The hazelnut coffee taste so good on this chilly Sunday morning. We got a record setting 13 inches when the snow storm came through. We might get a bit more later in the day. I for one love the beauty of the snow but I’m ready to move on to Spring. We had a “Viking” day chopping wood to keep the wood stove roaring. I’m excited to implement many new improvements to the property this year. Our moving of veggies and herbs to raised beds and turning the garden into chicken land has been fun. They are fun to watch like little Dinosaurs.
I want to say that everyday that I read about someones untimely passing it reminds me to love what I’m doing and the people I’m doing it with. That is professionally and personally. I know friends and family that have lost pets, parents, grandchildren and even one past film peer was announced to have passed away. I was not extremely close with him but exchanged communications over the years when either of us has a new success. The sad thing about the last mentioned loss was that it may have happened by their own infliction. I’ve had a few friends over the years that fight real mental battles with themselves. I think on some levels we all do but some cope poorly where others eventually find their way out of the forest.
I’ve had dark days in my past whereas my parents divorced after 30 years putting me in the middle and my acting career was struggling. Michigan’s film scene in the late 80’s and into the 90’s was lacking. I see folks complaining about a lack of opportunities today and chuckle. Today is like a sea of opportunity versus the 90’s. Also post tax incentives the term filmmaker became legit to the common everyday person. Much of my darkness was knowing what I wanted but not having any guides or mentors in that field. My dearest mentor, my father, was rightfully concerned. I had essentially came home and told my father I was going to be an astronaut. Again something made more realistic thanks to the billionaire space race. But he knew how easy life could be if I took the easier road, the practical road. His concerns came after several years yielded very little, in his mind. Failure can affect people different.
A certain amount of punishment and failure can break some and force them into a secondary or pie-life. Pie-Life is when you work X amount of the pie to earn shells and beads ($) so you can freely enjoy the remaining part of the pie, your life. A few years in the real world and most have sufficiently built a standard of living prison around them that forces them to stay the course with the survival job, pie-life. For others of us that have “it” (passion) bad and refuse to let go no matter how much rough ground they’re dragged over. I felt like Indiana Jones being dragged behind that Nazi truck hauling the ark. (Raiders of the Lost Ark) I climbed hand over hand up the whip, climbed on the truck’s bumper, over the side, kick in the doors, punch and throw the driver out and took over the truck. BAM!
If someone can do something else occupational and be happy living the ‘pie life’ or even something close to contentment, do it. But if you are stricken with that passion that will not leave you, embrace it. By that I mean stop being half-ass and whining and do those things you were afraid to try. Pull your confidence, self-worth and inner fire from your own personal well and don’t just try to pull energy from people. When people feel your personal geothermal-like creative energy, they will be drawn. People who draw energy from the masses is a slave to the masses. Now artists create for the masses but often to show a perspective. Life is all about perspective and perception. What we perceive can be seen via positive or negative filters. A failure might be seen as negative but in deductive reasoning it can be a positive. An elusive goal might have just been made easier to obtain as certain roads are found to be dead-ends. No more time wasted or spent. Although some will get caught in that loop, beware.
So the negative of loss that I see each day ever since we’ve all become so much more inter connected as a society, can be a positive fuel to live and pursue dreams and goals. I’m so proud of one of my associates who set out to write and take a few children’s books to market and he has. Tomorrow isn’t promised. A beautiful and haunting statement. Life is a mysterious and short phase of existence and so I would ask that those out there questioning, stay the course. Ride life and learn whatever lessons you can but best of all is learn to be the best you. I’ve said this before, the path to your dreams sometimes lies in helping others with theirs. I know some people will say I’ve helped their journey immensely and others will say, I have not. The truth is you can’t help everyone. You can inspire by your actions to pass it on. I’ve had mentors and I try to mentor. But I come from that martial arts background and sports. To take valuable time from some teachers you have to be prepared and focused, ready to learn. You can apply that lesson to teachers in school. Respect that they are there to try and teach you.
Let’s bring this around to movies, my favorite medium. It also includes some of my favorite artists, filmmakers. Last week we were treated to the announcement that BEST YEARS GONE was multi-nominated and won a few awards. The biggest award being BEST PICTURE which is great because it embodies the collective effort.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is soundly in post. A BTS (behind the scenes) video is being worked on and the first look teaser is being outlined. Meanwhile the feature is being cut with the first rough being done by mid March. We’ll keep rolling out some new photos while we wait for these first videos.
