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

Posts tagged “hope

Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 

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An Artist’s Hope and Other Updates

We had a nice day of sunshine yesterday and that allowed us to get outside and do a little bit of yard clean up. Today the weather is back to wet and overcast but tis the way in Michigan. In a few short weeks we’ll be back in Yuma, AZ to film our third installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Let’s examine those films and the journey that these projects take.

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The Christ Slayer

The bank account is open and the finalizing of people’s paperwork and getting their investment into the bank is always a task. People are busy but we work on tight timelines. We only have a few units to assign before we’re a fully functional battle station. Paperwork between crew started this week and next week some paperwork on talent will begin. Right now rooms, flights for the pre-prod team are the priority of the production office.

On cast we’re waiting for our schedule this week so we’ll know how many days talent will be required. Casting has been mostly a joy but you always get to those few hard choices. This past week we came to a few casting decisions after some healthy back and forth. We finalized casting on one of our last co-stars, a supporting role and a few featured roles from the AZ area. Each artist brings their unique talents to the screen. I’m so excited about the casting choices that were made.

I’m also happy that because of distribution being in place we don’t need to drop any ‘lure castings’ as I call them. That’s less than ideal casting but it’s done  with the possibility that it may help grab the attention of a distributor. I understand why this is done but it can have a backlash. Distributors we’ve spoken with will tell you that certain names are known but they’ve become known for less than inspired product. They spoke of the flood of films that basically takes (Insert animal) and (Insert Holiday) add (Insert lure casting) and repeat. Now, I respect the fact that it’s a business model but I need more to invest myself in. I need a story that means something to me deeply.

On schedule, on budget and our projects bring high artistic value.” That’s how we’re described by distributors and why we’ve been developing our ongoing business. I’ve said it before, you need to streamline your operation so that you can work with marketing teams whose job is to put the film into the marketplace. No excuses.

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T Rex and DJ Perry (Moses & Jesus) “innocent role” 

As I’ve done before I’ll give you a hint to the upcoming casting along with a story. First one of the roles WAS hard to find because it possesses a quality you can’t easily manufacture. In this case it was the “innocent role” which in “Forty Nights” was our T-Rex/Moses and in the upcoming “Chasing the Star” was filled by the amazing actor Logan Kishi. Thinking outside the box led me to looking at a certain spectrum of talent. From there I saw an actor who shared by last name. I looked at his materials along with dozens of others actors but kept coming back to the one with the famous last name:) His humor was right on point with the writing and he had that IT factor people talk about. In moving down the road in the casting process we discovered this talent had a sibling who also is an established actor. Another read for another role and BAM it has become a family affair. I’m excited that these two siblings will get to share in this journey together. People may assume I’m casting from family but I’ve never met these two brothers with the cool last name:) If we are related it’s buried up in the in the limbs of the ole family tree.

Two local actors who’ve participated with us before in Yuma, AZ have landed featured extra parts that while small are very important. (As all roles are) I’m sure they’re excited to be participating and we’re excited to have them.

In summary – We’re moving forward strong. I’ve been spending time with the story and it’s a joy to be able to imagine the talent in the roles on the page I’m reading. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I am also looking forward to a little sunshine and Mexican food!

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A few of the co-stars of the upcoming “Chasing the Star”

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I’ve been assembling information for our end credits. This week we’ll also start moving over photo elements to the distributor. We should get our street date set in the coming weeks. I’m excited for audiences to get their first peek at the film. I’m trying to make it possible for our friends at Champion Church to see the film before we roll cameras on “The Christ Slayer”. They’ve helped us in so many ways as part of our Yuma team and I like to give them a special treat as a thank you.

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DJ Perry as Jesus in “Forty Nights” 4/4/2017

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The Easter stuff is slowly making its way out and that brings us closer to the 4/4/17 release date. The nice part about this release is that we’ll create a nice flow between the releases of the three films.

Once “The Christ Slayer” releases around Easter 2018 my hope is to see the three films play together or over three nights on television. I’m anxiously awaiting the new artwork which I hope to see this week. Fingers crossed.

