Doing some spring clean up with my buddy Finn
Good morning from Michigan, USA! While this past week has been a good introduction into spring with lots of yard clean up and arrangement, today we have icy rain and snow. It will disappear fast but I’m just getting use to the coffee and phone calls on the patio deck listening to the birds and watching the squirrels retrieve their winter stash of acorns. I’ve been doing a lot of wood cutting and it looks like the office wood stove will get a work out today. I was going to attend a first flea market of the season but with the snow I might have to pass. I’m sip my Michigan Cherry coffee and type with all of you.
My brother had a birthday and we got to spend time with family yesterday and a few days before that my niece’s birthday. My nephew Wes has the same bday month as myself. He is the 21st and I’m the 23rd so we’ll have that ahead. Aside from the family gatherings and the homestead clean up I’ve had lots of entertainment business abound. Let’s discuss a few.
I made my yearly visit down to the opening of the Capital City Film Festival happening now in Lansing, MI. In my early years I spent a good amount of time and energy working with the East Lansing Film Festival centering on the Michigan’s Own portion of the festival. It awarded films with awards and cash prizes. It took hours of watching films, meeting with judges and other planning so I know what goes into it. These days my schedule allows me to buy a ticket to spend a few hours supporting upcoming filmmakers in our area. The opening night was at Impression 5 museum which has been a favorite since I was knee-high to a grasshopper:) I had a lilac drink that intrigued me because we made lilac wine once. It was great but very labor intensive. I also enjoyed a local hard cider. I got to see a few friends I only see yearly at this event. I attended with fellow filmmaker Shane Hagedorn and had a good time. We did at least one red carpet photo but I did not see it so once of us broke the camera with our mug. He we are with a young actor/filmmaker who just happens to be the son of Mr. Craig Jones whom I’ve known since high school. How cool that they get to do film work as father and son.
Throwing some support at the Capital City Film Festival
Aside from supporting the local fest we’ve been very hard at work here at Collective Development and on a personal level. I started looking at literary representation mid last year talking with various agents and management companies. You want to get the right relationship as they will be dealing with people who value your art. I’ve had an agent at one of the largest agencies in Hollywood and it wasn’t a great experience. A few big deals were lost and while the agency inclusion did help with a few doors, the cons started to outweigh the pros. I’ve been riding with legal at my side making my own deals. Legal is good at dotting I’s and crossing T’s but they are not seeking new opportunities. But I finally had a conversation with an international agent that I find promising. They discovered my work via another studio executive and reached out. They are doing some additional reviewing of my work but I think I’ll be having a go at working with a new literary and talent agent. I’ll be putting a large focus on foreign projects as well as domestic USA films. Many of you know I’ve done films in other countries and that is always a great experience.
I’m excited to see what films we do over the next 10 years
I’m also in development talks on several projects with a few new collaborators. We have some great projects developing both in the family/faith market and outside that target market. It is an exciting time but don’t get me wrong, it is still HARD WORK. When people occasionally look at what we’ve accomplished or are accomplishing it occasionally sets off feelings of envy. You/they might be a better artist even though that is subjective but overall I just outwork people. Part of that is learning where not to waste your energy. Look for red flags and know when to say NO THANK YOU. Many do not realize that and spends lots of energy where their only reward is frustration.
Beautiful Northern Michigan
LOST HEART – This is what is front and center in development and fighting to move into pre-production. We have enough to make the journey but we are fighting to be able to add a few days of shooting ultimately creating a better product. We only have a few more pieces of this investment puzzle to remedy and move forward. A lot of development work is getting done now and so I believe strongly we will be rolling cameras in July!
Hester and Ben in ‘Wild Faith’
WILD FAITH – We just finished runs in Grand Rapids, MI and Biloxi, Mississippi and I’m trying to confirm West Virginia and other venues. The DVD will be rolling out next month and so all of you wanting to see this fine adventure tale will soon be able to. I will be checking on Amazon pre-booking which should start soon.
I will note that the TV series is one of the things being discussed in some of my development talks. I would love to play Ben Lily again and bring a series of stories to all of you.
