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

Posts tagged “Grand Rapids

The Power of Teachers – CDI Updates

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Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.

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My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.

We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.

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My alumni school

I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.

Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.

High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.

I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.

I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.

I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience.  Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.

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FILM UPDATES

I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.

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LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.

LOOKING AHEAD

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BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.

https://www.prlog.org/12824284-snl-alumnus-victoria-jackson-returns-for-cdis-best-years-gone.html

Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.

  • We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
  • Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
  • We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
  • Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
  • Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects.  We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.

 

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I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.

As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.

Be safe and we’ll chat next week.

DJ

 

 


Experience Education, Spirit Excellence Awards…Looking to 2020!

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Welcome back my friends. I hope each and everyone of you had a good Christmas time with family and friends. I’ve had a wonderful week of just eating, drinking, laughing with our family. We had several celebrations and I’ve had a nice time touching base with people. I’ll be spending time with some family and friends this eve which has me missing a really cool event. On Christmas Eve I received notice that I was selected to be recognized for ‘Producer of the Year‘ for the 2nd Annual SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE Media Mingle. Also ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend‘ is being recognized for Feature Film of the Year. I’m beyond grateful for the recognition and I wish I could have attended. I did take the time to film two acceptance speeches and sent those over. I wish I could have been there in person but I need more than a week notice especially during this busy holiday season. But I am humbled and ever so appreciative to SOE and Skeeter Murray for this honor. Speaking of MBF…

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. A film that plays awesome on the big screen.

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One of my 2020 goals is to be a bit more out-going on attending events/film functions. I am going to be in-person Jan 11 at 1:00-3:00 in Grand Rapids at Baker Book House event. I will give address next week but I’ll be reading one of the two stories I have in the book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS. Come out and buy a book and I’ll sign it. I’ve had others ask and yes, bring any other ‘DJ Perry’ swag DVD, poster and I will be happy to sign that also.

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So again I want to thank Skeeter Murray who does a great job highlighting mid-west talent. Congrats to all the recognized artists and I’m truly sorry to miss the ‘media strut‘ – gotta love it! When I saw the awesome awards poster I had to laugh because they chose a pic from our “Wild Bunch” film fest adventure in AZ. Of course I’m the only one on the poster with sunglasses on. It’s my Snoopy “Joe Cool” tribute. (See pic at the TOP)

But seriously, being from the middle of the state I don’t keep up with the social film scenes in Detroit or the Grand Rapids area. This being a Detroit area event means even more to me. We are all Michigan. We’ve pulled a lot of great talent from the Detroit and Grand Rapids areas, so I know the talent here.  Happily, I’ve watched the artistic communities grow in Michigan, from the UP of Michigan to the small remote towns around the state, all due to technologic advances. To be given recognition with a Lansing zip code is a great honor. Making it happen in the LA (Lansing Area) was our joke back in the day.

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I had an unpopular opinion of the film incentives only from a filmmaker stance. Those giant studio films can drive up rental expectations to the smaller outfits. More Michigan artists opportunities needed to be present vs the import of casts and crews. A film grant fund would be my choice. Qualified companies who have a track record of existing in the state for several years, eliminating the rush of new companies wanting to bite on the fund. Plus make the filmmakers come pitch their projects to a committee vs all this social begging. Help them learn to exist in real business environments vs seeking the short cut or easy path. As we know, those who use short cuts or take the easier path usually rob themselves of their experience education. Don’t shy away from the hard work you will need that grit later in your career. I HAVE SPOKEN. Guess who got Disney Plus for Christmas?

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Did anyone watch all 6 of these films this holiday season? I had a steady stream of beautiful fan mail from many of you over the holidays. I had many contact me over the biblical adventure trilogy to thank us and tell how their family really enjoyed the stories. I had Ben Lily fans reach out and number one question was about the TV series. And of course ‘Paul’ from MBF has a growing fan club out there. I enjoyed hearing from so many veterans and their families. The pleasure and honor is all ours.

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I had one rather amusing communication that a fan of one of my actor/producers was supporting them. She had watched several of the CDI films and she saw I was also into film. She recommended a few films I should watch made in OUR state. One was WILD FAITH and the other MBF, both feature great actors she said. I decided to have some fun and asked her about her favorite scenes. She replied that she loved all the rich characters in ‘Wild Faith’. In MBF she loved ‘Paul,’ especially the “bar scene” and thought the female prosecuting attorney was a real b@%$!. Yes, Melissa Anschutz, did bring it as the prosecutor.

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Overall it was fun to have someone recommend our films and give a few of her favorite scenes. I don’t always get such open and honest feedback. She tickled me when she replied she’ll stop telling her favorite scenes so she did not ruin these two great movies for me:) If I come across that communication again, I will have to let her off the hook. But she did make me smile. So during these winter months, please do take the time to watch our films and share your thoughts with me. I hope we make some of you smile.

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Talking about smiling – LOST HEART – We’re closing in on what will likely be our locked picture cut. We had a good meeting over the work flow to post sound just before the holidays hit. It will be really exciting to see music and sound sweetening begin. I’m extremely happy with the progress of this film. The story is dramatic with humor set within being told by a great group of quirky characters.

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Onward to 2020! 

I talked about development quite a bit last week. Things haven’t changed much on that front. We’re going to have fun evaluating some new projects. My screen writing assignment will continue as I close in on the first 1/3 of the script. So much great work to be done in 2020. I’ve been organizing everything here and prepping for the next wave of stories to be told. This is when you make those goals. Write them down. Look at what you achieved and what fell short. Look again at how you spend your time. Whom you spend your time with. Keep those toxic elements afar. Don’t be distracted by shiny objects. You would be surprised what even one day full of focused work, not scrolling FB, can create. Remember it is the journey not just the destination my friends. Be brave. One foot ahead of the other. As you encounter one another – Be good to one another. I’ll see you all next year!

DJ

 


The DEVELOPMENT path becomes more clear – journey on my friends…updates

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I’m sitting here with my cup of hazelnut coffee as the wind blows wildly outside. The rain started yesterday and carried throughout the night. We watched a few atmospheric spooky films last night including, “I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House,” directed by Oz Perkins, which was a well shot mind-twister. Also yesterday a few of the talent from the “Smoke & Mirrors” short were in studio to record ADR since it is content for an audio demo. I might get back to finishing that feature script once I have a few free moments.

Speaking of writing I’m about to begin work on a script that we will film next year. I was approached by an author who wanted me to turn his new book into a film script and shoot it next year. (Fall most likely) So this week ahead will be getting the business paperwork together on that.

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The storm cometh

Also I had a great project that I had put together with Rance Howard as my consultant. It is a WW2 era project that really has a wonderful message. I was approached at Norby Walter’s ‘Night of 100 Stars‘ Oscar party about writing and producing the project. To make a long story short I wrote many drafts of the script and things were moving slowly forward. I say slowly because new people kept being added into the mix that slowed it all down. A case of too many cooks in the kitchen and many of the cooks had their own agenda about what they wanted to shoot. Many of them tried to knock down and replace the story with their own pet project. These individuals were a bit older and hailed from Hollywood so that had to be the experts right? Not. So one last broken promise and I stepped back and made a string of films over the last several years. All that happened over there when I left was lawsuits against the Hollywood parties to recover “develop” money. We went on to make a string of movies, because we did not get mired in nonsense.

Us with John and Ana Cash

Fast forward several years later- Wilcox, AZ. As I stood on that stage accepting our 7th award for Wild Faith I thought about the long hard path of that film. Had Shane Hagedorn not wanted to push for that story, it never would have gotten done. I had put it on the shelf to die after failing to get the support I needed and after dealing with a handful of shameful scam artists out of Hollywood. My mind has continued to return to this beautiful story that Rance Howard and I spent hours talking about. This story had also been shelved. My mentor, friend and co-star Rance who was to play the Grandfather role has now passed. I found the courage to pull the story off the shelf and restart a few initial communications. So far it has been met with a positive reaction. It looks like I will do a new draft to trim and reduce budget slightly. This film would go out Fall/Winter 2021 since we would have some unique aspects of this story to put in place. But it looks like CDI will be doing its first WW2 film if things all come together.

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WILD FAITH TV SERIES – The movie is still building momentum and I need to have some key conversations about where the series would live. We have a few great avenues to explore and I’m pretty sure we will make it happen. We need a few strong supporters and we’ll launch this Michigan-based TV series. I’m excited by the amount of talent on both sides of the camera we could use.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’m hearing the first theater announcing that they will be playing this powerful drama in our Veteran’s Day march to theaters, will be our friends at Celebration Cinema in Woodland. That will allow our friends and fans in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

DONORS!

DONORS on Amazon Prime

Know many of you know I’ve participated in many scary films but some great filmmakers. During this last week of the season look at IN THE WOODS, The 8th Plague, Darkest Night, Locked in a Room, Deadly Renovation, Donors, Bestseller, GPS the Movie even the early CDI films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. I’m sure I missed a few of these films but they run the gauntlet of spooky to those that are more gory. Check the rating and get your security blanket;) The short we just did with Nathaniel Nose might be developed from my larger feature script. I like the old black and white and Hammer films more than the boobs and blood. Now the 15 year old me really enjoyed them but at my age I’ve seen a lot of red-dyed corn syrup in the dead of night in some dirty house, hotel, forest cabin, prison or locked room. I might fit the keeper of the lighthouse better than these days warning those kids to STAY AWAY! He who warns:) I would act in the right horror film again but it has to be be a good script with a capable team. This last Victorian age short got me thinking about a few of the Vampire talks I’ve had over the years. I was always a werewolf fan but again not eager to go through that make up process.  Fangs might be easier:) So the question that has been put to me was – Will you do another horror film? The answer is yes if the story, team and business all add up. By business I mean paid and not just for me. Paid brings better cast and crew on the whole. I will not talk in absolutes because that is a fools talk. There are some exceptions to the rule but few, very few.

