Happy Sunday to all of you out there. I’m sipping at the Michigan Cherry coffee and trying to recall some of my events of the past week. I ended up sleeping in a touch this morning. This week I did lots of yard clean up after the long winter. We’re shortening the garden, moving the outside chimera pit and stabilizing the floor on the garden shed. The last one included driving some 12 inch spikes in various places through multiple blocks of wood with a sledge-hammer. I did have an amigo over to trade-off with the hammering. I felt like John Henry the story on the man who hammered his way through the mountain beating the machine before expiring. Yesterday, the second day after I was SORE! I worked my core, front and back to the max. It is funny how I am use to swinging the axe but the hammer was a new addition. But that is what keeps the ole body strong. Filling bird feeders, gathering wood and I still have a list of things to do this week. After being chained to the desk for several hours there is nothing like a good work in the yard. But I’m sure you did not come here to hear about yard work. But once you do the work and put it out there to the universe it is a good way to not watch the pot waiting for a boil. A good fire outside or in the wood stove along with some hardy ‘viking work’ is good for mind. Last night I watched my Spartans play in the Final Four. They lost a hard-fought battle, playing hard to the end. I would be happy if I had one of the top four films in the country. I think the only time we did that was with Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town we were the #1 western rental in the US for 7 weeks. (Rentrak) and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks. Let’s talk movies.
Staying on the subject of westerns – WILD FAITH. Our Grand Rapids, MI run was extended. I have to see this week if we are still in Mississippi. I was told we are rolling into West VA but I will wait to see. There is a large push in the theatrical world for variety in films shown as seen in a recent VARIETY article. I think that Wild Faith is a powerful and entertaining film with a broad appeal. MyCinema is out there booking it across the country and we’ll see what communities it pops up in. I’m happy for anyone who gets to see it on the big screen as it plays great. I’m excited about the streaming and DVD release in May. I also hear tale that Walmart and other retailers will get it in June/July. I hope it makes it into Meijer like BOOK OF RUTH. Only because they have 1500 stores or so and it is one of my favorites. So if you get a chance to see it on the big screen, please do, you won’t be disappointed. I think you can pre-order DVD’s now on Christian Cinema and it should start appearing at more locations like Amazon, Target, Family Video… If you’ve seen the film hop over to IMDB.com and leave your review. I had a few great development discussions this past week which included talk on the Wild Faith TV series. Giddy Up.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I had talks this past week that might also result in CDI doing another biblical trilogy. I’ve had one in development for a while with three great stories told from a unique point of view. Part 3 of the series THE CHRIST SLAYER is available on DVD and streaming now. If you contact your local theater and ask them to book via myCinema they can put it on the big screen. We might do a special screening here in Lansing, MI on the big screen. My AZ friends please do reach out to Harkins Theaters and request it. MyCinema books through there all the time and our Yuma, AZ friends deserve to see this on the big screen. I’m anxious to see where it appears this Easter season but I’m even more excited to see where all three travel in the years to come.
Here is a great Behind the Scenes of The Christ Slayer
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This week I plan to get an update on where we’re at with the dialog mix on the film. Our director is doing a sound design cue sheet and I cannot wait for music. The film is in that quiet phase while the other films do their thing but soon it will have its time. It is due to be delivered to our distributor on June 30th which is part of the decision for the next announcement.
LOST HEART – is the next film for us. It is a charming and beautiful story of going home. Of finding oneself and examining the mysteries of life. We’re still in talks on the last few investment units on this film. Next week the account will be opened and we have the first checks rolling in. We’ve got a few sponsorship opportunities underway with some great businesses. If you have an interest in getting involved on that end please reach out to me directly. Casting and Crewing is all through the CDI site. http://www.cdiproductions.com and we do have a few castings to go. I’m extremely excited to move into pre-production on this film and with a few more small pushes we will be there. We are targeting rolling cameras in July!
DEVELOPMENT – As was mentioned above we have several projects in development. I’m excited about the stories we’ve told and the stories yet to be told. With the nice weather ahead I look forward to days working on the patio. I will not ramble on with these plans as that’s a little early.
This week I am going to try to step out to our local film festival’s opening night gala and support all the artists pushing to have their vision seen. I don’t feel like a MACK trunk hit me today so that is good. I might do a bit more work in the yard – maybe the June Bday party/CDI gathering might happen. It was postponed last year because my furry boy Luke was near the end of his journey. Our new addition Finn has brought immense joy into our lives and for that we are thankful.
