Photo by Graham Turner
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee. I have lots on my mind. Artist or those who follow the dream of being an artist as a career start young. Many fail because the endeavor is hard. Not that many other things aren’t difficult but many just don’t fully “get” the artist mindset. As a young person it can be you against the world with little to lose and everything to gain. That is why many make their run at it by often moving away or by making personal sacrifice in hopes of gaining a foothold.
As you get older that dream may still persist but also life may lead you in other directions. People fall in love, become parents and sometimes they cannot keep up the battle financially. The significant others brought into this circle often battle to understand and be supportive. I’ve said before, when I get an opportunity to do what I love it creates a hardship of sorts for my significant other. Domestic tasks usually handled by two now fall upon the shoulders of one. But living with a frustrated artist can also be a detrimental state.
That is why you always see so many ‘special thanks’ in the end credits of a film. The “others” help a film get made usually by holding down the fort. Everyone has an artistic side to their nature but it’s those of us who are truly driven by it like a compulsion, an addiction to create who take a special someone. Many artists live in isolation of being truly understood. But there exists those who recognize and respect and love these traits in an artist and support them despite the hardships. These people are special and deserve to be recognized.
One of our close producer/actors at CDI just lost their special other. An intelligent and practical man whose art manifested through his cooking. Some cook and some make it an art and this gentlemen made it art. He actually did some craft service duties for us last fall on an upcoming short film. The director loved how positive and helpful he was and I think he finally was really getting it. It can be hard for the significant others to not be in that bubble. To see but not share in that enthusiasm that radiates from artists doing what their heart calls them to do. But on this occasion he was part of it. He felt it. The TRIBE. He enjoyed the experience so much that further talks followed whereas this might become more of a norm but alas it was not meant to be.
Saturday night just before the big lightning and thunder storm he went home, a tragic victim of an aggressive cancer. His last words were “you always think you have more time.” How profound and true these words are and they should be a wake up call to some and a reinforcement to others. These words inspired and haunted me but ultimately encouraged me to cherish the time we have here. To appreciate the people we share our time and lives with. So quit that miserable job and run that charter fishing business if that is what you always wanted to do. Don’t put off writing that book that has been in your head since college. Embrace the now and know time is fleeting. I think I have always tried to follow my passions and use my time wisely. Because one day our own sands of time will trickle down the hourglass and the journey will be done.
Let’s talk my favorite passion – storytelling and my favorite medium film.
BEST YEARS GONE – This story has been in heavy development with casting, costuming and consulting. We are looking at going old school by breaking the shoot up into a few shorter blocks grouping together scenes that require less and more. This is more like filming in the earliest days but will allow us to better control the size of the crew on certain days and damage control should we have any virus issues. I’ve just about got a handle on my character and others have been doing the same. It is now almost time to start getting those puzzle pieces/scenes. I think audiences will love this film again a powerful mixture of serious issues wrapped in humor. Life can be tragic but it can also be funny and sometimes both. This film captures that and we will once again be proud to bring that to audiences worldwide.
WILD FAITH – Worldwide this film has been expanding and is being viewed by millions of people. I think this is a great film again serious and humorous and is proving to be enlightening. I’ve read just some amazing fan mail about this movie. I’m so proud to say that all this attention and appreciation is building our audience to the TV series. We will be working hard over the winter to put the pieces in play. A spring 2021 shoot schedule would be ideal and I think it might all fall together. While it might not be everyones cup of tea (as if anything is) it is loved by many. Thank you to all the fans worldwide.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – I had several people reach out having finally got around to seeing this film. I’m guessing maybe it had something to do with National Dog day. This film is a bit more intense than some of the other CDI fare that has a good dose of humor but the subject matter required it. If you love animals and want to see a powerful drama please do take a watch.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’re prepping this trilogy for the holiday window fast approaching but you can watch at anytime. Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS, Part 2 CHASING THE STAR and Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER – enjoy!
