It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
Good morning. It is 2019 and we’ve started a new turning of the wheel. The holiday season was enjoyable spending time with family and friends. I want to welcome our new readers from Israel and France, we’re so happy to having you join us. Like everyone else I’ve been planning ahead to the new year and also working hard to finish our two films THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH for their theatrical 2019 release with our new partners. Once these get off the desk so to speak we’ll focus on getting our locked cut of MBF and increase development work.
I hope to get theatrical locations and dates here soon but know that people are just getting back to work. The remastered WILD FAITH is having distributor poster art done and promotional trailers for social media. Same with THE CHRIST SLAYER with the promotional pieces and the poster art is already completed. This is an exciting time of what and see – but I can say, as we do final review on THE CHRIST SLAYER for credits, what an awesome job by all our CDI artists. Nathaniel Nose and Dennis Therrian really pulled it all together. I’m so very proud of our artists on all three films. As the last one readies to roll out, I only hope audiences are able to take something away from it. It is a beautiful story and everyone should be proud to have this one on their resume for a lifetime.
Outside of film direct, I spent a good part of three days prepping for the moving of a storage shed onto our property. As a company we’ve started to gather items that make production a lot easier. I’m going to use it for storage of items from 5 gal water containers to 100 cup coffee makers. A CDI trailer will likely be the next step to be used during productions. Maybe a craft service food truck, whoa…settle down there DJ:)
I’ve been working to help prep a friend for their first feature film directorial and of course LOST HEART development will start to pick up speed. Several discussions have taken place with this film and we have some good attachments. “Strong drama, good humor with a dash of suspense and action – just like a good trip up North in Michigan!” We’ll start making some PR announcements in a few weeks concerning this movie.
I’m going to finish this up and get on with a few things today. I’ve got a busy week ahead and hope the same for all of you.
Be good to one another in 2019!
Good morning my friends. I’m sipping the sweet hazelnut coffee on a sunny morning here in Michigan. Once again I want to welcome our new readers from Spain, Ireland and France along with our international friends already following along. What an amazing week of developments on so many fronts. Let’s start with the ongoing success of THE QUEST TRILOGY. Part 1 “Forty Nights” continues to grow an audience on Amazon Prime and other fine platforms. If you still love DVD’s like I do you can also but on Amazon. The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” just played the ICFF (Essentially the Christian Oscars) and from 5 nominations we WON ‘Most Inspirational’ film. This is my favorite award because it speaks to the hard work of everyone involved and we did what any storyteller can hope for – inspire people. Both of these films are so worth a watch and the part 3 “The Christ Slayer” will release in theaters during the holidays this year and will release wide on home video Easter 2019. Look for us to release the theatrical trailer in June of this year. Congrats to our entire cast and crew of CHASING THE STAR!
WON ‘Most Inspirational’ Film at ICFF following last year’s win with “Forty Nights”
With four nominations “Wild Faith” was in competition and WON for Best Leading Actress – Ms Lauren LaStrada and also WON 2nd place “Runner up” for Best Film. Now I know what Ricky Bobby would say but we’re very happy to accept the second place spot. But this horse (Kentucky Derby references) is still running hard. We have play dates right around the corner.
And we will not stop there. We’ve got many venues we’re still in discussions with. But I wanted to thank ICFF for their acknowledgement of our hard work on both films. We’re also in serious home video discussions on “Wild Faith” and I should have home video release dates in a week or two. But if you have friends in Holland or Grand Haven, MI or in Gibsonton, FL make it a point to see this fine story on the big screen.
Let’s talk “MBF” or Man’s Best Friend, our next film. We’ve almost finalized the cast (waiting on the last few offers to close) and we’ve started work on hotels, flights and such. Have some patience as we start getting the cast and crew agreements in place. I’m beyond excited at the talent we’ve got attached. The script has drawn great praise and personally I’m almost where I want to be with the character I’ll play. I’ve been immersed in the role and I’m excited by the various exchanges I’ll have with some other very talented actors and actresses. I’m even more excited by the positive light we can shine with our collective storytelling.
In my casting discussions on the west coast I’ve identified a few other notable talents to work into the tribal fold. CDI will be entering into a production deal to help us create more often with less down time. The idea of a TV series or sequel to “Wild Faith” is a real possibility on the table. I’m sincerely thrilled to be where we’re at as a production group. Those in our crew circle should soon be able to enjoy some consistent work on projects that steadily get larger in scope. It’s all team building and we’re starting to get there.
I’m about to go throw the first mowing of the year on the yard. I love the zen of the back yard and watching birds, squirrels and other beautiful wildlife gives me daily peace. The garden will get tilled this week since right now only weeds are growing. I have another soccer match today. Last week we fought to a 4-4 tie in a great battle. We’ll see how today plays out but I’ll be ready to attack the week. In a few short weeks we’ll be on set storytelling again.
Be good to one another.
Welcome new readers from Sweden, France and Russia. I’ve been to Sweden years ago with my overseas soccer team. I’ve never been to France or Russia but you never know. This week marked the back-to-business full steam ahead. I had a wonderful holiday and truly appreciated the downshift in schedule. I had to keep some work flowing but it is important to take those moments to appreciate. You don’t want to keep moving your goals back. Allow your self to enjoy where you are and to reflect on what made that journey easy or difficult. Learn.
These two knuckleheads were clawing the frozen ground seeking food. I hooked them up. Needless to say, they are now very happy and have joined the DJ Perry fan club.
