Good morning from WILD HAVEN in Algona, Iowa! I want to thank you all for understanding my move to Saturdays for our little chat and update. I’m waiting on the coffee maker to kick out our Kona Blend Coffee which has to have a splash of Hazelnut for good measure. I will try to brainstorm some of the top highlights of mine from the week. It will also paint a nice picture of the amazing endeavor we are undertaking.
- Our friends at Heritage Park made the first four days enjoyable and productive. Also thank you to the Winnebago folks for allowing us to store our vehicles in their garages. We were thankful to Robert Bradley who immediately knew how to start and drive many of these older clutch vehicles. But they looked pretty amazing on camera so again thank you to these owners helping us capture history.
- Our staging area/base camp (Ranger Station) is quite the sight to see with all the period clothes, props and period vehicles. Our artists in these departments are doing such an incredible job. I have loved seeing the civilian clothes and the military and PW outfits. The job is not easy under any circumstances but this film challenges them to give their very best. We appreciate them so much.
- It was so great to reunite with some great actor friends that I’ve not seen in a good while. Charles Powell and I worked together on “The 8th Plague” and later CDI’s “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town,” makes his return to the CDI Tribe with a powerful role. Charles was quiet and polite until it came time for ACTION! David Reardon (MBF) also returns with a brilliant character that will surely thrill his fans. Garry Nation came ready to play and it’s always fun to see him work. We actually have some scenes together in the days ahead.
- Today MSU plays football again and we’re looking for another win. Speaking of MSU, I’m excited to have Carl Gilliard, a fellow MSU alumni with our cast. He and I have some great scenes together. I plan to do a little PR shoutout to share around the MSU news outlets. Go Green!
- The German actors all hit the scene and WOW! We have such a great group of actors overall but these German’s help tell a good amount of our story. They were really all so appreciative of the script and are here because of the story. I got to have a short chat with all of them. I was really taken by our PW antagonist Ben Schnau who’s isolating on-set process resembles some of my own process when on a shoot day. When I have intense work to do on camera I tend to get quiet and lost in myself/my character. I have had fellow actors be quite shocked to find me very personable off set. It’s because I always have so much going through my head either as talent or as a producer. But catch me at the fort for an informal meeting and you get a very different DJ.
- I’m so happy with our young lead ‘Samuel’ in from Texas. He found our midwest cold bitter but he’s getting thicker ‘midwest’ blood now. It’s a joy to watch someone at that age who is getting to ‘make believe’ on such a grand scale. At his age we had couch cushions and our imaginations. His parents were both actors at one time and his mother Stephanie, still acting, will be participating on this story as well.
- Speaking of mother and sons, we have my brother from another mother Josh Perry in with his momma Connie. We are so excited to have Josh back again with us and this role will be a challenge to see him lean into his anger. I know he will do a great job and I’m excited for the cast and crew who haven’t worked with him to be given that opportunity.
- The excitement and assistance of the community has been wonderful. The other day we had to stop at the Dollar General which also serves as a mail center and as a flatbed went by with our troop transport truck everyone rushed to the windows to watch. This story is this area’s history and once we finish this the story, the event will never be forgotten.
- On Sat the 13th on our day off we are doing a specially sponsored Smithfield Foods BBQ and a screening of BEST YEARS GONE in the local theater. A great thank you to our hard working cast and crew.
- We had a couple of VIP guests from our on-going distribution company visit. They loved seeing everything in action and the visit gives them an idea of the hard work that goes into the films they market. It makes the circle stronger and allows us to more easily tell these stories.
Speaking on the BEST YEARS GONE we have another Lansing, MI theatrical run at Celebration Cinema Lansing starting Nov 24th – 28th so people returning home for Thanksgiving can catch the movie. We were laughing putting together some promo – “Funniest Movie since Earnest Goes to Camp” – the film is funny and heartfelt. So far audiences have enjoyed the film theatrically and in a few months it will release worldwide. I’m going to wrap it up here as we have a tech scout at a few locations for next week. For those who don’t know what that is – you are not only looking at where to film a scene but where to stage a small army. I look forward to sharing more reports with you next Sat. Thank you for your support and know we are working to capture the powerful scenes so that next year we will have another great CDI release for you.
(One of the locations for the forthcoming week)
Be kind to one another.