LOST HEART – Our distributor has approved the EPK kit and so PR will start rolling soon. We have several of our stars doing national spots and the planning for our cast and crew screening is full on. Our goal is to have millions tune in for a one-night only event via ENCOURAGE TV. This will be an event with pre-show interviews and well wishes. Following that event the film will move to an exclusive window with one of the many interested networks and finally home video streaming and DVD. I was speaking with Josh “The Ponceman” Perry who is one of our stars yesterday. He absolutely owns the screen but I could say that about so many of the cast. I’m excited to show our artists and after that – the world!
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – Our in association documentary film about the origins of wrestling is underway. If you have an interest in wrestling and want to see how you could get involved feel free to reach out. We are gathering interviews and will make a great entertaining and informative film.
WRAP UP – The film work keeps moving forward. This weekend has been busy as we know have a coop with our “golden girls” getting adjusted. We fired up the new stand up freezer and stocked it with the pig and transferred over the venison. I also bottled the dark “Autumn Ale” and will likely rack the wine in the next week or so. The garden is growing with the fall veggies and even the hops are getting close. So I’ve felt a bit like a farmer as of late but I find it all very relaxing. I will leave us again with that powerful truth that we always think we have more time. So if you have things you want/need to do don’t keep pushing it off. DO IT.
Be good to one another and I’ll see you all in September:)
August 30, 2020 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: actor, ale, artists, audiences, autumn, battle, BEST YEARS GONE, blog, book, bubble, business, cancer, career, cast, casting, Catch Can, CDI, Chasing the star, consulting, coop, costuming, craft, crew, distributor, DJ Perry, documentary, dog, domestic, drama, DVD, Encourage TV, EPK, fall, family, film, fishing, Forty Nights, freezer, funny, garden, goal, hazelnut, heart, holiday, hops, humor, intense, interviews, job, Josh Ponceman Perry, Lost Heart, love, MBF, mind, national, pig, PR, producers, puzzle, scenes, screening, September, series, storytelling, streaming, tea, The Christ Slayer, Time, tragic, truth, TV, veggies, venison, virus, watch, Wild Faith, wrestling, youth | 1 Comment
I wanted to welcome everyone. I had some computer issues which ended up with me getting a new hard drive. I would say 90% of my files were backed up on external and flash drives and another 5-7% on email storage and I’ve been trying to look at this as a way to re-organize. I was already in that phase but now I’ve got a real clean system to rebuild. So that will be one of my activities is to rebuild but with the files I use.
Other things this week include getting two of my wisdom teeth out – fun. We finished our outdoor soccer league – fun. (No sarcasm) I got some major trimming done in the yard but the garden is next. I still have a lot of catching up to do from being gone several weeks shooting ‘Lost Heart’ and also a week long vacation to the UP of Michigan.
We just found out that WILD FAITH which we submitted to the Wild Bunch film festival was nominated for a slew of awards.
We had been recognized in a few festivals that are geared towards family and faith films but this is our first that specializes in the genre. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew and I’m just thrilled that the genre is still going strong. I really do love period pieces and that 1800’s time frame is so fun to play in. As I said before I’m humbled and appreciative for the nominations. I’m happy that the genre connected with Ben Lily and Hester played by Melissa Anschutz and I. It was one of my greatest thrills in years to sit at the back of a theater and hear the laughter. Our leads are undeniably great and I’m happy the kids were both recognized. They did a great job. Jesse Aragon’s camerawork is just awesome and Dennis Therrian’s score makes it all come to life. Trace Adkins and that voice – how could he not be nominated for his narration. Add Jesse Low’s direction and we have nods for best film faith and non-faith. As for ‘Best Produced’ that is because of our entire producing team from our Executive Producers to our Associate Producers and everyone in-between. I know that myself and a few of our folks are planning to attend.
This week we also announced the premiere showings of ‘Man’s Best Friend’ to happen Sat. Sept 14th in Owosso, MI and the NCG theaters. Two showings and both are to benefit non-profits. One non-Profit being the local shelter and the other The Red, White and Blue Project working to help our vets. People who have seen the film early are excited and I think the film will have a real voice for soldiers and dogs. We will announce as soon as tickets go up for sale.
‘Lost Heart’ is now in editing and we’ll have discussions about a first teaser trailer and BTS looks once we all get caught up. We are tweaking a new logo that will be the main logo for the film. Once we have that we will continue to release some new photos from what was an incredible shoot. The shoot is almost all cleaned up just a few more wrinkles to iron out.
