I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my room at the Double JJ Resort. I’m close to being wrapped with my character of Niles Cass in the film LOST HEART. It’s been a great ride thus far with only a few small bumps in the road. Luckily, when you have a great team gathered you address and flow past those issues. We truly do have a great team of artists who are also problem solvers not creators. I was again so proud the other day when we had our new friends Susan and Norm out to set. They are the owners and until recently ran the Double JJ Resort for several years. That duty has largely been passed down but they are the ones who still care deeply for the resort and it’s on-going future. They know that keeping your word, taking pride in your work and maintaining excellent customer service is what keeps people returning. So again it was a pleasure to have them visit and see the ‘zen’ flow of how smooth our set runs. That night it was all chill save the occasional radio communication at basecamp calling the roll out. Like Susan and Norm, we’re making some great contacts and friends in this area and are seriously considering filming in this area again.
Our newest mid-western WILD FAITH, is really heating up now that the DVD’s are for sale including at the Wal-Mart. Here is fellow producer ‘Tony’ Hornus at the Whitehall store. If you have not seen the film please do treat yourself. After if you feel inclined to leave a few kind words please do so.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is delivered to our distributor and is now being prepped for the theatrical and home video run. It will be great to get this story out there to audiences. Paul whom I played in the film is one of my most challenging characters to date. I wanted to properly represent the soldiers who have been wounded, sacrificing themselves to keep us all safe. A premiere is in the planning so stay tune for updates on that and also the other releases.
The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) continues to expand and I’m exciting for the upcoming holiday season with all three films complete. I hope that several TV networks pick them up to watch together. All three are available to purchase or rent.
I’m going to go get ready to drop stuff at the office and have lunch with the crew. I’m back on camera tomorrow so I’ll be refreshing myself with those lines. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.
So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
Last night I enjoyed watching a pre-season Lions game while doing some work. This past week was very home-centric since my furry boy came home from the MSU hospital after an extended stay. We held meetings in the house vs the office so I could keep an eye on my buddy. I’m happy to report he had a really good week and is recovering in his own home. It did allow me to focus on the paperwork and get a lot of stuff done.
We’re making a run at setting up a new film to shoot this fall. While the business paperwork has been getting organized our team has been locking locations and doing some initial casting. We’re first reaching out to our large circle of talent and trying to identify the right talent for a part. I’ve enjoyed meeting a few new actors and/or watching their work. The film working title MBF has strong themes of our military vets and shelter dogs. The reaction to the script has been strong and we’ve got our distribution deal in place. I love filmmaking in the fall and we’ll see if we’re meant to go this autumn.
This week I do start a new batch of wine that is bubbling up a storm. It is rhubarb and mulberries I harvested. I’ve wanted to make a wine with rhubarb for a while now since my grandma use to grow and cook with it often. So ‘Ida’s Wine’ is underway. The garden has been giving tomatoes and beans in abundance. Will we see a Green Gobin 3 batch? Perhaps:) The HOPS are also looking really good this year.
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will be pushed with the second film Chasing the Star starting in September. For those outside the business – September is the start of the Christmas push for product.
Here is a nice review for “Forty Nights/40 Nights”
And a brand new review for “Chasing the Star”
Stay tune for new pre-sale DVD sites!
The Christ Slayer – as said above when the title cards read coming Christmas 2018 that means a home video release in September. Before that we’ll do a theatrical run as wide as we can. These films were not set up as theatrical as a business deal but they do play great on the big screen.
We’ve played with many posters and are getting close just have not gotten the right first image. The music is being composed and VFX is being worked on. It is looking like we’ll finish this film end of the year. If time permits we’ll try to do a cast and crew screening. In 2018 we’ll do some theatrical and lock the home video release. We are in talks on the TV series and so a few things are still up in the air. But the film looks great and I’m excited to show audiences. Our trailer is making its way into ‘western’ and ‘Civil War’ circles of interest. A behind the season teaser should finally be ready to show this week. (Fingers crossed)
Aside from all this business we’re getting ready to put the final top layer of shake siding on the office/fort. It was being painted this weekend (forest green) to match the roof. I have another soccer match this afternoon to battle one of the top teams. We’ve had a good second half of the season with only one loss. I’m looking forward to next week and making some good progress on our endeavors. As a last note it was cool to see “Wicked Spring” playing Parables TV last night. We produced that film 17 years ago and to see audiences still enjoying it makes me feel good. I think we’re creating some classics now that audiences will be enjoying for decades to come. That is the conclusion I’ve come to recently. If I’m going to spend moments of my life developing, producing these films I want to reach high for quality. Now enjoyment of a storyline can be subjective but quality of production is undeniable. Okay, be good to one another. Time to finish off the coffee pot.
Thank you for your time.
The sun in Michigan (Above) is slowly melting the inches of snow accumulated over the past couple days. I’ve been packing and prepping for our trip west to film. (Too many dragons) The past few days have been really special. We’ve been promoting the Celebration Cinemas run of “40 Nights” in Michigan. Right now it is releasing in Lansing and Grand Rapids – it kicked off with three daily films yesterday. The first show in Lansing is today at 12:30 today.
I have tried to be lower key with the PR in our home town over the past years. I use to chase that but it actually created some isolation, awkwardness with some people. I’ve done countless interviews, press junkets and been featured in many articles around the world- but this was special. I liked that my father got to see on the front page of the paper our film. A beautiful lay out and interview that showcased the work of some very talented artists on both sides of the camera. My father use to worry about me with all this “movie stuff” – which was fine as a creative distraction when I was young – but a career? It has been a LOT of hard work. That is why I tell young people that they better really want it and you must always strive to refine. If you chose film as a career option because you don’t have a sure course and filmmaking sounds fun – stop. If just money alone is your goal – follow another path. There is money to be made but mining a project is hard work and can take years.
