I have finally landed back in my comfy chair and will take a few moments with all of you. MSU plays football in a short while and I enjoy that time. We will watch and enjoy some Mexican eating as the night falls and the air turns cold. We had a streak of beautiful weather and only a short year earlier we had major snow. I’m not sure how Michigan will be this winter but we’ll deal with it. I think an oil change before the snow hits but other than that we will be ready. I need to do a final mow and put away certain things until spring. I’m ready to enjoy the season and continue to prep for the 2016 season ahead.
We’ve been all hands on deck with post production trying to bring “40 Nights” to a close. Many people are VERY excited including our marketing people with Lightworx. Sound design and music at one studio, VFX at two studios and color correction awaits at the end. The distributor wanted to know if they could get screeners now (work in progress) but the film is in layered pieces. But soon the pieces will all be married together into one final film. If you are just starting to hear about “40 Nights” check it out.
Theatrical showing events will take place before our April 1st release and that is no joke:) Some may know that “40 Nights” is the first in our QUEST TRILOGY. The second is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we’ve just announced our director and some of our returning cast. Take a look at the press release below.
I’m excited to once again play in this powerful, moving world that we’re exploring. Jesse Low, our “40 Nights” director will likely be ready for some R&R before moving into our CDI mid-“western” that he’ll direct. I purchased something today that will either be a costume or set dressing. It was a bear skin. Now I’m personally not for hunting predators. I think these sport hunters who kill at some silly distance with a rifle are disgraceful. It isn’t like you used a bowie knife. Anyway, I knew that this could be an awesome prop that fit our period. So this animal skin is now in the office. I have also been looking for something long to hang on a wall beam in the office. I had someone approach me with a trade that was just too cool. It was a 7 foot long whale harpoon mounted on this beautiful aged wood plank covered with nautical rope. Again, I’m not a supporter of whale hunting in this age of easier food. I know religion, beliefs and other traditions factor into the practice of whale hunting. But those who did this by hand were obviously also putting their life on the line. So today I took possession of a whale harpoon and a bear skin. I don’t say that too often. Okay, I’ve never said that.
“Bestseller” had a great showing in Owosso, MI last Sunday and I want to thank everyone who came out. I want to thank filmmaker buddy Nathan Quinn for coming out and supporting. It was good to catch up and I appreciated the beers. CHEERS! Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand had a great signing earlier that day for his young fans. Next stop for the film might be Detroit area following Grayling, MI. It was fun to once again watch the audiences be scared. It’s worth a watch with a group in a theater but I know it will also play great in that small dark room late at night. Did you hear something? Boo!
We are so close to announcing our TV premiere with “Ashes of Eden” – I can’t get ahead of our distributor’s PR so I have to wait. But that film will be getting out to audiences worldwide every soon.
The Nov 19th CDI film mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI will be showing “An Ordinary Killer”. Now if our transfer worked correct from the D5, I intend to make DVD’s to purchase also. We’re planning on doing new runs of all the classic CDI films.
We’re passing contracts back and forth on the book/DVD re-release of “Knight Chills”. I’m excited to revisit this world in the many formats. The sequel film and comic book adaptations could be happening sooner versus later. Stay tuned!
Well, I’m going to wrap this up and do a little work while watch MSU. Enjoy your 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.
Another beautiful Saturday. The coffee is now gone and we’ve moved into watching MSU football. I’ve grown to enjoy the game over the years. It is a series of short-term goals versus my game of soccer that is a constant flow with a goal. Our soccer season ended and I really enjoyed the play. Now I let the legs heal and start my strength training. Okay many of you here are tuned in to hear about the films and the challenges making them. Let’s look at some of my recent decisions I’ve been faced with.
Our “Chasing the Star” script (version 1) is done and out to several key players. This is the second biblical film in our 3 pic series. “40 Nights” was the first and that film should be done late November. Now due to script it will mostly shoot in AZ. This film has the commits to finance and so pre-production work will be starting. But due to the heat of the desert that dictates when we shoot. We are looking to shoot a few weeks earlier than “40 Nights” to make it easier on cast and crew.
