Happy Father’s Day! It is a rainy, cold Michigan day. I am lucky that I got to spend some time with my daddy this morning. I enjoyed a little breakfast of cornbeef hash and eggs. Today I feel pretty good having just returned from a whirlwind scout up North with our advanced scout team for LOST HEART. That is our next CDI film that will start filming in July. I’m excited about some of the beautiful locations we discovered and new friends we’ve met. Yesterday I was a touch under the weather due to multiple conditions but I didn’t get my full sleep due to a cabin loft bed that seemed more fun when I was 12 years old. Add in second day of soccer sore, less sleep and perhaps the sip of peach brandy and I was just tired.
A Northern location scout – the team seen here with actress Kim Harsch (2nd from left) who co-stars in MBF. Also from left to right Anthony Hornus, Shane Hagedorn, Melissa Anschutz, Me and director Jesse Low.
As I’ve stated before, getting our daily filmed footage is only one of my goals. The other goal/priority is creating a memorable experience for the cast and crew. I think the latter will help us get the best footage. The cast and crew on Lost Heart should be very happy when they see where they will be housed. Lots to do in their down time also but we’ll be announcing more on that later.
I wanted to announce Mr. Don Most will PR this week but we’re combining that announcement with another exciting one. That is the additional of Josh “Ponceman” Perry to the cast of LOST HEART. If you saw THE CHRIST SLAYER you got to see what an amazing talent he is. I’m looking forward to our time on and off screen. We also announced a young actress Cassie Dean who will be working with us for the first time. We will work to make her feel welcome.
Our cast and crew is lining up and we think this might be one of our best productions yet. The story/script has gotten some great reviews and I look forward to having it brought to life. We always are trying to make the best story with our limited budgets. Many people don’t have any idea how hard it is to raise production funds. I’m sure some of my fellow filmmakers understand that plight. It’s why most all film projects fail to launch. CDI is not some big faceless corporation it’s actually a small Michigan-based production company trying to tell some good stories. I appreciate the artists and it is one of the traits we look at in our hires, appreciation.
This week is going to be working to get the final funds into the account. Getting the commitment and getting the actual money can be a task in itself. Many investors don’t always understand our timelines and that can hurt a production. We will also be announcing a few exciting new sponsors. We’ve been targeting Michigan-based companies and we’re proud to align with them.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film is now being mixed with a few final audio tweaks being done. We will deliver the film on June 30th and they are already gearing up the theatrical marketing. This week is putting the end credits together and soon we will have another completed film.
WILD FAITH – Our western is building its home video release. The digital rental on Amazon and other retailers will be June 24th. July 2nd is the official DVD release but some faith retailers were given a slight advance on the release. If you’ve seen the film please do leave us a review on IMDB.com or Amazon.com
I’ve gotten word the the legendary Lana Wood will be joining Darby Hinton at the HAPPY TRAILS VA STYLE film event in October I believe it is. I will keep updating everyone as I get more information.
A few of the discussions as of late have been about the WILD FAITH TV series. Once the film fully gets out there we’ll see if the characters in the film are a hit with audiences. If so we’ll be looking at bringing you a full season of the WILD FAITH story.
THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps adding audiences worldwide and I have enjoyed a handful of fans recognizing me from those films. Again if you haven’t enjoyed these films check out FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER on Amazon and other fine retailers.
This rain and cold is causing a postponement of my nephew’s Bday party and I too might have to reconsider a get together I was going to have for my birthday. Thunderstorms are not good for outside yard parties. But we did get the garden in and I also worked in some grass seed where needed. The rain is good for that. So this week will be more cast and crew agreements and working to lock locations. And…learn my lines. Yes. Even when you write the script you still need to work your lines although it is a touch easier.
I will let this end here and I’m going to organize my work from the scout trip so I can start Monday off right. Be good to one another and keep chasing your dreams.
