Good morning! The hazelnut coffee is flowing and so is the rain. I will say, yesterday we had a 55 degree beautiful day when we went to harvest a Christmas tree. I love pine trees and having one in the house is something we all enjoy. This is our first Christmas with Luna Mae, our newest member of the pack. We adopted her shortly after Daphne, passed away. Finn, has enjoyed having a sister. We had a lost cat hang with us for two days until the owners were found. Thanksgiving, was a nice small gathering having had the moms over. Now that is behind us, I need to get a bit more aggressive with my Christmas shopping. I’ve been busy on several film fronts. If you follow my blog, you know many of the updates but I’ll recap the top five.
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, is closing in on being done. I was treated to see some of the “in progress” CGI FX, wow! Tomorrow, I’m back in the studio to watch/listen to music and sound design. The week will be spent tweaking and adding any nuances. At the end of the week our editor/VFX supervisor will be in to help make sure everything is implemented properly. The German subtitles are almost complete and will be dropped in this week. It has been a beast, but this will be a beautiful film. A handful of the producer/actors and director, will be heading to Iowa, for the Dec 9th premiere screenings. Two showings on Dec 9th, will be filled with many of the folks that participated in the film. Public showings will start that night with at least one public showing. But the film will continue to play for as long as the demand stays strong. Once the film is completed we’ll start looking at the other theatrical showings. We also want to look at showings in Germany, Hollywood, and a few other select runs. I really had a chance to reflect this holiday season at how blessed I am to do what I love with people I love and admire. If you get a chance to watch this in the theatre please do. It will release on DVD, streaming and broadcast in the later part of 2023, for those unable to attend any theatrical showings.
2) The great holiday tradition of watching “The Quest Trilogy” continues! I’m thrilled at how many people continue to journey and experience the three films. I’m humbled by all the great fan mail that we’ve received on these films. Shot in the “heroic” style made popular with the Star Wars films, these films are for anyone to enjoy. Lotta gems to be found in these stories and I was told with every watch you pick up something new. So take your first of tenth watch, but just watch them and introduce them to someone else. Happy Holiday Season!
3) I need to try and schedule some meeting time this week to keep on our writer/director polish of the Harsens Island Revenge, script. This story will take place in the epic 1920’s in Michigan. Once we have SNIA (Silent Night in Algona) completed, we will start focusing more on this projects pre-production. I want a teaser poster completed and we’ll start talking with sponsors in the new year.
4) The script I was working on SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE, has a first draft and I’m starting to examine for a polish before proposed cast and crew get to take a read. The story is very powerful with many lessons to be learned. I’ll have some meetings over this project when we’re in Iowa. If all goes well, some developmental construction might start in 2023 and filming in 2024. Yes, this is how far out you need to start the development work on a film project. Often the development can take years. I want to have a teaser poster but together in the new year.
5) FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – Get the DVD! It will make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas. I will take the time here to note something. Our director, Curran Jacobs, a 2X Catch-Can champion is also the young male lead in SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. I’m so very proud of him and Cassie Dean, who plays his wife, as the young lead. While being known as an elite grappler, it will be nice to see him get recognized as a storyteller actor, also. Both of those actors had smaller parts in other CDI films. This was a great opportunity for these two, well earned.
WRAP UP: Today I will likely finish up some online shopping and maybe do some in-person shopping. It was nice to take some time the other day to watch the World Cup USA vs England. Now, if they beat Iran on Tuesday, they will move forward. The turkeys and scarecrow decorations will soon give way to our snowmen and Christmas decorations. I think we will get snow again mid week, so I’ve been putting even more yard stuff away for winter. I also spent some time cutting and sawing wood for the stove.
I’m trying to remember some of the good talks this week, which might provide good lessons for us all. I know I have more reviews before me with the end credits. Like, I’ve said, we’ve missed names before and misspelled even more. Often it is from the bad handwriting of our extras, not always. I will make several more passes on it before it gets rendered this week along with the German sub-titles and the front credits. Our Algona coordinators, will be reaching out this week to our final people on the Algona, premiere invite list. We are trying our best to put on this showing a state away, while finishing the film. If your name gets missed, misspelled, please know, we have no bad intent, just a massive undertaking. If you don’t make it onto the guest list or if you can’t bring certain family or friends, please go again to a public show with them. We just have very limited seating. Even the night of the premiere, I think they might only have 1 screen open. Tickets should go on sale soon and you’ll even see the trailer start playing in front of other films.
Editing of scripts and studio time – it will be nice getting together with our tribe of artists at CDI. First, to finish some work in studio with my friends and after, enjoy the work, again with friends. Or enjoy the reaction of people who watch the films. Cue, the Christmas music as I’m going to just roll with the holidays. We are artists who take great pride in our work. You want to allow yourself to FEEL the pressure but not allow it to twist into STRESS. I always liked the saying that pressure will make the three pointer at the buzzer and stress will result in the air ball. Embrace pressure, that can make diamonds but resist feeding into stress, it does nothing positive for you. So as you navigate the holidays, pressure is fine just don’t allow it to become stress.
Have a great week! By next week when I type, we might have a finished film.
Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.