Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
Top of the morning to you all on this frosty, spring-like Michigan day. It is also St. Patrick’s Day and being that I’m largely Scot/Irish I’ll be toasting to your health today.
“May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.”
My college alumni team Michigan State University advances in their Big 10 Championship and will play U of M today. Go Green!
I also subbed in for the last indoor soccer game last week with my new team. Nice guys and I look forward to a fun season. It was good to run the engine hard and get those running legs working again.
(He WAS so small — about 50lbs and growing)
My little boy Finn is growing like a weed and giving us joy every day. Now the ice tundra is leaving us we can enjoy a lot more yard time. I especially enjoy the outdoor meetings at the fort that includes dart playing.
Today we will have the mother’s over for corn beef and cabbage and I’ll be drinking a few PB&J Porters from my friends at Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
To the film updates…how about a TOP TEN for the BIG TEN tournament today.
(Mr. Trace Adkins)
- The cat is out of the bag (what a bad saying) Mr. Trace Adkins has joined our WILD FAITH movie endeavor. You can read about it here. https://www.prlog.org/12759600-country-music-stalwart-trace-adkins-joins-collective-development-incorporateds-wild-faith.html
- The first of the theatrical screenings announced in Grand Rapids, MI – Get your tickets here. This is remastered and should be a great viewing experience. https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/woodland-mall/wild-faith
- May 6th is the WILD FAITH DVD release and I’m hearing in Walmart in June or July. Did I tell you how much I love the cover art? I do.
- We have just gotten word on The Christ Slayer that will be showing at the International Christian Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for 4 awards that we’ll PR this week. 1) Most Inspirational 2) Best Film 3) Best Director (Nathaniel Nose) and 4) Best Supporting Actress Melissa Anschutz – I’m super proud of our cast and crew. DVD and Streaming available now – in theaters starting April 19th.
- Upcoming director of LOST HEART Jesse Low and I are so close to a final script. I have a review once I finish this blog. It is really fun script – emotional and funny.
- LOST HEART Location scouting and vendor talks continue while our producers work to lock in the final investments. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place. It will be great to have it in front of our cameras.
- Also with LOST HEART we’ll be announcing the addition of two knuckleheads to the cast, Mr. Shane Hagedorn and some guy, DJ Perry:) We’ll both be playing supporting players in this fine story.
- MBF: Man’s Best Friend has a locked picture edit and is moving into sound and music with Dennis Therrian. The story is really moving and I’m thrilled by the final story.
- Once MBF is moved over to sound the final VFX and Color Correction work will begin. Once that is complete we will cut a new trailer from the edited and color corrected footage.
- Last week I recorded two commercial voice over pieces. It went great and I hope the client is happy. I know the director was so we’ll see. Again, feel free to approach me with a project just come with an offer. This is not a hobby for me it is how we put bread on the table and wine in the glass. (Actually I make wine)
(Looking ahead to the new roles)
I’m going to wrap this up so I can refill the coffee cup and get to my LOST HEART review. Have a great end to your weekend. Be safe and have a productive week ahead.
I’m sitting here sipping coffee and watching my squirrel buddy Gordy prepping for the high winds we are going to have. The last week was a combination of busy business and family business. I’ve been out of grandparents for a while but have enjoyed the company of my significant other’s grandparents. We lost one – a grandmother who was the center of the family. She had a long 89 years and her service was really nice. The family all came together and now they will have to re-adjust. We all have to keep doing that as we move forward. It once again made me see how special the work we do actually is. And the journey is also just as important as the destination. Let’s look at a few updates from the week.
LOST HEART – This is the film being pulled together to shoot in late April/May time frame. This past week we announced the addition of Mr. David Gries and Dean Teaster playing a major character at two different ages. We welcome them aboard.
Also this week we’ll be announcing the 1st casting call notice for this role. It will be posted on http://www.cdiproductions.com
We are looking for someone who resembles this picture. It is playing our main character at a younger age. It is a paid role and we’ll accept both union and non-union submissions. So you heard it here first. More casting calls will follow.
This week we’ll be announcing two new actresses joining LOST HEART. Both have worked with CDI on different films. We’ve also began some TOP SECRET model work:) We had one of our producers up North starting some initial talks. I, as the writer started by dialog and script note review with our director Jesse Low.
