I’m back in my comfy chair sipping on some hazelnut coffee having just returned from a dentist cleaning. I’m writing on this fine Michigan Monday after returning late last night from Cleveland, Ohio. Some of our BEST YEARS GONE team traveled for the 27th Indie Gathering International Film Festival. It was nice to be around storytellers and talk our craft. It was extra special because we were joined by Detroit filmmaker Harley Wallen representing ASH & BONE, a cool horror film that is a true tip of the hat to some classics. I have to say that actress Erika Hoveland gave a funny, disturbing performance in ASH & BONE and does an incredible job in BEST YEARS GONES, as Sylvia. It was cool to have Michigan filmmaking represented and Erika co-starred in both films. Shane Hagedorn, directed and co-starred in BEST YEARS GONE and also had a supporting role in ASH & BONE. Amazing to watch these films almost back-to-back and to see the range of Erika and Shane’s performances. I only appeared in BEST YEARS GONE but I’m humbled to say I received the festivals ‘Best Actor‘ award, for my Gil Gilles performance. Gil, Gil, Gil…he is truly a character and if you have not seen either of these films you can watch BEST YEARS GONE now on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google and more. ASH & BONE releases in October. Congrats to Harley and his team. Congrats to all the folks at the Indie Gathering. We had some great Mexican eating also. Thank you Melissa Anschutz and Deskpop Entertainment.
Soon I will unpack and likely take a nap. The above film event in Cleveland kept me up past my bedtime. I’ve got a good sleep pattern down and closing down a bar mixer was already over my sleepy time but we had to pass on the 2am to dawn tailgate with grilling and games. If I was 24 I would have been there but…and I’m still tired. We talk about that often. Sleep. Many like to impress folks with how much midnight oil they burn. How hard their grinding. But I can say, that experience and life has shown me that good rest results in better quality use of time. You can say, I worked eight hours straight but how productive were you. Some can do the same work in three focused hours with good rest behind them. Even those meditations, sleep shut down for even 15-30 min can reboot you. Sometimes when flustered people will say, I don’t have the time to take a rest. What results is often mistake-ridden, half-ass work versus taking a few moments and getting better results.
I’ll get my rest on soon enough but I wanted to get some updates out to all of you. BEST YEARS GONE, might have 1-2 more special events planned but it’s now spreading out to different areas of the world on home video.
- Going to PR the release dates and info on the premiere for FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH, once locked in.
- VFX, Color Correction, Music and Sound Design on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is in full swing. Interested theatre chains are starting to give their interest. We have to lock down details on the Algona premiere this month. A new theatrical trailer will also be coming in advance of the premiere.
- HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE development work will continue in full. We’ll be looking to lock our dates for next year. Some scouting will happen this year also – so exciting to be able to tell this story. This is another epic period action/drama and it will be one fun ride.
- I am debating a few moves on SMOKE & MIRRORS, our short concept film. We might just post it for everyone to watch. It’s a really cool, stylized piece and I think folks will really enjoy it. We will get around to this feature script in the near future.
- BESTSELLER, the thriller from the mind of Chris Knight is playing to home video audiences. We have a few reviews and interviews coming up. This film really keeps you on the edge of your seat once things start rolling. If you enjoy these kind of spin-chill films, take a watch.
I’m not going to carry on and on today as I need to unpack and catch up on a few things, rest being one of them. I’m glad that I’m making the effort to slow down and enjoy some of the wins. God knows we’ve had our losses. But I’m really starting to realize that these things happen in their own time. I’m trying to be better at being happy for the personal wins. I’ve found in the past that personal recognition often came with resentment and some form of negativity from others. I found it interesting that after winning that ‘Best Actor’ award which was a nice metal medallion on some olympic-like neck strap. Without thinking about it, I just slipped it into a pocket and carried on. I did not wear it around. It wasn’t a decision with myself – should I wear it? Yes? No? I never thought that. I believe I was thinking about the second half of my burrito that the lunch waiter accidentally threw away instead of wrapping up. My acting might be good but my hand communicating isn’t. “Wrap it up in foil please,” came out as “toss it out” please. Okay, I’ve wandered. My point is, that if my getting recognized gets more eyes to watch our collective art or help projects get made, I’m happy. Does my ‘self’ need the personal recognition? It doesn’t appear that way but maybe deep down, I’m sure it does. The writer in me is really proud of all these stories. I’ve had a few nominations on my writing and I do recall that feeling good. Honestly, I did not expect to win. I mean, come on, it’s Gil Gilles. BUT, folks do seem to like ole, Gil. So from Gil and I, I want to give one more whole-hearted thank you. I’m going to go unpack and try to get my flow back in order. I’ll be back with you all on Sunday, our normal day. Until- Coffee Cheers!
Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!
So I’m able to attract a distillery sponsor but still no coffee. Well, I’m sipping a nice dark coffee flavored with…you guessed it, hazelnut. I’ve been working hard to catch up on business and get back into the flow. I’m just about there.
The Easter month has brought the beginning of our release schedule with The Quest Trilogy. We’ve started with the new release of “Forty Nights” – See here to buy the remastered DVD, digital stream to rent or own.
Funny story. Many themes are spotlighted in these biblical films. Several of these themes addressed are what works against organized religion to the everyday person. You have all these branches of the tree that all want to claim being the roots. But the tree has but one seed. While people argue to own divinity so much is missed. One retailer who deals in “Christian” merchandise passed on carrying the “Forty Nights” DVD. I found it amusing that here’s a gatekeeper who believes they have some sort of authority to judge. Meanwhile the film has been nominated by an international Christian body for several awards including “the most inspiring film” yet…
Therein lies the issues I have with the “status quo” of organized religion. The beauty of these stories produced by amazing artists will reach beyond the small genre audiences. They’ll reach audiences worldwide and not just the Christian audiences. I’ll be having conversations with our distributor about the possibility of another slate of biblical period films. I cannot see creating an inferior product just to appease one retailer gatekeeper. Make a film that people want to watch and empower those retailers that DO carry the title. I saw some of the communications and it put my artistic self directly against my business self. Now I’ve always said, we create the best art within our business lines. But, without a strong script you cannot get strong artists on board. You end up with watered down product and that’s not what I do.
I’m sure a good balance will be found. But this example is why I don’t get too high on the praise or the criticism. It just amazes me that some feel empowered to judge believing they have some real power. Actually the only power this one retailer had was over greed. They can try to impose their will by refusing unit buys unless it fits their view. I also thought about how commerce often works against spiritual when “Christian reviewers” where just hammering the film NOAH. Now I like Russell Crowe and thought the film was just okay with many “over the top” events but like I told one person in private – If it inspired one person to go read the source material and put them on a path towards God, would the film not be a success? After I make a film I strap on my business armor and enter the fight. The haters will always exist and they really don’t have much of an effect these days. I think this one situation bothered me because fresh off of playing Jesus I tried to get to discover the core of the man and his beliefs. What would he think of someone censoring in his name? It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that. I think much like the table tossing in the temple he would walk into their offices and crack the whip.
But I believe these parables were created to unite people not divide. So I hope audiences do continue to connect with the material and seek it out. Those like the censoring retailers will likely get forced out of business in time. The daily fan mail tells me that many are reaping the rewards of the positive messages. If you want to see “Forty Nights” and the other films demand them:) Seek them.
Chasing the Star
So the film was watched and listened to again by multiple ears and eyes in studio last week to prep for the theatrical lay off. We’ve got a couple of weeks before our Grand Rapids premiere on the 22nd. After that they’ve announced my home town of Lansing, MI as the next stop. The play dates will be on the 24th and 25th of April at Celebration Cinema. More cities will be announced as we move forward. Again Sept 5th is the national DVD/Streaming release and it will be a wonderful Christmas time film for the entire family. I know the marketing team at BMG is already working on the release.
The Christ Slayer
Here is the video that our director posted with his SELECT shots from the film.
Sound has been married to picture and Monday editing will begin. I will be giving many more updates and you can join the FB site and follow us.
Our western is now in discussions over VFX work before we can lock the picture. We’ll have discussions with director Jesse Low this week. I will also be discussing poster art and marketing. The TV show is a real possibility and will be part of my business discussions this week. A busy week ahead.
