Good morning my friends. Welcome new readers from Serbia, Israel and coffee cheers to you all. I want to also take this moment to thank all of you Father’s out there. Thanks to all the men who take on father roles and give guidance. I’m so grateful to have my father who was kind, strict, generous and taught us much by his actions. I still am amazed by everything he ‘balanced’ while dealing with marriage at a young age and raising two boys. His dream and his goal was to have a family. My goals have included the building of a film family. I also have been so lucky to have the family life I’ve had. I’ve loved my furry family as much as I would have any human child. I value all life and nurture where I can. I’m also on the cusp of a milestone birthday. This week I’ll add another mark on the number of times I’ve gone around the sun. So I have much to be thankful for. I’ve also watched my brother follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a wonderful dad. So to all of you out there – Happy Father’s Day.
Let me see – we had a producers ‘meeting of the minds’ this past week over our next CDI film BEST YEARS GONE. So much great pre-production has been underway including the announcement of Erika Hoveland who will be playing opposite me in the film. Our tribe of talent gets a little wider with each film. Our restrictions due to the virus are getting slightly better as small productions start to creep out for commercial day shoots and such. Any of these shoots where you see them just ‘going for it’ with no precautions is a good example of again hobby shooting. If you have no accountability to investors, cast/crew safety, state/union/insurance guidelines we are not playing the same game. It’s a lot to balance but we have a great game plan forming up by great people.
Having filmed for so many years where many of our families deal with our strange storytelling habit I have always made a point to try and be wrapped for the year by Thanksgiving. I don’t like to be filming between Thanksgiving and New Year save a few exceptions. That said, we’ve chosen the furthest shoot window possible. So our onset pre-production week will be end of Oct into early November. And the shoot will be 15 days in November wrapping out a handful of days before Thanksgiving. We’ll make the few needed story adjustments and the hope is we will be further down the road from these virus restrictions. We’ll also start some B-roll, beauty and VFX shots in advance. I’m so very excited to get shooting but you want to be smart when you do it.
LOST HEART is being mixed together. The musical score, sound design and dialog. We have started as a group to discuss how we will premiere the movie. We might have an outside big screen premiere much akin to a premiere we did for DEADLY RENOVATIONS in AZ. A band, food and the ability to have people spread out some. Following that a run in theaters and drive in’s would be the ideal situation. This funny and heart warming movie will be just the needed thing for many out there.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND might play a few more festivals this year but the audience keeps building. Thank you to all the fans of the movie who have reached out. I can say the same for WILD FAITH and the development work on the TV series continues. I also had some people reach out to express their joy in finding The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) I think it is helping that people are realizing that there is three films that have interconnecting pieces. I had People ask if CDI will be doing more biblical adventures. I would like to when the timing is right.
I’m excited to announce that a new deal has been made with ITN Distribution to get three of the CDI associated films back out into the marketplace. The previously mentioned Deadly Renovations, Donors and Darkest Night. More as that develops and they have new art and new release destinations.
I’ve been two weeks without my Movie Magic software because of my computer update to Catalina but it has now been fixed. So I can continue my weekly writing and I’m very happy about that. The yard has never looked better and we just added flowers and got more plants for the garden. I seeded a few lawn spots due to tree-cutting and behold it is filling in. Daily entertainment from all the birds and critters which we’ve been feeding has kept smiles upon our faces. I hope you all have a productive week and I look forward to speaking with you all next week. Keep your chin up if you’re facing hardship and just keep moving forward.
Be good to one another.
(The Fort – Tribe CDI – 2019)
Welcome new readers from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, India and beyond. We’re in the final days of 2019 and so far it has just been a great season. This past week I’ve had a few meetings at the fort with the fire burning bright with ideas and friendship. We have some great updates to share with everyone but before that lets looks at someone else’s art.
