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

Posts tagged “friends

Attacking the New Year – Read if You’re Ready for 2020!

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Fellow coffee lover Victoria Jackson (Lost Heart – Coming 2020)

BATTLE OF THE BEVERAGES

The hazelnut coffee is flowing and so am I on this fine 2020 morning. It was a wonderful holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas and now I’m ready to roll. We had a nice and chill New Year’s Eve with another couple, old friends – making fondue and playing cards. I had one fuzzy navel that took me back to high school football games with schnapps. I did not miss waking up dehydrated with a pounding headache. I do social drink with friends after soccer games or during some informal film meetings, but not going for broke these days. Between my soccer, martial arts and film friends, I’ve had my day for sure. I’ve had a few friends over the many years who loved drinking maybe a little too much. I’m not to one to judge because I have drank like a Viking on several occasions, I just cannot pay the piper with hangovers. I have so much opportunity and even working as hard as I do I still miss opportunity here and there. I guess as I round the corner this year to 50, I can say that if it was between coffee and alcohol, coffee would win. My buddy TJ would say pour whiskey in it – Win Win:) So I hope everyone had a great holiday ending with our entering the new year. Now you get to make decisions about how you spend your time. What you do to your body/vehicle. How you go after your goals. Goal #31 – Get coffee sponsor for 2020!

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I have had much better luck getting booze sponsors vs coffee

GOALS

Dreams are the first step. Once you break down the dream into steps you can start to go after your dream(s). You have to have faith in yourself and having a solid plan gives you a plan. Just like a great script is the first step to give yourself a chance at a great story. Trust me those out there winging it and having success is few and even if they have blip of success, trying to repeat or replicate that is difficult. I’ve been doing this now a long time and I love what I do. I don’t look at anyone’s life and say, I wish I had that. I don’t pine for a fancy car, house, clothes or what-not. If you have health, family, friends and are able and allowed to create your art and grow your passion into a career, what more? Enjoy the journey even the hardships because they are forging you. I don’t enjoy seeing whining about setbacks while pursuing the arts. These situations/hardships often posted on social media walls telegraph a person is weak. Now admitting weakness in the right situation can be strength but often what I see is wasted time to get sympathy, or too get the other failed feathers to flock together in agreement or support.

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Pick which road you want to travel – excuses, blaming or solutions

In LA on my early trips I would see bars in the actor ghettos filled with people drowning their rejection (I’ve done it a few times) and enjoying the company of other with failure excuses. Now the coffee shops with the person who has a stack of notebooks, lap top and chatting up battle plans- might be the healthier person to collaborate with.

REDIRECT that ENERGY 

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Christine Marie has one of those desired attitudes – positive and talented – Wild Faith, The Christ Slayer, MBF, Lost Heart…

Those minutes writing all those texts could equal that fantasy sword and sorcery novel you always wanted to write. It could be that screenplay to show the world what you can really do ala ROCKY. Now that the newspaper has been mostly replaced by internet news – I scroll a bit first thing in the AM while coffee is brewing and the dogs out doing their business. Read your postings as someone with money or opportunity to provide in the arts. What would you look for? Talent is only one part. Attitude and this is my #1! Good attitude and seeds of talent and we can nurture. When shooting a film, a quick FB scroll during off time can almost predict who is going to report fresh to set and who is going to be dragging in less than 100%. If I see complain, complain, complain – do you think this is someone you want on your set, everyday for weeks? Would you invest money behind someone who is always pointing out flaws versus offering solutions to help, fix, increase.

BE THAT GUY/GAL ON SET, CREW OR CAST, THAT YOU MUST RE-HIRE

PRODUCTION COMPANIES – BE THAT ORGANIZATION THAT PEOPLE ENJOY AND TRUST WORKING FOR.

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Wild Faith was full of hard work and FUN

Now both could have moments where they fall short but that is where ATTITUDE again plays in. Admit when you are wrong and that is strength. Apologize if someone saw your worst side versus your best side for a moment. I had a friend and collaborator once try to justify an artistic breakdown. There is no justification that is a failure. Admit that and move on with wisdom. Great artists who cannot communicate need to stick with a solo medium like painting or basket weaving. In high-school I had a saying, “that no girl was hot enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.” That same lesson can be applied to the arts. There is no artist talented enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.  I’ve heard stories of James Cameron (who I don’t know) first hand from cast members about James C’s early day rants. Maybe he has matured in his communication. I mean he is talented beyond belief, maybe one of the best storytellers in our time, but why a shitty attitude? He is living the dream the young artist in him only could imagine many years ago. Now I’ve never had a film run 100 million dollars over, so I don’t know certain levels of pressure. But especially those working on tighter budgets – attitude, gratitude and two way appreciation is the key. Remember who is providing paid work and an opportunity to showcase artistic services. And producers remember who the loyal, hardworking, positive artistic-providing cast and crew are.