This morning before the sun came up I was slipping into my buckskins to go travel back in time to one of Michigan’s coolest historic villages in Hastings. I also got to sit atop a fine animal and perform one of our scenes in “Wild Faith” shooting now. Today marks the end of week one and so far we have kept our schedule every day which is a huge compliment to this hard-working crew. We also have had cast in that were ready to rock and roll with their scenes. People today were so excited they were whooping and hollering coming out of wardrobe. I love the excitement of all the artists working on the project. We’ve had some great guests visit such as the local prosecutor and even my father. He has watched all this develop since I was a young lad playing with the camcorder with my neighbor buddy Darrel Folkert. It has been a wonderful week with actors Lana Wood (Diamonds are Forever) and Darby Hinton (Daniel Boone) visiting for a few days to shoot their scenes. They LOVED the town of Hastings. Our large extra days are behind us and the other days should be a bit easier logistic-wise.
In Other Film NEWS
“40 Nights” is now on PUREFLIX On Demand joining “Book of Ruth” and soon “Ashes of Eden” will premiere on that platform.
“Chasing the Star” has the music in place and is now working to finish sound design and VFX. That poster and trailer I promised should be arriving soon!
This is the ideal season for something scary like “Bestseller” or any of our darker themed films – so turn off the lights late at night and enjoy one of those films.
I’m working to finish the last of cast/crew payroll here and might have to return to set for one last shot today on horseback. So I’ll leave this one short and with a beautiful pic of Lana Wood & Darby Hinton, also feel free to check out the developing site for http://www.wildfaiththemovie.com
Have a great week ahead!
USA, Australia, Brazil and China are the top four countries where our readers are from. I’ve not been to any of the last three but I’m appreciative to you all. I’ve had films released in all three of those territories – following the USA. What I do love is the community of artistry. We’ve had a lot of rain this week but also signs of the coming fall. MSU football is getting close to kicking off and that is excitement. With my boy Luke on recovery the squirrels have come in force stripping roughly a third of my apples off the tree and making a play for the garden harvest. I cannot blame theme but we’ve got more than enough for them to eat without their garden raids.
This week was full of ups and downs but steady movement forward especially with post work and development work that is about to go full pre-production. I will speak briefly about one encounter. I had a business intro call that was set up to make introductions and set the foundation for future business. This was to be with an executive at a well-known company. Just because you are dealing with a larger corporation does not make them BETTER organized. It had been many years since I had to deal with attitude from someone. But, I always go in with respect and professionalism. That said, when someone line steps you sometimes have to put them into check. But, you must be willing to lose the business. The best business is not when someone tries to discount a property to leverage the best deal. I love when they are honest with what they really like and express a wish to do some same-side of the table negotiation and create a WIN-WIN. That is the difference between true leaders and those who were in a position and gone in 8-18 months. These people also represent the BRAND. I take great pride in our artists on both sides of the camera. I would rather develop the right personality versus working with an ass that may be talented but makes the journey sour. This one individual had a couple of possible reasons for their odd behavior but most stem from low self-esteem. He had another young female executive on the phone call and was trying to be manly by being confrontational. Well, that conversation did not go exactly how he planned it. Remember this people.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
Many think that a name tag, door plaque or desk moniker will automatically give respect. Initially people will respect the office but if the personality is unfit they become a joke. That only enhances their need to try to feel powerful by treating people poorly. I’ve had many people over the years treat me well only to have me observe them treating others they feel below them, poorly. Don’t be this person. I respect everyone on our projects from DP to he or she who makes the coffee. This person will likely continue to hurt their branding. Don’t hurt YOUR branding.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – As we move towards finishing Part 2 “Chasing the Star” more people are introduced to our biblical world in “40 Nights” – Also had the pleasure recently of taking several meetings over our third upcoming film “The Christ Slayer” which despite the attention grabbing title is a beautiful story.
“Chasing the Star” – some amazing new stills will be rolling out. A poster, a trailer – all these great promotional items will start rolling out as we close in on the finish line.
“The Christ Slayer” – The returning cast are very excited by the third installment. I’ve been looking at and developing some of the important foundation elements of this story. I will enjoy the final trek into this world one more time as Jesus. A swan song to a beautiful role which has brought smiles to many people. I thank all of you audiences for that.