Star Wars – (NO SPOILERS) – I went to see Star Wars at 7 years old and it was the seed planted in me to become a storyteller. Last week I got to see the final film in a series of interconnecting stories started by George Lucas. My issue with many films these days is just trying to do too much. Instead of one star ship in pursuit there has to be 100. Tension is created in moments. Those can feel stolen when trying to do too much. Character development is still king in my world of viewing hence by love of shows like BLACK SAILS. Bringing together all the ‘Star Wars’ loose threads was surely difficult but overall I really did enjoy the final film. That said, I feel truly like the torch has been passed. I feel like I do a good job of creating characters on the script page with depth. I feel we have stories to tell and we will. The goal is to create a few classics in this lifetime. In 2020 will see more writing, producing and continue to try and captures hearts and minds with our stories.
(WILD FAITH brand – Hastings TV series in development at CDI)
I see a lot of talented artists who spend a lot of time creating in someone else’s world. But the bottom line is you don’t own the brand. There are several filmmakers that do a great job creating fan films from video games or Star Wars and The Mask. That said, all that hard work is building someone else’s brand. I’m a fan of brands also but I let it influence my work but I don’t work with someone else’s brand unless hired to do so.
All three biblical adventures in THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) are all on Amazon. I was given an opportunity to produced these adventures with a ‘Star Wars’ feel. The cinematography and often the music was influenced by the Star Wars style. Star Wars was influenced from earlier works like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. A good reason for your own brand is that you don’t have to ask permission to create your own world. And if you succeed those people are becoming fans of your work. Again instead of the hardships of growing an audience around your brand, if you pick a strong brand with dedicated followers you can get a jump on exposure but…. I mean if you create a great Star Wars fan film you might get millions of hits. But try adding a price tag, although you cannot sell someone else’s brand, and it becomes like buying a knock off cologne. If a non-official derivative of someones brand is offered free you may get a lot of eyes but unless the creators take notice and hire you, you’re just building someone else’s brand. Beware of legal also with others brands. Just my two cents.
So again just like role playing, cos-play or any fun group activities, fan art has a place but film work is really hard work for someone else’s brand. My advice is do your own thing or work WITH an emerging artists to create a shared brand. Again I’m not a “my way is the only way” person at all. But I’m not into fan films or hobby films or anything that isn’t building our brand. Now you can build your skill set (acting, directing, writing) with the previous two mentioned types of films so there is value. I do appreciate anyone who uses their imagination to create. We just have long term goals and so those need to remain in focus for us. It is a hard industry to survive in. Take that from a survivor.
Please do enjoy the holidays with a watch on the trilogy and watch all three in order. Poor ‘Chasing the Star’ sometimes takes a few rocks because someone did not realize they were watching part 2 of 3 films. In time audiences will understand they are a trilogy and a bigger picture will emerge upon watching in order.
I also see a few people who thought the Magi story had nothing to do about Christmas. Maybe I should have added Heat and Cold Miser and a reindeer or two:) But for the few audience members who don’t get it, many DO get it. We don’t dumb down our stories but challenge and encourage people to talk and discuss often hard topics. So ENJOY a watch and discussion. At one of my distribution content meetings we had discussion about more biblical adventures. I might have my next three films and one of them is written. So we will see said the wise man.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – Due to the season where many are enjoying family and friends and watching films, I’ve gotten a spike in fan mail. This film has been generating a good buzz and we have some exciting events and showings coming up in 2020. But you don’t have to wait. You can watch on Amazon today! If dogs and/or support of our military touches you, please do take a watch.
LOST HEART – The fine cut is getting close. After a wonderful first cut by editor Scott Magie, welcome to the CDI Tribe, a second final cut is near. This week we had a post meeting with Dennis Therrian (music/sound), Jesse Low (Director) along with Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn and even John Mashni made a stop by. Come mid 2020 we will have a most excellent story to share with you all.
In the meantime – please watch the CDI Film collection and share your thoughts.
