“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “jungle

Exciting Updates – Insights on Focus and Rest

The rain has stopped after storms last night. The air was cooler but the humidity was/is still high. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee and enjoying these quiet moments with you as the Olympics play on. I had a very busy week but also had a very enjoyable one. We are in the final run to finishing BEST YEARS GONE our next feature film to release. I got to go spend six hours or so doing some narration which also allowed me to see some of the sound design and music. Just amazing work by Dennis Therrian and once again just excited to bring this project everyone. We are putting the final plans together on the premiere event we will be doing at the Springport Racetrack. It is something new and exciting with a ‘Gilles Boyz’ spectator drag. You got a fast car? Got a need for speed? You can show it off at the Sept 11th event! Maybe win a huge trophy and some cash. We are also looking to finalize and start promoting the Owosso, MI screening also. We started uploading assets to the distributor BMG as they prepare to start artwork and such.

I’m also told that our short concept film SMOKE & MIRRORS will be done here in August and we’ll look at some places to show that including maybe a fall premiere at the Dodge Turner house where we filmed. It is worth noting that I’m reworking the feature that we will look to produce with Nathaniel Nose (dir. The Christ Slayer) directing. Our ‘For the Love of Catch’ documentary is in full edit mode and we’ll have a first cut to review soon. SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is coming together in grand fashion. Our crew is almost full as is our cast but we have a few more to lock in place. I’ll be reaching out to more folks this week. But we will be announcing two more cast this week – one is an old friend/co-star from 2002 and many of you will know him from his famous TV series that was also set during a war. And the other is a VERY recent co-star – perhaps in a film not yet released. Can you guess who they are? The German talent will be our August kick off and we have some amazing talent coming on board. I’ve been in talks and climbing up several major companies with Smithfield Foods being one of the first major brands onboard. We’ll be announcing some great brands that will soon be joining us! In Augusts I want to start putting paperwork under folks and prepare travel arrangements. November will be here soon enough!

Looking to take the rescheduled meeting over HASTINGS the Wild Faith TV series this week. If this comes together it will be a great thing for the MI film community. Everything from the feature film “pilot” to the 8 written shows are being evaluated. I got feedback that the interest is there and so now to see if we can land the deal. Speaking of writing, having written the 8 shows, I’m looking at my literary collection to see if I have scripts to sell. I had a good talk with a literary management company to sell off scripts I don’t plan to produce. I also have a few possible work-for-hire writings but they are just in the talk stages. SciFi, more biblical and a few highly charged social issues have been brought to my table to consider. I believe what is meant to become, will become.

I’m looking to have a good update conversation with our distributor. They are doing new campaigns for a few of the films and I want to keep that rolling. So I’m going to discuss several other films that would do wonderful in these streaming environment. If you are looking to see what you’ve missed at CDI feel free to look over the http://www.cdiproductions.com website. Subscribe to the Tribe!

Balance is the key and even I can get off keel once in a great while. Your mind can follow your health and so good health and sleep are large factors in keeping balance. I had one night where I had a stomach ache from the wrong mix of food which likely was brought on by a high protein mango mega body building shake a gift at a meeting. It set up like cement which kept me from getting a good sleep. A fuzzy head worried if I’m missing something on my ‘To Do’ list – luckily an intense soccer battle which I considered missing for a beat but I’m always willing to battle even at less than 100%. It was exactly what I needed. Strong exercise is sometimes exactly what you need to get everything right again. So again I’ve found my balance and I’m ready to move into the week with strength. But I did have two days where my balance was not quite perfect. I know a lot of people deal with sleep issues and I too use to be a night owl but getting great sleep is a must for success. I don’t use technology on the run up to bed and create a routine to rest. I do some reading at thew end of each night. Soothing music and peaceful meditation on the day’s events and what is to come tomorrow. But after that I turn the switch off and allow my mind to rest. I’m also on a no eat from 9:30 PM to 9:30 AM which puts the body in rest and repair versus digestion. All things that help balance the body and mind. Focus on your sleep and watch how productive all your other activities become.

