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

Posts tagged “filmmaking

Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 

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End of Summer Updates –

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.

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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

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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”

http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/search/label/40%20Nights

And a brand new review for “Chasing the Star”

http://biblefilms.blogspot.com/search?q=chasing+the+star

Stay tune for new pre-sale DVD sites!

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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.

Wild Faith

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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.

DJ


A Humble Thanks, Time to do it AGAIN!

 

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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.

https://celebrationcinema.com/movie/40+Nights

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40 Nights in the Lansing State Journal

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.

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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

http://www.christianbook.com/40-nights/pd/161511?product_redirect=1&Ntt=161511&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

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A few of the co-stars of the upcoming “Chasing the Star”

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!

DJ

 

 

 

 

 


MSU Lessons, Upcoming Showings and Looking For Talent

MSU

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!

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“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:)

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set

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

“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!

DJ Perry as Jesus in

DJ Perry as Jesus in “40 Nights”

“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.

The storm cometh

The storm cometh

“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.

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

“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.

DJ


New BESTSELLER Showings, Apples and Announcements

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.

Double DOH!

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.

Grand Rapids, MI  SHOW TIMES

Grand Rapids, MI
SHOW TIMES

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.

DJ


Enjoying the Struggle & Updates

What a week with the friday morning/afternoon being a touch chaotic. The communication flow between people is one of the utmost important aspects of filmmaking. Let’s jump into some of this since I have running around this morning and I’m attending a wedding this afternoon.

BESTSELLER is a picture lock providing our director is happy with her small insert today but I think we’re onto the next phase. The materials are being moved about to their new destination and I’m excited for the scoring of the music to begin. We  will be announcing that formerly this coming week but you heard it here first.

ASHES OF EDEN also has PR waiting to come out. We’ve been waiting for the theatrical link to go up at Emagine Entertainment so we can start heavy promoting our Sept 19th start dates. So if you are from the East side of the state of Michigan and want to see what all the hype is about – your chance is coming. Canton and Novi is where we will start the release and we’re also working towards setting up a showing in the Owosso, MI area. We had an amazing run with AN ORDINARY KILLER there and think people there would love the new film.

And speaking of AN ORDINARY KILLER it may be one of the films returning to theaters from the CDI library. I see GHOST TOWN also making a run in the coming months. If you have not seen either of these films on the big screen you are missing something.

AOE (ASHES OF EDEN) is also close to closing its 1st TV deal and we are in final stages of negotiations on the DVD, VOD National deal for 1st quarter 2015.

I have a new VOD multi national deal interested in several of the CDI library. We will do a test run with a few titles and see how that goes.

Thoughts from the week –

APPRECIATION

I still stand by the fact that many of the youth today don’t know how many more opportunities in our business exist now compared to a decade ago or so. I see more kids who have classroom experience but their real world experience is still playing catch up. Example – doing shorts, commercials, music videos and such do NOT fully prepare you for 3-5 weeks of feature filming shooting. It’s a self battle with endurance, focus and teamwork. I had to have a firm conversation or two this week with people over little issues. I think there can be a lack of appreciation of what it truly takes to produce a film properly. The UNSEXY parts of the business – the paperwork, accounting and on-going work opening up new opportunities to release. But this is what I do for a living and I love it. I’m extremely serious about my film work and the art we create because at one time even the idea of doing motion picture work was seen as a joke. Now our films get done with quality all while trying to create the best crew experience you can within a closed environment like a film set. I try to be fair and work with people and their issues or explain why I cannot. But if people start becoming too much of an issue – they just need to go work elsewhere. I know many people who found new respect for what we do once they had to go work on a less than organized film set. I’m not talking short films – where some say “I did this short and it ran perfect.” GREAT, it was 3 days!  Come talk to me when you’re deep into week three and see how the ship is doing. Feature filmmaking is a long distant run not a sprint. Also being a pain in the you know what is an easy way not to get invited to sail next time around. I use to feel for the few bad apples but I try not to now. Some people do something silly and they just need to learn the hard way. When you have a lot of people doing the right thing you can’t waste too much time on that one person or so hurting themselves. It is often best to cut them loose and let them learn elsewhere. Knowing your craft is NOT enough. You having the right attitude is what is valuable.

