Hazelnut cheers! A beautiful snowy morning here in Michigan. I want to welcome all the new readers from Germany, Sweden, Germany and China. I appreciate you stopping by to take a read and apply what you can – where you can in your own personal journey. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the unity topic we’ve had for a few weeks. My fireside meditations led me to the analogy of a spending train. We’ve got so much developing here at CDI we’re thundering down the track. The occasional hater throwing rocks out of boredom or a need for attention. If a few people threw rocks at a speeding train what would happen? They would bounce off the steel hull and be gone down the tracks. The train had places to go, people to see and things to do. They would never stop the train to debate or waste time – they would stoke the fire and full speed ahead.
In this time of Covid it’s a great time to stoke the fires of passion within. Build up your reserves of energy and get yourself in your best shape. Do all those things that often get neglected because you have others things to do. How many hours saved by not spending two hours in a car commuting back and forth to work places. More time to read. More time to update. More time to plan. From March 2020 I have been putting this into practice. While I could list so many things missed in 2020 I could also make a list of the things I got done using the extra time. Again as I write on such topics of motivation and such I say again that I am not better than anyone. You have the ability to make changes in your situation and it starts with a thought. Thought powered by the imagination, focused by the will, held strong by faith in yourself and your life purpose.
This week was very productive against a backdrop of ice and snow. Let’s see if we can do a TOP 10 updates from the week. Refill your coffee and let’s take a look.
- Additional “end of year” tax materials supplied for the fun part of filmmaking. We’re streamlining this process all the time to try and better the overall process.
- Our WW2 Christmas drama Silent Night In Algona is now formed as a corporation. We’ll open the account soon and start bringing on the funds. We still have a few units to assign but within 60 days of entering into pre-production. Casting has been full speed ahead with a national casting for our young lead. We’ve also been doing a lot of casting within the tribe of talent we’ve used before. The audition reads have been great to see the words ALIVE! I’m excited that we’ve almost got our lead family cast. We’ll announce that in a few weeks likely dripping them out or in pairs. This project will be a great story of love and unity set in small-town USA in 1944.
- I had a wonderful call from Darby Hinton, an actor best known for playing the young lead on the Daniel Boone TV show but has reoccurred or guest starred on many of the great shows of Hollywood. He was our ‘Gerald’ the shopkeep in WILD FAITH. He was one of the folks I offered a read on season 1 of ‘Hastings‘ the Wild Faith TV series. He called to tell me he wasn’t blowing smoke – he has read and been part of shows with great writing and THIS (tv series) is great writing. He said he reads at night (like myself) and to his wife’s regret he had to keep reading. He asked if I had writers meetings, other writers…to which my response was just me and the voices in my head:) I would ponder and spill notes out onto paper. From those legal pad notes I just dive in and start writing. I’m going to get the 8 shows edited up and ready for outside presentation. If you haven’t seen the pilot feature do yourself a favor. A fun film with a powerful message.
- Best Years Gone – So this week we prepped the new audio studio and I’m beyond thrilled that it is amongst the pines and forested fields that we’ll breath the audio and music into these stories. We will be rolling some new still photos out this week. I just might have a Valentine’s Day gift for our cast, crew and fans and I think we’ll give it to you on Sat. the 13th on the BYG Facebook page. Are you already part of that? If not come on over. We have some exciting things still in store including merchandise that is coming and the BOTB. (Battle of the Bands) I’m working to get that launched. We are also soon to have the next draft of the film edit now that Shane (our director) has given his new round of notes and adjustments. This film is heartfelt and will be funny for sure.
- The CDI website http://www.cdiproductions.com is undergoing updates. First you can now subscribe to the tribe which will become a center of updates. I even thought of my blog existing as a weekly send out. But the film pages are updated. Streaming is now connected to our distributor’s ENCOURAGE TV. Merchandise is slowly coming together with a few new items. This will explode by year’s end. We will also be doing artist spot lights and have some of their work on consignment. If you have any ideas feel free to drop a comment. From those subscribed we might start looking at pre-orders and that could allow some larger piece orders. Lunch box? Bobble heads? Posters?
