Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.
My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.
We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.
I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.
Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.
High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.
I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.
I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.
I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience. Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.
FILM UPDATES –
I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.
LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.
LOOKING AHEAD –
BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.
Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.
- We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
- Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
- We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
- Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
- Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects. We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.
As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.
Be safe and we’ll chat next week.
Good morning my friends from around the world, coffee cheers. I want to welcome our new readers and followers. This blog started as a way for me to discuss film updates so that at family and friend get-togethers, I didn’t have to sit around and re-tell stories. People could read something and ask questions if they really wanted to know something. I do feel extremely blessed to be able to do what I love, which is writing, producing and performing in motion picture. I also use this blog to help other artists remain inspired and to give insights into my journey, that you can apply to your own journey.
This past week has been extremely busy. Let’s look at a few of the exciting things from the week. OR, let’s start with the not so exciting:) BIZ tax season – I’ve worked hard this past week to get expense reports and such around on the films for our accountants. The 1099’s are being generated and K1’s will be put together for investors. I want to thank a “Unicorn” for all the help in pulling this together. I have a few more things to submit this week but a big chunk was accomplished.
BEST YEARS GONE, is the current name of the new CDI film. This past week I finished the first draft and now I’m on my deep polish. Again, I always stress this and so I will yet again. SCRIPT is the blue print for all the artists to work off of. As artists we can all easily go off on our own tangents. A script/blue print keeps everyone in step – art teams, locations, camera set ups, lighting schemes, just everything.
I cringe at the stories of no script on a project. I’ve had a few outside CDI projects/directors try to sell me on the fact we don’t need one. It was a polite pass from me. I believe in improve and being open to inspired added dialog but you need a story line to touch back to. I’m beyond excited by this next script which will be the #1 film up for CDI, likely shooting in May. We will be having meetings on this in the coming weeks. Location scouting and some prep work will begin in the coming weeks also. We’ll start to put all the paperwork together and get things moving in February towards production. Now, I want to draw attention to the DEVELOPMENT time that is spent by the producer team before we hit on-set pre-production. If people wonder how our CDI projects achieve these bumps in production value and process it is by the hard work of the producers. We have an incredible team that grows as we take in new apprentices that share the same mind set of art within business.
About the story – it’s a drama, off-beat love story that is more relatable than the RomComs. This is the blue-collar, everyman’s story, and much like other CDI films it has some great messages woven into the fabric of the story. Our CDI stories are general market stories for everyone. Now you can still tell a clean story that children may enjoy, within the show we can see consequences and actions in motion. This in turn teaches by illustration of actions and outcome. I try to write realistic scenero with people from all walks of life. I’m happy that the “faith-film” market has accepted us into their audience but our films play great to everyone. Maybe a majority of the faith-films are cautionary tales or reinforcement of some aspect of belief. On a whole, early faith films were not good quality and were likely merely a fun medium to explore with your youth group. I agree with this and better yet, an audience united in a positive belief system rallied to support these endeavors.
Now, I have heard the knocks against taking an award at a faith film but let me present something I’ve observed. Many young artists fought hard often, not always against restrictive parents who maybe did not get their love of these outside films that illustrated action, sex and violence. Yes. That sounds like the Bible too. But they left their small towns for mighty cities of high art. To do their film but it’s not that easy. Any aspiring filmmaker will tell you funds is the key. Now the faith-film market started a small boom like the 80’s horror market. All these filmmakers struggling in the pits of the mainstream started looking to re-tool old scripts or create new ones. So the production circles of these faith-films have seen a surge of the prodigal sons and daughters returning to their organized church beginnings. I’m not judging anything that pointing out that the faith market is growing stronger as many “come home” to tell a story.
My writing always had that old 70’s/80’s style of writing. Things like “The Waltons” influenced my writing. JAWS. THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG. E.T. and in the 90’s my writing was liked but called too old fashion. Now I’ve continued to evolve as a writer, I believe I’ve taken on a COEN BROTHERS humor vibe adding that to the other nostalgic influences. Either way, I feel blessed to be using my gifts. When I first saw cut one of LOST HEART, it left me teary-eyed hearing lines I’ve written performed so powerful. And set in a world that our artists worked many hours to create. It was beautiful.
LOST HEART – Let’s talk about this film since I already started. I watched the proposed lock cut yesterday. I saw 2-3 places to just check an edit but it was so good. I dislike when people over-hype stuff. Don’t call something fire when maybe it’s just coals or smoke. Hey, it’s a game of getting eyes but you want the eyes you do get to feel satisfied. We all know that feeling after watching a good movie. Now I will say that there exists people that can’t turn off their critical IQ brain and enjoy a story. They have limited imaginations because they don’t work that “muscle” yet they crave it. We all do, hence why we have an audience. We supply imaginative get-away for others doing other jobs. But after that rant, the film is really strong and if it gets the right eyes, it could be the break through film for many to that next level.
