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

Posts tagged “FX

Upcoming First Looks at ‘Best Years Gone’ and ‘For the Love of Catch’ – BATTLE OF THE BANDS – Music Video New!

( Zen like Kwai Chang Caine-I loved Bruce Lee but David Carradine brought something special to the role)

As I sit here sipping the hazelnut coffee I’m listening to the chicken’s egg song. I can say that the egg dishes around here have improved greatly with the use of the home eggs. This is the start of my birthday month and the heat is finally arriving in Michigan. Yesterday the veggies and herbs got planted in the raised planters so we’ll see how that goes. This week was full of calls and business dealings lets look at some of that after I reflect a bit. Last week we talked a bit about a situation whereas someones actions were counter productive to the whole. While this could have been an isolation and remove, at least temporailiy instead I saw it as a learning situation. I talk about development versus cancel and so a productive, insightful conversation took place that clarified some of the expectations and also became a teaching moment for myself. I could have reacted negatively but with a little perspective, patience and listening – I’m happy to say that things are back to flowing along swimmingly with both parties having grown. Last week contained some gems. My point is that you can apply this to any situation in your own lives. Instead of growing drama the situation was used for growth and insight. I’m not a fan of drama unless on the screen. Many use it to gain attention, sympathy and/or to work LOUDLY to try and secure their worth. As I’ve said before and worth saying again, work quietly and effectively – trust me it is noticed by those who run things.

Who wants to talk movies? We have several really good things to report on. Where to start?

UPDATES

LOST HEART fresh off its showing at ICFF (Christian Oscars) and will compete this June 23rd (My Bday) in the Crown Awards for ‘Best Picture’ against 4 other films one that is MBF! The General Market release BIGFOOT, UFOS AND JESUS has started and it can be watched on Amazon Prime (See link below)

All our stories are meant to promote unity but even as this new release rolled out and you people negative judging off a film title. One person was outraged at the inclusion of Jesus WITH Bigfoot and UFOs and apparently we all will burn in hell for the title yet they have not seen the film. In the same thread someone did not WANT to watch it because Jesus name was listed in the title. PEOPLE ARE JUDGMENTAL! Period. Christians talk persecution and judgement yet they too judge and persecute just as good as anyone. I’m sure from the clothes that people once wore to church to whatever the gossip floating around the congregation was, people judge. I just ask people to watch and not judge a book by the cover. That is an old piece of wisdom. But I did have a lot of people reach out in kindness having watched the film. I’m excited to see how the roll out continues but these little observations are fascinating. So many negative, depressed people with filters that put a unhappy spin on everything. Press play. maybe you can change/clean up those filters and receive laughter, joy and ultimately health.

I noted that MBF or MAN’S BEST FRIEND is up for ‘Best Film’ at the ICVM Crown Awards in Texas this month. Covid kept this film from people submitted and now it is being recognized. Actually tribe CDI has two of the five films – good odds. I also had a few fans of the film pass their love along. One such person made note that Paul was an Oscar worthy performance. Oscars are very political and I’m not saying it would not be great to accept one but the response of the fans is better than peer acceptance. If Paul is respected as a good voice – mission accomplished.

BESTSELLER will be prepped for a new campaign with BMG under their General Market label. I’ve enjoyed dealing with Chris Wright on this new release. We will be looking at other projects that might get a new push.

WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – discussions are gaining strength and my hope is that some of the sponsors we are bringing on board SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA will follow us to the TV series.

Post-Production work on BEST YEARS GONE is racing around the track! A small pit stop has been made to polish up the audio on the first official teaser. Maybe we will look to release it on or just before my birthday on the 23rd of June. Music and sound design is being worked on daily and part of that is the soundtrack. We had a ‘Battle of the Bands‘ and our celebrity judges, producer team, director and composer had their work cut out. With songs from around the country we found the perfect song for our film. The winner’s song will appear on the soundtrack and we’re going to produce a music video with them. Our film’s Director of Photography Travis Hayward will be directing the video. As a child of the MTV generation I’m excited. I have a video of our director announcing the winning video and I think we’ll post that on the FB site tomorrow morning. A great way to kick off the week. Go to the FB site and watch what the judges had to say and you can listen to many of the songs yourself.

(The Christ Slayer – reuniting with this ‘brother from another Perry mother’ in SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA)

SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is gaining momentum. We’ve been announcing new cast members and I’ve had some great talks with some amazing talent. We’ve also started to fill the crew spots starting with the recent announcement of Nathaniel Nose (Dir/Editor/FX on ‘The Christ Slayer’ and editor on the upcoming ‘Best Years Gone’) will be joining us as the FX supervisor and editor. We’ll be focusing on camera, G&E department in the coming weeks. We’re also making great inroads with the local people proud to have their local story brought to the world. Here is a great story that just ran –

https://globegazette.com/community/forestcitysummit/news/wwii-film-silent-night-in-algona-to-have-northern-iowa-focus/article_f5907c1e-a32d-5641-9bd6-35aacc1d30a8.html?fbclid=IwAR393hwSSDBxun3qEnqzXmr20T2kJeJYCBC7JK493zuvqG6rui7gK0ItPO4

We are starting to approach sponsors and businesses that want to align with our WW2 Christmas story. We will be announcing some of our loyal past sponsors excited to join us once again. Stay tune and if you wanna help with your company please do reach out.

FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH our documentary film on the almost forgotten grappling art being resurrected by a handful of martial art greats. Director Curran Jacobs is a two time world champion in the Catch-Can style and he manages to capture the collective passion for Catch in a arena often riddled with competitiveness and division. The process for this has been educational and will give us a template for future docs at CDI. The first official teaser will release on July 4th.

RIP to Ray Nikolaison

I’m not sure if I tackled every project update but we hit on a few main topic ones. There is a flea market down the road I want to visit. Now that I’m looking for WW2 relics/props it has taken on a new level of enjoyment. Today they cancelled the streaming memorial for Ray Nikolaison but we’ll get a link later. Ray was the man behind The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith and was a sales rep early on for FIGURE IN THE FOREST. RIP With that check on mortality go do something with loved ones and be kind to all.

DJ


Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

KNIGHT CHILLS

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

IMG952984

To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

images-1

I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

IMG_1732

I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

horns

BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

thumbnail.jpeg

The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

48405389_10156556351235306_5958233779838386176_n

This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 


Bestseller Deal, Ashes Theatricals, 40 Nights/Casting Updates….

Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.

UPDATES

Donnie from ASHES OF EDEN

“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

Melissa Anschutz and DJ Perry in BESTSELLER

“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor.  I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.

I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.

POST WORK

We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal-  our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

On a Tee Shirt? Lunch Box? Coffee Mug?

So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script.  I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?

“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.

We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.

Parables TV

Parables TV

I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.

This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.

I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.

DJ



Father’s Day – Future Showings, Castings and Distribution

Hazelnut coffee nourishes me from my morning haze. I had a few people over yesterday to celebrate the fact that on Tuesday June 23rd I will be one year older. I want to throw a  Happy Father’s Day out to all the fathers. My fatherly duties only extend to a pack of lovely animals. As I opened a few nice cards yesterday that spewed nice words on my character I thought of my dad. He taught and continues to teach me things all the time. I see more of him and that makes me smile. He has always been a fair, funny and stern man when required. He didn’t always understand the world of movies or the passion that drove me to follow that path. I think like many parents of artists – they worry and in many cases rightfully so. It’s a hard path where in days past you only got known usually after your death. Maybe this is more applicable to famous painters but it also applies to other artists I’m sure. I’m happy my father is still here to give wisdom, guidance and comfort. I see my parents as the training wheels and I’m happy both of mine are still attached to the bike. I got my father a little love gift that I will give him later but my gift will NOT be his favorite today. My brother and his wife Abby are going in today to have their second child. The Perry clan will add a new little life. We don’t know if it is a boy or girl but we’ll will be happy with either.  So dad is gonna be a grandpa again and that’s a pretty cool Father’s Day present. So the fathers or those that act in a father-like fashion congrats to you upon this day.

