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

Posts tagged “international

Thank you – Family, Friends and Fans

The sun is out and the hazelnut coffee is flowing. WHAT A WEEK! First I want to welcome our new readers from Romania. Our international group of artists is expanding with each week. For a few weeks now I’ve managed to stay a step or two ahead of the sick bugs striking people down. Family and friends with children and those working around large groups have been fallen ill. I’ve managed to stay the course and not get full-blown sick but my energy level has been tapped. Add the amount of business and the ‘Wild Faith‘ premiere kick off events and…walking a thin line.

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Family and friends make the day extra special.

Our cast and crew premiere at Studio C was a wonderful event. I had one of those days I could not get warm all day. Body aches wanted to set in but I managed to pull it all together. Warmth was my fashion and so a nice warm sweater was just what the doctor ordered. It was this showing that meant the most because it was for everyone you see in the end credits. It was our investors, sponsors, cast and crew and I wanted them to be as proud of the work as I am. To say we had a positive reaction is a modest statement. This industry is hard with many projects that implode before take off or never get finished. The ones that do get completed often suffer from not being able to consistently keep the quality on-screen. That could be said about our earliest work but we always did the best we could with what we had. So many came in for the event which made it extra special.

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We have a great CDI producer team and we would be unable to achieve what we have without these three – post supervisor Dennis Therrian and co-producers Melissa Anschutz and Anthony Hornus helping lead the charge.

The very next day was our public premiere with showings kicking off in Lansing and Grand Rapids. That was also just incredible and these are not the biased artists these are the paying public. The feedback from people I knew and did not know was overwhelming. I was happy I felt a touch better on Friday but Saturday was spent chilling and recovering. I even got to do some yard work which after our cold winter was enjoyable. “Wild Faith” will play twice a day 4:30 and 7:00 in both Grand Rapids (Woodland) and Lansing until Thursday unless they hold it over. It has been selling out the nighttime performance so we’ll see. We have even been getting members of the Living History community coming out in full period garb. How cool! Here is one of my favorite quotes from a Owosso Community reporter “The acting, location, and music causes a person watching this movie, made on a tight budget, to have the same experience as if they were watching an $80 Million-dollar movie.” – we try is all I can say on that.

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Developing new directors is something I enjoy and this makes #2 with Mr. Jesse Low

NEWS PICKS

http://www.thedailyreporter.com/news/20180316/little-river-railroad-featured-in-film-opens-tonight

https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/entertainment/movies/2018/03/15/locally-made-movie-premiers-celebration/32919247/

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As noted last week “Wild Faith” is up for 4 awards at the International Christian Film Festival in FL. Best Film, Lead Actor/Actress and Director. Right beside it is Part 2 of ‘The Quest Trilogy’ “Chasing the Star” with 5 nominations – Best Film, Most Inspirational, Best Actor, Best Score and Best Screenplay. This film and Part 1 “Forty Nights” is a great holiday watch for the Easter season. The screenplay nod is nice as I’m working to take on a few work-for-hire and also sell off a few screenplays I don’t plan to produce. If you’re looking to buy a script or hire a writer – let’s talk.

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Music Video ‘My Ghost‘ Directed by Tomaki Boaz 

The day before the cast/crew premiere I was given an opportunity to play a part in a music video for artist Trey Connor with a song entitled “My Ghost” that will release mid-April. I had a great time working with everyone. With this music video and the recent promotional before Christmas I’m opening myself to hiring out on things that interest me. My feature film work keeps me quite busy but always will work to try to make a schedule work if the art entices.

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Like a sleeping giant “The Christ Slayer” part 3 of the trilogy is moving ahead. Work on the next trailer and the film itself are underway. Just know something special is in the works and will be heading to theaters 4th quarter this year.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is CDI’s next film and we’re so very close to closing up business on this powerful story. More “fuel” came in and more next week. The ship is getting close to launch and we’ll work hard to bring audiences again, a very special story. Many ways to get involved with your businesses too. Our partners at the Red, White and Blue Project are taking donations into their non-profit for their educational side of the film. I’m working hard with our team to complete funding by month’s end and move into official pre-production. This will be another great film in the CDI fleet.

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For those who want more 1800’s please do watch our “Wicked Spring” playing Amazon Prime now. Also if you’ve seen “Wild Faith” or any of the films take a few moments on Amazon or IMDB to vote and leave a review. I’m going to leave all this right here. I want to thank the huge outpouring of support for these films. I loved each and every conversation I had with people after watching “Wild Faith” – thank you again. We had general audience members come in from other states to see this film. Also people driving in and making it an event. The story is greatly needed in this day and age and we hope that we entertain and bring a little fresh air into the conversations. Love over hate.

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Meeting supporter Kim Harris at the public premiere

I was proud to have my family and friends join me in the send off for this newest film. As film artists we don’t always get to see all our fans. To cite an example one title has sold over 300,000 DVD’s and I likely don’t know 298,000 of them. So I’m excited for all the people I do not know who will enjoy the film(s). But it also makes it that much more special to shake a hand and hear about your favorite character/scene/part of a film. Know that each and every one of you we don’t know are appreciated. To our fans around the world – thank you.

