I’m back from a flea market whereas a VHS of BLACK BELT JONES starring Jim Kelly so that’s a $2 WIN:) I LOVE looking for props both for our worlds and my own characters within them. We are working hard to get the 70’s drag race film fully fueled up. We had a good meeting with Nate Robertson this week to debrief from the previous shoot and talk about the upcoming. We try to get feedback from people especially concerning people in their departments or just the department as a whole. We always work from the inside out starting with story to script to producers to director to cast and crew and the ripples move across the creative pond until we have a finished film. But I can honestly say that materialistically I get more excited by the VHS find or the Bear recurve bow estate sale take versus all these items whereas YOU are paying for that marketing campaign. Luckily I love a cabin as much as a castle, and a driving a vehicle with character versus high value. I recall as smaller flip phones were the vogue, the jokes in Hollywood about my ‘yellow brick’ Nextel construction phone. The whole CDI group was on walkie talkie. I made some good deals on that phone. I’m not against nice things at all I’m just saying simplify your materialistic wants. Many purchases don’t bring the happiness or added skill. A golf pro could still take most golfers with basic sticks whereas the opposition could be playing with clubs worth several thousands. A car that goes faster than you’ll ever drive. More square feet or acres that you won’t put to use. Many use it (coins, property, stamps, paintings, gold) as an investment to hold or increase value versus some conventional savings. Often it can be a good process. But you just don’t want to get caught overreaching to impress or project an image. Only negative things usually follow that kind of advertising. I like to keep things real and you’ll often find all walks of life at our table. This nice weather had some of the meetings taking place outside. The yard is green and in full swing. I’ve been working to get some trees trimmed and prepping new firewood for the coming winter. The clover in the yard we planted as been really starting to take over and it is beautiful. Irish beauty was one deception of it this week. Do take the time to create your ZEN place. If you live in tight quarters maybe try some plants. Nature is great for balancing one so you can better focus on your TO DO’s.
- I have some PR that will start going out on BESTSELLER this week. It will essentially be talking about my start in the thriller/horror genre and follow my diversifying into more genres. BESTSELLER is one of my most intense roles and I’ve had several. Plus I love the author and this work really captures the haunting and moody atmosphere that is Michigan. Have you seen it? If so please do go to https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16421224/reference/ VOTE and leave us a review.
- BEST YEARS GONE will start rolling out on July 5th both DVD and digital. Providing you still have enough fingers from your drunken 4th bottle rocket / Roman candle war to press play on the DVD or navigate the remote – you need to settle and watch our tale.
- Aug 3rd is the date when we should know the Toronto Film Festival’s decision on acceptance of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH or not. We would love to hold our premiere there and so we’re remaining optimistic. We should also have our home video dates from Deskpop Entertainment very soon.
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – The rough semi-polished first draft is almost done. It will be reviewed and that point by our team and any suggestions will be put forth. We are looking to picture lock in July which will move us to music and sound. Both of those are already in motion as sound FX libraries are being gathered and music beds are being played with. We hope to provide a great behind the scenes of our model and VFX team on board.
- SMOKE & MIRRORS has been submitted to a few festivals and we’ll await response. Once we have word it will be a nice eve with the CDI tribe celebrating this fun endeavor that will develop itself into a feature film.
- WILD FAITH and HASTINGS – the momentum continues and on a few fronts we are so close but sometimes you have to relax and let things work themselves out. If it does well at Peacock perhaps they will work with us to order up the first season.
- LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT, UFOS & JESUS is a great summer film. We are looking at some different marketing campaigns including new poster art for Lost Heart. I still want to do tee-shirts of the BF, UFOS and Jesus artwork. We’re looking into selling iron on sheets so you can put some great artwork on your favorite shirt. That is 70’s and 80’s style right there. I think I had a DARTH VADER LIVES tee shirt that was an iron on.
- I’m waiting on word to see how the HD file of KNIGHT CHILLS is coming along for the upcoming Blu-Ray. We have interest in a digital release from Deskpop Entertainment and we’ll still probably do a DVD of the CDI Classic Collection Double Feature of KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. And we have the video game which I think I want to call KNIGHT CHILLS: DICE DON’T LIE – what do you think?
- This week I’m set up to record another book chapter for the audio book series FOR GENERATIONS TO COME that I’ve been doing. Look it up on Amazon under author Ronnie Lee.
- This past Friday, I met in person with several CDI folks mainly over FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH. I could have taken the day and likely ended with my first draft of the new script HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE. Instead I enjoyed the beautiful day and spent some time outlining. One of the rainy days this week I’ll finish the first draft. I’ve had a wonderful time working on this amazing story and looking forward to bringing the script to an exciting end.
I will no doubt start working on another script soon after I finish the one I’m working now. If I don’t have a script for hire on deck which I just might, I have a few scripts that were underway. We made more steps on HOT ROD LOVE and we are about to start scheduling work soon. Chipping away at what needs to be done in order to get this film green lit. It was a great week for soccer again and our team brought another win. Either way it is still about the battle that keeps you mentally and physically strong. I do have another bday in a few weeks (23rd) and I’m not sure what I might do to celebrate another journey around the sun.
I’m going to wish you all well. I hope that you have or have had some clarity this weekend, that will allow each of you to have a very productive week ahead. Be good to one another.
This Sunday morning is a near perfect temp with a touch of cool and low humidity. I want to welcome our new readers/subscribers from Ireland, Turkey and more. I’m sipping some coffee and this morning will include some eggs from our ‘girls’ laying almost daily. I’ve had a relaxing weekend that started with Shepherds Pie at Pizannos a bday gift from my good friend Johnny D. Saturday had us run some fun errands including a stop at the Blue Gill for a wonderful Perch sandwich. Today will likely be a bit of grilling after the flea market. I’ve got venison steaks ready to go – steak and eggs? Maybe:) While I might take a relax physically my mind is always working. Last week we had many great moves on the chessboard. I’m so very happy about the way things are progressing and I’m excited for what lies ahead.
As for life lessons or insights that apply to our artistic endeavors- enthusiasm. A skill set is needed but how you apply that skill set is what really counts. I’ve encountered a lot of jaded artists in my journey and it doesn’t matter how qualified if they cause people to always walk on eggshells. It’s easier to give an opportunity for growth to someone who is enthusiastic and excited to participate. As we get closer to locking up cast and crew on the next CDI endeavor SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – I’m thrilled by our team. We producers will work hard to give everyone a great experience in return for their hard work and skill set. It all shows on the screen when the final story is complete. Our scout trip for next month is set. I was organizing our lodging and transportation needs and also made several steps trying to open certain product placement deals. Our film gives several opportunities to highlight great products that were in use in the 1940’s and are still in use now. IF you have a product you would like to align with our WW2 Christmas film don’t be shy. I’ve started working my character in the film and I’m thrilled to play such a stabilizing role. I play the camp commander and while many characters have arcs that drastically change due to circumstances, my role is the steady backbone. My hair grows like a weed and even with my recent haircut it its again starting to look long. Trust me I’m appreciative that I have a full head of hair. I will be getting the Robert Conrad haircut soon and I’m enjoying hunting up a few good props. We will be announcing a few new actors this week. We’re working on filling a few new departments and soon we’ll be working vendors. Aside from the prepping for our next adventure lets look at some of the top updates from last week.
