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

Posts tagged “holiday

First ‘Lost Heart’ Impressions and Christmas Season Updates

Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…

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So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.

  1. I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
  2. Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
  3. I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
  4. Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
  5. I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
  6. I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
  7. I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
  8. MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
  9. I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
  10. Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?

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LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry.  The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack.  I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.

I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.

Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.

My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.

I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece.  NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.

So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of  another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.

Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…

OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.

DJ



DEVELOPMENT Engines Firing Up at CDI

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Good morning. The hazelnut coffee is flowing and needed this am. I awoke to my furry Daphne daughter throwing up my Minnetonka Moccasin slipper she put a chew on when I left her watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE vs her Cartoons. From there the morning has slowly unfolded as I worked to shake off the Michigan morning chills. WINTER IS COMING.

Now with winter many people moan and groan but I have always loved snow. If it is going to be cold we might as well have the pretty aspect too. Now the other thing I love about winter is the limiting of my yard work so I can focus on my desk work. This season is special because it marks the start of another phase of CDI development.

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First, the ink is dry on a deal for me to adapt a book manuscript to a screenplay and for CDI to produce it. Even the title has been left open on the book to see what ‘title’ arises. The reading of the book which is the 11th book for this author I believe. His name? Wait for the press release:) I might have a title by that time. But the characters are very well developed and I can already see the scenes forming in my head. This project will be late Summer/Early Fall shoot in Michigan. I look forward to a week of reading and after that my writing will begin. I’ve been taking lots of notes while moving through the reading.

Additionally we have things firming up on the 2021 WW2 project. It was shelved several years ago but recently that script kept coming to mind. So I followed my instincts and it seems like many variables including financing are firming up. This would shoot 2021 in the fall out of the state of Michigan. We will be doing some exciting announcements with this project maybe around Christmas:)

We’re exploring a collaboration in AZ with a filmmaker friend and we’ll see. It is a western genre script. Speaking of the genre – I had a fan reach out this week on GHOST TOWN. He watched that film after seeing our WILD FAITH movie. He was asking for more CDI westerns so between us seeking finance and distribution partners on the Wild Faith TV series and these possible collaborations, CDI western fans might get your fill.

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Holiday blessings manifested last week as the films saw flow from our distributor. We’ll be doing an end of the year dispersement where it applies. AFM (American Film Market) is underway and the films are being represented and sold. I have a sit down in two weeks to discuss what new platforms, territories and networks are playing the films. The business part of it all is the grit and grind that it takes to be professional. Like the accountants and legal that keep things inside the lines. I had a wonderful gift this past week from one of these individuals/companies that help allow us to do what we do. I will not bog this down with details but I really appreciate all the support staff and producers who help keep all the ships sailing. Filmmaking is a team effort and our collective artists are all appreciated.

MBF: Man’s Best Friend – The positive response via email to this film has been wonderful.  We have some of our team that will be attending the Equus Film Festival. We will await to see if any nominations fall upon us before we doing any PR. This is a great Kentucky based festival that will happen this December.

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Now our film is DOG themed but they have a section that is ‘Going to the Dogs’ but also due to today being the official release of THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS in Jackson, Michigan. Here is our editor/author talking about the release –  https://jtv.tv/book-event-for-horse-lovers-sunday/

LOST HEART – I had meetings with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian over the transfer of locked picture which is targeted for Jan. 1st. Our first rough cut should be done by Thanksgiving so we are getting close. Audiences will enjoy this film. This week we will start moving element art over to the distributor so they can start conceptual cover art.

With the mass of social media making things very confusing – we’ve had many people see one or two of the films and insist they must see the others. We’re going to be inviting the masses to join us this holiday season.

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So enjoy with your own family or GIVE the gift of a good story to someone else. I’m going to leave this here so I can finish up and get back to my reading. I hope you each have a wonderful day and a great week ahead. My thoughts also go out to friend/co-star Austin Two Feathers who recently lost his beloved. The entire CDI Tribe has you in their thoughts.

DJ

 


Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Updates from On-Location – Lost Heart

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Good morning from the Double JJ Resort in beautiful Rothbury, Michigan. If you have a family that loves waterparks, mini-golf, arcades, horse riding and such this is a wonderful place. Also if you are one of the people who like to knock a ball into a hole with a stick (golf) they have a beautiful course here. Such friendly service from everyone here. How they handle 50-70k people here for their music fest I do not know. But that said, our small army of artists is no problem for them.

I was a bit under the weather the 1st day and a half of pre-production but most likely due to the stress of the transition from home to location. Trying to remember to pack everything personal and business and making the move. But several breaks overseeing the golf course with deer prancing about and such put me right back on track. It is amazing to see everything fall into line but it happens through hard work and communication. I’ve very proud of how this production is coming together. I also want to announce two more amazing cast members joining us. Sherryl Despres and Michael Walton will be coming to LOST HEART🙂

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While we have been here we’ve had the great joy of talking with several people who have seen our previous release WILD FAITH, which released on DVD nationally July 2nd. It is always a thrill to actually get to speak with your audience about the film. I sincerely hope that audiences continue to connect because a TV series might be around the corner. That would be great for our state and give lots of opportunities to weekly guest star talent. If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do. I know it can be purchased at Wal-Mart and many online retailers.

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The Quest Trilogy is also out there and it is NOT just a holiday trilogy. And while it is pulled from the lesser known corners of the bible and the lore surrounding it – they are adventure films. As an influence we also got to go for a STAR WARS look with the three films. So if you decide you want to catch up with CDI’s biblical adventure films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER, check your TV stations or rent/purchase the film via Amazon Prime or other participating platforms.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been getting marketing materials out to NAGRA/MyCinema who is booking our theatrical. I’m excited to see this film roll out to theaters followed by a home video launch in the fall. If you support our wounded warriors and/or love dogs this film will pull at your heart strings. Follow us on Facebook or at http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Aside from all this I recently completed two new stories for my contributions to an upcoming book. The book on horses that I have two stories in will be out this September I believe. Pre-Order here-

All this ties into the push with my literary work. I’m in hopes of announcing some new partnerships this fall. I’m going to get back to film work here but wanted to stop in and say hello. I appreciate all of you following along and supporting this endeavors. Cheers! Back to the hazelnut coffee:)

DJ

 

 


Getting Rolling in 2019!

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Good morning. It is 2019 and we’ve started a new turning of the wheel. The holiday season was enjoyable spending time with family and friends. I want to welcome our new readers from Israel and France, we’re so happy to having you join us. Like everyone else I’ve been planning ahead to the new year and also working hard to finish our two films THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH for their theatrical 2019 release with our new partners. Once these get off the desk so to speak we’ll focus on getting our locked cut of MBF and increase development work.

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I hope to get theatrical locations and dates here soon but know that people are just getting back to work. The remastered WILD FAITH is having distributor poster art done and promotional trailers for social media. Same with THE CHRIST SLAYER with the promotional pieces and the poster art is already completed. This is an exciting time of what and see – but I can say, as we do final review on THE CHRIST SLAYER for credits, what an awesome job by all our CDI artists. Nathaniel Nose and Dennis Therrian really pulled it all together. I’m so very proud of our artists on all three films. As the last one readies to roll out, I only hope audiences are able to take something away from it. It is a beautiful story and everyone should be proud to have this one on their resume for a lifetime.

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Outside of film direct, I spent a good part of three days prepping for the moving of a storage shed onto our property. As a company we’ve started to gather items that make production a lot easier. I’m going to use it for storage of items from 5 gal water containers to 100 cup coffee makers. A CDI trailer will likely be the next step to be used during productions. Maybe a craft service food truck, whoa…settle down there DJ:)

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I’ve been working to help prep a friend for their first feature film directorial and of course LOST HEART development will start to pick up speed. Several discussions have taken place with this film and we have some good attachments.  “Strong drama, good humor with a dash of suspense and action – just like a good trip up North in Michigan!” We’ll start making some PR announcements in a few weeks concerning this movie.

I’m going to finish this up and get on with a few things today. I’ve got a busy week ahead and hope the same for all of you.

Be good to one another in 2019!

DJ


Merry Christmas – Holiday Updates

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