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LOST HEART – As far on the other side of horror is our in post feature. This comedy drama is at the hour mark in the rough edit. My the start of Nov we plan to have a 1st cut and I want to lock it up by Jan 1, 2020. Now this film does have some mystery associated with it by way of UFO’s and Bigfoot. This film is going to be touching and humorous and I look forward to bringing it to audiences worldwide.

MISC NOTES: (As I recall them)

  • Equus Film & Arts Fest has a ‘Going to the Dogs’ section and has invited MBF to play there in December in Kentucky. It could include a theatrical tour and another TV license tied in with their military outreach.
  • I’m looking at my schedule about participating in a book reading in Jan. for my stories included in “The Horse of My Dreams” in stores and online now.
  •  In our meetings the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine is getting good response. Made from fruit and hops all gathered on our property.
  • November I’m looking forward to a private screening of NECROLAND by one of my filmmaking peers Mr. Nathan Quinn.
  • A collaboration or two might be in the works – one of these just might be a western.

I’m missing a few things for sure but I smell breakfast and in a few short hours we are going to spend time with the Niece and Nephew and carve pumpkins. I wish my old buddy John Luginsland was with us. The smell plus the stringy insides usually left to a chorus of laughter as he vomited like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, good times.

Have a safe Halloween everyone. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sprouting Seeds and Getting Rid Of Weeds (Although some weeds are very useful) – Film Updates

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Doing some spring clean up with my buddy Finn

Good morning from Michigan, USA! While this past week has been a good introduction into spring with lots of yard clean up and arrangement, today we have icy rain and snow. It will disappear fast but I’m just getting use to the coffee and phone calls on the patio deck listening to the birds and watching the squirrels retrieve their winter stash of acorns. I’ve been doing a lot of wood cutting and it looks like the office wood stove will get a work out today. I was going to attend a first flea market of the season but with the snow I might have to pass. I’m sip my Michigan Cherry coffee and type with all of you.

My brother had a birthday and we got to spend time with family yesterday and a few days before that my niece’s birthday. My nephew Wes has the same bday month as myself. He is the 21st and I’m the 23rd so we’ll have that ahead. Aside from the family gatherings and the homestead clean up I’ve had lots of entertainment business abound. Let’s discuss a few.

I made my yearly visit down to the opening of the Capital City Film Festival happening now in Lansing, MI. In my early years I spent a good amount of time and energy working with the East Lansing Film Festival centering on the Michigan’s Own portion of the festival. It awarded films with awards and cash prizes. It took hours of watching films, meeting with judges and other planning so I know what goes into it. These days my schedule allows me to buy a ticket to spend a few hours supporting upcoming filmmakers in our area. The opening night was at Impression 5 museum which has been a favorite since I was knee-high to a grasshopper:) I had a lilac drink that intrigued me because we made lilac wine once. It was great but very labor intensive. I also enjoyed a local hard cider. I got to see a few friends I only see yearly at this event. I attended with fellow filmmaker Shane Hagedorn and had a good time. We did at least one red carpet photo but I did not see it so once of us broke the camera with our mug. He we are with a young actor/filmmaker who just happens to be the son of Mr. Craig Jones whom I’ve known since high school. How cool that they get to do film work as father and son.

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Throwing some support at the Capital City Film Festival

Aside from supporting the local fest we’ve been very hard at work here at Collective Development and on a personal level. I started looking at literary representation mid last year talking with various agents and management companies. You want to get the right relationship as they will be dealing with people who value your art. I’ve had an agent at one of the largest agencies in Hollywood and it wasn’t a great experience. A few big deals were lost and while the agency inclusion did help with a few doors, the cons started to outweigh the pros. I’ve been riding with legal at my side making my own deals. Legal is good at dotting I’s and crossing T’s but they are not seeking new opportunities. But I finally had a conversation with an international agent that I find promising. They discovered my work via another studio executive and reached out. They are doing some additional reviewing of my work but I think I’ll be having a go at working with a new literary and talent agent. I’ll be putting a large focus on foreign projects as well as domestic USA films. Many of you know I’ve done films in other countries and that is always a great experience.

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I’m excited to see what films we do over the next 10 years

I’m also in development talks on several projects with a few new collaborators. We have some great projects developing both in the family/faith market and outside that target market. It is an exciting time but don’t get me wrong, it is still HARD WORK. When people occasionally look at what we’ve accomplished or are accomplishing it occasionally sets off feelings of envy. You/they might be a better artist even though that is subjective but overall I just outwork people. Part of that is learning where not to waste your energy. Look for red flags and know when to say NO THANK YOU. Many do not realize that and spends lots of energy where their only reward is frustration.

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Beautiful Northern Michigan 

LOST HEART – This is what is front and center in development and fighting to move into pre-production. We have enough to make the journey but we are fighting to be able to add a few days of shooting ultimately creating a better product. We only have a few more pieces of this investment puzzle to remedy and move forward. A lot of development work is getting done now and so I believe strongly we will be rolling cameras in July!

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Hester and Ben in ‘Wild Faith’ 

WILD FAITH – We just finished runs in Grand Rapids, MI and Biloxi, Mississippi and I’m trying to confirm West Virginia and other venues. The DVD will be rolling out next month and so all of you wanting to see this fine adventure tale will soon be able to. I will be checking on Amazon pre-booking which should start soon.

I will note that the TV series is one of the things being discussed in some of my development talks. I would love to play Ben Lily again and bring a series of stories to all of you.

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Just in time for Easter 

THE CHRIST SLAYER

The Christ Slayer just announced its first theatrical dates in Amarillo, Texas. We hope that myCinema will continue to book to the big screen. Those who want to watch in the privacy of their own home can watch it streaming or on DVD on Amazon Prime or other fine platforms. Thank you for all the fine fan(e)mail I’ve gotten. It warms my heart to see so many enjoying our stories. I know myCinema is working hard to get it in AZ but is having issue at Harkins because of Studio Commitments but call the theater and let them know. Yuma, AZ deserves to see it on the big screen.

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HELLO Texas!

The film really goes perfect with the Easter season but perhaps you might enjoy watching the entire trilogy of Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. The ending of part 2 makes more sense if you know about part 3. I think that is going to be a PR release on the lead up to Easter.  Also I might discuss more about the trilogy as a whole.

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CDI OG Mister Dean Teaster 

MBF: Man’s Best Friend 

In my post meeting last week it was noted that sound quality was really good and the dialog clean up was not as extensive as in the past. To be fair the locations were much more controlled versus being out in the desert like with our trilogy. Sound Design is happening at the same time and so once we get all this laid in MUSIC TIME. I will also be touching base with the visual team about VFX, Color Correction and a new trailer. Exciting times.

The Week Ahead…

This next week will be working towards disbursement of funds back at investors. Seeking a few new partners so we can move into official pre-production on LOST HEART. We are close and we could do the film with what we have now but I want to have the extra breathing room. It is easier on the cast and crew and ultimately might yield a better final product. Businesses wanting to talk sponsorship or product placement please do reach out.

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Treat yourself to the book and movie

I’m going to go refill the coffee cup and organize for my forthcoming week. I have a friend coming in from Texas for a few days on family business so it will be nice to catch up with him. He was involved with the original KNIGHT CHILLS, CDI’s 1st feature film. KNIGHT CHILLS 2? You never know:)

Have a great Sunday and week ahead!

DJ


Top 10 Film Updates “And at the end of all your rainbows may you find a pot of gold”

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Top of the morning to you all on this frosty, spring-like Michigan day. It is also St. Patrick’s Day and being that I’m largely Scot/Irish I’ll be toasting to your health today.

“May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.” 

My college alumni team Michigan State University advances in their Big 10 Championship and will play U of M today. Go Green!

I also subbed in for the last indoor soccer game last week with my new team. Nice guys and I look forward to a fun season. It was good to run the engine hard and get those running legs working again.

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(He WAS so small — about 50lbs and growing)

My little boy Finn is growing like a weed and giving us joy every day. Now the ice tundra is leaving us we can enjoy a lot more yard time. I especially enjoy the outdoor meetings at the fort that includes dart playing.

Today we will have the mother’s over for corn beef and cabbage and I’ll be drinking a few PB&J Porters from my friends at Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

To the film updates…how about a TOP TEN for the BIG TEN tournament today.