DJ

 

 

 


10 UPDATES/LESSONS OF THE WEEK

Claw story

I’m waiting for the coffee to finish as I start typing. I have a full day today and so I wanted to get a jump on it. As usual I want to welcome all our international readers from Poland, Argentina and more. Part of the balance of an artist is to navigate all the elements life presents. Since returning from filming ‘The Christ Slayer’ I’ve been working on getting the entire operation in order. That part as I’ve stated before is not the most fun part. While others seek their next role on camera I’m recording, tracking and remitting on other films. This week was important because as “Forty Nights” is fully entering the flow and thank you too all those of you who have watched the film. It is a business and that work must be done. Also ‘Chasing the Star’ will soon be heading into the national/international market so getting this “business flow” set up is the smart thing. Being that I’ve not yet had a sip of coffee my thoughts are still a little scattered so maybe we’ll have a shotgun news day with no exact order. I call this 10 UPDATES/LESSONS OF THE WEEK.

  1. “Forty Nights” had 4 nominations at the #ICFF and WON ‘Most Inspirational Movie’ and we’ve got an internal process of PR. I did notice that the film experienced a lil’ hate with the nomination nods and more when it won. I know this comes from the frustration of actors/filmmakers/screenwriters who despise seeing other projects move while their passion sits stagnant. (Coffee is ready – time out) (OK – game on) A few facts are that some of our projects have failed to launch. I’ve discovered that we often get stuck in a rut of trying to push something that is not ready. If you get better at reading momentum that helps your endeavors. Some people want to push with everything and not back down but if it is not meant to be, it will not come to pass. Patience is a bitch.
  2.  I had a meeting this week where it was pointed out that many in the local community don’t love the isolation attitude of our company. The truth is that I work hard on TO DO’s everyday. I turn it off everyday with things to do tomorrow. I could spend time at various industry mixers but it comes at the expense of something I need to do. I could spend $100 on food and drinks to discuss other people’s endeavors but it comes at the expense of writing 10 pages of script or not reviewing that international sales agreement. It was easier when I was a nomadic film warrior in my 20’s but I have domestic activities that I enjoy – yard work/tinkering is one of them. So it is not that I don’t care what others are doing industry-wise (I’m actually quite informed) but I just love what we’re doing more and know fully the hard work required to move those pieces ahead on the board. Talk to anyone who has participated in one of our endeavors and the response is usually very different versus the person who has not yet done business with us. Again I say, DON’T HATE, CREATE. That should go on tee-shirts.
  3. Again Cannes Film Festival is underway and I’ve done that Hollywood scene and it is a fun world to visit. But it will devour your time and financial resources and again you can visit trendy places with your resources or you can create art and content. Many of those parties cost thousands of dollars to attend. I also said that I will consider attending only accompanying a piece of art we’ve created. Maybe one day. I have no problem with those who love to attend those events – I’m just working steadily towards goals.
  4. Dennis Therrian our main composer, sound designer and post supervisor is prepping ‘Chasing the Star’ for delivery to our distributor for the national launch in September. He’s also just finishing sound design on “Wild faith” and will soon start the music. He recently was nominated for ‘Best Music Score’ at #ICFF with “Forty Nights” which also was mentioned as winning ‘Most Inspirational’ so if like several of us out there you like to write/work to music scores this is a great one to buy and listen to. – BUY HERE https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/40-nights-soundtrack/id1114858978  More of the scores are going to be releasing to sound track including “Chasing the Star” another beautiful collection of music.
  5. I touched on patience and reading momentum. I am subject to these laws myself. Some great production developments are moving a touch slow due to factors outside myself. They are great opportunities it just requires me to be accepting and have patience. A great opportunity for a TV series behind “Wild Faith” exists and development has begun. I would have LOVED to roll cameras in 2018 but the main national roll out for the feature will be in 2018 and so the series production will likely fall to 2019. Not what I had first wanted but that is the business of it all.
  6. A new biblical trilogy to follow THE QUEST TRILOGY is being developed and one of the scripts is done. The other two are in development. Right now the name of the trilogy is THE CONQUEST TRILOGY. Old Testament, No Jesus, No Angels/Fallen Angels and they do not tie into the first trilogy. That group of films is complete. The last film in THE QUEST TRILOGY entitled ‘The Christ Slayer’ is almost done with the first edit. So I’m not sure if the 1st film in this new trilogy will film in 2018 or not. I have a few other business pieces to put in place.
  7. Since I’ve accepted the flow of development for not what I want but what is – I’m finishing a script this month that just might go into production this fall in Michigan. It is a story that I’ve had my heart into for a year or two but just needed to finish the story. A first draft will be done at month’s end. #MBF
  8. The Michigan theatrical run is complete on “Chasing the Star” and this week we’ll be discussing new destinations for this film to play. This week our time on this project got devoured by delivery work. The final film will be sent off for final DVD mastering. We had a few bumps in flow because we changed a few things in the process on this film. Lesson – If it isn’t broken don’t fix it:) All is good just a small amount of additional time spent which could have been avoided with a bit stronger management. (I’m speaking to myself:)
  9. Some exciting things happening with the CDI website (www.cdiproductions.com) which has been in discussions for several years. The entire CDI library is digitized so that was a key element to what we’re doing. The site will be getting a major upgrade that will include the ability for people to purchase and stream past CDI films. Will we stop at CDI films? We will see – one step at a time. I also have had interest in doing some major merchandising so that is something we will explore.
  10. Speaking of spin off’s – BOOKS. E-Books to be more exact whereas several our films/scripts have been written into books. Those are about to come to market. That deal is underway and like everything else takes time to put the pieces together.

