Good morning – hazelnut cheers!
I want to welcome our new readers from the Netherlands, Brazil and Austria! It was a busy yet productive week. I wanted to start with a cool giveaway on the new book that I’m a contributor on. I want to once again thank Callie Smith Grant for allowing me to participate. This book has a fun story dealing with our queen ‘Lulu’ and I hope you all will check out this and the many other stories.
RETAILERS carrying the book!
Barnes & Noble –
Baker Book House –
LOST HEART – We had several great meetings over this next CDI film. We have something unique planned. We’re excited that it got approved by our distributor BMG. Now the planning will start in earnest this week with a planned CAST & CREW premiere. This one will be different but such is the way and I think it will be fun for everyone. October will be a big month! We’re also exploring several drive-in’s and theaters to play the film.
We’ll be wrapping up the last few delivery pieces and the short BTS promo will be assembled this week perhaps to share next. We are also looking at a few merchandise options so fans can support the film.
BEST YEARS GONE – Our development here is full speed ahead with sponsors and camera tests on deck. We’re about to comb through the script and see what scenes can be pulled off the main schedule and shot. This includes a few VFX shots and sequences that might need or benefit from added attention. I will say that as my ‘Gil’ as a character, is coming along nicely. I cannot wait to share him. We are still looking at end of Oct pre-prod and shoot in November.
The cast of ‘Smoke & Mirrors’
SMOKE & MIRRORS – David Gries stars in this short film that is a precursor to the feature. We’ll have a locked picture this week and music discussions with Dennis Therrian have begun. We plan to develop this into a full feature. The short was shot by Jesse Aragon and he’ll be color correcting it. We also hope to have something to show in October.
Wild Faith has been seen by millions of viewers and the powerful story has created an interest to see this continue. The groundwork is being laid to shoot a season 1 (8 shows) all set in the Wild Faith world. The TV show is currently titled ‘Hastings’ and may shoot in 2021. If you have not seen the film please do. It is inspired by of course ‘Little House’ but also the old Disney movies like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” which is reflected in the humorous moments.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – After filming the trilogy I kept my full Jesus garb save the sandals which were borrowed. When I was looking at character shirts for our new film at the thrift shop I found the same make of sandals in my size. Heaven sent or good luck? But I think my Jesus days are done save if a film was ever done about a return. I think we have some other great biblical tales if we want to return top that genre. I’m excited to see the new trailer for the trilogy which will launch likely in October. Did I say Oct might be a busy month?
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – Our event/theatrical/festival showing of this film was hampered by the virus. We will continue to seek a few events to play the film at even into 2021. But the response to the film has been great. We just need to get more visibility for it so if you watched it and enjoyed the story, share it. I was asked recently if I had any plans to play Paul Landings again and the answer is not right now but never say never.
We are about to go walk another flea market. I have grilling to do later today along with a few yard tasks. I’m happy to report that I got both the batch of AUTUMN ALE and the ROTHGA (Return of the Hoppy Grape Ape) started. They started fermenting yesterday and so the fall will have a nice harvest. I was sad that last week I posted a picture of the MSU Spartan helmet and later that day the BIG 10 cancelled their football season. That leaves the LIONS as our only hope. Come on LIONS!
The garden is growing now with fall cold weather plants in which include beets, carrots, beans and more. I’ve been doing some caulking in the office getting ready for winter and to help keep even more heat inside. Soon the wood stove will be kicking again. Viking Thursdays with wood cutting will also begin in a few weeks. I’m going to leave all this here. Time to fill the coffee cup and get some oatmeal. I hope you all have a great week ahead. Be kind to one another!
New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.
It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.
I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.
Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:) So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.
I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.
- The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
- Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
- MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
- Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
- LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com
Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!
So last week was productive but also a week of dealing with the major absence of one personality from our furry pack Luke. I had fires burning both outside and in the office via the wood-burning stove. With Daphne and Lulu close by I swept leaves and organized the packing of yard items. Luke use to love to lay in leaves and patches of sun moving several times during the day. Daphne and Lulu did this with a few random tossing of the little ball for a chase. I also this week got a few supplies for my next batch of wine using our wild grapes, hops, some mulberries and a touch of rhubarb. I also got the materials for making dark ale for the winter months. I want to thank you all for letting me talk on the personal last week. Those personal issues all play into our art and our motivation. This week I’m going to do a “Just the facts” post because I’m going to do more yard work later on this beautiful fall day. MSU pulled out a win yesterday but the Lions have a week off. Let’s look at some updates…
- I signed contracts on two stories I wrote for inclusion in an upcoming book on horses called THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS, by Revell Books. I want to thank Callie Smith Grant for inviting and accepting my two stories. It’s showing me another way to use my imagination and storytelling beyond just screenplay. It will be a print and electronic book releasing this fall and it might make an excellent Christmas gift.
