Thinking of this fine man on this snowy Michigan morning – Mr. Rance Howard. I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and reflecting upon the past week and what lies ahead. I’m also very excited about the present day which is starting with spending time with all of you. I want to thank you all for joining us all. We have several new readers from all over the world. Okay I know what I can speak on that maybe some of you can apply.
For fear of sounding like the old man talking of walking to school with no shoes, read me there was not a known “industry” in Michigan when I started out. There was a handful of crazy artists scrapping together money for “short end” film stock. Pulling favors to allow one to edit or make analog transfers at TV stations in the dead of night. In 1989 to tell your parents you wanted to be a filmmaker you might as well been telling them you wanted to walk on the moon. Tax incentives come in and business media announce Michigan’s best incentive and suddenly people saw a new word – filmmaker.
Many people look for short cuts but I would suggest rather than short cuts (which only short cut your education) * THROW BACK LESSON – Senior year in high school I learned the REPEAT function in typing class. Using the free time to work on scripts and storyboards, I got away with it until just before final exams. I think my grades in that class were like A, A, A, C. Enter my life where I type all the time on contracts, scripts, proposals, pitches and so on. I would have more time to put elsewhere if I had been a faster typer. So don’t look to get around certain hardships. Change the way you look at it. A teachable moments for yourself. An opportunity to learn.
OK. So seek to waste less time and/or spend time wiser, not seeking short cuts. It’s that smarter versus harder approach. So where is this smarter attitude leading us you might ask? Smarter might be faster but faster is not always better. It’s the toxic variable or strings attached that come with certain choices. I had another week of developing opportunities and options. Some are for the company and some were on a personal business level. They are intertwined like quantum pairing:) But I have to remind myself and honestly it is not hard at this point in my life – to walk not run. If an opportunity is not a fluke it will not be there and gone. It strengthens and grows with each steady step.
I’m working out an agreement with a management company. I’ve desired for a long time someone who appreciated the art individually (me) and collectively (Tribe CDI) and works to the best interest of these endeavors. I’ve had many agents from a collection of smaller agents to one from a big 3 agency in Hollywood. It’s HARD to find representation that fits. Many have a hard time finding a rep at all but the right fit is RARE. I have many celebrity friends with long careers and they are still seeking that right fit. But, I think I’ve found a company/people I like and could be a good fit. Now, even without this new opportunity things are progressing strong in an upward direction. What is offered in part by this proposed arrangement is SPEED and SIZE.
SPEED: I recall a Hollywood lunch meeting with an arrogant agent from a major agency years ago. Without rehashing the whole story – maybe this person landed in a blessed place where they could with a phone call do what might take me months to do. But their power came from an appointment of position not an earned stake in creating motion picture. They were selling speed but at what price?
SIZE: I have been asked in a few high end meetings about my business goals? I answered, to do exactly what I’m doing now but for myself and my people to be better compensated for it. Can this new opportunity perhaps put our showcased projects even higher? I know that if we had strong P&A many of the CDI films would have soared to some decent box office receipts. But our films were built on a limited theatrical- home video model. Even that money was work to gather. That is the key for all filmmakers. The ONLY thing that makes it easier is your REPUTATION.
People have tried to figure out THE SECRET OF CDI. The answer is reputation. I/We’ve become known for 3 things. 1) On budget. 2) On schedule 3) Ability to assemble the right team behind a project * The last thing I have been doing since high school when I had tricked that old type writer to ‘repeat’ while I assembled the after school cast and crew for our silly videos.
Become known for these things and an abundance of opportunities may follow. That is why accountability is so very important and many artists avoid that. Talking accountability I recently had a non-film discussion with a young family friend. I asked him a question about how he had left a job. He prepared to give me a lie? An excuse? Justification? Instead he just took accountability for it because I think he knew he couldn’t get one by me.
* I think that is why many don’t engage me at functions or meetings…if you’re selling BS I will likely call you on that – maybe privately, maybe not.
My point was, I saw the relief in his eyes. I saw the power that washed over him by taking accountability. He had just up and quit this job by not showing up. He had later apologized and expressed a desire to return to work. His former employer was not prepared to forgive but he will remember the apology and who knows. And by taking accountability this young man took on a new strength and insight that he could possibly use in the future. This accountability leads to wisdom.