I’m going to leave this all here soon and return to some arranging we are doing here at the house. We got new bookshelves and that will move some additional shelves out to the office. Last week I had some great meetings over a few projects. We’ll be making some steps on new projects soon. I’ve heard of several people from our area moving out of state. That said, I can name at least two companies in Michigan doing some great projects in the state. I love seeing that because myself and CDI are here to stay. Chasing that ideal industry can be a snipe hunt whereas building that industry can be a more exciting choice. So to my fellow producers – keep doing good business and creating. I would love to have a steady stream of features and TV series at play in Michigan. As an actor it is sometimes nice to just go perform. I’m preparing for a new push as a screenwriter also. I’ve had 5 or 6 features produced and garnished some praise and awards in the last few years. I’m going to work at bringing that skill to other companies looking for that unique and powerful story. The script is the blueprint for everything. I also think it is one of the major downfalls of many indie productions. I’ve experienced this as an actor and I know many of you have too. So 2020 will be representation taking the scripts to some major outlets. Also some great work-for-hire opportunities. I do have another script hire job ahead of me that I’ll likely do over the winter.
I want everyone to have a great week. I’m going to play catch up this week and organize. When I cannot sit in front of my computer anymore I think it will be time to bottle the GRAPE APE wine. I might make a batch of hard cider from our apple trees that are doing quite well this year. Cheers! Lastly, Happy Birthday to this guy – Finn who just turned one year old. He has brought us lots of joy:)
Until next week.
August 25, 2019 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: actor, apple, awards, Bday, Ben Lily, blueprint, BTS, cameras, cast, CDI, computer, crew, Dennis Therrian, DJ Perry, dogs, edit, faith, family, Film Fest, Finn, genre, grapes, Hester, hunt, indie, industry, Jesse Aragon, Jesse Low, job, Joe Cipriano, Lauren Lastrada, logo, Lost Heart, Man's Best Friend, Melissa Anschutz, Michigan, music, premiere, producers, screenwriter, script, Shane Hagedorn, snipe, soccer, teaser, Trace Adkins, trailer, TV, UP, vets, westerns, Wild Bunch, wisdom teeth, Xylia Jenkins | Leave a comment
This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge
We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat. Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.
My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.
He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.
Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.
Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much. Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often. By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.
What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.
I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto. My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.
I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities. Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?
Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.
We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.
Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction. I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.
Be good to one another. Love one another.
October 7, 2018 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: art, artists, battle, birds, blanket, boy, Brady Bunch, cast, cat, CDI, cheers, child, coffee, computer, coordination, craft, crew, daddy, DJ Perry, doctor, dog, drama, emotional, fall, fame, family, film, friendships, grandmas, hearts, Hollywood, hope, hospital, human, job, kitchen, Lost Heart, love, loyal, MBF, Military, momma, money, news, NYC, pack, pager, park, paycheck, peace, People, phone, pines, rituals, sibling, soccer, social media, softball, sports, spring, stories, tether, The Christ Slayer, toxic, tribal, tumor, venison, vision, walks, Wild Faith, win, wind, woods, words, wrist | Leave a comment
Today’s time has been filled looking for the return truck to carry gear that came from LA. Several departments have been securing props and wardrobe for transport. Key Set PA is looking everywhere for walkie’s that did not get returned during the excitement of wrap. These are all elements to breaking down the circus. By circus, I mean -film circus. We’ve just completed another amazing task of telling a feature-length biblical-era movie told largely in the wild deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’ve been living out of a motel for weeks, working hard with a very talented group of artists. After reviewing footage, I can say that once again we captured some movie magic. It’s all about a group of artists who care about the product. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. Or maybe a disease:)
We pick ambitious goals and we strive hard to try and achieve them. That’s the great pride I get from visitors to set who talk about our professionalism. The distributors who know we work hard to bring art with the solid business. Our last director here on “The Christ Slayer,” Nathaniel Nose suggested the slogan “The CDI difference” – which is actually quite catchy:) Hey, we don’t always do everything right here but we’ll get caught trying to do it right every time. Best Effort’s is our motto and when challenged we sometimes discover where our best effort stride actually IS. These films keep getting stronger because the people involved are giving their best efforts. Yes, they tire and slow like us all, but they take pride in their work. They put the gloves and boots back on and attack each new day. It’s a huge collective effort and it always reminds me of the truth that lies at the heart of our company name – Collective Development Inc.