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(Mr. Trace Adkins)

  1. The cat is out of the bag (what a bad saying) Mr. Trace Adkins has joined our WILD FAITH movie endeavor. You can read about it here. https://www.prlog.org/12759600-country-music-stalwart-trace-adkins-joins-collective-development-incorporateds-wild-faith.html
  2. The first of the theatrical screenings announced in Grand Rapids, MI – Get your tickets here. This is remastered and should be a great viewing experience. https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/woodland-mall/wild-faith
  3. May 6th is the WILD FAITH DVD release and I’m hearing in Walmart in June or July.  Did I tell you how much I love the cover art? I do.
  4. We have just gotten word on The Christ Slayer that will be showing at the International Christian Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for 4 awards that we’ll PR this week. 1) Most Inspirational 2) Best Film 3) Best Director (Nathaniel Nose) and 4) Best Supporting Actress Melissa Anschutz – I’m super proud of our cast and crew. DVD and Streaming available now – in theaters starting April 19th.
  5. Upcoming director of LOST HEART Jesse Low and I are so close to a final script. I have a review once I finish this blog. It is really fun script – emotional and funny.
  6. LOST HEART Location scouting and vendor talks continue while our producers work to lock in the final investments. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place. It will be great to have it in front of our cameras.
  7. Also with LOST HEART we’ll be announcing the addition of two knuckleheads to the cast, Mr. Shane Hagedorn and some guy, DJ Perry:) We’ll both be playing supporting players in this fine story.
  8. MBF: Man’s Best Friend has a locked picture edit and is moving into sound and music with Dennis Therrian. The story is really moving and I’m thrilled by the final story.
  9. Once MBF is moved over to sound the final VFX and Color Correction work will begin. Once that is complete we will cut a new trailer from the edited and color corrected footage.
  10. Last week I recorded two commercial voice over pieces. It went great and I hope the client is happy. I know the director was so we’ll see. Again, feel free to approach me with a project just come with an offer. This is not a hobby for me it is how we put bread on the table and wine in the glass. (Actually I make wine)

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(Looking ahead to the new roles)

I’m going to wrap this up so I can refill the coffee cup and get to my LOST HEART review. Have a great end to your weekend. Be safe and have a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 


April Updates – Springing into Action

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The hazelnut coffee is flowing and the sun shines- but the chill remains outside. We chopped up some more wood to feed to wood stove in the office this week. I’m pretty good with the ole axe which is not only a great work out but helps develop your focus. I have several items we can chat about. This week I’ve had good meetings, location scouts and several business insights. Let’s start with…

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“Wild Faith” – after our string of sold out shows in Lansing and strong sales at Grand Rapids (which was just picking up speed) -we’ve now started our run at Emagine Theaters in Novi, MI and will play until the 12th. We might extend our week run if our weekend sales are strong enough. We did also just complete a ‘closed caption’ file which our distributor usually handles but having this pre-home video file will now allow our hearing impaired to also enjoy it in theaters. It will be added to our showings.

It will be playing in Florida at the ICFF next month and we’re working with several of you individually to try to get the film showing in your area. Hastings, MI where we filmed – please know we’re trying to set up at the theater. We might have to do weekday runs vs weekend as the main theater is under construction and they have studio obligations. So if you’re in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and want to see this film get over to Novi where it will play until the 12th of April. Four shows daily should provide several opportunities. If you want it to play around you we need contact info for the theater/manager/owner and for all of you to reach out and ask for the film. Thank you for all of you who have come out to enjoy this film.

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While we’ve been pushing this film out we’ve been working post-production on part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. We’ve had a surge of “Forty Nights” watchers because of the Easter season. And if watching that on Amazon Prime you might as well watch part 2 “Chasing the Star” – enjoy. Part 3 trailer is being color corrected and music composed. It will release in the coming weeks to start building hype for the pre-Christmas theatrical release and the wide home video release Easter 2019.

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Joining these biblical adventure films on Amazon Prime is our Civil War classic “Wicked Spring” and now “Ashes of Eden” joins it. The latter was directed by Shane Hagedorn and is a cool cautionary tale. I play an ex-military guy who tried to walk the straight and narrow but life did not quite allow that. It has many of the CDI tribe playing great dramatic characters. Check it out!

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“Ashes of Eden”

MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is now in pre-production with dates to start filming in late May into June. We’ve been targeting our crew for the next film and locking locations. We had a tech scout last week. I ended up getting more emotionally affected by both the prisoners at the jail and even more so at the animal shelter. After touring the shelter and having my heart poked by several of the stares begging to be taken and given a loving home – I fought to keep composed. The idea is to use shelter dogs and we plan to do an adoption event for our picture dogs. Once the film is ready to play theaters I also want to do adoption events in every city we play to. When I was pitching our plan to the shelter workers I almost lost it. I was there as a producer but my emotions surged. I was embarrassed that I had to fight to keep it all together. I had initial worries about getting to the right emotional places with my character. Now I worry about too much emotion and audiences not being able to understand me. I really did a doozy to myself writing something that is so wide open with vulnerable emotion and plays to my weakness. But it all felt truthful and honest and so I know that will only help the performance. All this is before even factoring in fully the heartache of the military vets. But I saw lines drawn between vets, prisoners, adoption dogs – broken souls wanting to be whole. The film also has a cautionary tale woven within. I think most of my scripts do. I’m very excited to tell another story with our wonderful CDI artists. I just found myself missing the carefree, humorous nature of ole Ben Lily in our past “Wild Faith” tale.

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Aside from all this I’ve been writing daily and getting some of the future content in line. I’ve been researching for the next biblical trilogy and working on some other exciting scripts. The new CDI website at http://www.cdiproductions.com is almost complete with phase one. Next phases include merchandise and streaming which is on deck. Please check out the website. This is where many of our castings and updates will be posted. The battle plans for the next couple years are underway.

I’m going to bring this to an end. I’ve enjoyed you all stopping by – next Saturday (April 14th) will also be the release of the music video I participated in. Trey Connor is the artist and the song is called “My Ghosts” – soon.

Be good to one another. Get out to Novi Imagine and travel back to 1875 with “Wild Faith” on the big screen. If you want to see more of our storytelling get onto Amazon Prime and take a watch.

DJ

 

 


Wild Faith-Mania and Another Film Preps To Shoot at CDI

So it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.

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Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz

It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.

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But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.

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I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance.  I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.

SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA  (LANSING) 

10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05

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In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…

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The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.

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Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.

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Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.

I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion.Master copy Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


Thank you – Family, Friends and Fans

The sun is out and the hazelnut coffee is flowing. WHAT A WEEK! First I want to welcome our new readers from Romania. Our international group of artists is expanding with each week. For a few weeks now I’ve managed to stay a step or two ahead of the sick bugs striking people down. Family and friends with children and those working around large groups have been fallen ill. I’ve managed to stay the course and not get full-blown sick but my energy level has been tapped. Add the amount of business and the ‘Wild Faith‘ premiere kick off events and…walking a thin line.

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Family and friends make the day extra special.

Our cast and crew premiere at Studio C was a wonderful event. I had one of those days I could not get warm all day. Body aches wanted to set in but I managed to pull it all together. Warmth was my fashion and so a nice warm sweater was just what the doctor ordered. It was this showing that meant the most because it was for everyone you see in the end credits. It was our investors, sponsors, cast and crew and I wanted them to be as proud of the work as I am. To say we had a positive reaction is a modest statement. This industry is hard with many projects that implode before take off or never get finished. The ones that do get completed often suffer from not being able to consistently keep the quality on-screen. That could be said about our earliest work but we always did the best we could with what we had. So many came in for the event which made it extra special.

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We have a great CDI producer team and we would be unable to achieve what we have without these three – post supervisor Dennis Therrian and co-producers Melissa Anschutz and Anthony Hornus helping lead the charge.

The very next day was our public premiere with showings kicking off in Lansing and Grand Rapids. That was also just incredible and these are not the biased artists these are the paying public. The feedback from people I knew and did not know was overwhelming. I was happy I felt a touch better on Friday but Saturday was spent chilling and recovering. I even got to do some yard work which after our cold winter was enjoyable. “Wild Faith” will play twice a day 4:30 and 7:00 in both Grand Rapids (Woodland) and Lansing until Thursday unless they hold it over. It has been selling out the nighttime performance so we’ll see. We have even been getting members of the Living History community coming out in full period garb. How cool! Here is one of my favorite quotes from a Owosso Community reporter “The acting, location, and music causes a person watching this movie, made on a tight budget, to have the same experience as if they were watching an $80 Million-dollar movie.” – we try is all I can say on that.

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Developing new directors is something I enjoy and this makes #2 with Mr. Jesse Low

NEWS PICKS

http://www.thedailyreporter.com/news/20180316/little-river-railroad-featured-in-film-opens-tonight

https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/entertainment/movies/2018/03/15/locally-made-movie-premiers-celebration/32919247/

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As noted last week “Wild Faith” is up for 4 awards at the International Christian Film Festival in FL. Best Film, Lead Actor/Actress and Director. Right beside it is Part 2 of ‘The Quest Trilogy’ “Chasing the Star” with 5 nominations – Best Film, Most Inspirational, Best Actor, Best Score and Best Screenplay. This film and Part 1 “Forty Nights” is a great holiday watch for the Easter season. The screenplay nod is nice as I’m working to take on a few work-for-hire and also sell off a few screenplays I don’t plan to produce. If you’re looking to buy a script or hire a writer – let’s talk.

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Music Video ‘My Ghost‘ Directed by Tomaki Boaz 

The day before the cast/crew premiere I was given an opportunity to play a part in a music video for artist Trey Connor with a song entitled “My Ghost” that will release mid-April. I had a great time working with everyone. With this music video and the recent promotional before Christmas I’m opening myself to hiring out on things that interest me. My feature film work keeps me quite busy but always will work to try to make a schedule work if the art entices.