So in conclusion, every week is a busy week. I am open to discussion on new business but with how crazy everything is I’m not likely to get to another town to pub it and talk shop. If you truly think we have some good business reach out. We’ve done many associated films. I can promise that you will get truth from my perspective. I will not BS you and while I don’t always tell people what they want to hear I will tell it to you straight. I do consider acting in outside projects but all I ask is that its at the true pre-production stage and not dreamer stage. I had a phone meeting Friday whereas a NYC production had reached out wanting me to act. Sent me the script, the book it was based on etc…I read two chapters and knew in my gut that the film was nowhere close to shooting. That was two years ago. I’m glad those hours of reading were spent elsewhere. I’ve also participated and was paid (thank you) on a couple of projects that have never finished. Years have clicked by and still no finished film. The artist in me is what hurts on those projects. I was paid for my time, my art but we do it to share. If it was just about shells and beads ($$$) there is easier ways to make it.  I’m going to go fill the coffee cup and get on with a few morning activities. I have a soccer match to play today if we don’t get cancelled because of storms. Some relax time with friends and family and tomorrow we go after the TO DO list again. I hope you all have a great day and a productive week.

Be good to one another.

DJ


Coffee Talk & Casting Tips

 

IMG_2218Good day,

I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the early morning here in Michigan. We had a nice relaxing day up North after a very busy week of business. I want to welcome some of our new blog followers from India. Our international readers might enjoy some of the updates as we work to get more of our films to you.

I spoke about some “uninvited drama” last week. It has been put to rest. You have to seek to do that. Actually the less attention and energy you give it the better. I have a friend that I’ve known a long time. They seem to be going through an adjustment and break from a TOXIC relationship. I do note that they get into these long drawn exchanges of words. Now as someone who writes this blog, I know how much time they take to write. When people take all this additional time to debate what should not be debatable, it eats huge amounts of time with no payoff save frustration. DELETE and move on. Consider not posting things that will end up wasting your time if you are unable to IGNORE. To apply that to my life – if I was to take every critical personal attack to heart and waste all this time defending – little would get done. But in the time it would take to read or address these negatives – I’ve landed a new distribution deal. I’ve written another script scene. I’ve combed through a budget. Even a “Charlie Brown” (Whoa is me) statement will often bring a bunch of sympathy responses. Answering all those with a polite retort can eat a morning up or afternoon. So be careful what you throw out there. Someone who is feeling down and engages in such behavior risks only feeling down again for lack of productivity. Now push those feelings aside and get a list of TO DO’s done and I promise you will feel better. An issue might still exist but you did not feed it. You did not allow it to consume you. You controlled it and TCB baby! (Took care (of) business) Next time you feel like writing a short novel spewing the frustration over someones actions you can’t control – try ignoring it and taking care of yourself. Tackle that task that you’ve been putting off and I promise you – you will start to feel empowered. Less talk – more action!

To the FILMS…

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THE QUEST TRILOGY

40 Nights – What can I say? My goal is that all three films will become a holiday tradition to watch. I think they have the power to do so but we will see in 20 years now won’t we. Family Video has joined our growing list of retailers and rental houses. Here is a new review that was sent over today –

Movie Review of 40 NIGHTS

I’ve heard of people watching the film multiple times for an uplift. I’ve been told of the DVD being given as a gift. I’ve enjoyed hearing what joy has come from the little film we artist created.

The second “Chasing the Star” should have its second cut. We will be reviewing this week. Things are in line with music and we will be addressing our INTRO and VFX soon! It is exciting to see it all come together and I’m so proud of our team.

I’ve started the hunt for the director of our third film, “The Christ Slayer” which despite the harsh title is a beautiful story. We’ve been dealing with returning cast and also starting to look at new artists. I will be excited to finish this trilogy next year.

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EXPANDING

Many of our CDI/CDI Associated films are expanding. Every couple of weeks we’re announcing new pathways. Let’s look at a few developing.

  • “Locked in a Room” is moving into a secondary distribution including a few new foreign territories. It is already in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it will be expanding again it looks like. This is a unique thriller by the awesome twisted mind of director Larry Simmons.
  • PR this week will be announcing the return of the “Knight Chills” franchise. The new Facebook page is up although not much to it yet save the new trailer. It will release in 2017 with the book that is complete. https://www.facebook.com/KnightChills/?fref=ts
  • 2017 will see several new releases as our deal making continues.
  • “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” continue to widen their circle of availability. This past week we announced FAMILY VIDEO carrying this trio of films.
  • The CDI Classic library is now digitized and so in 2017 some of these films will enjoy their first On-Demand or Blu-Ray releases. Some special edition DVD releases will also happen in 2017. (Wicked Spring:)
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DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set “Ashes of Eden”

DEVELOPMENT

We discussed “Knight Chills” and while we’ve been keeping it under tight wraps – the sequel is in active development. We’re tweaking the teaser trailer for the sequel and we’ll be doing some strong PR on this exciting event in the near future.

A Jesse Low directed western project is in active development and nearing pre-production status. It’s inspired by a project we tried to launch during the writer’s strike  years ago only to have it die a slow painful death. Yes. I too have failures. The heart of the previous story will beat strongly as we move forward with this new creative team. We will have some strong announcements concerning this project in the coming weeks.

  • YES both the projects could provide some Michigan casting opportunities. So as I’ve said before – we like looking at “game footage” so get your acting reels together.