HOPE for HEAVEN – is the script I’ve been working on. It’s been developing in a wonderful fashion starting with some great characters. We’re working development on several properties that could go full green light in 2020/2021. A sequel to KNIGHT CHILLS, perhaps? We’ve had a few screen and camera tests. WW2 drama – coming together. Kids adventure film – might happen:) WILD FAITH TV series:) With some of the new meetings and opportunities before CDI, I promise we will continue to create. Thank you to all of you for your continued support.
Ok. We had a wonderful first Christmas gathering yesterday. Friends tonight and several gatherings in the week ahead, including two more family Christmas gatherings. I am down to just a little bit of shopping. I give thanks to those who sent a card or gave little love gifts, much appreciated. But the most important thing you can give anyone is a bit of your time, laughter and joy.
I’ve been questioned about my verbal non-involvement in politics. It’s because much like the ‘golden rule’ I believe in focusing on what we all could benefit from. When people are drained from endless debates, divided by priority differences and angered by the never-ending shortcomings of each another – I say relax. Sit back and watch a story with universal messages woven within. My friendships with people are more important than trying to convince someone I’m right about an obvious self-opinion. So set aside your differences and focus on what brings us all together. Fellow human beings trying to live a meaningful life with health and joy. Even if it is for a few days, try it and you might find it a better way to live, to cope, to exist, to grow, and to be the better you.
Fear leads to anger, anger to hate and hate to suffering – MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Good morning and Happy Memorial weekend from Michigan, USA. I want to wish everyone and memorable weekend with family and friends. I’ve been doing yard work that past week between all my film duties. In honor of the day let’s start our discussions with our film that has wounded military vets and adoption dogs at the heart of our story.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
The film is now having music composed. I will be going in this week to do some Voice Over/Narration work. MyCinema has accepted MBF into their booking selection. That is followed by our home video roll-out by BMG. Here are a few of the upcoming release dates. Subject to change by the distributors but likely solid.
We will deliver the final film to our distributor on June 30th.
Public theatrical/TV cable release will be 8/1/19
Digital purchase 9/2/19
Digital Rental 10/28/19
It was enjoyable to watch the work-in-progress with sound design and dialog balanced. It really is a cool film and I promise will have people talking. I’m excited about the audiences who will get to see this film on the big and small screen. There are some amazing performance but some talented artists that I get to call friends and peers.
Official BTS of Man’s Best Friend here plus follow us on Facebook
Do your research. We get many communications on our films from fans and artists wishing to bridge with CDI. If you are really interested in a film or company, research it. We get questions submitted that put people in a bad light. If we just posted a promotional trailer with release dates and we get asked, “When does this film?” “Are you cast up?” – Umm…
Fans get more of an excuse but a simple google by even the most challenged computer users will often yield an immediate answer. Artists seeking work need to be even sharper in your communications because this IS often your first impression. “Do you make features?” “I don’t have a reel but can read something?” Yes. We make features. No reel equals limited experience. Get your game footage. Be prepared. Research. http://www.cdiproductions.com
Part of this might include watching product by the company just as a company will watch your game footage. BOOKED IT!!!!! Have you watched the previous work by this or that company? You might have beat out other talent but failed to vet out the company. Maybe you won the role because others vetted the project and…a polite pass. I know many of these postings are just to help the wounded artist’s ego that gets slammed by rejection on a regular basis. But I would rather have a good table read to scratch a creative itch versus performing in a poor production. Where you put your TIME will determine if you do this as a HOBBY or PROFESSION. You can work on your CRAFT with either path but they are very different. Explore this in your own thoughts. IF you want to work with CDI explore our recent releases – ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER, FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH…trust me I do it when looking at working with someone. It saves time, energy and keeps your momentum forward.
WILD FAITH will be coming out for digital rental in June. I think the day after my bday, so on the 24th. DVD pre-sales are popping up like dandelions with the date being July 2nd I’m seeing the most. ADDITIONAL NOTE: These are being released through corporate distribution channels. I do not control every detail of this process. If a release date at a store changes by a week, I cannot do anything.