Spirit of Excellence

HA! I get producer recognition at one event and I’m trying to tell people how to do things:) No. I’m just giving some insight to what works for us. SPIRIT of Excellence awards founder Skeeter Murray, who also does comedy amongst many things needs an apology. I could not attend last Sunday the awards deal and decided to do 2 videos. Well, previous to my filming the video I had watched Eddie Murphy host on SNL.  So Murray might have become Murphy:) So I’m sorry if I did butcher your name. Speaking of Eddie Murphy, filmmakers would enjoy DOLEMITE, IS MY NAME. It paints a great picture of an artist with lots of passion, who with his loyal just went after it despite lots of rejection. Good film!

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Okay, THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS book event that I will be attending will be at Baker Books on July 11th, 2768 E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI from 1-3 pm. Like I said last week, come out and get a book. Hear me read one of the two stories that has to do with movies:) Bring anything you want me to sign. I will bring a silver sharpie!

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I will find that perfect TITLE:) 

My screenplay that I’m working on now is coming along great. The hardest part is the title. The book author wants my help in titling so the book and film could have the same name. It doesn’t have to happen like that but has several pros. ‘HOPE From HEAVEN‘ is the current title but I think we can do better. I want to wait until the screenplay is done this month because as you peel away layers you get to the heart of the story that is often the right title. The script itself is coming along great and will translate to film nicely.

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I’ve been updating promo items personally and for projects. One of the decisions right now is should we do a WILD FAITH 2 sequel or push the TV series HASTINGS. We are also developing and evaluating a few projects for the CDI slate.

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I’m looking at this young man again for a couple possible film roles

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will have more theatrical showings, events, festivals, TV play and foreign expansion in 2020. Again thank you so much for all the fan mail on this and all the CDI films.

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LOST HEART is close to a locked picture. I will get a new update on that tomorrow but we are close. The film is so good and I’m excited to bring this to audiences Late Summer/Fall 2020.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Many people are taking the opportunity to watch these three adventure films set in the biblical times. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER. Discover these hidden gems being shown around the world.

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Too many to mention right now – lesson here. Don’t rush news out just to have something to talk about. Develop without distractions and trickle out the info until it is the proper time. Just my two cents – others may love the onslaught of communications when folks see possible work that lies ahead. For me, it can be distracting to respectfully answer back to all these people when trying to actually get to the place of moving forward. Again just use of time. Work smarter vs harder in 2020! I wish each and everyone of you a great start to your New Year!

Be good to one another.

DJ


Experience Education, Spirit Excellence Awards…Looking to 2020!

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Welcome back my friends. I hope each and everyone of you had a good Christmas time with family and friends. I’ve had a wonderful week of just eating, drinking, laughing with our family. We had several celebrations and I’ve had a nice time touching base with people. I’ll be spending time with some family and friends this eve which has me missing a really cool event. On Christmas Eve I received notice that I was selected to be recognized for ‘Producer of the Year‘ for the 2nd Annual SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE Media Mingle. Also ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend‘ is being recognized for Feature Film of the Year. I’m beyond grateful for the recognition and I wish I could have attended. I did take the time to film two acceptance speeches and sent those over. I wish I could have been there in person but I need more than a week notice especially during this busy holiday season. But I am humbled and ever so appreciative to SOE and Skeeter Murray for this honor. Speaking of MBF…

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. A film that plays awesome on the big screen.

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One of my 2020 goals is to be a bit more out-going on attending events/film functions. I am going to be in-person Jan 11 at 1:00-3:00 in Grand Rapids at Baker Book House event. I will give address next week but I’ll be reading one of the two stories I have in the book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS. Come out and buy a book and I’ll sign it. I’ve had others ask and yes, bring any other ‘DJ Perry’ swag DVD, poster and I will be happy to sign that also.

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So again I want to thank Skeeter Murray who does a great job highlighting mid-west talent. Congrats to all the recognized artists and I’m truly sorry to miss the ‘media strut‘ – gotta love it! When I saw the awesome awards poster I had to laugh because they chose a pic from our “Wild Bunch” film fest adventure in AZ. Of course I’m the only one on the poster with sunglasses on. It’s my Snoopy “Joe Cool” tribute. (See pic at the TOP)

But seriously, being from the middle of the state I don’t keep up with the social film scenes in Detroit or the Grand Rapids area. This being a Detroit area event means even more to me. We are all Michigan. We’ve pulled a lot of great talent from the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, so I know the talent here.  Happily, I’ve watched the artistic communities grow in Michigan, from the UP of Michigan to the small remote towns around the state, all due to technologic advances. To be given recognition with a Lansing zip code is a great honor. Making it happen in the LA (Lansing Area) was our joke back in the day.