INSERT: I see many people think that one film is going to put them over and in a few cases it has. But to think of that as the plan is not wise, in my opinion. You don’t know which one will be your defining one. Now ask an actor defined by a role, one role. Maybe not what you want. It’s why Jeff Daniels has had conflict over DUMB & DUMBER. But I will say, with that movie, he accomplished with Jim, what every comedic actor wants. Home run and after home run – so many funny scenes that made people laugh and feel good. I get it. There are PROS and CONS to both. I don’t think I’ve ever had that one film that everyone knows but several pockets of people worldwide know me for this project or that project. One of my goals in the next ten years is to unify my fanbase. Not sure how that is done exactly save maybe getting one big hit. But I’m sincerely happy to stay the course. I think I’m creating some of the best work of my career. I know with writing I surely am. As an actor, I’m pretty fearless. As a producer I seek to be fair, keep people safe and make something we will all be proud of. I also always want someone to leave a CDI set a better person than when they arrived. I’ve only failed there on a few occasions. I believe in the no bad student, bad teachers. Some of these crew people learned how to set up this or that but need teachers in process, protocol and respect. I value those leaders greatly and so should you.
So LOST HEART will be traveling to the sound studio this week. Music and sound design will start in full. We also have some recording going on in Nashville for the film. I’m excited to have audiences enjoy this film at the end of the year. We deliver in June to our distributor and the film should roll out soon after. Follow us on Facebook or http://www.cdiproductions.com COMING SOON – Poster art and we’ll start working on the trailer.
WILD FAITH has been growing an audience especially since it started playing free for those with Amazon Prime. Also, we’ve had a good quarter with DVD sales, thank you Walmart. I hope we continue to expand into more retailers and platforms and to our foreign friends.
The most exciting news is that we are making a real go at launching ‘Hastings’ the “Wild Faith” TV series. We’re exploring a few possibly interested funding prospects. That would put an 1800’s TV series right here in Michigan. Tribe CDI could welcome weekly “guest stars” and I would look forward to working with more of our Michigan talent. What do I always say, GET THOSE REELS READY.
I’ve been doing that myself. My MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND reel is together and I hope it inspires more people to find and watch the feature film. Thank you to all those that have reached out. I will consider more action roles, nothing like starting that at almost 50:) Funny I feel like I’m maybe 25 and my maturity might run lower at times due to my Peter Pan syndrome:) 2020 will have more showings and events starting with one in Feb. in Bedias, Texas. Seek out the MBF facebook site and follow along. If you have not watched this movie, take a chance.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
EASTER will be upon us in no time so maybe you can do me a favor and take a watch on the three biblical adventures. Bible not your thing? Cool. Just watch it has a fantasy tale. The beauty is that everyone can and will get something different from the films. It is like what you bring in is what you get out. There is a lot of depth and a true attempt to entertain the possibility of divine ‘probe’ self-weakened and sent to experience the human condition of weakness. By LOGIC, can all-powerful be all knowing? Like a great riddle, what is the one thing that could elude all powerful? Weakness. This trilogy looks at small moments overlooked in the greater story. But I also think the three films capture the spirit of truth. I claim to be an expect of nothing. I don’t harshly judge any save those who judge others. Exploring the great mysteries of the universe is a wonderful thing. It should bring daily joy in the exploration. People organize together out of fear and this is true with religion also. The truth is that you can share your stories and beliefs with others but your relationship is always one on one, intimate, no intermediate organizations required. That said, fellowship and community can be good for some but isn’t best for all. Follow your heart. Be still and listen.
And enjoy a thoughtful watch of our trilogy. A FB page exists for THE QUEST TRILOGY and each of the films. FORTY NIGHTS. CHASING THE STAR. THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m just happy that Tribe CDI is part of the rich tradition of holiday films. I love that we’ve done these Chuck Heston inspired films vs Hallmark status quo. I talked to Chuck Heston, years ago (Thank you Myke Michaels) and I had always wanted to work with him. He unfortunately, had a hip replaced and moved more into voice over work in his later years. I hope he is smiling looking down upon our CDI work. Also Rance Howard, friend, mentor, co-star who passed before seeing the final part 3 of THE Christ Slayer. He loved the boat scene in TCS with the Devil and Jesus, sitting and talking. This has happened after he has returned and he has the Ferrari mentality. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, if you drive a BMW it’s a good car not a great car, so you go around racing everyone to prove how fast you are. Once you drive a Ferrari, you don’t race anymore. You know you’re a great car and you have nothing to prove. It is just one of those special scenes that will stay with me forever. Take a watch and tell me/us what you think. You can comment on here and I will give the approve:)
I’m sure I might have missed a few things but I have to get cleaned up. I am playing one of my favorite roles today. UNCLE:) We’re having a family get-together to eat and catch up. Enjoy the journey by working hard when required and making the time to relax and talk- face to face. We have several informal meetings that are different from pre-prod meetings. Ideas and thoughts are proposed and formed when we’re together, but the real work is when we’re apart. In your alone time, you must learn to be motivated. Do this and great things will happen. Do not, and frustration and everything that comes with that will follow. This last process can be applied in any endeavor. Your own business.