As I approach my actually B-day on Tuesday I have so much to be proud of as I reflect back on what has transpired on this journey thus far. It goes all the way back to “PLAYING” with the camcorder in high school and before that making “radio” dramas on tape with dialog and sound FX recorded on a tape player. Recently, I’ve again had the pleasure of watching hundreds enjoy our “PLAY” on the big screen. Let’s look at a few of these movie updates.

ASHES OF EDEN – WOW! What a full journey and starting in Oct it will really travel. We are releasing a clean(er) version of the movie. Our director Shane found himself in a place between SHOW & BIZ. He loves the raw version of his SHOW but the distributors main outlets require a slight adjustment. It is why we do more and more development/distribution work making films that will do well in the marketplace. Early on you can make films basically on spec within a business structure but many mistakes can be made. Does one scene or a handful of words kill a certain retailer and/or TV license? These are things that get looked at now when we are in development. I know Shane came from a hobby-esque film background whereas whatever struck the current fancy was created with little thought to distribution. Once you start partnering with investors (not social donations) you have a responsibility to them. Factoring in all these variables gets your story out to more. If you don’t take these variables under consideration it likely is a situation of showcasing your film to a couple hundred people and moving a few hundred DVD’s to family and friends. The path we’re on can be reflected in a recent sales report I received with over 285,000 DVD’s sold. That is what proper development can bring but sometimes compromise is required. I’m not saying the world won’t accept the thousands of filmmakers who do these films on the side as only art. I’m saying if you want to “PLAY” for a living you must factor the business in at all times. I’m so very proud of this film and I look forward to taking the next step with Shane. A great creative, hard-working mind who was a joy to collaborate with. Check out ASHES OF EDEN once it becomes available wide in October. This week we should see the new poster art surface.

BESTSELLER – This film has had quite the journey. I’ve got an interview that I did recently (Not released yet) – that asked some pointed questions on production and I gave some pointed answers. I’ve flowed with the Q&A at a few screenings about production and went with the spin. The film almost never was due to mismanagement before we came onboard but I’m so proud of all the current artists involved with the RE-shoot. Their work resulted in the fine film we now have. We’re about to announce our next theatrical show date in Lansing with a DVD release party afterwards. We are also working on Kalamazoo and a few in the Detroit area. I would also like to see an Owosso, Michigan screening. So, more showings of BESTSELLER will be forthcoming. We also just got our 1st national distribution offer on the film. We will continue to evaluate these offers.

40 NIGHTS – So this past week our director/editor sat in with our assistant editor, FX supervisor and one of our other producers. This is our second wave of viewers that will give vital feedback. It will be used to create our second pass on the film. From there we will bring the other producers back in to review. We will have a locked picture in July.  Also the 1st teaser trailer of the film is being worked on. I’m excited to show audiences a first look as we’ve had so many reach out about this film. We’ve just opened a new database whereas you can sign up on the 40 Nights website if your church or organizations wishes a showing. This is in response to the requests we have been getting. So check out http://www.40nightsthemovie.com and sign up. I’m excited to also get the licensing of product underway.

Distribution Updates –

CDI Distribution has recently made additional TV deals on three film projects. One is with our non-profit friends at Red, White & Blue who work with military themed film properties. This includes the CDI associated doc “Outside the Wire” and “Standing Post” both are heading to TV. Also “7 Stones” will be playing at this network. Delivery is happening this week and I’m once again proud of all the artists involved.

Also I have been in talks with a new distribution entity via an introduction by our family/faith distributor. We’re looking for the right partner on grittier properties like our thrillers. The 1st round of talks focused on – DONORS, THE TERRORIST and BESTSELLER. The result was they’re interested in all three films. That doesn’t mean they will all land there but they could. But that was my morning yesterday before our little B-day gathering.

The Future-

Script-wise I’ve been doing some good writing. I’ve retooled one of the past CDI script properties and we will look at moving that forward soon. We will likely do some Michigan casting in the weeks ahead. I have to get the new draft of the script polished and over to our distributor. “Knight Chills 2” and another power drama I’m working on are very close to being completed. I also have been preparing to write the next script in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. I have had so much business going on that getting into the writing mindset was difficult for a moment because of that phone call or an immediate “TO DO” that always broke the mindset. But things are falling into a more even flow and the writing is once again going great.

Good Business –

Not to long ago I had a filmmaker in our state try to go behind my back to push his agenda with a contact. Bluntly – I don’t respect this filmmaker. By his own words and actions he is…a joke when it comes to management. His art is careless and his business disorganized. His personal character is… Let’s just say he is his own worst enemy. I normally would not even waste these words on this person but an opportunity to illustrate a good lesson is at hand because of another filmmaker associate out west. He actually asked permission to contact someone and asked if I would mind being used as a reference. This is how business is meant to be done. In the 1st example myself and at least one other person got a call to get the facts on this person. It was odd for this person to reference myself but not come through me. Why? This person knew I wouldn’t endorse him. The nice part of this story is that I wasn’t the only one who reported back with the same feedback. His actions defined him. Your actions will define you. Words lose value when they have no true integrity behind them. Be true-hearted in your words and deeds. The latter person in this story may do some solid business because he practiced good business. This other individual – buyer beware. Don’t buy into the BS that they are selling. Lots of these types are about trying to say what they think you want to hear – but there are also many sincere people. Trust your judgment.

I could go on about this or that but I really need to go get cleaned up. I’m about to become an uncle again today:) After I’ve got a soccer match to play. Our yard needs to also get cleaned up from the gathering yesterday.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

DJ


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


ASHES, BESTSELLER, 40 NIGHTS and WASTELAND Updates

I’m up nice and early sipping on my favorite coffee. It has been a great adjustment back into work flow here in Michigan. I’ve really just been tightening my focus on what needs to be done and eliminating distractions. We have been wrapping up the last of the loose ends on “40 Nights” which has about run its course. The ship is docked and the cargo unloaded and now the film is being assembled. It signed worldwide distribution prior to shooting and that is a welcome change. No shopping just finish and deliver. We are excited about what is going to happen with this film. It is the 1st in our 3 picture deal with Lightworx for biblical era content.

Additionally this new relationship opened a new opportunity for “Ashes of Eden” our inspirational crime drama. We were on a path to a domestic release but recently had additional theatrical interest in the film and in the wake of “40 Nights” worked a new deal for worldwide distribution with Lightworx. Lightworx Entertainment is ran by my friend/associate who was a VP formerly at Pureflix overseeing films such as “God’s Not Dead” with their marketing and distribution roll out. ASHES is in great hands with Lightworx and I think this expanded deal is well deserved. Congrats to the entire cast and crew.

“Bestseller” – Now this project is exciting as we get to the end of the post production road. It was a unique project in how we at CDI became involved. What previously could have been a loss for the Michigan film community has turned into a great relationship with an amazing author. He’s going to get a watch through on the final film towards the end of the month. Music, FX and sound work has been solid and we will be showcasing this to the media May 9th prior to the May 23rd screening which will be the 1st public premiere showing in Chris Knight’s (Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand’s) home town. We’re excited that this story has translated so well to the screen and look forward to his additional stories that lie waiting to be told on the big screen. We’re also locking the 1st theatrical dates now and DVD’s will be for sale alongside the theatrical releases. Congrats to the cast and crew of this fine film.

“Wasteland Tales of the Desert Part 1” – I’m told this film is DONE. This 1st part will travel the festival circuit and be used to show the other investors. If all flows – the other segments will get cast and prepped to shoot. I’m excited to see it with all the music, sound and FX in place.

Yesterday I had some talks over a few more movies in the CDI library going to TV. It could be as many as 4 with additional high interest in “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” but those deals will have to be made by our new distributor.