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Lisa Lauren Smith drives the drama as Haddie in #WildFaith

Wild Faith

We’ve had many people reaching out about this film. I sincerely think we’ve got some gold with this film. The energy while making it was just powerful and cast and crew alike brought their A game. This week we’ll be seeing the first full cut of the story. I would say I’m excited but that would be an understatement. Keep following us and I’ll keep you updated after the first watch.

I’m not going to wax on about development at this time. Truth is I have much to turn my attention to and so I will cut this short. All of us artists appreciate your time and attention and in a few short weeks and months ahead we hope to entertain, educate and inspire you with your stories. That is an artist’s hope.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


Misty Morning Michigan Updates

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“In the misty morning on the edge of time, we’ve lost the rising sun – the final sign” – I think that was Ronnie James Dio lyrics but outside in Michigan reminds me of that. I’ve got the hazelnut hot and ready as I chase the haze away from the brain and ponder the past week and the week ahead.

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This weekend has been one of quiet recharge at the fortress of solitude. I’ve been prepping the office for more meetings ahead this week as I work hard to finalize our commits on “The Christ Slayer” shoot. The ship is almost built with many of the cast and crew falling into place. The week ended with me getting the paperwork around so that the bank account can be opened and we can start fueling the ship for our voyage. It’s exciting that we’ve found two of our new leads and I plan to announce them tomorrow. One I’ve known a good handful of years and we’ve played opposite each other a few times but in an antagonistic way. No! It is not Terry Jernigan, he was our John the Baptist. I’m really looking forward to working with this individual and he will be great in the role. Opposite him is a wonderful actress who brings the perfect mix of emotions we were looking for. We’ve actually read several ladies for this role over the last couple years but she stood out strongest. I’m excited to introduce them to all of you. C.W.C.S. that is my hint to all of you on the identity of these two talents stepping into the third film. In the supporting roles we’ve been looking at many wonderful talents and we’ll be making offers soon. That is part of all the business work so we can actually do that. I wanna thank my entire team that works so very hard to make all these things happen.

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“Forty Nights” is being remastered and delivered for the 4/4/17 release date. I know that the paperwork delivery in underway and we should have new artwork in the coming weeks.

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“Chasing the Star” has just completed color correction and I saw the concept art for the teaser/theatrical poster. We’re looking at this film hitting select theater’s shortly after the “Forty Nights” release and will release on digital and DVD in September.

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“Wild Faith” is moving along and we will be getting close to an edit here soon. Music and sound design is just finishing “Chasing the Star” and so once that film is complete “Wild Faith” will move in. We’re going to start having some story meetings and develop our series package once I finish the business tasks at hand. I’m really excited for everyone to see this much-needed story of unity and hope. It would be a great series and if it is meant to be – it will. Also it would shoot in Michigan which would give me a great opportunity to work with many of our Michigan actors.

Aside from all this pre- and post film business I will continue to get in my daily writing. I’ve got many scripts finished but always good to keep moving. I truly enjoy writing and it goes so well with coffee.

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Today I’m going to a memorial for my Aunt who was spunk right into her 90’s with a love of Willie Nelson and technology. My heart also goes out to another good friend who lost his wife. It is not really my place to promote that loss so I won’t, but she was a good woman and will be missed. I’m going to wrap this up and get a jump on some of my Monday business.

Be good to one another. We’re all on this spaceship Earth for this short ride together.

DJ

 


Creating Sanctuary in the Chaos

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(A sip of coffee) What a week. I have to say weather-wise it was very cold but quite mild compared to other states. Lots of great developments including getting all the business taxes submitted to our movie accountants. Only my personal taxes are left to tackle. I’m really staying focused on the films because I think unity is something we all really need right now. I’ve almost eliminated any social media viewing for pleasure save STAR WARS updates. There is so much hate, anger and fear – and Yoda taught us those things lead to the dark side:) But seriously, we all have different priorities pending our lot in life, but I’m saddened by the chaotic state of our nation. I think the health of our planet and the future we leave the children of tomorrow should be the priority.

