We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
A light dusting of snow covers the ground and I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee (not sponsored yet) and reflecting back on my busy week. I want to welcome our Romanian and Indian readers to the blog. On the Indian front we’re having some great conversations about getting some of the CDI films there and also about a few collaborations on scripts we have.
Speaking of sponsors – Maple Holistics approached me about possible endorsement. I have a select list of products that I’ve got deals with. These often are passed down to our cast and crew in the form of gifts such as our awesome product from The Candleberry Company. I used the tea tree shampoo for this past week and I have to say I like it. I liked the texture, the tingle and it left my hair feeling very clean. You too can try for yourself and they’ve provided me a link below. Enjoy. Tell them DJ Perry sent you:)
I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
Welcome readers this week from China and S. Korea. So while many think artists are always living the “star life” it’s often just like yours. My day started with a leaky shower head that decided to start leaking despite being quite new. It’s those moments when you sincerely wish you couldn’t just act or pretend to be a plumber or handyman but actually were one. So that led to a few trips to get hardware and ended up with a temp fix. We will be contacting the manufacturer due to the lifetime warranty. So my Sunday morning was not the peaceful one I had first imagined. So is life.
The week just flew by and I had so many things going. First development on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) continues with the announcement of Garry Nation and Melissa Anschutz joining the cast. We have many of our $ commits but are not quite far enough to move into pre-production. Also several new opportunities for cross-promotion (J-Roc) have developed. So while DJ the actor is disappointed a tad that instead of running the race it’s back to the barn for a few weeks. I might ACTUALLY be HOME for Halloween. That is nice. I enjoy doing that last film of the season just before Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I have adjusted and we’ll meet to target the after holiday window. We’ll be looking at Feb pre-production and March shoot. I’ve again had to remind myself of that spiritual storytelling reality that a project will birth when it is time. Don’t fight the flow and watch things unfold. Unfold they have…
I’ve had back and forth with our director Jesse and several others trying to finalize some specialized VFX within 10 sec of our footage. We’re close to zeroing in but have not as of yet. It is still all happening within the timeline of the music scoring which is in the final stretch. Very soon we’ll be doing a watch through with full music. The film was powerful when it was just sound effects so this next level will be awesome to watch/listen to. Stay tuned for new artwork and other extras as we get closer to bringing this to audiences.
Garry Nation in “Chasing the Star”
THE QUEST TRILOGY
I had some great marketing meetings this week and I’m excited. The films were praised for being epic and original. Many of the epic films being produced are remakes of great films like Ben Hur. It was brought up that if anything in a few decades filmmakers would be remaking these films. That was a unique way to look at it. I do have movies a few decades old still playing and finding new audiences. We’ll talk about one here shortly. So they (distributor/marketing) see the influence of Star Wars on the look and presentation of these films. And the unique/untold aspect to these films are also what excites them. The line in CHASING THE STAR that says something to the effect “They may not remember you but they’ll remember your deeds” – which is true. Many save certain scholars know of the existing patchwork history. When you talk the three wise men, faces don’t come to mind save plastic, wood or stone faces. I do hope that we will blaze new story ground in the mind’s of people when the think of Jesus in the desert, the magi’s plight and…well, you’ll have to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER next year. The first two films (FORTY NIGHTS & CHASING THE STAR) were sent to Texas for theatrical play this month and next. And, we’re at the end of finalizing the first foreign territory for CHASING THE STAR.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is progressing nicely on the visual and will be moving into music and sound in Jan. I will say that I’ve been watching the development of the poster for the film. COOL. That is my thoughts so far. It is just a great story again original in the presentation. Some beautiful characters creating beautiful moments. Lots planned for this title but no need to over promote when audiences should be watching Part 1 and Part 2.
WICKED SPRING – I’m happy to announce ahead of time to all of you that Bridgestone Multimedia Group will be releasing into the market place this wonderful Civil War story. I produced it with our team in 2000 and it rolled out in 2002 timeframe. We also just had the 150th anniversary so I wanted to re-release the film to celebrate that benchmark. The project will release in early 2018 and it is the first real digital release for it. Shot on 35 mm it was first released on VHS. I think the first audience was Civil War reenactors and history lovers. Now more of the mainstream will discover the film. And having used these fine people in our new film WILD FAITH I have something I wanted to say. These people/groups trying to attach some hate agenda to this living historian interest/profession is just wrong. Not sure of the facts but some of these events to raise money to preserve these historic sites had threats. People of all races and religions participate in these events. They have groups of black Americans who love history and are right they’re portraying the Colored Companies while some even portray Confederates. I’ve seen Asian and Indian people participating. These people united over a love of history. They dress and camp in the style of the period and talk, share and bond over history. These events promote understanding and healthy discussion. That has been my experience working with these people and if these threats are true that’s just too bad.
KNIGHT CHILLS – I’m going to look at the offer to have me attend a few of these comic cons. After listening to some of the fans out there I can see where it would be fun.
This week was great for meetings that looked at development of future CDI projects. Everything from financing to new distribution. Marketing to merchandising. I will just keep walking the path and crossing off the TO DO’s.
I’m gonna sign off and I’m sure I missed a few updates. Enjoy the season and we’ll talk next week. Thank you for stopping by.
Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.
People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.
With Shane Hagedorn
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.
The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)
With Tony Hornus
Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.
I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.
I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)
OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.
Cool photo that I found inspiration in this week.
Hello my friends. I find the blog worldwide breakdowns very interesting. These are the countries my leading readers are hailing from. 1) The USA. I would hope so but you never know. 2) Australia. Hey Mates. I’ve never been down under but would love to one day. Mad Max/Kings Road/Miller…I’m looking at you. 3) Denmark. I LOVE this country. Always will. 4) Germany. I’ve had a lot of releases here. Wonder what their favorite is? 5) India. Namaste. Thank you. 6) Philippines. Like family. Great hospitality. 7) Ireland. Never been but will one day. Irish/Scot blood runs through me.