SUCCESS CAN BREED RESENTMENT

This week I also had conversations with people who are not quite feeling the love in their new-found success from some around them. I explained that if you have not transitioned to FULL TIME filmmaking/acting and are working a day job – many may secretly resent you. Why? Because they wonder why you can’t just be happy being as they are. Why do you feel like you  need to do something greater? How dare you think you are better than me? To others you can often be that “in your face” reminder of the dream that he/she let go. Did they really want to go to coach sports? Did they always dream of owning a coffee shop? It’s harder to strive for true happiness. Some people can truly be happy playing their part in a job while others see it as a stepping stone to their dreams. If you can be happy in a 9-5 job that is a blessing. For some, they feel compelled to create. It doesn’t make creators any better it’s just what they feel a need to do. Often it creates self suffering for the artist in the journey but can lead to great satisfaction. You just can’t expect everyone to support your journey. When I see people throwing negativity I feel bad for them because it they put that same energy into their own dreams they would be much better people. It would help them be better people for sure. Instead they are the negative ones always casting stones. Keep smiling and keep moving forward.

IN SUMMARY

It was just one of those weeks but it ended with true progress and some very promising news. There may be times where you walk against the blowing wind trying to slow you down. I say don’t pee against the wind and just keep walking steady. That’s what the week felt like but now things seem quite at peace.

Enjoy the struggle. If it was easy everyone would do it.

DJ

 

 

 


Filmmaker Pitfalls + Distribution & Development

It’s a chill morning in Michigan and I’ve got my trusty coffee by my side and I’m ready to share a few moments with all of you out there. It has been a good week of business and personal so let’s get into a few topics that were floated by me this week. Let’s start with a question that comes up often. I’ve been asked about my thoughts on “Social Fundraising” or social handouts as I like to call it. I’m mostly against these Kickstarter and other “fundme” campaigns for several reasons. Let me explain myself before everyone questions my answer. Now I am going to relate this to what I know, that being filmmaking.  So this may not apply to other justifiable causes such as raising money for illness, funeral expenses, transplants and other real NEEDS. I’m not talking NEED but people and their WANTS…Big difference.

Did you ever know that kid who was always spoiled, bothersome? Like I recall kids begging their parents for quarters to feed into video game machines back in the day. Yes. They use to cost a quarter:) Someone would give the kid a dollar or a few quarters just so the adults could be left in peace to talk alone and socialize. It is that, “At least they are staying out of trouble” mentality. So that kid goes off and likely after a short while is back with his hand out again and again… People will again give a few dollars to him so that he goes away. But I can assure you, if that kid was borrowing that money or had earned those quarters from hard work, he would not be as loose – keeping that flood of coins dropping into those machines. When it’s your money or money that is borrowed with expected results – the appreciation and use of those funds is much more focused.

Someone else I know called it “Mercy Giving” because it is easier to give a little versus hurting feelings. Maybe this is seen as positive or is it? If something ventured is obviously lacking in quality but people give to it anyway it does make one question why? Why?  As a parent, would you encourage your child to take up “corner standing” with a cup and sign that says, TOO HONEST TO STEAL, TOO UGLY TO PROSTITUTE?  Would you throw money at someone building a house that is nowhere near being up to code and will likely with end up overgrown and forgotten because it is red tagged?

I don’t overly think on these things as people will quit giving when the results are always the same. My world view is different, maybe a tad more realistic. Despite what people think, we don’t live in a world where everyone who plays wins. I think people who are actually in SHOW BIZ – (Let me break that down because not all who play are in the business) SHOWBIZ  – That is where quality art meets business in a blend that results in something that can be sold in the marketplace. More novices are into the SHOW but not truly SHOWBIZ. They want to focus on the art because that is fun – the interviews, the mixers -all fun. Fun – Even if the process is only creating content nobody really wants. And so they ask, ask, ask for others to give, give, give – so they can create nearly unwatchable, unsellable material. Now if this is a hobby, which for many at this level that is what it is – and that is exactly how your filmmakers learn and grow. But after once or twice of allowing filmmakers to play why continue to support? Maybe this is acceptable?

I mean golf is an art of sorts but I don’t see people kickstarting so they can get a new set of top-of-the-line clubs and a years worth of greens fees. (I’m sure someone has tried:) But unless this person was playing golf at a level whereas true PRO development was required/justified this just sounds silly and many sane people don’t do it.

I think handouts dull the sword.