THE QUEST TRILOGY mentioned above – can all be found on Amazon. I’m curious to read some reviews from people who have seen all three films. I think now people are realizing – it is a TRILOGY. The films can be watched individually but together a better understanding will be granted. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER – watch them together. I do want to host in our town a theatrical one day trilogy watch. Maybe for Christmas this year. I’m going to try and find out what foreign territories are getting our films. All of you on here represent over 80 countries. I would love for you to all enjoy our art.
LOST HEART – It looked for a while like director Jesse Low was going to get bucked from directing by life but alas he has climbed back in the saddle. Our director of photography is going to be Jesse Aragon who shot The Quest Trilogy and Wild Faith. We love to call him ‘Smooth’ for his camerawork. It will be nice to welcome him back into the state.
We had our 1st pre-production meeting since officially going into pre-pro mode. Cast and Crew spots are being discussed by departments. I have to say, I’m really proud of the developing artists (crew-wise) in the area. That is not to say, actor/artist wise but “back in the day” we always had more actors vs film crews. I think some of those traveling off will find that the equation of more opportunities in ratio to more people wanting that opportunity, makes things about even. So you might as well make a stand in the greatest state in the Union:) Where the mosquito is the state bird. The weather is…random.
The return of ‘Smooth’
Here is some real – many in this new day and age will seek the shortcut, the better market, the easier path. When Michigan was timber rich there was no easy path. Pioneers made their own path. R.E. Olds pioneer. Barry Gordy, pioneer. (The Last Dragon, Sho-Nuff) Two Men & A Truck and countless business empires built here. The MICHIGAN spirit is the spirit of a pioneering people. Build it here. Now some will say that certain people moved away with their success. NOTE THIS! Next time our state looks at injecting the film scene with policy look within first. Reward a company for years of business and keeping it at home. In-State film grants over incentives to outside projects or at least balance it. I saw great crew members driving vans and incredible actors being extras and drinking the juice. Possibility to learn and get a check – for sure. But the ceiling was your zip code. Ten groups given 500k each could do much for our community. Should outrages success find me – look for something like this to happen. It might not be via the State of Michigan but Collective Development Inc. is a Michigan company and wants to see development in Michigan.
OK. Back to LOST HEART:)
Rumors of Don Most joining “Lost Heart” – Inquiring Minds Want To Know!
Lodging an army is a task. Add a limited budget and summer availability and you have a challenge. We are luckily in a place where our locations are not confining so we’ll plant our lodging flag first and move out from around that.
We plan to start making official offers to our talent once the new schedule is set with our actor days. Some crew talks are underway and we’ll be working towards locking that up in the next couple weeks. We’ll work to conclude our final investors and sponsors that are supporting this film endeavor. Even a few good product placement talks whereas a brand will get millions of eyes upon it. If you have a service or good you are pushing and wish to purchase some marketing lets communicate.
I’m about to go prep for a day of grilling and chilling. Burgers and brats was the request for today. Also going to sip some PP&J beer from Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI. They just might end up being a sponsor:) If you have not tried it, do. Kufner. I’m coming after you and your water brand:) Have a wonderful day and remember those that served.
Top of the morning to you all on this frosty, spring-like Michigan day. It is also St. Patrick’s Day and being that I’m largely Scot/Irish I’ll be toasting to your health today.
“May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.”
My college alumni team Michigan State University advances in their Big 10 Championship and will play U of M today. Go Green!
I also subbed in for the last indoor soccer game last week with my new team. Nice guys and I look forward to a fun season. It was good to run the engine hard and get those running legs working again.
(He WAS so small — about 50lbs and growing)
My little boy Finn is growing like a weed and giving us joy every day. Now the ice tundra is leaving us we can enjoy a lot more yard time. I especially enjoy the outdoor meetings at the fort that includes dart playing.