I think this conversation leads in nicely to the crew and cast talks we’ve been having on the new CDI film. A dramatic comedy with strong messages of hope, entitled BEST YEARS GONE. It’s an adaptation from a book that will be released in advance of the film. When I was approached with this opportunity I was prepared to say no if it wasn’t up to snuff. I can promise that even with money attached if a project is too outside my interest or the branding of CDI, a pass might happen. But CDI is a big garden that can accommodate many ventures of various genres. We’ve had several meetings to debrief and discuss cast and crew from previous projects. We’re always seeking the most artistically gifted with a positive “can do” attitude to develop.
Some of the past CDI directors…
* Side Note – I had a wonderful catch up conversation with an old school friend who has gone on to many great things including several government endeavors. We talked about people management. He spoke about the one person on a team often highly gifted but with a bad attitude. I said, I would not rehire the #1 guy and focus on the gifted #2 and #3 with good attitudes. Easier to inspire the best out of them. versus changing negative hard wiring. So now I work for the government. Just kidding. Wait! Do I? Like Elvis working with the CIA:) Hmmm…
My point – it’s about the journey not just the destination. As a former coach, sensei and camp counselor – I take even the few shortcomings personal. I’m about developing people where many are about using people. I see the potential to fail or succeed in a person. You try to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. A chaotic, disorganized environment would bring out the worst in some. We’re just about to build the new team and so you again you take accountability of past sets and look at all the variables. Also because of our budgets and just the scope of the story we can’t always work with everyone on every endeavor. That said, I’m excited to be working again soon with many of the ole TRIBE CDI this April/May. We’ll start making some announcements this week on BEST YEARS GONE.
LOST HEART – I’m looking forward to a sit-down with composer/sound designer Dennis Therrian this week. I’m excited to add all the audio layers to this charming and touching story of dreams. I’ll be following up to see what is also going on with our Nashville recordings. Poster art and trailer are being worked on and I hope to have something to share soon.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – HELLO TEXAS!
MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. I’m excited for a new audience to experience our story. We’ll keep expanding the showings at events and platforms. If you enjoyed this film and think someone else will also – please do share it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
This Easter help me make a tradition of watching the three films in the trilogy. FORTY NIGHTS focuses on the little known time Jesus spent in the wilderness. CHASING THE STAR presents a ‘what if’ you got to know the wise men magi. THE CHRIST SLAYER follows the Roman centurion who put the spear to Jesus on the cross. I can promise you that these films are unlike any other you have watched. We also see from the perspective of the angels both the fallen and faithful. They are a unique thread through all three films. RIP to Kirk Douglas who like Chuck Heston was an inspiration to me with their epic historic dramas. Please take a watch or re-watch and encourage some friends and/or family to watch. I watched them around Christmas and I’m very proud of what we created, collectively:)
WILD FAITH – Soon we’ll be entering into discussions over financing and distribution of a TV series spin off of WILD FAITH. If the time table works out I would love to roll cameras first part of 2021. Phase 1 – make our deal. Phase 2 – lock scripts/hires Phase 3 – shoot! If you have not seen this film treat you and your family to a watch. I’m happy to say just like several of the films I get weekly fan mail on this film. I’m passing on your howdy doo’s to Ben Lily. I am looking forward to having Ben and Hester return to the world of Wild Faith.
To wrap this up – I’ve got many people that I care and look out for as we journey. I’m excited about the prospect of SPEED and SIZE of the deals increasing to meet our needs better. But I also cannot tie my entire operations up. Blanket deals with no performance or exit clauses are often issue prone. I have meetings with my legal next week but I think slow and steady is better. I also think a trial period is helpful for both parties. My solution might just be to allow representation on a writer/actor level and production by a -la-carte not an overall. Also I always try same side of the table negotiations always. But sometimes when you receive harsh one-sided agreements it is from the scars of previous burns. We all have them. The secret is not to carry that over into your new relationships. If something or nothing happens on this front stuff is moving forward. The new screenplay I wrote will be produced this May and I’ve got a new character to become.
CDI in the Hollywood
Enjoy the day and the week that lies ahead. My congrats to all the Oscar nominations. I use to attend a yearly Oscar event “Norby Walters Night of 100 Stars” and might return at some point. I think we’ll be out in Hollywood next to show MBF.
Chatting it up with the vets of our industry like Martin Landau.
I’ve have had an opportunity to watch many of the films this year. What a great line up! They are all winners in my book. I could post my reviews but I have things to do today. Maybe next week we’ll compare my thoughts versus the actual outcome.
