We are at the end of our pre-product week here in Algona, Iowa. We have the MSU vs U of M game on the TV which we work away. Saturday is our day off during the shoot but as you know us producers don’t really get a “true” day off. So from now until Thanksgiving I’m going to be doing my blog post on Saturdays. We started doing Saturdays off several shoots back since it allows crews to have more options open to take care of day to day things like mail, laundry and such.
Our pre-production caravan hit a small snag about 4 hours from Algona when the main RV filled with wardrobe and props had a belt break. The ‘Rambler’ was brought to rest in a parking lot of a grocery store. We had a friendly ex-Marine mechanic who agreed to meet us there in the morning. We sent our director and UPM ahead and I stayed in the RV with our Transportation Captain and Armorer. The Rambler lost power and so after an improve guitar jam fest we slept in the freezer, I mean RV. I got cold but after putting a few WW2 wool blankets over me, I was not going to freeze. Our Marine came to our rescue on a day that started pouring and continued all day. He really saved the day and we got to Algona the next day a bit sleep deprived but safe and sound.
BEST YEARS GONE which was just delivered to our distributor is prepping for their home video release campaign in early 2022. Meanwhile we have more opportunities to play the film theatrically and are working on those dates now. We also might have a special screening one night here on a day off for the cast and crew. Some really great news coming on that front.
WRAP UP – This morning was the last day of pre-production and the morning started with a haunting fog over the lake and now we have some beautiful sun. We had three days of rain but now for filming we’re suppose to have a week stretch of nice weather. Jeeps, trucks, extras and more all coming together to help create our world. We had first airport pick ups with actors flying in from all over the country last night. The remaining crew will also be rolling in today and prepping for an exciting day 1. We are filming our first 4 days in a historic park with a period farm. I’m so proud of all the departments which are all now humming along. This is going to be another great story. Fans of Anthony Hornus’s MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND will love this new film. He has been working hard to pull the vision together. I will update you all for the next couple Saturday’s versus Sundays on the filming. I know this journey in storytelling will bring new friendships together that will last forever. Speaking on friendships – cherish them just like family because sometimes you don’t know when some will leave us. This week we found out our good friend Pappy, David Papenfuss passed away. Mere hours later I found out that one of our childhood neighbor’s husband, also passed. He use to work for an airlines and if I’m not mistaken he might have given me a flight voucher back in the day for one of my early Hollywood trips. Either way, both passed away from Covid and so while things are getting better please do be careful. I saw Pappy at an afternoon get-together on my birthday. He once again brought me a musical card as that was his thing. I have Star Wars, Superman and Indiana Jones cards from him. Little did I know that the last one was the last one.
Cherish your loved ones.
Well I spent a good day and a half with no wireless internet. Comcast just came and gave the major upgrade/overhaul and now things are working great. I had to stumble through a slew of email business exchanges via my phone and I apologize now for the random misspellings that likely made it seem that I had suffered a stroke. It has been a beautiful week outdoors with only one day hotter than I truly enjoy. Our garden is yielding its 1st tomato’s and after a good mow today everything looks great. It has been a semi-busy week that I tried to balance out with some good downtime just to ponder and think. Never underestimate the power of the quiet mind. You must make that time for yourself to think outside the mind storms that so often threaten to swallow us and our focus.
The more that I’ve refocused energy on my home state the more hmm… disappointed I’ve been on the state of things here. (In our film business) I love Michigan and am proudly, a life-long resident. I think that entitles me to have an opinion. I’ve been accused before of not really taking as much of an interest in my home state’s film industry. I think that is only partially true and comes with a major clarification. I really do feel that I’m in a Collective worldwide with groups of sincere artists. I don’t see lines on a map and boarders of state and country, as much as I see A) sincere storytellers OR B) fame-chasing bullshit artists. I know well the reputation we can get as Michiganders. I’ve got almost two decades working in this business and some years prior as a struggling artists. I’ve taken my journey step-by-step with no shortcuts or huge helping hands. I’ve fought hard by my ACTIONS, not words, to change how people think about Michigan. I know to a circle of industry people they know myself, they know CDI and they know the companies and projects we associate with and that is what they think of when they think Michigan. Our ACTIONS have earned us the positive associate with our state.
I unfortunately have been privy to the other side of the coin. The pecking order, name dropping, fake it until you make it mentalities. Insecurities by many of our state’s artists that create division vs unity. I’ve been made aware of some of the painful decisions by certain individuals /companies over the years. Situations whereas some half-heartedly take on projects without a real clue to what it takes to successfully complete something. As long as they can wear their shades, talk on a blue-tooth and pretend they know what is happening – all good.