Have a productive week.
Happy Sunday to all of you out there. I’m sipping at the Michigan Cherry coffee and trying to recall some of my events of the past week. I ended up sleeping in a touch this morning. This week I did lots of yard clean up after the long winter. We’re shortening the garden, moving the outside chimera pit and stabilizing the floor on the garden shed. The last one included driving some 12 inch spikes in various places through multiple blocks of wood with a sledge-hammer. I did have an amigo over to trade-off with the hammering. I felt like John Henry the story on the man who hammered his way through the mountain beating the machine before expiring. Yesterday, the second day after I was SORE! I worked my core, front and back to the max. It is funny how I am use to swinging the axe but the hammer was a new addition. But that is what keeps the ole body strong. Filling bird feeders, gathering wood and I still have a list of things to do this week. After being chained to the desk for several hours there is nothing like a good work in the yard. But I’m sure you did not come here to hear about yard work. But once you do the work and put it out there to the universe it is a good way to not watch the pot waiting for a boil. A good fire outside or in the wood stove along with some hardy ‘viking work’ is good for mind. Last night I watched my Spartans play in the Final Four. They lost a hard-fought battle, playing hard to the end. I would be happy if I had one of the top four films in the country. I think the only time we did that was with Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town we were the #1 western rental in the US for 7 weeks. (Rentrak) and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks. Let’s talk movies.
Staying on the subject of westerns – WILD FAITH. Our Grand Rapids, MI run was extended. I have to see this week if we are still in Mississippi. I was told we are rolling into West VA but I will wait to see. There is a large push in the theatrical world for variety in films shown as seen in a recent VARIETY article. I think that Wild Faith is a powerful and entertaining film with a broad appeal. MyCinema is out there booking it across the country and we’ll see what communities it pops up in. I’m happy for anyone who gets to see it on the big screen as it plays great. I’m excited about the streaming and DVD release in May. I also hear tale that Walmart and other retailers will get it in June/July. I hope it makes it into Meijer like BOOK OF RUTH. Only because they have 1500 stores or so and it is one of my favorites. So if you get a chance to see it on the big screen, please do, you won’t be disappointed. I think you can pre-order DVD’s now on Christian Cinema and it should start appearing at more locations like Amazon, Target, Family Video… If you’ve seen the film hop over to IMDB.com and leave your review. I had a few great development discussions this past week which included talk on the Wild Faith TV series. Giddy Up.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I had talks this past week that might also result in CDI doing another biblical trilogy. I’ve had one in development for a while with three great stories told from a unique point of view. Part 3 of the series THE CHRIST SLAYER is available on DVD and streaming now. If you contact your local theater and ask them to book via myCinema they can put it on the big screen. We might do a special screening here in Lansing, MI on the big screen. My AZ friends please do reach out to Harkins Theaters and request it. MyCinema books through there all the time and our Yuma, AZ friends deserve to see this on the big screen. I’m anxious to see where it appears this Easter season but I’m even more excited to see where all three travel in the years to come.
Here is a great Behind the Scenes of The Christ Slayer
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This week I plan to get an update on where we’re at with the dialog mix on the film. Our director is doing a sound design cue sheet and I cannot wait for music. The film is in that quiet phase while the other films do their thing but soon it will have its time. It is due to be delivered to our distributor on June 30th which is part of the decision for the next announcement.
LOST HEART – is the next film for us. It is a charming and beautiful story of going home. Of finding oneself and examining the mysteries of life. We’re still in talks on the last few investment units on this film. Next week the account will be opened and we have the first checks rolling in. We’ve got a few sponsorship opportunities underway with some great businesses. If you have an interest in getting involved on that end please reach out to me directly. Casting and Crewing is all through the CDI site. http://www.cdiproductions.com and we do have a few castings to go. I’m extremely excited to move into pre-production on this film and with a few more small pushes we will be there. We are targeting rolling cameras in July!
DEVELOPMENT – As was mentioned above we have several projects in development. I’m excited about the stories we’ve told and the stories yet to be told. With the nice weather ahead I look forward to days working on the patio. I will not ramble on with these plans as that’s a little early.
This week I am going to try to step out to our local film festival’s opening night gala and support all the artists pushing to have their vision seen. I don’t feel like a MACK trunk hit me today so that is good. I might do a bit more work in the yard – maybe the June Bday party/CDI gathering might happen. It was postponed last year because my furry boy Luke was near the end of his journey. Our new addition Finn has brought immense joy into our lives and for that we are thankful.
Have a great day and week ahead.
I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.
As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.
I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.
I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful. It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.
This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.
The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.
WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.
I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF. Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.
Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.
The hazelnut coffee sits beside me bringing my computer in my head online with each sip. I’ve been returning to action since returning from Burbank. So I’ve been trying to plan out my fall. I’ve been considering all options before us while moving ahead. We’ll be announcing a few exciting developments including a production deal.