- LOST HEART & MBF are the most recent releases. Both are growing their audience nicely and I so appreciate all the fan mail from folks. We’re not big festival folk at CDI but like to select a few. In my experience and opinion the festivals best serve if someone from your team can attend. But with everything going virtual you are essentially paying to have them do a free streaming of your work. But new circles of exposure and if people are truly impressed you can have lifelong fans. I’m a person who in the last handful of years I’ve not attended industry mixers and such. But with the absence of even my few – I’m looking forward to talking film and the arts not by phone or zoom. Again get up to speed with the CDI stories with a watch on these two films. Do you have a favorite CDI film? Comment and let me know.
- THE QUEST TRILOGY – The CDI Tribe earned their desert stripes with this trilogy of biblical adventure stories. I’m excited that PUREFLIX (Sony) is going to do a big push as a series to their viewers. Now with ad based Video on demand everyone can take a watch and experience the CDI films. These films have the trademark style and quality that you’ve come to expect from our storytellers at CDI. The bible is full of stories many untouched because of the R or X rated material suggested within. We haven’t tackle those stories but did find “unexplored territory” to address with our speculative storytelling. I think this is more interesting versus retelling the same handful of stories. I do have my next trilogy of stories to tell back in the sands but that is a way down the path.
- This year we will have SMOKE & MIRRORS finishing. This has no deadline so it got moved down the release line. But this decision allowed us to make some more aggressive choices on VFX work. I LOVE this short and I’m excited to see it develop into a full feature. I am retooling the feature based on the short film. Knowing locations really helps in planning the story. David Gries and Melissa Anschutz are MUST SEE in this film. But those that know their work will not be surprised in the least.
- ‘FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH‘ – the CDI associated with Red, White & Blue Project doc will start shooting again this month. I think we’ll have some sort of promo video for this documentary in the coming weeks.
- We also have something special coming from one of our crew/associate producer Nate Robertson. Nate was our foreman on the last film that set sail through the storm of Covid. Nate took a job that already had pressure and had it magnified by Covid procedural pressures. As a show of how our system at CDI is strengthening. The producers create a bubble of harmony for the set to exist within. Inside the set, the flow is controlled by the AD. The flow was there, time was managed and Nate was able to express some of his artistic self via a BTS video of sorts. I know we’re excited to see it. I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
If I forgot anything it will have to wait until next chat. I’m going to make some good food and watch the football contest and the commercial creativity. I have a few emails/calls I might make to get a jump on my week. That is another good secret – work with people you truly enjoy. I never roll my eyes or stress over phone calls. They are always good touching of bases between fellow adventurers in life. We discuss our separate ventures, our shared ventures, and those yet to be made. I don’t have a close relationship with everyone as time won’t permit. But those who do know me truly, I think would speak well of my intent. My intent is to see dreamers win. I want you to break poor patterns and do better by yourself. If the artistic path is a true calling that calling grants faith in yourself and a purpose. The latter is priceless and exactly what is missing from many people. People who check many ‘success boxes’ yet still are unhappy. To me it’s like the moment when Obi-Wan puts the helmet on Luke to further test him against the remote droid. Reach out. In those moments of sensory deprivation if the calling is heard – have faith. If you don’t know ‘Star Wars’ you are now assuming I have had a stroke.
If storytelling is a great road winding up a mountain – many people are at various places some higher and some lower. What I’ve always prided myself on is being in good company at wherever place I’m at on the road. Climbing higher only changes the view but it’s still about the laughter and fellowship that accompanies the climb. And when my time comes to leave this world where I’m at is where I’m at. Always a work in progress. So the secret is enjoying the early struggles of beginning filmmakers or the challenges of the mid-road struggles – have friends on the journey of storytelling. Have friends outside the journey of storytelling. Have these things and your journey while unsure at times will not eat at you with stress. Living by ‘Best Efforts’ will allow one to laugh off the failures (with friend), toast the wisdom learned (with friends) and forever be the better person. Getting along with a little help from my friends.
Be good to one another.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 –
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.
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.
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.