Cool photo that I found inspiration in this week.
Hello my friends. I find the blog worldwide breakdowns very interesting. These are the countries my leading readers are hailing from. 1) The USA. I would hope so but you never know. 2) Australia. Hey Mates. I’ve never been down under but would love to one day. Mad Max/Kings Road/Miller…I’m looking at you. 3) Denmark. I LOVE this country. Always will. 4) Germany. I’ve had a lot of releases here. Wonder what their favorite is? 5) India. Namaste. Thank you. 6) Philippines. Like family. Great hospitality. 7) Ireland. Never been but will one day. Irish/Scot blood runs through me.
Okay. I was just enjoying where everyone is tuning into from. It has been a good week. Okay. That is modest, the week felt ultra productive. I think once you set a destination it becomes easier. A target to focus upon. In our business it starts with a solid blueprint (script) interested key talent and crew to make your proposal package. I think many chase money and when someone does say YES, at that point they start looking at details. I look at the details first knowing if they say yes, I can do this. I have the team that can make this happen. Again I see too many people saying yes, to endeavors they are not qualified to handle. And if they mess up it just becomes one more poisoned well. I personally would love 3-4 Michigan film entities making films and a few TV series rolling. That might lead to some good roles and guest star moments. So I really do wish all those around me the best. I’ve just seen over 20+ years so many good contacts ruined by bad business. I’ve actually reached a point in my career where the bad business makes us look better. But some drop out of the film game all together and everyone loses. So DO THE WORK. GIVE YOUR BEST.
Let me see where to begin.
The new CDI website is under construction. I will be uniting all the films and product to a central place where audiences can find what they are seeking. This new platform will eventually help other filmmakers out there. It will explain itself in time – stay tuned as THE TRIBE is on the move.
Here is the interesting side note… I was just having an unplanned chat with one of our vet members going back to the late 90’s. I was trying to explain where I was with everything. There is potential all over the board and I’m looking five years down the path and trying to chart the best course. But it actually feels fun. The final product is actually making it fun again. Make the wrong alliances, associations, partnerships or agreements and you lose time. Time is LIFE. The saying Time is Money is smaller in value to the other. Time is LIFE. I work as concise as I can and encourage the team to do so because another story is always in the womb. I have no less than two films I’ve given myself as a role in a world created by artists. The management in both cases – WAIT. Accountability – I’ve also WASTED time in my journey so refrain from a defensive stance. I’m saying IF you’re truly doing it for the art don’t hinder the endeavor with people who are not serious. How serious you say? Serious to me is when actions speak and words are not even needed. So be more careful with your foundations. Work out all the details before you accept investment. I know artists whose years have become consumed with production entanglements and endless legal loose-ends. That will rob you of your time, your LIFE. That space & time dance where you can create art for audiences if you choose. Just make good choices. Allow it to be fun.
OK. So when CDI was a tribe consisting of three crazy artists – myself, Jeff and Juanita Kennedy – we hatched many great ideas. Much inspired by our mutual love of classics especially in the fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, Pulp genres. See STRANGER THINGS was my childhood. The love of the vibe that is that Golden-Age of Nerds whereas by playing Dungeons and Dragons you could also be a Rebel. Because much like young Rock and Roll, they (mainstream) did not understand it and feared it. “Knight Chills” is a classic tale, an urban myth almost of the bullied nerd. Retold in a world that now people are trying to recreate. STRANGER THINGS does that and my amigo Myke Michaels is up for an Emmy for his work on that show. But the film was shown in many circles over the years including Special Edition releases and box sets. It was released legally and not in several foreign territories. The film was common talk on Comic Con circuits. Hey, I didn’t believe “In the Woods” truly had a drinking game until I saw a theater full of people doing it Rocky Horror Picture style. So my vet of the Comic Con circuit David Hayes was a fan of the film. We joked about him doing a book until finally we made it happen. I wrote three other scripts that all took place after the first. Each one a small budget likely as we tried to harness and contain our imaginations. BUT graphic novel and comics…
Some of our early content is a perfect fit. KNIGHT CHILLS is the first and it will be for order in stores and also E-Book I believe. I know they are going to be selling on the Comic-Con circuits and we’ll be doing some cool promo. PR will go out next week but for all of you. Here is our new front cover.
