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

Posts tagged “investors

Fighting to Get Into Pre-Production, Halloween Films and More…

DJ Perry & Bobby Henline

The chill has settled back into Michigan and this week the harvest moon will symbolize what we already know – winter is coming. It has been a productive week and I’m excited to see how it plays out. We’ve been gathering commits on our new film MBF. We’re hovering around the half way point and we’ll see if we can get the last commits this week. I will have to make a decision on Monday after next to see if we shoot pre-holidays or post-holidays. Now we’ve got lots lining up for the pre-schedule but everything has an order. I heard this week about a project that again was filming with not much of a script or schedule. “Winging in” is not the way we do things at CDI. Projects are hard when you do everything orderly and when they are just improvised – I can’t imagine. Not with anyones investment that is – but people do take that path. So we’ll see if this new project is meant to go in the fall timeframe. I’ve had some great time spent exploring the subject of the wounded warrior. I’m proud of the announcement this week of myself and Bobby Henline in the cast. We’ve got lots of military folks working both sides of the camera and we’ll work hard to tell a powerful story. More casting announcements this week.

The Quest Trilogy Updates

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Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are getting some good watches by the audiences out there. I think for a few people the presented ‘world’ of Chasing the Star is a new view. Many want to see the mysterious three men from far away bringing baby Jesus some gifts. Cue the Christmas carols – no. The world of King Herod was brutal and while we don’t go full dark we don’t sugarcoat the world. To understand the possible reality of the world puts a renewed realism to the story. So while some may lament the lack of joyous pageantry others applaud the realistic take. This November and December in Bedias Texas at the Miller theater the first two films will play. One in November and one in December. DVD and streaming are for sale now and please do take a watch. Our goal is to create a trilogy of films that can be enjoyed anytime but especially during the holidays. The third film The Christ Slayer is full steam on a larger list of VFX shots. It will be completed around April 2018 before some theatrical play and home video release. A poster is now in the works.

Forty Nights streaming

https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1506864789&sr=1-1&keywords=Forty+Nights

Forty Nights DVD

https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1506864923&sr=1-2&keywords=Forty+Nights

Chasing the Star streaming

https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1506865043&sr=1-1&keywords=Chasing+the+Star

Chasing the Star DVD

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074R58HRR/ref=dp_mv_of_dp_0

Confrontation

Wild Faith is now entering the last quarter of music scoring. We have a small list of important VFX plates that still need to be completed but we are close to having a finished feature.

The TV series development is going pretty good but until I can show the pilot feature I don’t think I can bring the deal full circle.

Other Developments 

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Pending my shooting schedule I’ve been asked to possibly appear at a Comic Con promoting KNIGHT CHILLS which was released this year as a book. When the author told me that I might be surprised by the amount of fans out there I was suspicious. The film was our first attempt at a feature film and while it has its moments we clearly missed the mark in a few places. But like all CDI properties it was made with a lot of TLC. I had a great pod cast brought to my attention. Instead of all the HATE, yes haters existed even back in the early days. My secret was just working harder while others waited. Anyway, with the book readers get a free watch on the original film. I’ve been reading a little bit of the book each night before bed and it’s really good. It is a great Halloween/Christmas (Yule) season film. But we’ve done some development on a sequel script and if this new interest continues it just may happen. Listen to the podcast here.

https://tapetalk.bandcamp.com/track/56-knight-chills

The book can be found at amazon and will make a great gift to anyone into fantasy, Conan, Lord of the Rings, AD&D and such.

BUY IT HERE 

https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Chills-DJ-Perry/dp/1945940174/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1506865837&sr=1-1&keywords=Knight+Chills

I’m also close to releasing the book WILD MICHIGAN that was written off my original script. The script was re-written for budget and a tailor fit film that became Wild Faith. I think people will enjoy reading the original story as adapted by author Dee Freeman. I plan to launch it in October and we’re getting close.