Men out there, words of wisdom – IF you plan to audition for a western (which we are trying to shoot this year) LET IT GROW, LET IT GROW! Same with our biblical films as we DO NOT like fake beards/hair etc… I think it comes from one project I had an association too – it was fine enough drama but it was so distracting because it looked like someone glued beaver pelts to people’s faces. I think that scare of all that hard work suffering because an actor can’t make the commit to grow hair/beard when required. So…there you have it.

Here is another little gem with casting at CDI anyway…always feel free to send an updated reel or clip to me. But to put minds at rest – if we’ve hired you before to no issues. (You trouble makers know who you are) Providing you brought your performance A-game and you were a sail NOT an anchor, you will be considered. You are often hand delivered under the nose of a director. My phone always rings more during casting times than non but I love you all the same. I just want some of you who don’t get called to know you were likely considered. Your location vs budget, age, look etc…all can factor into decisions but ole DJ remembers his co-stars. Some of you can attest to getting the calls out of the blue – sometimes years after a discussion. But keep your materials strong and current.

While on casting let me point out one other observation. I think this is important to many of those tween talent growing into adulthood. I follow a handful of promising talent that I am impressed by but waiting for the right project. I caught a glimpse of an actress I’ve followed and almost worked with – going through a public store with a couple co-stars.  They were loud, obnoxious and created a few messes. Now, I’m not a saint and I’ve been kicked out of a few stores in college BUT I was not away on business representing a project and a company. I was just disappointed because I, as a company owner look for professionals that reflect well on our casting decisions. These young ladies I’m sure had no problems talking about their project but I felt like I was watching an episode of JACKASS. I guess this works for them and they might all be great actresses but I do think they will lose out on some roles because of how they paint themselves off camera/on set and off camera/off set. Yes. Wrap is called and it’s your free time but I think some professional behavior is desired by some productions. Like ours.

Alright, I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m going to go have another coffee and enjoy the day. Another soccer battle today. We won the last game so we’ll see if we can earn another victory.

Keep clawing!

DJ

 

 

 


Mentors, Marketing and Making Ready

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:)

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

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.

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The strength to look at the harsh trials of our industry and believe I could make it.

FILM BIZ UPDATES

NEW “BESTSELLER”

Many of our films are rolling out this month to various ON DEMAND platforms. Joining “40 Nights” on Google Play is now “BESTSELLER” –

https://play.google.com/store/movies/details/BestSeller?id=L4iC3L2ILbQ

SOUNDTRACK coming soon!

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NEW “40 NIGHTS”

“40 Nights” has released on VUDU and AMAZON.

http://www.vudu.com/movies/#!content/769068/40-Nights

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GIY2CBQ/ref=atv_feed_catalog?ie=UTF8&redirect=true

We have more teaser clips rolling out to promote the ON DEMAND roll outs.

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“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.

Travis in Action

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.

DJ


NEW Opportunities, Development and Project Updates

My Saturdays have been a little crazy and this weekend looks to be the same. It’s the first hour of Saturday and I decided that I would recap the week. Where to even start this week…

40 Nights –

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

I’m excited because I’m about to review our 2nd draft of the complete film edit. I’m prepping the business of post sound/music and will put that in play next week. Plus we will be doing a polish and score on our 1st trailer. I have to say I’m very pleased with the trailer and it only touches upon the powerful moments in the full film. I had great talks this week with our distributor, our director and team members. I’m excited to bring a first look in July here. Are you ready?

BESTSELLER –

Bestseller Premiere Poster

Screenings are almost set for Lansing and Detroit area event showings. I’ve gotten a great amount of “fan mail” (Can you call in that with email?) from these theatrical screenings. It does play really well in the theater and so I want to provide that experience to as many people as we can. I also had even more promising talks with yet another distribution opportunity. This studio enjoyed the film, the performances and the production supervision very much. We discussed a few future acting opportunities and possible deals with the existing and future CDI library. Some breaking news on one of the projects will become known soon – that is once the studio signs off on the P.R. BESTSELLER – MADE IN MICHIGAN!

DONORS –

This is the 1st teaser poster on

This is the 1st teaser poster on “Donors”

This thriller recently had two different distribution offers. I had a nice conference over the direction of this film with director/producer Charles P. today. I think we know what direction we want to travel with this film to begin with. Jon Osman’s THE TERRORIST, a thriller out of NYC could find a home in the not-so-distant future.

ASHES OF EDEN – 

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

This film was back in the studio being prepped for final delivery to our distributor. Our October release date and new poster art is still forthcoming. I’m excited to see this film release worldwide. Congrats to all these artists. MADE IN MICHIGAN

New TV Dealings – 

Coming to Parables TV

Coming to Parables TV

You know I like to give you loyal readers the advance notice. CDI Distribution has brokered a deal with Parables TV for “Standing Post,” “Outside the Wire,” and “7 Stones” and official PR will release this coming week. Congrats to all those artists! MORE MADE IN MICHIGAN!