I also think this could be a jumpstart for the original film for new licensing and the sequel script is written and director talks have taken place.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights continues the roll forward as Chasing the Star enters the home video orbit. DVD’s were being mastered to prep for the warehouses and Sept. 5th release. Now this Friday following a development meeting we were all treated to the first teaser to The Christ Slayer with temp sound/music. What the…! Holy…! Speechless… Play that again please. And another time. It pummels you with emotional power. What moments given by the cast and what power captured by the crew. I’ve been feasting on the Summer Movie Trailers so my taste are high. (Production Value)
I’m proud to once again have our collective names put on a story invoking much emotion. Right now its being used just for a few business things but audiences, cast, crew will get a first strong showing of the Official Teaser. But the few who’ve seen it can attest – it makes all the hard work worth it. It almost makes it fun again.
Wild Faith sits in a good place right now. Strong interest as business talks keep moving ahead. The talks are centered on the first season of the TV show. The interest is there on a few fronts and once we have the additional trailers and final film to show I feel that the tv deal is a real possibility.
Looking forward to working with this guy as an actor again on M.B.F. – The last time was ‘An Ordinary Killer” a few years ago. Mr. Anthony (Tony) Hornus is our director.
Man’s Best Friend is Officially going to go by M.B.F. – we’ve had a surge in business since announcing this project. The foundation of the house is almost in. Another great meeting this week is showing us a clear path. The response to the script has been on-point, luckily:) Some people are being reached out to about availability. Casting Calls will be going up. I’m excited about telling this story. I think it will strike a chord with many people.
Okay, I’m off to eat some lunch and I have to get ready for a soccer match in this balmy heat. The garden has been kicking and I’ve enjoyed the results. I had fresh BLT’s yesterday. I didn’t grow the bacon:) The masses have enjoyed the Irish Stout and I’m soon to make my batch of mulberry/rhubarb wine.
Have a great Sunday and rest of the week.
This will likely be my last, okay as my wording jumps around, it WILL be my last post on this computer. It has served me well since just after GHOST TOWN in 2006 or so. I now have a new MacBook Pro and my main task is moving my software over. This last week was full of updates but I want to discuss something that can really benefit all of you working in film or any business. I will frame the situation without using names.
I have been doing business with a studio. They have a script of mine under option. They have been ultra professional and cross T’s and dot I’s on contracts. Even better, their checks come and clear. Now they’ve talked to me about acting, producing and distribution. I know their roll out plan on a pair of their previous films. No smoke blowing in my discussions with them as what they’ve discussed matches/aligns with talks I’ve had with another BIG STUDIO. So far all good marks on this relationship. On another front – a partner/biz associate had been dealing with a key member on one of these films owed by the studio paying me an option. In casual discussion I was presented with news that directly conflicted with what I had been told by this said studio regarding distribution of their property. I looked at some public information posted on social media sites that confirmed this conflicting information. Essentially someone without the executive power to sell a film was doing just that. I had seen previous postings advertising this film selling but sometimes a small run for family, friends of the film is permitted. It is not usually sold or advertised widely as it can label a film as being “previously distributed” and devalue it. I simply took a few screenshots and asked the studio if they were aware of this and was it authorized. What tipped me off to something being “Rotten in Denmark” was this unofficial version being sold by an unofficial party was said to have been offered a distribution deal. That at least speaks good of the film:) Now my associate confronted this unauthorized party before and was met with side stepping answers. This unauthorized version was being sold and not by pirates in Asia or Russia, but a key(s) on the film. I assume legal stepped in and it was immediately halted. Now my associate was confronted by this guilty party. They were upset that public information was gathered and presented to the studio. Initially they denied selling the film even though the proof was all over the internet including reviews of the illegal version and my associate had a copy of the DVD in question is his hands. This guilty party was seemingly mad that the studio wasn’t going to ever work with them again. He wanted to know what producer/writer had brought this info front and center so he could be sure never to work with them. After this person denied selling the film he retracted his statement the next day admitting to selling a few DVD’s “Only X amount was sold and only because they needed Christmas money”. Yes. That is what I was told. Okay. Let’s recap again.