I will say a few words about the role of Jesus. He’s my 1st character I’ve played in a film twice. What an interesting and complex role to become twice. I’ve had several fine moments of pondering WWJD in different moments. I guess that’s what led to these stories in part. Well, Jesus has left the building and ascended to higher grounds. It’s mighty refreshing to let some of that heaviness go and to knock down some of that giant Jesus beard.
I’m going to return home this week and need to go finish breaking down the circus. But ahead of us lies music and sound design for “Wild Faith” – a new domestic release for “Forty Nights” on 4/4/17, a Michigan premiere and theatrical release of “Chasing the Star” and “The Christ Slayer” is officially in editing.
I’m looking forward to seeing family (Happy Bday baby) and friends, soccer games and working in the garden and yard. Almost time to turn that soil and fire up the grill. I will say that I feel accomplished now having finished The Quest Trilogy.
Keep following- much more more to come. “Forty Nights” releases April 4th!
March 27, 2017 | Categories: Blogroll, Uncategorized | Tags: April 4th, AZ, beard, best efforts, CDI, Chasing the star, circus, Collective Development Inc, distributors, domestic, editing, family, Forty Nights, friends, gloves, goals, Jesus, job, LA, magic, music, props, soccer, sound design, The Christ Slayer, transportation, wardrobe, Wild Faith, WWJD, Yuma | Leave a comment
The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.
Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.
Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.
Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!
OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST
Knight Chills 20th Anniversary
“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.
“The Christ Slayer”
I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.
My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.
September 4, 2016 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: AZ, book, casting, CDI, Chasing the star, coach, coffee, crewing, film, football, friendship, job, knight chills, lifetime, lions, locations, MSU, October, pay, reads, reels, resume, screen, spartans, team, The Christ Slayer, Wild Faith | Leave a comment
Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.
Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone. Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.
Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.
So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.
Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)
BESTSELLER – Music work underway
ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival
THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC
This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.
Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.
I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.
October 11, 2014 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: academic, agent, Alamo, analog, artist, awards, Bestseller, cameras, Canada, cast, casting, CDI, Christmas, cider, college, crews, director, donations, drama, eden, ego, fall, feature, film, fish, food, France, game, Germany, high school, interns, job, Kalamazoo, leaves, lights, liquior, management, Michigan, monopoly, Movie, MSU, music, Nevada, NYC, perks, phone, plants, post house, PR, SciFi, social funding, state, students, studio, terrorist, TV, U of M, UK, USA, Valley of Fire, wasteland, Willie Nelson | Leave a comment
A quiet morning of sipping coffee and reflecting on the past week. On the domestic front this week saw Lions and MSU football kick off to victory. The garden is giving tomatoes, peppers and some beans in abundance. I bottled up the fall brew beer that I’ve named AUTUMN AMBER and is tastes good and with some age it will get even better. We used the smoker on some chicken and it came out great! So on the personal level I’ve been enjoying the slow transition from summer to fall. Let’s discuss some business shall we.
First I’ve noticed that some of the things happening in the our local film community will evolve on their own. My personal “community” is composed of doers from every state and other country’s creating art and telling stories to enlighten and educate the masses. We’ve discussed many of the issues that our state faces and I’m sure that is represented in every film community in every state. There are some that are chasing fame and working cons to try to grab a foothold. As I’m about to shoot a thriller this Oct. that is a complete re-shoot due to mismanagement I see that some of the individuals responsible are just moving to the next “mark”. Some are following their same game of deceit and bamboozling. I did step in to give warning to one young man who seems bent on getting ahead by any means. I just saw his attempted involvement with two other filmmakers that I call a friend. So I had to bring that to light because I don’t want to see others have their passion films damaged. Be real and build a real career on real effort and work. Not claiming “uncredited” work on studio projects or falsely adding or promoting yourself as being part of something you are not. I gave my warning but for you out there hiring or collaborating – you must also beware. Talk to people who have worked with these people prior. Remember like a job interview they are looking to say what they think you want to hear. A good speaker can bullshit a lot of people and you often won’t realize until it is too late. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way earlier in my career as well. I’ve got a finely tuned bullshit meter but we all can be a victim.