Have a great day and week ahead.
New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.
The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more. Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.
I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.
When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.
I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.
Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.
I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.
We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.
WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.
I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.
Have a great Sunday!
New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.
It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.
I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.
Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:) So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.
I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.
- The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
- Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
- MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
- Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
- LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com
Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!
Well last week we had a nice jump in readers and I’m not sure exactly why that was – maybe people like the more random format? I just came in from the second full day of working in the yard. I gave a good mow with trimming and we put in the garden. Also built a new garden entrance and basically just got the summer stuff into full swing. As noted before the HOPS are growing like mad and we’re about to have raspberry explosion. The mulberries are also prepping to ripen soon. This year we did more tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers and more. It makes for some really nice salads and sandwiches. This year we’re also trying some various lettuces. I’m also going to plant some gourds and will try pumpkins again. The pack has enjoyed the outside time. I hope to also be putting the last of the upper siding on the office in the coming months. I’ve been doing a lot of organization and rearranging. I’m just trying to get ready for the projects that lie ahead. Let’s try the random updates again.
The book for “Knight Chills” is on target to release this year and I was given the book art that was commissioned by the distribution company and it is COOL! I will look at giving a sneak peek in the weeks ahead.
A deal for the other CDI books might also be in the works so some of the other scripts that had been novelized might be heading to you. Ghost Town, Wild Faith – might be a few to get things rolling.
I also saw a first mock-up draft of the new CDI website. I’m excited about all the interactive attributes that will allow for a much better experience.
I’m beginning talks with a few other distributors for R-rated content within CDI. The thrillers and horror films past, present and future need to have the same flow as our family/faith distribution. So those talks will be happening this Summer.
“Forty Nights” continues to bring some great and inspiring fan mail. The film just went up on Amazon Prime and will continue to expand.
On set “Chasing the Star” with Logan Kishi
“Chasing the Star” was delivered to our distributor BMG this past week to prep it for the Sept. 5th national launch. Exploring some new theatrical runs as the Michigan run came to a close.
“The Christ Slayer” has a first edit! We’ll be reviewing that this coming week. We got to watch a select scene from the film as a teaser and I was very happy with what I saw. Trailer and poster will be up next.
“Wild Faith” we’ll be reviewing the sound design this coming week as music is preparing to go full speed ahead. This trailer and film is generating a lot of hype. The film is deserving as you’ll all see once it’s released. We’re exploring all the possibilities for the ongoing series.
I’ve been working hard on making writing time and I’m closing in on a feature script that I feel strongly about both creatively and business-wise. I’m also in talks on a few possible paid work-for-hire gigs. I am looking forward to getting back in front of the camera just looking for the right role. After coming off “The Christ Slayer” I’m looking for a really strong script/role to sink my teeth into.
I hope you spend some time with family and friends. I have a few more gatherings with just that tonight and tomorrow. I think I might need to shut down for 15 minutes. Just a quick checking of the eye lids for holes.
Be good to one another.
I’m experiencing culture shock as I’m in some ritzy hotel in Charlotte NC trying to catch up on this blog. People, people, people, people…city, cement. It was just hours ago, I was nestled deep in the mountains of Maggie Valley at a special place called Robert’s Roost. I’ve always felt a draw to mountains and the Smoky’s in particular. It was almost ten years ago that I spent so much time there prepping, filming and promoting our “Ghost Town” movie. It was wonderful to spend time with friends very near and dear to my heart. I also missed some of the souls no longer with us. Their dogs Gator and Ben, the rooster Sampson and panther-headed cat Toby have all passed. On the first night we arrived at the dinner hour and after relaxed with a bon fire and the best relaxing gifts including a peach whiskey of the white variety. The next day we traveled and explored the Blue Ridge and another night of laughter and remembrance. In my guest room filled with 1800’s treasures which included sleeping each night under the tanned hide of a buffalo blanket. They’re heavy and extremely warm, so I now understand why they were in such demand to fight the frontier cold.
My mind and spirit needed the short get away. One full year of prepping, shooting and posting “40 Nights” which released (April 5th). This film released just as we were shooting the follow-up film “Chasing the Star” – which we just put into editing. To adjust to the less hectic phase of development and post production was a welcome change. While many people highly enjoy the filming journey, which I do, it’s also when you’re on alert for any number of issues that could arise. I always breathe easier once we’re in post and things are much more controllable. I didn’t want to slow development, so upon returning from Yuma, AZ – I immediately finished the first polished draft of the third film in the Quest Trilogy entitled “The Christ Slayer” shooting spring 2017. I know that this fall could also see us in production so it was a needed pause, a reset and deep breath. PEACE.