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Like a sleeping giant “The Christ Slayer” part 3 of the trilogy is moving ahead. Work on the next trailer and the film itself are underway. Just know something special is in the works and will be heading to theaters 4th quarter this year.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is CDI’s next film and we’re so very close to closing up business on this powerful story. More “fuel” came in and more next week. The ship is getting close to launch and we’ll work hard to bring audiences again, a very special story. Many ways to get involved with your businesses too. Our partners at the Red, White and Blue Project are taking donations into their non-profit for their educational side of the film. I’m working hard with our team to complete funding by month’s end and move into official pre-production. This will be another great film in the CDI fleet.

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For those who want more 1800’s please do watch our “Wicked Spring” playing Amazon Prime now. Also if you’ve seen “Wild Faith” or any of the films take a few moments on Amazon or IMDB to vote and leave a review. I’m going to leave all this right here. I want to thank the huge outpouring of support for these films. I loved each and every conversation I had with people after watching “Wild Faith” – thank you again. We had general audience members come in from other states to see this film. Also people driving in and making it an event. The story is greatly needed in this day and age and we hope that we entertain and bring a little fresh air into the conversations. Love over hate.

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Meeting supporter Kim Harris at the public premiere

I was proud to have my family and friends join me in the send off for this newest film. As film artists we don’t always get to see all our fans. To cite an example one title has sold over 300,000 DVD’s and I likely don’t know 298,000 of them. So I’m excited for all the people I do not know who will enjoy the film(s). But it also makes it that much more special to shake a hand and hear about your favorite character/scene/part of a film. Know that each and every one of you we don’t know are appreciated. To our fans around the world – thank you.

DJ

 

 

 


Marching into March! Updates!

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So again this morning I enjoyed watching our squirrel friends eating the strawberry tops and some aged bread. My desk now looks out over the favorite feeding spot for our furry friends. Our yard is already a haven for wildlife with our acorns, mulberries, edible mushrooms and our garden full of abundance in the season. This winter we had a few cold days coupled with a heavy snow here or there but overall not too bad. This week I might bottle up the next batch of wine “Frankenberry” which was a use up of fruit taking up freezer space. We have a lot to celebrate as of late and I foresee more toasting in the near future.

This weekend started with a nice surprise bday gathering at a local place called DUSTY’S CELLAR. I had a great blond ale that tasted a lot like the last beer I made. Also had some aged ribeye that was wonderful. The full moon also allowed me a few indulgences. I eat junk food (donut, cake, candy bar, ice cream) only during 24 hours of each month. It makes those things a little more special and keeps my sugar/junk intake very low. To anyone who might try – it was only hard the first month or two. Sugar addiction is real and while I seldom partake I know it can be a real challenge. My funniest moment that night was walking into the wrong private room. “Someone order a stripper?” Just kidding – it was funny for sure.

This Sat I had a chance to see BLACK PANTHER and it was cool to see an exotic take on the superhero genre. We always see the NYC-type big city so it was great to see a story based in Afrika. My brother got to join us and that is always fun. A good movie in my opinion. I did re-watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” this week while doing some desk work. That is truly a great film in my book. Okay, we’ve come around to talking about movies. I guess we can discuss our movies.

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This week saw “Wicked Spring” premiere to digital streaming and remastered DVD this past week. It is on various platforms but Amazon Prime is the big one. Read about it here – https://www.prlog.org/12695043-digitally-remastered-cdi-civil-war-epic-wicked-spring-hits-amazon-prime.html

The Amazon link is here – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HWQQKC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1519913275&sr=8-3&keywords=Wicked+Spring

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This film is the one we cut our teeth on as producers. This is a wonderful primer as we’re about to premiere our new 1800’s action/drama “Wild Faith” this month. We did a great Showbiz Weekly radio show and we have more PR leading up to the March 16-22 run at Celebration Cinemas in Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets can be purchased now online –

You can also read an earlier version of the film here – I would appreciate any reviews-

Book your tickets here –

https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/lansing/wild-faith

This past week and the week ahead will be important meetings for the film and possible TV series. I’m just excited to have family, friends and fans watch this film. Those that have gotten the advanced look have raved about the balanced blend and pacing which is a hard thing to achieve. On the indie level I see that people often become close friends with all the talent and there exists pressure not to cut certain scenes. This can be because of an insistent writer. Or not wanting to hurt feelings – but the overall film needs to be a deciding factor. I think those involved will be very happy. I’m also excited to have friends from out-of-town coming in to see the film.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY

As the 3rd film “THE CHRIST SLAYER” is being worked on we’re about to put the Easter push on the first two films “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” which are great adventures to watch at any time. But families gather at the holidays and these films are built to be enjoyed by the whole family. Have you watched these films? They can be found on Amazon Prime and several major platforms or on DVD.

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MBF – We made some good advances on Man’s Best Friend, and we’re so very close to moving into pre-production. We’re into a slight push from our ideal time and so the sport theme in the film may change but it does nothing to our story. We’ve had some great strides made by the Red, White and Blue Project non-profit that is sponsoring some of the military vets so they can do some educational events as well as filming. If you want to see how your company or you can get involved feel free to reach out to me direct.

Aside from all these endeavors I’ve been looking at future acting possibilities and preparing to cut some checks back to investors. A few new deals underway and I’m just flowing with 2018. I had updates on a few projects I thought had faded out but apparently not. One could mean a script sale this year so we’ll see how that works out. Always good to have a few irons in the fire. But a few of those irons are RED HOT. Soccer season is also soon upon us and so I’m going to be increasing my conditioning. I had a good winter of healing last year’s battle wounds and I’m ready to go at it again. With our few nice days I was able to get a lot of yard work done. I’m excited for Spring.

Have a wonderful day. If you feel like supporting feel free to watch some of the films at your leisure at home or experience them on the grand screen. We will be announcing other play dates throughout the Spring/Summer for “Wild Faith” – have a great day!

DJ

 


Coffee talk on Effective Communication, CUJO and Films COMING SOON!

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The soccer season has ended, the garden harvest is slowing and the leaves are starting to fall. But this heat wave seems hot as any of our true summer days. On a positive note I’ve been trying to master this new grill and get my temps under control and such. Last night I had a very successful go at pork chops. I had my old grill down to a science and so it’s like re-learning and developing a process with the new grill. I’m going to refill the coffee and we can chat on some of the developments last week. I think I’m going to just throw them out there – updates.

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CHASING THE STAR – A new marketing campaign is starting Oct 10th via our distributor, driving traffic to the AMAZON. We’ve also been invited to again submit to International Christian Film Festival for 2018. It’s been submitted and now we wait. I think we’ll know more in March.

FORTY NIGHTS – We’re just finishing new theatrical licensing deals for this film in Nov. in Texas and CHASING THE STAR in December. I do think this is in Gary Nation backyard. So unless it clashes with possible shoot dates (Is that a dropped hint?) he could attend.

Both these films are being pushed for the holiday season and I think audiences will enjoy them.

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Here is a good lesson from the last couple weeks. There is a program that shows faith-content who approached us about possible licensing. Now after some communication , we requested some clarification. What followed was a poorly communicated email that after being quite offending they apologized and blamed some personal issues. OK. STOP. If I’m sending an email communication to HBO (Which I did) I would NEVER respond in the way this person did if I was trying to build a bridge to business. IF I had some personal issue that was going to paint my communications – STEP AWAY FROM THE EMAIL! DO NOT COMMUNICATE until you get your head straight. I was just surprised that once again this is someone claiming a mission/path that’s inline with Christianity yet they communicate like that. JUDGMENTAL. CONDESCENDING. RUDE.  Not good business practice. It could have just been a bad week but if that’s the case – don’t communicate. I doubt this avenue will work out but I’m good with that.

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Let’s talk positive. I went to a biz event in Grand Rapids with my attorney/producing amigo John Mashni at CHOP & HUE. They have done color correction and some great VFX credit work for a few of our films. It was great to partake in their event and success. I saw a few familiar faces and met a few new ones. I really enjoyed myself. I don’t break away from the work too often but I’m glad I did. I will try to attend a few more events but I always have so much to do and when I take a break it is usually in solitude.

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The Christ Slayer – the VFX work on this picture is moving along in strength. We started working on our first official poster ideas this week. We should have a locked picture with VFX by the end of the year.

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That fits nicely with WILD FAITH that will be finishing up at year’s end. The response to the poster, trailer and BTS has been strong. I’m still looking to launch the TV series but I think it will take studios/networks watching the final film. The characters and world are so endearing it makes you want to see more. I did get some creative writing on show #2 this past week. We will see how it all plays out.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is our next CDI film. We had an announcement that Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. Our biz commits are flowing in and this week we’ll start announcing cast. We have two possible shoot windows – one that is before the holidays (Nov) and one that is after (Jan/Feb). It all depends on the speed of the financial commits. We’ve got two more weeks to push and see what will work best for production. That is a key question that aspiring producers should get use to asking. WHAT IS BEST FOR PRODUCTION? Many inexperienced producers make decisions that put production second. That is often where trouble starts. I’m so excited about the cast and crew lining up and I know once again we’ll put something strong onscreen.