- I finished my 1stofficial draft of LOST HEART. This screenplay will be our Spring 2018 film and the 1stof a new deal with BMG.
- I also had a meeting over CDI non-family/faith content that went good. They have interest in a Sci Fi script I’m working on and a few other properties. It is great when you have a good meeting. I’ve had a few go South because of people looking for leverage by kicking at the production value or looking for an angle. But this company is producing and releasing for some great A list production companies. I was treated as an equal and that is a good start.
- I also might be digging into writing on another biblical adventure this winter. I’m going to be having some discussions on that this week. I have been actively talking with literary representation because I would like to have a more streamlined process. I have screenplays I don’t plan to produce so I should sell them off. Many talent and their production companies are looking for strong content. I have to do a new literary resume as an intro to the work.
- There is interest in both WILD FAITH and THE CHRIST SLAYER for a studio backed limited theatrical release. Wild Faith will most likely get that on the way to our home video. We have a wonderful deal underway that includes an additional of a celebrity narrator to our film. The narrator is our “Henry” grown into a man, thinking back on this and perhaps many forthcoming tales. The TV series is a real possibility and if so I’m excited by the Michigan work.
- The Christ Slayer is in process of color correction set up. Also sound and music work progresses along with a little dialogue clean up. I hope we can get the studio-backed theatrical. It ‘s depending upon if the excusing of a HOLD BACK clause can happen. What that means is that our digital and on-demand is set up along with DVD release. There is usually a window of time given between theatrical and streaming. With the target holiday being Easter all these targeted release dates are being pushed together. The film is epic and emotional and I sincerely hope it gets the larger theatrical with the home video release.
- To tie into the above topic – our MBF: Man’s Best Friend film also has the early interest and I see this film also rolling into the theatrical deal. All these films were built upon a home video deal but now as our distributor rides into theatrical – we do also. It will be a true blessing to have these films brought to theatres all over the USA/world. We’ll just keep focusing on telling the stories. But I did see a rough 20 plus minutes of the film and it left me with a big smile. The final three scenes I watched included Greg Mason, Tim Abell and Jim Gruelich. I cannot say enough how thankful I am to be surrounded by such great artists. The movie is nowhere near the climax and the power in the scenes is just popping.
In summary – we’re also exploring other expansion with our website and merchandise. It is a time of wrapping up business and developing new business. Thank you for spending a few moments of your time here. Keep plugging away at your personal goals. Every step is a bit closer to your dreams. Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to enjoy the season!
I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
The soccer season has ended, the garden harvest is slowing and the leaves are starting to fall. But this heat wave seems hot as any of our true summer days. On a positive note I’ve been trying to master this new grill and get my temps under control and such. Last night I had a very successful go at pork chops. I had my old grill down to a science and so it’s like re-learning and developing a process with the new grill. I’m going to refill the coffee and we can chat on some of the developments last week. I think I’m going to just throw them out there – updates.
CHASING THE STAR – A new marketing campaign is starting Oct 10th via our distributor, driving traffic to the AMAZON. We’ve also been invited to again submit to International Christian Film Festival for 2018. It’s been submitted and now we wait. I think we’ll know more in March.
FORTY NIGHTS – We’re just finishing new theatrical licensing deals for this film in Nov. in Texas and CHASING THE STAR in December. I do think this is in Gary Nation backyard. So unless it clashes with possible shoot dates (Is that a dropped hint?) he could attend.
Both these films are being pushed for the holiday season and I think audiences will enjoy them.
Here is a good lesson from the last couple weeks. There is a program that shows faith-content who approached us about possible licensing. Now after some communication , we requested some clarification. What followed was a poorly communicated email that after being quite offending they apologized and blamed some personal issues. OK. STOP. If I’m sending an email communication to HBO (Which I did) I would NEVER respond in the way this person did if I was trying to build a bridge to business. IF I had some personal issue that was going to paint my communications – STEP AWAY FROM THE EMAIL! DO NOT COMMUNICATE until you get your head straight. I was just surprised that once again this is someone claiming a mission/path that’s inline with Christianity yet they communicate like that. JUDGMENTAL. CONDESCENDING. RUDE. Not good business practice. It could have just been a bad week but if that’s the case – don’t communicate. I doubt this avenue will work out but I’m good with that.