1) My associate is considering work with this person.
2) Information posted and presented is in direct conflict with other information known.
3) One party is by-the-book, contract heavy and follows through with said agreements including payment.
4) Second party avoids direct answers to presented questions. It is discovered he used rights without authorization and lied about it until they knew they were caught red-handed.
5) Guilty party is now mad at being caught and gives said excuses.
Okay. Now this party is mad at myself and this associate of mine for vetting out information that did not make sense. The guilty party wanted to know who presented the info but he knew. So, after admitting he DID sell the film, he said they would never work on anything with me involved. God. I hope so! That means anyone working with me is at least protected from that circle of deceit. Life throws you a finance curveball and this person gives in to lying and stealing…I feel pity for them. I don’t know this person. I never worked with this person. They are likely a fine artist but business is not just a game to play when it suits you. SHOWBIZ! I’ve had film rights stuck with a distributor that I wasn’t happy with. Hell, I was mad at them. But I can’t just go against agreements and do anything I want. Projects have managers who run the show NOT the investors. I’ve had to fight with my legal to get rights back on projects. Otherwise you are illegally re-assigning rights to a new distributor and creating an issue for them just by trusting you. Hence why you use a chain of titles. Your name and reputation is so important and this is an ultra small business community. A friend/associate of this guilty party also called me a jerk and wanted to know what my deal was. I had no deal other than seeking out some truth. I heard something that didn’t add up. I gathered some info and asked for clarification. Now, I’m a jerk. Someone else who makes positive message films but cheats, steals and lies and they are somehow a victim? Okay. So I’m done with all that but luckily this associate of mine won’t be doing business with this person. Let me tell you something. If they stole 30 units they would steal 300, 3000, 30,000 or 3,000,000 units. If they lie about something small in business they will surely lie about something big. I just implore you all out there to protect your business integrity and character. If you need help financially and can’t help yourself (swallow your pride and get another JOB) just don’t tank your future by dishonest business. This person could be the next big thing but if you sell out your trustworthiness, your career will die. I’m not mad at this person or those around who are justifying the actions. I just want some of you out there to reconsider when tempted to do something wrong. Even if you’re mad, frustrated or the other party is a jerk. If you’re a professional and you don’t have the right to do something – don’t! It could get you in big legal trouble. Ruin the domestic run on a film for a few hundred-dollars and you could get sued for millions in lost revenue. Good people can do desperate things when put in a bad situation. A man will steal food to feed his starving family. But selling yourself out to buy an XBox or some holiday gifts is not worth it. A gift-light holiday that still has love and honesty is better that the other option. You also are setting an example with your choices and behavior to people who look up to you. So I’m fine with the outcome but wonder what kind of world it is where the guilty plays the victim and the innocent becomes the scapegoat.
Onto the next updates:)
– Good meeting over film education program in Michigan
– Good meetings over upcoming CDI theatrical showings
– More TV deals underway with CDI films
– BESTSELLER FX about done and sound design is an hour + completed
– ASHES OF EDEN going national on April 7th
– Multiple foreign licensing underway with UK, Australia, Germany and more…
– Development on several CDI films moving along with one about to enter pre-production in Feb.
– Post-Edit work underway on “WASTELAND” film.
– Stay tuned this coming week for PR announcing release dates nationally on “Donors” and re-release of “Wicked Spring”
Keep moving forward and even though the road may be longer, steeper and rougher – remain on the highroad. There are no shortcuts and when they do present themselves they often come with compromises that will have long-lasting effects. Have a great weekend and a good week ahead!
