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

Posts tagged “friendship

Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 

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A Loss of a Friend

While most of my blogs are directed towards my career and I occasionally make personal notes pertaining to certain things – I don’t often get too in-depth but today I will share a little. My imagination and love to play stemmed from a great childhood that I shared with a group of children in our own small secluded neighborhood on the edge of Lansing in Michigan. I moved there when I was five when my parents built a house. Our neighborhood was surrounded by woods that would become our Sherwood Forest, Ninja training camps and battleground for numerous BB gun wars. Forts of all sizes were built underground, in trees and everywhere else, usually consuming every piece of lumber we could pirate from our dad’s workshops. The one neighbor across the street Alan, was the 1st to come introduce himself to the “new kid” – me. He had been held back in school which to some gave him a negative moniker. But to us he was the mad scientist and Scottie from Star Trek rolled up into one. He was handy with all manner of tools. He had a good basic understanding of electronics and mechanics although some of his handy work was a genuine fire hazard. He was the guy who brought so much to our adventures and was anything but disadvantaged as some in the school district would have had you believe. In the earliest “movies” we would play with my dad’s camcorder and create our stories. Alan was always good for a little special effects especially if it included fire. I could fill a book with the adventures we all had but I will not write them all here. The thing is he passed away today after an illness that took on several complications. I had followed his progress for several weeks and recently thought that perhaps, just maybe he was on the mend. It was not meant to be so. So as of today he no longer has to struggle with the day to day issues of living in this world. I know he will be greatly missed. His sense of humor and his gentle demeanor will be remembered. But most of all I’m so happy that he came and knocked upon our front door to introduce himself all those years ago. I recall that day as if it was yesterday. I thank him for the friendship we shared during our adventuresome youth. My life would not have been the same without Alan’s friendship in those early years.

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One of my early birthday parties with my brother standing behind us, Darrel to my right and Alan to my left. RIP my old friend. I’m in AZ finishing the final week of shooting here but my heart will be with his family putting him to final rest.

Lesson: Follow your dreams and be good to one another. Appreciate those around you for you never know when their time here amongst us all might end.

DJ

 

 


Secrets to Casting & Crewing at CDI

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The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.

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Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.

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Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.

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Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!

OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST

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Knight Chills 20th Anniversary

“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.

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“The Christ Slayer”

I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.

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My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.

Keep clawing!

DJ