Lastly, I will return to script writing here soon. I’ve got two personal scripts to finish up. One or both could film this year. I am also planning my next biblical era film to write and produce for Lightworx likely to shoot in Jan. 2016. So I will enjoy the approaching Summer and oversee the flow of content. It will be a great year and I again appreciate all of you.

Happy Saturday!

DJ


Updates from Yuma

It is a glorious sunny Saturday in Yuma, AZ. Last week our pre-production team on the upcoming feature film “40 Nights” flew in. Working with our Yuma based team we quickly got our departments underway. I’m so happy with how everyone has just been peacefully moving through their days doing what needs to get done. Morning meetings followed by work, work, work and post day meeting and meals. The people here have been so nice and we are getting huge support from the community. Once again I’m super proud to have the Collective Development Inc. name out there. Not only do we produce films in our home state but other states and countries.

Today secondary crew is starting to come in as we build towards the first day of principal photography. We had an amazing day of camera tests yesterday in the desert that yielding some amazing B Roll footage. I also got to see my character in full garb existing in the world we are creating. Budgetary reasons had us bringing in some keys and also using some west coast production folks. New family joins with the old family and as I said prior – making me proud.

Also the same goes for talent. Today Mr. Rance Howard came in with his wife. It has been a few years since I worked with Rance and it was a pleasure. We had a nice lunch and we’re running lines for a few before he has a wardrobe fitting.

I have many old friends coming in with the cast and I’m looking forward to meeting a few new artists.  The last week flew by and I’m sure with me working every day these two weeks of shooting will also fly by. We will also have some exciting news in regards to distribution very soon. We had multiple parties interested in this film. I’m sure audiences will enjoy it. Also official .com website going up this weekend.

The new WICKED SPRING website is also up now. http://www.wickedspringfilm.com

ASHES OF EDEN and DONORS will be having more announcements as they move towards release.

BESTSELLER composing has begun and the 5.1 mix is complete. Color correction is 95% done and the FX have all been completed. May premiere!

Speaking of FX the work on WASTELAND our Sci-Fi is also completed and that film should finish up this month.

THE TERRORIST is completed and I’m hearing great stuff about that film and so I’m excited to see the final version.

I know I’m missing a few things but I have to get ready for my read so I will say goodbye for now.

Happy Saturday!

DJ


“40 Nights” and Other Film News

DJ Perry as Jesus in 40 NightsHappy Saturday everyone. The sun is out but the freeze it still in full force here in the Michigan. As many of you now know we announced the next film “40 Nights” shooting next month. For fans of the biblical/drama films like “Book of Ruth,” ‘Ashes of Eden,” or “Wicked Spring” you will enjoy this news. If more intense films are your cup of tea you will have “Bestseller,” “The Terrorist,” and “Dead Quiet” coming at you later this year.

I’m excited about “40 Nights” because it takes a very simplistic look at a very complex character. I can say that I don’t think any other film has approached this story in this way. Behind the scenes we’ve had a lot of excitement and interest. So we’ve been making strides in development for a while now and finally everything has lined up. So next month we are going out west to tell this story. We are taking some of our keys but unfortunately can’t take the entire army. We will be joining with artists out there. Several artists that I’ve worked with previously on projects. The issue is that only so many cast and crew and I’ve worked with a lot of talented people. If I’ve worked with you before and had a positive experience you are always considered. Sometimes with talent I’ve submitted you to our director and you don’t even know it. Often when you get a call from out of the blue offering a role that is exactly what happened. I also sometimes feel at blame if people don’t get a role but truth is that either the role didn’t fit or the creative director had a different idea. But that said, I do love all my co-stars and always put you forward when I see a right role. We are mostly cast save a few smaller roles and one of those is a child actor. If you like these kind of films the good news is that we have been approached about doing several. So we will focus on this story for now but in the future many more of my friends and associates could be getting calls.

“BESTSELLER” is sounding great as we get ready to start the score with the amazingly talented Dennis Therrian. We just had our Director of Photography in town and had a great color correction discussion to get things rolling. We saw almost all the FX work placed into the film and I can say great work by DNA Design. This film is being slated for 1st showings in May around author Christopher Knight’s stomping grounds. From there it will start playing various locations theatrically.

I’ve seen the artwork on “Donors,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Wicked Spring” as we prepare to release those films this spring and summer. “Wicked Spring” is looking at getting some Michigan theatrical play before the Blu-Ray and PPV/On Demand release in June. Happy Birthday month to me:)

This coming week will be FULL of final off-location prep work and packing to leave for our home away from home.  Our destination has been between 72-83 degrees so that will be a nice change. On-going sales discussions on the CDI library are continuing and possible projects are lining up. I may take on a script writing assignment when I return. I’m finishing a few personal scripts as we speak.  We also have a commercial project that is in the works to do this spring. Aside from all the work I’m ready to pour my everything into this next role and after that…outdoor SOCCER SEASON!

I hope you all have a great Saturday!

DJ


Reflections as New Projects Emerge

It has been a whirlwind of business this morning. Just like on a film set I see the prep work in action. Slowly you start to relax as your tried and true start to do what they do. Movie making was always a thing of passion. I use to spend much of my days thinking on stories often from my reading on mythology and such. I would find myself slowly translating thoughts to ideas on paper. My lists on legal pads still show this ancient method of prepping. A day when card catalogs held the mighty information and Star Wars was the shit. The storytelling BUG started as organized play amongst children. We had heroes. Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Bruce Lee…the A-TEAM.

This organized play use to be that we were going to “play” the bar cantina scene from Star Wars. Everyone brought their own props. Ray gun toys wouldn’t get you shot 35 years ago. I think I ended up playing Greedo vs my hero Han because I could fall best out of the chair. This evolved to radio drama. Scripts. Walt Disney sound FX record. A tape player. We amazing told some stories using acting and sound FX. We further enhanced our ability to do voices by our limitless amount of prank calls. Radio stations loved and/or hated us I’m sure. Dad and the camcorder. To bring the play full circle – to being that kid again. Get a script. Bring props. Got camera. Act. Shoot. Shoot in order, 1 take with sound on set. (Boom box) Yeah boy. I was high-tech. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I knew that things would change. My mind held onto my children love of storytelling. I struggled to find a way to adapt it to the grown-up world. It took some time. I still learn every day. I’m humbled every day by what I don’t know. But I feed my hunger to learn something new every day. My last three weeks have been heavy with business. It was this desire to always give something a solid platform. By that I mean business. I reflected upon the simple days of Monster Theater, The Revolting Vomits and the Hippy Zombies, It is the journey started by sincere, real interest that put me where I am. I’ve met others that have followed this path from an early age.  I wasn’t the first and I won’t be the last. I just now realize what hard work they put into these films that created my heroes. I’m proud to be part of a revolving cycle.

This film played to my inner child. Sci-Fi in nature with some Road Warrior grit. I had a great time shooting this first segment. Take a look at   WASTELAND updates and 1st teaser trailer

From our friend at Alien Bee

http://alienbee.net/watch-the-first-teaser-trailer-for-wasteland-tales-from-the-desert-part-1/

The poster work is also underway and so we should have some additional updates in the coming weeks.

IMG_0316BADASS COMING OUT OF NYC

I know that Jon Osman and his team have been working hard on finishing THE TERRORIST. It is said to be finishing this week. I’m happy that his storytelling is releasing. Lots of talented folks in the NYC area no questioning that.

BESTSELLER – The work flow continues and we are getting close to announcing our first screening date of BESTSELLER. I can say that it will be a “Media Invite” – followed in a few weeks with the official premiere.

ASHES OF EDEN – I saw 1st draft of the DVD artwork. Looking good. Shane our director will finalize all that. Soon we will get to see what the wider USA thinks of this film. Shane is a storyteller. Beyond that he is a sensible business person. That right there – the combo – will get your career started. We are in development on a few projects. Once we get ASHES OF EDEN out to all of you we can focus more on what’s next.

