Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!
(The Fort – Tribe CDI – 2019)
Welcome new readers from Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, India and beyond. We’re in the final days of 2019 and so far it has just been a great season. This past week I’ve had a few meetings at the fort with the fire burning bright with ideas and friendship. We have some great updates to share with everyone but before that lets looks at someone else’s art.
Star Wars – (NO SPOILERS) – I went to see Star Wars at 7 years old and it was the seed planted in me to become a storyteller. Last week I got to see the final film in a series of interconnecting stories started by George Lucas. My issue with many films these days is just trying to do too much. Instead of one star ship in pursuit there has to be 100. Tension is created in moments. Those can feel stolen when trying to do too much. Character development is still king in my world of viewing hence by love of shows like BLACK SAILS. Bringing together all the ‘Star Wars’ loose threads was surely difficult but overall I really did enjoy the final film. That said, I feel truly like the torch has been passed. I feel like I do a good job of creating characters on the script page with depth. I feel we have stories to tell and we will. The goal is to create a few classics in this lifetime. In 2020 will see more writing, producing and continue to try and captures hearts and minds with our stories.
(WILD FAITH brand – Hastings TV series in development at CDI)
I see a lot of talented artists who spend a lot of time creating in someone else’s world. But the bottom line is you don’t own the brand. There are several filmmakers that do a great job creating fan films from video games or Star Wars and The Mask. That said, all that hard work is building someone else’s brand. I’m a fan of brands also but I let it influence my work but I don’t work with someone else’s brand unless hired to do so.
All three biblical adventures in THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) are all on Amazon. I was given an opportunity to produced these adventures with a ‘Star Wars’ feel. The cinematography and often the music was influenced by the Star Wars style. Star Wars was influenced from earlier works like THE SEVEN SAMURAI. A good reason for your own brand is that you don’t have to ask permission to create your own world. And if you succeed those people are becoming fans of your work. Again instead of the hardships of growing an audience around your brand, if you pick a strong brand with dedicated followers you can get a jump on exposure but…. I mean if you create a great Star Wars fan film you might get millions of hits. But try adding a price tag, although you cannot sell someone else’s brand, and it becomes like buying a knock off cologne. If a non-official derivative of someones brand is offered free you may get a lot of eyes but unless the creators take notice and hire you, you’re just building someone else’s brand. Beware of legal also with others brands. Just my two cents.
So again just like role playing, cos-play or any fun group activities, fan art has a place but film work is really hard work for someone else’s brand. My advice is do your own thing or work WITH an emerging artists to create a shared brand. Again I’m not a “my way is the only way” person at all. But I’m not into fan films or hobby films or anything that isn’t building our brand. Now you can build your skill set (acting, directing, writing) with the previous two mentioned types of films so there is value. I do appreciate anyone who uses their imagination to create. We just have long term goals and so those need to remain in focus for us. It is a hard industry to survive in. Take that from a survivor.
Please do enjoy the holidays with a watch on the trilogy and watch all three in order. Poor ‘Chasing the Star’ sometimes takes a few rocks because someone did not realize they were watching part 2 of 3 films. In time audiences will understand they are a trilogy and a bigger picture will emerge upon watching in order.
I also see a few people who thought the Magi story had nothing to do about Christmas. Maybe I should have added Heat and Cold Miser and a reindeer or two:) But for the few audience members who don’t get it, many DO get it. We don’t dumb down our stories but challenge and encourage people to talk and discuss often hard topics. So ENJOY a watch and discussion. At one of my distribution content meetings we had discussion about more biblical adventures. I might have my next three films and one of them is written. So we will see said the wise man.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – Due to the season where many are enjoying family and friends and watching films, I’ve gotten a spike in fan mail. This film has been generating a good buzz and we have some exciting events and showings coming up in 2020. But you don’t have to wait. You can watch on Amazon today! If dogs and/or support of our military touches you, please do take a watch.
LOST HEART – The fine cut is getting close. After a wonderful first cut by editor Scott Magie, welcome to the CDI Tribe, a second final cut is near. This week we had a post meeting with Dennis Therrian (music/sound), Jesse Low (Director) along with Melissa Anschutz, Shane Hagedorn and even John Mashni made a stop by. Come mid 2020 we will have a most excellent story to share with you all.
In the meantime – please watch the CDI Film collection and share your thoughts.
HOPE for HEAVEN – is the script I’ve been working on. It’s been developing in a wonderful fashion starting with some great characters. We’re working development on several properties that could go full green light in 2020/2021. A sequel to KNIGHT CHILLS, perhaps? We’ve had a few screen and camera tests. WW2 drama – coming together. Kids adventure film – might happen:) WILD FAITH TV series:) With some of the new meetings and opportunities before CDI, I promise we will continue to create. Thank you to all of you for your continued support.
Ok. We had a wonderful first Christmas gathering yesterday. Friends tonight and several gatherings in the week ahead, including two more family Christmas gatherings. I am down to just a little bit of shopping. I give thanks to those who sent a card or gave little love gifts, much appreciated. But the most important thing you can give anyone is a bit of your time, laughter and joy.
I’ve been questioned about my verbal non-involvement in politics. It’s because much like the ‘golden rule’ I believe in focusing on what we all could benefit from. When people are drained from endless debates, divided by priority differences and angered by the never-ending shortcomings of each another – I say relax. Sit back and watch a story with universal messages woven within. My friendships with people are more important than trying to convince someone I’m right about an obvious self-opinion. So set aside your differences and focus on what brings us all together. Fellow human beings trying to live a meaningful life with health and joy. Even if it is for a few days, try it and you might find it a better way to live, to cope, to exist, to grow, and to be the better you.