“Wild Faith” – Our team has started to line up our cast and crew for this 1800’s story that takes place in Michigan shortly after the Civil War. I’ve been engaged in discussions with key artists and we’ll have many more announcements soon. This week we announced Melissa Anschutz and Lana Wood joining the cast. I’m excited about the additional announcements. I love Michigan in the fall. I love westerns. I love my fellow artists who will join in telling the story. Each cast and crew is unique. I’m excited to be prepping to play a role in this film and to work with all these fine people telling this story.
I’ve got much more I could ramble on about but instead I’m going to pick from the garden and do a few things around the homestead. Be good to each other. Keep following your dreams. Keep clawing.
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.
I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).
Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.
Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.
I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.
I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.
I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.
Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.
– To bring this full circle
Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.
I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.
CDI – The Brand
We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.
DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)
Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.
The quiet rain outside falls against the colored leaves of fall. My review of budget for the morning puts a cautious smile on my face. The call to set tells me that everyone is working steadily along to capture our last day of week 1 on the thriller “Bestseller”. This is my final action before my pick up to set. Terence Knox came in and was on-screen yesterday and it was good to see an old friend. He has mellowed some in his age and I see moments of tender and sweet – perfect for his compassionate doctor. The gruff soldier and ex-boxer that he was has given way some and I like how he wears it. The previous day was the 1st time I’ve ever had fellow Lansing, MI gone Hollywood actor Taylor Nichols on a CDI project. He was powerful in his work and we had equally strong talent in Ralph Lister, a MI adopted Brit playing opposite him. Today Lana Wood, true Hollywood royalty is once again gracing one of our films. I love her performances and I will be seeing her within the hour. The crew is bonding and I purposely put the hardest part of the schedule up front. Once we are past that it will be settling in for two weeks at a much more operational set with much less breakdown and no true company moves. The emergency vehicles and tighter sets will be shot out and only the large beautiful lakeside sets remain.
I also got to bookend my character this week. My first and last scenes are done and now I truly know my beginnings and end of my arc. So now the story will unfold for me within these fate marks. I’m ready to play and I can freely do so because of the confidence I have in our crew. The hard work was done in pre-production and so it will now pay off in the quality of the work we produce. That brings me to my little soapbox moment of the week. For 17 years I’ve proudly fought the “backwater” stigma that follows Michigan. A reputation of being 2nd rate artists because we aren’t from Hollywood or NYC. It is unfortunate that for every set experience I give to outsiders that leaves them astonished at the professionalism there is a half-dozen clusterF#@% sets that leave people stating “Worst film experience ever” uttered about BRING BACK THE SUMMERTIME a film I almost produced but they refused to listen to reason and I decided to not participate. Sad that it was someone’s 1st Michigan experience and that is the story they will tell. Now I see and hear of other great productions in state. 10 West studios, I don’t know them but I’ve seen their product and it is very good. Rich Brauer, had lunch with him and know his product. These people I see the effort to stand proud as storytellers. On the other hand I see gross neglect and piss poor planning just destroying the film community. Now I work all over and so the state of our local film community really doesn’t affect me completely but I do care. When I see people not only show complete disregard for professional process but brag about it as if it was hip or cool – I feel pity. I feel bad for those so in need of a paycheck or so desperate that they climb on board a doomsday ship. “Welcome to starship screw up – next destination – the sun.” Now I know some of these people or know of them. I see boasts of pushing crews too hard, unreasonable expectations, managing with anger and admission at a full house premiere that they barely had a script and that they were disorganized in their schedule most of the time. This was presented as some kind of joke to be made at the Oscars. I cringed because the product reflected all those things. And to many not in the knowing that is what reflected our State of Michigan and the artists within. To these people – do better. Take some pride in your work and process. Don’t treat our industry like a joke. Because what you don’t realize is that you ARE the joke. You are also giving our State and our artists a bad name. Now in our industry it has a way of weeding out the ASS CLOWNS as I like to call them but not before damage is done. And for some of you out there be careful what circus you join. You are artists to be respected. You are all a vital part of every storytelling endeavor be it in making coffee, pulling focus, last looks, lint brushing to musical scoring. Take pride in your work. Leaders take pride in your product. Art is subjective and not everyone will love it despite the outcome but always give your best efforts.
Have a great weekend. Off to set.