WICKED SPRING artwork is about done. David Gries was our artists working with myself and the distributor. I also think a special treat for Michigan fans of the film or genre – big screen. We are talking about May showings at the theater. The film only played theaters in NY, LA and VA. I think it plays great on the big screen. The battle footage is pretty descent when a theater is generous with the sound levels. Cannons booming and such is awesome on the big screen. Again DVD and Blu-Ray release June 2nd.

DONORS – PR just announced our July 2nd release of this film. Dr. Savior is ready:)

We have much in the way of distribution and development underway but honestly, it is lunch time. So on this snowy day I’m going to go eat and get back at some more prep work.

WAIT A MINUTE! On What?

We are about to film…

OK. Off to eat.

Have a great Saturday!

DJ


Be-My-Valentine Brew & Movies – What’s New!

It’s been a sunny yet chilly day in Michigan but the coffee and good company keeps it all warm. The past week was extremely busy for me but from all the work comes great results.

Let’s take a look –

This past week we had a great meeting over marketing of the thriller “Bestseller” with our E.P./author Chris Knight. We discussed how we would roll the film out via the various distribution channels. I can say unofficially here that we are looking to premiere the film in May. First to the media and after to the locals of Northern Michigan. From there it will start playing theaters in lower Michigan and perhaps other states. We will continue to roll out the film in various formats ending likely with Pay-Per-View and video-on-demand this fall. The sound design and FX work is done and next up is the color correction and music. We visited the studio to have Mr. Knight see the film with the sound placed in. It’s a movie that really grabs your attention and the music score by Dennis Therrian is only going to enhance that experience.

Mystery Film X

Our CDI film that is about to enter official Pre-production has taken up a good amount of time in development. We were finalizing the script with our director the last two weeks. Look for some big announcements soon as this project fires up all thrusters.

NEW Distribution

Artwork on ASHES OF EDEN, WICKED SPRING and DONORS is almost complete and prep work for the spring/summer distribution roll out has begun. DONORS will announce its release date this coming week with Winters Film Group.

Our SciFi film “WASTELAND” has a 1st teaser that is almost done. Editing on the film itself is moving along with first talks on one of the space ships underway.

THE TERRORIST feature is almost complete. I thought I might have to replace a line on this thriller but lucky for me the line was found and I did not need to replace it. I’m excited for people to see this thriller that will be having a few NYC showings before heading out to the world audience.

SEQUELS

The “Knight Chills II” script is moving along and soon we’ll announce some new updates concerning crew. Also the book for the original is being written and a new mastering of the original film will be forthcoming. It might possibly get a BluRay release also, we will see.

TV/FOREIGN

Additional TV and foreign distribution talks are happening on several films. We had some really good feedback this past week that I believe will lead to licenses being made. Theatrical talks on some of the CDI films has also advanced and a CDI showcase is coming. I think the films heading to the local big screen first will be “Wicked Spring,” before its new national release. Our Smoky Mountain western “Ghost Town,” Our faith film “Figure in the Forest” and the very popular based on a true story crime drama- “An Ordinary Killer”. Stay tuned for more big screen news.

I’m guessing we will hear something soon on the upcoming horror film “Dead Quiet” which I played a fun part in. I’m thinking a trailer might release sometime soon.

So you can see that between prepping new projects, pushing out the current films and selling films from the library – I’ve been busy like a bee. I’ve also managed to keep at a few of my hobbies. The BLOOD MOON CIDER was jarred up a few weeks ago and is tasting good. A touch tart but the berry taste really adds to it. Today I’m bottling a Blonde Ale that I’m calling “Be My Valentine Blonde Brew” since the ideal day to start drinking it will be next Saturday. I might have to try an early one tonight:)

I hope you all are having a great weekend!

Cheers!

DJ


Always Take the High Road…

This will likely be my last, okay as my wording jumps around, it WILL be my last post on this computer. It has served me well since just after GHOST TOWN in 2006 or so. I now have a new MacBook Pro and my main task is moving my software over. This last week was full of updates but I want to discuss something that can really benefit all of you working in film or any business. I will frame the situation without using names.

I have been doing business with a studio. They have a script of  mine under option. They have been ultra professional  and cross T’s and dot I’s on contracts. Even better, their checks come and clear. Now they’ve talked to me about acting, producing and distribution. I know their roll out plan on a pair of their previous films. No smoke blowing in my discussions with them as what they’ve discussed matches/aligns with talks I’ve had with another BIG STUDIO. So far all good marks on this relationship. On another front –  a partner/biz associate had been dealing with a key member on one of these films owed by the studio paying me an option. In casual discussion I was presented with news that directly conflicted with what I had been told by this said studio regarding distribution of their property. I looked at some public information posted on social media sites that confirmed this conflicting information. Essentially someone without the executive power to sell a film was doing just that. I had seen previous postings advertising this film selling but sometimes a small run for family, friends of the film is permitted. It is not usually sold or advertised widely as it can label a film as being “previously distributed” and devalue it. I simply took a few screenshots and asked the studio if they were aware of this and was it authorized. What tipped me off to something being “Rotten in Denmark” was this unofficial version being sold by an unofficial party was said to have been offered a distribution deal. That at least speaks good of the film:) Now my associate confronted this unauthorized party before and was met with side stepping answers. This unauthorized version was being sold and not by pirates in Asia or Russia, but a key(s) on the film. I assume legal stepped in and it was immediately halted. Now my associate was confronted by this guilty party. They were upset that public information was gathered and presented to the studio. Initially they denied selling the film even though the proof was all over the internet including reviews of the illegal version and my associate had a copy of the DVD in question is his hands. This guilty party was seemingly mad that the studio wasn’t going to ever work with them again. He wanted to know what producer/writer had brought this info front and center so he could be sure never to work with them. After this person denied selling the film he retracted his statement the next day admitting to selling a few DVD’s “Only X amount was sold and only because they needed Christmas money”. Yes. That is what I was told.  Okay. Let’s recap again.

1) My associate is considering work with this person.

2) Information posted and presented is in direct conflict with other information known.

3) One party is by-the-book, contract heavy and follows through with said agreements including payment.

4) Second party avoids direct answers to presented questions. It is discovered he used rights without authorization and lied about it until they knew they were caught red-handed.

5) Guilty party is now mad at being caught and gives said excuses.

Okay. Now this party is mad at myself and this associate of mine for vetting out information that did not make sense. The guilty party wanted to know who presented the info but he knew. So, after admitting he DID sell the film, he said they would never work on anything with me involved. God. I hope so! That means anyone working with me is at least protected from that circle of deceit. Life throws you a finance curveball and this person gives in to lying and stealing…I feel pity for them. I don’t know this person. I never worked with this person. They are likely a fine artist but business is not just a game to play when it suits you. SHOWBIZ! I’ve had film rights stuck with a distributor that I wasn’t happy with. Hell, I was mad at them. But I can’t just go against agreements and do anything I want. Projects have managers who run the show NOT the investors. I’ve had to fight with my legal to get rights back on projects. Otherwise you are illegally re-assigning rights to a new distributor and creating an issue for them just by trusting you. Hence why you use a chain of titles. Your name and reputation is so important and this is an ultra small business community. A friend/associate of this guilty party also called me a jerk and wanted to know what my deal was. I had no deal other than seeking out some truth. I heard something that didn’t add up. I gathered some info and asked for clarification. Now, I’m a jerk. Someone else who makes positive message films but cheats, steals and lies and they are somehow a victim? Okay. So I’m done with all that but luckily this associate of mine won’t be doing business with this person. Let me tell you something. If they stole 30 units they would steal 300, 3000, 30,000 or 3,000,000 units. If they lie about something small in business they will surely lie about something big. I just implore you all out there to protect your business integrity and character. If you need help financially and can’t help yourself (swallow your pride and get another JOB) just don’t tank your future by dishonest business. This person could be the next big thing but if you sell out your trustworthiness, your career will die. I’m not mad at this person or those around who are justifying the actions. I just want some of you out there to reconsider when tempted to do something wrong. Even if you’re mad, frustrated or the other party is a jerk. If you’re a professional and you don’t have the right to do something – don’t! It could get you in big legal trouble. Ruin the domestic run on a film for a few hundred-dollars and you could get sued for millions in lost revenue. Good people can do desperate things when put in a bad situation. A man will steal food to feed his starving family. But selling yourself out to buy an XBox or some holiday gifts is not worth it. A gift-light holiday that still has love and honesty is better that the other option. You also are setting an example with your choices and behavior to people who look up to you. So I’m fine with the outcome but wonder what kind of world it is where the guilty plays the victim and the innocent becomes the scapegoat.