This week we’re writing some money out to investors and that always makes me feel good. I’ve got films from the library that will be prepped for upcoming release in the new year. My discussions with agents continues since I do have a few scripts I would like to sell off. I also would like to work with an agency for packaging but while this things could make certain things easier I will move forward and just see what develops.

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DJ Perry as “Mason” in THE 8TH PLAGUE

I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. I want to harvest a bit more from the garden before having the mothers over for an early dinner. Grilled venison steaks are what I will be cooking. I also need to light a fire in the office. It was a touch chill when I was there yesterday. So enjoy the rest of your morning. If you get a chance watch a few of the films and if you enjoyed the watch – recommend it to your friends. If you’re into horror films I would recommend maybe The 8th Plague, Darkest Night, GPS the Movie just to name a few.

Be good to one another and have a great week!

DJ

 

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Creating Sanctuary in the Chaos

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

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

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Beautiful – by artist Jeff Butler

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

Sanctuary of Storytelling

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

Now to the films…

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FORTY NIGHTS

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

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CHASING THE STAR

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

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The Christ Slayer

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

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WILD FAITH

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

FUTURE ENDEAVORS

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

Until next week…

DJ

 


Finishing 40 Nights and Looking Ahead

one with god

This week has moved by quickly and we made some good steps towards finishing projects. I’m waiting on the coffee to finish brewing so my writing may be a touch off until I get that wake up. We have our first family Christmas gathering this afternoon so I wanted to get this written. It has been a blessed year and the one ahead shows signs of being even more productive. I’ve put some updates up on http://www.cdiproductions.com although the site needs additional updates it gives upcoming release dates and such.

Emerge from darkness

“I didn’t hear no bell” – Rocky

Our 1st film in the QUEST TRILOGY “40 Nights” has been the big push. Our distributor has a large retailer order but that requires us to upload the film to the distributor at the beginning of the new year. Right now music is being composed and laid into the film and VFX is being completed. Both the opening sequence and VFX need to be laid in this week coming forth. I’ve seen some of the plates and the VFX transitions. Great stuff by Vroman arts.

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1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

We’ve been working to finalize a commercial project and additionally get the foundation in place for “Chasing the Star” the 2nd film in our QUEST TRILOGY. The LLC is in process and our docs have been revamped. We’ll be attaching the investors over the next two weeks. Casting has been in full swing and I hope to attach cast and crew first part of Jan. 2016 and be ready for a Feb./March shoot in Yuma, AZ.

An Ordinary Killer

The detectives and their snitch confront some dealers in the park about the death.

“An Ordinary Killer” has been remastered and we’re about to do a DVD run with the new packaging. This film played at our FILM & SPIRITS program at Sanctuary Spirits on the 3rd Thursday of the month. This month we will be watching FIGURE IN THE FOREST. This film has enjoyed numerous TV play. (TBN, Parables, UpLifTv) I think we’ll be doing a remastered run of this film also.

I’ve got a great list of new 2016 goals forming. I put them down every year and like to see what areas made strong advances and what requires more attention. I’ve also been reviewing a few scripts for acting in 2016. I’m feeling pretty confident on C.U.J.O. shooting this coming year. I’ve got a CDI western that will shoot with Jesse Low (4o Nights) at the helm. Aside from that I’ve got a handful of possibles but that depends upon many factors.

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I’m going to conclude this short weekly update because I have gifts to wrap for early this afternoon. I want to also comment that I’m so excited about the new STAR WARS film(s). I saw the 1st one in 1977 many times. So many in fact our parents did not want us to keep watching the same movie. We would sneak into other theaters to watch – STAR WARS:) So I’ve had a blast with all the merchandise that is in stores. It also was a major inspiration for my path. I’m proud to have chosen and been allowed by you the fans, to have a career. Our recent QUEST trilogy has a Star Wars influence for sure.

MSU my alumni school locked up the BEN TEN championship! Our Lions are …the Lions. Still no major snow here in Michigan so it feels like a California Christmas. I’m sure that will change in the weeks ahead.

Have a great weekend!