How you say? There is no accountability to be had if everything is just given because this is again that kid with quarters. He is never grilled after on how well he spent the quarters. “Did you get a high score?”  “Did you get an extra ball or get a match?” (Pinball reference people) No. You were just given money so to be “out-of-the-way” for a while occupying your time. That is until they want the next handout. These are all things you would do with a child but I see it happening everyday with adult artists. But if artists are truly striving to excel both at business and art those will be the survivors. Nobody would drop coins in the hat of an awful sounding corner/subway playing guitarist, unless it was for them to stop.  So I guess I’m just saying support the arts responsibly. Look for those that truly have developing qualities. Look for those that are looking to eventually stand on their own two feet not just be blindly supported. Give your money to the hungry or homeless instead.  If you are over 25 and still taking handouts to produce sub par product – and I use that term loosely because someone would actually have to want to purchase this film for it to truly be a product. By purchase I also mean beyond your 100 family or friends that are expected to support you otherwise your glares will make them uncomfortable at every holiday or local gathering:)

So in summary, I guess if the person only comes begging at the table once in a while and consistently is given a few coins to go distract himself – maybe that is acceptable to some. But I just can’t endorse that sort of action. I won’t support or LIKE something just for a half ass effort. In our business we face acceptance and rejection daily and that is part of the business. Success and failure hardens the steel and makes you refine your process. I just ask those out there who seem to be like a needle skipping on a record (Another reference – look it up) – What do you want to be? How do you want to be seen? Is your art evolving in quality? Are you ready to earn true success with increasing quality and business refinement or do you want to continuously beg for handouts only to create material that is never challenged and would not survive in the worldwide marketplace. Begging for financial handouts is not a business plan. “We hope to get into a high-profile film festival” is NOT a marketing plan. As many of our artists seek the easiest way the Chinese, Indians, the Europeans…the world over are all pushing their creative artists to survive and thrive in a business environment. Meanwhile we reinforce mediocrity and endorse begging as a business plan. It is sad but true as we are losing ground to others willing to put in the hard work. OK. Ask me how I really feel about all that:) Embrace the hardships you face because it with sharpen your sword and make your steel strong.

Enough sword and steel babel…onto film news:)

On the distribution TIP – we now have a few distribution offers on “Ashes of Eden” and the film screeners continue to be requested. More interested parties are coming to the table every few days. It is getting exciting and we will be announcing our Summer Michigan theatrical VERY soon!

Our thriller “Bestseller” is about to schedule its one  day of pick ups. That film is really looking great and after the release of the 1st trailer last week we have several distributors waiting to see the final film.

On development updates we’ve got several new funders looking at projects of their liking. I think we will soon be moving into some pre-production on  some of these new films.

A couple of big budget film projects are back in motion again with new funders. We will wait to see if these projects move forward but things get complicated when talking tens of millions of dollars. When you really see how big the game is that is when you get down on someone who can’t even conduct fundamental business. I am learning leaps and bounds every day but you must challenge yourself.

Additionally, I did some wild lines for the dark thriller “The Terrorist” this past week. I’m very happy that the picture is about locked and is looking powerful. We’re going to polish up the audio and we will see this film released at year’s end.

On the acting front, I was in talks on an indie project that just didn’t add up at the end of the day. Again if you’re not a hobbyist and you’re doing this as a career you have to look at the complete picture. I do have one other local indie I’m still having talks over – no telling if that will work out or not. Don’t be afraid to say, NO.

As I vet out projects I’m very content finishing up the post projects on my plate. My new acting management is really trying to get that right 1st big studio film under me. Several talks are underway with casting directors, producer and directors. I have opened myself up to consideration on a few TV projects also. There is a big trend towards TV mini series and such so I will keep myself open to these opportunities. I like the idea of guest spots more but if the right series came along I might consider something on-going.

Enough business for the day:) I pointed out what I did in regards to social funding because if new filmmakers never learn the art of business they will be replaced by those who do. There are always exceptions one can argue but on the whole I would say many are just too lazy to learn the valuable business lessons required to play at the highest levels of our film industry. OK. I’m going to do some work in the yard and relax from my long week. We got the new floor in the office/fort last week and so more tinkering may be the order of the day. Tomorrow is Father’s day and so I will be spending some time with Pa Perry and family before heading off to the soccer field. It has been a good season and as always the workout is second to none. I’ve also been enjoying the WORLD CUP matches and look forward to the USA playing on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

DJ