Onto the next updates:)

– Good meeting over film education program  in Michigan

– Good meetings over upcoming CDI theatrical showings

– More TV deals underway with CDI films

– BESTSELLER FX about done and sound design is an hour + completed

– ASHES OF EDEN going national on April 7th

– Multiple foreign licensing underway with UK, Australia, Germany and more…

– Development on several CDI films moving along with one about to enter pre-production in Feb.

– Post-Edit work underway on “WASTELAND” film.

– Stay tuned this coming week for PR announcing release dates nationally on “Donors” and re-release of “Wicked Spring”

Keep moving forward and even though the road may be longer, steeper and rougher – remain on the highroad. There are no shortcuts and when they do present themselves they often come with compromises that will have long-lasting effects. Have a great weekend and a good week ahead!

DJ


Advance, Enhance & Take the Chance – 2015

 

Well folks I hope your 2015 is off to a good start. I’ve jumped right into it with a bang and I’m excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I’m really happy at how enjoyable the holidays were and I do realize how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. A week before Christmas I was in a majestic place (The Valley of Fire) shooting what I would call R-Rated STAR WARS with our “Wasteland” film. It’s just funny because that film is what sparked my imagination and pushed me towards the path. Yesterday the editing on that 1st part of the film began in Florida. The website is now open at http://www.wastelandtalesmovie.com/.  A teaser will soon be released and I will start putting new talent in front of our director and we will be doing casting calls via the website so stay tuned if you want to enter the Wasteland.

I will be doing some producing on that film now that my filming as an actor is complete. I’ve been prepping for my next role that I’ll be announcing soon. It will be most challenging but I’m ready and willing to accept that challenge. It’s a period piece that will film some in Michigan perhaps and the balance/bulk of it in Arizona. Location scouting and some select casting work has been underway for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the other exciting news that I can be somewhat less mysterious about – maybe. 🙂

We have release dates for our films releasing with the WINTERS FILM GROUP. I must allow the honor of announcing the “Ashes of Eden” street date to come from Shane Hagedorn. He’s very excited for the national release. Also we have a couple large foreign releases in talks now. I was talking with Parables TV about this film on Friday. They love it. It’s on the cutting edge being a crime drama infused with a healthy dose of faith but also not cramming the religious aspect down your throat. We’re greatly looking forward to audiences of all walks of life watching and enjoying this film. It gives a very humanizing look at the life police/law enforcement officers have to deal with. It looks at the challenges that face both parents and children in this day and age. It’s funny because I told Shane before the film was ever completed that he must also prepare himself for “haters” – (I believe that is the term) Basically, if you start to find success some insecure artists who have not yet been given that opportunity to succeed will resent you. Why his script? Why his film? Why? Why? The answer is usually better quality product, better business or both. I had truly hoped that Shane would not have to experience any of that but I knew better. Before the film was released someone trolled the voting on a data base in hopes it would hinder the film. It did not.  Because distributors actually watch and evaluate based on their expertise and sales projections. Now as of late the film has also been given to a cross selection of  film reviewers and once again the response has been very good. I expect sales to also be quite good.  You can’t let those things even slow you down. When your audience becomes hundreds of thousands to millions vs a few hundred friends you learn to just let it roll off you. A few will always hate and that itself will keep them trapped in a cycle of failure.  I would always rather just smile and create. If you’re still fighting for your respect and your success don’t hate. Try to examine what makes these other artists  successful. I would say don’t imitate their art but imitate their business practice or principles. Don’t EVER fake it to make it. Build from mild success to modest success to great success. Keep it real and keep building and one day your success will start to multiply because it is REAL!

Let’s talk some REAL UPDATES:)

“Wicked Spring” will also be re-releasing soon. While an official PR release is forthcoming I’ll give my loyal readers a hint. It would make a nice gift to put in an Easter basket:) Now “Donors” will also be announcing their release date soon. Audiences will have a great opportunity to enjoy these films releasing the first half of the year. I hope you add them to your collection or viewing experiences.

Finishing up early this year will also be the horror film “Dead Quiet” – I hear they will be targeting fall for their big push. “Bestseller” is now in post sound/music and I’ve been seeing the FX/graphic work in progress. I’m VERY excited to see this film completed and premiere. “The Terrorist” feature was getting close to done in late December so I expect to hear some good news from our director soon.

I was in talks on a few more CDI films heading to TV. One will likely be our doc film “Outside the Wire” done with our friends at the RED, WHITE and BLUE PROJECT.

“Heavens Neighbors” and “Figure in the Forest” are looking at a new release in 2015. “Knight Chills” will be re-releasing with the novel to help promote and prep folks for the sequel that is coming. “In the Woods” re-release – trying to get that commentary done. We had one date reschedule because of snow and we’ll see if we can make it tomorrow. They had a 90 car pile up yesterday right where I have to drive through. So if it’s bad I’m not chancing it. I had the cold zap my battery one day last week and once I got it jumped and was off to my teeth cleaning I narrowly avoided a fender bender right in front of me. I had to BUDDY COLT*  the car to keep from a crash but I did. (See * JUDGES movie)

This week ahead will be more development and prepping for delivery on these films heading out for distribution. Also a studio tour, theatrical talks on a few films and finalizing some artwork. It’s great weather for getting these things done. No nice sun and yard/garden work to tempt you just bitter winds and snow that would make a polar bear cold. So I’m going to focus on my film work and also write on the two scripts I’ve been working on. It all keeps the machine moving forward and I’m happy to stay busy. At CDI we are accepting some commercial work. We’ve got a cool project for a client lined up this spring. We’ve done some high-end commercial work in the past and we’re going to occasionally start taking on select projects here and there. So if you have a commercial project that you want considered – feel free to ask. If we don’t take it on I can always recommend someone whose work I approve.

I think that is all I have right now. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but once again, thank you for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week and keep clawing your way to the middle! Accept that most things don’t come easy and enjoy the work. While others refrain, complain, abstain you advance, enhance and take the chance to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail but you must be as prepared as possible and fight fiercely to succeed.

Welcome to 2015! Go get it.

DJ

 

 


Happy Holidays – Returning Home & Ready to Relax

Happy Holidays 2014!

Happy Holidays 2014 – Keep Clawing Your Way to the Middle!