DJ

 

 

 


Showings, Cycles and Selecting Ones Path

Autumn is Upon Us

It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.

Directors/Storytellers

I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work.  Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.

SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated

I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day.  (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.

This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.

Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from.  Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.

Say when;) That’s for you Tony.

Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard.  Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.

Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors

First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.

Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.

Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.

One Example for rejected films:

Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.

Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.

Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.

Why?

It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.

The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.

What happens often when it’s just starting to work –

Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.

Why all this director talk?

We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations.  Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)

SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)

Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists  because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.

Collaborations

If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.

In-House

We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution)  So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.

We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.

It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development.  I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.

Film Updates

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.

Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI  – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door-  starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch  “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.

Sequels

I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.

40 Nights

We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.

I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.

I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.

DJ

CDI's Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

CDI’s Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate


Father’s Day – Future Showings, Castings and Distribution

Hazelnut coffee nourishes me from my morning haze. I had a few people over yesterday to celebrate the fact that on Tuesday June 23rd I will be one year older. I want to throw a  Happy Father’s Day out to all the fathers. My fatherly duties only extend to a pack of lovely animals. As I opened a few nice cards yesterday that spewed nice words on my character I thought of my dad. He taught and continues to teach me things all the time. I see more of him and that makes me smile. He has always been a fair, funny and stern man when required. He didn’t always understand the world of movies or the passion that drove me to follow that path. I think like many parents of artists – they worry and in many cases rightfully so. It’s a hard path where in days past you only got known usually after your death. Maybe this is more applicable to famous painters but it also applies to other artists I’m sure. I’m happy my father is still here to give wisdom, guidance and comfort. I see my parents as the training wheels and I’m happy both of mine are still attached to the bike. I got my father a little love gift that I will give him later but my gift will NOT be his favorite today. My brother and his wife Abby are going in today to have their second child. The Perry clan will add a new little life. We don’t know if it is a boy or girl but we’ll will be happy with either.  So dad is gonna be a grandpa again and that’s a pretty cool Father’s Day present. So the fathers or those that act in a father-like fashion congrats to you upon this day.

As I approach my actually B-day on Tuesday I have so much to be proud of as I reflect back on what has transpired on this journey thus far. It goes all the way back to “PLAYING” with the camcorder in high school and before that making “radio” dramas on tape with dialog and sound FX recorded on a tape player. Recently, I’ve again had the pleasure of watching hundreds enjoy our “PLAY” on the big screen. Let’s look at a few of these movie updates.

ASHES OF EDEN – WOW! What a full journey and starting in Oct it will really travel. We are releasing a clean(er) version of the movie. Our director Shane found himself in a place between SHOW & BIZ. He loves the raw version of his SHOW but the distributors main outlets require a slight adjustment. It is why we do more and more development/distribution work making films that will do well in the marketplace. Early on you can make films basically on spec within a business structure but many mistakes can be made. Does one scene or a handful of words kill a certain retailer and/or TV license? These are things that get looked at now when we are in development. I know Shane came from a hobby-esque film background whereas whatever struck the current fancy was created with little thought to distribution. Once you start partnering with investors (not social donations) you have a responsibility to them. Factoring in all these variables gets your story out to more. If you don’t take these variables under consideration it likely is a situation of showcasing your film to a couple hundred people and moving a few hundred DVD’s to family and friends. The path we’re on can be reflected in a recent sales report I received with over 285,000 DVD’s sold. That is what proper development can bring but sometimes compromise is required. I’m not saying the world won’t accept the thousands of filmmakers who do these films on the side as only art. I’m saying if you want to “PLAY” for a living you must factor the business in at all times. I’m so very proud of this film and I look forward to taking the next step with Shane. A great creative, hard-working mind who was a joy to collaborate with. Check out ASHES OF EDEN once it becomes available wide in October. This week we should see the new poster art surface.