Okay. I was just enjoying where everyone is tuning into from. It has been a good week. Okay. That is modest, the week felt ultra productive. I think once you set a destination it becomes easier. A target to focus upon. In our business it starts with a solid blueprint (script) interested key talent and crew to make your proposal package. I think many chase money and when someone does say YES, at that point they start looking at details. I look at the details first knowing if they say yes, I can do this. I have the team that can make this happen. Again I see too many people saying yes, to endeavors they are not qualified to handle. And if they mess up it just becomes one more poisoned well. I personally would love 3-4 Michigan film entities making films and a few TV series rolling. That might lead to some good roles and guest star moments. So I really do wish all those around me the best. I’ve just seen over 20+ years so many good contacts ruined by bad business. I’ve actually reached a point in my career where the bad business makes us look better. But some drop out of the film game all together and everyone loses. So DO THE WORK. GIVE YOUR BEST.
Let me see where to begin.
The new CDI website is under construction. I will be uniting all the films and product to a central place where audiences can find what they are seeking. This new platform will eventually help other filmmakers out there. It will explain itself in time – stay tuned as THE TRIBE is on the move.
Here is the interesting side note… I was just having an unplanned chat with one of our vet members going back to the late 90’s. I was trying to explain where I was with everything. There is potential all over the board and I’m looking five years down the path and trying to chart the best course. But it actually feels fun. The final product is actually making it fun again. Make the wrong alliances, associations, partnerships or agreements and you lose time. Time is LIFE. The saying Time is Money is smaller in value to the other. Time is LIFE. I work as concise as I can and encourage the team to do so because another story is always in the womb. I have no less than two films I’ve given myself as a role in a world created by artists. The management in both cases – WAIT. Accountability – I’ve also WASTED time in my journey so refrain from a defensive stance. I’m saying IF you’re truly doing it for the art don’t hinder the endeavor with people who are not serious. How serious you say? Serious to me is when actions speak and words are not even needed. So be more careful with your foundations. Work out all the details before you accept investment. I know artists whose years have become consumed with production entanglements and endless legal loose-ends. That will rob you of your time, your LIFE. That space & time dance where you can create art for audiences if you choose. Just make good choices. Allow it to be fun.
OK. So when CDI was a tribe consisting of three crazy artists – myself, Jeff and Juanita Kennedy – we hatched many great ideas. Much inspired by our mutual love of classics especially in the fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, Pulp genres. See STRANGER THINGS was my childhood. The love of the vibe that is that Golden-Age of Nerds whereas by playing Dungeons and Dragons you could also be a Rebel. Because much like young Rock and Roll, they (mainstream) did not understand it and feared it. “Knight Chills” is a classic tale, an urban myth almost of the bullied nerd. Retold in a world that now people are trying to recreate. STRANGER THINGS does that and my amigo Myke Michaels is up for an Emmy for his work on that show. But the film was shown in many circles over the years including Special Edition releases and box sets. It was released legally and not in several foreign territories. The film was common talk on Comic Con circuits. Hey, I didn’t believe “In the Woods” truly had a drinking game until I saw a theater full of people doing it Rocky Horror Picture style. So my vet of the Comic Con circuit David Hayes was a fan of the film. We joked about him doing a book until finally we made it happen. I wrote three other scripts that all took place after the first. Each one a small budget likely as we tried to harness and contain our imaginations. BUT graphic novel and comics…
Some of our early content is a perfect fit. KNIGHT CHILLS is the first and it will be for order in stores and also E-Book I believe. I know they are going to be selling on the Comic-Con circuits and we’ll be doing some cool promo. PR will go out next week but for all of you. Here is our new front cover.
I also think this could be a jumpstart for the original film for new licensing and the sequel script is written and director talks have taken place.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights continues the roll forward as Chasing the Star enters the home video orbit. DVD’s were being mastered to prep for the warehouses and Sept. 5th release. Now this Friday following a development meeting we were all treated to the first teaser to The Christ Slayer with temp sound/music. What the…! Holy…! Speechless… Play that again please. And another time. It pummels you with emotional power. What moments given by the cast and what power captured by the crew. I’ve been feasting on the Summer Movie Trailers so my taste are high. (Production Value)
I’m proud to once again have our collective names put on a story invoking much emotion. Right now its being used just for a few business things but audiences, cast, crew will get a first strong showing of the Official Teaser. But the few who’ve seen it can attest – it makes all the hard work worth it. It almost makes it fun again.
Wild Faith sits in a good place right now. Strong interest as business talks keep moving ahead. The talks are centered on the first season of the TV show. The interest is there on a few fronts and once we have the additional trailers and final film to show I feel that the tv deal is a real possibility.
Looking forward to working with this guy as an actor again on M.B.F. – The last time was ‘An Ordinary Killer” a few years ago. Mr. Anthony (Tony) Hornus is our director.
Man’s Best Friend is Officially going to go by M.B.F. – we’ve had a surge in business since announcing this project. The foundation of the house is almost in. Another great meeting this week is showing us a clear path. The response to the script has been on-point, luckily:) Some people are being reached out to about availability. Casting Calls will be going up. I’m excited about telling this story. I think it will strike a chord with many people.
Okay, I’m off to eat some lunch and I have to get ready for a soccer match in this balmy heat. The garden has been kicking and I’ve enjoyed the results. I had fresh BLT’s yesterday. I didn’t grow the bacon:) The masses have enjoyed the Irish Stout and I’m soon to make my batch of mulberry/rhubarb wine.
Have a great Sunday and rest of the week.