Let’s talk positive. I went to a biz event in Grand Rapids with my attorney/producing amigo John Mashni at CHOP & HUE. They have done color correction and some great VFX credit work for a few of our films. It was great to partake in their event and success. I saw a few familiar faces and met a few new ones. I really enjoyed myself. I don’t break away from the work too often but I’m glad I did. I will try to attend a few more events but I always have so much to do and when I take a break it is usually in solitude.
The Christ Slayer – the VFX work on this picture is moving along in strength. We started working on our first official poster ideas this week. We should have a locked picture with VFX by the end of the year.
That fits nicely with WILD FAITH that will be finishing up at year’s end. The response to the poster, trailer and BTS has been strong. I’m still looking to launch the TV series but I think it will take studios/networks watching the final film. The characters and world are so endearing it makes you want to see more. I did get some creative writing on show #2 this past week. We will see how it all plays out.
MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is our next CDI film. We had an announcement that Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. Our biz commits are flowing in and this week we’ll start announcing cast. We have two possible shoot windows – one that is before the holidays (Nov) and one that is after (Jan/Feb). It all depends on the speed of the financial commits. We’ve got two more weeks to push and see what will work best for production. That is a key question that aspiring producers should get use to asking. WHAT IS BEST FOR PRODUCTION? Many inexperienced producers make decisions that put production second. That is often where trouble starts. I’m so excited about the cast and crew lining up and I know once again we’ll put something strong onscreen.
This week was also spend prepping some other endeavors. One being a certain Civil War film that will be making its way back into the market in 2018. Also the original script I wrote for Wild Faith was turned into a book. I will be releasing the book to Amazon under the original title. The script was adapted into a new script for budget before heading into production. Instead of having the author Dee Freeman redo the book to match the new movie, I decided to leave the book story AS IS. I think it gives an interesting look at the movie that never was but allows a look at what inspired – WHAT IS.
Speaking of books I know the KNIGHT CHILLS book is now for sale at Comic Cons and I hope a new generation of readers/viewers experience the story.
BUY IT HERE – GREAT GIFT:)
As we welcome in the fall season I’ve been circling back and watching a few of the old horror films. This week I took a watch on Darkest Nights. It was fun to return to that mango estate in the Philippines and try to survive the darkest night. I miss all my cast and crew mates. It was a one-of-a-kind experience and I’m thankful to have had it.
I get asked quite often if I will return to horror genre and the answer is of course, when I find the right story. I’ve had a few filmmakers upset at me because I passed on their film. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. SCRIPT. Execution is an issue for all filmmakers. It’s hard to take the words and make it all come to life but when the script is not strong it makes the process harder. And many directors are also the writer so they can take any feedback very personal. I understand this ‘protectiveness’ and if the company is happy with the script and you’re not, a polite pass is the best option. But sometimes even the polite pass can bring out someones anger. I’m hoping for a strong script every time one is submitted to me for acting. We as actors all want that. So to get back on track, I’ve been asked about my return to horror genre and the answer is when the right deal comes across the desk.
I had some fans ask about the C.U.J.O. reboot. I know that King’s team is working to reel back in some of his ‘rights’ to his classic films CUJO included. I know that talks are continuing with the Sunn Classic Pictures team. How will the chips fall is unknown. I would love to be part of a King project someday in the future. Will it be a C.U.J.O. reboot? That is not up to me but I will let you all know what I find out.
Outside of all this work I’ve been in exploratory talks over obtaining a literary agent. I’m about to go into production on my 5th script and I’ve got several scripts I would be willing to sell off. It will all come together. I know I have more calls to catch up on this coming week. For those that I did not get back to – rest assured I will.
Enjoy your Sunday and Go LIONS!
Last night I enjoyed watching a pre-season Lions game while doing some work. This past week was very home-centric since my furry boy came home from the MSU hospital after an extended stay. We held meetings in the house vs the office so I could keep an eye on my buddy. I’m happy to report he had a really good week and is recovering in his own home. It did allow me to focus on the paperwork and get a lot of stuff done.
We’re making a run at setting up a new film to shoot this fall. While the business paperwork has been getting organized our team has been locking locations and doing some initial casting. We’re first reaching out to our large circle of talent and trying to identify the right talent for a part. I’ve enjoyed meeting a few new actors and/or watching their work. The film working title MBF has strong themes of our military vets and shelter dogs. The reaction to the script has been strong and we’ve got our distribution deal in place. I love filmmaking in the fall and we’ll see if we’re meant to go this autumn.
This week I do start a new batch of wine that is bubbling up a storm. It is rhubarb and mulberries I harvested. I’ve wanted to make a wine with rhubarb for a while now since my grandma use to grow and cook with it often. So ‘Ida’s Wine’ is underway. The garden has been giving tomatoes and beans in abundance. Will we see a Green Gobin 3 batch? Perhaps:) The HOPS are also looking really good this year.