Today we will have the mother’s over for corn beef and cabbage and I’ll be drinking a few PB&J Porters from my friends at Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
To the film updates…how about a TOP TEN for the BIG TEN tournament today.
(Mr. Trace Adkins)
- The cat is out of the bag (what a bad saying) Mr. Trace Adkins has joined our WILD FAITH movie endeavor. You can read about it here. https://www.prlog.org/12759600-country-music-stalwart-trace-adkins-joins-collective-development-incorporateds-wild-faith.html
- The first of the theatrical screenings announced in Grand Rapids, MI – Get your tickets here. This is remastered and should be a great viewing experience. https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/woodland-mall/wild-faith
- May 6th is the WILD FAITH DVD release and I’m hearing in Walmart in June or July. Did I tell you how much I love the cover art? I do.
- We have just gotten word on The Christ Slayer that will be showing at the International Christian Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for 4 awards that we’ll PR this week. 1) Most Inspirational 2) Best Film 3) Best Director (Nathaniel Nose) and 4) Best Supporting Actress Melissa Anschutz – I’m super proud of our cast and crew. DVD and Streaming available now – in theaters starting April 19th.
- Upcoming director of LOST HEART Jesse Low and I are so close to a final script. I have a review once I finish this blog. It is really fun script – emotional and funny.
- LOST HEART Location scouting and vendor talks continue while our producers work to lock in the final investments. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place. It will be great to have it in front of our cameras.
- Also with LOST HEART we’ll be announcing the addition of two knuckleheads to the cast, Mr. Shane Hagedorn and some guy, DJ Perry:) We’ll both be playing supporting players in this fine story.
- MBF: Man’s Best Friend has a locked picture edit and is moving into sound and music with Dennis Therrian. The story is really moving and I’m thrilled by the final story.
- Once MBF is moved over to sound the final VFX and Color Correction work will begin. Once that is complete we will cut a new trailer from the edited and color corrected footage.
- Last week I recorded two commercial voice over pieces. It went great and I hope the client is happy. I know the director was so we’ll see. Again, feel free to approach me with a project just come with an offer. This is not a hobby for me it is how we put bread on the table and wine in the glass. (Actually I make wine)
(Looking ahead to the new roles)
I’m going to wrap this up so I can refill the coffee cup and get to my LOST HEART review. Have a great end to your weekend. Be safe and have a productive week ahead.
Sunny Sunday in Michigan although it is beyond chilly and only going to get colder. I’m happy to be up and about after a week of being under the weather. I was sick with a touch of the stomach bug that was going around when I was finishing post work on THE CHRIST SLAYER. A week of healthy and I got hit with a come and go fever riding with a head cold. I was mainly just achy and weak with sinus pressure and a deep cough. Now only a touch of the cough remains. I dislike being sick (who does?) as I always have lots going on.
I recently had an invite to be on camera for a young director I really like. I had to turn down his offer because it did not come with money. On the same day, I had six hours of business tax prep work that I did instead. That’s why I see some merit and perhaps fun in the hobby-side of the filmmaking game going on but it’s truly such a vast different game from what a few others are doing.
I think I have to just accept that filmmaking for some is like playing golf. They don’t play in the pro circuit earning but just enjoy swinging the clubs with friends. But if you do have your eye on the pro circuit you need to direct your energy and efforts towards that and those who are striving to that end. The longer you play in the hobby arena that’s lost time where you’re not prepping for the big game. You’re not learning the lessons that come with the true business of filmmaking.
Crowdfunding in film with only a few exceptions is just playing. It hurts many who never learn to pitch or to earn. I see people spouting with no idea of securities law just shotgunning for investors. People tote in their PR being professional but ride without insurance or workman’s comp. They’ve never done all the accounting, the 1099’s and K-1’s1099 and everything that comes with being a professional filmmaker. Now some will evolve but most will not. If you don’t have your chain of titles and releases, no major distributor will want to touch your endeavor.