Fear leads to anger, anger to hate and hate to suffering – MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The soccer season has ended, the garden harvest is slowing and the leaves are starting to fall. But this heat wave seems hot as any of our true summer days. On a positive note I’ve been trying to master this new grill and get my temps under control and such. Last night I had a very successful go at pork chops. I had my old grill down to a science and so it’s like re-learning and developing a process with the new grill. I’m going to refill the coffee and we can chat on some of the developments last week. I think I’m going to just throw them out there – updates.
CHASING THE STAR – A new marketing campaign is starting Oct 10th via our distributor, driving traffic to the AMAZON. We’ve also been invited to again submit to International Christian Film Festival for 2018. It’s been submitted and now we wait. I think we’ll know more in March.
FORTY NIGHTS – We’re just finishing new theatrical licensing deals for this film in Nov. in Texas and CHASING THE STAR in December. I do think this is in Gary Nation backyard. So unless it clashes with possible shoot dates (Is that a dropped hint?) he could attend.
Both these films are being pushed for the holiday season and I think audiences will enjoy them.
Here is a good lesson from the last couple weeks. There is a program that shows faith-content who approached us about possible licensing. Now after some communication , we requested some clarification. What followed was a poorly communicated email that after being quite offending they apologized and blamed some personal issues. OK. STOP. If I’m sending an email communication to HBO (Which I did) I would NEVER respond in the way this person did if I was trying to build a bridge to business. IF I had some personal issue that was going to paint my communications – STEP AWAY FROM THE EMAIL! DO NOT COMMUNICATE until you get your head straight. I was just surprised that once again this is someone claiming a mission/path that’s inline with Christianity yet they communicate like that. JUDGMENTAL. CONDESCENDING. RUDE. Not good business practice. It could have just been a bad week but if that’s the case – don’t communicate. I doubt this avenue will work out but I’m good with that.
Let’s talk positive. I went to a biz event in Grand Rapids with my attorney/producing amigo John Mashni at CHOP & HUE. They have done color correction and some great VFX credit work for a few of our films. It was great to partake in their event and success. I saw a few familiar faces and met a few new ones. I really enjoyed myself. I don’t break away from the work too often but I’m glad I did. I will try to attend a few more events but I always have so much to do and when I take a break it is usually in solitude.
The Christ Slayer – the VFX work on this picture is moving along in strength. We started working on our first official poster ideas this week. We should have a locked picture with VFX by the end of the year.
That fits nicely with WILD FAITH that will be finishing up at year’s end. The response to the poster, trailer and BTS has been strong. I’m still looking to launch the TV series but I think it will take studios/networks watching the final film. The characters and world are so endearing it makes you want to see more. I did get some creative writing on show #2 this past week. We will see how it all plays out.
MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is our next CDI film. We had an announcement that Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. Our biz commits are flowing in and this week we’ll start announcing cast. We have two possible shoot windows – one that is before the holidays (Nov) and one that is after (Jan/Feb). It all depends on the speed of the financial commits. We’ve got two more weeks to push and see what will work best for production. That is a key question that aspiring producers should get use to asking. WHAT IS BEST FOR PRODUCTION? Many inexperienced producers make decisions that put production second. That is often where trouble starts. I’m so excited about the cast and crew lining up and I know once again we’ll put something strong onscreen.
This week was also spend prepping some other endeavors. One being a certain Civil War film that will be making its way back into the market in 2018. Also the original script I wrote for Wild Faith was turned into a book. I will be releasing the book to Amazon under the original title. The script was adapted into a new script for budget before heading into production. Instead of having the author Dee Freeman redo the book to match the new movie, I decided to leave the book story AS IS. I think it gives an interesting look at the movie that never was but allows a look at what inspired – WHAT IS.
Speaking of books I know the KNIGHT CHILLS book is now for sale at Comic Cons and I hope a new generation of readers/viewers experience the story.
BUY IT HERE – GREAT GIFT:)
As we welcome in the fall season I’ve been circling back and watching a few of the old horror films. This week I took a watch on Darkest Nights. It was fun to return to that mango estate in the Philippines and try to survive the darkest night. I miss all my cast and crew mates. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and I’m thankful to have had it.
I get asked quite often if I will return to horror genre and the answer is of course, when I find the right story. I’ve had a few filmmakers upset at me because I passed on their film. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. Execution is an issue for all filmmakers. It’s hard to take the words and make it all come to life but when the script is not strong it makes the process harder. And many directors are also the writer so they can take any feedback very personal. I understand this ‘protectiveness’ and if the company is happy with the script and you’re not, a polite pass is the best option. But sometimes even the polite pass can bring out someones anger. I’m hoping for a strong script every time one is submitted to me for acting. We as actors all want that. So to get back on track, I’ve been asked about my return to horror genre and the answer is when the right deal comes across the desk.
I had some fans ask about the C.U.J.O. reboot. I know that King’s team is working to reel back in some of his ‘rights’ to his classic films CUJO included. I know that talks are continuing with the Sunn Classic Pictures team. How will the chips fall is unknown. I would love to be part of a King project someday in the future. Will it be a C.U.J.O. reboot? That is not up to me but I will let you all know what I find out.
Outside of all this work I’ve been in exploratory talks over obtaining a literary agent. I’m about to go into production on my 5th script and I’ve got several scripts I would be willing to sell off. It will all come together. I know I have more calls to catch up on this coming week. For those that I did not get back to – rest assured I will.
Enjoy your Sunday and Go LIONS!