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will be pushed with the second film Chasing the Star starting in September. For those outside the business – September is the start of the Christmas push for product.
Here is a nice review for “Forty Nights/40 Nights”
And a brand new review for “Chasing the Star”
Stay tune for new pre-sale DVD sites!
The Christ Slayer – as said above when the title cards read coming Christmas 2018 that means a home video release in September. Before that we’ll do a theatrical run as wide as we can. These films were not set up as theatrical as a business deal but they do play great on the big screen.
We’ve played with many posters and are getting close just have not gotten the right first image. The music is being composed and VFX is being worked on. It is looking like we’ll finish this film end of the year. If time permits we’ll try to do a cast and crew screening. In 2018 we’ll do some theatrical and lock the home video release. We are in talks on the TV series and so a few things are still up in the air. But the film looks great and I’m excited to show audiences. Our trailer is making its way into ‘western’ and ‘Civil War’ circles of interest. A behind the season teaser should finally be ready to show this week. (Fingers crossed)
Aside from all this business we’re getting ready to put the final top layer of shake siding on the office/fort. It was being painted this weekend (forest green) to match the roof. I have another soccer match this afternoon to battle one of the top teams. We’ve had a good second half of the season with only one loss. I’m looking forward to next week and making some good progress on our endeavors. As a last note it was cool to see “Wicked Spring” playing Parables TV last night. We produced that film 17 years ago and to see audiences still enjoying it makes me feel good. I think we’re creating some classics now that audiences will be enjoying for decades to come. That is the conclusion I’ve come to recently. If I’m going to spend moments of my life developing, producing these films I want to reach high for quality. Now enjoyment of a storyline can be subjective but quality of production is undeniable. Okay, be good to one another. Time to finish off the coffee pot.
Thank you for your time.
Sipping some dark coffee with that hazelnut goodness added as the outside looks like giant snow globe. Yesterday was spent on several shopping trips, a nice meal out and stocking up on food items. Today will be a belated bday gathering for my step bro so at least one trip out. I’m gonna fire up the wood stove at the office and do some organizing. Most of my time lately has been prepping for end-of-the-year and new year business. Let’s look at some updates.
The Quest Trilogy –
“40 Nights” new deal is complete on our end, signed and awaiting countersigned paperwork. What this will mean is a new push into the market in 2017. A possible return to theaters plus we’ll target a new 2nd quarter Easter 2017 national rollout. A possible festival or two as the film was invited to showcase.
“Chasing the Star” deal is being done as we speak. We’ll be doing premieres including a Yuma, AZ showing when we’re there to film the 3rd movie. A theatrical run plus event showing will follow the premiere(s). The talk is the national release will be in September 2017 on the run up to Christmas 2017.
When “Chasing the Star” is releasing nationally the third film will be finishing post. I think the idea is for 1st of the year 2018 theatrical and event showings on “The Christ Slayer” with a national release targeting either Easter or Christmas 2018.
On “The Christ Slayer” – I’ve been in talks with a handful of directors and I might be close to a decision. Also get those dramatic reels updated especially if you are on the west coast as that is where we will be filming. We announced some of the returning cast and more exciting announcements lie ahead!
This has been an exciting run on this trilogy of films. I hope audiences can enjoy these films for many years to come.
Wild Faith – The feature is in post and will likely be done next Summer (2017) and we’ll plan a fall release. The film is designed to be the pilot feature for a TV series so we’ll see how that plays out. I am doing some prep work on this endeavor which would be quite the undertaking. I’m thinking we might show the 1st teaser trailer on NEW YEARS DAY. This 1800’s tale is going to be powerful and I’m proud to have it counted amongst our product.
I’ve continued to get updates on projects like Sunn Classics “C.U.J.O.” and have a few films I acted in that still have not released “Dead Quiet,” and “Division 19” but that is often the way.
I’m going to cut it here as I have a string of things to get done before the Lions play and we have our family gathering. We might have to hook the dogs up to a sleigh. Have a great day and be safe on those roads.
The Detroit Lions have just kicked off making this a traditional fall day in Michigan. I spent the morning organizing for our upcoming film shoot and also prepping a few things in the yard for approaching winter. I picked beans this morning while going over mental check lists.
We’ve been putting paperwork under cast and crew this week for our western endeavor. I’m looking at the opportunity to work with some other talented artists. I see several productions that pool the cash resources in a few places and puts the sacrifice on the others. We spread the sacrifice across the board but pay by strict rates. Staying on budget – there is no special trick it just requires that you hire the right individuals. Individuals that understand the modest rates are so crew across the board can be paid. Crew working in all needed departments are what create good flow in production. It often requires working with what you NEED versus WANT and making it quality through artistry and good planning.