I’ve stated that I work very hard on the business and still make the occasional mistakes. That is part of learning. So when I see people not even trying to step up business-wise it’s sad. Artistic talent that could grow into more is hampered by the business or lack there of. I’m wishing you all luck, sincerely. I want to see castings that pay more that IMDB credit and food. I would love to work a few days here and there on projects with new artists but their business has to be there. Otherwise it’s all just pretend. So when your career is not going how you want it stop pretending you don’t know why and look at what you’re doing. It’s kind of along the lines of that doing the same thing and expecting different results. Make 2019 different!
I had a conversation with a fellow filmmaker about a few recent postings. If someone says in their listing, ANY EXPERIENCE or NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED – pass and pass. That is a red flag of the quality of work. What they’re willing to accept. That might be okay for a community theater posting but don’t look for professional talent to come knocking. I know what we look for and it’s not Uncle Pete who thinks he wants to try something new. Or someone just looking to fill their spare time. So pending your own goals, vet the opportunities.
I do occasionally watch videos of artists as we’re always looking for possible additions to the CDI tribe. Most often in these videos I see inconsistent quality because of holes in cast or crew experience, poor story or inferior equipment. I’ve seen aspiring talent that puts something forth that frames themselves poorly. I’m not trying to knock anyone as we all start somewhere and I’ve been through it all. I recently saw someone spotlighted in a post. I don’t know this person but they often post about their projects. So I take the time to click thinking I might get a glimpse at what they can do in front of a movie camera. Instead I get cheesy selfies being used as promotional material. To someone who doesn’t know this person it doesn’t say hire me, it says waster of time. And it frames the person in a poor light – literally.
That’s my little insight and I hope a few of you use it to better your year. One solid project is better than 5 weak projects in terms of exposure. OK. Let’s look at a few CDI film updates.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is DONE! This film is not the largest budget project I’ve supervised but in scope it was a beast. We had VFX happening in Canada which included digital matte’s and model building. Sound design in period pieces is always harder since you have to shrub any sounds that don’t belong. The same goes for visuals. This film was delivered last week and it will play theatrical events in April. It will be available on the lead up to Easter both on DVD March 4th and streaming after that. If it plays in a city near you please treat yourself to seeing this on the big screen. I will let you know when theatrical show dates appear.
In March WILD FAITH will also be hitting theaters across the USA before releasing to home video. I also think we’ll be getting the new artwork very soon.
With both of these films finished we’ll be turning our attention to MBF. The Animal Planet promo was viewed over 420,000 times and I do hope they run the show next season where Duncan visited the set in Corunna, MI. We’re close to our first edit. From there a few tweaks and onto music and sound design. We’ll be delivering the film June 30th to the distributor. It looks like a theatrical followed by the home video run.
DEVELOPMENT of the new CDI films is underway. We’ll be launching the IMDB and putting our summary packages together. LOST HEART is next up so stay tune.
Okay. I’ve got a pork roast in the crock pot. I’m going to go check on that and do a few other things to get ready for the week ahead.
Have a great Sunday and we’ll chat next week.
Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
A week ago I was waking up early in Kalamazoo to return from our 15th anniversary showing and deal announcement on IN THE WOODS. I have a few more public events coming up soon. I do plan to attend the showing of STANDING POST that was done by one of my long time collaborators and features three actors I respect. I’m also happy that the crowd surrounding the East Lansing Film Festival will get a chance to see ASHES OF EDEN and also get some exciting news for the film. I am happy that this inspirational film will reach even more people. LOCKED IN A ROOM thrilled some folks in Canton last week and I got some great communications from fans watching stuff on VOD. On TV as I type is the making of John Carpenters HALLOWEEN. 21 days and 325,000 with Donald’s pay being 25k. I’m enjoying seeing how much fun those actors had making that little film that would be a king classic in the genre. It was also slammed hard when it first came out. John said much of it was from other artsy filmmakers unhappy they could not get the exposure and release they felt they deserved.
