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

Posts tagged “gear

FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

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

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

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

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

2nd AD directions

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

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

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

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

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

DJ

 


Desert Stripes and Developments

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I’m sitting in my hotel room looking out over the mountains of Yuma. That day of travel snuck up and once again I find myself in our old filming grounds. This wonderful town was first found when we shot the film “Deadly Renovations” a handful of years ago. I was looking at various locations to stage biblical films and the desert here was the perfect answer. We call it DESERT STRIPES when producing here because the desert comes with unique challenges that you don’t usually find elsewhere. We’ve got a good mix of returning cast and crew along with a new batch of artists ready to make it all happen. “Doc” our transportation captain takes care of us so well and we’ve really gown to have a film family here. I woke up refreshed after going to bed at what would be around 5am Michigan time. I know it will catch up to me later but right now I feel great. I’m sipping the coffee and catching up with all of you. I had all my gear, computer included all packed up yesterday – so you’re getting a slightly late update.

We just concluded our first production meeting down by the pool where we always hold it. The hotel crew here loves our team and they go out of their way to try to add a bit of HOME to our stay. I’ve just concluded my first batch of spending reporting to accounting and wanted to get this blog written before more hits my plate. Today for me will be working to finalize the cast/crew aspects which are minimal and look at our equipment. I will also carve out a little time to take my Michigan white self pool side and also run a few lines. I’m excited to be returning to this role and to tell this story.

This week we should also see final DVD artwork on FORTY NIGHTS (releasing April 3rd) and the CHASING THE STAR film should be completed by week’s end. Another exciting development is the WILD FAITH teaser trailer should also be completed by week’s end.

On the 19th we’re planning a “thank you” test screening for our friends at Champion Church. The Michigan premiere is looking like April 22nd bring my communications with our director Bret Miller.

It is exciting to see Nathaniel Nose our director on “The Christ Slayer” settle into this fine production machine. They are reviewing the schedule and looking at locations later this afternoon. I’m sure we’ll have lots of BTS photos and such start rolling out as we get deeper into pre-production and production. I’m going to cut this short because we have a list of TO DO’s but I’ll be here Sunday to report on the week of prep.  I hope each and every one of you has a productive week.

Coffee sip! Cheers!cropped-img_1720.jpg

DJ

 


Tomorrow Another Adventure Begins – CTS

ThreeMagiToday we are doing final prep on “Chasing the Star” the second film in our QUEST TRILOGY. I’m happy to announce that these three gentlemen are the actors we landed on after looking at reads from around the United States. These three are representing the Texas, South Carolina and NYC (By way of Michigan) markets. If you work hard you can make it happen from anywhere. It’s been fun to see all the artist come together – every day new props, new wardrobe tests, new gear arriving and new family. Yes. The film family is a unique experience and as a producer I’ve always strived to create an experience that people will remember. I think we’ve been doing that at Collective Development Inc. for some time. Even those early films like “From Venus” and “Heaven’s Neighbors” were filmed with great care creating lasting memories for all.

While this new film is launching we’ve been heavily promoting and pushing our other films to market. We’ll be doing our Yuma, AZ “thank you” premiere of “40 Nights” on March 13th, hosted by Champion Church. They helped us with everything from background talent to use of locations. The Lansing/Grand Rapids theatrical run of “40 Nights” has just expired. We’ve been approached by many interested people who wanted to see the film on the big screen, so, we may move the film to the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge or other such venue to keep that momentum. Many are asking us to bring it into Detroit via one of the chains there. We will try. Here in AZ we’re looking at a meeting with Harkins Theaters to do a run, so we’ll see if that comes together. April 5th is the “40 Nights” DVD release at most major retailers. The streaming release looks like it will happen in June – more on that soon! You can pre-order the film DVD at several retailers but here is just one.

PRE-ORDER

https://www.fishflix.com/christian-movies-40-nights-dvd.html?gclid=CjwKEAiAx–2BRDO6q2T84_a52YSJABWAbfrRKoSkPY19dk37NIxbMBe9TeAotIFxPBRAWU3hBbXDhoCRdfw_wcB

BestSeller copy

We also just released distributor poster art for “BESTSELLER,” which releases in May. This film is a great curl up and watch thriller. Be afraid!  “Ashes of Eden” is another film of ours that releases on April 5th – great story, music and performances.

PRE-BUY “Ashes of Eden” here

https://www.fishflix.com/christian-movies-ashes-of-eden-dvd.html

Ashes of Eden - Poster

I will write more later but right now our team is doing a dozen different things to final prep for tomorrow. Because tomorrow we start “Chasing the Star” …

Keep clawing your way towards your dreams!

DJ