Oscar Night – going to Norby Walters ‘Night of a 100 Stars”
Today is the 23rd of December – the final days of 2018 are coming to a close. I’ve been bouncing between the sound studio where the final touches are being done to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director will be coming in to work the final mix after Christmas. Speaking of – we’ve had one of three family Christmas gatherings. Yesterday we enjoyed a good meal and opened presents with my brother’s young ones. We had a good time and from there I went to a yearly holiday dinner at The English Inn, a cool turn of the century manor house turned into a restaurant. Prime rib was my choice as I only eat red meat a handful of times a year. I felt a little sluggish this morning likely due to the Guinness beer added on top, but it was a nice holiday treat with old friends.
Today will be spent getting things around for the other two Christmas gatherings. I will be stoking on the fire in the office stove, trying out my new boiling vessel to make mulled spice wine. I do love that we got a powder of snow which makes it all so much more pretty.
Some journeys will be finishing up, such as The Christ Slayer and new journeys lie ahead. I’ll start talking to our investors about our new film projects. LOST HEART which has distribution lined up will be setting up for a spring shoot. We’ve been looking at cast and directors.
Also some moves are being made on the much-anticipated sequel to CDI’s 1st film KNIGHT CHILLS. We’ve been reading new possible leads and discussing the script. Lots to set up before we would shoot this one but good development taking place. More on this soon.
Also this year I want to package the original 4 CDI films into a DVD collection (Knight Chills, From Venus, Heaven’s Neighbors, Figure in the Forest) – the early years. Put BTS and interview material on there. Maybe do a few educational retrospectives. Because they were filmed in standard def many of these are having a hard time finding new distribution. We’ll see.
Merchandise is another 2019 goal – I want to see more of this. We might be pulling together the backers for this endeavor.
Representation – I have had several regional agents in the beginning. I’ve had CA/LA agents both large and small. In the recent years I’ve just rolled with legal and handled my own business. I cannot help but think that more could be done with the right representation. I will explore this more in the new year. I’m excited to get back in front of the cameras. This year wide audiences will get to enjoy Jesus (again) in THE CHRIST SLAYER, Ben Lily in WILD FAITH and Paul Landings in MBF.
Speaking on MBF – we’re looking to release a BTS piece created by David Gries, directed by Mel Anschutz and shot my Graham Turner during our shoot. We’ll release either Christmas Eve or Day, maybe sooner:) The film’s first edit should be close to being complete. We’ll do a fine edit in the new year.
I’ve said it before but in advance on part 3 of The Quest Trilogy (The Christ Slayer) releasing, I would ask you all to watch Forty Nights and Chasing the Star. They are an excellent watch for the holiday season.
I’m going to fire up the creative engines and get to making new art. I do hope to be approached for participation in new creative acting endeavors. This might be the year RACHEL, RIFLE, FAMINE and a few other films launch. I also plan to produce 2-3 films this year with CDI. What I’m meant to do, I will. Work hard and have faith in your path.
I’m going to get back to finishing up things here. My new furry boy Finn helped me rack the new GRAPE APE wine this past week. We had a little early sampling on our Viking Day this week. It’s our day of friendship and wood chopping. SKOL. I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful Christmas. Let the spirit fill you and be good to one another. Keep some of this holiday cheer and carry it through the year with you. Allow others to have their opinions. Listen as much as you speak. Look for unity with your fellow citizens.
Peace to you all.
Today 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.
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
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!
Well folks I hope your 2015 is off to a good start. I’ve jumped right into it with a bang and I’m excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead. I’m really happy at how enjoyable the holidays were and I do realize how blessed I am to do what I love for a living. A week before Christmas I was in a majestic place (The Valley of Fire) shooting what I would call R-Rated STAR WARS with our “Wasteland” film. It’s just funny because that film is what sparked my imagination and pushed me towards the path. Yesterday the editing on that 1st part of the film began in Florida. The website is now open at http://www.wastelandtalesmovie.com/. A teaser will soon be released and I will start putting new talent in front of our director and we will be doing casting calls via the website so stay tuned if you want to enter the Wasteland.