Hazelnut cheers on a nippy Michigan morning. I’ve got the fire going by my chair as I sit and reflect on a very busy week of life and work. Last night we gathered at the NCG theaters in Lansing to debut our new CDI film BEST YEARS GONE, directed by Shane Hagedorn. We had a strong crowd for the 1st show which they moved into the bigger screen to handle our sales. Also they extended the theatrical run until Oct 21st, so have day out going to see a movie. It really did play great there and I was happy to see so many family, friends and fans of the films. I love that every day more folks will get to see the story we told. The feedback has been strong ands I know the ‘haters’ always find their way but so do those who appreciate the stories. And at a kick off event I get to shake hands, take pictures and meet some of these fine people.
(Shane Hagedorn and DJ Perry greeted and chatted with many folks at the Lansing premiere)
My dad still wonders how I’m able to weave the story and all the dialogue into a script. I told him all those times of being assured of not paying attention or having my head in the clouds – THAT – whatever it is – IMAGINATION – it allows me to get lost in the story and manifest it. I’m awaiting word on another deal that would have me writing a script this winter and produce it next year with CDI. Add in the TV series of HASTINGS that is gaining momentum and 2022 could be a fun year of storytelling. Here are the Lansing showtimes- https://www.showtimes.com/movie-times/best-years-gone-156830/lansing-mi/
But before we get to 2022 we have a very exciting and important story to be told – SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA! I cannot believe that the pre-production caravan will depart next Saturday. Producers, director, art, AD, office and transportation will be doing final prep for the shoot that kicks off on Halloween. I had a wardrobe fitting last week and between the scene study which is feeling on point and the dapper WW2 uniform – game on.
We have some additional sponsor support from the Iowa State Bank so we want to thank them. This past week we filled several of the few cast and crew spots remaining. Just one or two cast/crew to go and that will work itself out. We had a few changes from illness or unexpected commits but our team will go and end the year with one great story. This week I need to pull together final props and production stuff traveling with me. I have to finish packing my clothes which needs to include cold weather gear. The nice part is this film I have like one uniform and a few hats unlike the multiple wardrobe pieces worn as Gil in BEST YEARS GONE. I am going to enjoy this final week of prepping things. There are several friends I only get to see while filming so again I’m excited to tell this story with our artists.
I know that this is the perfect season to release BESTSELLER, our thriller getting a campaign reboot but I do not have dates yet. My favorite film of the season is the animated ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ and Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, which I’ll be watching to this week. WICKED SPRING HD is heading out to streaming and might be playing on certain platforms. I need to circle up with our distributor on a few projects but I’ve been quite busy with one film releasing and one going into production in under two weeks. FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH feature-length doc is in the post-mixing phase and I was thinking of premiering SMOKE & MIRRORS with it at the same time. Like the cartoons you use to get before a show.
I’m putting the coffee away this morning because of the chill. I just poured the last cup and I’m going to finish this up. My next update will be from Algona, Iowa! Today we might hit the flea market seeking prop items and a stop at Tractor Supply to get some food for the chickens. They are putting on winter weight and still giving the eggs out. It is nice to always have that abundance of eggs and you do taste a difference. My alumni MSU had another good game yesterday but our Lions still struggle. I want to again thank each and everyone of you who attended our showings. If you want to leave a review you can go to our BEST YEARS GONE page on http://www.imdb.com and vote and leave your thoughts. I hope you all have a productive week ahead. Be good to one another.
I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee while waiting for it to dry out a tad so we can go hit the flea market down the road. I love looking for props and character pieces. It has been warming here in the Michigan and I think we are finally past the morning frost. The newly planted blueberry bushes had to be protected but the apple trees seem to have done just fine. Our ‘Chicken Land’ has been producing a steady 4 eggs a day resulting in some wonderful breakfast sandwiches. I need to get stuff around for the second mow of the season.
The Covid lockdown did not control my mind. I did not fret, complain and concern myself to a point mental hinderance. I acknowledged and redirected to what I could control. Attacking things I had not had time to deal with. This last week we’ve had some good social interactions reminding us of what we’ve missed. I had a good visit with Pa Perry, several in-person meetings and even a social gathering. I do hope the mask mandate for our soccer league disappears. As I work to get the legs back in game shape the wearing of the mask has been cumbersome. This week I was less sore than week one and I hope next week will leave me better yet. Soccer is a game of stamina and endurance and the whole body moves in all different directions. But it feels good to be waging war again on the field.