Autumn is Upon Us

This week was also spend prepping some other endeavors. One being a certain Civil War film that will be making its way back into the market in 2018. Also the original script I wrote for Wild Faith was turned into a book. I will be releasing the book to Amazon under the original title. The script was adapted into a new script for budget before heading into production. Instead of having the author Dee Freeman redo the book to match the new movie, I decided to leave the book story AS IS. I think it gives an interesting look at the movie that never was but allows a look at what inspired – WHAT IS.

Speaking of books I know the KNIGHT CHILLS book is now for sale at Comic Cons and I hope a new generation of readers/viewers experience the story.

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BUY IT HERE – GREAT GIFT:)

https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Chills-DJ-Perry/dp/1945940174/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506263603&sr=1-10&keywords=Knight+Chills

As we welcome in the fall season I’ve been circling back and watching a few of the old horror films. This week I took a watch on Darkest Nights. It was fun to return to that mango estate in the Philippines and try to survive the darkest night. I miss all my cast and crew mates. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and I’m thankful to have had it.

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I get asked quite often if I will return to horror genre and the answer is of course, when I find the right story. I’ve had a few filmmakers upset at me because I passed on their film. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. Execution is an issue for all filmmakers. It’s hard to take the words and make it all come to life but when the script is not strong it makes the process harder. And many directors are also the writer so they can take any feedback very personal. I understand this  ‘protectiveness’ and if the company is happy with the script and you’re not, a polite pass is the best option. But sometimes even the polite pass can bring out someones anger. I’m hoping for a strong script every time one is submitted to me for acting. We as actors all want that. So to get back on track, I’ve been asked about my return to horror genre and the answer is when the right deal comes across the desk.

I had some fans ask about the C.U.J.O. reboot. I know that King’s team is working to reel back in some of his ‘rights’ to his classic films CUJO included. I know that talks are continuing with the Sunn Classic Pictures team. How will the chips fall is unknown. I would love to be part of a King project someday in the future. Will it be a C.U.J.O. reboot? That is not up to me but I will let you all know what I find out.

Outside of all this work I’ve been in exploratory talks over obtaining a literary agent. I’m about to go into production on my 5th script and I’ve got several scripts I would be willing to sell off. It will all come together. I know I have more calls to catch up on this coming week. For those that I did not get back to – rest assured I will.

Enjoy your Sunday and Go LIONS!

DJ

 

 

 


Mother’s Day and More Updates

Welcome Poland, France and Australia. They’ve been following the blog and even readers are now hailing from China. I’m excited that so many artistic individuals are finding a community around ‘Clawing my way to the Middle’ blog. I’ve just gotten back in from running around including visiting my mom which has been fighting a cold. Actually many around me have been sick from my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and the list goes on. A party for my step-sister who just became a doctor MD was shortened due to illness. I just try to keep moving past it all and so far (knock on wood) only slight sniffle or cough first thing in the morning and fine after that. No soccer today because of Mother’s Day. I’m going to get to see an old friend of mine who flew in today but only because his mom is sick. So I’m going to finish this up and I think go till the garden. This week we worked on finishing the flashing and chimney cap on the office/fort plus some wood trim in the bath. It has been somewhat cold and wet the last few weeks but sunshine is on the way this week. I hope those of you able to- shared a few moments with your mothers or took time out to think about them. Let’s look at some of the week updates.

Forty Nights

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The big news on this front was the winning of ‘Most Inspirational’ at the ICFF in Orlando, FL. This is a great nod to all the cast and crew and as storytellers we could not ask for more. If you’ve seen the film and it did indeed inspire you in some way please do go to http://www.imdb.com (40 Nights/Forty Nights) Vote and leave your own story. I do know that foreign sales lie ahead.

PR Link 

https://www.prlog.org/12639291-cdis-forty-nights-wins-most-inspirational-at-worlds-largest-christian-film-festival.html

Chasing the Star

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This film has just concluded the last run in Michigan (For now) at the Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI so thank you very much! We’ll be discussing taking the film out of state prior to the Sept 5th national release on DVD/streaming/VOD with Bridgestone. We’ll be announcing the new DVD artwork soon that BMG developed.

The Christ Slayer 

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Editing continues as we close in on a rough cut. As I’ve noted before we’ll be working on the poster and first trailer.

Wild Faith

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The sound design and dialog clean up continues. I hope to meet this week over the poster art.

Development – I’ve been writing and working hard on setting the slate for the upcoming CDI projects. I’ve also been pondering what acting role I might enjoy next. I’m also in talks on a few possible work-for-hire writing endeavors. I’m always open to discussions on writing, acting and such.  Just please make sure you’re funded:) I feel like I had a topic I wanted to discuss but for some reason I can’t recall it. I’m remember it half way through tilling the garden up.

Be good to one another and have a great day and week ahead!

DJ


Trilogy Updates and New Developments

A rainy yet peaceful Sunday as I eat some peanut butter toast and sip it down with my coffee. This past week was full of good developments and opportunities. Let’s jump into some of the updates. First, “Chasing the Star” has moved from Lansing, MI Celebration Cinema to Emagine’s Royal Oak, MI in Detroit.

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After that the film will travel back to Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI for a week – where after that? We’ll see.

GR announcement

As you watch this film it would be great for you to travel over to http://www.imdb.com and search “Chasing the Star”  VOTE and leave a REVIEW if so inclined. I enjoy seeing what audiences connected with. We have a couple of quality reviews coming up this week on the film. One really made me smile and was sent by our distributor Sat morning.  Another highlight for me was watching “CTS” on the sixty foot high IMAX screen in 5.1 – sitting in the recliner seats. So nice, it was also the screening my parents attended.

Forty Nights

This upcoming month of May will have members of our team traveling to Florida for the ICFF festival where “Forty Nights” is up for several awards.

Larels Landscape Noms

The remastered movie is now available on DVD and streaming.

Here is one of the featured new sites at Wal-Mart.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/DVD-Forty-Nights-April/995054944?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=6335&adid=22222222227079705856&wmlspartner=wmtlabs&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=192134104056&wl4=pla-303298065745&wl5=9017262&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=114431391&wl11=online&wl12=995054944&wl13=&veh=sem

OR our friends at Christian Book

https://www.christianbook.com/forty-nights/9781945788123/pd/638930?dv=%7Bdevice%7D&en=google&event=SHOP&kw=dvds-0-20%7C638930&p=1179710&gclid=CjwKEAjwlpbIBRCx4eT8l9W26igSJAAuQ_HGhgMxZAYnsijPBVpthMpQGGXhZYkin6_op-O0BF0IhBoCAw7w_wcB

I also know we’re prepping for foreign sales with all the films. I see some of our foreign readers commenting and I sincerely wish to get our products to your territories. Same as “Chasing the Star” if you’ve seen the film please go to http://www.imdb.com “40 Nights or Forty Nights” and VOTE/REVIEW.

The Christ Slayer

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The third film in the trilogy is now in full editing. We’ve also been adding to the post-production team in the arena of VFX. We’ll be making some announcements on all that in the coming weeks . A first poster and trailer will arrive at some point here soon. We’re also going to be launching a new QUEST TRILOGY website in the coming weeks. Exciting stuff.

WILD FAITH

This has been an exciting project to move down the line. A VFX team is brought together. The “picture cut” has moved on to music and sound design and in a few months we’ll have our finished film. In the meantime the series spin-off is having serious talk. Lots of development work is being done on this endeavor. Hard work usually = progress.

DEVELOPMENT

Several additional projects are in development. I’m writing daily on new material. We’ll be making some announcements later in the year about the direction of some of these new projects. Aside from that I’m excited about getting the garden going and soccer starting next weekend. It will be time to tie up the cleats and kick some gr(ass).

I hope you all have a great end to your weekend and a great week ahead.

Be good to one another.

DJ


Back Home in Michigan- Production Updates

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Photo by Scott Allen Perry

The desert heat is no longer with me here in Michigan. I came home to wet and cold weather but also to my family, bed and comforts of home. It has been major deceleration as I went from a wild circus of people on the constant move to a much more relaxed pace at home. Things slowing a touch was is a good thing since I had a good case of jet lag. I’ve been trying to sort through mail (and email), pay bills and unpack even as bouts of tired struck me at odd hours. I’ve had many people reaching out and I’m sorry that I’ve not been able to get back with everyone. I’ve had lots of wrap up work on the most recent film and catching up on immediate business.

FAMILY BUSINESS:)

This weekend was a good day catching up with family business first at my niece’s b-day gathering yesterday at the local science center, Impression 5. I took science classes there when I was in Elementary school with my buddy John. It’s truly a great place to take your children and I’m glad that the place has survived and thrived for all these years. Today I’m up North visiting family and celebrating another missed b-day. Speaking of missing b-day’s, my girl was good about me missing her b-day while in AZ and I do appreciate her holding down the fort in my absence. It’s a hardship for all our significant others when we go off to create these stories. I saw many happy faces when loved ones (cast & crew) returned safely from the deserts of Yuma. So I give me heartfelt gratitude to all of those significant others who worked hard to maintain households while we battled to tell our tale in the desert.

