“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “loyal

Attacking the New Year – Read if You’re Ready for 2020!

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Fellow coffee lover Victoria Jackson (Lost Heart – Coming 2020)

BATTLE OF THE BEVERAGES

The hazelnut coffee is flowing and so am I on this fine 2020 morning. It was a wonderful holiday season from Thanksgiving to Christmas and now I’m ready to roll. We had a nice and chill New Year’s Eve with another couple, old friends – making fondue and playing cards. I had one fuzzy navel that took me back to high school football games with schnapps. I did not miss waking up dehydrated with a pounding headache. I do social drink with friends after soccer games or during some informal film meetings, but not going for broke these days. Between my soccer, martial arts and film friends, I’ve had my day for sure. I’ve had a few friends over the many years who loved drinking maybe a little too much. I’m not to one to judge because I have drank like a Viking on several occasions, I just cannot pay the piper with hangovers. I have so much opportunity and even working as hard as I do I still miss opportunity here and there. I guess as I round the corner this year to 50, I can say that if it was between coffee and alcohol, coffee would win. My buddy TJ would say pour whiskey in it – Win Win:) So I hope everyone had a great holiday ending with our entering the new year. Now you get to make decisions about how you spend your time. What you do to your body/vehicle. How you go after your goals. Goal #31 – Get coffee sponsor for 2020!

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I have had much better luck getting booze sponsors vs coffee

GOALS

Dreams are the first step. Once you break down the dream into steps you can start to go after your dream(s). You have to have faith in yourself and having a solid plan gives you a plan. Just like a great script is the first step to give yourself a chance at a great story. Trust me those out there winging it and having success is few and even if they have blip of success, trying to repeat or replicate that is difficult. I’ve been doing this now a long time and I love what I do. I don’t look at anyone’s life and say, I wish I had that. I don’t pine for a fancy car, house, clothes or what-not. If you have health, family, friends and are able and allowed to create your art and grow your passion into a career, what more? Enjoy the journey even the hardships because they are forging you. I don’t enjoy seeing whining about setbacks while pursuing the arts. These situations/hardships often posted on social media walls telegraph a person is weak. Now admitting weakness in the right situation can be strength but often what I see is wasted time to get sympathy, or too get the other failed feathers to flock together in agreement or support.

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Pick which road you want to travel – excuses, blaming or solutions

In LA on my early trips I would see bars in the actor ghettos filled with people drowning their rejection (I’ve done it a few times) and enjoying the company of other with failure excuses. Now the coffee shops with the person who has a stack of notebooks, lap top and chatting up battle plans- might be the healthier person to collaborate with.

REDIRECT that ENERGY 

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Christine Marie has one of those desired attitudes – positive and talented – Wild Faith, The Christ Slayer, MBF, Lost Heart…

Those minutes writing all those texts could equal that fantasy sword and sorcery novel you always wanted to write. It could be that screenplay to show the world what you can really do ala ROCKY. Now that the newspaper has been mostly replaced by internet news – I scroll a bit first thing in the AM while coffee is brewing and the dogs out doing their business. Read your postings as someone with money or opportunity to provide in the arts. What would you look for? Talent is only one part. Attitude and this is my #1! Good attitude and seeds of talent and we can nurture. When shooting a film, a quick FB scroll during off time can almost predict who is going to report fresh to set and who is going to be dragging in less than 100%. If I see complain, complain, complain – do you think this is someone you want on your set, everyday for weeks? Would you invest money behind someone who is always pointing out flaws versus offering solutions to help, fix, increase.

BE THAT GUY/GAL ON SET, CREW OR CAST, THAT YOU MUST RE-HIRE

PRODUCTION COMPANIES – BE THAT ORGANIZATION THAT PEOPLE ENJOY AND TRUST WORKING FOR.