Just in time for Easter
THE CHRIST SLAYER
The Christ Slayer just announced its first theatrical dates in Amarillo, Texas. We hope that myCinema will continue to book to the big screen. Those who want to watch in the privacy of their own home can watch it streaming or on DVD on Amazon Prime or other fine platforms. Thank you for all the fine fan(e)mail I’ve gotten. It warms my heart to see so many enjoying our stories. I know myCinema is working hard to get it in AZ but is having issue at Harkins because of Studio Commitments but call the theater and let them know. Yuma, AZ deserves to see it on the big screen.
The film really goes perfect with the Easter season but perhaps you might enjoy watching the entire trilogy of Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. The ending of part 2 makes more sense if you know about part 3. I think that is going to be a PR release on the lead up to Easter. Also I might discuss more about the trilogy as a whole.
CDI OG Mister Dean Teaster
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
In my post meeting last week it was noted that sound quality was really good and the dialog clean up was not as extensive as in the past. To be fair the locations were much more controlled versus being out in the desert like with our trilogy. Sound Design is happening at the same time and so once we get all this laid in MUSIC TIME. I will also be touching base with the visual team about VFX, Color Correction and a new trailer. Exciting times.
The Week Ahead…
This next week will be working towards disbursement of funds back at investors. Seeking a few new partners so we can move into official pre-production on LOST HEART. We are close and we could do the film with what we have now but I want to have the extra breathing room. It is easier on the cast and crew and ultimately might yield a better final product. Businesses wanting to talk sponsorship or product placement please do reach out.
Treat yourself to the book and movie
I’m going to go refill the coffee cup and organize for my forthcoming week. I have a friend coming in from Texas for a few days on family business so it will be nice to catch up with him. He was involved with the original KNIGHT CHILLS, CDI’s 1st feature film. KNIGHT CHILLS 2? You never know:)
Have a great Sunday and week ahead!
Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.
People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.
With Shane Hagedorn
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.
The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)
With Tony Hornus
Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.
I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.
I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)
OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.
Welcome one and all to my “Clawing My Way to the Middle” blog. It is noon and I’m back to sipping the last of the coffee while putting a few thoughts down on here. This week was full of meetings and interviews – vetting and exploring as we continue to move forward. Last week we announced “Wild Faith” our next film with director Jesse Low. The heat wave snapped with the storm yesterday in Michigan and I’m very happy about that. I’m more of a cool weather person and so we’re soon to transition into my favorite time of year. I picked a load of veggies yesterday from our garden. We’ve been enjoying fresh everything daily from tomato on sandwiches to steamed beans and squash. The rain also has the yard filling in dead spots from the brutal heat. My hair and beard are mountain man crazy (Is that a hint?) so the heat was mildly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the weekly recaps.
The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” is moving steady down the post-production tracks and so if you’ve not seen part 1 – take a watch.
Chasing the Star
This week we should start looking at VFX work. The music and sound design is underway with that talented Dennis Therrian. Our INTRO will again be done by CHOP & HUE. We plan to have our first premiere before Christmas and I’m excited for audiences to see it. I had a dental cleaning and my dentist right away wanted to know how the second film was coming. He and his daughter attended the first one in the theater and loved it. So we have a built in audience waiting for part 2.
The Christ Slayer
Next month we will start to pull some business together on this film. The script is out to the returning players. I was happy to get such a beautiful response from our returning talent. I’ve been talking with other possible players and looking at behind the camera players also. I’m excited about shooting the last of the three in the QUEST TRILOGY.
Wild Faith will be officially entering pre-production as our business paperwork comes together this week. We’ve been looking at reels and reads and I’m excited about the cast coming together. We’ve been discussing the business behind this pilot feature and a possible 10 show season #1 to be shot in Michigan.
Knight Chills 2 – We’re prepping some PR that will detail our development underway with our friends at BlackJacket Films. Camera tests and casting have been quietly taking place. Distribution talks are underway both for the 20th anniversary re-release of the original and our follow-up feature.
