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

Posts tagged “feature

Showings, Cycles and Selecting Ones Path

Autumn is Upon Us

It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.

Directors/Storytellers

I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work.  Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.

SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated

I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day.  (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.

This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.

Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from.  Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.

Say when;) That’s for you Tony.

Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard.  Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.

Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors

First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.

Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.

Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.

One Example for rejected films:

Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.

Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.

Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.

Why?

It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.

The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.

What happens often when it’s just starting to work –

Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.

Why all this director talk?

We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations.  Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)

SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)

Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists  because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.

Collaborations

If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.

In-House

We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution)  So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.

We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.

It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development.  I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.

Film Updates

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.

Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI  – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door-  starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch  “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.

Sequels

I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.

40 Nights

We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.

I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.

I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.

DJ

CDI's Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

CDI’s Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

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First Watch on 40 NIGHT, BESTSELLER Expands and more…

It is a late night Saturday blog. It will actually post in the wee hours of Sunday but today was full and kept me away from my computer. It has been a good week of film business. Most of the week I worked from early morning until about 2:30 or so before moving to yard work. I had such a wild week full of many emotions as projects moved to different phases.

BESTSELLER coming off the sold out premiere started its run in Grand Rapids. That day leading up to the GR week of showings – had me feeling blissful. I had watched the 1st full cut of “40 Nights” the day prior. I was just stunned as I watched that film play out. It flowed so well and was moving in the performances and camera work. This was only a rough cut without music or sound – and what a great ending! I know what went into the shoot by the hard working cast and crew. It was such a good cut that if polished slightly it would be ready to roll into the next audio phase. We will do a few more test showings to get feedback and make minor tweaks. But I was so at peace because it was powerful to watch – even in this rough stage. I had a few great conversations about the film with people in the circle including our distributor. I’m excited to lock this edit by month’s end.

Back to BESTSELLER –

BESTSELLER playing on the Celebration Cinema screen in 5.1 was cool to watch. Seeing an audience JUMP and GASP in terror was truly a wonderful experience. We had a Q&A after this kick off which was nice to interact with an audience after they watched the film. There were a few aspiring filmmakers in the crowd and their questions are always fun to answer. The night ended with fish tacos and so that is pretty good.

Paperwork was exchanged this past week whereas CDI Distribution brokered TV license deals for OUTSIDE THE WIRE and STANDING POST for Red, White & Blue Non-Profit and also for the TV special – 7 STONES. We will be doing some official announcements but remember you heard it here first.

I’ve been writing everyday – I’m reworking an older script, writing on two others and outlining our next biblical faith drama. I’ve been enjoying this time with coffee and imagination. I look forward to seeing some of these go to the screen.

WASTELAND

The WASTELAND poster is just downright cool as all get out. I’m looking forward to that hitting some festivals and shooting Part 2 in the near future.

. Wasteland Poster with Credits

This Sci-Fi piece WASTELAND was so much fun to shoot.

A PASS –

Recently, I considered being involved in another feature – a comedy but it was just bad timing. I have lots going on in June with writing, promotion, distribution and getting the garden and yard around. I’m also going to be an uncle this month again and our soccer season is in full swing. I will start some heavy developmental film work soon. I have to admit –  the break after shooting “40 Nights” has been refreshing. As of today – the garden is now in and I did some clean up to the office porch. Productive day!

We had a rain out on soccer last week and I hope we don’t repeat that again. I’m going to do a few last things tonight before getting some well deserved rest. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a productive week ahead. If you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area and want to check out BESTSELLER it plays twice a day until the 11th of June.

Celebration Cinemas

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

 


New Fall Releases & New Upcoming Projects

I’m sitting here relaxing and thinking back on the busy week. It was truly a busy, busy week but I’m happy with all the new developments. I’m happy to report that almost all these business actions were all done against the backdrop of our emerging fall. Let’s look at some of the things that happened this week and let’s hope that I don’t forget any.

ASHES OF EDEN – We just concluded our theatrical run in Canton & Novi in Michigan. No sooner had we concluded and we have more good news concerning this film. I know that PR is about locked and loaded to share some of this good news with all of you. I enjoyed the nice comments from all the people who came out to see the film. This film has been a strong showcase for Lansing, for Michigan and for some of the best emerging talent in the region. There may be some new opportunities to see this film – stay tuned.

