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!
I’m waiting for the coffee to finish as I start typing. I have a full day today and so I wanted to get a jump on it. As usual I want to welcome all our international readers from Poland, Argentina and more. Part of the balance of an artist is to navigate all the elements life presents. Since returning from filming ‘The Christ Slayer’ I’ve been working on getting the entire operation in order. That part as I’ve stated before is not the most fun part. While others seek their next role on camera I’m recording, tracking and remitting on other films. This week was important because as “Forty Nights” is fully entering the flow and thank you too all those of you who have watched the film. It is a business and that work must be done. Also ‘Chasing the Star’ will soon be heading into the national/international market so getting this “business flow” set up is the smart thing. Being that I’ve not yet had a sip of coffee my thoughts are still a little scattered so maybe we’ll have a shotgun news day with no exact order. I call this 10 UPDATES/LESSONS OF THE WEEK.
- “Forty Nights” had 4 nominations at the #ICFF and WON ‘Most Inspirational Movie’ and we’ve got an internal process of PR. I did notice that the film experienced a lil’ hate with the nomination nods and more when it won. I know this comes from the frustration of actors/filmmakers/screenwriters who despise seeing other projects move while their passion sits stagnant. (Coffee is ready – time out) (OK – game on) A few facts are that some of our projects have failed to launch. I’ve discovered that we often get stuck in a rut of trying to push something that is not ready. If you get better at reading momentum that helps your endeavors. Some people want to push with everything and not back down but if it is not meant to be, it will not come to pass. Patience is a bitch.
- I had a meeting this week where it was pointed out that many in the local community don’t love the isolation attitude of our company. The truth is that I work hard on TO DO’s everyday. I turn it off everyday with things to do tomorrow. I could spend time at various industry mixers but it comes at the expense of something I need to do. I could spend $100 on food and drinks to discuss other people’s endeavors but it comes at the expense of writing 10 pages of script or not reviewing that international sales agreement. It was easier when I was a nomadic film warrior in my 20’s but I have domestic activities that I enjoy – yard work/tinkering is one of them. So it is not that I don’t care what others are doing industry-wise (I’m actually quite informed) but I just love what we’re doing more and know fully the hard work required to move those pieces ahead on the board. Talk to anyone who has participated in one of our endeavors and the response is usually very different versus the person who has not yet done business with us. Again I say, DON’T HATE, CREATE. That should go on tee-shirts.
- Again Cannes Film Festival is underway and I’ve done that Hollywood scene and it is a fun world to visit. But it will devour your time and financial resources and again you can visit trendy places with your resources or you can create art and content. Many of those parties cost thousands of dollars to attend. I also said that I will consider attending only accompanying a piece of art we’ve created. Maybe one day. I have no problem with those who love to attend those events – I’m just working steadily towards goals.
- Dennis Therrian our main composer, sound designer and post supervisor is prepping ‘Chasing the Star’ for delivery to our distributor for the national launch in September. He’s also just finishing sound design on “Wild faith” and will soon start the music. He recently was nominated for ‘Best Music Score’ at #ICFF with “Forty Nights” which also was mentioned as winning ‘Most Inspirational’ so if like several of us out there you like to write/work to music scores this is a great one to buy and listen to. – BUY HERE https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/40-nights-soundtrack/id1114858978 More of the scores are going to be releasing to sound track including “Chasing the Star” another beautiful collection of music.
- I touched on patience and reading momentum. I am subject to these laws myself. Some great production developments are moving a touch slow due to factors outside myself. They are great opportunities it just requires me to be accepting and have patience. A great opportunity for a TV series behind “Wild Faith” exists and development has begun. I would have LOVED to roll cameras in 2018 but the main national roll out for the feature will be in 2018 and so the series production will likely fall to 2019. Not what I had first wanted but that is the business of it all.
- A new biblical trilogy to follow THE QUEST TRILOGY is being developed and one of the scripts is done. The other two are in development. Right now the name of the trilogy is THE CONQUEST TRILOGY. Old Testament, No Jesus, No Angels/Fallen Angels and they do not tie into the first trilogy. That group of films is complete. The last film in THE QUEST TRILOGY entitled ‘The Christ Slayer’ is almost done with the first edit. So I’m not sure if the 1st film in this new trilogy will film in 2018 or not. I have a few other business pieces to put in place.
- Since I’ve accepted the flow of development for not what I want but what is – I’m finishing a script this month that just might go into production this fall in Michigan. It is a story that I’ve had my heart into for a year or two but just needed to finish the story. A first draft will be done at month’s end. #MBF
- The Michigan theatrical run is complete on “Chasing the Star” and this week we’ll be discussing new destinations for this film to play. This week our time on this project got devoured by delivery work. The final film will be sent off for final DVD mastering. We had a few bumps in flow because we changed a few things in the process on this film. Lesson – If it isn’t broken don’t fix it:) All is good just a small amount of additional time spent which could have been avoided with a bit stronger management. (I’m speaking to myself:)
- Some exciting things happening with the CDI website (www.cdiproductions.com) which has been in discussions for several years. The entire CDI library is digitized so that was a key element to what we’re doing. The site will be getting a major upgrade that will include the ability for people to purchase and stream past CDI films. Will we stop at CDI films? We will see – one step at a time. I also have had interest in doing some major merchandising so that is something we will explore.
- Speaking of spin off’s – BOOKS. E-Books to be more exact whereas several our films/scripts have been written into books. Those are about to come to market. That deal is underway and like everything else takes time to put the pieces together.
So in conclusion, every week is a busy week. I am open to discussion on new business but with how crazy everything is I’m not likely to get to another town to pub it and talk shop. If you truly think we have some good business reach out. We’ve done many associated films. I can promise that you will get truth from my perspective. I will not BS you and while I don’t always tell people what they want to hear I will tell it to you straight. I do consider acting in outside projects but all I ask is that its at the true pre-production stage and not dreamer stage. I had a phone meeting Friday whereas a NYC production had reached out wanting me to act. Sent me the script, the book it was based on etc…I read two chapters and knew in my gut that the film was nowhere close to shooting. That was two years ago. I’m glad those hours of reading were spent elsewhere. I’ve also participated and was paid (thank you) on a couple of projects that have never finished. Years have clicked by and still no finished film. The artist in me is what hurts on those projects. I was paid for my time, my art but we do it to share. If it was just about shells and beads ($$$) there is easier ways to make it. I’m going to go fill the coffee cup and get on with a few morning activities. I have a soccer match to play today if we don’t get cancelled because of storms. Some relax time with friends and family and tomorrow we go after the TO DO list again. I hope you all have a great day and a productive week.
Be good to one another.