The cold is creeping into Michigan and our bodies fight to adjust to the biting chill. The cold rain will soon become something else – snow. I’m sipping at the coffee trying to get the sinus pressure to let go of the vice grip on my head. It has been a very busy time for me as I try to wrap up business for the year and manage lots of new business that is emerging for the year ahead. I’ve been doing some heavy training prepping to play my role in December. I’m giving myself that physical edge that one would require to live and survive in a harsh alien world. WASTELAND shoots just before the week of Christmas and I’m looking forward to that change of pace. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the developments this past week. I’m glad many of you survived the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.
ASHES OF EDEN – I think our last festival play is over and I’m happy to be moving on to distribution. We announced our deal with the Winters Film Group to release the film nationally on DVD, VOD, PPV, TV. The distributor in our meeting this week praised the marketing as the buzz is out there. He already had a PPV (Pay Per View) faith company reach out to license the film. This film walks a great edge that will appeal to audiences who enjoy faith and non-faith films. We’ve got several more reviewers watching the film to release ahead of the film. I’ve also been in talks with several foreign territories and we will get this film out to all of you also.
BESTSELLER – This film has been in transition as we prepare to build the music and sound FX. We had a great meeting with much of the post team. We went through the entire film and plotted what and where each of these audio elements would go. We talked about the FX which has already begun. Some amazing work already created and next week we should have the opening credits done. What I love about this film so much ties into my watching of PSYCHO this past Halloween. The film has elements of the classic thrillers of days gone by. A true stylistic edge that will help the film stand apart from the same old, same old that can tend to be the norm. This film has some new team members working on it and so getting these folks up to speed and on the same page workflow wise can be an effort. But you are molding a team for future work. The key is to look at it less as an individual piece by piece and more like a group of runners passing the baton. The key is to be ultra focused as you pass the baton to the next person. The clean up and organizing of files can make it easier for the next runner who has to take the baton. That said, I think we are getting into a groove and communication is going good. That is the key to all of this. In this new age of technology text messages or emails do not or should not replace phone calls or face to face meetings. The baton is passed much smoother between the “runners” and so your run times get better. Communication is the key to good leadership and so if you are a key out there make sure to communicate well. You will become valuable and find much more success.
WASTELAND – Prop building is underway and also some key decisions on equipment. This coming week we are doing a read through with the director and key cast. I’m looking forward to it. A Sci-Fi western is going to be great fun. I’m awaiting some concept art on one of the space craft. Exciting stuff for sure.
DONORS another thriller of ours has an offer forthcoming. WICKED SPRING also has interest to get a Special Edition out this spring and so we will be discussing that this week. We actually have a few distributors taking interest in the CDI library.
Our legal team finally got our domestic rights back on a pair of CDI films that got stuck. Long story but now that we have them back one I can get those film back out to market. I also have wanted to release a collection of the early CDI films together. Now with this deal that is possible.
We also have some possible reboots, sequels, prequels and new films launching. I’m beyond excited about a few of them and once the ink dries we will be discussing. Of course, all of you who follow the blog here will get some early updates.
On the acting front – I was informed that two films I was slated to be in have been green lit and will be moving forward. Both are quite large projects and will be great fun to play. I think I will be back in action with Ray and some of the “Book of Ruth” team in 2015. There are lots of projects closing their deals that will allow them to shoot in 2015. I’m excited to participating in them. 2015 will see the release of several films while we film those that will come to you in 2016. That is the way of the business. Develop. Produce. Post. Release. – Repeat often:)
Enjoy your weekend and the coming holidays –
Welcome one and all to “Clawing My Way to the Middle” first blog of 2014. It was a wild Christmas holiday with the ice storm and even now we prepare for another Arctic storm to come. I had a good friend come and help me cut up the fallen elm tree which I stacked up. I will say that once it has dried I will have a good amount of firewood. I had to do a little make shift fix to the fence until we can really address it. There was a lot of business that finished at the end of 2013 and some that was just on hold. Let us look at the year ahead so top off that coffee cup and let’s take a look.