I will be doing some producing on that film now that my filming as an actor is complete. I’ve been prepping for my next role that I’ll be announcing soon. It will be most challenging but I’m ready and willing to accept that challenge. It’s a period piece that will film some in Michigan perhaps and the balance/bulk of it in Arizona. Location scouting and some select casting work has been underway for a while now. Let’s talk about some of the other exciting news that I can be somewhat less mysterious about – maybe. 🙂
We have release dates for our films releasing with the WINTERS FILM GROUP. I must allow the honor of announcing the “Ashes of Eden” street date to come from Shane Hagedorn. He’s very excited for the national release. Also we have a couple large foreign releases in talks now. I was talking with Parables TV about this film on Friday. They love it. It’s on the cutting edge being a crime drama infused with a healthy dose of faith but also not cramming the religious aspect down your throat. We’re greatly looking forward to audiences of all walks of life watching and enjoying this film. It gives a very humanizing look at the life police/law enforcement officers have to deal with. It looks at the challenges that face both parents and children in this day and age. It’s funny because I told Shane before the film was ever completed that he must also prepare himself for “haters” – (I believe that is the term) Basically, if you start to find success some insecure artists who have not yet been given that opportunity to succeed will resent you. Why his script? Why his film? Why? Why? The answer is usually better quality product, better business or both. I had truly hoped that Shane would not have to experience any of that but I knew better. Before the film was released someone trolled the voting on a data base in hopes it would hinder the film. It did not. Because distributors actually watch and evaluate based on their expertise and sales projections. Now as of late the film has also been given to a cross selection of film reviewers and once again the response has been very good. I expect sales to also be quite good. You can’t let those things even slow you down. When your audience becomes hundreds of thousands to millions vs a few hundred friends you learn to just let it roll off you. A few will always hate and that itself will keep them trapped in a cycle of failure. I would always rather just smile and create. If you’re still fighting for your respect and your success don’t hate. Try to examine what makes these other artists successful. I would say don’t imitate their art but imitate their business practice or principles. Don’t EVER fake it to make it. Build from mild success to modest success to great success. Keep it real and keep building and one day your success will start to multiply because it is REAL!
Let’s talk some REAL UPDATES:)
“Wicked Spring” will also be re-releasing soon. While an official PR release is forthcoming I’ll give my loyal readers a hint. It would make a nice gift to put in an Easter basket:) Now “Donors” will also be announcing their release date soon. Audiences will have a great opportunity to enjoy these films releasing the first half of the year. I hope you add them to your collection or viewing experiences.
Finishing up early this year will also be the horror film “Dead Quiet” – I hear they will be targeting fall for their big push. “Bestseller” is now in post sound/music and I’ve been seeing the FX/graphic work in progress. I’m VERY excited to see this film completed and premiere. “The Terrorist” feature was getting close to done in late December so I expect to hear some good news from our director soon.
I was in talks on a few more CDI films heading to TV. One will likely be our doc film “Outside the Wire” done with our friends at the RED, WHITE and BLUE PROJECT.
“Heavens Neighbors” and “Figure in the Forest” are looking at a new release in 2015. “Knight Chills” will be re-releasing with the novel to help promote and prep folks for the sequel that is coming. “In the Woods” re-release – trying to get that commentary done. We had one date reschedule because of snow and we’ll see if we can make it tomorrow. They had a 90 car pile up yesterday right where I have to drive through. So if it’s bad I’m not chancing it. I had the cold zap my battery one day last week and once I got it jumped and was off to my teeth cleaning I narrowly avoided a fender bender right in front of me. I had to BUDDY COLT* the car to keep from a crash but I did. (See * JUDGES movie)
This week ahead will be more development and prepping for delivery on these films heading out for distribution. Also a studio tour, theatrical talks on a few films and finalizing some artwork. It’s great weather for getting these things done. No nice sun and yard/garden work to tempt you just bitter winds and snow that would make a polar bear cold. So I’m going to focus on my film work and also write on the two scripts I’ve been working on. It all keeps the machine moving forward and I’m happy to stay busy. At CDI we are accepting some commercial work. We’ve got a cool project for a client lined up this spring. We’ve done some high-end commercial work in the past and we’re going to occasionally start taking on select projects here and there. So if you have a commercial project that you want considered – feel free to ask. If we don’t take it on I can always recommend someone whose work I approve.
I think that is all I have right now. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things but once again, thank you for stopping by. I hope you all have a great week and keep clawing your way to the middle! Accept that most things don’t come easy and enjoy the work. While others refrain, complain, abstain you advance, enhance and take the chance to move forward. Don’t be afraid to fail but you must be as prepared as possible and fight fiercely to succeed.
Welcome to 2015! Go get it.