Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
As a kid being sick meant no school, watching cartoons and reading books. This week I fought the good battle not to be sick because I always have stuff to do. I have a few days of working in the morning and trying to fight off chills and such in the afternoon. Well I am sick 100% now. I tried to pretend (act) like I wasn’t but I guess I’m not that good of an actor. Low grade fever, chills, achy and sore throat and sinus pressure. I think my triple concern over my brother having a healthy baby, a good “Ashes of Eden” showing and successful surgery for our two dogs knocked my immune system down. Add in the many, many people I came into contact with at these events…whatever the cause I’m now on the couch sipping hot tea and watching Scooby Doo. Some things never change but I’m bummed because we were going to have a get together at my fathers today and I can’t go. I can’t put my germ self anywhere near the new-born. Luckily because of the two recovering dogs we have a light Sunday planned. I may keep this brief but let’s look at a few high points.
“Ashes of Eden” showing was a huge event. To see the place sold out at capacity was awesome. The mayor commented we should have had a second concessions line and overall I think we made our hometown proud. At the climax of the film there was a roar of cheers that you just can’t plan. A double standing ovation later told us we had done our jobs as storytellers. We are now in the process of approaching some of the distributors who have waited for the film to be done.
Only one post issue whereas one actor feels the need to have his minute of footage prior to signing our distribution deal. That person was told that nobody is getting footage yet because any exposure that isn’t official can be bad. So our CDI policy has always been to wait for the deal to be done. This person feels that their want outweigh all the other artists and investors/point holders who are wanting the best deal. I don’t know this person all that well but I can tell you that not respecting the wishes of the business is a good way to not get hired again in the future. There are too many good actors who are about good business versus selfish wants. It likely is not truly harmful but when you’re trying to be fair to all and one person wants to cut in line…I was taught that at a very young age – it’s wrong. I’m not going to go on and on because I really don’t know this person like I stated and I really don’t care to. My advice to those actors out there – don’t be that person. Production is not trying to hold you back they are just looking out for everyone. Maybe this person needs to go watch the Star Trek movie where Spock is trying to save the entire crew – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. Or want in this case. More silliness in the world of film that I make a point to usually avoid.
So DVD and screening links have started to go out on “Ashes of Eden” and I’m happy that another major studio has rejoined the list of interested. Our goal is to set up a theatrical and run the entire list of platform releases. I will be on more distributors Monday making the rounds. Also on Monday…
The fine tune of the “Bestseller” trailer and film starts this Monday. This week we worked with graphic templates and such. This movie is also looking great. We will lock this picture and move down the post line. Chad Ice has done a great job getting the cut where it is. I’m excited about the first looks coming to audiences and distributors soon.
I’ve got PR on “Donors” going out next week that includes the announcement of the Yuma, AZ premiere. We also are getting closer to announcing a new film that will be rolling into pre-production if we can get our final financial support. We’ve got distribution offers attached already and a powerful script. More on this very soon:)
I’m anxious for soccer to be starting next week and also I’ve got the 6 gal of banana/coconut wine started. I think I just need to try to take it easy this weekend. It’s hard with lots going on but I’ve gotta rest and take it easy. I want to thank each and every person who came out and supported us at the Capital City Film Festival. They did a nice job hosting us and I think they were happy with our record-setting attendance. Enjoy your time with family and friends on this beautiful Easter weekend.