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

Posts tagged “focus

Thoughts On Casting and December Updates.

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So with the weather change in Michigan from bitter cold to wet and warm, my sinuses were bugging me this morning. I also had to play ref for doggie wrestle-mania. Also with the snow melting I had to do some puppy proofing in the yard. Little Finn is starting to explore, dig, patrol and eat sticks, bark, mud. I had to harvest up the remaining wild grapes because grapes can cause kidney failure. He started some puppy classes and Daphne, our older dog has been teaching him good and bad. Before Luke got sick Daphne and he use to play fight every day. She is a touch out of shape but Finn is making her exercise daily. They are quickly becoming good siblings. Our only regret is that Luke did not get to take on a parenting role with a new little one.

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In between playing referee and doing work we’ve had TCM playing and I’ve enjoyed watching the many classic films. It is funny now how we can watch the credits and so many names are lost to me. I’m a lover of film and I still don’t recognize certain names that I’m sure were common household names at one time. But that is why we seek to make a few classic films that stand the test of time. To create those few roles that people will talk about for decades to come. I feel like I’m just coming into my prime as a storyteller both as an actor and producer. I also feel like my writing is finally being acknowledged and that’s a gift. But all the recent success is built upon many years of hard work.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

I think 2019 is finally the year to do the EARLY YEARS OF COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT which will be part film education. I would like to include the four first CDI films and the BTS and maybe a few retrospective interviews which might go on the social media. But before Michigan had a film boom it was truly a barren landscape with just a few filmmakers making a go at it. But KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS, HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST were our learning years and we paid close attention to the business. I would like to package them up into a definitive collection.

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Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Another area that I want to focus on is merchandise with our films. It’s something that I truly enjoyed throughout my life and I would like to be part of that tradition. I’ve had big ideas but like most filmmakers I’ve always been under financed. That is changing and I would love to put some of those plans in action. So feel free to drop a note here about any ideas for merchandise that you would like to see.

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This week many projects were taken to the next level. In 2019 we’re going to see three CDI films move out strongly into the marketplace. We’re now on the front lines of a new theatrical partnership our distributor has put together. I’m awaiting the home video dates on WILD FAITH that has been delivered to the distributor. Tomorrow the re-mastered theatrical version of WILD FAITH will go to the theatrical partners. I’m in hopes to have a much more detailed announcement next week. We are still putting the final touches on a few deal points. But it will be all worth the wait.

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MBF has had a good showing at the first film markets. The feedback I received was commenting on the professional quality and strength of the story. Our first trailer was put together somewhat in haste due to a sudden demand for a first look after Mipcom. It was decided to spruce up the AFM teaser and release it as a first trailer. I’ve had many people reach out who support our military and/or dogs to comment on the story. This will be a wonderful film with a strong message and we look forward to bringing it to everyone. There is an initial interest in a limited theatrical release – more to be discussed once we get the film further done the line.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – If you’ve watched FORTY NIGHTS and traveled into King Herod’s lands in CHASING THE STAR, the next journey is coming. The Quest Trilogy will be complete with part 3. We’ve been working hard in the studio and the film is now sounding great! The picture is just epic and now the music is matching. Sound design is so much fun adding wind, animals, crowds, creaks, sails, swords and the list goes on. We’re adjusting dialog where it’s needed to create great from good. Post is a serious process that really seperates the professional from the amateur. It takes time to get there and those watching our films would notice a steady progression. Now when we sit in the IMAX watching it on the big screen I’m always taken back to those early days. Keep moving forward.

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LOST HEART is the film that is slated to be on deck for Spring 2019. A funny heart-warming drama that also deals with a few serious topics. Add a large dose of Michigan charm and I think we’ll have another great film. It will again be distributed under our deal with BMG. I’m also looking at Summer and Fall films and I know it will be a productive year ahead. I think we’ve found a few of our actors and some are returning favorites. We’ll be posting on this film as we enter the new year.

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I’m going to also use the winter to finish a few of my other scripts including my Sci-Fi script. I’ve had a few people talk to me about commercial and non-commercial projects in the new year. Again if your script is good. You’re financed and compensating your talent, and you think I fit something, run it by me. I know, I’ve offended a few people with passes on projects in the past, but it was done politely.  We are defined by what we say NO too. When I say YES, I put my all into it. I’ve got a few projects that I put a lot of myself into and they never got finished. A couple were well compensated projects but still the art is buried. So I look for quality and people who can finish.

