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

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‘ROCKY’ Could Have Been A Faith Film and Other Coffee Ramblings…by DJ Perry

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The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.

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Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.

Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker,  or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own  STRANGER THINGS life.

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I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.

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The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings.  There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.

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I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.

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This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.

MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…

THE CHRIST SLAYER!

Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.

https://www.facebook.com/thechristslayer/

Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.

Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ

 

 

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WINS Of the Week

Ahhhh…coffee. Awoke to a beautiful light snow that adds brightness to what has been a dark week. Drizzle and dark clouds made the week drag a touch but I had much to do. I had lots of busy work with doing end-of-year taxes on our businesses. It’s surely the “unsexy” side of the business but it’s what keeps the machine working. We continue to refine our process and I appreciate everyone that works that end of the process. I want to welcome the additional countries reading the blog. Denmark is one of the new ones and I’m sure I have my host family and friends from my soccer days to thank. The week also had both post and development work grinding hard. Let’s look at a few of these updates.

WILD FAITH

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We’re sitting at about the 70 minute mark with editing. I’ve seen early snippets and continue to release stills and behind the scenes to our website and social media sites. I’m excited about the themes we get to bring to light in this powerful action drama set in post Civil War Michigan. Once I get the business at hand underway I want to return my attention back to the series. I know that I’ve got a few business calls to return this week showing me that we have good buzz.

THE QUEST TRILOGY

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DJ Perry as Jesus in FORTY NIGHTS

Forty Nights

The film is almost delivered both digital and paperwork. Again why so many filmmakers fail is because you must have all your process documented. Releases and agreements allow your film product to be taken to market. I know many films stumbled because of not having the required releases. It can hurt the film but also a distributor if it gets released and trouble arises. Years ago we had a film released by one of Hollywood’s top distributors and they insisted on using some box art that wasn’t cleared. We had communications against the art because it wasn’t our artwork, which made no sense. Long short, lawsuit. We were released because of our written objections. They had to yank the title. Our film sued, won and they had to pay a nice sum. But the film could have done more perhaps if someone would have made sure releases were in order. So while a pain in the ass it is a much-needed process. But when the filmmakers are at fault that can kill a film and bring unneeded legal issues so stay on top of your business unless you are just doing it as a hobby, not for profit.

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CHASING THE STAR

Poster work for the theatrical is underway. The film is maybe two weeks from being done and we’ll mix and master everything. VFX is the final piece and once that is inserted we have a fully functional battle station. The paperwork with Bridgestone is signed and sent and I’m awaiting the countersigned agreements. Following that we should get our final street date for release. I’m looking forward to our review as a complete film. Success is when the audience can get lost in the story. I’m proud of everyone working so hard.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER

This last film has been the main thrust of development. If everything stays the course we’ll enter official pre-production this week. Casting, crewing, VFX tests, location scouting are all underway. We announced Christine Solomon who will play opposite one of our new leads Carl Weyant. We’re soon to announce a few more supporting roles this week. I’m personally excited to return to the role I started in FORTY NIGHTS. It will be my first time returning to a character although it has almost happened several times.  I’m excited to explore this other end of the spectrum. I think one of the best developments this week was the return of Chef Eddie. He’s a gourmet chef who spoiled our crew while shooting “Chasing the Star” – and I for one am happy to have him back.

FUTURE

We do have a few development projects starting to take shape that could be the projects we shoot following THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I have a few other thoughts I could ramble on but I refuse to add any negativity into the pot. I can say I’ve been extremely disappointed by several developments and happy that other neglected issues are finally being addressed. I have always had the goal to provide entertainment and to try to expand minds and hearts via storytelling. I will continue that journey and as always I invite you to join us.

Be good to one another. Talk at one another, don’t yell.

DJ