Ah………I feel like a traveler just returned from a foreign and distant planet. First, Christmas time in Las Vegas isn’t the same as in Michigan. My hotel room absolutely lacked the Christmas spirit that I’m once again dwelling in. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great experience shooting “Wasteland Tales of the Desert Part 1” in the Valley of Fire. The place was once the location of a prehistoric sea now long gone and leaving the rugged terrain of the Valley behind. The ground was hard and rocky covered with petrified wood, brush and various sedimentary rocks – many with fossils and hints of the once watery condition. We had a tight crew that everyday woke at 5:30 am and got about, shared breakfast and departed for the Valley. We shot everyday until about 4:30 when the magic hour struck the majestic location. We returned banged, bruised, worn and happy. Everyday we got great footage! Everyday had powerful performances. At days end it was back to the hotel for bath/showers. Now I haven’t taken a bath versus a shower in a long time but with my sore bones it became a daily ritual. All day included walking, climbing and laying on anything but flat surfaces. Once clean it was off to dinner with our cast and crew. Ribs, blackened Mahi Mahi, super burgers – let’s just say that food is not lacking in Las Vegas. After eating my night was spent either running lines for the next day save one day where I went to bed at 9:30.  That early in Las Vegas is from beat up tired. 200% always!  But by the next day I was rested, recharged and ready to rock and roll. The footage, the stills -amazing –  the film is gonna be really cool. We had so much fun shooting it and that fun seeps into the footage. An official website will be going up and more pics will soon fill the Facebook albums.  The first teaser will begin immediately and the film should be assembled by Feb. 2015. I think once people see this film we’ll have many people interested in being involved in the others “Tales from the Desert” – so we’ll see who the desert beckons next. This is just a great CDI association and I’m proud to be part of it. Our team was awesome and we really got what we needed. My fellow cast members Nicholas X Parsons, David Gries and Damian Maffei were all a pleasure to work with. They take their craft serious and they brought their passion to the show every day. I also want to thank my former co-star Jaime Lynch for giving our cast and crew the VIP treatment at her new show she stars in at the Luxor called FANTASY. If you are over 18 and want to see a great show this is one not to miss. She has an amazing voice!

On other fronts –

THE TERRORIST – I talked with director Jon Osman over our progress on the film. The graphics and color grading are looking great! He is continuing to work the sound design getting the film ready for a final mix.

BESTSELLER – I think we are in the final steps of FX and sound and music are moving along as well. We are driving towards the finish line.

ASHES OF EDEN and DONORS are prepping for their initial national release in early 2015.

IN THE WOODS and WICKED SPRING are prepping for new national re-releases.

I’m anxious to regroup, recharge and get ready for the new year ahead. I’ve got a few script projects to return to writing on and a few other projects that we may be announcing details on very soon. I’m fresh out of the desert and the facial scruff is gone for the moment. I’m happy to be back home with family and friends and I once again feel blessed. Blessed that I got to go off to another state – to a great location – with some great artists – and do some great storytelling.  And now I’m happy that I see stockings hung with care. A Christmas tree lighting up the room and my pack of pups sleeping peacefully. I smell ham cooking and classic Christmas music plays softly. So with that I’m going to say goodnight. I think it’s time for a late night snack OR dinner if I were still in Las Vegas.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Be good to one another and enjoy the season.

I appreciate you all taking the time to stop by.

DJ


Spaceship is on the Launchpad & Select Updates

I know I should have a coffee sponsor out there for as much as I talk about it. Many know my love of hazelnut but I’ve also been adding cinnamon on the top for some time. It’s supposed to be good for digestion but also is just GOOD tasting. It has been a busy week of prepping for this role in Nevada playing a space pirate in what I can describe best as a Sci Fi western. WASTELAND Tales From the Desert Part 1. I’m looking forward to a return trip to Las Vegas which as far as cities go I do enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing a few movie friends inside my hectic film schedule. I’m looking forward to trekking about the location of our filming which will be the Valley of Fire State Park. I’ve noted before that I’ve gone there as a child but I can’t really recall much. I know from what I’ve seen that the place will look great on camera.

I’ve been working on two scripts that are looking to shoot in 2015 – one is a long-awaited sequel to our original 1st CDI feature “Knight Chills”” and it’s fun and exciting to be creating here. We were very green when we did that 1st film and despite the great exposure here in the US/Canada and in several countries it was a major chore to complete. Now with all that we know and the better equipment for filmmakers this movie will be great and a smooth ride. It has a few appearances from original cast but will star two newcomers in the soon-to-be franchise. It will feature our famous villain and I look forward to having him on the big screen.  A novel based on the 1st film script is in the works and will join a new re-release of that film to prep audiences for the sequel. Also we are looking at TV and other foreign sales for the old/new films. I’m excited by this and it will be fun.

I’ve also been working a powerful drama that has strong military and animal rights themes. It has been fun to bounce between these two scripts based on my mood for the day. I do enjoy writing and take great enjoyment in the process. I might have yet another script job after these two and again just a great pleasure to change gears from business and just swim in the imagination and create.

I’ve been working with graphic artists and distributors in getting new marketing materials around on “In the Woods,” “Donors,” “Ashes of Eden,” and “Wicked Spring” all coming out 1st half of 2015. On the re-releases it’s fun to go back into these great projects. On the new projects releasing – even more fun as you prepare the 1st looks for audiences out there. 2015 will be a busy year with releases and I will keep my promises to my foreign friends to get these films out there further so they can be enjoyed in your countries.

BESTSELLER – WOW! The FX work I’ve been seeing out of DNA Design has been wonderful. Soon we will be laying the FX plates into our time line along with the music beds being composed by Dennis Therrian. This film will be great to see all together. Those who have seen the early clips are raving about the suspense and intense nature of this film.

We have also been working development as noted by some of the script work. Additionally we have more than half the funds committed on another soon-to-be announced feature. Actually come Jan. we should be fully funded and we will make some announcements. It is a powerful script and role and we are working out our deal with distribution now. I plan to perhaps announce this film on or around Christmas.

Outside of all this I’ve been in talks with management on over a dozen projects where some TV series I’m looking at guest starring and some perhaps a regular role. We are targeting some of the casting on these studio films and at least one I’m already slated to be part of the cast. These are tens of millions of dollars and so they move at their own pace so I get to keep on doing my thing until they role into pre-production.

I got most of my Christmas shopping done and everything is wrapped and under the tree. I am not a “wait to the last minute” person – must be the producer in me. This weekend I will enjoy the family life here before I go do my movie thing for a week. I will come home to be thankful for the past year. Thankful for all of you who make this journey worthy. Thankful for family and friends who give love and support without care of what role I’m playing. I’m happy to be doing what that teenage boy was doing with his friends and camcorder so many years ago. It’s times like this that I just feel incredibly grateful.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and productive week ahead preparing for the holidays. My next blog will come probably late on Saturday once I return home from Las Vegas.

Happy Holidays!

DJ


International Audiences, Updates, Advice

Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)

I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.

2015 Distribution Updates

CDI projects

ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.

REVIEW LINK

http://cinemaheadcheese.blogspot.com/2014/12/movie-review-ashes-of-eden-2014.html?m=1

DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come

WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!

We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.

HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.

BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.

 

NON-CDI RELEASE INFO

I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19  and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).

Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!

My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example  taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.”  I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water.   Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over.  We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you?  Do you give your best effort, always?  Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.

Happy Full Moon!

DJ

 


New Distribution, Updates and Observations

In the upcoming "Dead Quiet"

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

Hello everyone! I want to welcome our new readership from Greece. It has been a busy week here in the good old USA. I’m not going to touch the powder keg that is Michael Brown/police relations but I can say I’ve been a smart ass to the police as a teenager. I’ve been roughly questioned and searched BUT I’ve never hit or tried to take a gun away from a law enforcement officer. All actions have consequences some tragic and some with wonderful outcomes. Other high points this week – the new Star Wars trailer. I was an absolute Star Wars fanatic and I’ve said in many interviews that I got into acting largely because I wanted to be Han Solo when I was seven years old. I’m excited to play my 1st role this December in a Sci-Fi western “Wasteland” playing a shady space pirate type. I flatly refuse to accept the three prequels in my mythology of Star Wars. I think they were mostly poorly casted and some of the plot holes were too far for me to jump. A jedi-knight in my mind would have never left a poor women enslaved to a flying worm. Period. But I’m personally a fan off JJ (the new director) and with the old cast back I feel the excitement from when I was a child.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I have great respect for Native American rights and therefore can’t fully attach myself to the traditional meaning of thanksgiving. You don’t accept help from your neighbor and one day decide to take his house. But the Natives have figured out the white man’s greed and casinos are a great revenge. Plus you can see Tom Jones sing:) I do like the idea of family, friends and being thankful – reflecting upon all that is good in our lives. As Americans we do have it better than many who struggle each and every day for basic rights and necessities. We went up North and feasted with family and watched our Michigan Detroit Lions win. Today we are having more family over and yet another feast. We are doing two turkeys and I’ve been smoking one which was started at 4 am this morning. Tomorrow we are getting the Christmas tree so we will be flowing right into the next holiday. I do love having a fresh tree in the house. I also planted a new tree in the yard. My brother gifted me a red wood tree “RED” which we had for several years. That ice storm last year put the kill on poor Red who is now a Harry Potter-like wand hanging in the office fort. My brother bought me a Giant Sequoia. It should survive in Michigan better and so it took the spot where “Red” once was. This week I also tried my hand at venison jerky and from all reports it was a success. I’m going to fire up a beer batch this coming week to share with my amigos.

