The first sips of coffee are soothing on this November chilly morning. Yes, we’ve left the ghosts and goblins behind to end the harvest and prepare of the coming snow. Yes, I said it. It was a good year for the yard with many of the trees either showing good growth spurts or the trimming of some of the more problem trees. The garden had a wonderful year and I recently gathered a final crop of green beans and hops. I might use the latter in my next beer batch. Our youngest furry child has had a bout of illness lasting a good part of the year but he seems to be strongly on the recovery. It is good to see him active, talking, running and getting back to his old self. I’ve spent the last couple weeks getting settled back into home from a month off filming “Wild Faith” in Hastings, Michigan.
Wild Faith updates
The film was an amazing experience for all of us involved and I know the final product will be a worthy credit on people’s resume and in their memories. The time has been spent getting all our accounting updated and prepping for end-of-the-year business work. I also wanted to get everything updated so I could go into our one pick up day with confidence. We’re bringing a small crew back to shoot a day of flashback scenes that take place during the Civil War. The two actors in the scenes include Shane Hagedorn, our Emmett and a powerful Detroit-based actor we will be announcing this week. I’m excited about shooting these key scenes to our story.
You can see some of the fine cast and crew here on IMDB
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – This powerful film was reviewed with marketing in mind by the new corporation taking this film to the next level in 2017. The response was –
“-watched the full movie and loved it … PERFECT for our retail partners and target consumers.”
We’re reviewing paperwork and this week we’ll be putting this deal in motion. The deal is with Collective Development Inc. and will impact the trilogy, “Wild Faith” and several other films in the CDI library. We’ll be getting involved in co-productions following the last film on our current slate, “The Christ Slayer” (part 3 of The Quest Trilogy). I’ve enjoyed a beard and hair trim before prepping to return to a role I played in “40 Nights” – wonder what that might be?
This week consisted of lots of business. I have a series of envelopes ready to go to the post office Monday morning. That means after today back to meetings that kick off on Monday and continue through the week. It was nice having these past few days spent relaxing and watching the golden-red leaves rain down around us. I truly do love this season.
I did actually get a few quiet moments one night to work on some script writing. I’ve pulled out a few of the scripts I was working on before the “Wild Faith” shoot. That is always relaxing to get lost in a world and just create. I do love getting lost in the writing. I’m going to end this and move onto a few other things I need to get done. As always I appreciate all of you who take the time to join us and get a few updates and insights into the life and career of an artist.
Be good to one another!
Ahhhhhh…sips of hot hazelnut coffee and a nice cool morning in the Michigan = peace. I want to welcome all our new readers from Poland and China! The soul of the artists is not divided up by territorial lines of nations or tribes. One world. This week we’ve been reaping the first harvests from the garden which is one of our best yet. We’ve already had beans, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I’ve been prepping for the coming Fall and Winter by gathering some wood for the office stove.
This week the office got some good use as creative minds have been coming together to prepare for new journeys ahead. Aside from meetings I’ve had lots going on within the realm of distribution. As you know we’re always looking to extend our reach and share our stories. Let’s look at some updates in no particular order.
BESTSELLER – We’ve started talks with a foreign sales rep and might have a few more this coming week. The film is expanding in the marketplace and we’re entering that great time of year for creepy films. Here is a nice review from our friends at Cinema Head Cheese.
Get cozy late and night and take a trip to Northern Michigan:)
40 NIGHTS (1st in the Quest Trilogy)
Many positive things happening here. I’ve noted that “40 Nights” is released now on Pureflix On-Demand. If you use their service please do take an opportunity to watch the film. Also we’re about to enter into some discussions with Brazil and other territories.
ASHES OF EDEN
Look for “Ashes of Eden” on Pureflix On-Demand also in the coming weeks. We’re also expanding this fine story into foreign territories in the coming months.
CHASING THE STAR (2nd film in the Quest Trilogy)
This past week we watched the 2nd edit and it is almost there. It was much stronger in many places due to small adjustments. My notes were more commenting on how scenes and performances had enhanced. Only a few areas to look at for tweaks but I was so proud of our team. The actors are going to be very happy with their moments. Music beds have started to be constructed and will be tailored once we lock picture.
THE CHRIST SLAYER (3rd in the Quest Trilogy)
Our talks with returning cast has almost concluded and their response to the story has all been extremely positive. We’re also talking to various directors to find that right fit for our part 3. I’m anxious to share further developments as they unfold.
Last week we announced the 2017 release of the 20th Anniversary version of “Knight Chills” that was our first film all those years ago.
Join us here for updates and to see the anniversary trailer here –
That film was so much fun to film back in the day due to our love and interest in fantasy sword and sorcery. It also was announced that a sequel is in active development. We’ll soon be announcing some of the team behind this next adventure.