Is everything done perfect? No, of course not – but the effort is always seen and steps are taken to course correct when required. Passion is a valuable jewel and many people lose sight of it. The best cast & crew for me is one that has the best passion for a story. Gaffers, grips, camera – creates mood and tone. Audio captures words that can change hearts and minds. Wardrobe and hair/make up help create believable characters to exist in world that the art department creates. Fore-men, office planning, coordinating of meals – all fueling the storytelling endeavor. I had to sacrifice much to climb to where I am now. I look for that hunger in people’s eyes. When a situation is hard I look for who states the obvious and who has problem solving skills. Who vents frustration and who is quietly focused because they are already planning multiple possible paths to travel. I love that we attract artists who want to be part of a powerful story. They understand their partial sacrifice to an endeavor is helping support the artists standing next to him. Many have been abused in the free and paid circles and so until someone knows differently they expect what they expect. I love giving people a good experience storytelling. That is why we have more people seeking us out wanting to participate on both sides of the camera. Empty your cup is an old zen saying we used in martial arts. Being open to a new experience without the taint of a previous bad experience but other people. If we carry that past negativity we take it into our sacred create space. Again in martial arts – the dojo. You bow and leave your outside world distractions at the door. You respect the new process of learning and exploring before you. When we do this we often discover great things about ourselves and in our example – create good storytelling.
In this blog I will encourage you to seek out some of the recent films
40 Nights, Bestseller, Donors, Ashes of Eden – check out some of the earlier films also and see what creative groups of people created working together. Send your feedback and comments here if you wish.
“Chasing the Star” – I’m reviewing a picture lock cut and post work in full speed ahead. As I said last week, new trailer and post art will be forthcoming!
Lots to do today so I’m going to cut this short.
Have a great week ahead!
(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)
It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.
Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.
On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”
Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.
A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.
“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.
This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead. Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.
Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!
On this day we remember our stories about where we were at when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember that I was having a morning much like today – hazelnut coffee, chill music and doing some film work. Dean Teaster called me to ask if I was watching TV, to which I said I wasn’t. I turned on to see one tower on fire and replays of the impact. BOOM! Another plane impact and we all know the story of the other planes. I remember MaryJo Cuppone’s flight attendant friend died in one of the planes. I remember Ed Schaefer in NYC being in the street dust after the impact. Killing is not divine. Hate is a choice. We are all neighbors in this world.
It has been a whirlwind of film activity. As we get ready to review some of the first numbers on “40 Nights” I’m proud of the growing base of viewers. The film did not roll out with huge fanfare but has become a film you hear about – you hear good things about and you seek it out. Here is one of my favorite reviews.
If you watched this film and enjoyed it – reach out and share it with someone.
Chasing the Star – the 2nd film in The Quest Trilogy has a first trailer which is still getting a polish. I expect we will roll out a new poster here soon. The music is almost complete and VFX has started. Our friends from CHOP & HUE have also joined the project – making this their second film with us.
The Christ Slayer – As soon as “Wild Faith” ship is out to sea I will start putting the business together on our third film in our trilogy. I’m actively looking at directors and speaking to talent and keys. We will look to shoot in the spring in AZ.
Our midWestern “Wild Faith” is loading the ship as I like to call it. The foundation work is well underway and this week we’ll open the account and start to prepare for the journey. We’ve identified most of our artist sailors of our cast and crew. This week we will finalize that process. I’m excited also by the idea of an ongoing TV series because of the great talent. I have ideas for many guest stars including many of your favorite legends of the genre. It looks like Mr. Darby Hinton will be joining our cast. He has a long impressive list of TV & film but many love him from Daniel Boone still playing strong on 3 networks right now. We also have a list of extremely talented actors from Michigan joining our cast. We’ll be announcing more of these cast and crew as we start signing deals.
Well, MSU is off this weekend. The Lions play in a few hours and so I’m going to get some additional work done around the yard. The garden is full and needs to be harvested. Speaking of, I bottled 2 cases of “Return of the Green Goblin” that came from last years harvest. I’ve been dealing with this mega beard during our humid heat but now we’re in a beautiful cool phase. Tonight I may even make a fire. Enjoy the remaining weekend and be good to one another.
The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.
Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.
Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.
Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!
OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST
“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.
“The Christ Slayer”
I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.
My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.
Another beautiful Michigan Saturday seems a great way to top off a productive week. The last couple days have been much cooler (Good for grilling/smoker) and brings to mind thoughts of fall football. Go MSU. Go Lions. That said, I will try to recap some of the past week updates.