Movie Biz

This week I address a question to the social media public about social funding. More specific the type that accepts donations in exchange for perks and allows you to keep said funds even if the goal amount is not reached. In doing this the campaign people default in the perks because most are tied to having a finished project. Give A in exchange for B once C is completed. But if C is never completed B cannot be given yet A is kept. By logic it sounds like fraud. Or another way – I’m hosting an event and selling signage sponsorships. I take that money for said promotional signage and never hold the event. I posted asking for failed campaign people (Lots of them around) to give me their thoughts. The post was read by hundreds and not one comment or LIKE. An associate also shared or re-posted this posed question and only one filmmaker liked it. It was a director we’ve worked with and my guess is that he has never engaged in that social funding fraud and so felt comfortable posting. Now this only pertains to these ENTERTAINMENT properties. If you are raising money to offset funeral costs of Uncle Sal’s passing and you raise 1k of the 5k campaign and use it to offset the costs – great! That is a different story. So all I can say is that a lot of guilty filmmakers or weak spine filmmakers afraid to rock the boat because they have friends/associates engaging in this type of campaign. Bottom line is use that energy more wisely and do yourself a favor and learn some business along the way. I’ve said the same thing about enterprising criminals that if they put the same energy into legit business they would be successful. As a joke I am going to create some goofball campaign in the near future to showcase this but I just can’t believe nobody has ever pointed this out. Someone will end up one day with 25 group action in small claims court. I think that is the protection for these people. Who is gonna chase $50 or $100? Instead they brand filmmakers as hucksters and investment opportunities dry up. So next time you have trouble getting something financed maybe blame the never produced social media crowd. Let’s get to some real business.

Movie News

It was announced that “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama is going to get a reboot this spring with the Winters Film Group. We’re targeting a wider audience and I’m excited to get this film out there on PPV, VOD and a new version of DVD and maybe Blu Ray. The hour-long making of when be included amongst the extras.

“Donors” the horror/thriller will also be releasing this 2015 also signed to the Winters Film Group. This creepy film examines the dark seedy underbelly of kidnapping and organ stealing.

“Dead Quiet” is starting to make some noise as they head towards the finish line for a 2015 release.

“The Terrorist” also is wrapping up post-work for a 2015 release.

“Ashes of Eden” is being prepped for its release and should announce a release date by years end. Also some foreign sales are underway.

“Bestseller” is being worked on with the score, sound and visual FX all coming together. This will have a premiere early in 2015 and I’m very excited from what I’ve seen/heard thus far.

Other re-releases are being looked at including a deal that should have several of our CDI films releasing in India. Many know I co-starred in a film “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” that released wide in theaters there in 2009. I’m excited that a bridge to our product is being constructed.

The announcement of the novel being written off the “Knight Chills” script has sparked some interest in the sequel. The prequel to “The 8th Plague” is also in talks with a new director. A few other (for now secret) projects are getting very close to launching. Some major business talks begin again 1st week of December to see if we can lock up a few things before the year ends. I’ve been in talks with my management over a few high-profile projects. I’ve been in talks on a few other new independent projects and so I’m excited to see what projects/stories I end up doing. Well, I need to go refill the water pan in the smoker. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

DJ


Truth, Job Advice and NEW Updates

I want to start by welcoming some of our additional new blog readers from Brazil! What I love is that artists from all corners of the globe are finding this blog journey of interest. I know that it often contains bits of wit and wisdom that one can apply to their own person journey. It has been a great time lately refocusing, evaluating and preparing for the next set of adventures and actions to be put in motion for the forthcoming 2015. I’ve really been training mind, body and spirit – removing distractions and reassigning energy.

In this age of social media expression I find that many waste precious moments. Rather than look within they are seeking something externally.  I’ve heard people say that much of the social media experience has become listening to venting, complaining and such. I have removed almost all my attention from these such distractions. In my opinion, venting should give way to visualization of new avenues and course of actions. Complaining often shifts blame from where it should be – the self. If you aren’t the source issue you are surely allowing others to effect you. I’ve seen immense amount of time people have spent to negatively try to verbally belittle someone else’s artists doings. By the time they’ve spent all their time on others they could have created something new. Now those people can compound their waste of time and energy trying to hate on each new venture. I would often wonder why these people don’t selfishly use that energy to benefit themselves. If you can’t overcome your own laziness, failure, shortcomings you will never reach your goals. And the blame will always be placed on others who are gaining success by hard work.

I’m happy to have risen above all that nonsense. Like I’ve said before – it gets to a point where if someone throws an insult, slant or a jab – I’m asking …”Which project are you talking about?” and “Who are you again?” – If you’re a negative person – I likely have not invested much time getting to know who you are. I don’t like business associates nor friends who seem to carry their dark cloud with them. Honest fact can also be harsh but I never say things to harm. It is a fact that if I don’t care I won’t even spend the energy to say anything. Life will teach you your lesson(s). But if I care – I may speak and I won’t be one of the sugar-coated, silver tongue devils. If your shit isn’t together I may encourage you to do so- which is a good sign that I may wish to collaborate at some time. But I’m not about helping someone who won’t help themselves. Some choose to remain in their ass kiss circles – lying to one another and wondering why they aren’t developing as quickly as they had hoped.  And of course it’s often made out to be someone else’s fault. So if you have toxic people like this in your sphere they are due honesty or avoidance – pending how likely you see an ongoing business relationship.

Speaking of business – let us look at some developments.

ASHES OF EDEN – Deliverables are being put together and marketing will begin in full very soon. The distributor is excited and so are we. We know the power of this film and it will translate to a solid business endeavor. Also some major foreign deals are underway.

BESTSELLER – This film has visual mastering underway. Also music, sound and FX work – we have had some early interest from our preview trailer during the AFM market. After our post production summit we are all excited to see this film done. Audiences should really enjoy this film. It will be another great project created right here in the state of Michigan.

DONORS – This film has a foreign offer forthcoming and I believe next week we will have a domestic offer. This cool little thriller deals with some important subject matter. Check it out at http://www.donorsthemovie.com

The Special Edition announcement of IN THE WOODS might be joined by another classic film. The Civil War drama WICKED SPRING has a few options and I’m reviewing a deal as we speak. This film will get a special edition in 2015. Stay tuned.

WASTELAND – The CDI Associated Sci-Fi Western will have some interesting announcements this week. One includes a key crew member that I’m happy to say is coming from our state of Michigan. I will pull the right artist where it is deemed the best fit. This individual has passion that reminded me of myself many years ago. He gave his interest and passion without first asking what was in it for him. He was willing to work the lowest of jobs just to learn and be part of an organization like CDI. He was surprised by what happened next I’m sure. We  have plans for this person in 2015 so look for an announcement next week.