Right now my focus is on finishing the distribution deal on WILD FAITH, which includes a developing TV series. As many of you know and we’ll expand upon in a PR release – we won ‘Best Faith Film’ at Burbank International Film Festival.
My next priority is the finishing and releasing of part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY entitled “The Christ Slayer”. This film is the final chapter in our biblical adventure series. I again play Jesus and this film has the most VFX to date. Bridgestone Multimedia Group has it marked as their flagship for Easter 2019. I’m very excited for audiences to experience this film. Director Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job with it and Dennis Therrian is composing an incredible score and doing sound design.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is also in editing and will move into post music and sound design as The Christ Slayer exits post. We’ve been releasing official stills and a teaser will be released before Christmas.
I’ve also been writing a new script LOST HEART that I had intended to shoot this fall. But with the post schedule and my writing moving a tad slower because of the wrist (cast off now a splint for 30 days) – I think it may push to 2019. I want to do it right and that requires prep. But the script is still being worked and will likely be done this month. I just need to look at the entire slate and how we want to roll things out. Lots of moving pieces to consider. I think we might start doing a few table reads on possible scripts also.
Acting-wise I’m starting to feel the urge again to be in front of the camera. As always it has to be the right story. Outside the biz I’ve been enjoying the approaching fall. I’ve harvested hops and wild grapes for one of my new wines. We’ve got a few squash that will be a good addition to the dinner table. With no soccer today for me I’m going to try to put a one-handed mow on the yard. The wood stove might get a working tonight and so fire wood gathering and cutting will be more important in the coming weeks.
Enjoy the harvests in your life.
Good morning out there everyone. I’ve got the hazelnut coffee fueling me this morning. What a week on all fronts. I went to a memorial yesterday for a high school buddy’s dad. I call it losing training wheels (losing a parent) and it’s happening a little more often now. It was a great reflection on life and again a reminder to us all to enjoy your relationships and to work hard to achieve what’s important to you. The family were surprised and so happy to see myself and another old-school friend.
Just like the many times we all shared laughing and partying around the campfire this gathering also included many toasts. That’s why the hazelnut coffee is my friend this morning. I’ve not had a hangover since New Year’s Day (Thank you Garrett) and this was a mild one, but thankfully it has now passed. I think since the old processor brain is moving slow I’ll just do a random list of updates.
TOP TEN UPDATES FROM LAST WEEK
- We had another digital trading card release last week and a new one will be releasing again this week. I think five from each film. I also know that “Character Cards” and a poster will be coming for the 3rd film in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” – stay tuned.
- WILD FAITH music score will likely be finishing up this week. Our composer had 8 minutes to go when we spoke last week. We’ll be sitting down with our director Jesse Low this week to discuss the finishing of the film. I can’t wait to do a new watch with the music beds set in.
- “Forty Nights” will be playing Texas in Nov. followed by “Chasing the Star” in Dec. – Iowa will also be showing “Chasing the Star” as part of a Christmas program in December. We’ve just been approached by another church wanting to license. I’m happy that these church’s are going through the proper channels for licensing and not just going pirate on showing the films publicly.
- Upcoming film MBF (Man’s Best Friend) brought on more financial commits and we’ve got sponsorships developing nicely. This week we’ll be announcing more cast members. We met last week and we’ve got our target dates set with cameras to roll in March.
- The book deal on WILD MICHIGAN is close to being done. It was based on the original screenplay before it was restructured for budget as Wild Faith. It will allow readers to experience the original story. It was adapted to book format by author Dee Freeman. It will be available for Christmas!
- The KNIGHT CHILLS book is for sale now on Amazon and will be releasing to retailers nationally. David Hayes was the author who adapted the screenplay/film to a book.
- The “Chasing the Star” investors will be getting another ROI check this week. I truly do LOVE writing checks. It keeps the machine moving.
- Development work continues on several other collaborations. A western, a biopic, a few horror films and a biblical drama. I do love working with other artists and bringing projects from the page to the screen.
- The announcement that one of the library films would be getting new distribution with BMG was made last week. The ink is dry and I’m happy to report “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama will be releasing early in 2018. The film has never had a digital release due to the initial release was on VHS. This beautifully shot 35mm film will find a new audience. A great “making of” will be included on the DVD. We are also looking at a special Blu Ray release also. PR on this will be forthcoming.
- I enjoyed several meetings this week at the office with a fire burning in the wood stove. I’m going to be doing many more sit downs in the coming weeks. I have sat down with many filmmakers in a meet-n-greet style and will be looking to do many more. Even if we don’t have immediate business I do like to get to know the minds behind some of these other projects.
In addition to the on-going film work I’ve been harvesting and storing everything from tomatoes to kale (A Melissa Anschutz fav at meetings) to mushrooms. My small patch of ink tip shrooms are nothing compared to the giant puff balls I got Friday at my friend’s place. We will be cooking some of those up tonight. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few updates but please do seek out and find your favorite film page on Facebook and follow the updates there.