We have a western-era film we want to shoot in Michigan. It has a good amount of money committed to it but we will only move forward with full funds in place. This is a good policy but required when you have distribution in advance. You want to be reliable for delivering your product. Now we have X amount of producer pre-prod work and also on-location pre-production before the shoot. I wanted to get the film in the can (hard drives) by the holidays. We are getting closer to that decision-making deadline. It is hard because the artists all like to work and the biz of it is everyone getting a final paycheck before the holidays. That’s ham on a table that toys under a tree for people, but the best choice has to be made for the film.
Now if our date comes and we don’t have all the filming fuel we need we will push the film to the other side of “Chasing the Star” in May. That would be a nice time to film and give ample time to close the financing. That is happening but can it happen in our timeline? We will see.
As noted “40 Nights” is moving down the post production line. “Bestseller” is getting ready for the Nov 1st, Owosso, MI shooting. It is also being delivered to the national distributor as is “Donors”. I need to call Jon Osman, our director on “The Terrorist”.
In other news I came off “Chasing the Star” scriptwriting and flowed right into the third film script. It was there and I almost couldn’t stop it from flowing. I’m grabbing legal pads and just scribbling notes at all times. I’m excited about these three but also excited to go finish out a few other scripts.
I will have news here soon on “Knight Chills” book and film reissue. Sound track deal still needs my attention. So I have crossed a lot off my TO DO list but many things still remain. We have “Ghost Town” getting ready to play at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI and we will be doing this once a month. It is a meet and greet for fans and fellow filmmakers. I’ve been trying to get out and meet some of the other fine talent in our state. This helps in casting and crewing when required. We’ve been reviewing reels for several weeks and are excited by some of what we’ve seen. REELS! Make those reels actors!
I hope to see some of you Oct. 15th (Grand Ledge) we are digging out and selling some classic “Ghost Town” swag. We had an entire product line for a few years at Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, N.C. so that should be fun. Also I will be in Owosso, MI November 1st and I heard author Chris Wright will also be doing an appearance/signing for his Johnathan Rand children’s books (“American Chiller”) earlier that afternoon.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and go MSU!
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.
I’m up nice and early sipping on my favorite coffee. It has been a great adjustment back into work flow here in Michigan. I’ve really just been tightening my focus on what needs to be done and eliminating distractions. We have been wrapping up the last of the loose ends on “40 Nights” which has about run its course. The ship is docked and the cargo unloaded and now the film is being assembled. It signed worldwide distribution prior to shooting and that is a welcome change. No shopping just finish and deliver. We are excited about what is going to happen with this film. It is the 1st in our 3 picture deal with Lightworx for biblical era content.
Additionally this new relationship opened a new opportunity for “Ashes of Eden” our inspirational crime drama. We were on a path to a domestic release but recently had additional theatrical interest in the film and in the wake of “40 Nights” worked a new deal for worldwide distribution with Lightworx. Lightworx Entertainment is ran by my friend/associate who was a VP formerly at Pureflix overseeing films such as “God’s Not Dead” with their marketing and distribution roll out. ASHES is in great hands with Lightworx and I think this expanded deal is well deserved. Congrats to the entire cast and crew.
“Bestseller” – Now this project is exciting as we get to the end of the post production road. It was a unique project in how we at CDI became involved. What previously could have been a loss for the Michigan film community has turned into a great relationship with an amazing author. He’s going to get a watch through on the final film towards the end of the month. Music, FX and sound work has been solid and we will be showcasing this to the media May 9th prior to the May 23rd screening which will be the 1st public premiere showing in Chris Knight’s (Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand’s) home town. We’re excited that this story has translated so well to the screen and look forward to his additional stories that lie waiting to be told on the big screen. We’re also locking the 1st theatrical dates now and DVD’s will be for sale alongside the theatrical releases. Congrats to the cast and crew of this fine film.
“Wasteland Tales of the Desert Part 1” – I’m told this film is DONE. This 1st part will travel the festival circuit and be used to show the other investors. If all flows – the other segments will get cast and prepped to shoot. I’m excited to see it with all the music, sound and FX in place.
Yesterday I had some talks over a few more movies in the CDI library going to TV. It could be as many as 4 with additional high interest in “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” but those deals will have to be made by our new distributor.
Lastly, I will return to script writing here soon. I’ve got two personal scripts to finish up. One or both could film this year. I am also planning my next biblical era film to write and produce for Lightworx likely to shoot in Jan. 2016. So I will enjoy the approaching Summer and oversee the flow of content. It will be a great year and I again appreciate all of you.