(Happy Memorial Day – Veteran Paul Landings and Brown Boy)
I want to welcome the new readers from Spain, Egypt and other territories around the world. The mornings have still been chilly and so the hot hazelnut coffee is a welcome treat. Again it was just an amazing week but a few things have sat on my mind. Poisoning wells is a term we use in our producing and it means an individual or company that doesn’t take care in their action and business and it can ruin it for everyone. It happens with locations, investors and business relationships. I’ve been accused of keeping my cards close and that is because many do not treat those relationships as they should. Many people are mindful only of their immediate wants and don’t look long-term. CDI has been built upon many years of trial and error and filtering out the toxic and/or lazy. I really do care about our people and seek to develop them. At CDI fertile grounds exist for tribal loyal to undertake project development but many like to make their own go at things. No experienced overhead and management often results in zero funding even if the creative talents exist. People ask me what “tribal loyal” means and it is quite simple. If you are lucky enough to hunt up a strong opportunity do you bring it to the tribe? The tribe has the success record and gives confidence to investors and new partners. But many would still horde the contact and try to make the best of it, often resulting in failure. In simple terms if you hunted up a deer for food, would you bring it back to feed the tribe or hide out by oneself to horde the kill? We’re fortunate to have developed a solid core of people at CDI that know that a contact/opportunity will be properly used for the good of the tribe. We have some that are “in orbit,” that circle the tribe, enjoying many of the benefits but maintain their…looking for something better to come along. Which of course is a perception and often isn’t better- “the grass appears greener…” you get it.
I had one situation whereas an established, well groomed relationship was approached covertly by one of these “in orbit” tribal members to further a personal agenda versus the tribal agenda that I serve daily. This go-around communication was brought to my attention out of respect for our mutual business by this long-term business associate. I’ve gotten these calls from LA with people using my name as a ‘friend’ because of Facebook but that is another thing. The big table is for those with funding and accountable for the money. This person circumventing was just like thousands of others seeking funds. But they were politely given the same answer I’ve always given. I’m not tech savvy, I’m people savvy (sincere) and so that is what I focus on. Collaboration and deal-making. When I’m successful many artists get put to work. But the process in which this particular individual went about getting their own answers reflected poorly upon them. They made light of it when it was addressed and in the same communication was asking for more from the tribe. So the hard truth is that previous to CDI funding, there wasn’t any funding confidence in this person. This person’s personal agenda pursuit yielded the same answers. Now that their perceived “better” agenda doesn’t look plausible they return back asking for more. But should the “more” be held back and gifted to the loyal and those enthusiastic and appreciative to grow and develop with our tribe of artists? I recall a conversation years ago that “We got all we’re going to get out of DJ Perry, no need to communicate with him anymore.” Harsh but a realism in my world.
A TV series and a continuous slate of films with an increase in size and scope is what lies in store for Collective Development Inc. It is not a boast, a challenge or anything of the sort – it is just a truth if I’m drawing breath.
Within CDI, I do expect a certain behavior from our tribal members and it matches what I expected at summer camp, the martial arts dojo and in soccer practices/games. I try to use the resources we have wisely to do the big 3 – stay on schedule, stay on budget, give high artistic quality. Team formation and management is what I excel at and it starts by recognizing and respected each cast and crew as an artist. And my power to make definitive decisions lies in my accountability no more. Currently we don’t have enough projects active to have every artists working their ideal role via acting or director, DP, etc…but we will. And those hungry for more could undertake in-house development. Done from within it carries the weight of the company and the field of successful endeavors. Outside the tribe, that project stands alone and the same hinderance exists.
I personally could have left the tribe and been a lone wolf as the offers were there. But I realized immediately that separated from the tribe one doesn’t carry the same power. I represent honorably our tribe’s storytelling ability. And it is a TRIBE. Every person involved plays a great role in the success. Know that these examples of missteps are not one person but a few scattered over a span of several years. Some recent and some not. But I will grant you this nugget of wisdom. I see many artists pass up opportunities that they feel are not in line with their own direct dreams. I’ve learned a secret. Often the keys to our own dreams lie in helping someone else achieve their own dream. I’ve watched people selfishly step on and do whatever, compromise whatever, all seeking that elusive key. But what if the key appears only as a reward for helping others? We are all interconnected. The other thing is we cannot always help everyone save by good example. I love as we grow we keep bringing more artists together. In my life when I’ve had external issues I looked internally. Tend the inner fire. Also the path forward is seldom a straight line. That line might go all over the board and that is the journey of life. Live it well and worry less about the final destination. Keep moving in the right direction.