We’ll be looking at the CDI library to possibly re-release some of our other films into the market. A few foreign sales talks are heating up and I will be exploring that. I’ve recently undergone a major hair cut to be ready for soccer that starts this month. I’m in good fighting shape thanks to the deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. We’ve been getting the yard around and soon the garden ground will be tilled. We’ve got many new projects that are just seeds. If we plant them in fertile grounds with a little TLC I’m sure we’ll have new projects sprouting soon.
Have a beautiful day and week ahead.
HOT TOPICS – INSIGHTS
OK! I have my hazelnut coffee beside me as I work on a few business items. I think it’s good to first say thank you to all our military folks who allow us all the freedoms we enjoy. While we are far from perfect as a society here in the USA we do strive to better ourselves. I personally did not elect to be a politician and so my personal feelings on certain subjects are just opinions. I did choose to be a storyteller. Be you – Right wing, left-wing, wing nut, black, white, yellow, brown or purple – I want to entertain and enlighten you via motion pictures. I recall late last year getting fan mail from Egypt following one of our films playing the Cairo Film Fest. I got fan mail a few weeks ago from India over another film. I really love people’s cultures, traditions, foods and art. I think we are in a time whereas people are boldly putting mortal agendas onto divine heresy. Words are symbols combined to convey meaning. I see communication breakdowns passing a few instructions down the film production line. Imagine various levels of educations, multiple languages, lacking the right word to describe something, unable to describe something and the humanistic urge to put their own agenda and spin on something. Now multiple this by hundreds or thousands of years and things get very blurry.
I would say preach whatever religion or outlook you wish. Shall and Shall Nots. But nowhere does anyone mortal have the anointed position to make judgement spiritually. People flock together to feel more confident in their own choices and decisions. Numbers don’t make one right. And each person may be judged (if you want to subscribe there) individually. But not by anything or anyone here – not in matters of soul, spirit or divine essence. If people would let people live and stand accountable in the end for their own actions – all would be better. Concern yourself with yourself, I say. The Golden Rule is beautiful because you don’t know if you are right. You can tell yourself that. You can quote from text that may or may not be accurate. But in the end IF you believe in judgement – what if you are wrong? What if a half-dozen people different from you in their beliefs are brought forth and asked if they would vouch for you as worthy. Did you give kindness, compassion and love to these and other people? Or did you pass hate, intolerance and judgement upon people. That feels like a power best left to scales held on a much greater divine level. When I see those who stand in high judgement I see the coming of their fall. When I hear talk so crazy or hate-filled – I imagine what great displeasure of someone who puts words into others mouth. People may await the return of a savior but from what I see – people should not be so excited by this unless God is grading on a curve. And those who think they have the cheat sheet created by authors – edited a thousand times – and hand selected for digestion again by Wise? Men? Be careful!
THE CLOAK THAT COVERS THE SPARK
The color of our skin is but the traveling cloak. Perhaps our body itself just the bio-organic clothes we wear over our individual sparks. I see how a spark within us could be created in the image of a greater – more vast powerful divine spark. Stripped of EVERYTHING mortal how are our sparks different from one another? Ponder that. I’ve often thought that while so many sit and await some return of a savior perhaps the people themselves have the power over when that someone will return, reveal or make oneself known. Should mankind evolve to a higher state where they are truly ready – maybe someone will step forth. It could happen:)
SYMBOLS – GOOD, BAD & UGLY
I have also done a Civil War movie in Virginia (Wicked Spring) and spent much time in the beautiful South. I was also born in the North, in equally beautiful Michigan. While I will be the first to say I’ve seen shunning and disparaging talks about people wearing different traveling cloaks everywhere. I’ve always been quick to step up on these conversations if in earshot. Some Brits talking about Indians. (From India) Indians (From India) talking about darker skin Indians. Japanese talking about the Chinese. Whites about blacks. Canadians about the Detroit Red Wings. Seriously – all shaped by our experiences with one another. Be that good experience. I can say with all truth that in my travels IF people labeled me as an AMERICAN – I left them with a good impression of how we can be. FREEDOM TO BE. Just because we have the freedom to exercise something it is up to us to question should we. Where does the motivation lie? Pride, Shock, To Hurt, To Isolate, To Associate? Take a sensitive issue like FLAGS. What are flags? Symbols. These mean different things to different people. The cross. A dove. Crossbones with a skull. Symbols meant to rally, inspire, unify and identify. I keep hearing the comparison to the Nazi flag. The symbol on their flag was used first in Neolithic times. It has different meaning to the Chinese or the Indians. WW2 left dark meanings on a symbol that for thousands of years meant lucky. The beholder will see what they see. Today is a day that we celebrate the stars and stripes. I say it represents the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. We as represented by that flag – have done remarkable, shameful and unthinkable things. But UNITED WE STAND. Our goal is to add more GOOD to our list of accomplishments. Can we ever erase the BAD or UGLY? No. But the ratio can be off set by adding additional GOOD deeds. We are also a country of freedom that purposely limits censorship. The need for “Censorship” to me often shows a lack of faith in select individuals to make good choices. AND while those groups may be partial correct – (We make bad choices as humans all the time) – to error allows one to grow. You will fall learning to walk. We allow much free will in America and constantly try to adjust our compass. Politics and special interest of those who hoard of shells and beads (currency which = symbols on paper or metals) this will make change slow but it will change. For better? For worse? Flags can mean PRIDE or HATE. Flags can get a reaction of PRIDE or HATE. The stars and stripes do not bring tears of pride to inhabitants of a far-away village accidentally bombed in some drone attack. The stars and stripes proudly flew on the moon. A flag can be the good, the bad and the ugly. It often is all three.