This past week had some of my people working hard to get things in order on BESTSELLER. We are planning time for the director and DP to come in and share ideas. I think we are growing close to a finished film on THE TERRORIST. We only have a few left in the pipeline. Which brings us to DEVELOPMENT.
I’ve got WASTELAND ahead of me this December and we launched the Facebook site where we will be featuring updates in cast, artwork and props. I’ve had some great meetings with a few people over the last couple weeks as CDI looks to increase the army. I look for smart, positive people with passion and willing to work hard. I’ve built everything in this industry I have brick by brick with few if any handouts. I found other like-minded people and together we faced battles – won some, lost some and moved forward.
As our sales team has been licensing films in the library we have been looking at franchising a few of the films. It is no secret that Lynn Drzick is interested in doing another IN THE WOODS. If the right script is agreed upon it may happen. Also VP of CDI, director Jeff Kennedy and I have had talks over KNIGHT CHILLS and we do have a rough idea of a follow-up. I may be paid to write a script that I’ve had in my head for many years for an associate this November. Discussions on several scripts that already have distributor interest and in some cases guarantees continues.
On some of these smaller scope projects I’m looking at upcoming filmmakers who have yet to reach an international level. I’m looking at people who don’t want to do this as a hobby but as a career path. Many of these people have personal ideas/scripts that can be enjoyable for a small pocket of fans but often does not lead to bigger things. While some are content with making films for fun many in the cast or crew have greater aspirations.
It’s a stairs step process to get to these levels of film success. By success I mean having a title that has sold tens of thousands plus units or is in rotation on TV networks or available in different countries. Once you start to take steps if others around you aren’t willing to do the same you sometimes have to distance yourself creatively for a while. Maybe just until they evolve to that next level. If you’ve done a string of quality projects and have started to frame yourself as a professional you cannot slip back. By you saying NO, you may be one of many that helps them evolve. This is hard when you know the people but if they are doing it for fun and you are building a career – conflict of interest. I’ve explained to a few friends in the field (not truly in the BIZ) I cannot just come play for fun. I spend that time on paid projects or developing paid projects. When you win as a producer you win for many artists. When a film breaks out into the international market the resume of all those artists increases. I don’t always feel that some artists, usually the young, fully appreciates this fact. The wages may be modest, the hours long but to have a credit on a film that really gets into the marketplace is so valuable. So take pride in your work and be happy that you are working on something that will help you. If you start out in our field just for the money you’re in the wrong field. There is good money to be made but it comes in time through hard, collaborative work.
For the last few years I’ve been gone on set shooting during October so this has been wonderful to be home. Like I said earlier, I would rather spend time developing and finishing projects of quality versus just doing to do projects that are just fun. I do things for fun (Reading, soccer, archery, guitar, brewing) and I often find filmmaking fun BUT since I am accountable and use investment versus donations – I take my work very serious. I’ve been in development talks with Shane Hagedorn (ASHES OF EDEN) and we plan to do a 2015 film. Add in the handful of other projects developing and the new year could be filled with exciting projects. I look forward to incorporating some new people into the tribe. I look forward to working with my tried and true. I look forward to sharing our stories with fans around the world. Right now, I’m looking forward to some more coffee, some breakfast and MSU putting a whoop on U of M.
Have a great weekend and be good to one another.