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The Christ Slayer

If you’ve not been keeping up – we filmed the 3rd feature film in “The Quest Trilogy” entitled “The Christ Slayer” in AZ. We shot for three weeks and change with pre-production and wrap out. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment because it was a 3 part film series and also the first time I had played the same role twice. That role was none other than Jesus, so that was no easy task. It challenged me in many ways everyday but I want to say my director (Nathaniel Nose) and my co-stars who helped make the process so very special. Carl Weyant and Josh Perry made each and every day a unique experience full of smiles and fist-bumps. Christine, Mel, Shane and every other actor I was blessed to share the screen with made each day easier with their enthusiasm. Their love for the story and their roles inspired me and honored me as a writer. The crew consisted of many warriors I’ve worked with prior and once again they brought their best. I additionally had the pleasure of working with a handful of new artists who I think enjoyed the overall adventure. They all worked extremely hard and the desert proved to be no joke, but the final footage revealed the results of those efforts. BEAUTIFUL! To all the people of Yuma associated with this picture, we love you. We could not have done this without you. The biggest question I was asked by many there was IF this was our last film. It was the last of “The Quest Trilogy” but I’m happy to announce that I will be penning a second slate of biblical films. This process might have already begun. (Insert sly smile) They will be separate from the three films we explored in this current trilogy. We will likely be going Old Testament with these new films.

“The Christ Slayer” has entered post and we’ll be rolling out behind-the-scenes photos and powerful stills (Like the one above) in the coming weeks. Also a teaser trailer is in the works and will release in the coming weeks. Releasing spring of 2018.

Forty Nights

Forty Nights

“Forty Nights” will enjoy its new release on 4/4/17 and I encourage all of you interested in the trilogy to watch it. Our post team did a very good job re-mastering the film both audio and visually and Bridgestone has put beautiful new artwork worthy of such a beautiful story.

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Chasing the Star

On the heels of this new release the second film “Chasing the Star” will enjoy a premiere on the 22nd of April. Following this will be various theatrical showings starting in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Royal Oak with many more planned. Once we’ve done our theatrical run we’ll be releasing nationally on Sept 5th, 2017. Follow our Facebook social media page for updates.

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Wild Faith

“Wild Faith” is close to a locked picture and will move into music and sound design. I can say that the initial talks on the TV series have been positive. I think we have a good chance at spinning off into a television series. I’m looking at the business of it now and also working on some of the creative aspects for upcoming meetings.

I plan on aligning all our business and setting up for a strong 2018. There is a good chance we may film another feature or two this year but nothing is solid on the slate. As I noted before, I’m back to my daily writing and making some great progress. As the sun returns and temps warm I look forward to a productive year ahead. Thank you all for your support. (Cheers with a sip from the coffee cup)

DJ


Tomorrow Another Adventure Begins – CTS

ThreeMagiToday we are doing final prep on “Chasing the Star” the second film in our QUEST TRILOGY. I’m happy to announce that these three gentlemen are the actors we landed on after looking at reads from around the United States. These three are representing the Texas, South Carolina and NYC (By way of Michigan) markets. If you work hard you can make it happen from anywhere. It’s been fun to see all the artist come together – every day new props, new wardrobe tests, new gear arriving and new family. Yes. The film family is a unique experience and as a producer I’ve always strived to create an experience that people will remember. I think we’ve been doing that at Collective Development Inc. for some time. Even those early films like “From Venus” and “Heaven’s Neighbors” were filmed with great care creating lasting memories for all.

While this new film is launching we’ve been heavily promoting and pushing our other films to market. We’ll be doing our Yuma, AZ “thank you” premiere of “40 Nights” on March 13th, hosted by Champion Church. They helped us with everything from background talent to use of locations. The Lansing/Grand Rapids theatrical run of “40 Nights” has just expired. We’ve been approached by many interested people who wanted to see the film on the big screen, so, we may move the film to the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge or other such venue to keep that momentum. Many are asking us to bring it into Detroit via one of the chains there. We will try. Here in AZ we’re looking at a meeting with Harkins Theaters to do a run, so we’ll see if that comes together. April 5th is the “40 Nights” DVD release at most major retailers. The streaming release looks like it will happen in June – more on that soon! You can pre-order the film DVD at several retailers but here is just one.

PRE-ORDER

https://www.fishflix.com/christian-movies-40-nights-dvd.html?gclid=CjwKEAiAx–2BRDO6q2T84_a52YSJABWAbfrRKoSkPY19dk37NIxbMBe9TeAotIFxPBRAWU3hBbXDhoCRdfw_wcB

BestSeller copy

We also just released distributor poster art for “BESTSELLER,” which releases in May. This film is a great curl up and watch thriller. Be afraid!  “Ashes of Eden” is another film of ours that releases on April 5th – great story, music and performances.

PRE-BUY “Ashes of Eden” here

https://www.fishflix.com/christian-movies-ashes-of-eden-dvd.html

Ashes of Eden - Poster

I will write more later but right now our team is doing a dozen different things to final prep for tomorrow. Because tomorrow we start “Chasing the Star” …

Keep clawing your way towards your dreams!

DJ


A Humble Thanks, Time to do it AGAIN!

 

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The sun in Michigan (Above) is slowly melting the inches of snow accumulated over the past couple days. I’ve been packing and prepping for our trip west to film. (Too many dragons)  The past few days have been really special. We’ve been promoting the Celebration Cinemas run of “40 Nights” in Michigan. Right now it is releasing in Lansing and Grand Rapids – it kicked off with three daily films yesterday. The first show in Lansing is today at 12:30  today.

https://celebrationcinema.com/movie/40+Nights

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40 Nights in the Lansing State Journal

I have tried to be lower key with the PR in our home town over the past years. I use to chase that but it actually created some isolation, awkwardness with some people. I’ve done countless interviews, press junkets and been featured in many articles around the world- but this was special. I liked that my father got to see on the front page of the paper our film. A beautiful lay out and interview that showcased the work of some very talented artists on both sides of the camera. My father use to worry about me with all this “movie stuff” – which was fine as a creative distraction when I was young – but a career? It has been a LOT of hard work. That is why I tell young people that they better really want it and you must always strive to refine. If you chose film as a career option because you don’t have a sure course and filmmaking sounds fun – stop. If just money alone is your goal – follow another path. There is money to be made but mining a project is hard work and can take years.

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There are some exciting developments with “40 Nights” such plans to release in Yuma, AZ theaters. We will be working that deal when we arrive next week to start final prep work on “Chasing the Star” the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY. We want to expand to several states. Even though the DVD will be hitting stores in March/April for the Easter season IF you can experience it on the big screen treat yourself. You know I like to drop things here early to my faithful readers so – a soundtrack for “40 Nights” is the first release in a new deal we’ve made for the CDI collection. We will have some other licensing deals happening where it makes sense. I’m excited about the branding push that can help all three of the films in this unique series. The first show starts in five minutes and so I wish all of them a wonderful time as they go to experience “40 Nights”!

To pre-order on DVD

http://www.christianbook.com/40-nights/pd/161511?product_redirect=1&Ntt=161511&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

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A few of the co-stars of the upcoming “Chasing the Star”

We have other deals developing on many fronts but right now my focus is to get “Chasing the Star” up and running. We have a great slate of films and look forward to keeping the flow. I want to thank our many, many supporters. My next blog will be from Yuma, AZ the Sat. before we roll cameras. I will be able to share some great photos and such as we move down the production line.

Time to Chase the Star – please keep chasing your own star!

DJ

 

 

 

 

 


The Army Prepares To March – Updates

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DJ Perry at waters edge while shooting “40 Nights”

My head is spinning from recent activity and I’m gliding into a much deserved relax mode so I can spend a few moments with all of you. Busy. Very. But nix that I want to talk about FIRE. I’ve had a fascination with fire since and early age. I’m told that fire and clock were two of my earliest words. Interesting…I mean fire is transformation – the sacred change. It is creation and destruction united in a dance. I do appreciate clocks – my favorite might be my one and only Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise. I take that back I was also gifted an R2D2 flash drive. I have the Death Star plans! So the office is finally getting the antique stove installed tomorrow. It has been a couple years in the planning but now it is happening. The office “my fort” is a creative space and the warm fire will add to those fall and winter days and nights.

Chasing the Star

The storm cometh

Okay now we can return back to the other talk of films and such. So we’re about to do what is in a way, my first sequel. I’ve played many characters whom I felt deserved a continued story. JUDGES 2 got stumbled by the passing of Russ Stine who was slated to costar. Alex Kenwood, Mayfair, John (several), Stan Reed, Kendall and even Mason from “The 8th Plague” who died so Germany wanted a prequel. We still may do “Soul Eater” in the future once I find the right director. But the world shown in “40 Nights” is alive and we’re about to go play in it again. This happens right as audiences will be experiencing “40 Nights” on the big and small screen. Early reviews and the reactions from buyers has been very strong. We are starting on the 26th of Feb in Lansing & Grand Rapids Michigan, with screenings at Celebration Cinema.

Low Res

https://celebrationcinema.com/movie/40+Nights/2-26-2016

It will also be hitting the shelves at Walmart on March 5th and other retailers start to get the film around April 5th. But I encourage everyone to experience it on the big screen. The camera work is breathtaking. Kudos to Jesse “Smooth” Aragon.