NEW AVENUES – 

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Actually new avenues are opening for all the films in the CDI library. We’re exploring many new sales deals and so far we’ve gotten good responses. I had some good talks about more international licensing. I love the foreign sales because that gets the films out to all of you. With 70+countries representing our international readers of this blog – my sincere wish is to keep expanding into more of your territories. I get asked weekly about getting more of our films to Brazil, Norway…(the list goes on)

READ & WRITE – 

I have a few scripts being sent over to me this week. Conversely, I’m finishing up some script work and I’m quite happy with the results.  I’m starting to finally look ahead to what’s next for me “in front” of the camera. I’m just looking to make that right connection.  I will say that I’ve had some VERY exciting talks as of late over new projects. I really do love creating these roles. I’ve got past directors developing material and so reunions could also be soon at hand. I have enjoyed the break from having those other characters developing inside me. But…the calling:) BUT…That voice will be ignored until the proper business is complete:) TCB first and after allow the artist to run WILD. Have FAITH the right project will develop.

Have a great week ahead. I appreciate you all stopping by.

DJ


Wrap, Distribution & What’s Next…

Yesterday we wrapped yet another motion picture. The term “in the can” doesn’t apply any longer but “on the drives” or some term would. We rolled in here three weeks ago from Michigan and with the collaboration of many artists both sides of the camera we once again did what we do.  We finished on budget, on schedule and with this particular film the distribution deal is signed. “40 Nights” will be distributed by Lightworx Entertainment. The faith-based company is operated by Randy Maricle, the former VP of Operations & Marketing at Pureflix. I got to know him over the last few years and I was impressed by how he helped push “Gods Not Dead” into the marketplace. We had a couple of offers on “40 Nights” and while Lightworx not only offered the best deal – they also sweetened the pot. They have entered into a deal for me to write and produce two additional biblical era movies. I think I already know what the second one will be and have a few ideas on the third. But one step at a time. This film will immediately move into post and we have an aggressive release schedule ahead. Our distributor made a trip to the set on one of our big market days and got to see all the extras at work plus the animals. It is the kind of film that both my grandma’s would have truly loved. I think this film will find its way into the hearts of many and be a favorite for years to come. It is EPIC. A002_C003_0316QN

So now we wrap up the circus. We are having a wrap cook out today provided by the community who has been extremely supportive of our efforts. I think they saw the magic of what was happening. This film is the second I’ve had shot in this area and I think when it gets cold in the Michigan this might become a destination. I also saw a few great locations for our westerns. So I’m certain that we will be returning to film here in the future.

BESTSELLER music should be getting close to done. I can’t wait to return home to do a watch/listen through that film and get ready for our 1st showings in May. May also looks like it will be the month of the special WICKED SPRING showings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. May is also the National release of ASHES OF EDEN. This stretch into Summer is going to be busy with film releases and premieres. I also heard that DEAD QUIET is making its way through post production looking at fall showings.

We have a commercial project to shoot when I return and otherwise just overseeing all this film flow will be the focus. I also had a couple of acting offers present themselves. Right now I’m thinking about home, family and my own bed:) I’m also in negotiations to write a script for a company later this year so that is always fun. I like writing – just me and  my coffee on the patio.

So that is the short recap. I’m very proud of the hard work by all our cast and crew here. Only a pair of longer days due to the desert sun which was our biggest monster. I think when we shoot here next time a month or two earlier will allow things to run even smoother.

Stay tuned for lots of more exciting updates in the weeks ahead!

DJ


International Audiences, Updates, Advice

Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)

I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.

2015 Distribution Updates

CDI projects

ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.

REVIEW LINK

http://cinemaheadcheese.blogspot.com/2014/12/movie-review-ashes-of-eden-2014.html?m=1

DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come

WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!

We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.

HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.

BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.

 

NON-CDI RELEASE INFO

I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19  and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).

Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!

My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example  taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.”  I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water.   Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over.  We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you?  Do you give your best effort, always?  Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.

Happy Full Moon!

DJ

 


Talking Development and Looking Forward to 2015

A week ago I was waking up early in Kalamazoo to return from our 15th anniversary showing and deal announcement on IN THE WOODS. I have a few more public events coming up soon. I do plan to attend the showing of STANDING POST that was done by one of my long time collaborators and features three actors I respect. I’m also happy that the crowd surrounding the East Lansing Film Festival will get a chance to see ASHES OF EDEN and also get some exciting news for the film. I am happy that this inspirational film will reach even more people. LOCKED IN A ROOM thrilled some folks in Canton last week and I got some great communications from fans watching stuff on VOD. On TV as I type is the making of John Carpenters HALLOWEEN. 21 days and 325,000 with Donald’s pay being 25k. I’m enjoying seeing how much fun those actors had making that little film that would be a king classic in the genre. It was also slammed hard when it first came out. John said much of it was from other artsy filmmakers unhappy they could not get the exposure and release they felt they deserved. WASTELAND - Coming in 2015

This past week had some of my people working hard to get things in order on BESTSELLER. We are planning time for the director and DP to come in and share ideas. I think we are growing close to a finished film on THE TERRORIST. We only have a few left in the pipeline. Which brings us to DEVELOPMENT.

I’ve got WASTELAND ahead of me this December and we launched the Facebook site where we will be featuring updates in cast, artwork and props. I’ve had some great meetings with a few people over the last couple weeks as CDI looks to increase the army. I look for smart, positive people with passion and willing to work hard. I’ve built everything in this industry I have brick by brick with few if any handouts. I found other like-minded people and together we faced battles – won some, lost some and moved forward.