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’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and the sounds of geese and morning birds are singing. Yesterday I got the back yard all mowed up and today we are working on the flooring of the office/fort. The pond, the garden (which has its first bean sprouts) – all these natural wonders that I try to surround myself with as I go through my day-to-day. Yesterday also included a meeting over ASHES OF EDEN distribution on a patio with sushi. I’m happy to say we have our first distribution offers on national domestic on the table. Now comes a process of looking at pros and cons and looking at our entire battle plan. We also have some foreign interest that could turn into solid offers very soon. One of the things I felt really good about was the comments that they gave on the production value that they stated was extremely high. They deal with a 100 films a week in submissions and it was a great nod to all our artists. You have to find folks with the talent and inspire them to give their absolute best. Every time I hear ACTION! I give nothing but my very best. It doesn’t matter if I’m being paid $1,000 or $10,000 you still give it all. When a group of artists all do the same thing the results can be well…
“BESTSELLER” is a great example of REPEAT! Not a crime drama but a dark thriller but same breed of passionate artists who again are inspired to turn out quality. The 1st trailer has gotten lots of exposure and the 1st distribution interest. We now have our shot list of pick ups and that will be budgeted and we will schedule this one day pick up. I’ve been getting myself back into my previous role and I’m excited to play Mr. Franklin one more time. It will be nice to be up North and see friends again while completing our art. Our music and sound design deal is in place and we are ready to bring this one home by years end. Look for a fall premiere!
Advice taken from my dealings – If you’ve made a deal on something in writing don’t try to re-visit in the 11th hour. Also live by what the final deal is. Example – I knew a writer/director/filmmaker who was submitting around a business summary. In it was a bio whereas the filmmaker had himself credited as a Co-Producer on some large projects. So I had people vetting (background check) this person and nowhere could these credits be found. As I sincerely liked this person I confronted them about this. His response was about ghost writing and a verbal on a co-producer credit…blah, blah… I told him that nobody knows all that drama and if that was the deal it should have been put in writing and done deal. When someone cross checks and they don’t see a credit on a film, movie/poster billing block they just see a liar. Don’t be that person. Many won’t care about you enough to even bring it up but if you are trying to get someone involved and they find false info – look to be rejected. This also applies to name dropping. If I had a dollar for every time someone name dropped and I know the person – I mean can call them – I would have a nice handful of cash. Just be real. I’ve read websites whereas they encourage people to try underhanded tactics. Actor wants footage – get to know the editor. HINT: An editor that releases footage without production permission is open to being fired, sued and black-balled. Nice advice website – and the actor could get the same treatment. I’ve never worked with an editor that foolish but I guess they exist. Actors desperate enough to try it – ah many…but don’t. Patience. You are not part of a hobby 48 hour film short contest. These are business ventures with marketing and distribution plans and lots of money on the line. You want your footage while the film is still being edited go do a student film. That is what they are for but I’m just saying actors – be wise.
I had a nice talk with a director over a comedy film. We talked schedule and such and it may work out. But you want to sincerely connect. Initially I was talked to about two roles. The script was sent after I did a sketch read – meaning a few choice lines NOT 14 pages. They will not invest giving me a script until they like my reels or a sketch read. If they like that I ask for a full script. Why? Because if I don’t like the full script or think it will turn out poorly I would rather work in the garden instead. Ask to see a directors reel – they want to see yours. It’s a two-way street. Now if you like the script make sure you connect with a character. Back to that example – after reading the script one role didn’t feel right to me. The other I really felt I could bring something to the role. I’ve often chosen a supporting role after being offered the lead because it fit better. So I’m not sure if it was a surprise but when I said I would not play the one lead role even if offered I think it strengthened my given interest in the second role. It wasn’t a game I was dead serious. I want them to make a good film. I want to perform a great role. It all has to fit together. Some people will take anything just to belong and I’m just not about that. When I sign on I bring all my energy with it. I don’t take that lightly.
These are all elements I try to use in my own productions I supervise and I think that is what helps direct these projects towards quality. Throwing a name actor in a wrong role makes others stand up and notice the mess of a film you created. Make a strong film and use that name actor wisely where they are proud of the work and they will always be there for you.
OK. Refill on my coffee and I’m going to get ready for food and fort/office work. We have a soccer match tomorrow and the sun will be shining. Have a great weekend with family and friends.