I’m going to try to use the last few days here to catch up on some calls and communications. Our thriller “Bestseller” will start releasing to nationally retailers like Family Video and also online rental/retailers. Here’s a place where our “special edition” version can be purchased.
“Bestseller” showcases the wonderful talents of Mrs. Melissa Anschutz playing the lead role. People have met her recently as Dana in “Ashes of Eden” and Mother Mary in “40 Nights” and I’m so honored to have such a talented, hard-working actor/producer following in the footsteps of the other CDI tribal members over the years. So look for this exciting thriller at your favorite retailers/rental outlets!
More Links to “Bestseller” will be appearing in these coming weeks.
If thrillers are your thing “Donors” is another film one of ours that released recently. Buy it here at one of these retailers.
Stay tuned for new updates on “Chasing the Star” and several of our upcoming projects. I feel very blessed to be on this journey. I’m aware how the years move steadily forward. I’m appreciative to be working with such talented groups of artist making these life lasting stories. I’m blessed to have met so many great people in my travels. To be blessed to see so many beautiful places. I hope that people will continue to enjoy our collective storytelling. I’ve heard from many of you directly or in reviewing our films and I’m sincerely touched. Thank you. I’m going to end this blog for today and soak up a few more quiet moments in North Carolina.
Be good to one another.
Another beautiful Saturday. The coffee is now gone and we’ve moved into watching MSU football. I’ve grown to enjoy the game over the years. It is a series of short-term goals versus my game of soccer that is a constant flow with a goal. Our soccer season ended and I really enjoyed the play. Now I let the legs heal and start my strength training. Okay many of you here are tuned in to hear about the films and the challenges making them. Let’s look at some of my recent decisions I’ve been faced with.
Our “Chasing the Star” script (version 1) is done and out to several key players. This is the second biblical film in our 3 pic series. “40 Nights” was the first and that film should be done late November. Now due to script it will mostly shoot in AZ. This film has the commits to finance and so pre-production work will be starting. But due to the heat of the desert that dictates when we shoot. We are looking to shoot a few weeks earlier than “40 Nights” to make it easier on cast and crew.
We have a western-era film we want to shoot in Michigan. It has a good amount of money committed to it but we will only move forward with full funds in place. This is a good policy but required when you have distribution in advance. You want to be reliable for delivering your product. Now we have X amount of producer pre-prod work and also on-location pre-production before the shoot. I wanted to get the film in the can (hard drives) by the holidays. We are getting closer to that decision-making deadline. It is hard because the artists all like to work and the biz of it is everyone getting a final paycheck before the holidays. That’s ham on a table that toys under a tree for people, but the best choice has to be made for the film.
Now if our date comes and we don’t have all the filming fuel we need we will push the film to the other side of “Chasing the Star” in May. That would be a nice time to film and give ample time to close the financing. That is happening but can it happen in our timeline? We will see.
As noted “40 Nights” is moving down the post production line. “Bestseller” is getting ready for the Nov 1st, Owosso, MI shooting. It is also being delivered to the national distributor as is “Donors”. I need to call Jon Osman, our director on “The Terrorist”.
In other news I came off “Chasing the Star” scriptwriting and flowed right into the third film script. It was there and I almost couldn’t stop it from flowing. I’m grabbing legal pads and just scribbling notes at all times. I’m excited about these three but also excited to go finish out a few other scripts.
I will have news here soon on “Knight Chills” book and film reissue. Sound track deal still needs my attention. So I have crossed a lot off my TO DO list but many things still remain. We have “Ghost Town” getting ready to play at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI and we will be doing this once a month. It is a meet and greet for fans and fellow filmmakers. I’ve been trying to get out and meet some of the other fine talent in our state. This helps in casting and crewing when required. We’ve been reviewing reels for several weeks and are excited by some of what we’ve seen. REELS! Make those reels actors!
I hope to see some of you Oct. 15th (Grand Ledge) we are digging out and selling some classic “Ghost Town” swag. We had an entire product line for a few years at Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, N.C. so that should be fun. Also I will be in Owosso, MI November 1st and I heard author Chris Wright will also be doing an appearance/signing for his Johnathan Rand children’s books (“American Chiller”) earlier that afternoon.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and go MSU!