I also had a great couple days of catch up with a dear friend from 1st grade on who was here to visit his mother. It was almost 2 years since I’ve seen him due to Covid. It was a great time and we even made it out to another school buddies house for several games of pool. Now both of them have or have had pool tables growing up and are good players. I actually came out on top with games won which was a first. I credit some of my new zen mediations on free mind and avoiding fixation. It is close to my views on pulse versus ray with our energy. The mind can overthink (fixate) and cause us to (in this case) miss the shots. Or you can ‘be the ball Danny’ by not fixating and flow to a positive outcome. So maybe the SLEEP = BALANCE and trying to remove FIXATION can greatly enhance everything. I do see all the time people trying to impress others with how hard they work to the point of exhaustion… this is not impressive but loudly illustrates someones lack of time management skills. So if you feel burned out and like you’re not getting things done try resting. I don’t have time to rest I hear. You often don’t have time to NOT rest. A well rested 3 hours will likely be more productive than 7 hours of stressed unfocused work.

I’m going to bring this to an end. Today we will go pick up our meat from our 4H purchase. This year we’ll likely add another deer to the freezer as well. We’ve finally been using some of the meat while entertaining. We did BBQ ribs early this month for a mom bday and we’ve enjoyed venison steaks and pork chops as well as grilling veggies from our raised garden beds. The chickens are turning out wonderful eggs which I just enjoyed. I’ve been harvesting rhubarb and herbs but not the mulberries. I’ve been leaving those for the birds including the chickens that LOVE them. I should be doing more paid product endorsements but my new Ryobi battery 40w push mower works great. I might have to put it to use again today or tomorrow as the rain is making a jungle of the yard again. Until we chat again next week keep chasing those dreams but make sure your are rested and focused.

Happy Sunday!

DJ


“Ashes” Test Audience, German Acquisitions and Self Accountability

Last week I did some writing about overcoming chaos in your personal life or career. If you have a well build ship of “self” and a calm center you can brave the storm and get back to your calm waters. But you have to ask yourself “Did I sail into that storm”? “Did I think the PROS outweighed the CONS and change my course?” I guess part of the lesson is that if your own actions bring you into chaos you can’t go without blame. I’m happy to say that the waters here are calming and we are back to some smooth sailing. Are you saying enough with the damn boat analogies? Okay let’s look at this in a filmmakers view whereas it can apply in many other situations.

You should just like a navigator look at each proposed journey. Damn I’m doing it again:) Okay… you should look at every opportunity presented and VET it out. Many actors/crew are so excited about the idea of a creative outlet and a paycheck that they fail to ask the questions that really matter. I think some don’t want to know the truth but when things go to hell in a handbag they are the 1st to be most vocal. OK. You trusted a liar and they lied. WOW! That is like trying to tap a cobra on the head and acting surprised when you get bitten. Also you have to look at the talent behind the camera – the director, DP, Art Director – the quality of equipment and the other actors involved. I’ve heard of starting filmmakers getting mad or defensive if talent asks to see THEIR reel. It is a collaboration and the door swings both ways. Just because someone can crowd fund raise a small budget doesn’t put them above vetting out. If they are experienced they will proudly point to a few examples of their work. If those people were riding on false ego – anger and defensive attitudes are usually what you get. I don’t really deal with that too much these days because I can usually smell inexperience and a chaos storm coming. You need to check your excitement and make sure you want to work with them. I will never do a project without reading a full script. Bad format and such in a script is a huge flag as that is the blueprint to an entire film. In the studio world a badly formated script heads right for the trash can. Maybe you should adopt a similar detection process. Why give blood, sweat and tears for something poorly captured that will take years if ever to finish and will likely only be seen by friends, family and a few local film festival goers if you are lucky. IF you are doing this as a fun hobby this doesn’t really apply to you. In summary be your own agent/management and keep that person apart from the artist. Make sure the boat you get on won’t sink once out to sea. Sorry I must have nautical theme on the brain.

This week had many small moves on the chess board but I did lock a “Soul Eater” pre-distribution deal with Germany that includes a nice cash advance once the film is delivered. I think since most of the film is interiors I will shoot in the winter and the outside scenes will have that FARGO like feel.  I’m also working the licensing on 3 feature films also going to Germany for release. We have enough business under us now that we are also talking development on other projects including a WW2 film. Note that one film “7 Stones” fell out of this line up after they realized it was a short. They loved it but the run time killed it. It is a 47 min TV length and all the other deals are feature-length. Shorts are good director/writer business cards but not a good investment. They can help train a crew to get them ready for long format and showcase actors but will not bring the higher returns of a feature. Just a good lesson which I had pointed out even on this film but consultation is just that – advice to be taken or rejected. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good to be right. It is a strong film and it will find its own outlets.