Have a great week ahead and enjoy your Sunday.
While most of my blogs are directed towards my career and I occasionally make personal notes pertaining to certain things – I don’t often get too in-depth but today I will share a little. My imagination and love to play stemmed from a great childhood that I shared with a group of children in our own small secluded neighborhood on the edge of Lansing in Michigan. I moved there when I was five when my parents built a house. Our neighborhood was surrounded by woods that would become our Sherwood Forest, Ninja training camps and battleground for numerous BB gun wars. Forts of all sizes were built underground, in trees and everywhere else, usually consuming every piece of lumber we could pirate from our dad’s workshops. The one neighbor across the street Alan, was the 1st to come introduce himself to the “new kid” – me. He had been held back in school which to some gave him a negative moniker. But to us he was the mad scientist and Scottie from Star Trek rolled up into one. He was handy with all manner of tools. He had a good basic understanding of electronics and mechanics although some of his handy work was a genuine fire hazard. He was the guy who brought so much to our adventures and was anything but disadvantaged as some in the school district would have had you believe. In the earliest “movies” we would play with my dad’s camcorder and create our stories. Alan was always good for a little special effects especially if it included fire. I could fill a book with the adventures we all had but I will not write them all here. The thing is he passed away today after an illness that took on several complications. I had followed his progress for several weeks and recently thought that perhaps, just maybe he was on the mend. It was not meant to be so. So as of today he no longer has to struggle with the day to day issues of living in this world. I know he will be greatly missed. His sense of humor and his gentle demeanor will be remembered. But most of all I’m so happy that he came and knocked upon our front door to introduce himself all those years ago. I recall that day as if it was yesterday. I thank him for the friendship we shared during our adventuresome youth. My life would not have been the same without Alan’s friendship in those early years.
One of my early birthday parties with my brother standing behind us, Darrel to my right and Alan to my left. RIP my old friend. I’m in AZ finishing the final week of shooting here but my heart will be with his family putting him to final rest.
Lesson: Follow your dreams and be good to one another. Appreciate those around you for you never know when their time here amongst us all might end.
Sipping some dark coffee with that hazelnut goodness added as the outside looks like giant snow globe. Yesterday was spent on several shopping trips, a nice meal out and stocking up on food items. Today will be a belated bday gathering for my step bro so at least one trip out. I’m gonna fire up the wood stove at the office and do some organizing. Most of my time lately has been prepping for end-of-the-year and new year business. Let’s look at some updates.
The Quest Trilogy –
“40 Nights” new deal is complete on our end, signed and awaiting countersigned paperwork. What this will mean is a new push into the market in 2017. A possible return to theaters plus we’ll target a new 2nd quarter Easter 2017 national rollout. A possible festival or two as the film was invited to showcase.
“Chasing the Star” deal is being done as we speak. We’ll be doing premieres including a Yuma, AZ showing when we’re there to film the 3rd movie. A theatrical run plus event showing will follow the premiere(s). The talk is the national release will be in September 2017 on the run up to Christmas 2017.
When “Chasing the Star” is releasing nationally the third film will be finishing post. I think the idea is for 1st of the year 2018 theatrical and event showings on “The Christ Slayer” with a national release targeting either Easter or Christmas 2018.
On “The Christ Slayer” – I’ve been in talks with a handful of directors and I might be close to a decision. Also get those dramatic reels updated especially if you are on the west coast as that is where we will be filming. We announced some of the returning cast and more exciting announcements lie ahead!
This has been an exciting run on this trilogy of films. I hope audiences can enjoy these films for many years to come.
Wild Faith – The feature is in post and will likely be done next Summer (2017) and we’ll plan a fall release. The film is designed to be the pilot feature for a TV series so we’ll see how that plays out. I am doing some prep work on this endeavor which would be quite the undertaking. I’m thinking we might show the 1st teaser trailer on NEW YEARS DAY. This 1800’s tale is going to be powerful and I’m proud to have it counted amongst our product.
I’ve continued to get updates on projects like Sunn Classics “C.U.J.O.” and have a few films I acted in that still have not released “Dead Quiet,” and “Division 19” but that is often the way.
I’m going to cut it here as I have a string of things to get done before the Lions play and we have our family gathering. We might have to hook the dogs up to a sleigh. Have a great day and be safe on those roads.
On this day we remember our stories about where we were at when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember that I was having a morning much like today – hazelnut coffee, chill music and doing some film work. Dean Teaster called me to ask if I was watching TV, to which I said I wasn’t. I turned on to see one tower on fire and replays of the impact. BOOM! Another plane impact and we all know the story of the other planes. I remember MaryJo Cuppone’s flight attendant friend died in one of the planes. I remember Ed Schaefer in NYC being in the street dust after the impact. Killing is not divine. Hate is a choice. We are all neighbors in this world.