“Ashes of Eden” may get a few more theatrical showings prior to the October 13th national release. I’m very proud of this film and the folks who participated in it. Shane Hagedorn and I have had many development talks as of late. I have a sit down with him this week and a new course may be plotted. Hold tight:)
“Bestseller” – we are in talks on some other theatrical locations but more importantly we signed a domestic US/Canada deal. These are the deals that get the film to your Wal-Mart brick and mortar retailers and to your Netflix and VOD rental sites. The movie will also be available through Mr. Chris Knight’s (Johnathan Rands) Michigan Chiller Thriller store. We will be looking at a few sales to foreign territories also as we more forward.
“40 Nights” has been a wonderful experience. We released our 1st official trailer which was exciting. Just to give people a first look and from all the feedback it has been well received. I know everyone worked very hard in the desert of Yuma, AZ to make that film happen. I’ve had communications of support start to come in from all over the world. I’ll say again, the film is so much more – versus what you see in the trailer. The talent involved on both sides of the camera really brought it and it shows. I was reviewing our most recent cut of the film which had also been sent to our distributor. I was waiting to see what they had thought about the naked film. (No music/sound) They had loved the trailer and so now we had to see if they also…AH! satisfaction! They loved it.
I’m excited by the growing buzz over the film. Having multiple watches of the film under me I can say, I’m very happy with our translation from script to the big screen. I was so inspired by the responses that my writing on our follow-up biblical film (“Chasing the Star”) is close to having a first draft.
We are working some FX/credits and this week we plan to finalize the edit. From there it move to full music and sound design. Other business surrounding this film is moving right ahead – like licensing. This is now moving forward with a deal- our distributor will manage these licensing rights. What would you like to see with 40 Nights branding? T-Shirt? Lunch Box? I can see this on a coffee cup.
So, I let you blog faithful in on my writing progress with my new “Chasing the Star” script. I will say that we’ve also been working development on a western film. First step – the schedule and budget, both are almost done. We’ve also done some location scouting. We’re getting ready to launch a few new CDI film projects and I’m ready. Are you?
“Donors” is working DVD artwork with the new distributor for the national release. I’m still waiting to hear something on “Dead Quiet” as I know the haunting season is approaching.
We are also finishing up a CDI Commercial project for use in Washington DC. We do take on select commercial projects so feel free to reach out if you have a budget and want professional work.
I also want to welcome CDI Associated directors Anthony Hornus (Standing Post/Outside the Wire) and Tom Norton (7 Stones) for recently joining the ranks of Jeff Kennedy (Figure in the Forest) and Kevin Hershberger (Wicked Spring) on the Parables Network.
This week I had some great in-depth conversations with several business associates. I love that many of the talks I have are also framed by discussions of life. The journey has to have meaning and the business needs to evolve. This week was a mix of highly focused computer work on the hot humid days and a smooth mix of yard work and business talks on the fall-like cool days. As I work all this business I have started to look ahead to characters and roles. Some projects are finishing and so new ones must begin.
I hope each of you are enjoying your summer. I hope you are spending time with some loved ones.
Another Saturday here in the beautiful area of N. Michigan. We are a few short days from camera roll and I’m a proud producer. We’ve got a hardworking team that I ‘m confident will show the talent here in our state. This is not a “just get by production” this is truly a get ahead production. You can have fun but that is secondary and a result of good work. This morning is our last pre-production meeting with department heads. It is a meet N greet for the new crew coming in and a point check of all week one scenes. I’ve got to hand it to everyone once again. Some of you know that this project is a reboot after some hired guns tried to “wing it” with production. To each their own and I wasted enough time talking about those who don’t do it right. That is why I’m so happy with what we have here on both sides of the camera. I’ve worked with crews around the state and in a few different countries and I think we have a good team built here. I’ve fought the Michigan backwoods reputation my entire career and I always take a step forward and elsewhere others put us three steps back. Investor wells run dry and those filmmakers contained to the state dry up and die on the vine. So as these years have clicked by it is good to share some of the gathered experience. Many of these good folks will move into other positions over their careers to director of photography, producers and directors. As they do I hope they recall fondly the production(s) we’ve shared and seek to create in a similar fashion. Most know that I’m an actor first and so I produce things that I see as a good vehicle and feel strong about. Many at CDI come from that camp of actor/producers. I have to give Melissa Anschutz a lot of credit on her second producing gig with me as her energy is inspirational. Many people want to work hard and have pride in the work. All that starts at the top and the example carries through down to the pride in a craft service table or tweaking that last look on make up or set dressing. I’m happy that we are able to provide such a good experience to our crew and cast due in part to the many sponsors we have on board. You can see some of them on the BESTSELLER website. http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com
Our crew are staying in beautiful condos that are several thousand dollars a month. No tents, campers or Motel 6 on this one. Yes, some major extra work by the staff but at the end it is a great way to show them how much we appreciate them all. This and many other extras were not achieved by throwing money but by representing ourselves well and creating a win-win for both parties. We even have a soccer field that may result in a day off match but somehow I see beer drinking and watching the Lions more likely:)
I’m excited to be flying in a few famous friends to help tell our story. All seasoned vets of our industry that I’m proud to have in our cast. Their work speaks for them and they loved the story and know the commitment of CDI and its partners to telling a story. I love the excitement just before we roll. The beautiful thing is we have not had one panic moment and everything has been calm and orderly. When you walk in the office you hear just the tap-tap of laptops and the sipping of water and coffee. I’ve also had a major fill of seafood since I’ve been here. Thank you to the local Native Odawa Casino for a couple of great “All you can eat” crab leg prime rib pre-production meals.