A learning note on this point – When I work with a director it is line by line, page by page because I want the director to REALLY understand the characters. Once they are fully understood we can change certain locations or interactions but they will respond in character. As a producer you want less page count. As a writer – the colorful descriptions might help cast and crew immerse themselves into the world. It is a balancing act whereas a director can strip it down to bar bones because they have shots and such in mind. But for landing quality talent it helps to paint the world. As I stated last week, I would not sign onto a film without reading the script. Maybe a Star Wars flick would be the first but the project I backed off from was not a Star Wars flick. When it has inexperience involved the need for a GREAT blueprint (script) becomes even more important. Also once I sign off the script to the director the writer goes on vacation. Even when actors ask me questions I try to redirect them to the director. Writers need to let go at a point. Many have issues doing just that and that causes problems on projects. So in development get all that solidified with your director. That is what we’ll continue to do next week. Here is Jesse Low working on WILD FAITH with DP Jesse Aragon.
Let’s MOVE to the WILD FAITH movie. This week was working with the distributor as they prepare for the theatrical release and the DVD/streaming to follow. This coming week we’ll announce and release the new poster art for WILD FAITH. I’ve been holding my breath waiting for the artwork. Once I saw it my first two impressions were – 1) Classically Beautiful 2) Lauren LaStrada is going to LOVE this cover:) There is my tease. Coming (back) to theaters this March! Remastered. Enhanced. Ready to Rock!
The month after on April 19th THE CHRIST SLAYER will roll out into theaters. I’m trying to make sure that Harkins gets it in AZ. That way all our Yuma, AZ family can watch it on the big screen for Easter. For those that want to watch now it can be seen on Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema (and the list will keep growing) DVD will release March 4th so add it to your collection. People who have been sending ‘fan mail’ I greatly appreciate it. I love how into the story they are. You can watch these films as a stand alone but they also tell a story as a trilogy. The Devil and Angels story runs through all three. As more people realize the thread between all three films it will become more interesting to read people’s thoughts on the trilogy. I’ve seen the same few type ‘hate’ posts. Usually at Jesus. OK. If you don’t believe in Jesus, just enjoy the story. ROCKY and APOLLO CREED did not exist as real people but they still inspired determination, self-belief and the power of love for generations of viewers. If you live for Jesus, I hope you enjoy the film. It is not a documentary or a bio-pic but a story. The issue I see that stems from pockets of religious denominations is that they fight over details (the devil is in the details) and miss the entire meaning of the story. I read someone lamenting the darkness in Chasing the Star. Um…King Herod’s rule was dark. That is what I liked about The Passion of the Christ. The reality of crucification was played out and it was much darker than the pageants plays of the day. Someone commented negatively on the Magi, obviously not knowing the actual history. That is why that film felt important. Everyone knows the statues out front of the nativity scene but few really knew anything about them. Our take is not 100% as history often exists in fragments. Anyway, I’m very proud of the three films. Those that let themselves enjoy the story will take something away, their path matters not. So watch FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR and follow it up with THE CHRIST SLAYER.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’ve been reviewing the first cut and making suggestions. The film is very good. I’m out on a limb playing a wounded Marine. I feel that gravity because I represent the actual wounded. I can say that so many of my peers gave incredible performances. Maybe one of the best from Dean Teaster (played the Preacher in Wild Faith), Anschutz, Abell, Gries, Hagedorn, Most, Nations…I could go on. I think people will be happy with their involvement. I did get emotionally hit at the end of the film so I know it works. But we’re just working the story for pace. A few scenes to cut into later or cut out early. We’ll work toward a lock at month’s end with dialog clean up being the first task up for post audio/music.
Aside from this list of things to do – I’ve been writing out checks to investors and residuals to talent on some of our films. I’ve been prepping to do some VO work on a commercial project. I’ve got a few meetings in the next few weeks to discuss possible collaborations. So, I’m just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Merchandise creation is under discussions. Sponsorship for the new film, the CDI website or even my blog. I’ve been trying to get that coffee sponsor. One big bag of coffee beans a month and I’ll put your company logo on here. And I’ll speak kind words about it weekly:) DING! Magnifico – only my Philippine DN cast/crew friends will understand that.
Pre-Order on Amazon now!
Have a great week ahead!
I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.
So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall. I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.
After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.
CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.
The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.
I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.
Be good to one another.