It has been a whirlwind of film activity. As we get ready to review some of the first numbers on “40 Nights” I’m proud of the growing base of viewers. The film did not roll out with huge fanfare but has become a film you hear about – you hear good things about and you seek it out. Here is one of my favorite reviews.
If you watched this film and enjoyed it – reach out and share it with someone.
Chasing the Star – the 2nd film in The Quest Trilogy has a first trailer which is still getting a polish. I expect we will roll out a new poster here soon. The music is almost complete and VFX has started. Our friends from CHOP & HUE have also joined the project – making this their second film with us.
The Christ Slayer – As soon as “Wild Faith” ship is out to sea I will start putting the business together on our third film in our trilogy. I’m actively looking at directors and speaking to talent and keys. We will look to shoot in the spring in AZ.
Our midWestern “Wild Faith” is loading the ship as I like to call it. The foundation work is well underway and this week we’ll open the account and start to prepare for the journey. We’ve identified most of our artist sailors of our cast and crew. This week we will finalize that process. I’m excited also by the idea of an ongoing TV series because of the great talent. I have ideas for many guest stars including many of your favorite legends of the genre. It looks like Mr. Darby Hinton will be joining our cast. He has a long impressive list of TV & film but many love him from Daniel Boone still playing strong on 3 networks right now. We also have a list of extremely talented actors from Michigan joining our cast. We’ll be announcing more of these cast and crew as we start signing deals.
Well, MSU is off this weekend. The Lions play in a few hours and so I’m going to get some additional work done around the yard. The garden is full and needs to be harvested. Speaking of, I bottled 2 cases of “Return of the Green Goblin” that came from last years harvest. I’ve been dealing with this mega beard during our humid heat but now we’re in a beautiful cool phase. Tonight I may even make a fire. Enjoy the remaining weekend and be good to one another.
My head is spinning from recent activity and I’m gliding into a much deserved relax mode so I can spend a few moments with all of you. Busy. Very. But nix that I want to talk about FIRE. I’ve had a fascination with fire since and early age. I’m told that fire and clock were two of my earliest words. Interesting…I mean fire is transformation – the sacred change. It is creation and destruction united in a dance. I do appreciate clocks – my favorite might be my one and only Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise. I take that back I was also gifted an R2D2 flash drive. I have the Death Star plans! So the office is finally getting the antique stove installed tomorrow. It has been a couple years in the planning but now it is happening. The office “my fort” is a creative space and the warm fire will add to those fall and winter days and nights.
Okay now we can return back to the other talk of films and such. So we’re about to do what is in a way, my first sequel. I’ve played many characters whom I felt deserved a continued story. JUDGES 2 got stumbled by the passing of Russ Stine who was slated to costar. Alex Kenwood, Mayfair, John (several), Stan Reed, Kendall and even Mason from “The 8th Plague” who died so Germany wanted a prequel. We still may do “Soul Eater” in the future once I find the right director. But the world shown in “40 Nights” is alive and we’re about to go play in it again. This happens right as audiences will be experiencing “40 Nights” on the big and small screen. Early reviews and the reactions from buyers has been very strong. We are starting on the 26th of Feb in Lansing & Grand Rapids Michigan, with screenings at Celebration Cinema.
It will also be hitting the shelves at Walmart on March 5th and other retailers start to get the film around April 5th. But I encourage everyone to experience it on the big screen. The camera work is breathtaking. Kudos to Jesse “Smooth” Aragon.
We’re on the launchpad with the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY “Chasing the Star” – this week we’ll be announcing lots of the talented people onboard. I had a chance to talk to a well known actress who burst on the scene at 21 and has kept a steady flow of films. She is busy getting ready to go film in Peru? We want her for this role and so I sent a sales link to our first film. She said, I’ll watch a few moments so I can have a conversation. She watched the film all the way through to the end, totally drawn into our world. She gave great remarks about all aspects and noted how you could tell the care and craftsmanship that went into the film. WOW! She started too by saying how smoke blowing is not her thing and honest was. I thought I was in for a harsh review but instead accepted praise for the whole team. She badly wants to be in our next film and if she gets back to the USA on schedule that just might happen.
The point is we are doing something right. The business people like us because we stay on schedule, budget and turn out unique art. Why the first is important is so that marketing teams can plan on you in advance. I’ve got a few great director buddies and I’ve never seen them turn something around in 10-12 months. And trying to get them to that playing field would likely cost our friendships.
Speaking of good business – I want to thank our friends at the Garmax Group for again sponsoring and riding with us on “Chasing the Star”
March is “40 Nights” but April is “Ashes of Eden” and “Bestseller” and “Donors” are May. So the ramp up to many releases – pre-production, promotions…you get the busy.
All that said, I’m also looking forward to another outdoor soccer season. My body is healed from a season of demolition derby and running like a 20 year old. Playing soccer weekly in a highly competitive league is my best weekly meditation.
The soundtrack deal is on the table and I have to finish that up. We’re leading off with “40 Nights” and moving down the line. More licensing deals and such will be coming as we make our way through all these deals.