HOT ROD LOVE is the next CDI picture and we’re looking to prep in May and shoot in June. It’s a heartfelt comedy that has many classic 70’s and 80’s influences. We’re putting our investor/sponsor presentation materials together, but the truly exciting news coming this week is the announcement of a director and Dir of Photography- Mr. Shane Hagedorn and Travis Hayward. This re-teaming is building on the previous chemistry of BEST YEARS GONE, coming to home video starting in June. Our #1 goal with BEST YEARS GONE was to have fun filming. The Covid lockdowns had beaten everyone down and the humor and fun making the film translated to the final product. That laughter is the big take away from the theatrical playdates thus far. The world needs more laughter right now.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – More great discussions on this TV series spin off. I have follow ups first thing this coming week. It is going to happen, I’m just trying to follow the best road to production that keeps the integrity intact. Have you seen the feature WILD FAITH? Take a watch. Leave a review on imdb.com or the film’s amazon page and let us know if a sequel interests you. I love the idea of how many folks will be involved should the tv series happen.
The WEEK ahead-
This week is wrapping up end-of-year tax materials for the films. I actually got almost all my personal tax stuff around. This year has been quite smooth so far thanks to our amazing team. I’ve also been keeping my daily screenwriting happening. I’m deep into another comedy script from a treatment I’ve been bouncing around for years. I’ve got my next work-for-hire script/production coming up. It is an adaptation from a book, which I’ve almost finished. I’m really excited about the time period and the storyline. One other work-for-hire script/production is in discussion. Everything in their own time. But I find these cold days are the best for screenwriting.
Last week we talking about video game development and more which haven’t advanced too much in the past week. I got buried in numbers for a few days. But several projects including animation and a music video are in development. It is a busy time but as we discussed prior, get doing- if that is your calling. I have lots to work out in the coming weeks as we’re also in some serious production talks that could be a multi-year commitment. I laugh, because it’s all really a multi-year, lifetime commitment. It’s all a process to try and streamline funding and production. Balance. It’s all about balance. I’m going to bring this to a close. I have some writing to attend to and a few things to do around the homestead.
Be good to one another and coffee cheers.
We are at the end of our pre-product week here in Algona, Iowa. We have the MSU vs U of M game on the TV which we work away. Saturday is our day off during the shoot but as you know us producers don’t really get a “true” day off. So from now until Thanksgiving I’m going to be doing my blog post on Saturdays. We started doing Saturdays off several shoots back since it allows crews to have more options open to take care of day to day things like mail, laundry and such.
Our pre-production caravan hit a small snag about 4 hours from Algona when the main RV filled with wardrobe and props had a belt break. The ‘Rambler’ was brought to rest in a parking lot of a grocery store. We had a friendly ex-Marine mechanic who agreed to meet us there in the morning. We sent our director and UPM ahead and I stayed in the RV with our Transportation Captain and Armorer. The Rambler lost power and so after an improve guitar jam fest we slept in the freezer, I mean RV. I got cold but after putting a few WW2 wool blankets over me, I was not going to freeze. Our Marine came to our rescue on a day that started pouring and continued all day. He really saved the day and we got to Algona the next day a bit sleep deprived but safe and sound.
BEST YEARS GONE which was just delivered to our distributor is prepping for their home video release campaign in early 2022. Meanwhile we have more opportunities to play the film theatrically and are working on those dates now. We also might have a special screening one night here on a day off for the cast and crew. Some really great news coming on that front.
WRAP UP – This morning was the last day of pre-production and the morning started with a haunting fog over the lake and now we have some beautiful sun. We had three days of rain but now for filming we’re suppose to have a week stretch of nice weather. Jeeps, trucks, extras and more all coming together to help create our world. We had first airport pick ups with actors flying in from all over the country last night. The remaining crew will also be rolling in today and prepping for an exciting day 1. We are filming our first 4 days in a historic park with a period farm. I’m so proud of all the departments which are all now humming along. This is going to be another great story. Fans of Anthony Hornus’s MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND will love this new film. He has been working hard to pull the vision together. I will update you all for the next couple Saturday’s versus Sundays on the filming. I know this journey in storytelling will bring new friendships together that will last forever. Speaking on friendships – cherish them just like family because sometimes you don’t know when some will leave us. This week we found out our good friend Pappy, David Papenfuss passed away. Mere hours later I found out that one of our childhood neighbor’s husband, also passed. He use to work for an airlines and if I’m not mistaken he might have given me a flight voucher back in the day for one of my early Hollywood trips. Either way, both passed away from Covid and so while things are getting better please do be careful. I saw Pappy at an afternoon get-together on my birthday. He once again brought me a musical card as that was his thing. I have Star Wars, Superman and Indiana Jones cards from him. Little did I know that the last one was the last one.
Cherish your loved ones.
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!