Some of the best artists out there are not the loudest talkers because they are in action. They are asking themselves, “How do I complete my art and make it fit into a business world?” Others talk the talk but seldom walk the walk. So I guess my interest/our interest as a company really is on the right collaborative fit and the character of the people, not the place they call home. You would think Collective Development Inc. says that all in its name. As a company we’ve spent millions of dollars outside our state and also a good amount inside our state. Sometimes it is the story that dictates location and sometimes business decisions do play in. I see many frustrated artists sound off because they can’t get any financial traction but they still want to only focus on the art/show/fun vs the business aspects. If you don’t do it as a business you do it as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that either. I make wine but I don’t own a vineyard. I play guitar but I don’t get paid to do so- They are hobbies. If you’re a hobby filmmaker who hates business – I would say avoid investors and focus more on donations like fundraising sites. Make stuff for fun and festival showings. Just don’t create disasters in the investor pools by piss poor management. When a project can’t even make it to market – to fail or succeed by an audiences vote to buy, that is ultimate failure. Now failure in itself can be a positive if you learn from it. If you accept it and embrace accountability and consequences. I’ve been witness as of late to some of this damage done and it really disturbed me. I wasn’t as mad but more sad because I know how hard it is to get established. I also know how small this industry truly is and how a few bad decisions can end careers.
As I pointed out last week – some careers being ended could be good for the whole. When we first started out and were given an opportunity – we gave every ounce of effort we could squeeze out. Even with that full effort we made our share of errors and had to overcome issues and setbacks. Now when you see folks “half assin’ it” (My dad’s favorite saying), it’s just disheartening on many levels. Usually because someone nearby would treat that opportunity like gold. I’ve always done that when I say YES to some project. I always go into every film as if it could be my last. I have come to realize that some people claiming passion don’t really care about the work as much as they just want others to respect them. Hard lesson but still very simple – Respect is earned! You can’t buy it, demand it or find it. It’s earned! Make a movie under respectful conditions and you’ve earned the respect for life. I’ve lost a lot of respect of some folks just by observing, listening, reading and watching. I want Michigan to be respected for the great artists living and working here. You are defined by your character and in turn help define us all as a whole. You will be defined by your actions.
Off the SoapBox – Other Film Updates:)
– Strong movement on “Supermodel Showdown” and with new footage – we’re making it even more compelling. Cool first TV series for sure.
– German sales deal moves into final delivery stages on our 3 films licensing to those territories.
– Awaiting MFO approval on a project – Shoot OR push that is the question. It all depends on how fast these ducks line up BECAUSE pre-production doesn’t happen with a wave of a magic wand. This project if it goes this year will employ many actors. Please do get your reels of previous drama work ready. If it moves ahead we will be moving fast. If you have reels I plan to eliminate many of the hoops and cast from reels with possible interviews. We will treat you as professionals but be ready like professionals.
– CDI announced new production deal on “Bestseller” and major re-organization underway. Some of the previous management on this project inspired some of my opening blog statements. Not all of them. I will also be announcing an on-screen role. I was offered a role in the film and after 3 days of consideration I accepted. I’m excited about this and I think fans will really enjoy it:)
– GREAT movement on ASHES OF EDEN. We had a good 30 country radio interview this past week. New theatrical trailer almost done. Dialogue edit almost done as music and sound design continues.
– Development of new relationships with networks continues. Working on some new HBO development.
– I did get a last-minute call from a director friend (J.B.) shooting some B-Roll in Lansing for a cool UK Sci Fi drama shooting in Michigan. I stepped in and did a great cameo doing something on camera that was a first for me. It was a cool character and a cool scene. I was a little jacked up with energy on Take 1 and gouged my finger fast drawing a pistol. I guess if you ain’t bleeding – you ain’t working hard enough.
I will also be announcing that I have a new run going with a theatrical agent in Hollywood. I wanted a foot there because I am going to work into maybe a studio picture a year. I’ve had many of my A list crew friends working studio films in Hollywood ask why I wasn’t wanting to work on studio films. I’ve been fond of the diverse, unique filmmakers I’ve gotten to collaborate with in the indie world. I keep working based on people who know my work on and off-screen. I don’t play Hollywood BS games very well and so if the best ass kisser is gonna win – well, it won’t be me:) Ass kicker maybe:) But the agents think my art is strong enough and if the studios are looking for a new face – cool. Otherwise I’m just continuing to grow my audience film by film – country by country. Either way is fine or a nice mix:)
“Locked in a Room” is part of a fall “8 Horror Films” set at Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart and other fine places. I think $10 or under and we share billing with several other stars showcasing their scary goods. It is getting scary movie season and I’ve put 3 out there and you can go back and watch even early classics if you so choose.
Some of these notices will be explained in more detail in forthcoming PR but I like to give all of you the advanced scoop:) Enjoy your weekend! Nice job by the LIONS also last night!