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

Posts tagged “gold

Awards, Updates and Insights – Last Days of June 2021

I’m going to have to build a boat if it keeps raining like it has in Michigan. We actually had 3 tornado warnings yesterday. The yard is now a jungle and once the rain lets up a mow will be badly needed. The only damage is I had to put log supports under the raised garden beds. Between the weight of the beds and the wet ground we had a sinking issue that threatened to topple one of the beds. Our house is on high ground with a good amount of sandy soil so no ponds forming. I’m happy that we’ve had no water in the house issues. I feel for the many that are having such issues – water damage is not fun.

I’ve had a busy week and used the rain as a reason to chain myself to my desk. I had nearly 100 checks to write on several projects for investor dispersement. Next week I will check addresses with folks and start to send those around. I really love being hands on and it really keeps me in touch with the projects. We have MANY film updates but I’ll start with a discussion on a common issue in all areas of business.

Negativity – Accountability – Best Efforts

Bad Mouthing, Shade, Hate – known by many names it is all powered by the same toxic traits. I don’t engage in the back and forth. I’ve seen many online arguments that have just gone on and on and on and on and on…I’m always thinking that a novel, screenplay, business plan or pitch could have been written using the same time and energy. I think because I will not waste time that is one of the reasons I just outwork people. While during the Covid and political divide spilling out everywhere with everyone having opinions and willing to share them – I wrote the first season of the ‘Wild Faith’ tv series. Eight shows each 44 min long. OR I could have just shouted my opinions into the wind.

So success will breed envy, jealousy and more. But many of these barbs don’t have any real power when something is gathering steam, momentum and more. I said once, like throwing rocks at a train. Never has a train stopped to confront rock throwers. Why? Places to go, people to see and things to do. I’ve give two examples.

I participated on a project whereas I was not supervising or in control. That usually means they brought the $ and they want to be accountable for it. So my words become suggestions, consulting versus orders. A project I was on encountered several issues as I had predicted and warned against. I received a call from a friend/associate who was in a meeting with the accountable person and a distribution company. Confronted with the issues and wanting desperately to look good to these folks, I was told that he tried to throw me under the bus. I laughed which was not the response they expected. I explained that first if he is in the room representing the project – he is accountable. And in this case the slightest due diligence reveals a VAST difference in production experience. I said, that anyone looking at our team will immediately know where the lack of experience was. The sad part is when someone refuses to take accountability that says something to people. Especially when the 3rd party knows who is accountable. Failing. Learning. Growing. All part of the process and successful people know it starts with accountability. Many will never learn that lesson. One thing after another goes wrong in their life and yet it is never their fault. Yet they are the common denominator is each equation.

I don’t throw anyone under a bus. I’m accountable all the way down the line. My expectations have been let down by the bad occasional hire, etc…but it’s still my accountability. I truly care about my crew and value the journey as much as the destination. I recently heard from a crew person whom we’ve worked with on a few projects now. Apparently they had a conversation with someone in the local film community whom I don’t value and would not work with. They know this because I let this person know my feelings directly many years ago. Now I could make a list of reasons why anyone approached by this person would just pass but I don’t go out of my way to voice this. I’ve been around long enough to know the bad apples soon get realized and discarded in our industry. I was told this person really disliked me and started saying ? I didn’t ask and don’t care. I’ve always tried to be fair and my life is invested in storytelling. I live by a creed of ‘Best Efforts’ and I like to let the work speak versus run at the mouth. Our former crew person simply stated their experience had always been positive and furthermore they didn’t think their company was a good fit to collaborate. This is smart vetting and is often harder when people are trying to say all the right things. This person just tried to “throw rocks at a train” – like how I brought that back:)

I know another local storyteller has had “shade” issues and sometimes our words or actions can accidentally trigger someone’s toxic traits. Sometimes just a person doing what they love while others took an easy road and are not unhappy – that can also set people off. My advice was to just carry on and don’t let it occupy your time, mind and efforts. Write that next great story. Some people get angry at on-going posts that advertise. For me, PR is a scheduled thing. Every project has phases and it all serves a business purpose not tied to any ego. I recall on a high school alumni site people unhappy about a local bar restaurant doing on-going postings of food and drink specials. Ads are everywhere and if it doesn’t apply – move on. My advice is control your own environment and stop trying to control everyones environment. Anyway, I shared because I thought maybe a lesson could be found within. Be good to others and you never have to worry about what is being said. Those that know you – KNOW. It also brought a smile to know that this person receiving such toxins stood up with their own truth and likely avoided a bad journey with very questionable individual. How many people do you wish you had not gotten involved with business wise?

Tally-Ho Onto the MOVIE updates!

SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – We’ve started to bring more crew members onto the new project. We had a few more castings which will be announced in time. Most of the departments are getting up and running. I’m excited that the German actors will be announced starting in July! A good amount of work has also been put towards bringing some national sponsors on board. Many had brands thriving in the 1940’s during WW2 and our story.

LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT UFO’S AND JESUS – The general market release is underway and the film in both incarnations is doing really well. I’ll get a better report this week when I have my meeting with our distributor. Have you seen the film? You should:)

MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film had an amazing premiere and after it ran afoul of the Covid crisis. Several of the theatrical and event showings were cancelled and never regained their footing. The film quietly was nominated at the NBR Convention in Dallas, Texas for a Crown award in ‘Best Narrative’ and overall ‘Best Picture’ at the convention. The film WON the Gold Crown for ‘Best Narrative’ and took SILVER (2nd) overall at the festival. I hope this gives the film an added boost because it deserves it. Directed by Anthony Hornus who is prepping for his next directorial ‘Silent Night in Algona’.

WILD FAITH and HASTINGS TV series – The film is growing by leaps and bounds approaching 5 million on Encourage TV and playing worldwide. The TV series was the subject of two meetings at the NRB and I will find out this week how that played out. The hope is to roll into production next year with the TV series.

BEST YEARS GONE – The music and sound design with Dennis Therrian is almost complete on the feature film. We will be having a race and outdoor showing on Sept 11th at Springport Raceway. We will promote this more as we move forward. Another theatrical premiere is being planned in Owosso, MI where the book author Karl Manke lives. On my birthday this week we released the first official trailer.

WRAP UP

THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps growing as my fan mail keeps coming from people who enjoy the perspective of these three films. BESTSELLER has a new campaign coming. Same with WICKED SPRING now that we have an HD file. We’ll discuss what others from the CDI library to move ahead with. SMOKE & MIRRORS is almost complete. Our documentary FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is in editing and we’ll be releasing the first official trailer on July 4th! Our soccer match this week was rained out which my recovering knees are happy about. I’m going to go make a few eggs from chicken land here. I hope you all have a great week. Save your time and sanity and try to associate daily with positive, polite and productive individuals. Don’t sweat the negative folks as their actions have likely eroded any worth from their words.

Have a great Sunday and week ahead!

DJ


Happy Father’s Day and Sunday Updates on CDI Film Projects

I’m sipping the coffee but in the early eve of the 19th. I have another busy day tomorrow with some family activities and such but I wanted to give you a few thoughts. I just read something about Chadwick the Black Panther actor not getting the part of Drax in a Guardians of the Galaxy film but it exposed him and opened the ‘Marvel’ doors for the future casting. We are getting down to the last few castings in SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. This is hard because you are trying to build the right chemistry. We’ve had some requested reads that just didn’t make the grade. Sometimes it is nerves. Sometimes it is too much confidence, perhaps they don’t fully commit or make interesting, unique choices. I recall when we were casting WILD FAITH we were reading many actresses as Hester the half Native American tracker. Some good attempts but the mark kept being missed. Melissa Anschutz who is an amazing actress, could have played any of the roles because of her commitment level. She is the only one who found the bullseye. But convincing her to take a role where she says a dozen or so phrases was…interesting:) But the pay off was most excellent. You can get tired when casting but the focused work will show in the end product.

WILD FAITH (Free with Ads)

Almost 5 million viewers on Encourage TV. We are in a few conversations about the HASTINGS TV series. So if you have not watched the film please do. If you’ve enjoyed it before show your support for this film. If you would love a TV show based on this film let your voices be heard.

WICKED SPRING – We got some great practice at reproducing the Civil War era with our 2000 film. This was done when CDI has a sister company Lionheart Filmworks. The feature is now managed by CDI and Lionheart went to the films director Kevin Hershberger. I’ve been proud of all the TV work he has done. He LOVES history and it shows. Anyway, for streaming we now have an HD version of the film. The distributor did a high res version and from what I’ve seen it looks really good. It is just amazing what new technology is allowing us to do. This success could give new life to some of the pre-HD films.

Speaking of pre-HD much like last year when we released the CDI Classic Collection Double Feature #1 Heaven’s Neighbors and Figure in the Forest. This year my goal is to do Knight Chills and From Venus. Also I might explore a full HD campaign with Knight Chills. We have had two great companies approach about a special BluRay release and so I will be circling back to those discussions.

BESTSELLER is not from as far back as the classic collection but a few moons ago. It will be rolling out with a full campaign this fall.

NEXT week we have two of the films, MANS BEST FRIEND and LOST HEART, of 5 finalists in the Crown Awards in Dallas, Texas next week. They announce on my Bday (June 23rd) the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners. I love both films like children. I just hope whatever attention the films garnish pushes more audiences at these two powerful and heartfelt stories. This month also saw the beginning of the ‘Lost Heart’ roll out under the name ‘Bigfoot, UFOs and Jesus’ for the General Audience. I love the enthusiastic response that I received from so many of you. So it doesn’t matter what title you watch the film as – just enjoy it. Both of these films can be watched. Which is your favorite?