As our sales team has been licensing films in the library we have been looking at franchising a few of the films. It is no secret that Lynn Drzick is interested in doing another IN THE WOODS. If the right script is agreed upon it may happen. Also VP of CDI, director Jeff Kennedy and I have had talks over KNIGHT CHILLS and we do have a rough idea of a follow-up. I may be paid to write a script that I’ve had in my head for many years for an associate this November. Discussions on several scripts that already have distributor interest and in some cases guarantees continues.

On some of these smaller scope projects I’m looking at upcoming filmmakers who have yet to reach an international level. I’m looking at people who don’t want to do this as a hobby but as a career path. Many of these people have personal ideas/scripts that can be enjoyable for a small pocket of fans but often does not lead to bigger things. While some are content with making films for fun many in the cast or crew have greater aspirations.

It’s a stairs step process to get to these levels of film success. By success I mean having a title that has sold tens of thousands plus units or is in rotation on TV networks or available in different countries. Once you start to take steps if others around you aren’t willing to do the same you sometimes have to distance yourself creatively for a while. Maybe just until they evolve to that next level. If you’ve done a string of quality projects and have started to frame yourself as a professional you cannot slip back. By you saying NO, you may be one of many that helps them evolve. This is hard when you know the people but if they are doing it for fun and you are building a career – conflict of interest. I’ve explained to a few friends in the field (not truly in the BIZ) I cannot just come play for fun. I spend that time on paid projects or developing paid projects. When you win as a producer you win for many artists. When a film breaks out into the international market the resume of all those artists increases. I don’t always feel that some artists, usually the young, fully appreciates this fact. The wages may be modest, the hours long but to have a credit on a film that really gets into the marketplace is so valuable. So take pride in your work and be happy that you are working on something that will help you. If you start out in our field just for the money you’re in the wrong field. There is good money to be made but it comes in time through hard, collaborative work.

For the last few years I’ve been gone on set shooting during October so this has been wonderful to be home. Like I said earlier, I would rather spend time developing and finishing projects of quality versus just doing to do projects that are just fun. I do things for fun (Reading, soccer, archery, guitar, brewing) and I often find filmmaking fun BUT since I am accountable and use investment versus donations – I take my work very serious. I’ve been in development talks with Shane Hagedorn (ASHES OF EDEN) and we plan to do a 2015 film. Add in the handful of other projects developing and the new year could be filled with exciting projects. I look forward to incorporating some new people into the tribe. I look forward to working with my tried and true. I look forward to sharing our stories with fans around the world.  Right now, I’m looking forward to some more coffee, some breakfast and MSU putting a whoop on U of M.

Have a great weekend and be good to one another.

DJ

 


Filmmaker Advice and Announcements

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I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here  in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results.  If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…

ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.

I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.

To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.

BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.

THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.

We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.

NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions.  The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.

Keep clawing your way to the middle!

DJ

 

 


Blessings of the Path

I want to start this blog by welcoming the new readers from Japan and Singapore! I’m very excited by how many international artists are following this blog. I tell many around me locally that my group I identify with are the sincere artist-doers from around the globe. The one’s who create within a framework of business that allows international exposure. I truly do celebrate the differences between us as people. When I see one group of people trying to put another people “in-line” I feel like we are not evolving properly. I LOVE the pride people take in their customs and traditions. From Philippine Balut to Canadian Poutine. Quail eggs in Mexico and delicious South Indian Coffee. My career has brought me so much more beyond just telling a story on the screen. I’ve met people, seen places, tried foods and heard stories unique in their being. This is part of the blessing/gift bestowed upon me by choosing this path.

Now I’m writing this blog in advance since I’m going down south to visit with some family. Sweet tea & Southern cooking is usually what lies in store. I’ve got a few topics to meditate upon as I relax from the normal hustle and bustle. Take some time to UNPLUG. I saw an associate on FB was talking about how at a family meal EVERYONE was PLUGGED into their phones. I told her that she and her family should put the phones in a basket if it is that bad. It will probably feel like withdrawals from some techno crack BUT it will be good for you. I easily can roll back the years, remembering the days of pagers and of no personal phones.

Now technology has made certain aspects of our industry easier. We’re in post production with http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com and I think we are VERY close to a locked picture. From there is will be the audio and graphics work including the final color correction. I have a smile as I type because I think again the artists on this project have created something wonderful. Only time will tell if others feel the same.

ASHES OF EDEN is in final negotiations on the National release that will happen 1st quarter 2015. And leading up to that release we will be doing more theatrical releases. Today was the last showing in Grand Rapids, MI and starting Sept 19th ASHES OF EDEN will play in Novi and Canton Michigan. I can’t wait for friends and fans on that side of the state to see the film.

I could go on for quite a while about other projects now in post production.  Some are newly completed and soon to release. Others  are still in development struggling to be made. I’ve been also trying to catch up on some script reading. I’ve been enjoying my read on a WW2 script recently presented. I’m also excited about a few of my new acting submissions via my management. I appreciate the sincere way that I’m being represented to casting directors and executive teams. The last two projects I’ve been submitted for …Wow! I’m just happy to have my work put before these people. If something clicks I’m ready to go do what I do.

I’m going to cut this short because I have to renew this blog site. Again I want to thank all of you out there. I hope you have a great weekend and week ahead.