And I want to be clear – the above examples are NOT some passive aggressive lament on personalities of a few. As the counselor, sensei, coach and CEO of Collective Development, I take my accountability. But my decisions won’t and don’t always line up with everyone’s opinions. But even when some feel I got it wrong I think everyone would agree that I’m asserting fairness as I see it. My passion for the stories being told is also unquestionably legit. I tell stories I truly care about. So you have two sides to a coin. Have I failed to open some minds to the collective strength of a tribe of artists? Have they failed to recognize and appreciate the opportunity and benefits of an artistic tribe? Bottom line is we are growing at CDI and I am looking to give opportunities to those tired of the selfish agendas and wanting something more inclusive. We have had some very good crews over the last several years. Our last film really flowed well and all during the break in the Covid surges. We are just getting back to crewing on our next WW2 drama -shall we take a look?
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA
A few of the departments include discussions with the keys so we’re going to be focusing on crewing in June. Also our German casting is almost complete so we’ll be announcing them. Sponsorship and brand alignment is launched and I might have our first to announce very soon! Our Facebook site is growing and adding more everyday.
LOST HEART & BIGFOOT, UFOS AND JESUS
The General Market (GM) release of ‘Lost Heart’ has begin and it will start appearing on platforms as early as next week. This movie started in the family/faith market which can turn some viewers off. But this film truly is much more and deserves to be seen by a wide international audience. The GM title will also do better overseas where these three words in the title are more easily understood versus ‘Lost Heart’ but by any name the film is a true joy and we hope you and your family will love it.
Under the title ‘Lost Heart’ the film will be up in June for ‘Best Film of the Year’ at the Crown Awards. Here is a recent review of the film which I really enjoyed.
BEST YEARS GONE – So the film is racing around the post production track. Dialog, sound design and music are underway. We had two of our celebrity judges sound off on their top 3 songs. These videos are on our Facebook page so seek us out. We will be announcing the winner very soon and a music video will be done. We had a meeting on that and we’re quite excited. The actual first official trailer is done visually and is now in post-audio and we are all excited to share it. The trailer and screen captures will travel to our distributor to begin poster work. We have two premiere events in the work. Both in September with one being a theatrical premiere in Owosso, MI and a race/bigscreen event with the Springport Racetrack. We had a great meeting and scout on Friday and it will be another unique CDI experience and we’ll be looking to film it.
Recently FORTY NIGHTS broke the 1 mil viewers on Encourage TV and with TV play around the world this trilogy (Part 2 CHASING THE STAR and Part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER) is being seen by 10’s of millions. I really enjoy the great fantail from those who keep discovering and enjoying these films.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – The trailer teaser for this documentary will roll out July 4th! We are really excited to be bringing this look and eventually entire documentary on the nearly forgotten art of catch-can be brought back to life by some of the greatest grapplers on the planet.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – I’m looking forward to seeing this project come together and as noted this project was created from a feature script. I think the success of this short showcases what an incredible story could be told as a feature.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND is a title that ties into Memorial Day weekend giving viewers a look at the sacrifice many of the survivors of war made. If you haven’t seen the film please do take a watch. If you have seen it, enjoy another watch.
So yesterday it was yard mowing, trimming, planting and such as we put in our veggies and herbs. Today maybe a bit more of the same plus I might do a version roast in the smoker. I always think about maybe deleting the opening ponderings and stick to just updates but those lessons discussed are what will truly help you succeed. I could just talk about the success we’ve had in our updates but if you’re having issues getting traction with your own endeavors maybe those words will bring you insight. I hope you all have an enjoyable couple of days. Happy Memorial Day! Remember those US troops who dies to give us all the freedoms we have.
Until next week!
Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.