“Ashes of Eden” is getting close to finalizing sound design and what a difference that makes. WOW! We’re taking our time to put these last elements together perfectly. It is a great film and soon we will show the world.
“Donors” is also finalizing sound design and that is all that needs to be completed.
The same is true with “The Terrorist” formerly “Benjamin”. After a recut of the film that made it much edgier they just have to polish up the sound before a 2014 release.
“Darkest Night” has launched on HULU and that is exciting. So if you have that platform please do check it out.
Well, I’m in need of another hazelnut coffee to get ready for this 10 am meeting. I’ve had a great treat last night and tonight as my girl is up with her cousin visiting and shopping in the area. They brought my furry son Luke and he was so happy to see me yesterday. He is having a great time as they are staying outside of town at a B&B that allows animals. He met his first horses yesterday and was completely interested in them. I think he saw them as the largest and most unusually smelling dogs he has ever met:)
Until next Sat when I will have a 1st week rundown. Depending on our schedule it might have to happen on Sunday which is our day off. I hope everyone has a great productive week and enjoys the harvest of fall around them.
A quiet morning of sipping coffee and reflecting on the past week. On the domestic front this week saw Lions and MSU football kick off to victory. The garden is giving tomatoes, peppers and some beans in abundance. I bottled up the fall brew beer that I’ve named AUTUMN AMBER and is tastes good and with some age it will get even better. We used the smoker on some chicken and it came out great! So on the personal level I’ve been enjoying the slow transition from summer to fall. Let’s discuss some business shall we.
First I’ve noticed that some of the things happening in the our local film community will evolve on their own. My personal “community” is composed of doers from every state and other country’s creating art and telling stories to enlighten and educate the masses. We’ve discussed many of the issues that our state faces and I’m sure that is represented in every film community in every state. There are some that are chasing fame and working cons to try to grab a foothold. As I’m about to shoot a thriller this Oct. that is a complete re-shoot due to mismanagement I see that some of the individuals responsible are just moving to the next “mark”. Some are following their same game of deceit and bamboozling. I did step in to give warning to one young man who seems bent on getting ahead by any means. I just saw his attempted involvement with two other filmmakers that I call a friend. So I had to bring that to light because I don’t want to see others have their passion films damaged. Be real and build a real career on real effort and work. Not claiming “uncredited” work on studio projects or falsely adding or promoting yourself as being part of something you are not. I gave my warning but for you out there hiring or collaborating – you must also beware. Talk to people who have worked with these people prior. Remember like a job interview they are looking to say what they think you want to hear. A good speaker can bullshit a lot of people and you often won’t realize until it is too late. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way earlier in my career as well. I’ve got a finely tuned bullshit meter but we all can be a victim.
We are about to start signing deal memos on “Bestseller” in the coming weeks. We’ve been in talks with vendors and I’m excited about what this group of artists will create. I’ve been spending some time with my character role and looking forward to bringing this to life. Some of my contacts in Hollywood are now becoming aware of what we are shooting and we will be bringing a few actors in to work with our mid-west talent. They have had some great feedback on our revamped script and we are doing our production breakdowns. This should be a very smooth shoot and a great way to end the year. So prepare for a new website and PR on some of our great talent attached.
ASHES OF EDEN! The film is in final sound design and scoring and we are on course for a November Michigan premiere. Before that audiences will get a strong look at our film via a theatrical trailer which will release tomorrow! I’m excited about showing people a peek of this powerful film. I’m going off survey responses from our test audiences. We also have submitted and may have a few known music artists joining our talented local music acts. I’m excited to again show our interested distributors our new marketing piece. I also excited to show all of you!