So many updates so maybe we should get into them:) Several of our team will be present in FL this coming week to attend the ICFF which is a family/faith festival that recognizes artists. It is like the ‘Inspirational Oscars’ I’m told but its all subjective. But LOST HEART is up for several nominations from Best Film, Best Screenplay (I know that guy), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor/Actress and both Actor and Actress of the Year. But walking the red carpet will be several of our artists including Melissa Anschutz, Don Most, Sherryl Despres-maybe Victoria Jackson.
Also this wonderful film will be getting its general market release very soon. The film has two interwoven stories and the A story is LOST HEART and leads out front. The B story runs in the back ground and is greatly entertaining. Much of it follows the antics of Chip (Josh “Ponceman” Perry) and his hunt of the legendary Bigfoot. In addition to Dennis Therrian’s incredible score the general release is also highlighting the musical talents of The Cash Collective and Roanoke. Either way the same great film that everyone can enjoy. As a HUGE fan I feel this film is the most Spielberg of the CDI films. I could be delusional about that but it feels that way to me.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA has been making great strides. Some of the updates were presented by our director in this newspaper release in Iowa. Read here-
Our casting of the Germans is about complete. We’ve been slowly working crewing with many adventurers yet to recruit. Tomorrow we’ll be announcing two more actors. One is yours truly and I’ll be playing the PW camp Commander. It is a really nice fit at this point in my career. Had I been charged with running a PW camp during WW2 I think my approach would have been the same as the character. More of the character study is truly getting into the mind set of that era. What did they read daily in the newspaper? What was spoken about at the coffee shop? What fears did people have? Radio shows. Music. I am enjoying the re-educating myself on my grandfather’s era. I do wish Rance Howard was alive to be in the cast. He was really excited to be in this story. We’ll do him proud as well. The other talent is an amazingly unique actor named Michael Wayne Walton. He was in CDI’s first feature which was ________? 🙂 (Trivia) …and he also appeared in a few other CDI films (Can you name them?) He has been making his unique path in this hard industry and I’m extremely grateful to have Michael coming on board to play a great MP guard who creates ‘bridges’ with the German men he is assigned to detain.
The PR release will go out tomorrow but you got the early scoop here. More casting and crewing and now with the more relaxed Covid rules we can get back to our weekly in-person meetings.
BEST YEARS GONE is in full out post-production push with July/Aug being our finish date. We made good steps on setting up our premiere. We will likely have a meeting this week to look at dates and make sure the location works. I have it on good source that the 1st official trailer is not far away. At the same time – color, music and sound design are all underway.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – The feature keeps growing its fan base with 4.5 mil at Encourage TV alone. I reached out on a few new fronts working to build our licensing so we can shoot the 8 show TV series next year.
CDI Associated film BESTSELLER has been signed to BMG’s new General Market label. They will build a wonderful campaign for that film and my guess would be a fall pre-Halloween release. WICKED SPRING is the test run in our up-rezing of older SD films to HD. As of Friday it sounds like they might have been successful. I will know this week for sure. If all is good FIGURE IN THE FOREST might be up next. I also got to see the first edit of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH and boy is it good. So proud of our little team. We’ll final mix for delivery with Dennis Therrian but we have a few months of post I’m guessing.
Funny how the fan mail from MAN’S BEST FRIEND have been asking recently about me participating in other action roles. I think I made note of “sure if the right story came along” and…I did have a script submitted to me. It’s written by a screenwriter who has lots of film and TV series credits of note. The director is also got a wonderful resume of TV and film work. Well, I read the script and gave my interest in a couple of characters. From there it seems we might have landed on one. The film is more action orientated with mafia/western vibe. It would have me playing a pretty kick ass role. Not sure on dates. It will be fine unless it steps on the upcoming WW2 film but I will cross that bridge when and if I need to. I gave my interest and I want to thank them for offering me to come on board. It is good to see so many projects start to move.
I’m going to cut it short here and take a nice walk around the flea market. I hope you all have a great week in your own personal endeavors. Until next week.
