Stoke the Inner Fire, the Art of Patience, the Circle of Producers
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!
Father’s, Fun and Future Endeavors
First I want to start out by raising a cup of coffee and toasting to all the father’s out there. I know my father was and continues to be a strong influence in my life. I laugh at my younger self who boldly told my father “I just want to be an artist, not a businessman like you!” – Well, that turned out different. This morning I was trying to organize my business TO DO for the week ahead. It’s always one foot in front of the other – steady as she goes.
My furry children get a lot of parental type love from me and I can only guess how complex it can get when you add in daycare, school, relationships, work…the worry of it all. I think my father can at least relax in the knowing that I’m doing something I truly love. When he can go to the cinema or turn on the TV and watch one of our films I think it gives him comfort. I still have strong memories of him at the kitchen table with his checkbook and all the bills laid out on the table. I do enjoy staying on top of my business. That gives me a good peace of mind. I look forward to a visit with dad later today. I get almost a weekly visit with him and that’s enjoyable. I can still get little nuggets of wisdom.
As many of you know we just wrapped MBF and I’m almost all caught up on that paperwork. We’re about to assemble a small skeleton crew for a one day pick up of flashback war footage. It is a different ‘Paul’ I’ll be playing. My wounded Paul was a great challenge as I’ve discussed prior. This is before all that – I recall actual wounded vet Bobby Henline telling me of the day he was injured only remembering having coffee that morning. Imagine waking up months later to gruesome injuries, unbearable pain and a lifetime of living vastly different. We all have those sudden changes in life we’re never quite ready for. One of our crew members lost her brother unexpectedly after our shoot. You cannot imagine such drastic changes in life. It is why you need to appreciate each and every day.
My furry child Luke has his last two radiation treatments this week. I do have to say it has made a big difference. We’ve also been using CBD dog treats from CA and alkaline water thanks to my buddy Nate. He has been enjoying life and aside from a few extra hours sleeping and some spotty times dealing with his med “high” he’s doing good. You hate to see anyone dealing with these kind of life issues but we all have them. Keep that in mind as you interact with people throughout your day. That caller on the frustrating phone tree could be also dealing with a dying parent or loss of a child. A touch more compassion never hurt anyone.
Back to films- I’ve had many of our new friends and associates ask about our other films. Please watch and leave a review if you feel entitled to.
- THE ACTOR – https://www.amazon.com/Actor-James-Russo/dp/B07D6Z6BCB/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1529241258&sr=8-4&keywords=The+actor – A struggle of LOVE by director Jon Osman – shot in NYC and starts our upcoming lead in THE CHRIST SLAYER. You will see me in there supporting as a funny FBI agent.
- ASHES OF EDEN – https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Eden-Steven-Sutherland/dp/B07BLLJ6FN/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241414&sr=1-1&keywords=ashes+of+eden – Directed by our own Shane Hagedorn it stars Melissa Anschutz and Steven Sutherland and yours truly plays an ex-military drug dealer.
- WICKED SPRING – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HN718V/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241553&sr=1-1&keywords=Wicked+Spring – This classic film helped define my early career. I star with Brian Merrick in this Civil War tale that has been growing an audience since early 2000’s on TV and home video.
- FORTY NIGHTS – https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241671&sr=1-1&keywords=Forty+Nights – I would say one of my biggest challenges playing a figure so shrouded in mystery. I give my everything in playing Jesus during this little understood time of his life. I co-star with my mentor and friend Rance Howard. It was also one of his favorites where he got to play THE bad guy.
- CHASING THE STAR – https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241791&sr=1-1&keywords=Chasing+the+Star – I’m not acting in this second installment of THE QUEST TRILOGY but it sprang from my imagination and research. We’ve seen the statues of the wisemen every Christmas for many years but what is their story?
I thought these five films would give a nice start to people wanting to get to know Collective Development Inc.’s work.
WILD FAITH has a few more theatrical runs in it before it preps for home video. There are a few exciting things being worked on with this film but I will save that for another day.
THE CHRIST SLAYER – Part 3 in THE QUEST TRILOGY is in music and sound design. I got to watch the final cut with temp sound/music and I was blown away. Now that Dennis Therrian is adding yet another powerful score the film will truly soar. I am waiting on the final color corrected trailer to come over this weekend from our DP Jesse Aragon. Once that is ready we’ll prepare the PR and release the theatrical trailer. We plan to have it play select theaters in Oct-Jan and home video on the Easter 2019 lead up. This film will bring all three together and audiences can truly enjoy the weaving of the tale throughout three films. I’m excited for people to see the beautiful dynamic between Carl Weyant and Josh Ponceman Perry. Soon:)
I have started to look at development for the next CDI film in association with BMG. But for now… I’m going to get some breakfast and we’re going to go walk the flea market down the road. This afternoon will be some time spent with my dad followed by a soccer game in this heat. Daphne (our girl) got a new pool and so more swimming lies ahead for her. We also had a day of working on the office/fort and added some additional beams to help stabilize the second floor. I have quite a bit of stuff up there so it was a good call. I have ‘Dan the Druid’ to thank for that fine wood work along with his “Druid Jr.” helper. My brother Adam also came over and restructured the wood arch in the yard. The yard is back to its zen self with beans growing and berries ripening. I think more wine making lies ahead. With the amount of apples even a batch of hard cider could happen.