Finally! I know some of you are saying that. I usually take a step back on all those current issues but had many people ask my views. I had to ponder them for a while. Meanwhile in the film world GREAT things are happening.
We announced our new Parables TV licensing for “7 Stones,” “Outside the Wire,” and “Standing Post” – congrats to those cast and crews.
ASHES OF EDEN Oct. 13th worldwide release and how about that poster art! I love it.
BESTSELLER – We will know Monday about the July 21st show date at Studio C Celebration Cinema BUT we have our week run at the south Lansing location from the 24th-30th of July and I’m excited that some home town folks can come see the film. Audiences have really enjoyed it. I’m in talks with a handful of distributors for VOD, foreign and such. We are close to setting up some dates in the Detroit, MI area. We also have been working several others in hopes of getting it to all of you. We’ve gotten your communications and we’re working on it!
DONORS does look like it is signing a domestic deal with one of the distributors CDI Distribution has been in talks with. More on this is the coming weeks.
CDI Distribution is in talks with the Philippines and India on some licensing of films. China may be next via one of our associations.
40 NIGHTS – I’m very excited by this film. I got my final notes over to our director/editor and I think we will be closing up the edit in the next couple weeks. I would love to have the film move to music and sound around July 15th. The first official trailer is also almost done and I love it. The great part is that the trailer is powerful yet the film itself holds so, so much more! Not one of those trailers where all the best parts are thrown into the teaser. We do have a place on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website where churches and organizations can sign up if they want a screening. We will push this harder once we release the trailer.
UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS & CASTING
I’ve finally gotten to a point where development (always ongoing) is ready to take front and center. I’ve been writing on a handful of projects which will have their own PR forthcoming BUT those of you who come here to this blog get the 1st drop on some of these developments. Let me bullet point a few as my fingers are growing tired and eggs are calling me.
– We will be looking for (2) African-American Michigan-based talent. One is young girl 8-10 years of age and also a fine young lady of mid-late 20’s. We want to see dramatic resume reels and they can be sent directly to email@example.com and will be looked at by our development team. NO OTHERS AT THIS TIME PLEASE.
– I’ve been working on the “Knight Chills 2” script and that is moving along nicely. It will possibly go into production this year.
– I have started in on the next biblical feature to be shot as part of our Lightworx Entertainment deal. It is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we are looking to once again shoot in AZ come Jan/Feb 2016.
A couple other scripts are also being worked on as time and inspiration hit.
What is next acting-wise? I’ve gotten this question quite a bit as of late. We do have a few CDI projects as noted above that I will be participating in. Outside of that I’ve got a few projects my management has presented. It looks like I’m going to shoot a western trailer in August with an actor I truly admire. I’ve also been submitted directly to producers on a film to perhaps play a very famous person of history. Next week I’m also announcing my involvement in a studio project that has been coming together for a while. I had to get studio approval on everything but now that is all in place – SHAZAM! My HINT: The original source material is a Stephen King book.
I might have missed a few things but it is the 4th of July. I need to go relax and eat some good food with family and friends. Be safe everyone!