FILM FUTURE

I had an unpopular opinion of the film incentives only from a filmmaker stance. Those giant studio films can drive up rental expectations to the smaller outfits. More Michigan artists opportunities needed to be present vs the import of casts and crews. A film grant fund would be my choice. Qualified companies who have a track record of existing in the state for several years, eliminating the rush of new companies wanting to bite on the fund. Plus make the filmmakers come pitch their projects to a committee vs all this social begging. Help them learn to exist in real business environments vs seeking the short cut or easy path. As we know, those who use short cuts or take the easier path usually rob themselves of their experience education. Don’t shy away from the hard work you will need that grit later in your career. I HAVE SPOKEN. Guess who got Disney Plus for Christmas?

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Did anyone watch all 6 of these films this holiday season? I had a steady stream of beautiful fan mail from many of you over the holidays. I had many contact me over the biblical adventure trilogy to thank us and tell how their family really enjoyed the stories. I had Ben Lily fans reach out and number one question was about the TV series. And of course ‘Paul’ from MBF has a growing fan club out there. I enjoyed hearing from so many veterans and their families. The pleasure and honor is all ours.

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I had one rather amusing communication that a fan of one of my actor/producers was supporting them. She had watched several of the CDI films and she saw I was also into film. She recommended a few films I should watch made in OUR state. One was WILD FAITH and the other MBF, both feature great actors she said. I decided to have some fun and asked her about her favorite scenes. She replied that she loved all the rich characters in ‘Wild Faith’. In MBF she loved ‘Paul,’ especially the “bar scene” and thought the female prosecuting attorney was a real b@%$!. Yes, Melissa Anschutz, did bring it as the prosecutor.

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Overall it was fun to have someone recommend our films and give a few of her favorite scenes. I don’t always get such open and honest feedback. She tickled me when she replied she’ll stop telling her favorite scenes so she did not ruin these two great movies for me:) If I come across that communication again, I will have to let her off the hook. But she did make me smile. So during these winter months, please do take the time to watch our films and share your thoughts with me. I hope we make some of you smile.

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Talking about smiling – LOST HEART – We’re closing in on what will likely be our locked picture cut. We had a good meeting over the work flow to post sound just before the holidays hit. It will be really exciting to see music and sound sweetening begin. I’m extremely happy with the progress of this film. The story is dramatic with humor set within being told by a great group of quirky characters.

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Onward to 2020! 

I talked about development quite a bit last week. Things haven’t changed much on that front. We’re going to have fun evaluating some new projects. My screen writing assignment will continue as I close in on the first 1/3 of the script. So much great work to be done in 2020. I’ve been organizing everything here and prepping for the next wave of stories to be told. This is when you make those goals. Write them down. Look at what you achieved and what fell short. Look again at how you spend your time. Whom you spend your time with. Keep those toxic elements afar. Don’t be distracted by shiny objects. You would be surprised what even one day full of focused work, not scrolling FB, can create. Remember it is the journey not just the destination my friends. Be brave. One foot ahead of the other. As you encounter one another – Be good to one another. I’ll see you all next year!

DJ

 


Better Than George Lucas? Build Your Own Brand and Prove IT!

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(The Fort – Tribe CDI – 2019)

Welcome new readers from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, India and beyond. We’re in the final days of 2019 and so far it has just been a great season. This past week I’ve had a few meetings at the fort with the fire burning bright with ideas and friendship. We have some great updates to share with everyone but before that lets looks at someone else’s art.

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Star Wars – (NO SPOILERS)  – I went to see Star Wars at 7 years old and it was the seed planted in me to become a storyteller. Last week I got to see the final film in a series of interconnecting stories started by George Lucas. My issue with many films these days is just trying to do too much. Instead of one star ship in pursuit there has to be 100. Tension is created in moments. Those can feel stolen when trying to do too much. Character development is still king in my world of viewing hence by love of shows like BLACK SAILS. Bringing together all the ‘Star Wars’ loose threads was surely difficult but overall I really did enjoy the final film. That said, I feel truly like the torch has been passed. I feel like I do a good job of creating characters on the script page with depth. I feel we have stories to tell and we will. The goal is to create a few classics in this lifetime. In 2020 will see more writing, producing and continue to try and captures hearts and minds with our stories.