I mostly enjoy people and that is never based on the clothes they wear, the car they drive or the house they live in. It’s based on their attitude, humor, compassion and how they treat their fellow human beings. I think we’re back to a dark place in America like pre-9-11. As tragic as all that was at least we saw the best in people rise from the ashes of those towers. The intangible tower of UNITY. Now if anyone values or dares looks at things differently, they’re considered STUPID right-wing, IDIOT liberals, ignorant ASS HATS. There is no real communication just shouting and babble.

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Beautiful – by artist Jeff Butler

I’ve seen the left think Bush was the root of everything wrong. After that it was Obama who became the target. What people fail to understand is that all that negativity is poison spewed is also poison to the self. The crazed look of hate and non-rational ranting heard from both sides has damaged people badly. We’re a country of change complete with checks and balances. Trust in that and don’t be swept up in the chaos of it all. Seek clarity. The best actions are made when they come from a place of clarity.

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I want to be part of sanctuary that grants clarity. When people are no longer are able to cope with wild emotions that have pulled them so far from their normal orbit – they will crave peace. Once the TV NEWS gets turned off and they immerse themselves in a darkroom -the lights dim as the wind, music and beautiful visuals appear- messages of hope. FILM truly can be a sanctuary. We’ll be here tending that sanctuary ready to give peace of mind to all who enter. Maybe we can send calmer, cooler heads back out into the world. In America we must seek compromise – same side of the table negotiations versus hate and gridlock. It cannot be an all or nothing mentality where certain policy is only good for some. We’ll face many more challenges in the future and we’ll all need those moments of sanctuary. Allow yourself to go there. Let the venom be purged and your mind become calm.

Now to the films…

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FORTY NIGHTS

We’re excited that “Forty Nights” is getting an expanded 2017 release. The change in name from “40 Nights” to “Forty Nights” will allow people who ASK for the film to find it easier. Many first run retailers who were asked in person likely typed “FORTY” and – Nope. Nothing in our system. So this expanded release will correct that issue. It will also have (in my opinion) stronger art work. The previous cover was a rush job by Wal-Mart. The cover was not our Jesus, and it was…poor quality in my opinion. The film is now being digitally re-mastered and may include a few extras goodies. I hope to reveal some new artwork in the coming weeks.

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CHASING THE STAR

We met last week over the second film which is now in final VFX and color correction. This week we start to work on the end credits and we’re going to be setting up theatrical play dates soon after “Forty Nights” 4/4/17 home video release date. On Friday I had the first draft of our home video deal with BMG. We’ve got a bit of back and forth but should have an exact release date soon. This film lives up to what we started with “Forty Nights” and I’m so excited to see audiences take this second journey –  Chasing the star!

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The Christ Slayer

Once again, I’m in a race against the harsh desert of AZ trying to get all our investors and business in line. It has not been an IF but WHEN on these films and often these folks don’t realize what we face time-wise. We’re often the small investment and the urgency is not always understood until they feel the desert heat. That said, we’re moving strongly forward with the worst case situation being us having to shoot on the other side of the AZ summer. (124 degrees is too hot) With all the pieces falling into place I would rather shoot in March, so I’m going to push hard. Last week we announced our director Nathaniel Nose. Before that we announced our returning cast. Soon here we’ll be announcing our new leads in the film. We’ve found two of the four and we’re also casting a few new antagonists. I’ve had a few reels start to come in to me after requesting Middle East or Italian actors send their materials. Thank you. The crew is also shaping up nicely and we’ll be once again bringing some Michigan keys out to work with our AZ team. I really would enjoy storytelling in AZ when Michigan is buried under snow.

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WILD FAITH

The first STILL photos are starting to roll out and soon I hope to have a teaser poster and trailer. I’ve seen some amazing footage from the film and I think audiences will really enjoy what we have.

FUTURE ENDEAVORS

We’re looking at future projects and where we want to go with our film slate. We have many options to consider. Keep putting one foot in front of the next one and before long you’ll surprise yourself on how far you’ve traveled.

Until next week…

DJ