Jesse Low, our director from “40 Nights” is set to direct with CDI again. We’ve chosen to develop a western property inspired by one we tried to launch several years ago. I’ve enjoyed going line-by-line and scene-by-scene discussing each and working to make it the best we can. I’m exciting to be prepping to go in front of the camera again. This rugged look has not been the easiest with the heat but I’ve survived. We will be making some major announcements here very soon. Maybe as early as next week. Casting talks have started and this week will intensify. I want to take another good solid look at some of the Michigan talent. This film could be the pilot feature for an on-going TV series so casting regionally could be helpful long-term.
I’m reading a script I was sent to consider acting in and what I like was I had NO IDEA what it was about. I thought it was one thing when all of a sudden BAM! I will say that it fits into the horror genre but it is a sub-genre I have not done. It is hard for me to find a genre I have not done. I liked the character but I want to do another read and have a few discussions. Another benefit is I may just be able to sleep in my own bed. NICE:)
I’m going to wrap this up. It is a beautiful day and I’ve got a mid-afternoon soccer match. Our team is having one of its best seasons. I just appreciate the challenge and strengthening of body and will that comes from it all. Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, give it your best effort.
Keep Clawing your way to the middle!
I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!
I’ve enjoyed the chill of the last week or so – a preview of the coming fall. The garden is starting to slowly give its first harvests of beans and peppers. The tomatoes and such will soon follow. I’ve done a good job this week of downshifting and being patient on things already in motion. I’ve focused on what I can affect and removed draining attentions from what I cannot. This past week I’ve pulled in some of my energy and nurture it like an inner fire. The waxing to full moon last week gave a good time to quiet the mind – to think and form feelings on certain matters in my orbit. I will try to put a few of those thoughts here for you all to compare to your own experiences.
I’ve got a few projects in my orbit that are not my own but projects I was sought out on. These individuals either enjoyed the previous art I’ve created (with all the artists collaboration) or they have been referred by my ability to lead people and stay on a schedule, on a budget and create order within chaos. I’ll start by saying I’ve turned down a few projects this year just because of the foresight of danger and hardship due to people who can’t communicate properly. Without that the path can be a thorny one.
In a world where the artists are often staving artists and you don’t know exactly where the next check will come from it is very tempting for some to take any and all work. Accepting a challenge is one thing but would a group of soldiers armed with sticks march against a well-armed brigade? If you don’t have what it takes or you are ill prepared and weakly armed don’t march off to battle. It is that simple but many still take a loose attitude towards this. In the end it will hurt you. There is a legal term in our business called “Best Efforts” and it is something I live by. I always give my best effort in my efforts. I always try to state things how they are even if it’s often not what someone wanted to hear. Now I don’t go throwing my opinions around where they are not asked for or really are not needed. IF you do take on a challenge I implore you to give your best effort. Anything less is not only a knock on your character it can be legal liable. One such project has suffered from being ill prepared and bluntly mismanaged. I’ve been approached to see if I would be interested in fixing this project and finishing it properly. I think in the interest of saving face of our good state I just might. It wasn’t anything I had planned upon as I’m likely about to manage another project about to film. It would line these things up for me back-to-back and basically be my year. I will think on these things more.
The other project is a drama and should be shooting in the Detroit area if everything rolls right next week. The paperwork is being prepped and if all goes proper we will bring this story to the screen. I’ve enjoyed the prep work with the director thus far and I think we would have a good group of artists. It also will provide many acting opportunities for Michigan folks but please do not hammer me with reels at this time. We do have a casting director and that process will roll out once we are a full go. So again I’m just exercising patience and lining things up for a smooth ride. It all lies in the prep.
In other news – “Darkest Night” our newest GPI/CDI release has been moving DVD’s like crazy at Amazon and I hope you all are curling up and enjoying this frightening little film. As we move into the fall if you need a scary film for those nighttime thrills you have three from me so enjoy.
The “Supermodel Showdown” TV series is moving ahead nicely and we are about to open up some sponsorship opportunities for some national companies.
“Ashes of Eden” is pulling steady down the tracks now and I’m very exciting to show our premiere audience and the distributors we have following us.
We saw the start of “Figure in the Forest” playing on Parables TV and that is always a nice thing to introduce one of our stories to a new audience.
We are continuing our talks on licensing our films to other countries. I’m looking forward to entertaining more world audiences with our films.
“Benjamin” that I shot in NYC is undergoing a name change to “The Terrorist” and some re-ordering of the actual film is underway working with our distributors. I’m excited to see the new cut.
Additionally, I’m just working some paperwork this weekend while getting some domestic stuff done. I could be hotel bound for a while but shooting in Michigan would allow me some home stops which is always nice. So it might be a busy end to the year but that is about normal. I hope you all have a peaceful weekend and enjoy your family and friends.