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(WILD FAITH brand – Hastings TV series in development at CDI)

I see a lot of talented artists who spend a lot of time creating in someone else’s world. But the bottom line is you don’t own the brand. There are several filmmakers that do a great job creating fan films from video games or Star Wars and The Mask. That said, all that hard work is building someone else’s brand. I’m a fan of brands also but I let it influence my work but I don’t work with someone else’s brand unless hired to do so.

All three biblical adventures in THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) are all on Amazon. I was given an opportunity to produced these adventures with a ‘Star Wars’ feel. The cinematography and often the music was influenced by the Star Wars style. Star Wars was influenced from earlier works like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. A good reason for your own brand is that you don’t have to ask permission to create your own world. And if you succeed those people are becoming fans of your work. Again instead of the hardships of growing an audience around your brand, if you pick a strong brand with dedicated followers you can get a jump on exposure but…. I mean if you create a great Star Wars fan film you might get millions of hits. But try adding a price tag, although you cannot sell someone else’s brand, and it becomes like buying a knock off cologne. If a non-official derivative of someones brand  is offered free you may get a lot of eyes but unless the creators take notice and hire you, you’re just building someone else’s brand. Beware of legal also with others brands. Just my two cents.

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So again just like role playing, cos-play or any fun group activities, fan art has a place but film work is really hard  work for someone else’s brand. My advice is do your own thing or work WITH an emerging artists to create a shared brand. Again I’m not a “my way is the only way” person at all. But I’m not into fan films or hobby films or anything that isn’t building our brand. Now you can build your skill set (acting, directing, writing) with the previous two mentioned types of films so there is value. I do appreciate anyone who uses their imagination to create. We just have long term goals and so those need to remain in focus for us. It is a hard industry to survive in. Take that from a survivor.

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Please do enjoy the holidays with a watch on the trilogy and watch all three in order. Poor ‘Chasing the Star’ sometimes takes a few rocks because someone did not realize they were watching part 2 of 3 films. In time audiences will understand they are a trilogy and a bigger picture will emerge upon watching in order.

I also see a few people who thought the Magi story had nothing to do about Christmas. Maybe I should have added Heat and Cold Miser and a reindeer or two:) But for the few audience members who don’t get it, many DO get it. We don’t dumb down our stories but challenge and encourage people to talk and discuss often hard topics. So ENJOY a watch and discussion.  At one of my distribution content meetings we had discussion about more biblical adventures. I might have my next three films and one of them is written. So we will see said the wise man.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – Due to the season where many are enjoying family and friends and watching films, I’ve gotten a spike in fan mail. This film has been generating a good buzz and we have some exciting events and showings coming up in 2020. But you don’t have to wait. You can watch on Amazon today! If dogs and/or support of our military touches you, please do take a watch.

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LOST HEART – The fine cut is getting close. After a wonderful first cut by editor Scott Magie, welcome to the CDI Tribe, a second final cut is near. This week we had a post meeting with Dennis Therrian (music/sound), Jesse Low (Director) along with Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn and even John Mashni made a stop by. Come mid 2020 we will have a most excellent story to share with you all.

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In the meantime – please watch the CDI Film collection and share your thoughts.

DEVELOPMENT 

HOPE for HEAVEN – is the script I’ve been working on. It’s been developing in a wonderful fashion starting with some great characters. We’re working development on several properties that could go full green light in 2020/2021.  A sequel to KNIGHT CHILLS, perhaps? We’ve had a few screen and camera tests. WW2 drama – coming together. Kids adventure film – might happen:) WILD FAITH TV series:) With some of the new meetings and opportunities before CDI, I promise we will continue to create. Thank you to all of you for your continued support.

WRAP UP…

Ok. We had a wonderful first Christmas gathering yesterday. Friends tonight and several gatherings in the week ahead, including two more family Christmas gatherings. I am down to just a little bit of shopping. I give thanks to those who sent a card or gave little love gifts, much appreciated. But the most important thing you can give anyone is a bit of your time, laughter and joy.

I’ve been questioned about my verbal non-involvement in politics. It’s because much like the ‘golden rule’ I believe in focusing on what we all could benefit from. When people are drained from endless debates, divided by priority differences and angered by the never-ending shortcomings of each another – I say relax. Sit back and watch a story with universal messages woven within. My friendships with people are more important than trying to convince someone I’m right about an obvious self-opinion. So set aside your differences and focus on what brings us all together. Fellow human beings trying to live a meaningful life with health and joy. Even if it is for a few days, try it and you might find it a better way to live, to cope, to exist, to grow, and to be the better you.