In December I was filming later than usual in the year with my acting on “Dead Quiet”. It was a cool okay COLD chance to film with some dedicated folks. I’m curious to see what we created although the first look at dailies brought good feedback. I’m also curious to see the Christmas film I did locally renamed “Small Town Santa” which ties into my next announcement. I had almost sold/produced a Christmas script of my own several years ago. It banged around with some majors and would have easily been the largest script sale I’ve made. I had Hollywood try to do a commercial tween rewrite. I was willing to sell but truly hated that version. When that deal did not go through I put that version in a dark vault never to see light of day again. I kept my version inspired by THE WALTON’S versus the AfterSchool special mess. I held onto it in hopes that either I could do it right or that someone else could. I finally had a studio read MY version and loved it. The option/purchase agreement was made and it is very likely that it will launch this year. A press release is being put together so I will hold on details. I’m starting to look at a few scripts that are not acting vehicles for myself and I might consider a sell. Many like the visual style of the writing and so 2014 will see me put some effort in this area. My agent wants me to look at scripts to sell via them also so I guess I will consider. So if you are in need of a script in a certain genre reach out. You better bring your checkbook though.
I’m starting to continue distribution and studio talks that started at the year’s end. I’ve got some legal meetings this coming week over properties. I’ve got a few scripts to read – one being the proposed follow-up to “Ashes of Eden” with director friend Shane Hagedorn. Post work on ‘Ashes of Eden” is almost complete and “Bestseller” is about to dive into editing. This year will see “Donors,” “The Terrorist” making 1st distribution pushes along with the two films above. CDI will look at more associations and continue the tradition of storytelling. The chances are good that I will be doing a follow-up project “The Beast” with Russ Williams (Darkest Night) and the western “Rifle” with Carl Barbee (Resurrection).
As for acting – the hair got a sizable trim and I’m ready to tackle some new roles. I love the family of folks in front of and behind the camera. In 2014 we will create more stories.
It is a wonderful Saturday and the dogs are watching some Scooby Doo as I’m doing some morning film work over coffee. This was a week full of announcements, many business calls and exciting updates. We will look at some of those updates and discuss a few situations surrounding them.
I think last week we talked a bit about the temptation for struggling artists to take on parts that aren’t right or tasks that they are not suited to do. It was announced this week that CDI http://www.cdiproductions.com will be the new management/production company on the Michigan-based feature “Bestseller”. Due to my association with the lead Melissa Anschutz I was in the knowing on the journey she was undertaking. I was privy to all the bumps, blunders and lack of organization. I was aware of who was solving problems and who was creating them. I let most of it roll off with a shake of the head because it was not my issue. Even so, it disappointed me greatly. Any hardworking filmmaker will tell you how hard it is to finance a film. That’s because of the large number of potential investors who have been burned or who associate with those investors who have been burned. By burned I also mean – unfinished films or films that have had such bad business done that they are not able to be taken to market. If someone truly puts their BEST EFFORT (That legal term from last week) into a project and it still fails that might be a different story. But when someone doesn’t put a best effort forward and they fail – where is the accountability? Many want to take accountability when things are looking good. When the PR releases are spewing hype or one is prancing about set playing “Hollywood” looking busy BUT when things go wrong they are the first of the finger-pointers. You MUST “own” both the good and the bad if you are in charge. If you are a chaotic mess that is the ripples that you will send forth from you. If you radiate a calm center that too spreads throughout a production.
Screaming is NOT communication and shows weakness and frustration by the party doing so. I know personally an associate in the insurance realm who had to also deal with this chaotic force. I heard the stories from multiple people about this communication. You tie that with the lack of pre-production work and the picture is perfectly clear. Now on a personal level – I’m offended by people paid to guide who use inexperience against others to try to disguise their own shortcomings. A film set is full of challenges but the only ones you should be facing are those things you could not control with good pre-production work. I’ve halted shoots and pushed start dates when I saw a ship was not yet ready. If I see a place where leadership is lacking in a department – be it in the director, AD staff, office, anyone – I will rearrange or replace someone. You don’t just watch a boat fill with water and do nothing. If you are a lead producer or that staff – It’s your JOB to fix things that are broken. It’s your JOB to anticipate what could/or may break down and try to prevent a breakdown. It’s your JOB to fix something quickly, quietly with the least amount of attention or distraction. That means that this is not a dramatic “LOOK AT ME FIX SOMETHING” moment. The best producer work is often never seen or heard. It is known by the experience the cast and crew had and the final product they captured.