It was great having films like “7 Stones” and “Figure in the Forest” playing on different television channels and people reaching out. I think this year we’ll be licensing the films to more networks and territories.
So IF you can get to one of the Michigan “40 Nights” screenings do so. Here is our newly remastered theatrical trailer –
We’re also working to bring it on the big screen to several other states. Church’s have submitted and asked to license the film at http://www.40nightsthemovie.com you can direct your church or organization there. The films were not designed business-wise to release as major theatrical but after finishing the film – it deserves it. So we’ll keep working it. I do know we are about to set some showings working with our friends in Yuma, AZ. Get ready Champion, it’s almost time.
I’m back in my chair relaxing by the fire. I’m recovering from a whirlwind couple days in the Kalamazoo, Michigan where we got together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of IN THE WOODS. This creature feature was released in a dozen countries and has grown into a true “cult classic”. I got a chance to see some of my old co-stars and our director, his wife and family. The night before we looked through all the concept art, posters and promo stuff. We looked at all the past business it has done and toasted a NEW distribution deal. The deal is for Blu-Ray release and VOD into the UK and other Europe nations to begin with. Friday was a radio show followed by a TV show and of course the nights screening. It was great to just enjoy what the film is and the life it has grown into. What it has grown into is a film that has audiences cheering, toasting and enjoying every bit of cheesy dialogue and clumsy monster. I’m very happy that the film hasn’t just disappeared but has grown in popularity.
Next up Oct 23 “Locked in a Room” will be playing at the Canton library in Michigan.
We are also gearing up for 17th East Lansing Film Festival with ASHES OF EDEN.
We are going to be making an announcement about this films distribution at the festival.
BESTSELLER and THE TERRORIST are continuing in their post production work.
Some exciting stuff is starting to develop also on the new film front. I announced recently my involvement in WASTELAND, Tales of the Desert. We announced our main cast of Nick X. Parson who will join David Gries and I in Nevada this December. There will be some cool developments on this project we will be releasing soon including some 1st teaser art and social media sites.
We look like we might be closing in on a deal with DONORS, another thriller. I’m going to keep this update short as I didn’t get much sleep the last two days. Also MSU is getting ready to play in just a few and so I’m going to take a mental break for a few hours here. I think some good food is in order. I want to once again thank all my fans out there. It was a pleasure to meet some of you last night and sign some posters.
I’ve enjoyed the chill of the last week or so – a preview of the coming fall. The garden is starting to slowly give its first harvests of beans and peppers. The tomatoes and such will soon follow. I’ve done a good job this week of downshifting and being patient on things already in motion. I’ve focused on what I can affect and removed draining attentions from what I cannot. This past week I’ve pulled in some of my energy and nurture it like an inner fire. The waxing to full moon last week gave a good time to quiet the mind – to think and form feelings on certain matters in my orbit. I will try to put a few of those thoughts here for you all to compare to your own experiences.
I’ve got a few projects in my orbit that are not my own but projects I was sought out on. These individuals either enjoyed the previous art I’ve created (with all the artists collaboration) or they have been referred by my ability to lead people and stay on a schedule, on a budget and create order within chaos. I’ll start by saying I’ve turned down a few projects this year just because of the foresight of danger and hardship due to people who can’t communicate properly. Without that the path can be a thorny one.
In a world where the artists are often staving artists and you don’t know exactly where the next check will come from it is very tempting for some to take any and all work. Accepting a challenge is one thing but would a group of soldiers armed with sticks march against a well-armed brigade? If you don’t have what it takes or you are ill prepared and weakly armed don’t march off to battle. It is that simple but many still take a loose attitude towards this. In the end it will hurt you. There is a legal term in our business called “Best Efforts” and it is something I live by. I always give my best effort in my efforts. I always try to state things how they are even if it’s often not what someone wanted to hear. Now I don’t go throwing my opinions around where they are not asked for or really are not needed. IF you do take on a challenge I implore you to give your best effort. Anything less is not only a knock on your character it can be legal liable. One such project has suffered from being ill prepared and bluntly mismanaged. I’ve been approached to see if I would be interested in fixing this project and finishing it properly. I think in the interest of saving face of our good state I just might. It wasn’t anything I had planned upon as I’m likely about to manage another project about to film. It would line these things up for me back-to-back and basically be my year. I will think on these things more.
The other project is a drama and should be shooting in the Detroit area if everything rolls right next week. The paperwork is being prepped and if all goes proper we will bring this story to the screen. I’ve enjoyed the prep work with the director thus far and I think we would have a good group of artists. It also will provide many acting opportunities for Michigan folks but please do not hammer me with reels at this time. We do have a casting director and that process will roll out once we are a full go. So again I’m just exercising patience and lining things up for a smooth ride. It all lies in the prep.
In other news – “Darkest Night” our newest GPI/CDI release has been moving DVD’s like crazy at Amazon and I hope you all are curling up and enjoying this frightening little film. As we move into the fall if you need a scary film for those nighttime thrills you have three from me so enjoy.