Best,

DJ

 


BESTSELLER Trailer, ASHES of EDEN theatrical and more…

Okay! I made it. It was an early morning of activity that ended with us getting everything we need for the garden. The seeds, the plants and everything to get that underway. The pond that we finished now has fish in it and I love the little solar fountain that creates such a relaxing sound. The backyard is really coming together which is nice because that is where many of the recent film meetings have been happening. It was interesting that I recently read an interview with music producer Rick Rubin and much of what he had to say were lessons I apply to my life. The best meetings don’t happen around a boardroom table and controlling your environment allows your energy to flow positive. I think that is something many people find attractive. I had several meetings with a director on a soon-to-be-released feature that I’m a producer on and also co-star in. I was watching the edit and giving notes and suggestions. We really came up with a few good ideas to add layers to the film. He commented on how he enjoyed our talks because they always left him feeling positive and full of inspired ideas. That is what we as artists should do and in the best collaborations that is what happens. Not ego-wars and bullshit drama but solid strides and passing of creative ideas. This particular director is excited to work together again on his next feature and a TV show that he has in the works. Life is too short for bad working relationships and so if you are in one – finish your obligations and part ways with sincere well-wishes.

I’m sure many out there are not tuning into my blog to listen to my rambling on gardening:) Let’s get to some film updates…

“BESTSELLER” – The 1st trailer for this thriller based upon Christopher Knight’s book of the same name is DONE. Tomorrow we will be releasing a PR release with the link to the trailer. So watch the BESTSELLER FB page and such for this official release. I’m very proud once again of the cast and crew made up mostly on Michigan folks doing work at the international level. https://www.facebook.com/BESTSELLERTHEMOVIE

We have had early interest from distributors and so I’m excited to give them the look they have all been waiting on. Oh! And you too – the audience:)

“ASHES OF EDEN” continues to move forward with distributors. This week we had a few respond with their interest. We have some meetings being set that will be our first rounds of negotiations to see who can provide the best home. We also have some exciting news coming this week about the 1st Michigan theatrical releases. We have a deal on the table and pen and paper should meet this week. Once that is done a press release with full details will be forthcoming. Multiple theaters, multiple screens, multiple weeks, multiple showings – very exciting stuff for all involved.

Lots of development work is underway with many investor talks, script reviews and such. As we get these post production films into their final stages it will be exciting to get into production with a new slate of film work.

Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to sow some seeds to reap at a later date. That is what you should do in your creative life also. Sow the seeds of good honest collaboration. Sow seeds of mutual respect and hard work. Sow seeds of always giving someone more than what they paid for. Sow seeds of not cutting corners, holding yourself up to higher standards and taking pride in your work. Do this and your personal garden will be filled with bountiful rewards later down the path.

DJ


Casting, Collaborations and Coming of Spring

I think I actually felt spring in the air if you can imagine that. Once the snow goes we have some tree cleaning to finish, fence fix and our gazebo took a hit under the snow and ice. I’m excited to do a few cosmetic things to the new office this year, which is looking great.  It is truly the dream office and a great place to oversee the creation and on-going enterprises here at http://www.cdiproductions.com which has been kicking it strong since 1996. If you haven’t poked around the website do so as we’ve put several new updates on there. I also want to thank all our new blog fan adds from Australia. We are even now in talks to get more of our films released there and elsewhere. I’ve been asked to keep adding little tidbits of advice for aspiring filmmakers, actors and writers etc… I think people like the advice because it is brutally honest. No agendas here I just call it like I see it.

Let me see, filmmaker advice – best told by a story.

FILMMAKER CONFIDENCE – I had a good talk this week with a very talented artists on both sides of the camera. He was/is frustrated because of lack of progress and lack of control on moving a project forward. I like something he said – “I have confidence in the project but I lack confidence in myself.” That is a truthful statement but comes from a lack of experience. Imagine yourself a youngin’ standing on the edge of a swimming pool looking at the other side. Now we are talking width of the pool but you’ve never swam from one side to the other. Maybe you have your water wings on or maybe you don’t but you stare at that other side and you muster all the confidence you can. If you stand your ground and never dive in you will not reach your short-term goals. So finally with the right amount of encouragement  – you DIVE in!

You swim, swim, swim and behold you make it to the other side. You turn around and you do it again. And again. Pretty soon you are looking at the length of the pool believing that you just might be able to swim the length.

You have to BUILD that confidence with small realistic goals. You build it by DOING.  I will find out this coming week if this person jumped into the pool or is still standing on the edge. The point is that even in failure with an earnest attempt – that is success. So you took on some water and maybe you had to swim to the side before you reached the end goal- maybe next time. And next time you will have more confidence.

ACTORS – IF you are at that point where you want to be accepted as a professional – DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Let’s say that all together now. DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Work at a discount if you believe in developing these people but just say no. I see in our own state all these actors working the student films and free projects. That is where new upcoming actors get their experience and build their resume. So if you have experience and a resume that can compete professionally – GET OUT! Now if you are a hobbyist – sure do your community filmmaking deal, but don’t be surprised when professionals don’t take you serious. If you are in demand and you hold out – you force filmmakers to grow. It’s the whole, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Every time a professional actor does a free project – GO TO JAIL (Loss of name value) DO NOT PASS GO, DO  NOT COLLECT $200. An experienced actor beating out a bunch of newbie’s trying to get their first projects under their belt impresses absolutely nobody. Dive into that larger pool.

Now onto some updates! You know I like to give Blog readers advanced updates. So here we go!

DONORS, the thriller I did with Niki Saletta (7th Heaven) is complete. They will screen the film for investors this Sunday and plans will be made to get this ready for presentation to distributors. It is a cool little film that has some serious tension to it.