BESTSELLER – This film has had quite the journey. I’ve got an interview that I did recently (Not released yet) – that asked some pointed questions on production and I gave some pointed answers. I’ve flowed with the Q&A at a few screenings about production and went with the spin. The film almost never was due to mismanagement before we came onboard but I’m so proud of all the current artists involved with the RE-shoot. Their work resulted in the fine film we now have. We’re about to announce our next theatrical show date in Lansing with a DVD release party afterwards. We are also working on Kalamazoo and a few in the Detroit area. I would also like to see an Owosso, Michigan screening. So, more showings of BESTSELLER will be forthcoming. We also just got our 1st national distribution offer on the film. We will continue to evaluate these offers.

40 NIGHTS – So this past week our director/editor sat in with our assistant editor, FX supervisor and one of our other producers. This is our second wave of viewers that will give vital feedback. It will be used to create our second pass on the film. From there we will bring the other producers back in to review. We will have a locked picture in July.  Also the 1st teaser trailer of the film is being worked on. I’m excited to show audiences a first look as we’ve had so many reach out about this film. We’ve just opened a new database whereas you can sign up on the 40 Nights website if your church or organizations wishes a showing. This is in response to the requests we have been getting. So check out http://www.40nightsthemovie.com and sign up. I’m excited to also get the licensing of product underway.

Distribution Updates –

CDI Distribution has recently made additional TV deals on three film projects. One is with our non-profit friends at Red, White & Blue who work with military themed film properties. This includes the CDI associated doc “Outside the Wire” and “Standing Post” both are heading to TV. Also “7 Stones” will be playing at this network. Delivery is happening this week and I’m once again proud of all the artists involved.

Also I have been in talks with a new distribution entity via an introduction by our family/faith distributor. We’re looking for the right partner on grittier properties like our thrillers. The 1st round of talks focused on – DONORS, THE TERRORIST and BESTSELLER. The result was they’re interested in all three films. That doesn’t mean they will all land there but they could. But that was my morning yesterday before our little B-day gathering.

The Future-

Script-wise I’ve been doing some good writing. I’ve retooled one of the past CDI script properties and we will look at moving that forward soon. We will likely do some Michigan casting in the weeks ahead. I have to get the new draft of the script polished and over to our distributor. “Knight Chills 2” and another power drama I’m working on are very close to being completed. I also have been preparing to write the next script in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. I have had so much business going on that getting into the writing mindset was difficult for a moment because of that phone call or an immediate “TO DO” that always broke the mindset. But things are falling into a more even flow and the writing is once again going great.

Good Business –

Not to long ago I had a filmmaker in our state try to go behind my back to push his agenda with a contact. Bluntly – I don’t respect this filmmaker. By his own words and actions he is…a joke when it comes to management. His art is careless and his business disorganized. His personal character is… Let’s just say he is his own worst enemy. I normally would not even waste these words on this person but an opportunity to illustrate a good lesson is at hand because of another filmmaker associate out west. He actually asked permission to contact someone and asked if I would mind being used as a reference. This is how business is meant to be done. In the 1st example myself and at least one other person got a call to get the facts on this person. It was odd for this person to reference myself but not come through me. Why? This person knew I wouldn’t endorse him. The nice part of this story is that I wasn’t the only one who reported back with the same feedback. His actions defined him. Your actions will define you. Words lose value when they have no true integrity behind them. Be true-hearted in your words and deeds. The latter person in this story may do some solid business because he practiced good business. This other individual – buyer beware. Don’t buy into the BS that they are selling. Lots of these types are about trying to say what they think you want to hear – but there are also many sincere people. Trust your judgment.

I could go on about this or that but I really need to go get cleaned up. I’m about to become an uncle again today:) After I’ve got a soccer match to play. Our yard needs to also get cleaned up from the gathering yesterday.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

DJ


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


Freezing Temps and Finish Lines

This morning was chilly here in Michigan with temps at 9 degrees and falling. But the blowing snow is even more crazy. I know that our friends on the far east coast are getting it much worse. This morning after a coffee warm up we went out and about. We like to go visit estate sales looking for antiques or collectibles for the house or my office. We’ve truly found some wonderful treasures and it also usually includes breakfast which is a nice bonus. We braved some crazy snow and found some great items. One thing for the office is a like-new professional rotating DVD holder. I will use that to store copies of some of my CDI films kept in the office. Also found a few antiques for the office porch. Add a few other items which begged to follow me home and the trip was an overall success.