BEST YEARS GONE team has been putting the final touches on the first official trailer. The plan is to drop the trailer on Tuesday or perhaps Weds, perhaps. We are going to start having Travis Hayward start planning the music video once the trailer color correction is done. We are in the process of setting up a couple of premiere events for September. The films sound and music is roughly half done. I will be meeting with Dennis Therrian this week and get a better update.

FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – This awesome doc film will be releasing its official teaser July 4th and I’m proud of all the hard work that has been going on with this project.

DEVELOPMENT

I’ve been doing some script work on a few projects that I’ve been meaning to get back to. Even just a little creative writing a day can be really refreshing. We discussed HASTINGS previously and there is some development happening with the post work on SMOKE & MIRRORS. I’ve been doing a lot of scene work on this feature script. We have several great things developing but they are not ready to be spoken about. Somethings are left best for when the deal is done.

WRAP UP

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I’m so thankful to still have both my parents here to love and guide me. I know my father worked very hard and that is where I must get some of that tenacity. I got to see my dad yesterday and I hope to see him tomorrow. If I don’t it is because he has a funeral for a classmate. Unfortunately, even at our age we are starting to see the occasional alumni obituary. This can only get harder as you travel down the path and lose more friends. It pains me to even think of that so I’m just appreciate them all. Even now I still owe a few calls. I do try to stay up and check on people. I look forward to a few nice sit downs and catch ups this week around my bday. For those asking I will likely pick a patio on Tuesday for a few hours in the afternoon/early eve and on Weds celebrate more chill with family.

Aside from this the chickens are producing eggs although we’ve had two Finn escapes whereas he chased the chickens. He seems to have shown restraint having caught two but not bit them. I’ve been harvesting some herbs and rhubarb and the berries also are ripening. So I need to bottle up the aging ‘berry’ wine into bottles and prepare to put another 5 gal in motion.


Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 


Westerns, Weekend and Writers Advice

It is a rainy Saturday morning and I got up special to knock out my blog for the week. I found my domain expired and failed twice to get it reactivated. So I’m writing on a document and I’ll copy over later. It has been quite a week and I’m drained. Many decisions can fall back upon me to choose a direction. There are no guarantees usually on a direction so you have to trust your self and make the best one you can.

The EGO of an artist is a powerful thing and often has to be balanced by knowledge. The decision to be made was – should we push ahead with filming this fall or put it next fall behind our upcoming “Chasing the Star” film. Also some changes creatively were being looked at with budgetary advantages.

CHANGE

Change can be hard to swallow when talking about scripts. I think for the most part certain changes are subjective. Is a revised draft different or better? People like to use that word better – EXAMPLE “I like this draft better.” – But that is subjective. Format. Page count. Many things can truly make a draft better. Scenes, locations and # of actors can make it BETTER for production. It is just an interesting world of ART meeting BUSINESS.

Two Cents of Advice-

Now this is GOLD. For aspiring screenwriters – So you’ve written your script draft and you’re shopping. You may encounter those who will say if X, Y and Z changes were made we might be interested to option/buy the script. You can spend much time and energy chasing your tail. Now if you counter with option/buy and I will give you 1-2 rounds of revisions free. Now that is a much better situation. Now you are both involved in the real process of development. You both have skin in the game. This way they won’t give you the run around. Many will turn up their nose but do your self a favor and walk away. It happens a lot. Also sometimes it’s done so that someone can simply put a fingerprint on it.

Now as mentioned prior in this blog, revisions can be made for just reasons. It is a sensitive fine line with writers and often why after they assign the script to an LLC they are not welcome. Writers can be a pain in the ass. Productions can bastardize scripts. It is a game of collaborative artists and at the end of the day. Choose your collaborators carefully.

On-Going Deals

“Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” delivery is underway. “40 Nights” has gone through dialog clean up and ADR is next where required.

Our “40 Nights” licensing deal is about finalized and other good news from a few early retailers who LOVED the trailer.

A deal on soundtracks is happening which will bring all the CDI and CDI associated scores to audiences.

We are concluding a CDI Commercial project for the client to use in Washington DC to represent their industry. We do handle some larger accounts (Not doing used car commercials) and so feel free to reach out if you have a project.

I recently turned down a film role acting because if everything happens orderly we will be shooting a CDI western this fall/winter ending just before the holidays. There are many exciting updates happening with this project. Lightworx Entertainment will distribute the western worldwide. They’re also handling our biblical series and “Ashes of Eden”.

We’re back to battling on the soccer field tomorrow and I think this week I’m going to explore making some more hard cider. The garden is doing great and giving us fresh veggies which is always nice. Enjoy your weekend and week ahead and I’ll blog with you next week.

DJ