We’re on the launchpad with the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY “Chasing the Star” – this week we’ll be announcing lots of the talented people onboard. I had a chance to talk to a well known actress who burst on the scene at 21 and has kept a steady flow of films. She is busy getting ready to go film in Peru? We want her for this role and so I sent a sales link to our first film. She said, I’ll watch a few moments so I can have a conversation. She watched the film all the way through to the end, totally drawn into our world. She gave great remarks about all aspects and noted how you could tell the care and craftsmanship that went into the film. WOW! She started too by saying how smoke blowing is not her thing and honest was. I thought I was in for a harsh review but instead accepted praise for the whole team. She badly wants to be in our next film and if she gets back to the USA on schedule that just might happen.

The point is we are doing something right. The business people like us because we stay on schedule, budget and turn out unique art. Why the first is important is so that marketing teams can plan on you in advance. I’ve got a few great director buddies and I’ve never seen them turn something around in 10-12 months. And trying to get them to that playing field would likely cost our friendships.

Speaking of good business – I want to thank our friends at the Garmax Group for again sponsoring and riding with us on “Chasing the Star”

Garmax Group

March is “40 Nights” but April is “Ashes of Eden” and “Bestseller” and “Donors” are May. So the ramp up to many releases – pre-production, promotions…you get the busy.

Ashes of Eden - Poster

All that said, I’m also looking forward to another outdoor soccer season. My body is healed from a season of demolition derby and running like a 20 year old. Playing soccer weekly in a highly competitive league is my best weekly meditation.

The soundtrack deal is on the table and I have to finish that up. We’re leading off with “40 Nights” and moving down the line. More licensing deals and such will be coming as we make our way through all these deals.

Fig-art

It was great having films like “7 Stones” and “Figure in the Forest” playing on different television channels and people reaching out. I think this year we’ll be licensing the films to more networks and territories.

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So IF you can get to one of the Michigan “40 Nights” screenings do so. Here is our newly remastered theatrical trailer –

https://www.facebook.com/40Nightsthemovie/?fref=ts

We’re also working to bring it on the big screen to several other states. Church’s have submitted and asked to license the film at http://www.40nightsthemovie.com  you can direct your church or organization there. The films were not designed business-wise to release as major theatrical but after finishing the film – it deserves it. So we’ll keep working it. I do know we are about to set some showings working with our friends in Yuma, AZ. Get ready Champion, it’s almost time.

DJ(esus)

 

 


First ’40 Night’ Theatrical & Points to Ponder

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I have been trying to circle back to the blog all morning. We did step out for a few into the bitter cold that could freeze a polar bear. Okay, maybe not – but it is COLD. That said, in a few weeks we will be filming in AZ and that will be a good stretch of warm. I like that dry heat versus humid heat. Everything is on schedule and this week we will be finalizing a slew of agreements with cast and crew. PR will start rolling announcing our powerful new cast in “Chasing the Star” – 2nd film in the QUEST TRILOGY.

40 Nights

DJ Perry as Jesus in “40 Nights”

The 1st film “40 Nights” is drawing great response from decision makers. The soundtrack is coming along with other speciality items. Our first theatrical set ups are underway. It looks like Lansing, MI and Grand Rapids, MI will be getting 1st play starting Feb. 26th. Info will start going up here. “It truly is a MUST EXPERIENCE on the BIG SCREEN film!” You can track the Michigan showings here –

https://celebrationcinema.com/movie/40+Nights/2-26-2016

Ashes of Eden - Poster

Also our previous inspirational crime drama “ASHES OF EDEN” will play Parables TV and can be pre-ordered here for DVD

http://www.familychristian.com/catalog/product/view/id/349087/

Mark Franklin

DJ Perry as author Mark Franklin

“Bestseller” will be doing some PR announcing its new promotional poster art. This film releases nationally in May 2016.

Travis in Action

I was trying to think if we had any teachable moments this week that young filmmakers could take from. These are just some random tidbits of advice in no order.

  • Don’t inflate your resumes or try to oversell to someone who researches, which is most credible filmmakers.
  • As my dad would say, don’t do something half ass – do it or do not. Hey my dad is Yoda:)
  • Be careful who you use as endorsements – if I see endorsements by unqualified people and they are being used – that casts the light of association.
  • When location scouting don’t just look with your eyes but your imagination.
  • Too much communication is always better than not enough.
  • We all must adapt but do so carefully, do not be brash
  • Have patience as we bridge the gaps between us all
  • A cart has never pulled a horse so do NOT let others try to waste time testing this.
  • Do not empower anxiety or give away energy to things that you cannot control
  • On smaller budgets do NOT schedule around actors – you need dedicated talent
  • When reporting up the chain do not leave out or embellish information – facts only
  • Most success in this business is by getting in on the ground level and stay loyal
  • Play the long term game not the short game – short sighted vision will derail most

That’s enough thought provoking points. I hope you all have a great weekend. Stay warm if you are in cold country.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


First Watch on 40 NIGHT, BESTSELLER Expands and more…

It is a late night Saturday blog. It will actually post in the wee hours of Sunday but today was full and kept me away from my computer. It has been a good week of film business. Most of the week I worked from early morning until about 2:30 or so before moving to yard work. I had such a wild week full of many emotions as projects moved to different phases.

BESTSELLER coming off the sold out premiere started its run in Grand Rapids. That day leading up to the GR week of showings – had me feeling blissful. I had watched the 1st full cut of “40 Nights” the day prior. I was just stunned as I watched that film play out. It flowed so well and was moving in the performances and camera work. This was only a rough cut without music or sound – and what a great ending! I know what went into the shoot by the hard working cast and crew. It was such a good cut that if polished slightly it would be ready to roll into the next audio phase. We will do a few more test showings to get feedback and make minor tweaks. But I was so at peace because it was powerful to watch – even in this rough stage. I had a few great conversations about the film with people in the circle including our distributor. I’m excited to lock this edit by month’s end.

Back to BESTSELLER –

BESTSELLER playing on the Celebration Cinema screen in 5.1 was cool to watch. Seeing an audience JUMP and GASP in terror was truly a wonderful experience. We had a Q&A after this kick off which was nice to interact with an audience after they watched the film. There were a few aspiring filmmakers in the crowd and their questions are always fun to answer. The night ended with fish tacos and so that is pretty good.

Paperwork was exchanged this past week whereas CDI Distribution brokered TV license deals for OUTSIDE THE WIRE and STANDING POST for Red, White & Blue Non-Profit and also for the TV special – 7 STONES. We will be doing some official announcements but remember you heard it here first.

I’ve been writing everyday – I’m reworking an older script, writing on two others and outlining our next biblical faith drama. I’ve been enjoying this time with coffee and imagination. I look forward to seeing some of these go to the screen.

WASTELAND

The WASTELAND poster is just downright cool as all get out. I’m looking forward to that hitting some festivals and shooting Part 2 in the near future.

. Wasteland Poster with Credits

This Sci-Fi piece WASTELAND was so much fun to shoot.

A PASS –

Recently, I considered being involved in another feature – a comedy but it was just bad timing. I have lots going on in June with writing, promotion, distribution and getting the garden and yard around. I’m also going to be an uncle this month again and our soccer season is in full swing. I will start some heavy developmental film work soon. I have to admit –  the break after shooting “40 Nights” has been refreshing. As of today – the garden is now in and I did some clean up to the office porch. Productive day!

We had a rain out on soccer last week and I hope we don’t repeat that again. I’m going to do a few last things tonight before getting some well deserved rest. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a productive week ahead. If you are in the Grand Rapids, MI area and want to check out BESTSELLER it plays twice a day until the 11th of June.

Celebration Cinemas

DJ


New BESTSELLER Showings, Apples and Announcements

Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.

OH NO JOE

We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows.  I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!

TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?

She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)

I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your  back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!

SHOW MUST GO ON:)

I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.

Double DOH!

I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.

The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over.  (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.

BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T

The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film.  I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.

OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.

Grand Rapids, MI  SHOW TIMES

Grand Rapids, MI
SHOW TIMES

This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.

“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?

Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.

I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.

DJ


Wrap, Distribution & What’s Next…

Yesterday we wrapped yet another motion picture. The term “in the can” doesn’t apply any longer but “on the drives” or some term would. We rolled in here three weeks ago from Michigan and with the collaboration of many artists both sides of the camera we once again did what we do.  We finished on budget, on schedule and with this particular film the distribution deal is signed. “40 Nights” will be distributed by Lightworx Entertainment. The faith-based company is operated by Randy Maricle, the former VP of Operations & Marketing at Pureflix. I got to know him over the last few years and I was impressed by how he helped push “Gods Not Dead” into the marketplace. We had a couple of offers on “40 Nights” and while Lightworx not only offered the best deal – they also sweetened the pot. They have entered into a deal for me to write and produce two additional biblical era movies. I think I already know what the second one will be and have a few ideas on the third. But one step at a time. This film will immediately move into post and we have an aggressive release schedule ahead. Our distributor made a trip to the set on one of our big market days and got to see all the extras at work plus the animals. It is the kind of film that both my grandma’s would have truly loved. I think this film will find its way into the hearts of many and be a favorite for years to come. It is EPIC. A002_C003_0316QN

So now we wrap up the circus. We are having a wrap cook out today provided by the community who has been extremely supportive of our efforts. I think they saw the magic of what was happening. This film is the second I’ve had shot in this area and I think when it gets cold in the Michigan this might become a destination. I also saw a few great locations for our westerns. So I’m certain that we will be returning to film here in the future.