Good Job Advice –

Those out there who have had to “learn and earn” through hard work and not simply feel entitled by some degree . If you ask about money first when you are inexperienced – you’re in the wrong business. You can make much better money in other careers for sure. I think for many, filmmaking sounded like fun. Face it, It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like films. But when it gets hard many want to cut corners or wash their hands of something as quickly as they can. That is NOT how films are made. Those are the weed that need to be pulled from the garden. I will nurture when I see the true passion to do what we do. Many others will have their phase and move on into other career fields. I take what I do very serious and I know what its taken for me to get this far. I can often work one film with someone and usually tell who will still be around in five years. What we do is hard. Not everyone can do it. Not everyone should do it. If you are a complainer, venter, blamer – you should seek a new career field. Because you will slowly just burn bridges and be left on an island of isolation whereas a new career field is your only choice. You may also damage projects, communities and yourself deeply before you are marked and avoided. So I think many communities of film business artists would benefit from the early retirement of many of these people before they are forced out by their bridge burning. (Long Pause)  Now if you’ve read this previous set of harsh statements and said, “I’m staying.”

“I’m going to be that person who makes the set fun.”

“I’ll be the first to set and last to leave.”

“I will speak kindly on the hardest days because I truly love being part of a teams making stories.”

“I’m going to make myself be valued to the extent I will always be the object of someone’s hiring.”

To those people – I welcome you. You might have what it takes to be part of an ongoing tribe. A rich tradition of storytelling. To give yourself fully to the story once committed despite the size of the crew, paycheck or equipment package. Actors for all their flaws gets this mentality. Once they are committed they don’t care what kind of camera is pointed at them. They will give 100% every time. It is why most of my producers are actors. The best crew members are also of this mentality. They set out to make something great with each set up, take and scene. When you bring committed artists together on both sides of the camera behind a powerful script (Note I didn’t say improv/or winging in) – that passion will bleed onto the medium. That story will have the heart and love infused and audiences will respond. Wrap this all in good business and you have contributed to filmmaking as a whole. I have sacrificed much in my life and I always give 100%. I just cannot and do not respect anyone in our field that gives anything less. That is my truth.

Happy Saturday.

DJ


New Distribution & New Projects – Full Steam Ahead

The cold is creeping into Michigan and our bodies fight to adjust to the biting chill. The cold rain will soon become something else – snow. I’m sipping at the coffee trying to get the sinus pressure to let go of the vice grip on my head. It has been a very busy time for me as I try to wrap up business for the year and manage lots of new business that is emerging for the year ahead. I’ve been doing some heavy training prepping to play my role in December. I’m giving myself that physical edge that one would require to live and survive in a harsh alien world. WASTELAND shoots just before the week of Christmas and I’m looking forward to that change of pace. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the developments this past week. I’m glad many of you survived the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.

ASHES OF EDEN  – I think our last festival play is over and I’m happy to be moving on to distribution. We announced our deal with the Winters Film Group to release the film nationally on DVD, VOD, PPV, TV. The distributor in our meeting this week praised the marketing as the buzz is out there. He already had a PPV (Pay Per View) faith company reach out to license the film. This film walks a great edge that will appeal to audiences who enjoy faith and non-faith films. We’ve got several more reviewers watching the film to release ahead of the film. I’ve also been in talks with several foreign territories and we will get this film out to all of you also.

BESTSELLER – This film has been in transition as we prepare to build the music and sound FX. We had a great meeting with much of the post team. We went through the entire film and plotted what and where each of these audio elements would go. We talked about the FX which has already begun. Some amazing work already created and next week we should have the opening credits done. What I love about this film so much ties into my watching of PSYCHO this past Halloween. The film has elements of the classic thrillers of days gone by. A true stylistic edge that will help the film stand apart from the same old, same old that can tend to be the norm. This film has some new team members working on it and so getting these folks up to speed and on the same page workflow wise can be an effort. But you are molding a team for future work. The key is to look at it less as an individual piece by piece and more like a group of runners passing the baton. The key is to be ultra focused as you pass the baton to the next person. The clean up and organizing of files can make it easier for the next runner who has to take the baton. That said, I think we are getting into a groove and communication is going good. That is the key to all of this. In this new age of technology text messages or emails do not or should not replace phone calls or face to face meetings. The baton is passed much smoother between the “runners” and so your run times get better. Communication is the key to good leadership and so if you are a key out there make sure to communicate well. You will become valuable and find much more success.

WASTELAND – Prop building is underway and also some key decisions on equipment. This coming week we are doing a read through with the director and key cast. I’m looking forward to it. A Sci-Fi western is going to be great fun. I’m awaiting some concept art on one of the space craft. Exciting stuff for sure.

DONORS another thriller of ours has an offer forthcoming. WICKED SPRING also has interest to get a Special Edition out this spring and so we will be discussing that this week. We actually have a few distributors taking interest in the CDI library.

Our legal team finally got our domestic rights back on a pair of CDI films that got stuck.  Long story but now that we have them back one I can get those film back out to market. I also have wanted to release a collection of the early CDI films together. Now with this deal that is possible.

We also have some possible reboots, sequels, prequels and new films launching. I’m beyond excited about a few of them and once the ink dries we will be discussing. Of course, all of you who follow the blog here will get some early updates.

On the acting front – I was informed that two films I was slated to be in have been green lit and will be moving forward. Both are quite large projects and will be great fun to play. I think I will be back in action with Ray and some of the “Book of Ruth” team in 2015. There are lots of projects closing their deals that will allow them to shoot in 2015. I’m excited to participating in them. 2015 will see the release of several films while we film those that will come to you in 2016. That is the way of the business. Develop. Produce. Post. Release. – Repeat often:)

Enjoy your weekend and the coming holidays –

DJ

 

 

 


Keeping Focus and 2014 Teases

I’m enjoying sipping the coffee on this chilly morning. I slept sound last night after some long moments in the cold yesterday shooting on the film “Dead Quiet”. I got to have some extreme FX make up done with some latex which I’m still peeling off in little pieces. It was nice to see Gabrielle Stone and work again with her. It is hard to believe it was 4 years – oh, how time flies. I also met some real nice cast and crew and I think they will pull off a good film.

It has been a busy week of business as many opportunities that have been worked on for some time have been opening up. It appears that the western that I’ve signed on to star in is moving along and once they do a formal PR announcement I will discuss more. It appears that the faith films in the vein of “Book of Ruth” could be going into production in 2014. Looking at sales reports we should be doing more of these. There appears to be an option against purchase on one of my scripts looking promising. Production and distribution options via a studio could be looming as discussions continue on that front. I’m excited about that because while we are doing some good direct sales with CDI Distribution I would love to focus more on production and less on funding and distribution. Also with budgets climbing into multiple millions having some additional experience of a studio would be welcome.

On the post front, “The Terrorist,” “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” will all be coming out in 2014 and we will find a home for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV show. With 3 shows completed and being shown I think we will narrow down and find a home soon. Also many of the CDI library will also be expanding their audience into the foreign market.

Overall I would say that my plate is full. I’ve had 3 other possible acting projects for 2014 start discussions with me and I’m excited by the possibility of those. I enjoy the occasional “just acting” as it provides a much more relaxed journey. As I’ve mentioned before I also am happy that the state of Michigan has had more feature film production happening. Some of the best advice that I’ve ever had or given was to just do your thing. Do it to the best of your ability. (this means producing especially) Don’t keep looking over your shoulder. By this I mean, don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing – focus on what you are doing. I’m so busy with running our business and when I’m not busy with that I’m enjoying family and friends – I don’t keep up with everything everyone else is doing. It is not an arrogance it is a management of time. I have only so much time. I can spend it doing my development, production and distribution duties as well as evaluate acting offers. I’ve got an obligation to give my best. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make errors or fall short – but that is happening with my focus. Imagine if I spent more time stalking people’s work to see what they are doing. I don’t wish for what others have I just build my own and keep moving. Plain and simple – I outwork people. I also try to always give my best. That said, so should you. And between those projects remember to live.