BESTSELLER released a new teaser poster this week and the rough cut is under review. Our director is making notes for a second round of editing as we speak. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great performances caught by a hard-working crew. We’ve got early interest on the film by distributors and I’m relatively happy with our work flow. The overall film will likely be done in August and premiere in Sept or Oct.

ASHES OF EDEN will also be releasing some new poster art. I’ve been bouncing some ideas with our director on a new opening of the film. We should be done with everything this month save maybe the final mix. It’s exciting because even as strong and enthusiastic as the test audiences were – the final product is so much better. We’re planning a premiere for cast/crew followed by a theatrical test run and that may lead to a wider release via one of our several distributors bidding for a first look. This will be one of the films to watch and it will help put Michigan once again on the map with international releasing.

And speaking of international releases – following last month’s release of the Michigan-Made “Locked in a Room” to Germany, Austria and Switzerland those same territories will be getting the Philippine darkness unleashed upon them. Yes. On March 28th, “Darkest Night” will release there. That makes three new films released in those territories in the last six months. So congrats to the CDI Sales Team for that. More territories are in the works and we will announce as it happens.

The CDI Associated doc film “Outside the Wire, Forgotten Children of Afghanistan” is also getting a VOD release soon thanks again to CDI Distribution. This is a powerful film by Anthony Hornus. It was filmed while embedded with the US military in Afghanistan. I encourage everyone to check out this powerful film when it releases.

MISC. NEWS

Other random news of events still developing include – a new casting for a CDI film on IMDB which you can search out under “40 Nights”. We will be doing a full PR release on this film in the weeks ahead. It’s a very exciting pet project and I’m happy to see this developing so fast. Actually we have development work underway on a handful of projects including an “Anthony Hornus” feature “Race to Judgment,” the “Soul Eater” film,  and a possible new association with Detroit’s AT RISK ENTERTAINMENT. There also might be a theatrical showcase of CDI films coming to the Detroit area so stay tuned for big updates in the weeks ahead. Additional studio talks, new rep from India joining CDI and the list goes on. Enough of all this – get out there and enjoy your weekend!

DJ


Post/Premiere Updates on “Ashes of Eden”/”Bestseller”

This new sunny day comes on the heels of a beautiful full moon and while cold something stirs. I think spring dares to creep into my mind – cook outs and cocktails. New showings will be forthcoming this year with I believe seven new films rolling out. I’ve grown to enjoy the marketing aspect. Working with the CDI sales team I really enjoy being involved with bringing this art to different countries and different people. While we have had some distributors that work we also have had our share of those that do not. I’ve had the pleasure of talking about our library of CDI films with distributors in many territories. For fans of my blog not in our TV/Film industry the domestic market consists of US/Canada. The rest of the world is divided up into forty some territories. Sometimes you sell a country or an area/region. So there is distribution 101 in TV/film. I’m looking to increase the number of allied buyers this year and we look to be in line to fulfill that goal.

We have been blitzing some PR on “Darkest Night” to align with its move to Hulu Plus. The recent success in Berlin of “found footage” style movies has directed some good heat to our film. So IF you like that type of film check it out. I’ll admit here and now NOT my favorite style of filmmaking BUT it was a good experience. Will I ever do another one? It would have to be the right project. I will be working with Russ Williams the writer/producer again but I think this next film will be more traditional.

Some exciting news is that our sales team will be handling “Judges” to the foreign market. I think Australia was the only foreign country that had an earlier release of the film. We plan to change that in the coming year so prepare for BUDDY COLT and the JUDGES to invade a country near you. I had great talks with director Stephen Walker and I will say that discussions about a JUDGES 2 are happening. A script that had “Father Kane” played by the late great Russ Stine, had been written. His passing away took the wind out of the sequel sails for a while but the winds are changing. We both agreed that after we do this foreign blitz with “Judges” we should prep for a sequel.  So to all the “Judges” fans out there – things are happening.

I will be announcing a small pet project soon – actually 2014 could be the year of pet projects. If “Soul Eater” finds its legs along with a few others such as the “An Ordinary Killer” follow-up “Race to Judgment” – it could bring back some old faces. Old character faces, well my face maybe older – not really, grey…ok next topic.

“Ashes of Eden” is getting to the end of post production and our first premiere talks have started. We have had some wonderful interest in this film and I think it will have people talking. We have decided to walk at the end vs run so we make no mistakes and allow maximum creativity. This film is gonna play some theaters and is looking like we will have an international audience. If you have not seen these two trailers/previews go to http://www.ashesofedenmovie.com/trailer.html

As if that wasn’t enough – “Bestseller” is about a week from our rough edit. The goal is 120 minutes of heart pounding tension. The flight footage was just shipped in and we will all be excited to watch the 1st cut and start making notes. I’ve been happy with editor Chad Ice’s passion and excitement while working on this edit. I know that after the 1st cut we will assemble the first teaser trailer. Also things were put in motion to have the behind the scenes materials assembled. David Gries is going to edit some great footage captured by Seth Steele. Also look out for some upcoming poster art!

Distribution talks include too many films to break it all down here and now but trust me when I say that more of our international fans will get to see more of the films. My films are in more than twenty countries and I want to thank all the fans that reach out on the social media. I create these stories as do all the artists involved to entertain and share with you. So thank you.

OK. I have some work to do in the office and planning for the week ahead.

Stay warm!

DJ