- I started the week with a belated bday hang with dad who was homebound with his ‘Sadie’ who had recently been fixed and was recovering.
- I had a great call with a literary management company over properties. I’ve had projects in the Hollywood development system which can be slow and if the execs in charge move on your project can also get swept. I’ve also had a script given the “Hollywood rewrite” and it was gutted of much that made it special. But it also paid a few years of option payments. I use to call these properties “sacrificial scripts” but I have seen good studio/indie hybrids that were very good. So I’m going to comb through the scripts and see what I don’t plan to produce and sign them over for sale. In the days gone by I would try to keep actor/producer attachments and that makes it too heavy. These properties will be free and clear and we’ll see if they sell. I’ve had a few script sales and it’s not an easy process but with some of the awards the writing has brought – maybe.
- Speaking of writing I did work on the SMOKE & MIRRORS feature script some. The short film is about done and we’ll be rolling that out soon. It is a humorous/spooky steampunk-type story. I’m excited to show folks and it will make a great extended feature film.
- I had a meeting for HASTINGS, the Wild Faith tv series planned for midweek but had to reschedule. But I did get a bit of feedback on the interest level of the parties evaluating the series. I’m smiling. Let’s leave it at that for now.
- Thursday was a good day of business calls and also had a great soccer match. My slight injury from game one has improved greatly and my strength and conditioning is now almost where I want it.
- BEST YEARS GONE sound design is about done and music is close behind. Our winners of the battle of the bands will be shooting a music video in the near future. I have to go in Friday and do some Voice Over work which will be a blast. The deal for the Sept 11th event is being passed back and forth but it is happening. We hope to release some PR end of the month once we put pen to paper. Also an Owosso, MI two showing theatrical premiere is in the works. The trailer has been getting great feedback and I cannot wait for people to experience the entire story.
- MANS BEST FRIEND fresh off our Crown Award win has been getting some additional attention. I want to thank all the fans again who take the time to reach out and tell me how the film has affected their lives. With all the unfortunate animal abuse and uncared for veteran stories in the news this film hits home for many.
- THE QUEST TRILOGY has its own share of fans. The biblical time period is a great world to weave a story within and I think at some point we will return to this genre. We do have a few great stories to tell it just is about time and funding. Do you have a favorite biblical era film we’ve done? Do you have one you think we should consider?
- BESTSELLER is coming to audiences via BMG general market and I’ll be having more conversations about other films in the CDI library being released. Ashes of Eden? Figure in the Forest? An Ordinary Killer? The Patchwork Girl of OZ? We will see…
- I’m about to start work soon on another audio book in a series that I’ve been narrating. You can take a listen to book 1 and if you are a Civil War or history buff you will really enjoy. https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Diary-and-Memories-of-a-Civil-War-Soldier-Part-1-Audiobook/B09237FGF8?ref=a_pd_The-Re_c13_moreAuthors_0&pf_rd_p=722bd3f0-0234-421b-a023-824edcd1a86b&pf_rd_r=1QFZM61E421TDVR7TGY5
So as you can see I’ve been just moving right along. This week ahead will consist of meetings, in studio Voice Over and more. Several big developments underway but until they blossom no need to go into it all. The doc ‘For the Love of Catch’ released the trailer where over 20k saw it in a few days. The feature length doc is in full edit mode and we hope to have a cut soon. The 2nd half of our soccer season starts this Thursday and I’m looking forward to that. To all my artistic friends keep planing seeds and nourishing ideas. The harvest awaits those who put in the work and so get out there and start creating. Again we thank all of you friends, families and fans who have helped us get this amazing stories out there. I’m going to wrap up here and in a short while it will be time to fire up the grill. Until we get together next week. Coffee cheers!
Good morning everyone. WOW! Lots of new international readers from around the globe. Coffee cheers. This month has been a kick into a new gear as we’re preparing for a cast and crew premiere this weekend followed by two virtual premieres via ENCOURAGE TV (Nov 7th and 21st) and the start of filming end of this month on BEST YEARS GONE.
We’re looking at filling the new holes we have in our cast and crew. I know this environment has some people cautious and rightfully so but good communication is still a must. I had situations where I was chasing a few people down to try and get answers on availability. At the same time we had others (and still do) awaiting an opportunity to join the Tribe CDI on this next journey. My reminder is just for all of you to use good communication. I do NOT want artists I have to kick in the butt – CDI is full of aggressively passionate artists and that is what we are looking for. That said, many communicated very timely and I thank you. We are still looking at a few camera support and grip & electric roles. A few castings are still being discussed but the schedule is about done now and will start getting dispersed this weekend and start of the new week.
Along those lines I want to announce the additional of a humble Hollywood legend who is joining BEST YEARS GONE. My dear friend Lana Wood (Diamonds are Forever) will be playing a very funny part in the film. We’re all looking forward to seeing her and creating another wonderful story.
Our sponsors are starting to roll in also and with CDI films getting millions of eyes of exposure. This is becoming a great way for our partners to showcase their brands. I want to thank Lerma Transportation Inc. again for traveling with us again with their generous sponsorship. More to follow!
The LOST HEART project is so exciting as we get ready to show the world our next story. The cast and crew premiere has opened up some restriction-wise which is now allowing a few more to join. Our outside premiere will have a large drive-in like screen which will be a unique viewing. I go up there this Thursday to start the planning. After this event the national PR will continue and the film could play a few theater chains. I know they are hurting and we would love to help them if we could.
WILD FAITH and HASTINGS TV Series is gaining traction as the film keeps bringing 100,000’s of views a week and the 1st season of the TV series is almost planned out. I have a few meetings over the series in the coming weeks. We hope to roll cameras in the spring. Make the time to meet the WILD FAITH characters and enter into the world of 1870’s Michigan.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Thank you to all the good people reaching out after watching this film. The best thing I can say is leave a review and recommend it to friends and family. And the on-going question is will I showcase my martial arts in another film? If the right story calls for it is my best answer.
Speaking on that – I do have some new discussions about representation on outside films. My schedule is a bit busy but I do love the joy of just going off to act in a powerful story without the producer responsibilities. We will see this year is about full. Playing Gil Gilles in this next film will take me right to the holiday season.
One of my favorite things about the family and friend holiday season is THE QUEST TRILOGY. We did a unique trilogy of biblical adventures part 1 being FORTY NIGHTS, part 2 CHASING THE STAR and part 3 is THE CHRIST SLAYER. The distributor is doing a new trilogy trailer and I’m excited to see it! I think you will find these films different than many of the other films out there on this subject matter. So take a chance and take a watch this holiday season.
Also if you like the spooky and the haunting stories of the season I’ve done my share in my days. A few of the more frightening might be The 8th Plague, GPS, Deadly Renovation, Darkest Night, Bestseller, Darkest Night and if cheesy monster movies are your thing my first starring film IN THE WOODS might be your cup of tea.
An early CDI film that has a great fall look is FIGURE IN THE FOREST starring Dean Teaster and Mary Jo Cuppone and can be purchased on DVD with HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS (Aaron Jackson/DJ Perry) in a limited run double feature. This is part of the CDI Classic Collection and will make a great stocking stuffer.
I want to do the same thing with CDI’s 1st and 2nd films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS next year. I will start having it authored over the winter and will release it next year. If you haven’t seen the film KNIGHT CHILLS a good read and watch go hand in hand so consider buying the book.
Talking of books and stocking stuffers – the Cat book I participated in can be purchased now.
I’m going to wrap this up. I will say that the AUTUMN ALE has made an appearance at some of the meetings and was met with approval. It has a NEWCASTLE like taste if anyone is aware of the beer. We’re still harvesting from the garden and it’s about time to harvest another round of green beans. Who knows with the tomatoes a new batch of The Green Goblin? Maybe:)
SOON WE WILL SET SAIL! I’m going to update my master TO DO list and get things rolling for this coming week. I hope each and everyone of you enjoys the new season. I’m prepared for some hard work to get this next story in the can as we use to say when shooting film. Stay safe and be kind to one another including folks that have different opinions and perspectives than you. I will keep doing what I do and who sits in the White House will not change that for me.
Until next week. Coffee cheers! Coffee Sponsors?
Welcome new readers from France, China and South India – welcome to our circle of artists. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me and I’m ready to discuss some activities from the week. For starts I’ve been exploring an upgrade to my account so that I can have some control over the ads. If they are going to be here they might as well be things that pertain to what we all do. I’m also looking at reviewing a few items here and there and such. But let’s look at some of the highlights of the week.
NATURE – This is something that most artists already know but a healthy connect to nature is a secret. The property is a natural garden of sorts. We are prepping to start the garden up with strawberries and rhubarb already showing. Apple blossoms and mulberry buds starting. I planted a hill of beans and some onions. I see the first of the ink tip mushrooms but no morels as of yet. Last night I did my first cooking of dandelions. If you read up they are all edible and full of nutrition. I cold washed and in a pan cooked them down in red cooking wine and garlic. I stirred in a few almond slices also and…bitter. I ate a few good bites and you could get use to it and I think longer cooking could reduce bitterness. Also different spices may help.
I harvested the roots that I like for tea but I will need to work on my cooking of the greens. I’m reading on the wine process. I’ve drank dandelion wine but never made it. I might try dandelion, rhubarb and black raspberry wine. Add a little home grown hops which is already going gangbusters. The last wine the GRAPE APE was well received so I’m planning the next wine. Same with beer as I’ve got a new Irish Porter I think to try and make. The beer always goes fast (vikings:) but the wine does also pending the company. So my days find balance with some yard work. Try it and you will find that your days will be much more balanced.
NEW ADDITION TO THE OFFICE – WHO IS HE?
OFFICE ZEN – I’ve been using this time to deep clean and organize the office fort. It’s been great fun to walk down the lane remembering all the trials and tribulations of the artistic journey. I’ve noted that our endeavors have paid out millions to artists on both sides of the camera and the support industries. I’ve found great pictures and promotion from films past.
I think in light of everything in the world virus-like – I will be adding an outdoor pergola and seating/meeting area to the office. I’ve been looking for a while. A few more tree trims and maybe an improved property fence. For my fellow producers I will likely be installing a boost, extender…to enhance office internet. I like it low tech as that is where minds meet before going off into our tech-ridden world. I’ve been having lots of phone meetings and much has been getting done. We have some exciting projects in development and others about to be completed. Let’s talk movies.
The fan mail keeps coming and the films continue to sell deeper and deeper into the world market. Mexico, Brazil and much of Latin America has gone on a ‘quest’ watching THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Audiences young and old are traveling to 1870’s Michigan with Emmett, Haddie, Grace, Henry and Uncle McKinney in WILD FAITH.
Viewers have cried and cheered with Paul Landings in MAN’S BEST FRIEND. And the cautionary tale of ASHES OF EDEN pushes out an important message.
During these times our artists are proud to give you inspiration, hope, distraction and direction. Thank you so very much!
LOST HEART – VFX, Color Correction, Credits and sound design are underway. The music is nearly done and marketing with the distributor is being conducted. Long time collaborator Dennis Therrian is again composing a wonderful soundtrack. We might have a few guests joining the band Roanoke. DVD artwork is almost complete and we’re all very excited to share this story with you.
I will discuss one thing I’ve seen a ‘trend’ with and that is minimizing front credits. I’ve had multiple directors push to get to the story unhindered by credits. I don’t agree. While directors have gotten more powerful in Hollywood and can push for such things we play in the indie world where I stand by the fact that I’ve never paid an artist what they are truly worth. I can’t because some of them, most of them are beyond a price tag. What we can do is honor some of the main artists contributing and complete that journey with end credits. I don’t like on TV when they speed those end credits up but networks are dealing with time slots only. I see the opening of the film as a slow slip into our created world. The kudos of credits that slide across the screen give added appreciation. So my taste in music, my style of dress and my general interests may never be ‘trending’ or trendy but I am okay with that. I’m a touch old school and I admit it. I love the slower pacing of classic films. I enjoy black and white classic Hollywood films that played at my grandma’s pretty much 24/7 save when Law and Order was on:) Maybe one day those like me holding onto a non-trendy, through-back storytelling will be GONE WITH THE WIND (My other grandma’s favorite) but until that point – stay classy.
BEST YEARS GONE – I’ve had some interesting talks with our next project. This week we chatted with actress Cindy Williams who did a small bit for LOST HEART. We were looking to bring her in a bit more to the CDI family and will if scheduling permits. Once the storm lifts and productions can move ahead it might be like the wagons in the gold rush. Or some endeavors may have suffered from the economic hardships. Luckily, our ship sits in the harbor stocked up and ready to sail. STORM: 45 is what we’ve been calling this operation. Someone suggested it was a good name for a WW2 film. Simply it means that 45 days from the storm of regulation passing we’ll move forward with a safe game plan. Like many we’ve already been focusing on all this as well as doing prep work. Scheduling, shot lists and soon zoom actor reads will be enacted.
NEW CAST ANNOUNCEMENT
This week we’ll be announcing a few more of our actors. We’ve got a pair of twins co-starring in the story. For those roles we’ve looked at reads from across the country. I’m happy to say that we found our twins and they are going to be wonderful collaborators in our film. You can see them up above. To find out who they are join our BEST YEARS GONE Facebook page tomorrow.
and remember to ‘Subscribe to the Tribe’
It is funny that someone mentioned WW2 film in reference to STORM 45. The big 2021 film is going to be a WW2 film directed by Anthony Hornus. It will be his follow up to MAN’S BEST FRIEND. We’re about to launch a national casting for the young lead in the film. We’ve been putting the business together behind the project and it looks like the first half of the financing is about to fall into place. I’m looking forward to storytelling in this time period. Maybe our secret code word will be Storm 45. Ok. That’s already taken so for now ‘Untitled Anthony Hornus WW2 film‘ will just have to work. We are also looking for German actors and actors capable of speaking German. Be honest with those resumes and special skills;)
This TV series is gaining momentum. We had talks with our distributor and a few 3rd parties either about finance or licensing. Every month our fans of the Murphy family and the zany characters of ‘Hastings’ grows. Some of the larger licensors of WILD FAITH will be approached on pre-licensing commits but I think it will only be a matter of time. In a perfect world this would land after BEST YEARS GONE and before the WW2 film. This is not a perfect world but we have a lot of creative folks and will adapt as needed. The first season will be 8 shows. I think audiences will really love to learn more about these deeply evolving characters in a changing world.
We have development on animated features, documentary films and several features in development. I personally am also excited that I’ve gotten to do some writing on my SciFi script. We’ve got a few great ‘space/technology’ consultants and some concept art is being working upon. Merchandise of various sorts and expanding services will be developing as more artist join the CDI Tribe. I’ve been using this time to plan the next 10 years for CDI. We have a clear path and I’m excited to see what is produced under the flag. I’m going to wrap this up and get to some outdoor tasks.
Be good to one another! Coffee Cheers.
Thinking of this fine man on this snowy Michigan morning – Mr. Rance Howard. I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and reflecting upon the past week and what lies ahead. I’m also very excited about the present day which is starting with spending time with all of you. I want to thank you all for joining us all. We have several new readers from all over the world. Okay I know what I can speak on that maybe some of you can apply.
For fear of sounding like the old man talking of walking to school with no shoes, read me there was not a known “industry” in Michigan when I started out. There was a handful of crazy artists scrapping together money for “short end” film stock. Pulling favors to allow one to edit or make analog transfers at TV stations in the dead of night. In 1989 to tell your parents you wanted to be a filmmaker you might as well been telling them you wanted to walk on the moon. Tax incentives come in and business media announce Michigan’s best incentive and suddenly people saw a new word – filmmaker.
Many people look for short cuts but I would suggest rather than short cuts (which only short cut your education) * THROW BACK LESSON – Senior year in high school I learned the REPEAT function in typing class. Using the free time to work on scripts and storyboards, I got away with it until just before final exams. I think my grades in that class were like A, A, A, C. Enter my life where I type all the time on contracts, scripts, proposals, pitches and so on. I would have more time to put elsewhere if I had been a faster typer. So don’t look to get around certain hardships. Change the way you look at it. A teachable moments for yourself. An opportunity to learn.
OK. So seek to waste less time and/or spend time wiser, not seeking short cuts. It’s that smarter versus harder approach. So where is this smarter attitude leading us you might ask? Smarter might be faster but faster is not always better. It’s the toxic variable or strings attached that come with certain choices. I had another week of developing opportunities and options. Some are for the company and some were on a personal business level. They are intertwined like quantum pairing:) But I have to remind myself and honestly it is not hard at this point in my life – to walk not run. If an opportunity is not a fluke it will not be there and gone. It strengthens and grows with each steady step.
I’m working out an agreement with a management company. I’ve desired for a long time someone who appreciated the art individually (me) and collectively (Tribe CDI) and works to the best interest of these endeavors. I’ve had many agents from a collection of smaller agents to one from a big 3 agency in Hollywood. It’s HARD to find representation that fits. Many have a hard time finding a rep at all but the right fit is RARE. I have many celebrity friends with long careers and they are still seeking that right fit. But, I think I’ve found a company/people I like and could be a good fit. Now, even without this new opportunity things are progressing strong in an upward direction. What is offered in part by this proposed arrangement is SPEED and SIZE.
SPEED: I recall a Hollywood lunch meeting with an arrogant agent from a major agency years ago. Without rehashing the whole story – maybe this person landed in a blessed place where they could with a phone call do what might take me months to do. But their power came from an appointment of position not an earned stake in creating motion picture. They were selling speed but at what price?
SIZE: I have been asked in a few high end meetings about my business goals? I answered, to do exactly what I’m doing now but for myself and my people to be better compensated for it. Can this new opportunity perhaps put our showcased projects even higher? I know that if we had strong P&A many of the CDI films would have soared to some decent box office receipts. But our films were built on a limited theatrical- home video model. Even that money was work to gather. That is the key for all filmmakers. The ONLY thing that makes it easier is your REPUTATION.
People have tried to figure out THE SECRET OF CDI. The answer is reputation. I/We’ve become known for 3 things. 1) On budget. 2) On schedule 3) Ability to assemble the right team behind a project * The last thing I have been doing since high school when I had tricked that old type writer to ‘repeat’ while I assembled the after school cast and crew for our silly videos.
Become known for these things and an abundance of opportunities may follow. That is why accountability is so very important and many artists avoid that. Talking accountability I recently had a non-film discussion with a young family friend. I asked him a question about how he had left a job. He prepared to give me a lie? An excuse? Justification? Instead he just took accountability for it because I think he knew he couldn’t get one by me.
* I think that is why many don’t engage me at functions or meetings…if you’re selling BS I will likely call you on that – maybe privately, maybe not.
My point was, I saw the relief in his eyes. I saw the power that washed over him by taking accountability. He had just up and quit this job by not showing up. He had later apologized and expressed a desire to return to work. His former employer was not prepared to forgive but he will remember the apology and who knows. And by taking accountability this young man took on a new strength and insight that he could possibly use in the future. This accountability leads to wisdom.
I think this conversation leads in nicely to the crew and cast talks we’ve been having on the new CDI film. A dramatic comedy with strong messages of hope, entitled BEST YEARS GONE. It’s an adaptation from a book that will be released in advance of the film. When I was approached with this opportunity I was prepared to say no if it wasn’t up to snuff. I can promise that even with money attached if a project is too outside my interest or the branding of CDI, a pass might happen. But CDI is a big garden that can accommodate many ventures of various genres. We’ve had several meetings to debrief and discuss cast and crew from previous projects. We’re always seeking the most artistically gifted with a positive “can do” attitude to develop.
Some of the past CDI directors…
* Side Note – I had a wonderful catch up conversation with an old school friend who has gone on to many great things including several government endeavors. We talked about people management. He spoke about the one person on a team often highly gifted but with a bad attitude. I said, I would not rehire the #1 guy and focus on the gifted #2 and #3 with good attitudes. Easier to inspire the best out of them. versus changing negative hard wiring. So now I work for the government. Just kidding. Wait! Do I? Like Elvis working with the CIA:) Hmmm…
My point – it’s about the journey not just the destination. As a former coach, sensei and camp counselor – I take even the few shortcomings personal. I’m about developing people where many are about using people. I see the potential to fail or succeed in a person. You try to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. A chaotic, disorganized environment would bring out the worst in some. We’re just about to build the new team and so you again you take accountability of past sets and look at all the variables. Also because of our budgets and just the scope of the story we can’t always work with everyone on every endeavor. That said, I’m excited to be working again soon with many of the ole TRIBE CDI this April/May. We’ll start making some announcements this week on BEST YEARS GONE.
LOST HEART – I’m looking forward to a sit-down with composer/sound designer Dennis Therrian this week. I’m excited to add all the audio layers to this charming and touching story of dreams. I’ll be following up to see what is also going on with our Nashville recordings. Poster art and trailer are being worked on and I hope to have something to share soon.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – HELLO TEXAS!
MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. I’m excited for a new audience to experience our story. We’ll keep expanding the showings at events and platforms. If you enjoyed this film and think someone else will also – please do share it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
This Easter help me make a tradition of watching the three films in the trilogy. FORTY NIGHTS focuses on the little known time Jesus spent in the wilderness. CHASING THE STAR presents a ‘what if’ you got to know the wise men magi. THE CHRIST SLAYER follows the Roman centurion who put the spear to Jesus on the cross. I can promise you that these films are unlike any other you have watched. We also see from the perspective of the angels both the fallen and faithful. They are a unique thread through all three films. RIP to Kirk Douglas who like Chuck Heston was an inspiration to me with their epic historic dramas. Please take a watch or re-watch and encourage some friends and/or family to watch. I watched them around Christmas and I’m very proud of what we created, collectively:)
WILD FAITH – Soon we’ll be entering into discussions over financing and distribution of a TV series spin off of WILD FAITH. If the time table works out I would love to roll cameras first part of 2021. Phase 1 – make our deal. Phase 2 – lock scripts/hires Phase 3 – shoot! If you have not seen this film treat you and your family to a watch. I’m happy to say just like several of the films I get weekly fan mail on this film. I’m passing on your howdy doo’s to Ben Lily. I am looking forward to having Ben and Hester return to the world of Wild Faith.
To wrap this up – I’ve got many people that I care and look out for as we journey. I’m excited about the prospect of SPEED and SIZE of the deals increasing to meet our needs better. But I also cannot tie my entire operations up. Blanket deals with no performance or exit clauses are often issue prone. I have meetings with my legal next week but I think slow and steady is better. I also think a trial period is helpful for both parties. My solution might just be to allow representation on a writer/actor level and production by a -la-carte not an overall. Also I always try same side of the table negotiations always. But sometimes when you receive harsh one-sided agreements it is from the scars of previous burns. We all have them. The secret is not to carry that over into your new relationships. If something or nothing happens on this front stuff is moving forward. The new screenplay I wrote will be produced this May and I’ve got a new character to become.
CDI in the Hollywood
Enjoy the day and the week that lies ahead. My congrats to all the Oscar nominations. I use to attend a yearly Oscar event “Norby Walters Night of 100 Stars” and might return at some point. I think we’ll be out in Hollywood next to show MBF.
Chatting it up with the vets of our industry like Martin Landau.
I’ve have had an opportunity to watch many of the films this year. What a great line up! They are all winners in my book. I could post my reviews but I have things to do today. Maybe next week we’ll compare my thoughts versus the actual outcome.
Oscar Night – going to Norby Walters ‘Night of a 100 Stars”
I’m sipping on my morning coffee and happy to be sitting down with all of you. Again our reader BASE jumped this past week by a substantial number. Many new countries joined us in our read. Maybe the subject matter hit home with some of you. Either way I want to welcome all our new readers. So grab your favorite relaxing beverage and join us. I hope you all in the path of the storms stayed safe. Michigan got some but our home town of Lansing was not too bad. We’ve had much worse in the past years.
I’m excited to see all the new year projects that are coming together. This is also the start of a new decade and I’m excited to see what our creative tribe will produce.
I’ve been working away on the new script. The book I’m turning into a screenplay is coming along great. I’m at the half way point and after a read through with one of our development producers, I feel great about it. I found a character I related to and decided to write from that characters point of view. It is a 300+ page book so limiting the POV is helping me to target the 90-100 page mark. I’m currently called it “Best Years Gone” which is more reflective of the script. The book may ride out under a different title which is just fine. Same story but two different approaches – I like to find those unique takes on a story. I will have the script completed this month. This will be a 2020 CDI production. We got some good news about one of the locations we may use to tell this story. It is a piece by piece building of what will be another CDI story.
The Sat reading event of …
…was cancelled due to the severe weather and will be rescheduled for May I’m told. I will pass along any info I get on that new date.
We have 4 other script/projects in various degrees of development. One of them is the new project that MBF director Anthony Hornus will helm. It is another CDI period piece that takes place during WW2. Distribution interest is in place and we’re building the funding pieces as we speak. Once I get done with my current writing I will work on the directors draft with Mr. Hornus. We will be putting a call out to actors of German ancestry who can speak German.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I’m excited to have all three of these films in the marketplace. I want to try and work on a TRILOGY trailer that pitches all three films at audiences. They are meant to be seen in order and together so I think that TRILOGY aspect has to be reenforced to our audience members.
WILD FAITH – We’ve almost finished putting some presentation materials together for ‘Hastings’ the WF TV series. I will be working with a new mgt company in trying to find the right home/partners for the series. This TV series would shoot in MICHIGAN! If you have Amazon Prime this film is free to watch. Please do and leave your review and comments on the Amazon/IMDB sites.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This amazing little film is also now free if you have Amazon Prime. We’re also seeing more DVD retails places since 1/7/2020 so I do recommend adding the DVD to your collection. It will play in Feb in Bedias, Texas and a handful of festivals and events. ICFF will be one of them and perhaps our home town festival CAPITAL CITY FILM FESTIVAL. We are planning on additional showings this year including in Hollywood for our amigos there. The response to this film continues to make me smile. Thank you to all of you that have reached out.
LOST HEART – So this past week we say edit 2 of the film. We have a watch and talk through session at the studio with Dennis Therrian who is prepping to do the music and sound design. The movie is REALLY GOOD. I’m excited for all the artists involved to see the final results. We’re prepping to do a bit of music work in Nashville in the coming weeks. The film will release late Summer or Early Fall is my best guess. We might have some art work to show soon and a trailer is next once we lock picture and move it to post audio.
I might bring this to a close. We have protein waffles almost done in my Death Star waffle maker which was a gift. I’m been outlining scenes for the script writing to hit hard again on Monday. I’m lining up a few meetings for next week at the fort. This week I plan to outline and assign some of the development tasks to our CDI producers. Updates to the CDI website including some casting announcements. http://www.cdiproductions.com
Aside from that I’m just getting ready for a decade of great new projects. Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.
I’m told it is national coffee day, so my hazelnut coffee is to be recognized, cheers! The past week and the days leading up to it have been jam-packed with activity. On a personal level I’ve had a fill of loved ones facing health struggles including a dear Uncle of mine. Last weekend we got to visit and share a few laughs as he was always that family storyteller I looked up to. Sitting in his chair or around a fire up in Harrison we were always treated to mysterious and exciting stories. His tales of Bigfoot and strange lights in the sky can be seen as an influence in my writing like ‘Lost Heart’ which sadly he will not see. He is nearing the end of this journey and soon to start a new one.
Others who have not lived the same full life are facing challenges that make us ponder our purpose and value while living our relatively short time. I’m proud that I outlasted all the slings, arrows, naysayer and doubters to do what I love to do. If my time here were to end early, I’m happy and doing what I always dreamt of doing. I work with some amazing people and I think in our own way we are helping.
I’m not a person who puts high value to trophies and awards knowing that some are just vanity. But the awards that recognize the team work are the awards that matter most. The ‘Inspirational’ and certain individual awards to others like Josh Perry, stepping outside the limited views of society to be nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” makes my heart sing. Filmmaking is NOT an individual thing but a collective thing, hence Collective Development. Being that we’re not submitting to these festivals our distributor is, we have surprises every handful of days. Lets look at a bullet point of some of the updates.
- Hollywoodivine International Film Festival will happen next weekend and we have (3) films MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WILD FAITH and THE CHRIST SLAYER nominated for ‘Best Film’ – two of those for ‘Best Director’ and ‘Most Inspirational’ – All three of our film’s leading men were nominated being yours truly, Shane Hagedorn and Carl Weyant – just incredible. Lauren LaStrada again for “Haddie” in ‘Wild Faith’ – Josh Perry as mentioned above ‘Best Supporting’ – All three films nominated for ‘Best Cinematography’ – two nominations for Jesse Aragon and one for Patrick Dowdle. Lastly the amazing score of ‘Wild Faith’ by Dennis Therrian.
- Wild Bunch Film Festival will be happening on the same weekend. Ben Lily, Hester Thickett and Emmett will all be in attendance with Darby Hinton, who is my ‘Best Supporting Actor’ competition from another western film. I LOVE the genre and I’m looking forward to representing the film that garnished 13 nominations including again Dennis Therrian’s score. Other nominations include Best (Film, Faith Film, Produced Film, Best Lead Actors (Shane and Lauren), Best Supporting Actors (Melissa Anschutz and I), Best Narrator Trace Adkins, Best Children Actors for both Joe and Xylia and Best Director. If we win anything or nothing it will be a good moment representing the CDI TRIBE!
- In Randolph, VT the 1st Green Mountain Christian Film Festival will take place Oct 18-19. I think all three films MBF, Wild Faith and The Christ Slayer will play. Among the nominations announced thus far I was granted a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Nomination for ole Ben Lily in ‘Wild Faith’ – along side Burt Young from ROCKY fame who is an Oscar Nom and whom I met a handful of years ago at Norby Walter’s Night of 100 Stars. ‘The Christ Slayer’ is nominated for a ‘Most Inspirational’ with more nominations to come this week.
- LOST HEART editing is underway and we should be climbing to the 30 min mark and we’ve had some PR from Creative Motion and a few other publications. Look for PR to really hit hard 1st of the new year.
- I’ve had such powerful and heartfelt responses from those watching ‘MAN’S BEST FRIEND‘ and I cannot express how much that fills me with joy. I took a moment this week to read some of the wonderful reviews on our IMDB and Amazon page. I know that you can’t please everyone but overall I think the film is finding its audience. Thank you. The DVD is suppose to arrive this week on Amazon and once it does we’ll be sharing that with all of you.
- The book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS by Revall/Baker Publishing is now out and you can read two of my stories in there. You can get online or at your favorite bookstore. It will make a great Christmas present. Mom no need to get one Santa might have you hooked up this year:) I might do some book store readings or some other PR we will see. I have more books coming that will feature a few of my stories.
- BUY HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Horse-My-Dreams-Stories-Horses/dp/0800727185
- We are almost done with a second abridged version of a ‘book video promo’ we did for a publisher. It has been a lot of coordination but in the end it will be worth it.
- Development talks continue as we prepare for 2020 and what CDI will produce in the years ahead. We have some collaborative meetings in the weeks ahead and we will be charting a course soon.
I’m going to wrap it up here. Again if you haven’t seen the films in our library please do take a watch. You can also look at more of the film details on http://www.cdiproductions.com
Have a great end to your weekend and a wonderful week ahead.
And where do I even begin to describe last night? If you are not up to speed we had our Michigan premiere for our recent CDI film “Man’s Best Friend” at the NCG theater in Owosso, MI the home turf of our director Anthony (Tony) Hornus. In all my years I’ve been to premieres where after a showing people have all kinds of polite things to say. What I’ve found is that the screening itself doesn’t lie. With 270 people in each show you had a sea of viewers. The crying, laughter and even the occasional murmur such as “Shits about to go down now” give truth. We sit in our little studio mixing and watching with our small producers group but to witness a full theater absorb and react is…an artists dream.
In many ways I am living my dream. I’m doing what always made me happy and what I feel confident doing. Last night I got to see many old friends and fellow artists. It was a joy to get beyond positive feedback from folks in the military and the general audiences. Nov 11th is the target date for theatrical in N. America. So if you have a film chain in your area reach out to their management and ask them to book the film. We will be pushing to get it to all the places that are being requested. It is a wonderful film to see on the big screen and kudos to our tech team for doing such a wonderful job. I’m still in morning coffee bliss after meeting so many of you last night. I’ve had several people tell me this was our best film to date and my best performed role to date. I will let all of you be the judge of that. I love them all but recognize the power in this role. I put in the work. I watched and communicated with many actual wounded warriors to create an ‘everyman’ like Paul Landings. All I can say is that I will never forget last night. It was truly special for me and to share it with all of those who came just made it that much more special.
IF this is your first CDI film please do work your way backwards through our catalogue and watch the growth and development of our company. Once again I’m just so proud to have worked with all the artists in front of and behind the camera.
WILD FAITH will ride into Wilcox, AZ this October. We just found out that another Hollywood festival (Hollywood Divine International Film Festival) invited Wild Faith, MBF and The Christ Slayer to participate after being submitted by our distributor. I will get more info out on that event soon. IF you like to stay up on the developments please seek out and join our Facebook pages for these films. I just opened an official folder at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND facebook site for the MI premiere pictures. In the next day or so the pictures will start being posted. So join us at our FB site and follow the CDI films as they rolls out across the nation.
Aside from all the film work we’re doing final music with the amazing Dennis Therrian on a CDI commercial project. We’ll finish that up and deliver to the client. I’m almost done with LOST HEART clean up. We’re about 15 minutes into the rough edit of the film. Jesse Low has given his adjustments and so this week will be refining and digging into the next handful of scenes. This film will be under wraps being worked on while we promote the finished projects.
One of the biggest questions asked of me last night was what is next? Development is underway – rest assured. Stay tune. I’m going to make this a shorter blog today. I’m going to let all this positive energy soak in. I so enjoyed seeing everyone last night. I was up past my bedtime:) Thankful for 11:30 pm coffee:) Speaking of coffee, time to refill the cup.
Have a wonderful morning.
Doing some spring clean up with my buddy Finn
Good morning from Michigan, USA! While this past week has been a good introduction into spring with lots of yard clean up and arrangement, today we have icy rain and snow. It will disappear fast but I’m just getting use to the coffee and phone calls on the patio deck listening to the birds and watching the squirrels retrieve their winter stash of acorns. I’ve been doing a lot of wood cutting and it looks like the office wood stove will get a work out today. I was going to attend a first flea market of the season but with the snow I might have to pass. I’m sip my Michigan Cherry coffee and type with all of you.
My brother had a birthday and we got to spend time with family yesterday and a few days before that my niece’s birthday. My nephew Wes has the same bday month as myself. He is the 21st and I’m the 23rd so we’ll have that ahead. Aside from the family gatherings and the homestead clean up I’ve had lots of entertainment business abound. Let’s discuss a few.
I made my yearly visit down to the opening of the Capital City Film Festival happening now in Lansing, MI. In my early years I spent a good amount of time and energy working with the East Lansing Film Festival centering on the Michigan’s Own portion of the festival. It awarded films with awards and cash prizes. It took hours of watching films, meeting with judges and other planning so I know what goes into it. These days my schedule allows me to buy a ticket to spend a few hours supporting upcoming filmmakers in our area. The opening night was at Impression 5 museum which has been a favorite since I was knee-high to a grasshopper:) I had a lilac drink that intrigued me because we made lilac wine once. It was great but very labor intensive. I also enjoyed a local hard cider. I got to see a few friends I only see yearly at this event. I attended with fellow filmmaker Shane Hagedorn and had a good time. We did at least one red carpet photo but I did not see it so once of us broke the camera with our mug. He we are with a young actor/filmmaker who just happens to be the son of Mr. Craig Jones whom I’ve known since high school. How cool that they get to do film work as father and son.
Throwing some support at the Capital City Film Festival
Aside from supporting the local fest we’ve been very hard at work here at Collective Development and on a personal level. I started looking at literary representation mid last year talking with various agents and management companies. You want to get the right relationship as they will be dealing with people who value your art. I’ve had an agent at one of the largest agencies in Hollywood and it wasn’t a great experience. A few big deals were lost and while the agency inclusion did help with a few doors, the cons started to outweigh the pros. I’ve been riding with legal at my side making my own deals. Legal is good at dotting I’s and crossing T’s but they are not seeking new opportunities. But I finally had a conversation with an international agent that I find promising. They discovered my work via another studio executive and reached out. They are doing some additional reviewing of my work but I think I’ll be having a go at working with a new literary and talent agent. I’ll be putting a large focus on foreign projects as well as domestic USA films. Many of you know I’ve done films in other countries and that is always a great experience.
I’m excited to see what films we do over the next 10 years
I’m also in development talks on several projects with a few new collaborators. We have some great projects developing both in the family/faith market and outside that target market. It is an exciting time but don’t get me wrong, it is still HARD WORK. When people occasionally look at what we’ve accomplished or are accomplishing it occasionally sets off feelings of envy. You/they might be a better artist even though that is subjective but overall I just outwork people. Part of that is learning where not to waste your energy. Look for red flags and know when to say NO THANK YOU. Many do not realize that and spends lots of energy where their only reward is frustration.
Beautiful Northern Michigan
LOST HEART – This is what is front and center in development and fighting to move into pre-production. We have enough to make the journey but we are fighting to be able to add a few days of shooting ultimately creating a better product. We only have a few more pieces of this investment puzzle to remedy and move forward. A lot of development work is getting done now and so I believe strongly we will be rolling cameras in July!
Hester and Ben in ‘Wild Faith’
WILD FAITH – We just finished runs in Grand Rapids, MI and Biloxi, Mississippi and I’m trying to confirm West Virginia and other venues. The DVD will be rolling out next month and so all of you wanting to see this fine adventure tale will soon be able to. I will be checking on Amazon pre-booking which should start soon.
I will note that the TV series is one of the things being discussed in some of my development talks. I would love to play Ben Lily again and bring a series of stories to all of you.
Just in time for Easter
THE CHRIST SLAYER
The Christ Slayer just announced its first theatrical dates in Amarillo, Texas. We hope that myCinema will continue to book to the big screen. Those who want to watch in the privacy of their own home can watch it streaming or on DVD on Amazon Prime or other fine platforms. Thank you for all the fine fan(e)mail I’ve gotten. It warms my heart to see so many enjoying our stories. I know myCinema is working hard to get it in AZ but is having issue at Harkins because of Studio Commitments but call the theater and let them know. Yuma, AZ deserves to see it on the big screen.
The film really goes perfect with the Easter season but perhaps you might enjoy watching the entire trilogy of Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. The ending of part 2 makes more sense if you know about part 3. I think that is going to be a PR release on the lead up to Easter. Also I might discuss more about the trilogy as a whole.
CDI OG Mister Dean Teaster
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
In my post meeting last week it was noted that sound quality was really good and the dialog clean up was not as extensive as in the past. To be fair the locations were much more controlled versus being out in the desert like with our trilogy. Sound Design is happening at the same time and so once we get all this laid in MUSIC TIME. I will also be touching base with the visual team about VFX, Color Correction and a new trailer. Exciting times.
The Week Ahead…
This next week will be working towards disbursement of funds back at investors. Seeking a few new partners so we can move into official pre-production on LOST HEART. We are close and we could do the film with what we have now but I want to have the extra breathing room. It is easier on the cast and crew and ultimately might yield a better final product. Businesses wanting to talk sponsorship or product placement please do reach out.
Treat yourself to the book and movie
I’m going to go refill the coffee cup and organize for my forthcoming week. I have a friend coming in from Texas for a few days on family business so it will be nice to catch up with him. He was involved with the original KNIGHT CHILLS, CDI’s 1st feature film. KNIGHT CHILLS 2? You never know:)
Have a great Sunday and week ahead!
The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.
Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.
Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker, or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own STRANGER THINGS life.
I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.
The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings. There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.
I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.
This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.
MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…
THE CHRIST SLAYER!
Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.
Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.
Have a great Sunday!
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!
Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
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:)
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.
The strength to look at the harsh trials of our industry and believe I could make it.
FILM BIZ UPDATES
Many of our films are rolling out this month to various ON DEMAND platforms. Joining “40 Nights” on Google Play is now “BESTSELLER” –
SOUNDTRACK coming soon!
NEW “40 NIGHTS”
“40 Nights” has released on VUDU and AMAZON.
We have more teaser clips rolling out to promote the ON DEMAND roll outs.
“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.
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.
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)
So one of those inspiring movies to me growing up was the original CONAN the barbarian. I also would love to do a fantasy movie – sword and sorcery at some point. But first, Arnold, I read his bio from his soccer playing teen years into body building – to America…pretty inspiring. Also the film had edge and lessons seemed to be buried in there. (The Riddle of Steel) Add one of my favorite musical scores of all time by Basil, and you have a classic film.
As young filmmakers we loved the barbaric wisdom spewed – CRUSH YOUR ENEMY, SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU, HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF DA WOMAN.
Who was the enemy? Hollywood? The Man? Corporate Studio? The struggle is fun when you’re climbing. Many get stuck in the mud and frustration builds. As the middle age filmmaker to the young filmmakers out there – look within. See your enemy – YOU, your lack of confidence, your insecurities, your jealously, your frustration – DRIVE IT BEFORE YOU – do not let it rule you, blind you, corrupt you and bring out your worst traits. Now I’m not sure how the last part fits in:) If you rid yourself of your worst character flaws I don’t think anyone will lament that.
This week was full and I felt a touch behind all week despite paddling as hard as I could. Sometimes you have to let the current take you. Let me see if I can hit upon some of the weekly highlights.
KNIGHT CHILLS book/film deal is done. Also they are on board with the idea to participate in the sequel film. It is very close to having a first draft I’ve just been pulled in various directions.
AN ORDINARY KILLER – We’re about to do a high quality run of this film that has been newly remastered. I was prepping it for 2016 VOD release and likely BluRay. New ART WORK is done.
WICKED SPRING is also heading the same direction. I picked a different direction for the film which delayed our new release a bit.
FIGURE IN THE FOREST will be the Dec. 17th film showing at our artist mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. We have an event page just opened today. We have a good time watching some of the older films and talking about the challenges we faced at that time.
Release dates nationally
DONORS (Feb 2nd)
ASHES OF EDEN (April 1st UplifTV, Parables TV) April 5th national)
BESTSELLER (May 3rd)
This week I’ve had a couple scripts to get through and another is on the way. I often have to use my writing time to read so my writing progress slows slightly.
40 NIGHTS – The film should have the VFX and intro in this week. We watched the entire film with the dialog and sound design work done. It was moving and I love how nature plays so strongly into the film. The music is underway and soon we’ll start color correction.
CHASING THE STAR – We’re organizing the business entity. We’ve got our first official script that will start to be sent around this week. Our revised schedule is done and this will help me finish what I need to do. Casting has been in full swing. We announced Logan and Anthony (Tony) as part of our cast this week. I’m excited to bring together this group of artists.
WASTELAND released Part 1 for FREE! WASTELAND: Tales from the Desert, Pt. 1 is now online and we’re giving away five official WASTELAND posters in honor of it! Just share this post and you’re automatically entered to win! https://vimeo.com/146707702
This work while only taking up a few lines of text has been a boatload. But when I see a finished project it always makes the climb worth it. We’ve got a final Thanksgiving like dinner with family up North. After that the early Christmas gatherings start. So in between the family gatherings it is work, work, work but soon…we will be toasting another finished film. It is time to get into some hot soup and prepare to watch MSU win their big game tonight. Go GREEN! Go WHITE! Spartans to WAR!
I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).
Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.
Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.
I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.
I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.
I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.
Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.
– To bring this full circle
Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.
I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.
CDI – The Brand
We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.
DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)
Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.
We’ve had a few beautiful days here in Michigan and I’ve made sure to do most of my work outdoors on the patio. I’ve had some great business calls and meetings this week. We’ve broken into my STAN REED’S SUMMER BREW at these meetings to a good response. It is just great seeing all the green and spring flowers blooming. Today I might be racking the coconut/banana wine to the secondary fermentation – from the activity I’ve seen I think it is going to be STRONG! I’m looking forward to spending some time with momma tomorrow and showing her my appreciation. Let’s take a look at the week and see what film entertainment topics we can discuss.
DONORS – Upcoming first showing in Yuma, AZ on May 24th – so if you are in the area and want to attend
SCREENING LINK : https://www.facebook.com/events/649394905132609/
ASHES OF EDEN – This film is out to those who showed first interest which is about 2 dozen companies. It will take 2-3 weeks to get a full evaluation. Fast response is usually the PASSES and the companies that take a bit longer – that tends to be good sign – usually meaning that they are passing a film about to their team. The decision is take on a film is usually a group decision so a little added time is often a good thing. We’re exploring the various theatrical options currently as that will be the next phase. We will shop for a while to find the right fit for this film. Patience:)
BESTSELLER – The trailer that will give the first look on this film is almost done. I’m excited to let people have a 1st peek. The film cut is almost done also. It has been decided that we will do a 1 day pick up day with a skeleton crew to get a few extra pieces that will enhance the film. After that I think we will do a TEST SCREENING for an audience. After that, the agreements are all in place to start music and sound design. Once we insert those new pieces and lock up the visual we will polish it all up! From everything I’ve seen I think we are about to have a very exciting film.
The first phase of business with our German, Austria, Switzerland distributor is done and we are now in talks on getting a new slate of CDI projects released there. We are also close with Brazil and the UK and perhaps even Australia. It is fun to roll this films out to our international fans. We are also continuing to present to a few TV networks and so perhaps some of the films will be heading to a TV station in your location.
I am happy to announce that I have new management for my acting. Myra MacKay is a 30 year vet working with several of Hollywood power movers and A-List artists. She is set to oversee my transition into TV and Studio films. This model is not shotgun random but targeting projects that I feel will be a strong fit. I’ve been happy working the independents and will continue but this team that includes former power manager to the stars Jerry Cohn, believe that I just need a major platform to introduce my performance to the larger domestic audience. I’ve already got a couple of major projects that I’m being positioned to participate in. I figure between now and age 50 I might do another 20 films and why not make a few of those studio? I’m ready to mix it up on that level. I just have never liked all the BS in the casting system but now I’ve got some people who seem capable of handling this transition. Some of it is that, WHO YOU KNOW – BUT you have to be ready to present what you have when you have their attention. I think my body of work does that and so let’s do this. If you want to inquire about my schedule, availability contact Myra MacKay at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to discuss. Please make sure your project is funded before coming to her with offers. I want to respect her time.
So the next role for me is a one day return to Mark Franklin from BESTSELLER. I had to push back another project a bit because I need to get this done so post work can stay moving forward. We are in talks on a new CDI associated film that I’m starting to get excited about. The film I had to push is still gathering funds and things are coming together there. I’m just taking care of business that is in front of me. A handful of films to roll out to audiences and more coming together. I truly do feel blessed making a living doing what I love – writing, producing and acting.
Follow your dreams and keep CLAWING YOUR WAY TO THE MIDDLE:)