Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
So I’m up bright and early on a Saturday and enjoying the quiet. It has been quite the week and 2016 has made a name for itself already. Several artists in the world have been passing and many from cancer. Now I know that we are getting close to breakthroughs on various treatments. I like the idea of this new war on cancer. I believe (anyone with eyes can see) that cures don’t appear to be in the interest of the big med companies. Western medicine has always been reactionary. Get sick and they try to fix. But it is also often a game of take this pill to take care of this but it causes this and that in side effects.
I recall one of my grandmothers on a mass of pills. She became zombie like and they thought the end could be near. A doctor stripped her of all meds and rebuilt what she took and she returned. I do think that the drugs had taken a toll on her body and ultimately that began a slide that lasted another ten years. I attended visitation for a buddy’s mom this week. He and I have been friends since third grade. She beat cancer twice and this was the third round and this time…I have another friend from first grade whose father is fighting it. We have all lost family and friends.
This year several artists from Alan Rickman to David Bowie have all lost battles to this disease. These were people of vast $ resources and still they lost. My friend and fellow actor Dan Haggerty, better known to millions as Grizzly Adams, passed the day before yesterday. I had gotten some inside information that it had turned bad from his manager. Dan had been cast in two films I had produced previously and he voiced “GOD” in our soon-to-release biblical film “40 Nights” (March 8th). They had estimated a period of time and hospice (bless those people) was being prepared. The next day while at that visitation I find out that Dan had passed and to please keep quiet until the family released the news. I had a good 24 hours of walking around being one of the few knowing what had happened. It gnawed at me – why? Even the greedy should agree – Cure people and they will live longer to spend longer.
Some cultures have little to no cancer or heart disease and such. WATCH what you eat. I’m glad they are making changes to school kids and lunch lines. We all know by the time they get to middle school even if they offer healthy lunch’s kids will still be making a diet of one hostess fruit pie and a handful of cookies. I had a few friends like that in school. Now the lunch ladies all knew me because I was the veggie kid I’m sure. They always heaped it on me because so few kids took any. I credit part parents and part athletics. I was studying martial arts and playing soccer, so I watched my fuel. I was building muscle and interested in health. So despite what is sold and offered it all comes down to supply and demand. Demand good food and the junk supply will dwindle.
Environment is another factor and I can’t tell you how sad I am about the Flint water ordeal. I think a good punishment for all who knew would be a healthy prison sentence but one where you only have that water supply to bath and drink. I don’t usually go off on these topics but it is not political. It is common sense and compassion for one another. Bad school food for kids, bad water and putting others at risk with piss poor extraction and transportation of oil and such. This natural gas in California and the list goes on. How is that whole deal in Japan? Godzilla is going to become a reality, okay maybe not but the ocean is poisoned from it. I’ve been in Manila, Philippines and felt the effects of a bad smog day. My buddy said most Chinese cities are the same. India? There exists a web of life and what we do to one part of the web affects the whole. Evolve or die. We’ve evolved ourselves into a do or die situation. We can control some aspects. Our elected leaders can control others. Companies can choose the RIGHT way perhaps reducing a % of their profit margin but gain longer term consumers. The common cold isn’t going away anytime soon = money to be made still.
PERSONAL, ELECTED & CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY
Fix these things and watch what happens. So I will try to head back towards the topic of FILM. I am happy that two of my childhood icons from TV shows I loved (David Carradine in “Kung Fu” and Dan Haggerty “Life & Times of Grizzly Adam”) were both people I got to work with and in the latter become good friends with. If you want to see these films seek out “Miracle at Sage Creek” (Thank you Thadd) to see the project I was involved in with David Carradine. Dan Haggerty can be seen in “An Ordinary Killer” (NEW release this year) or “Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” (I love his chemistry with Lana Wood in this film) and of course “40 Nights” (March 8th) .
The film is DONE:) I was actually trying to get a link so that Dan Haggerty could watch the film in his final days. It is likely the most beautiful film I’ve produced to date. The film opens with God speaking. That is a huge casting task and when we recently had our final screening everyone commented on how perfect Dan was for the part. The film has been a whirlwind. Our release date was moved up on us and we had to really press at the end. As we speak the DVD’s are being made for the 1st release March 8th. The film is also just arriving for digital encoding for online and TV streaming. We’re in the process of looking at a few premiere showings. Also looking at church and theatrical set ups. My biggest regret after watching this film is not having the P&A (prints and advertise $) to put this film in theaters around the world. But it will be what it is to be. I was very inspired to dive into the second film in this QUEST TRILOGY. That film is “Chasing the Star” and we’re gearing up to shoot in the near future.
I’ve written about release dates on all the films in the past weeks so I won’t rehash that. The Christian Film Database that focuses on family and faith films announced that our “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are amongst the most anticipated films in 2016 by poll. That makes me proud. The “Ashes of Eden” film comes first to TV (Parables/Uplift) April 1st, NO JOKE:) and nationally April 7th.
I’ve also recently finished the “KNIGHT CHILLS 2” script and also the 3rd script in the QUEST TRILOGY. I just need to do a polish on these projects before starting some early development talks.
I’m about to embark on a work weekend with budgeting and script polishing to get ready for the week ahead. Thank you for once again listening to my ramble.