Good morning partners. Hazelnut coffee cheers! We had a good rain last night and everything is becoming lush and green. Later today will be our first flea market visit to see if I can find any treasures. I love to look for personal props for certain characters. I was looking pretty close to ole Ben Lily as we moved forward developing the WILD FAITH Tv series spin off. I have a string of biz calls to do about the 8 show spin off. With our WW2 film a full go we’ve decided that the series HASTINGS will go up after SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. So I’ve had a full shave and a hair cut as I prepare for the next role. We announced two more actors last week with Dean Teaster and Samual Peterson joining the cast.
This week we’ll announce more cast and crew as we move through pre-production. We’ve almost cast our Germans which is so exciting. Just incredible talent and I’m again happy to say that about all our castings. So many exciting announcements that will be forthcoming.
Our holiday window of Thanksgiving to Easter is now complete. It will be fun to see how THE QUEST TRILOGY did with audiences this year. We keep growing our audiences each year and I truly do love getting all the fan mail. CDI will eventually do another trilogy of biblical films. One of the scripts is being studied for future execution and we hope to return to the desert in the near future.
MANS BEST FRIEND is starting its general market roll out. I have to say I loved the previous poster art but this poster captures ‘Paul’ in the eyes. And what a noble pic of Paul’s MBF. I think this film that got caught up in the Covid breakout deserves that renewed push. For a beat everyone was holding on licensing as the whole world adjusted. I’m so happy that it is getting its second wind. I was already getting LOTS of fan mail (NOTE: My silly spell check tried to turn ‘mail’ into ‘tail’ and that reads totally different. I’m happy to say this coming June at NRB the 5 best finalist films under 250k will compete for gold, silver and bronze. Both MBF and LOST HEART are finalists. So having 2 of the 5 nominated films feels good. It makes me proud of our artists and I do take pride in having written those scripts.
‘WRITING’ is a love that I hid for a long time only because I wanted to be seen as an actor first. The actor ME became frustrated at the lack of deep, powerful films. I’m comfortable now being considered a screenwriter along with an actor and ultimately producer. I’ve enjoyed writing short stories as part of my book contributions to this wonderful book series by Callie Smith Grant. (Revell/Baker) Each book focuses on animal relationships and sometimes centers around a holiday. Cats and Christmas is up next and so I’ll polish up my story and see if it makes the grade. The fun fact here is I was approached after WILD FAITH was seen in the theaters. From there I’ve contributed to three books now. The one coming out later this year (09/21) is on dogs. I like dogs:)
This morning as the rain storm passed, our team on the documentary ‘For the Love of Catch‘ hit the road. This is for the last filming segment of the doc. We’re set up to start editing and dialog clean up immediately after. They have been getting some great interviews from the world of grappling to discuss what they love about it. We’ll be doing a PR release and talking more about this in the coming weeks. It is being directed by our own Catch-Can World Champion Curran Jacobs. Big congrats to Dan Chipman and his mobile production home for capturing some amazing interviews. Adam Towner has been signed on to edit and work post. Stay tuned!
LOST HEART has been just playing so well to the family/faith audiences but as pointed out by fans, the film is so much more. Hence the upcoming general market release, but we’ll wait until I have more to report. But let’s address that term? market? We are all storytellers.
At CDI we don’t make “faith” films – but create stories with strong character development. In ANY story character development is king. And knowing the ‘faith’ of the character is the seed. Some seek faith, lack faith or try to hold onto faith. Maybe they lost all faith in mankind, themselves or their path to God. All these characters come from a different place. Those carrying status in religion might struggle with their faith while the downtrodden might live in appreciative faith. I have many ask about religion which has helped to build great civilizations but unfortunately usually is tied to conflict and war. I also think that someone’s seeking to understand divinity is a personal and private relationship, unique to each person. In my opinion it also doesn’t require any fancy study, conversion, certification, validation etc…to me DIVINE is a constant like gravity. Only mankind’s understanding changes but anyone actively seeking DIVINE is getting closer and closer to THEIR truth of understanding the constant. Many of my deep pondering are reflected in ‘The Quest Trilogy,’ historical fiction examining overlooked events or perspectives to try and gain a new insight.