Additional talks have been underway with Jeff Kennedy, Dean Teaster and Anthony Hornus and we might see new projects from all of them in the near future.
This week is full of more meetings but I’ve been enjoying the on-camera prep work I’m doing. We have the first round of soccer playoffs this eve so I’m looking forward to that. We finished 3rd overall and it’s been a great season. That intense running in the heat has me in good shape so running around in the woods should be a breeze.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead!
PS: Luke is home and doing very good from his bout of illness.
Ahhhhhh…sips of hot hazelnut coffee and a nice cool morning in the Michigan = peace. I want to welcome all our new readers from Poland and China! The soul of the artists is not divided up by territorial lines of nations or tribes. One world. This week we’ve been reaping the first harvests from the garden which is one of our best yet. We’ve already had beans, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I’ve been prepping for the coming Fall and Winter by gathering some wood for the office stove.
This week the office got some good use as creative minds have been coming together to prepare for new journeys ahead. Aside from meetings I’ve had lots going on within the realm of distribution. As you know we’re always looking to extend our reach and share our stories. Let’s look at some updates in no particular order.
BESTSELLER – We’ve started talks with a foreign sales rep and might have a few more this coming week. The film is expanding in the marketplace and we’re entering that great time of year for creepy films. Here is a nice review from our friends at Cinema Head Cheese.
Get cozy late and night and take a trip to Northern Michigan:)
40 NIGHTS (1st in the Quest Trilogy)
Many positive things happening here. I’ve noted that “40 Nights” is released now on Pureflix On-Demand. If you use their service please do take an opportunity to watch the film. Also we’re about to enter into some discussions with Brazil and other territories.
ASHES OF EDEN
Look for “Ashes of Eden” on Pureflix On-Demand also in the coming weeks. We’re also expanding this fine story into foreign territories in the coming months.
CHASING THE STAR (2nd film in the Quest Trilogy)
This past week we watched the 2nd edit and it is almost there. It was much stronger in many places due to small adjustments. My notes were more commenting on how scenes and performances had enhanced. Only a few areas to look at for tweaks but I was so proud of our team. The actors are going to be very happy with their moments. Music beds have started to be constructed and will be tailored once we lock picture.
THE CHRIST SLAYER (3rd in the Quest Trilogy)
Our talks with returning cast has almost concluded and their response to the story has all been extremely positive. We’re also talking to various directors to find that right fit for our part 3. I’m anxious to share further developments as they unfold.
Last week we announced the 2017 release of the 20th Anniversary version of “Knight Chills” that was our first film all those years ago.
Join us here for updates and to see the anniversary trailer here –
That film was so much fun to film back in the day due to our love and interest in fantasy sword and sorcery. It also was announced that a sequel is in active development. We’ll soon be announcing some of the team behind this next adventure.
Jesse Low, our director from “40 Nights” is set to direct with CDI again. We’ve chosen to develop a western property inspired by one we tried to launch several years ago. I’ve enjoyed going line-by-line and scene-by-scene discussing each and working to make it the best we can. I’m exciting to be prepping to go in front of the camera again. This rugged look has not been the easiest with the heat but I’ve survived. We will be making some major announcements here very soon. Maybe as early as next week. Casting talks have started and this week will intensify. I want to take another good solid look at some of the Michigan talent. This film could be the pilot feature for an on-going TV series so casting regionally could be helpful long-term.
I’m reading a script I was sent to consider acting in and what I like was I had NO IDEA what it was about. I thought it was one thing when all of a sudden BAM! I will say that it fits into the horror genre but it is a sub-genre I have not done. It is hard for me to find a genre I have not done. I liked the character but I want to do another read and have a few discussions. Another benefit is I may just be able to sleep in my own bed. NICE:)
I’m going to wrap this up. It is a beautiful day and I’ve got a mid-afternoon soccer match. Our team is having one of its best seasons. I just appreciate the challenge and strengthening of body and will that comes from it all. Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, give it your best effort.
Keep Clawing your way to the middle!
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.