LOCKED IN A ROOM is getting a new Halloween season release from Echo Bridge Entertainment packaging us with some classics.

http://www.horrornewsnetwork.net/articles/62-horror-movies/10592-28-hours-of-horror-19-movie-dvd-collection-coming-out-on-october-14th

BOOK OF RUTH, Journey of Faith is now selling in a 2 pack at major retailers.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004KO1OQQ/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_ymijub0P3CRMW

“GPS The Movie” that played CHILLER TV is getting a new release in November and heading to the foreign market.

http://www.amazon.com/GPS-Movie-Hunt-Daniel-Magill/dp/B00NLM0S6A/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1411787621&sr=1-2&keywords=GPS+the+movie

BESTSELLER has started sound work and CGI/Graphic work. We are all excited to have this moving down the post production line.

THE TERRORIST is another film that is in post sound and we hope to have done at the year’s end.

I also was informed that my 1st feature I starred in called IN THE WOODS is having a theatrical screening to celebrate 15 years since the video release. That is the film that put me on the map first. While it does have a good cheese factor it has become a favorite of many fans out there. For all of you – some special news will be forthcoming! Stay tuned.

I think one of the biggest questions I get is WHAT’S NEXT? My management has been in talks with several casting agents as we try to find the right projects to showcase my acting craft. I’ve been introduced to some amazing production groups working on some amazing films. But I did have one extremely exciting project come to me. In the period of a week this film just seemed to just come together. The ink is dry, flight and hotel booked and I’m excited to announce this week my involvement in a SciFi/Western. I’m playing one of the leads and will be assisting in distribution via a CDI association. The official press release will be coming this week. It will be shooting out west in a famous State park and I’m beyond excited. The 7-year-old in me who wanted to be Han Solo is excited:)

 

I’m sure I missed a few updates – mostly development talks. We’re close to launching a few other films. Upcoming 2015 will be a BUSY year I can tell already.  This weekend will be some fall clean up, football and archery. I’ve bottled up the TROPIC THUNDER wine and I think next week some hard cider might be in order. I’m also almost through my STAN REED SUMMER BREW and so time to get another batch of that going. Michigan folk know how to stay warm.

Have a great weekend!

DJSciFi Western

 

 


BESTSELLER Trailer, ASHES of EDEN theatrical and more…

Okay! I made it. It was an early morning of activity that ended with us getting everything we need for the garden. The seeds, the plants and everything to get that underway. The pond that we finished now has fish in it and I love the little solar fountain that creates such a relaxing sound. The backyard is really coming together which is nice because that is where many of the recent film meetings have been happening. It was interesting that I recently read an interview with music producer Rick Rubin and much of what he had to say were lessons I apply to my life. The best meetings don’t happen around a boardroom table and controlling your environment allows your energy to flow positive. I think that is something many people find attractive. I had several meetings with a director on a soon-to-be-released feature that I’m a producer on and also co-star in. I was watching the edit and giving notes and suggestions. We really came up with a few good ideas to add layers to the film. He commented on how he enjoyed our talks because they always left him feeling positive and full of inspired ideas. That is what we as artists should do and in the best collaborations that is what happens. Not ego-wars and bullshit drama but solid strides and passing of creative ideas. This particular director is excited to work together again on his next feature and a TV show that he has in the works. Life is too short for bad working relationships and so if you are in one – finish your obligations and part ways with sincere well-wishes.

I’m sure many out there are not tuning into my blog to listen to my rambling on gardening:) Let’s get to some film updates…

“BESTSELLER” – The 1st trailer for this thriller based upon Christopher Knight’s book of the same name is DONE. Tomorrow we will be releasing a PR release with the link to the trailer. So watch the BESTSELLER FB page and such for this official release. I’m very proud once again of the cast and crew made up mostly on Michigan folks doing work at the international level. https://www.facebook.com/BESTSELLERTHEMOVIE

We have had early interest from distributors and so I’m excited to give them the look they have all been waiting on. Oh! And you too – the audience:)

“ASHES OF EDEN” continues to move forward with distributors. This week we had a few respond with their interest. We have some meetings being set that will be our first rounds of negotiations to see who can provide the best home. We also have some exciting news coming this week about the 1st Michigan theatrical releases. We have a deal on the table and pen and paper should meet this week. Once that is done a press release with full details will be forthcoming. Multiple theaters, multiple screens, multiple weeks, multiple showings – very exciting stuff for all involved.

Lots of development work is underway with many investor talks, script reviews and such. As we get these post production films into their final stages it will be exciting to get into production with a new slate of film work.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to sow some seeds to reap at a later date. That is what you should do in your creative life also. Sow the seeds of good honest collaboration. Sow seeds of mutual respect and hard work. Sow seeds of always giving someone more than what they paid for. Sow seeds of not cutting corners, holding yourself up to higher standards and taking pride in your work. Do this and your personal garden will be filled with bountiful rewards later down the path.

DJ