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

Posts tagged “high school

Top Ten Updates from Last Week

Still01Good morning out there everyone. I’ve got the hazelnut coffee fueling me this morning. What a week on all fronts. I went to a memorial yesterday for a high school buddy’s dad. I call it losing training wheels (losing a parent) and it’s happening a little more often now.  It was a great reflection on life and again a reminder to us all to enjoy your relationships and to work hard to achieve what’s important to you. The family were surprised and so happy to see myself and another old-school friend.

Just like the many times we all shared laughing and partying around the campfire this gathering also included many toasts. That’s why the hazelnut coffee is my friend this morning. I’ve not had a hangover since New Year’s Day (Thank you Garrett) and this was a mild one, but thankfully it has now passed. I think since the old processor brain is moving slow I’ll just do a random list of updates.

TOP TEN UPDATES FROM LAST WEEK

  1. We had another digital trading card release last week and a new one will be releasing again this week. I think five from each film. I also know that “Character Cards” and a poster will be coming for the 3rd film in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” – stay tuned.
  2. WILD FAITH music score will likely be finishing up this week. Our composer had 8 minutes to go when we spoke last week. We’ll be sitting down with our director Jesse Low this week to discuss the finishing of the film. I can’t wait to do a new watch with the music beds set in.
  3. Forty Nights” will be playing Texas in Nov. followed by “Chasing the Star” in Dec.  – Iowa will also be showing “Chasing the Star” as part of a Christmas program in December. We’ve just been approached by another church wanting to license. I’m happy that these church’s are going through the proper channels for licensing and not just going pirate on showing the films publicly.
  4. Upcoming film MBF (Man’s Best Friend) brought on more financial commits and we’ve got sponsorships developing nicely. This week we’ll be announcing more cast members. We met last week and we’ve got our target dates set with cameras to roll in March.
  5. The book deal on WILD MICHIGAN is close to being done. It was based on the original screenplay before it was restructured for budget as Wild Faith. It will allow readers to experience the original story. It was adapted to book format by author Dee Freeman. It will be available for Christmas!
  6. The KNIGHT CHILLS book is for sale now on Amazon and will be releasing to retailers nationally. David Hayes was the author who adapted the screenplay/film to a book.
  7. The “Chasing the Star” investors will be getting another ROI check this week. I truly do LOVE writing checks. It keeps the machine moving.
  8. Development work continues on several other collaborations. A western, a biopic, a few horror films and a biblical drama. I do love working with other artists and bringing projects from the page to the screen.
  9. The announcement that one of the library films would be getting new distribution with BMG was made last week. The ink is dry and I’m happy to report “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama will be releasing early in 2018. The film has never had a digital release due to the initial release was on VHS. This beautifully shot 35mm film will find a new audience. A great “making of” will be included on the DVD. We are also looking at a special Blu Ray release also. PR on this will be forthcoming.
  10. I enjoyed several meetings this week at the office with a fire burning in the wood stove. I’m going to be doing many more sit downs in the coming weeks. I have sat down with many filmmakers in a meet-n-greet style and will be looking to do many more. Even if we don’t have immediate business I do like to get to know the minds behind some of these other projects.

In addition to the on-going film work I’ve been harvesting and storing everything from tomatoes to kale (A Melissa Anschutz fav at meetings) to mushrooms. My small patch of ink tip shrooms are nothing compared to the giant puff balls I got Friday at my friend’s place. We will be cooking some of those up tonight. I’m sure that I’ve missed a few updates but please do seek out and find your favorite film page on Facebook and follow the updates there.

Have a great week ahead and enjoy your Sunday.

DJ

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Mentors, Marketing and Making Ready

Our day of intense heat gave way to the nice cool day we now enjoy. I will get to talking more on biz here soon but I thought I would get some of the other random thoughts out of my head. I also want to Welcome new readers from Poland and Brazil. I love all the international friends that follow the blog. It is a small world after all:)

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

To me, the imagination is the great first teacher of the acting craft. Many of us were making space ships from couch cushions and pretended to be tracking monsters on our forest walks. All this just carries over naturally. I think we get hindered by sheer magnitude of trying to make it as artists in a world of shells and beads. (Money) After being in an acting class at the Community College years ago I left after about an hour. Much like “drama club” in high school it was not my thing. I was getting together with friends and making short films. I didn’t like the silliness in those classes. I took another stab at an acting class at MSU with a teacher named Joyce Ramsey. You could tell that silliness was NOT what she was about. She was brutally honest and no nonsense. She gave a public shake down of each of us after our day one. Funny, she gave about the same assessment that I’ve been given by at least one movie studio. She said I could play leading man to the featured gas station attendant. But she declared, “you will be a stronger actor when you leave my class.”

I was NOT in the theater program. I was NOT in the cliche of students in the college “drama” circles, but she invested in me. She would catch me if I came out of character. She empowered me with confidence to trust my own choices. I think she really understood how deep my well of imagination ran. I think, I was one of her favorites – at least in that class. She knew movies were my interest not the stage. Even so, she encouraged me to audition for play THE DOLL HOUSE, going up at the college, even if just for the audition challenge. To honor her request, I did and was offered the male lead. With a smile, I turned it down but left with a confidence that I could survive and thrive amongst these stage actors. I’ve thought of her several times over the years with the success I’ve had. She was older when she taught and I was not sure what happened to her. I looked her up a few months ago and became friends on social media. I had intended to reach out and let her know how her words had helped me to climb where I am now. I heard she passed away yesterday at 89 years old. Now she knows all – I hope she has a good rest and I’m sure she helped many like myself. Thank you Joyce.

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The strength to look at the harsh trials of our industry and believe I could make it.

FILM BIZ UPDATES

NEW “BESTSELLER”

Many of our films are rolling out this month to various ON DEMAND platforms. Joining “40 Nights” on Google Play is now “BESTSELLER” –

https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/BestSeller?id=L4iC3L2ILbQ

SOUNDTRACK coming soon!

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NEW “40 NIGHTS”

“40 Nights” has released on VUDU and AMAZON.

http://www.vudu.com/movies/#!content/769068/40-Nights

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GIY2CBQ/ref=atv_feed_catalog?ie=UTF8&redirect=true

We have more teaser clips rolling out to promote the ON DEMAND roll outs.

CTSFONT

“Chasing the Star” the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY following “40 Nights” is in post with editing passing the sixty minute mark. We should have a locked picture at month’s end and move into music and sound design.

We have NEW development talks underway with Shane Hagedorn, Jesse Low and BlackJacket Films over scripts.

Travis in Action

Additionally I’ve been having a few talks over script sales. I’ve recently had discussions with a director in Hollywood over acting in a film for a week or two this summer. Additionally the garden is in and the yard is looking very zen. I love all the wildlife. I have a busy week ahead and I feel ready to sail forward. We have another soccer match today and I’m looking forward to that.

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

DJ


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