We are about to start signing deal memos on “Bestseller” in the coming weeks. We’ve been in talks with vendors and I’m excited about what this group of artists will create. I’ve been spending some time with my character role and looking forward to bringing this to life. Some of my contacts in Hollywood are now becoming aware of what we are shooting and we will be bringing a few actors in to work with our mid-west talent. They have had some great feedback on our revamped script and we are doing our production breakdowns. This should be a very smooth shoot and a great way to end the year. So prepare for a new website and PR on some of our great talent attached.
ASHES OF EDEN! The film is in final sound design and scoring and we are on course for a November Michigan premiere. Before that audiences will get a strong look at our film via a theatrical trailer which will release tomorrow! I’m excited about showing people a peek of this powerful film. I’m going off survey responses from our test audiences. We also have submitted and may have a few known music artists joining our talented local music acts. I’m excited to again show our interested distributors our new marketing piece. I also excited to show all of you!
BENJAMIN has been re-cut with distributor feedback and retitled THE TERRORIST. All the talk from over there in that camp is that we also have something very special. So this is another film that I’m excited to get out to audiences. Another riveting drama.
SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN. The question of if this TV series is going to strike a fancy has been answered. We did a promo piece and that was shown to 3 different parties all of which responded positive. One responded so positive that it was a board room showing in London and we have an offer coming in next week. The negotiation process starts but we do have a fun, entertaining show and this might be a great start for CDI TV. Will I end up producing a few reality shows? Maybe. We will see.
I also have a TV series in development with a major studio that could be great fun. This is my first time working within this TV studios development process but I will learn from it I’m sure. If it happens it would have me co-starring in my first TV series. I know I’ve avoided that prior but this would have me on the writing/producing team so I re-considered. It still could fall apart or get shelved but so far so good.
Many of our scripts are in development pipelines being evaluated by money sources. I think 2014 will surely see a handful of these get made. I’m enjoying this time of productivity. Some is from work previously done finally coming to and some are new growth. EVOLUTION is the word I’ve been in meditation on. I can roll with whatever the universe brings because I know that it is all just evolving energy. I see great storytelling ahead.
So as you can see I can be concerned about issues in our local circles but I cannot get overly invested. Those overselling themselves to the inexperienced will continue to do so. Those chasing that 15 minutes of fame by the “fake it to make it” technique will continue for some. Others will continue to not see true opportunities presented to them and do things half-ass so they can move quickly to the next venture out of desperation. I was inspired watching a PBS doc yesterday on the torch passing between film and digital. The passion of storytelling by storytellers is the underlying golden thread. That is where I belong. That is who I am. The same child like artist who first picked up a camcorder to start telling little stories. I’ve matured in business from good mentors and experience good and bad. My wanting to bring our art to the wider world that only happens with distribution and dependent upon good business has pushed me forward. So I do care a lot about those around me. But I can only be a compass by example alone. I cannot and will not take part in a bunch of drama that I read about daily on all these social media outlets. While others talk I’ve always been one taking action and I have to stay that course. The artists that work with me will always get my best. I don’t understand and can’t try to understand those others. So I will keep tending my garden, loving and laughing with true friends and family and telling stories. That is all I can do. So I implore those out there to always give more than someone paid you for. Always give your best and use the passion inside you. Don’t sell yourself out for shells and beads or lures of fame. That is all fleeting but the stories you tell. The art – that can live on and on.
August 31, 2013 | Categories: Blogroll | Tags: art, artists, autumn, beer, Bestseller, business, camp, child, coffee, digital, eden, evolution, fall, fame, film, filmmakers, football, game, Hollywood, job, lions, Michigan, MSU, music, PBS, PR, studio, Summer, terrorist, thriller, truth, TV | Leave a comment