These five talented men – I’ve co-starred with all of them previous to “Wild Faith” – I’m excited for all of them to see what they created. It is a goal for cast and crew to be proud of their involvement. Some don’t always appreciate the endeavor until many years later and some understand the life and love we put into these stories as they live it. Be appreciative of the friendship, the art and opportunity. Films are HARD WORK.
New meets old guard as we announced two more fine actors going the cast of Man’s Best Friend – MBF. Curran has only worked with CDI on one previous film and Greg, well he was in CDI’s first film and has done many films with us, so he has OG status within the tribe)
This past week has been spent organizing for 2018 and prepping for the new 2019 films. We took a few steps closer to financing fully our MBF film. I’m excited to return to that role once I lock this business down. I’m trying to get it done by the end of the month.
Wild Faith new trailer dropped (HERE)
The response has been great. But I can say in all honesty that the film is so much more enjoyable. The trailer is strong but the performances and characters created by everyone just make the world a place you want to return. I’ve got a few companies to run the final film by. I’ve held back from assigning to our current distributor only because I’m trying to leverage the TV series. The world is great and I can see a great opportunity to showcase more of the strong Michigan talent. The final audio and visual tweaks are being made. We’re starting some theatrical discussions in Michigan. Also we’ll be discussing a cast/crew/media showing and a Michigan premiere. It will be a fun spring and summer showing the film followed by a fall/winter push to home video. Exciting to see where it all goes. Some big eyes will be on the final film.
Josh Perry (Albus) and DJ Perry (Jesus) on set “The Christ Slayer”
The holiday season was a wonderful push for the first two films released in The Quest Trilogy. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star did very well and I’m sure we’ll be seeing the results of that soon. It will continue to play Amazon Prime and add new platforms, networks and territories. As we get to the end of January we’ll start to roll out a new level of promotion on the third film The Christ Slayer. I actually had a nice catch up with Josh Perry, one of our co-stars. We’re all excited to finish the trilogy. The first meetings over music and sound with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian and director Nathaniel Nose took place. I was shown the new trailer in the works. The first official poster should also be close to ready at the end of the month. The film really looks great and the trailer will be another great look. The teaser was intense but the trailer…smiles all around.
New releases this year for ASHES OF EDEN, WICKED SPRING and more…CDI Publishing launched with If I have any readers that enjoy doing reviews please do.
Dee Freeman is the author of the book based upon the earlier Wild Michigan screenplay. I have a few other books to post once the deal is done. Teaster (Dean’s Teaster’s Ghost Town) by Bob Terrell might be next. The KNIGHT CHILLS book starts a tour this year with author David Hayes. Again great to be working with all these artists.
TO BUY the KNIGHT CHILLS book * and movie
Lastly, we will be announcing CDI’s new website. We’re going to be expanding into streaming films with great talks coming from some of your CDI favorite actors and crew on the making of these projects. Direct Casting information to deal with our rush of reels and a new Merchandising section. Swag and merchandise has been one of the most asked about things and so I’m going to make efforts to grow that. You can JOIN THE TRIBE: Don’t hate, Create! – I was asked to take this saying of mine and put it to a shirt. Perhaps:)
Okay. Have a productive week everyone and try to stay warm. I’m going to cuddle in with this guy for a few and visualize the week ahead. Never stop dreaming. Never stop doing.
Welcome Poland, France and Australia. They’ve been following the blog and even readers are now hailing from China. I’m excited that so many artistic individuals are finding a community around ‘Clawing my way to the Middle’ blog. I’ve just gotten back in from running around including visiting my mom which has been fighting a cold. Actually many around me have been sick from my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and the list goes on. A party for my step-sister who just became a doctor MD was shortened due to illness. I just try to keep moving past it all and so far (knock on wood) only slight sniffle or cough first thing in the morning and fine after that. No soccer today because of Mother’s Day. I’m going to get to see an old friend of mine who flew in today but only because his mom is sick. So I’m going to finish this up and I think go till the garden. This week we worked on finishing the flashing and chimney cap on the office/fort plus some wood trim in the bath. It has been somewhat cold and wet the last few weeks but sunshine is on the way this week. I hope those of you able to- shared a few moments with your mothers or took time out to think about them. Let’s look at some of the week updates.
The big news on this front was the winning of ‘Most Inspirational’ at the ICFF in Orlando, FL. This is a great nod to all the cast and crew and as storytellers we could not ask for more. If you’ve seen the film and it did indeed inspire you in some way please do go to http://www.imdb.com (40 Nights/Forty Nights) Vote and leave your own story. I do know that foreign sales lie ahead.
Chasing the Star
This film has just concluded the last run in Michigan (For now) at the Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI so thank you very much! We’ll be discussing taking the film out of state prior to the Sept 5th national release on DVD/streaming/VOD with Bridgestone. We’ll be announcing the new DVD artwork soon that BMG developed.
The Christ Slayer
Editing continues as we close in on a rough cut. As I’ve noted before we’ll be working on the poster and first trailer.
The sound design and dialog clean up continues. I hope to meet this week over the poster art.
Development – I’ve been writing and working hard on setting the slate for the upcoming CDI projects. I’ve also been pondering what acting role I might enjoy next. I’m also in talks on a few possible work-for-hire writing endeavors. I’m always open to discussions on writing, acting and such. Just please make sure you’re funded:) I feel like I had a topic I wanted to discuss but for some reason I can’t recall it. I’m remember it half way through tilling the garden up.
Be good to one another and have a great day and week ahead!