“Darkest Night” is on the runway for launch in July on VOD, DVD, TV. I’m excited to showcase the hard work of the cast and crew to the USA/Canadian audiences. Germany is also one of the buyers of this film so be ready German fans. We will get the film around the world as horror fans everywhere have been taking a great interest in this film. If you like intelligent horror (not just masked killer stalks kids) and like “Found Footage” format I think this could win a place in your heart. I like traditional filmmaking but I enjoy watching some of these “Found Footage” sub-genre films and was happy to make one. I will take audiences to the Philippine countryside and that in itself adds a great element. So PRE-ORDER now and let’s show these Philippine artists that we appreciate their work.

“Supermodel Showdown” TV series is moving steady along and I think by next week we will have show 2 edited and be into show 3. It is FUN. I know a handful of distributors already waiting to pounce on this so eventually you will see a small crew struggling in the jungle to film a show about beautiful girls learning about themselves on TV.

I might be producing and acting in another drama here soon in August. They are on a fast track to hit a window with one of the stars that needs to work within their current TV schedule. Another associated CDI deal is in talks and may come to light. That would film almost right after the drama ends in Sept. Also once “Ashes of Eden” is off to sound/music the next CDI/New House Ent/Aphtic film will move into more serious development. I’m very excited about that project!

I will end this blog how I ended my week – “Ashes of Eden” had a test audience screening on Friday with studio style survey. I will say that I always remain cautiously optimistic these days having had good films under-perform but I’m sincerely excited about this film. We did a major adjustment to the ending to enhance pacing and what I watched was one powerful scene after another that flowed to a powerful conclusion. I watched people in the audience weep. I’m not talking about watery eyes I’m talking about weeping. The surveys reflected ALL high marks and rated the performances and newly adjusted ending as the most powerful elements. I know this film will get a strong distribution push. I know it will connect with audiences. I will be curious to see this time next year what this film has actually done. I can make some powerful predictions but I would rather let actions speak over words. I’m proud of Shane Hagedorn our writer/director who also produced with our team. The journey has been ORDER throughout the process devoid of chaos. The respectful communication has resulted in a film that makes us all proud. I’m excited for fans to see this movie. It is easily some of my personal best work on both sides of the camera. This film will create new stars and make others shine that much brighter. I also think it will be a proud mark for Michigan and even our little town of Lansing. Soon my friends. Time to mow the yard before screening MAN OF STEEL and getting some good eats.  Have a great weekend!

DJ


Saturday Thoughts & Film Updates

This Saturday seems clouded by vast sadness. It was so shocking for many  because it was young children and it happened in a place often devoid of crime. The fact is that ugly things happen everyday. I was just thinking about how so many people are connected by social media. It can be used positively but also can be like a collective poison well. I can recall during 9-11 how the news just became a constant flow of fear and negativity. Collectively we all have tragedy in our lives. More and more tragedy is now played out on public social media. I think it can start productive conversation and for those facing heavy issues they feel maybe not so alone. There is still no stopping tragedy as it is part of our life cycle. If you don’t think that some rice farmer with ruined crops born into a world of poverty can’t or hasn’t snapped. Someone deeply angry for being born into suffering versus someone born far away in a world of plenty. Someone angry for color of skin or being female in a society that looks upon them as 2nd rate human beings. I’ve found that true beauty often lies as far away from one another as we can get. We’re not usually beautiful people in our actions. More often we are self-serving, self-centric individuals who gravitate towards those who share our priorities and shun those not aligned with us.

With all this media we have to occasionally tune OUT versus tune IN. I recall how clearly I could think in the jungles of Costa Rica. It was devoid of a mental static that we rarely recognize as we walk through massive waves of electromagnetic energy. Swimming daily in media can be like taking a sewage bath. Moderation is my recommendation.

Movie updates…

OK. ASHES OF EDEN updates!

The audio and visuals are being married and some first initial cutting has started. We are in talks on creative post and look forward to the weeks ahead. Watch for many updates concerning this powerful film. Also some talks on the next collaborations so stay tuned!

Two of our films are going to TV networks (Wait for press releases)- the cloned masters are being made. We are also awaiting national domestic release dates on two films. These are unrelated to “Darkest Night” (March 22), “Locked in a Room” (announced soon). “7 Stones” had 1st TV play on Michigan TV. “Benjamin” just had two showings in Cairo, Egypt! More releases to be announced!

We have several projects in development moving down the line. I plan to have some good announcements for 2013!

Be good to one another!

DJ