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Speaking on this. I recently saw a project that looked interesting but before someone rearranges their day or even does a read, especially as a co-star or major role, I think signing a non-disclosure to read a script is in order.  If I have not worked with the group before, I do ask that the project be funded. Because reading, really reading can take 1-2 hours and if that time is spent, it should be worth it. There are exceptions, but I’m talking cold auditions for unknown parties. The response of “compensation is pending role and will be discussed if role offered” or “script provided only if cast”…whoa! What if the talent dislikes the script. Hours driving, memorizing, reading only to drop out after a read because of a poor script/blueprint. I don’t like my time wasted or to waste other’s time but will often do a quick “sketch” off sides if the story interests me. If they like the sketch the next step is to read the entire script if the film is funded. Nothing like those inexperienced filmmakers trying to raise 3.2 mil to do their first film. That’s like me and a few buddies building a spaceship out of lumber and junk to fly to Mars. Not likely. So, I’m going to remain open to working with some new folks but if you approach please do have your ducks in a row. I’m happy to see that happening with some of the Michigan groups. I’m beyond happy to see the success both in business and storytelling.

And with that…I’m going to make some lunch and do a few things around the house ands get ready for another great week. It has been a great mix of business and catching up with family and friends. I hope you also enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

DJ

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April Updates – Springing into Action

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The hazelnut coffee is flowing and the sun shines- but the chill remains outside. We chopped up some more wood to feed to wood stove in the office this week. I’m pretty good with the ole axe which is not only a great work out but helps develop your focus. I have several items we can chat about. This week I’ve had good meetings, location scouts and several business insights. Let’s start with…

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“Wild Faith” – after our string of sold out shows in Lansing and strong sales at Grand Rapids (which was just picking up speed) -we’ve now started our run at Emagine Theaters in Novi, MI and will play until the 12th. We might extend our week run if our weekend sales are strong enough. We did also just complete a ‘closed caption’ file which our distributor usually handles but having this pre-home video file will now allow our hearing impaired to also enjoy it in theaters. It will be added to our showings.

It will be playing in Florida at the ICFF next month and we’re working with several of you individually to try to get the film showing in your area. Hastings, MI where we filmed – please know we’re trying to set up at the theater. We might have to do weekday runs vs weekend as the main theater is under construction and they have studio obligations. So if you’re in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and want to see this film get over to Novi where it will play until the 12th of April. Four shows daily should provide several opportunities. If you want it to play around you we need contact info for the theater/manager/owner and for all of you to reach out and ask for the film. Thank you for all of you who have come out to enjoy this film.

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While we’ve been pushing this film out we’ve been working post-production on part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. We’ve had a surge of “Forty Nights” watchers because of the Easter season. And if watching that on Amazon Prime you might as well watch part 2 “Chasing the Star” – enjoy. Part 3 trailer is being color corrected and music composed. It will release in the coming weeks to start building hype for the pre-Christmas theatrical release and the wide home video release Easter 2019.

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Joining these biblical adventure films on Amazon Prime is our Civil War classic “Wicked Spring” and now “Ashes of Eden” joins it. The latter was directed by Shane Hagedorn and is a cool cautionary tale. I play an ex-military guy who tried to walk the straight and narrow but life did not quite allow that. It has many of the CDI tribe playing great dramatic characters. Check it out!

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“Ashes of Eden”

MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is now in pre-production with dates to start filming in late May into June. We’ve been targeting our crew for the next film and locking locations. We had a tech scout last week. I ended up getting more emotionally affected by both the prisoners at the jail and even more so at the animal shelter. After touring the shelter and having my heart poked by several of the stares begging to be taken and given a loving home – I fought to keep composed. The idea is to use shelter dogs and we plan to do an adoption event for our picture dogs. Once the film is ready to play theaters I also want to do adoption events in every city we play to. When I was pitching our plan to the shelter workers I almost lost it. I was there as a producer but my emotions surged. I was embarrassed that I had to fight to keep it all together. I had initial worries about getting to the right emotional places with my character. Now I worry about too much emotion and audiences not being able to understand me. I really did a doozy to myself writing something that is so wide open with vulnerable emotion and plays to my weakness. But it all felt truthful and honest and so I know that will only help the performance. All this is before even factoring in fully the heartache of the military vets. But I saw lines drawn between vets, prisoners, adoption dogs – broken souls wanting to be whole. The film also has a cautionary tale woven within. I think most of my scripts do. I’m very excited to tell another story with our wonderful CDI artists. I just found myself missing the carefree, humorous nature of ole Ben Lily in our past “Wild Faith” tale.