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Wild Faith was full of hard work and FUN

Now both could have moments where they fall short but that is where ATTITUDE again plays in. Admit when you are wrong and that is strength. Apologize if someone saw your worst side versus your best side for a moment. I had a friend and collaborator once try to justify an artistic breakdown. There is no justification that is a failure. Admit that and move on with wisdom. Great artists who cannot communicate need to stick with a solo medium like painting or basket weaving. In high-school I had a saying, “that no girl was hot enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.” That same lesson can be applied to the arts. There is no artist talented enough to compensate for a shitty attitude.  I’ve heard stories of James Cameron (who I don’t know) first hand from cast members about James C’s early day rants. Maybe he has matured in his communication. I mean he is talented beyond belief, maybe one of the best storytellers in our time, but why a shitty attitude? He is living the dream the young artist in him only could imagine many years ago. Now I’ve never had a film run 100 million dollars over, so I don’t know certain levels of pressure. But especially those working on tighter budgets – attitude, gratitude and two way appreciation is the key. Remember who is providing paid work and an opportunity to showcase artistic services. And producers remember who the loyal, hardworking, positive artistic-providing cast and crew are.

Spirit of Excellence

HA! I get producer recognition at one event and I’m trying to tell people how to do things:) No. I’m just giving some insight to what works for us. SPIRIT of Excellence awards founder Skeeter Murray, who also does comedy amongst many things needs an apology. I could not attend last Sunday the awards deal and decided to do 2 videos. Well, previous to my filming the video I had watched Eddie Murphy host on SNL.  So Murray might have become Murphy:) So I’m sorry if I did butcher your name. Speaking of Eddie Murphy, filmmakers would enjoy DOLEMITE, IS MY NAME. It paints a great picture of an artist with lots of passion, who with his loyal just went after it despite lots of rejection. Good film!

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Okay, THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS book event that I will be attending will be at Baker Books on July 11th, 2768 E Paris Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI from 1-3 pm. Like I said last week, come out and get a book. Hear me read one of the two stories that has to do with movies:) Bring anything you want me to sign. I will bring a silver sharpie!

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I will find that perfect TITLE:) 

My screenplay that I’m working on now is coming along great. The hardest part is the title. The book author wants my help in titling so the book and film could have the same name. It doesn’t have to happen like that but has several pros. ‘HOPE From HEAVEN‘ is the current title but I think we can do better. I want to wait until the screenplay is done this month because as you peel away layers you get to the heart of the story that is often the right title. The script itself is coming along great and will translate to film nicely.

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I’ve been updating promo items personally and for projects. One of the decisions right now is should we do a WILD FAITH 2 sequel or push the TV series HASTINGS. We are also developing and evaluating a few projects for the CDI slate.

Asking Forgiveness

I’m looking at this young man again for a couple possible film roles

MBF: Man’s Best Friend will have more theatrical showings, events, festivals, TV play and foreign expansion in 2020. Again thank you so much for all the fan mail on this and all the CDI films.

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LOST HEART is close to a locked picture. I will get a new update on that tomorrow but we are close. The film is so good and I’m excited to bring this to audiences Late Summer/Fall 2020.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Many people are taking the opportunity to watch these three adventure films set in the biblical times. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER. Discover these hidden gems being shown around the world.

MISC.  

Too many to mention right now – lesson here. Don’t rush news out just to have something to talk about. Develop without distractions and trickle out the info until it is the proper time. Just my two cents – others may love the onslaught of communications when folks see possible work that lies ahead. For me, it can be distracting to respectfully answer back to all these people when trying to actually get to the place of moving forward. Again just use of time. Work smarter vs harder in 2020! I wish each and everyone of you a great start to your New Year!

Be good to one another.

DJ


Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 


Communicate Well, Be Loyal, Give Respect and Be Giving…

Another chilly morning rescued by hot coffee as I write down my collection of thoughts for the week. I’ve had a few projects that I’ve been forced to be the voice of reason on and others that suffer simply from lack of communication. That said, the work pushes forward. It is a very busy time with six films making their way to market. Collaboration comes from talented mutually respectful individuals who focus their efforts to create something that may not have happened if not for the collaboration. I’ve spoken with two directors that are sharing this communication issue with partners. Some people really just want to be a celebrity even if it is fleeting. The 15 minutes of fame and then they are gone. Others have a real calling and will continue to share their artistic journey with their fans and audiences. Fame follows the work and that is just that – WORK. The final result transcends the hardships but many lose interest when they realize how hard you actually work in our industry. That is often without the security of the 9 to 5.

