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

Posts tagged “friend

DEVELOPMENT Engines Firing Up at CDI

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Good morning. The hazelnut coffee is flowing and needed this am. I awoke to my furry Daphne daughter throwing up my Minnetonka Moccasin slipper she put a chew on when I left her watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE vs her Cartoons. From there the morning has slowly unfolded as I worked to shake off the Michigan morning chills. WINTER IS COMING.

Now with winter many people moan and groan but I have always loved snow. If it is going to be cold we might as well have the pretty aspect too. Now the other thing I love about winter is the limiting of my yard work so I can focus on my desk work. This season is special because it marks the start of another phase of CDI development.

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First, the ink is dry on a deal for me to adapt a book manuscript to a screenplay and for CDI to produce it. Even the title has been left open on the book to see what ‘title’ arises. The reading of the book which is the 11th book for this author I believe. His name? Wait for the press release:) I might have a title by that time. But the characters are very well developed and I can already see the scenes forming in my head. This project will be late Summer/Early Fall shoot in Michigan. I look forward to a week of reading and after that my writing will begin. I’ve been taking lots of notes while moving through the reading.

Additionally we have things firming up on the 2021 WW2 project. It was shelved several years ago but recently that script kept coming to mind. So I followed my instincts and it seems like many variables including financing are firming up. This would shoot 2021 in the fall out of the state of Michigan. We will be doing some exciting announcements with this project maybe around Christmas:)

We’re exploring a collaboration in AZ with a filmmaker friend and we’ll see. It is a western genre script. Speaking of the genre – I had a fan reach out this week on GHOST TOWN. He watched that film after seeing our WILD FAITH movie. He was asking for more CDI westerns so between us seeking finance and distribution partners on the Wild Faith TV series and these possible collaborations, CDI western fans might get your fill.

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Holiday blessings manifested last week as the films saw flow from our distributor. We’ll be doing an end of the year dispersement where it applies. AFM (American Film Market) is underway and the films are being represented and sold. I have a sit down in two weeks to discuss what new platforms, territories and networks are playing the films. The business part of it all is the grit and grind that it takes to be professional. Like the accountants and legal that keep things inside the lines. I had a wonderful gift this past week from one of these individuals/companies that help allow us to do what we do. I will not bog this down with details but I really appreciate all the support staff and producers who help keep all the ships sailing. Filmmaking is a team effort and our collective artists are all appreciated.

MBF: Man’s Best Friend – The positive response via email to this film has been wonderful.  We have some of our team that will be attending the Equus Film Festival. We will await to see if any nominations fall upon us before we doing any PR. This is a great Kentucky based festival that will happen this December.

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Now our film is DOG themed but they have a section that is ‘Going to the Dogs’ but also due to today being the official release of THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS in Jackson, Michigan. Here is our editor/author talking about the release –  https://jtv.tv/book-event-for-horse-lovers-sunday/

LOST HEART – I had meetings with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian over the transfer of locked picture which is targeted for Jan. 1st. Our first rough cut should be done by Thanksgiving so we are getting close. Audiences will enjoy this film. This week we will start moving element art over to the distributor so they can start conceptual cover art.

With the mass of social media making things very confusing – we’ve had many people see one or two of the films and insist they must see the others. We’re going to be inviting the masses to join us this holiday season.

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So enjoy with your own family or GIVE the gift of a good story to someone else. I’m going to leave this here so I can finish up and get back to my reading. I hope you each have a wonderful day and a great week ahead. My thoughts also go out to friend/co-star Austin Two Feathers who recently lost his beloved. The entire CDI Tribe has you in their thoughts.

DJ

 


The DEVELOPMENT path becomes more clear – journey on my friends…updates

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I’m sitting here with my cup of hazelnut coffee as the wind blows wildly outside. The rain started yesterday and carried throughout the night. We watched a few atmospheric spooky films last night including, “I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House,” directed by Oz Perkins, which was a well shot mind-twister. Also yesterday a few of the talent from the “Smoke & Mirrors” short were in studio to record ADR since it is content for an audio demo. I might get back to finishing that feature script once I have a few free moments.

Speaking of writing I’m about to begin work on a script that we will film next year. I was approached by an author who wanted me to turn his new book into a film script and shoot it next year. (Fall most likely) So this week ahead will be getting the business paperwork together on that.