Travis in Action

Aside from all this I’ve been writing daily and getting some of the future content in line. I’ve been researching for the next biblical trilogy and working on some other exciting scripts. The new CDI website at http://www.cdiproductions.com is almost complete with phase one. Next phases include merchandise and streaming which is on deck. Please check out the website. This is where many of our castings and updates will be posted. The battle plans for the next couple years are underway.

I’m going to bring this to an end. I’ve enjoyed you all stopping by – next Saturday (April 14th) will also be the release of the music video I participated in. Trey Connor is the artist and the song is called “My Ghosts” – soon.

Be good to one another. Get out to Novi Imagine and travel back to 1875 with “Wild Faith” on the big screen. If you want to see more of our storytelling get onto Amazon Prime and take a watch.

DJ

 

 


That’s a WRAP! ReCap!

Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity  causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.

Wild Faith

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Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith

Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.

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‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.

THE QUEST TRILOGY

Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.

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And the second film…

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And now the business of development on the third film is starting.

So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.

I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.

Have a great week ahead!

DJ


Michigan Saturday (Casting Info, New Agent, New Role)

Well I spent a good day and a half with no wireless internet. Comcast just came and gave the major upgrade/overhaul and now things are working great. I had to stumble through a slew of email business exchanges via my phone and I apologize now for the random misspellings that likely made it seem that I had suffered a stroke. It has been a beautiful week outdoors with only one day hotter than I truly enjoy. Our garden is yielding its 1st tomato’s and after a good mow today everything looks great. It has been a semi-busy week that I tried to balance out with some good downtime just to ponder and think. Never underestimate the power of the quiet mind. You must make that time for yourself to think outside the mind storms that so often threaten to swallow us and our focus.

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The more that I’ve refocused energy on my home state the more hmm… disappointed I’ve been on the state of things here. (In our film business) I love Michigan and am proudly, a life-long resident.  I think that entitles me to have an opinion. I’ve been accused before of not really taking as much of an interest in my home state’s film industry. I think that is only partially true and comes with a major clarification.  I really do feel that I’m in a Collective worldwide with groups of sincere artists. I don’t see lines on a map and boarders of state and country, as much as I see A) sincere storytellers OR B) fame-chasing  bullshit artists. I know well the reputation we can get as Michiganders. I’ve got almost two decades working in this business and some years prior as a struggling artists. I’ve taken my journey step-by-step with no shortcuts or huge helping hands. I’ve fought hard by my ACTIONS, not words, to change how people think about Michigan. I know to a circle of industry people they know myself, they know CDI and they know the companies and projects we associate with and that is what they think of when they think Michigan.  Our ACTIONS have earned us the positive associate with our state.

I unfortunately have been privy to the other side of the coin. The pecking order, name dropping, fake it until you make it mentalities.  Insecurities by many of our state’s artists that create division vs unity. I’ve been made aware of some of the painful decisions by certain individuals /companies over the years.  Situations whereas some half-heartedly take on projects without a real clue to what it takes to successfully complete something. As long as they can wear their shades, talk on a blue-tooth and pretend they know what is happening – all good.

Some of the best artists out there are not the loudest talkers because they are in action. They are asking themselves, “How do I complete my art and make it fit into a business world?” Others talk the talk but seldom walk the walk. So I guess my interest/our interest as a company really is on the right collaborative fit and the character of the people, not the place they call home. You would think Collective Development Inc. says that all in its name. As a company we’ve spent millions of dollars outside our state and also a good amount inside our state. Sometimes it is the story that dictates location and sometimes business decisions do play in. I see many frustrated artists sound off because they can’t get any financial traction but they still want to only focus on the art/show/fun vs the business aspects. If you don’t do it as a business you do it as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that either. I make wine but I don’t own a vineyard. I play guitar but I don’t get paid to do so- They are hobbies. If you’re a hobby filmmaker who hates business – I would say avoid investors and focus more on donations like fundraising sites. Make stuff for fun and festival showings. Just don’t create disasters in the investor pools by piss poor management. When a project can’t even make it to market – to fail or succeed by an audiences vote to buy, that is ultimate failure. Now failure in itself can be a positive if you learn from it. If you accept it and embrace accountability and consequences. I’ve been witness as of late to some of this damage done and it really disturbed me. I wasn’t as mad but more sad because I know how hard it is to get established. I also know how small this industry truly is and how a few bad decisions can end careers.