Some of these same people are seldom to communicate unless they need something – often when I call someone it is because I’ve turned over a stone and found an opportunity that could benefit a person or project. I’ve been told this is rare and I can recall only a handful of situations whereas someone called offering opportunity. More often it is a favor asked. If I called someone and said, “I’ve got this role” RING! A callback within the hour or by days end. If I say I’ve got a few questions or whatnot the days/weeks can click by. Funny thing is that they only hurt themselves with their actions because as I stated often I am calling to offer something not ask. Also I evaluate working relationships by actions. I know that every  one of these film projects are a large undertaking whereas communication is vital. If the venture lacks this it will be short-lived and not reach its full potential. Now not everyone is cut out for the hard producer work that goes into these ventures. It is not just a vanity credit. Just like some folks are not wired to handle the stress of such projects. I just happen to be a person who thrives on the energy of teamwork and organization to complete goals. So be it in your business or personal know that communication is the key.

Also people have to control their own feelings of inferiority, insecurity or any other negative feelings and not let it control them or their actions. I’ve chosen to be loyal and work for the benefit of a tribe of artists versus the “just me” approach to our industry. I think that baffles some people who for decades keep waiting for that time when I’m just going to give someone a screw job. It has never happen and never will. Errors and mistakes have been made but never with ill-will or intention in my heart. I love when good fortune smiles upon people. But I see selfishness around me all the time both inside and outside our business. Sometimes someone’s overreaction to situations gives great insight to that person’s internal struggles with themselves. Anger often hides guilt or self-blame and is a sign of deeper issues. I’ve realized over the years I can only lead by example and I maintain a baseline of expected respect. Good communication as noted above is an action that says, I respect you. You can see how these things go hand in hand.

This is my B-Day month and it always puts me in a reflective place. I’m proud of all the stories I’ve helped tell and the many more that will be told. I’ve watched as some move a little farther away from the tribal fire to explore their own path. I also have seen the new warriors drawn to the fire, coming to join the battle.  With a tribe of artists it has to be ALL IN or NOT. Sounds Yoda-like but there is truth in all that.  There are many fence sitters out there that want to benefit from a group or organization. They are just waiting to see what boat to jump into.  They often take actions to benefit the self over the benefit of the many because it serves them. How I journey is just as important as the final destination and I will not step on others to get where I’m going. The grass often appears greener elsewhere but upon close inspection it is just the sunlight playing tricks.

In Summary…

Communicate Well, Be Loyal, Give Respect and Be Giving…

OK. Enough of the trials and tribulations of working within group dynamics. It’s a huge balance of egos, artistic vision and materials but when it all comes together it is a major achievement to be proud of. I’ve got much to be proud of.

June 13th is a big day with a distribution screening on one coast (Darkest Night) and another event screening that night. (7 Stones) I’m also in talks on licensing additional rights on several of the new film products and also with the existing library films. I’ve heard a festival showing is coming soon for “Benjamin” and also hear new artwork for “Deadly Renovations” is coming for the forthcoming domestic release. I’m also hearing another theatrical for “Locked in a Room” could be around the corner. I believe in Bay City but I will know more soon. “Outside the Wire” doc screenings are planned and in planning – so needless to say I have been BUSY!

I might be announcing a couple of new acting projects very soon. I was sent a few scripts/roles to review and now I’m in talks on the business. One could have me filming in my state of Michigan and one far away in France. Crazy business that we work in but I have to say I love it.

A few new projects are moving into development, others continue moving down that development trek. So the future is in planning as we speak. I encourage you to take control of your future. To take control of your self and actions. If you give you will receive so be the creative artist you were meant to be. Go seed your garden, nurture it and prepare to reap what you have sown.

Have a great weekend!

DJ