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The storm cometh

Also I had a great project that I had put together with Rance Howard as my consultant. It is a WW2 era project that really has a wonderful message. I was approached at Norby Walter’s ‘Night of 100 Stars‘ Oscar party about writing and producing the project. To make a long story short I wrote many drafts of the script and things were moving slowly forward. I say slowly because new people kept being added into the mix that slowed it all down. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen and many of the cooks had their own agenda about what they wanted to shoot. Many of them tried to knock down and replace the story with their own pet project. These individuals were a bit older and hailed from Hollywood so that had to be the experts right? Not. So one last broken promise and I stepped back and made a string of films over the last several years. All that happened over there when I left was lawsuits against the Hollywood parties to recover “develop” money. We went on to make a string of movies, because we did not get mired in nonsense.

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Fast forward several years later- Wilcox, AZ. As I stood on that stage accepting our 7th award for Wild Faith I thought about the long hard path of that film. Had Shane Hagedorn not wanted to push for that story, it never would have gotten done. I had put it on the shelf to die after failing to get the support I needed and after dealing with a handful of shameful scam artists out of Hollywood. My mind has continued to return to this beautiful story that Rance Howard and I spent hours talking about. This story had also been shelved. My mentor, friend and co-star Rance who was to play the Grandfather role has now passed. I found the courage to pull the story off the shelf and restart a few initial communications. So far it has been met with a positive reaction. It looks like I will do a new draft to trim and reduce budget slightly. This film would go out Fall/Winter 2021 since we would have some unique aspects of this story to put in place. But it looks like CDI will be doing its first WW2 film if things all come together.

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WILD FAITH TV SERIES – The movie is still building momentum and I need to have some key conversations about where the series would live. We have a few great avenues to explore and I’m pretty sure we will make it happen. We need a few strong supporters and we’ll launch this Michigan-based TV series. I’m excited by the amount of talent on both sides of the camera we could use.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’m hearing the first theater announcing that they will be playing this powerful drama in our Veteran’s Day march to theaters, will be our friends at Celebration Cinema in Woodland. That will allow our friends and fans in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Know many of you know I’ve participated in many scary films but some great filmmakers. During this last week of the season look at IN THE WOODS, The 8th Plague, Darkest Night, Locked in a Room, Deadly Renovation, Donors, Bestseller, GPS the Movie even the early CDI films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. I’m sure I missed a few of these films but they run the gauntlet of spooky to those that are more gory. Check the rating and get your security blanket;) The short we just did with Nathaniel Nose might be developed from my larger feature script. I like the old black and white and Hammer films more than the boobs and blood. Now the 15 year old me really enjoyed them but at my age I’ve seen a lot of red-dyed corn syrup in the dead of night in some dirty house, hotel, forest cabin, prison or locked room. I might fit the keeper of the lighthouse better than these days warning those kids to STAY AWAY! He who warns:) I would act in the right horror film again but it has to be be a good script with a capable team. This last Victorian age short got me thinking about a few of the Vampire talks I’ve had over the years. I was always a werewolf fan but again not eager to go through that make up process.  Fangs might be easier:) So the question that has been put to me was – Will you do another horror film? The answer is yes if the story, team and business all add up. By business I mean paid and not just for me. Paid brings better cast and crew on the whole. I will not talk in absolutes because that is a fools talk. There are some exceptions to the rule but few, very few.

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LOST HEART – As far on the other side of horror is our in post feature. This comedy drama is at the hour mark in the rough edit. My the start of Nov we plan to have a 1st cut and I want to lock it up by Jan 1, 2020. Now this film does have some mystery associated with it by way of UFO’s and Bigfoot. This film is going to be touching and humorous and I look forward to bringing it to audiences worldwide.

MISC NOTES: (As I recall them)

  • Equus Film & Arts Fest has a ‘Going to the Dogs’ section and has invited MBF to play there in December in Kentucky. It could include a theatrical tour and another TV license tied in with their military outreach.
  • I’m looking at my schedule about participating in a book reading in Jan. for my stories included in “The Horse of My Dreams” in stores and online now.
  •  In our meetings the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine is getting good response. Made from fruit and hops all gathered on our property.
  • November I’m looking forward to a private screening of NECROLAND by one of my filmmaking peers Mr. Nathan Quinn.
  • A collaboration or two might be in the works – one of these just might be a western.

I’m missing a few things for sure but I smell breakfast and in a few short hours we are going to spend time with the Niece and Nephew and carve pumpkins. I wish my old buddy John Luginsland was with us. The smell plus the stringy insides usually left to a chorus of laughter as he vomited like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, good times.

Have a safe Halloween everyone. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Wrapping up the 2018 Year – Looking Ahead to 2019

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New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.

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The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more.  Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.

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I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.

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Integrity matters.

When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE  – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.

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I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.

Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.

I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.

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We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.

WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.

I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