BESTSELLER music should be getting close to done. I can’t wait to return home to do a watch/listen through that film and get ready for our 1st showings in May. May also looks like it will be the month of the special WICKED SPRING showings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. May is also the National release of ASHES OF EDEN. This stretch into Summer is going to be busy with film releases and premieres. I also heard that DEAD QUIET is making its way through post production looking at fall showings.

We have a commercial project to shoot when I return and otherwise just overseeing all this film flow will be the focus. I also had a couple of acting offers present themselves. Right now I’m thinking about home, family and my own bed:) I’m also in negotiations to write a script for a company later this year so that is always fun. I like writing – just me and  my coffee on the patio.

So that is the short recap. I’m very proud of the hard work by all our cast and crew here. Only a pair of longer days due to the desert sun which was our biggest monster. I think when we shoot here next time a month or two earlier will allow things to run even smoother.

Stay tuned for lots of more exciting updates in the weeks ahead!

DJ


Blessings of the Path

I want to start this blog by welcoming the new readers from Japan and Singapore! I’m very excited by how many international artists are following this blog. I tell many around me locally that my group I identify with are the sincere artist-doers from around the globe. The one’s who create within a framework of business that allows international exposure. I truly do celebrate the differences between us as people. When I see one group of people trying to put another people “in-line” I feel like we are not evolving properly. I LOVE the pride people take in their customs and traditions. From Philippine Balut to Canadian Poutine. Quail eggs in Mexico and delicious South Indian Coffee. My career has brought me so much more beyond just telling a story on the screen. I’ve met people, seen places, tried foods and heard stories unique in their being. This is part of the blessing/gift bestowed upon me by choosing this path.

Now I’m writing this blog in advance since I’m going down south to visit with some family. Sweet tea & Southern cooking is usually what lies in store. I’ve got a few topics to meditate upon as I relax from the normal hustle and bustle. Take some time to UNPLUG. I saw an associate on FB was talking about how at a family meal EVERYONE was PLUGGED into their phones. I told her that she and her family should put the phones in a basket if it is that bad. It will probably feel like withdrawals from some techno crack BUT it will be good for you. I easily can roll back the years, remembering the days of pagers and of no personal phones.

Now technology has made certain aspects of our industry easier. We’re in post production with http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com and I think we are VERY close to a locked picture. From there is will be the audio and graphics work including the final color correction. I have a smile as I type because I think again the artists on this project have created something wonderful. Only time will tell if others feel the same.

ASHES OF EDEN is in final negotiations on the National release that will happen 1st quarter 2015. And leading up to that release we will be doing more theatrical releases. Today was the last showing in Grand Rapids, MI and starting Sept 19th ASHES OF EDEN will play in Novi and Canton Michigan. I can’t wait for friends and fans on that side of the state to see the film.

I could go on for quite a while about other projects now in post production.  Some are newly completed and soon to release. Others  are still in development struggling to be made. I’ve been also trying to catch up on some script reading. I’ve been enjoying my read on a WW2 script recently presented. I’m also excited about a few of my new acting submissions via my management. I appreciate the sincere way that I’m being represented to casting directors and executive teams. The last two projects I’ve been submitted for …Wow! I’m just happy to have my work put before these people. If something clicks I’m ready to go do what I do.

I’m going to cut this short because I have to renew this blog site. Again I want to thank all of you out there. I hope you have a great weekend and week ahead.

Best,

DJ

 


Summer Saturday Random Ramblings

Okay here we are and it’s later in the day versus when I normally publish. I was lost in the day and I got to see many of the people I hold most dear. It was a simple day with no thought to the cost of a rain out on the day of pick ups. Yes. Since November when we had to bypass a series of scene shots due to conditions. What conditions? COLD. And we have action involving water. Long short was that from Nov until last week we worked away but knew we had left a man behind. That’s right – one of the story telling pieces was still needed/wanted? Either way we wanted to go that extra little mile for maybe an extra “Ohhh” or “Ahhh” to the viewers. I have to say that it ran smooth like clockwork. We had a skeleton crew about 1/3 the size. We all missed the other crew being there but this was the shuttle crew being sent down with a mission. Well mission accomplished. AND we might have gotten some great footage for our opening title sequence. So in a nutshell it feels good to have gathered that missing piece. Now with task completed and my onscreen character officially purged (Save any ADR if required) I felt and still feel great because when a project succeeds it directly benefits a slew of the artists involved. I think when you associate with quality and demand quality from yourself this opens you up to more quality opportunity. I see many people devoting high amount of energy to things that are improbable at best and more often impossible. I’m for all this growth. I’m happy when I get to work with young people who embrace both the arts and business. Many of the friends I had early on in the business fell to the road side or now reside in places of standing. Be kind to one another.  Business… they can never take the art from you. But to survive as artists your work or the collective work must set you apart and create a demand. This leads me to again how proud I am of the “Ashes of Eden” crew. After an extended theatrical run in Lansing and ongoing in Grand Rapids we will soon be announcing Detroit area locations and perhaps a few other cities. We have started to have some contact from theater owners asking about our film.

“Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” shows 1-3 launched on Indieflix.com’s Afterdark Channel. Because the hot tropics might be too much for a few of you. I’m told we have an 85% approval rate and so the bikini angle worked:) Thank you all again!

A few other films we have moving through post production. The previously mentioned “Bestseller” should be assembled at month’s end and ready for final music and sound design. We did watch a rough cut and I think – well I think, it will scare people. Frightening movie my mom with probably not like it:)

“Dead Quiet” is sure to scare some folks. I’ve been trying to wait patiently for a trailer and my only guess might be they are targeting Halloween.

Also my man Jon Osman should be getting “The Terrorist” about complete. It is a slick film and I also think audiences will truly enjoy this NYC thriller.

“Donors” might be playing a festival or two this fall while we talk to distributors on that film. If you get a chance to come see Doctor Savior – please do:)

I will also leave you with this news – FACT – Some of the CDI library may be heading towards new releases. FACT – Jeff Kennedy, DJ Perry and Michael Walton have all had recent talks about KNIGHT CHILLS. Remake? Sequel? A TV Series? What is HAPPENING?

I’m actually excited as an actor that I don’t have any set obligation at this moment. I had talks on a few things but just not the right fit. I have to truly be inspired by the story and the character. So I’m enjoying the weekend. Don’t forget to give yourself a break once in a while. Enjoy those around us.

DJ

 

 

 


When Work Reflects Your Efforts – Updates

What a week, what a day… where to begin? We had a blitz of media leading up to the Lansing, MI release of “ASHES of EDEN” that kicked off last night. It will keep playing in theaters for another week and starts the Grand Rapids, MI run on Monday. We’ve received new national distribution offers this week to consider and will keep hitting the theatrical cicles. I think Detroit area is next for this film. We also have a nice support of directors DVD, posters and T-Shirts. Our first night was a great kick off and we had a handful of the stars show to do some signings.

I was with my CDI associate/close friend Dean Teaster who tied the knot last night. It was a great dinner and social and I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. I tried a bevy of drinks last night and was reminded of my age with a small ache this morning. I was able to meet up with our “Ashes of Eden” keys and enjoy the exciting stories from the nights first showings. So if you have not had a chance to see the film please do. (Look at the CELEBRATION CINEMA websites)

On deck is our final pick up shots for the dark thriller “Bestseller” and we have all those details just about worked out. It will be fun to return and capture these last few pieces. It will included a little bit of in-water work but at least I won’t be bumping my head on ice:)

An exciting drop that I will give you here first is that “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” will look to launch on Indieflix’s AFTERDARK programming this forthcoming Friday. It is funny with a little sexy mixed into it all. The 1st three shows will be available on there and I think audiences will enjoy this adventure.

We are also about to start shopping “DONORS” which is another thriller starring Niki Saletta best known for “7th Heaven” and also co-stars in our upcoming “The Terrorist”. She does a wonderful job in both films and we are happy to have her artistry.

My parents both had birthdays this past week and we are have a party for my dad today and likely hosting a dinner with my mom first of the week. We’ve been using the smoker and grilling a lot and soon fresh garden veggies will be in abundance. Besides yard work that I need to get done this weekend we are going to put a cleaning on a new purchase. It is an old late 1800’s hutch that Doc Holiday would have been right at home with. It needs a little work but will be a great piece in the office.

My only advice this week for filmmakers or anyone working in art as business – don’t allow yourself to be dragged into peoples drama. Don’t associate with people that will tarnish your good name and work. Let those people isolate themselves and they will burn themselves out. It is funny how when I hear of projects that are disorganized cluster%##@@’s – I’m never surprised to discover that one of those handful of known screw ups is somehow involved. VET people out! If you are going to invest (I didn’t say donate like these social hand out sites) invest – talk to people. I would be happy if anyone were to talk with our past E.P’s because you would hear that we stayed on schedule, budget and handled ourselves professionally. Now, I’m not the only one that runs a tight ship in this area but there are only a few. There are many BS’ers out there trying to tell you what they think you want to hear and others still that will laugh and tell you how disorganized they are as if that is truly funny. No. Funny is when your work reflects your effort.

I need another coffee before going to see how we are going to clean up this old timey hutch.

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll talk with you all next week. If you go see “Ashes of Eden” feel free to send me your comments here.

Be safe.

DJ