Fear leads to anger, anger to hate and hate to suffering – MERRY CHRISTMAS!

DJ


Star Wars Talk & CDI Film Updates

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OK. Pre-Star Wars I was SPEED RACER, MR. ROGERS and SCOOBY DOO.

I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from a ornate Star Wars mug with various scenes upon it. Like many in the storytelling business around my age some inspirational credit can go to George Lucas and the original Star Wars film in 1977. In anticipation for the last in the Skywalker story, yes we have tickets, we’ve been watching them all in story order. IF I was 7 years old and Part 1 of the Prequels was the first film I might have still liked the ships, lasers, etc…but ‘A NEW HOPE’ was just gritty and did not dumb things down for kids. We could take it George including Han firing first. When we went from the three prequels to SOLO, such a difference in the world and story telling. The prequels felt like video games with planned segments that really felt like watching your friend play a video game. But SOLO is like taking the best parts of James Bond and Mad Max put into a gritty ‘New Hope’ like world. ROGUE ONE again just better character development in a world that felt more grounded in reality.

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I actually can speak into this having done a trilogy of films. It was important to try and keep the world cohesive despite the changes in style from director to director. Also because I have been looking at promo material personally and as a company, I’ve been playing The Quest Trilogy behind my accounting work. It’s very satisfying to have the linking storyline. It was always my goal to see if I could take some “obscure” stories from the Bible and tell them in a ‘Star Wars’ type fashion. The stories actually adapt over quite well and when you add what I call the “Chuck Heston – bible film effect”, you have our style.

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I will say that it is a pretty sure bet that we’ll return to this genre again. One script is complete and the other two outlined stories are forming up. I’m not sure when all this may happen but we will see.

I also put my first SciFi script to pause while I finish writing the script for “Hope for Heaven” which is my working title. We are working with a few different titles but I need something when I write. It has many of the great qualities that ‘Lost Heart’ had by way of characters and story. I’m a good many pages into the story and how it starts can sometimes be the hardest. But it’s flowing and when I did do my first test read with one of our development people, it was strong. This film will shoot in late summer/early fall in Michigan. The nice part is via a few agent talks we might have a good lead on a very important casting aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing the writing this week.

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LOST HEART rough cut by Scott Magie working with our director Jesse Low is looking good. I talked about the view last week. This week we’re prepping some things for the music and sound design to follow. I know that poster/DVD artwork is starting and that will be exciting to see. Again just proud to have this be part of the Tribe CDI films.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Following our premiere we saw a “best film” and “best actor” nods at the Hollywoodivine Film Festival and won ‘Best Film’ at the Equus Film & Art Festival. 2020 will have many more events and showings as the film moves out deeper into the world market. I’ve had several people reach out this week about how this film touched them. I’m so proud that it is becoming a voice for veterans and dogs. Two groups that truly understand loyalty and service. Watch it yourself on Amazon and other platforms and if you enjoy it add it to your DVD library.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Help us start a family holiday tradition with the telling of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. (All on Amazon and many platforms)

It has been a true joy to receive an abundance of fan mail on these films from around the world. I saw the breakdowns and the films are making their way to you. Some all our friends in other countries be patient, the CDI films are coming. Many of you already know that because you can watch the films on TV and DVD. If you have watched them feel free to vote and leave your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com and remember these are films.

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WILD FAITH – This film also continues to be enjoyed and shared by new audiences. I had some fans from this movie also communicate this past week. They were Civil War era fans and so I had them seek WICKED SPRING. It was a Civil War film we produced back in 2000. It can be watched also on Amazon.

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I’ve been taking meetings and looking at filming the balance of our production slate for the next 2 years. We have many scripts and it just depends on several factors as to which gets moved into active development or pre-production. We’ve had a few wonderful meetings and with the new management involvement in 2020 I’m excited to see where it leads. I’ve been working on a few ‘Character Reels’ and a new 2020 sizzle reel along with what will be a CDI showreel.

Next weekend our first family Christmas starts and so I have a bit more shopping to do and we’ve been enjoying the season. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday season with your family and friends.

DJ


First ‘Lost Heart’ Impressions and Christmas Season Updates

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…

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
  10. 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?

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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.

DJ


FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.

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While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.

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Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.

  • Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
  • Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
  • Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
  • Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone.  For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.

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Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.

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The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.

Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.

DJ

 


JUNE 23rd Bday Thoughts and Reflections

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So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.

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WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.

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LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A  small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.

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We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.

LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.

So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.

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I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.

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  • NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.

While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.

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I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.

DJ