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
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
Forty Nights DVD
Chasing the Star streaming
Chasing the Star DVD
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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” 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.