There are some exciting developments with “40 Nights” such plans to release in Yuma, AZ theaters. We will be working that deal when we arrive next week to start final prep work on “Chasing the Star” the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY. We want to expand to several states. Even though the DVD will be hitting stores in March/April for the Easter season IF you can experience it on the big screen treat yourself. You know I like to drop things here early to my faithful readers so – a soundtrack for “40 Nights” is the first release in a new deal we’ve made for the CDI collection. We will have some other licensing deals happening where it makes sense. I’m excited about the branding push that can help all three of the films in this unique series. The first show starts in five minutes and so I wish all of them a wonderful time as they go to experience “40 Nights”!
To pre-order on DVD
We have other deals developing on many fronts but right now my focus is to get “Chasing the Star” up and running. We have a great slate of films and look forward to keeping the flow. I want to thank our many, many supporters. My next blog will be from Yuma, AZ the Sat. before we roll cameras. I will be able to share some great photos and such as we move down the production line.
Time to Chase the Star – please keep chasing your own star!
I’m sitting in a nice silence after returning from a family birthday event that featured MSU TV. Now my father and I both graduated from MSU and so I like the tradition. I’ve always liked that MSU could beat anyone on a given day but most of the time were underdogs. In the recent years they have become the team to beat. I do like how they keep their humble class and whip ass. I’m proud of how they represent. I was sitting outside on the porch of the office watching the night sky. I see some comparisons to filmmaking. I’ve always wanted to wear pride behind our company name. I try to run a fair ship and make dependable, creative content. I know that many that have worked with Collective Development Inc. have felt the teamwork and professional respect we try to extend. Many haphazard production entities can whirlwind a location or town and create an unwelcome environment for future productions.
The other part of my MSU comparison was just the tenacity that the teams are known for. I feel like that attribute, which existed before MSU, but was further honed by a university that exemplifies these traits. I think MSU has been playing up and down to their opposition. U of M has looked good but the Spartan mentality is not like others. Also with those few seconds I noted those who did not go to MSU start to waiver tonight when the chips were down. But those that went to MSU knew not to mourn until the battle is over. To the last second you fight to move forward. Breaking into the film industry is a battle and one that many lose. But for those who stand at the last twilight of a battle and go that last round – sometimes a foe falls. An obstacle is removed. A challenge is overcome. As I sat looking at the night sky I took several deep breaths and embraced that spirit. Along time ago I drew my sword and started my march forward. Other like-minded people asked if they could walk with me. Respect one another. None of that drama that follows so many of these powerfully, creative egos were allowed to walk with us. If you feed on that strife your path is elsewhere. Films are hard enough and should never be made worse by those variables. So a good team of people who don’t QUIT and you never know.
ADVICE: don’t quit.
It’s a really big read into the character of a person. Before trusting any budget upon an artist you have to know you aren’t dealing with a quitter. I know some talented artists that I just can’t hire. They quit on a task – large or small it doesn’t matter. Only the risk changes. If you give up easy – you’ll be working in some field outside filmmaking – just a matter of time. Filmmaking is not for quitters. They are a breed to themselves. They all have some internal, creative calling. Some will engage creativity where they can and try to keep the storytelling beast in a cage. Others will go full tilt. Here is where you must have a good plan of action or you’ll moth to the flame. For some this is just an illustration for a lifetime of frustration and for others it is literal. See you on the other side Smiling Joe.
In summary – good job MSU!
“Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” kicked off our screening arts mixer every 3rd Thursday at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. It was a good look back at our first western with CDI. It was released with Lionsgate and was the #1 western rental for 7 weeks. Top 10 for 17 weeks. More than all that it featured some great talent on both sides of the camera and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever shot a movie. Maggie Valley/Cherokee N.C. – We will announce the November movie on Monday. If you have any requests send me a shout out:)
“Ashes of Eden” is preparing to announce some news about TV broadcast but you can still catch it in select theaters. It played today and will play again tomorrow at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you have not checked out “Ashes of Eden” on the big screen this is a great theater to watch it in. Classic!
“40 Nights” – I’m waiting to hear this week about VFX updates. Also the film INTRO is soon to be underway. More sound design and dialogue clean up has been done. I’m excited for the musical score to begin. I’m ready to share this film with the world audiences.
“Chasing the Star” – the script is in the hands of several actors. The feedback has been wonderful. We’re looking into locations and preparing to film in Feb 2016. We will start hiring in December once the film is up and running. Our “40 Nights” director Jesse Low is attached to director our western in 2016. This has us looking at several possible directors. The second script in our deal with Lightworx is essentially about the quest of three magi.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event Nov 1st in Owosso, MI. I enjoyed this week at a dental cleaning – my dentist was all smiles when he told me he saw one of my films. I asked which. He said that he and his wife saw “Bestseller” at Celebration Cinemas. He said, “you were really intense – we loved it.” I thanked him for taking the time to go see it and promised him not to trash his office Franklin style. He was happy.
I’ve been closing in on finishing two scripts. One being the 3rd in the biblical film series. The other is Knight Chills 2. Two VERY different film scripts to be sure. I enjoy the writing and look forward to finishing those two up. Additionally just doing some budgeting work and we’re finishing up some other sales work. But I’ve also been enjoying the fall. It is getting frosty and I saw my first snow flakes today. Winter is Coming (CUE Game of Thrones music)
I’m sure I missed maybe an update or two but I need to kick my feet up. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.