the end of this next week we will be locked up. Now my one pet peeve of the week. Insurance which we’ve always carried from film 1 at CDI. First you need to acquire high end gear not the small cameras and so these vendors require this. Next – we carry protection for our cast/crews because this is the right thing to do. Now again because we try to do everything right, note I said TRY, it costs. I was taken back because a one day pick up quote was near the same rate as our 18 day shoot prior. Because a new policy has to be started versus reactivating one. Anyway, we will do what we must but again I would bet a slew of filmmakers out there are running without insurance. It’s all good until something happens and it will, eventually. So stepping up is just part of playing as a professional I say but to the many who want to call themselves professional – actions speak louder.
“Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” was suppose to start streaming on Indieflix.com yesterday. I would love to hear from anyone who subscribes and watches the 1st three shows. www.indieflix.com
I had some good development talks this week and a few more investors interested in this project or that. So once I get past this final pick up on “Bestseller” I’ll be ready to look at some new projects. I’ve been picking berries for an upcoming wine batch. We shared some good homebrew and wine with my mother and friends at her belated Bday gathering. We smoked a pair of pork shoulders for 8 hours and that turned out great. Okay. Now I’m hungry.
Have a great week ahead!
It is truly the journey not the destination in the grand adventure of life. A friend of mine who I called to catch up with had news that set me back. His father had unexpectedly passed away. This was the year of starting a retirement and of course he thought he had many more years of enjoying and learning from his father. That was not to be. As I like to say, losing parents seems like losing training wheels. Prior to this I was having my daily issues usually with patience at some timeline that was off or a communication I was waiting upon. I tell people that many folks could not lead the artist’s life whereas you don’t always know where that next paycheck is coming from. Now it is exciting when you get a nice lump sum or you hob nob with some other famous folks but there is a balance to it all. The following day my father and I were to have lunch and he insisted on picking me up. He rolled up on his Harley and we went on a couple hour ride in the country looking at all the places he grew up. Truthfully, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. As a young child I use to wait for him to come home from work so we could go for a ride on his motorcycle. It was one of those full circle moments and also a deep appreciation for what I still had in a mentor and a sorrow for what my friend was now missing. So I guess my point is for all you driven artists inflicted with that ego driven urge to create art that will be seen and possibly appreciated – don’t forget what is in front of you. I know my father would likely be happier if I had a normal JOB but he also is proud of the character of his son who can thrive in my environment. I deeply cherish my friends and family and most of them haven’t seen half my films. I’m alright with that because I have my support for that in my fans. I appreciate the personal support that comes in laughter, insight on life and remembering the past. This fills my cup.
TODAY is the premiere of “DONORS” the thriller that I play a shadowy role in:) IF you are in Yuma, AZ area and want to see a cool indie thriller – please do. All info is right here https://www.facebook.com/events/649394905132609/
I want to give a BIG congrats to Niki Saletta who carries that film almost single-handedly.
We are getting close to announcing active development on a new associated film. It will shoot somewhere down South and has some development to finish but script work is coming along. I want to speak to some distributors in the coming weeks about it and also BESTSELLER that fits the demographic.
BESTSELLER is gearing up for planning on our pick up day. We will gather our clips and get this film moving onto the next phase. I’m waiting on the shot list from our director and editor. I’m excited about this because I’ve seen the footage and know what we have and seeing beautiful Northern Michigan even for a day or so will be great.
I had a wonderful email sent to me from an 8th grade history teacher Wade who uses “Wicked Spring” as a teaching aid in his 8th grade students. I think that is one of the best compliments as a filmmaker. That film has played network TV, played in the UK and sold hundreds of thousands of dvd’s and that was made over a decade ago. Now with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War I’m happy that we have made a “classic”. I’ve had a handful of emails from around the country about the performances and the picture of life in that time that we painted. Kevin Hershberger, Curtis Hall, Anthony Hornus – the entire cast and crew can be proud of the storytelling job. It was my grandmother’s favorite film and in a career lifetime you hope to have a handful of these. I recently also had that happen with “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” which could be on its way to a similar status. Strive for this and it may happen – only the audiences can make it so. I know that “Heaven’s Neighbors” has been used in classroom settings to illustrate mental illness. It is a grand ability to entertain and educate. So for crews working hard when the going is rough – if you are working on a project with heart, the right dose of business – you might be part of cinema history. Cast – there is no throw away roles – you should live, love and be the role you take on. This fan mail that included how many young minds were being taught via our storytelling was one of my weeks high points.
My script review continues on a few projects presenting acting offers. All of them are period pieces which is pretty cool in my book. Development continues on a few projects including gathering investors and setting up locations. Our sales team is in talks to bring the CDI library to many new foreign territories. “Ashes of Eden” distribution talks continue. All in all a very productive Spring whereas I’ve been holding court on the patio in the sunshine. I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable long weekend. I think I’m going to smoke or grill my first full duck (Thank you Shane Hagedorn). The garden got tilled (Thank you Stacy Hagedorn for the Mantis use) and I worked on the pond which we will fill today and add some water plants. Spend some time with your love ones and we’ll get back at it next week!
Keep clawing your way to the middle:)