BENJAMIN has been re-cut with distributor feedback and retitled THE TERRORIST. All the talk from over there in that camp is that we also have something very special. So this is another film that I’m excited to get out to audiences. Another riveting drama.
SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN. The question of if this TV series is going to strike a fancy has been answered. We did a promo piece and that was shown to 3 different parties all of which responded positive. One responded so positive that it was a board room showing in London and we have an offer coming in next week. The negotiation process starts but we do have a fun, entertaining show and this might be a great start for CDI TV. Will I end up producing a few reality shows? Maybe. We will see.
I also have a TV series in development with a major studio that could be great fun. This is my first time working within this TV studios development process but I will learn from it I’m sure. If it happens it would have me co-starring in my first TV series. I know I’ve avoided that prior but this would have me on the writing/producing team so I re-considered. It still could fall apart or get shelved but so far so good.
Many of our scripts are in development pipelines being evaluated by money sources. I think 2014 will surely see a handful of these get made. I’m enjoying this time of productivity. Some is from work previously done finally coming to and some are new growth. EVOLUTION is the word I’ve been in meditation on. I can roll with whatever the universe brings because I know that it is all just evolving energy. I see great storytelling ahead.
So as you can see I can be concerned about issues in our local circles but I cannot get overly invested. Those overselling themselves to the inexperienced will continue to do so. Those chasing that 15 minutes of fame by the “fake it to make it” technique will continue for some. Others will continue to not see true opportunities presented to them and do things half-ass so they can move quickly to the next venture out of desperation. I was inspired watching a PBS doc yesterday on the torch passing between film and digital. The passion of storytelling by storytellers is the underlying golden thread. That is where I belong. That is who I am. The same child like artist who first picked up a camcorder to start telling little stories. I’ve matured in business from good mentors and experience good and bad. My wanting to bring our art to the wider world that only happens with distribution and dependent upon good business has pushed me forward. So I do care a lot about those around me. But I can only be a compass by example alone. I cannot and will not take part in a bunch of drama that I read about daily on all these social media outlets. While others talk I’ve always been one taking action and I have to stay that course. The artists that work with me will always get my best. I don’t understand and can’t try to understand those others. So I will keep tending my garden, loving and laughing with true friends and family and telling stories. That is all I can do. So I implore those out there to always give more than someone paid you for. Always give your best and use the passion inside you. Don’t sell yourself out for shells and beads or lures of fame. That is all fleeting but the stories you tell. The art – that can live on and on.
It has been a week of many things in motion and working hard to close them down. It has been a year of assigning distribution and moving things along. I’ve shot a few new films and we have a slew of new films about to launch. This home office has been one of the more challenging things I’ve taken on in many a moons. I’m a tinkering person when it comes to handy work but not a builder. Working with someone who knows what they are doing has been really a great thing. In many ways I’ve said it is like making a film. Smaller crew for sure but many things remain the same. The new FORT will be the hatching place for many new films. Let’s look at a few updates where I can provide one.
First on “7 Stones” they are revamping the sound that was in dire need. It was simply not going to pass any distributor quality control. The drama, the look all great but that sound was lacking. Now they hope to have that all done by mid November and a TV showing/premiere is planned for December just in time for Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho!
We should have VOD (video on demand) dates for “Deadly Renovations” here soon. “Locked in a Room” is delivering to distributor. “Darkest Night” is negotiating a deal as we speak and so look forward to announcements. “Benjamin” is getting accepted into many major festivals including one now in Egypt. I heard “Realizism” has a rough cut done so that is moving nicely. “Donors” is in post and about to enter sound design/music. I would say we have quite a bit going on.
“Ashes of Eden” has been #1 on the list as of late. We have been doing some heavy castings and are about to announce some new cast members. Behind the scenes work is underway and we are soon to enter our official pre-prod phase and we hope to roll cameras end of Oct. and finish just before Thanksgiving. Our team can go eat large and get to work in post production. This is going to be one powerful film! The film is also on IMDB so feel free to follow along with that.
Soccer season is now over and so film work and winterizing has become the priority. I need to create another wind break/insulate the California Red Wood tree we have growing. We use to bring it inside during the winter but it got so big we had to put it in the ground. It survived last winter and is thriving but it needs the help. The garden has only yielding a bit of a harvest here and there but it is still something I enjoy.
On the acting front I’m excited because we did cast the actress in “Ashes” to play opposite myself. You have to watch for the next PR but an amazing talent. I’m being talked to about a role in Grand Rapids/Holland as well as a line up of 2013 projects. That is in addition to what we have lining up and so I’m excited to end the year strong and get ready for another. So have a hot apple cider and enjoy the season!
Go MSU:) Go Lions:)