As I pointed out last week – some careers being ended could be good for the whole. When we first started out and were given an opportunity – we gave every ounce of effort we could squeeze out. Even with that full effort we made our share of errors and had to overcome issues and setbacks.  Now when you see folks “half assin’ it” (My dad’s favorite saying), it’s just disheartening on many levels. Usually because someone nearby would treat that opportunity like gold. I’ve always done that when I say YES to some project. I always go into every film as if it could be my last. I have come to realize that some people claiming passion don’t really care about the work as much as they just want others to respect them. Hard lesson but still very simple – Respect is earned! You can’t buy it, demand it or find it. It’s earned! Make a movie under respectful  conditions and you’ve earned the respect for life. I’ve lost a lot of respect of some folks just by observing, listening, reading and watching. I want Michigan to be respected for the great artists living and working here. You are defined by your character and in turn help define us all as a whole. You will be defined by your actions.

Off the SoapBox – Other Film Updates:)

– Strong movement on “Supermodel Showdown” and with new footage – we’re making it even more compelling. Cool first TV series for sure.

– German sales deal moves into final delivery stages on our 3 films licensing to those territories.

– Awaiting MFO approval on a project – Shoot OR push that is the question. It all depends on how fast these ducks line up BECAUSE pre-production doesn’t happen with a wave of a magic wand. This project if it goes this year will employ many actors. Please do get your reels of previous drama work ready. If it moves ahead we will be moving fast. If you have reels I plan to eliminate many of the hoops and cast from reels with possible interviews. We will treat you as professionals but be ready like professionals.

– CDI announced new production deal on “Bestseller” and major re-organization underway. Some of the previous management on this project inspired some of my opening blog statements. Not all of them. I will also be announcing an on-screen role. I was offered a role in the film and after 3 days of consideration I accepted. I’m excited about this and I think fans will really enjoy it:)

– GREAT movement on ASHES OF EDEN. We had a good 30 country radio interview this past week. New theatrical trailer almost done. Dialogue edit almost done as music and sound design continues.

– Development of new relationships with networks continues. Working on some new HBO development.

– I did get a last-minute call from a director friend (J.B.) shooting some B-Roll in Lansing for a cool UK Sci Fi drama shooting in Michigan. I stepped in and did a great cameo doing something on camera that was a first for me.  It was a cool character and a cool scene. I was a little jacked up with energy on Take 1 and gouged my finger fast drawing a pistol. I guess if you ain’t bleeding – you ain’t working hard enough.

I will also be announcing that I have a new run going with a theatrical agent in Hollywood. I wanted a foot there because I am going to work into maybe a studio picture a year. I’ve had many of my A list crew friends working studio films in Hollywood ask why I wasn’t wanting to work on  studio films. I’ve been fond of the diverse, unique filmmakers I’ve gotten to collaborate with in the indie world. I keep working based on people who know my work on and off-screen. I don’t play Hollywood BS games very well and so if the best ass kisser is gonna win –  well, it won’t be me:) Ass kicker maybe:)  But the agents think my art is strong enough and if the studios  are looking for a new face – cool. Otherwise I’m just continuing to grow my audience film by film – country by country. Either way is fine or a nice mix:)

DISTRIBUTION UPDATE

“Locked in a Room” is part of a fall “8 Horror Films” set at Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart and other fine places. I think $10 or under and we share billing with several other stars showcasing their scary goods. It is getting scary movie season and I’ve put 3 out there and you can go back and watch even early classics if you so choose.

Some of these notices will be explained in more detail in forthcoming PR but I like to give all of you the advanced scoop:) Enjoy your weekend! Nice job by the LIONS also last night!

DJ