Now this situation on “Bestseller” is not isolated and this issue of poor management seems to be a pattern. Sometimes one doesn’t hire enough artists to properly execute a job or make sure that money truly finds its way onto the screen. You also don’t start playing “Hollywood” George Jefferson because you are connected to a large bank account. You treat those funds like your own funds and stick to the budget. Overruns are poor planning. A producer team is responsible for the hard work of all those artists. You represent how people will look at our state’s artists. Are we seen as capable leaders or forever doomed to feed on the scraps of others coming into our state. Now I did not have anything to do with this situation. As a matter of fact I turned down earlier invites on acting and producing. That rejection was based upon the fact that fires were already burning in PRE-PRODUCTION crisis mode. I also knew that much misinformation was flying everywhere either implying deceit or disorganization – both bad. Bottom line – I don’t like fixing other’s messes. The problem seems to be that while I’m hard at work finishing projects (2 features (Donors, Ashes of Eden) and 1 TV series (Supermodel Showdown) – someone else is at the local film festival mixers smoozing up any starry-eyed potential investor or novice filmmaker with a budget – selling a skill set they do not possess.
Now potential investors – YOU have a responsibility to vet people out and not get stung by the BUYER BEWARE. This “Bestseller” ship was professionally parked and the responsible parties removed. After that my company was recommended again to come manage. With a clean slate I listened and the deal was made. The ship is now being refitted and we will make one heck of a movie I can promise you that. I can promise this crew and cast will have an enjoyable experience filled with hard work but will be rewarded with respect. Those that know me can vouch that I take my film jobs very serious. I turn down lots of work because it must feel right. In this matter I wanted the truth out there. The fact that I don’t wander in many social circles I thought this direct statement best. I will say this to anyone out there unqualified to produce or unwilling to make the Best Effort – Stick with what you are good at and don’t muddy the waters. The sooner that the proper artists align in Michigan and the BS artists are benched – great things will come from our State. As we have more stories of success vs screw ups investors will start to take our artists more serious. So I ask you all to please clean up your act. For those who don’t – I would gladly testify at any arbitration or legal proceedings on how a film set should be ran. Enough of people giving half (if that) efforts and poisoning the money wells here in Michigan. I’ve been personally part of 2 projects that went south because of false promises from people. It hurt our momentum as a company but luckily our productivity outshines those few dark moments. One bad deal can kill others momentum and ruin dreams all together. And just how truly sad is that? I’ve made many friends in this industry around the world because of respect that grew from doing what was expected. I’m not in this industry to make friends first – I’m here to tell stories with other hardworking, passionate artists. Friendship and respect is earned. Period.
Okay, I’m off my soap box now. Other updates –
– It looks like I finally got my German invoicing all complete. It has been a good learning experience doing these foreign sales.
– “Ashes of Eden” new trailer is a week or so out from release. The trailer looks great. The film is having the dialogue polished and is almost done. Music and sound design is on deck.
– “Supermodel Showdown” I was in search of a few B roll tapes that we feared missing but I think those have now been recovered. The show is coming together and is looking great. Not as fast as I would like but there is no script. This is truly a reality show.
– I have agreed to play a role in “Bestseller” now that we are officially “in association” because with myself starring in 3 thrillers in the last 10 months it really boosts distribution. With CDI’s involvement I can say to all the artists that the film will get a release in several countries.
There is a possibility of another film shooting prior to “Bestseller” going into production but next week will tell. We have a window because of schedules and so will the chips fall right? That is the question:)
I hope you all have a great weekend and keep Clawing your Way to the Middle:)