The “Supermodel Showdown” TV series is moving ahead nicely and we are about to open up some sponsorship opportunities for some national companies.
“Ashes of Eden” is pulling steady down the tracks now and I’m very exciting to show our premiere audience and the distributors we have following us.
We saw the start of “Figure in the Forest” playing on Parables TV and that is always a nice thing to introduce one of our stories to a new audience.
We are continuing our talks on licensing our films to other countries. I’m looking forward to entertaining more world audiences with our films.
“Benjamin” that I shot in NYC is undergoing a name change to “The Terrorist” and some re-ordering of the actual film is underway working with our distributors. I’m excited to see the new cut.
Additionally, I’m just working some paperwork this weekend while getting some domestic stuff done. I could be hotel bound for a while but shooting in Michigan would allow me some home stops which is always nice. So it might be a busy end to the year but that is about normal. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend and enjoy your family and friends.
The corn-beef and cabbage cooking and coffee is flowing and today is a good day to be Celtic. Yes. Scottish/Irish on one side and German/English on the other I believe. The St. Patty’s Day has fallen on a Sat. and with the summer-like weather in Michigan we’re having an outside day of it. Bon-Fire, beer and burgers and later the corn-beef. It has been fun getting the yard and garden ready for the new planting. Bottling of the “Green Goblin” (Read earlier posts) will happen soon. I have a beer batch to try following that. The month was one of promotion and looking at projects both in development and submitted to me to act in. I cut about 5 inches from my hair in prep of soccer season and the coming heat. I’m excited about the projects ahead and development has also been moving steadily ahead. Let me see if I can give a few good updates but 1st let’s talk about – WORK!
Many people on the outside view our industry as fluff not realizing the intense work of developing, funding, executing and finishing film projects. I understand but still feel slightly put off when people just throw out the “Hey put me in a movie”. Yeah, because it takes no real skill or development to do what we do. BullSHI*! I would say that I work very intensely to get done what I must. I wouldn’t say “Hey how about you let me weld that ship panel in place” or “I’ve never coached but I can take over team for a week or so”… – you get my point. Ship may sink and team will lose but then again many folks think that TV/Film is done in a matter of hours or days. People are still surprised when I say a 12 hour day might get 3-5 minutes of a film done – rough footage only. Let me remind you that this is with new tech equipment unlike the old days and earlier. Have you ever spliced film together?
I’ve found some people want to say “I’m a filmmaker. I’m a director.” but don’t like to do the work. They are often quick to schedule showings and set unreasonable deadlines and act surprised when they fail to meet them. It does happens BUT this is something that must be corrected in good time or they will not last. It is like an actor that is often late. They won’t be around long because at the end of the day it is work and the weakest link can hurt the whole. Also a recent example which I will not highlight with a name but includes finger-pointing at the artists under them and FIBS. First if you are in a position of power it is your responsibility to motivate, manage and make sure things move along. If not it is YOUR fault. Sure you might have less dedicated artists and they should not be hired again. That said, if you hired/brought them onboard that = your responsibility. Also with filmmaking and other folks $ the executive team must deal in truth. The good, the bad and the ugly. If someone drops the ball you are the bigger person by admitting that. I’m still surprised at the people who would rather blame someone else than accept responsibility. And if they will fib on something small they will easily fib on something larger. It is a major issue with me and speaks volumes about character. My advice is be organized and focused – do your work and motivate/manage positively. A good leader will cover honest mistakes by accepting responsibility for the team, apologize and work twice as hard to remedy the situation. Some people do not know this lesson and will struggle in life because of it. Enough of the behind the curtains of the Great and Powerful Oz – onto updates on projects that have made strides. Just try to recognize how much work actually goes into your favorite film or TV program.
– A “Donors” trailer will be forthcoming likely at month’s end or start of next month.
– I’m hearing Hollywood showings of “Darkest Night” will be in May so marketing materials can all be put together upon the completion of the film.
– The followup CDI/GPI film will be “The Beast” and a Philippine director has been chosen by Russ Williams – I need to read new draft of script this week.
– More “Secondary Heroes” location photos are being taken in Ohio & Michigan
– Waiting on some $ word on both “Soul Eater” and a reborn “Wild Michigan”
– “Race to Judgment” revised script complete and more packaging underway including the addition of Lana Wood, Roger Collard & Delvon Roe
– “Dean Teaster’s Long Road Home” packaging our distributor interest for a possible fall Michigan shoot
– “Locked in a Room” will have a Michigan premiere on May 3rd 7:00 and I’m told cast and crew will be free and guests and public will be a paid admission. Additional theatrical showings are also being set up by director Larry Simmons.
I might have a few updates on CDI TV division and our commercial division will soon be announcing a large “Making of” project for a large studio project I’m involved with. With the sunshine comes a new energy to work hard and tell some great stories. BUT today is going to be a day of friendship, family and enjoying the day!
May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire