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.