Books are one of the things that I enjoy collecting at these sales. I enjoy the feeling and smell of the paper. Even as I work with my new script, I NEED the paper. I’ve had many people in our organization who want to go all digital with paperwork. It’s fine for moving data quickly but at the end of the day paper is tangible. If a drive crashes you could lose important docs unless you have many back ups. So yes, I’m old school in my love of paper. I am a fan of wood also which is what I tend to collect. Some of you might have seen the wooden hammer pic I posted last week. It’s indeed a prop of mine for our upcoming film.

Let’s discuss the new film…

I’m encouraged by legal – not to fully disclose on this film for about another week. I can say the LLC is formed. The bank account is now open. The documents are all in process and things are all coming together smoothly. We also have some interesting things happening with distribution. This film will have distribution signed before we shoot. We have had more than one company show interest in this new film. The deals being offered are getting more interesting and next week will reveal even more. So a bit more patience here please and in time all will be revealed.

POST WORK

WASTELAND, our associated CDI, Sci-Fi film is 80% done with editing on Part 1. A small teaser is about to release. First poster art is being completed. All exciting stuff!

BESTSELLER – We went into the studio and did a few small dialogue tweaks to enhance the quality of a line here or there. The visual is about locked now and following will be the color correction. Music is our next layer and as we move steadily towards the finish line lots of exciting updates will be coming.

THE TERRORIST may be fully finished next week. I have a call scheduled with our director but I think we are just about there.

DVD art on WICKED SPRING, ASHES OF EDEN and DONORS is moving towards being completed.

Theatrical, TV  and foreign sales talks have been very steady. We’ve got a little commercial work in development. The work overall has been steady and I think following some upcoming meetings – we may have features launching back to back.

I also had some good talks with my management on upcoming acting projects. They’re happy for my next lead role and I’ve purposely kept my schedule open past March. They have several developing projects that they want me to participate in.

Aside from all that. Let me see. I caught up this week with a few filmmakers I’ve known for quite a while. Some collaboration was discussed but it was not the right fit for either of us. I told this particular individual that the great part is – “you don’t need us and we don’t need you.” So basically, when/if it does happen it’s because the project was the right fit.

On another front – I got a report that again someone (A filmmaker) was unhappy because CDI won’t support social crowd funding as it applies to filmmaking. We’ve got a polite policy in place on all that. If others are offended by that and offer negativity back – we will ignore them. Our beliefs on doing business obviously don’t match up. earlier I spoke of a talk whereas the business did not align. It was professional and this person left me with a “God Bless”.  Now this other individual seemed like he came off rude and unprofessional.

My simple advice to him.

If you’ve got your own company you’re entitled to do as you see fit. If you want to beg for donations – great. Our investors, partners, distributors and such see social-funding actions as last-ditch efforts to get funding by a hobby filmmaker or someone pushing a project that nobody wants to invest in. NOW. Before those of you out there doing social funding get your knickers in knots – I’m not saying you have to agree with them, with me or our company policy. Do your own thing. Follow your own path. Good luck. May the force be with you. NEXT.

I’ve had a lot of communications recently about KNIGHT CHILLS 2. The script is moving along and I think fans of the first will get a healthy dose of what they so enjoyed the first time around. The film itself will be much stronger in regards to the production due to all the experience and advances in technology since 1997.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Work steadily at whatever you’re building. Things happen less by chance and more as a result of hard work. If you want to get ahead you must move when others rest. Work when others play. When you work, work smart. Know your goals. Plan. Execute. Follow through. Keep trimming away those variables around you that are not sincere, supportive or loyal.

Keep Clawing and Make IT HAPPEN!

DJ