A nice example in Forty Nights is the showing ‘Jesus’ working to put the words of the heart on the tongue. Some watchers following along with their scripture wait to jump on the words and claim their superiority in finding supposed flaws. The purpose was to show human flaw in Jesus. That mighty things like LOVE are hard to put into the perfect words. The purpose was to show the journey to those final words. It still makes me chuckle when I see people upset about John and Jesus seemingly not knowing each other….the post baptism conversation and later flashbacks between John and Jesus obviously showing a pre-existing relationship. The baptism was a ritual passing of the torch but their casual talk away from the masses was meant to show they knew one another well.
Later in the desert, we see Jesus struggling to find the perfect way to teach what he knows. Some of the greatest minds in certain fields cannot teach what they know. Being a teacher is not easy because you have to paint a picture to enlightenment for another persons imagination and intelligence to grasp onto. Those three films are full of contemplative gems and many have discovered some personal truth by watching them. For some they just miss the point – I like the Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon I think) scene whereas Bruce tells a student not to just focus on the pointing finger alone or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory. I think the old saying of ‘the Devils in the details’ is another funny way to say this. Some people are so worried at hoping to increase their “religious” status by winning some ‘Bible Jeopardy’ that they miss the lesson of the parable all together.
And so scholars continue to debate and the facts alter and change as new “experts” appear. Science and Religion have more in common then they think and to me it’s fascinating that they don’t always co-exist well. Anyway, I think that the trilogy was my “Noah. I want you to build an ark.” moment. You want to know my feelings – watch the films. I tried to connect the dots in a way that made sense to people who cannot truthfully function on blind faith alone. You will find a deep sincere reverence that permeates all three stories. The trilogy conjures all the right emotions and feelings because in the medium of film it’s show me versus tell me where you can. It’s when the story rises beyond just show and tell to actually allow one to FEEL the story. It’s an art. I’ve gone on a while here. I could and have filled books with my thoughts on these matters. But your relationship with divine or choice to not interact or accept is deeply personal. I like to speak with the stories to those still seeking their personal truth and maybe help clarify aspects of things for those who feel to have found divinity yet still seek to fully understand it. I have a suspicion that only on our final walk will we fully understand.
Okay let’s shift gears!
BEST YEARS GONE – based upon the wonderful and quirky writing of Karl Manke in his book ” Hope from Heaven” (You can buy it:) comes the story of unconditional love, dreams gone awry and generational communication issues. We now have the film after a wonderful edit by Nathaniel Nose (Dir./Editor The Christ Slayer) and has now landed at Dennis Therrian’s studio. We’ve had two post sessions so far and what a lift to the spirits. While this film will have all the trademark emotional beats it truly marks what I feel to be a big step comedically. It is for me for certain. Now growing up I thought I was going to be a stand up comedian with strong observational humor like George Carlin. In my personal life I would say I have a healthy sense of humor maybe too much. (I have been known to pull a prank or two) I have to say I had such a wonderful time filming this. It was the adventure that unfolded in the Covid storm and we were appreciative to have all our precautions rewarded with a safe journey. Now we’re into talking music and the dialog is also popping better than ever due to innovative software, gear and the growing experience of our sound team. The deal with BMG is signed. Next week we’ll start feeding them marketing deliverables. Poster art will be underway as we deliver choice screen captures. Additionally the first official trailer is being cut and so maybe end of May we can rock that out.
BATTLE OF THE BANDS!!!! It is still underway and we are getting some KICK ASS music submissions. Keep them coming and you just might end up in this film. We’ve really enjoyed listening to all the great original music. Kudos to all of you. Keep on rocking!
I want to get back on path with my writing. I want to finish my new SMOKE & MIRRORS feature script. You’ll get to enjoy the short film likely this fall. I saw some of the VFX work and I’m smiling. My SciFi script is another goal to at least get my first draft. The 1st season of HASTINGS is being edited for missed commas and such. I think we had a nice chat and I gave you all a good update on the films. In short – it has been busy. But I’ve also been getting some great moments observing the new hens in our “chicken land” enclosure. Some major wood chopping against a few mighty logs that I swear were made of iron. I will soon bottle up some of the berry wine that has been aging. We recently toasted off Best Years Gone will some lilac wine aged several years. It was enjoyed by all. Amazing what the natural world has to offer. Until we speak next week. Be good to one another.