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

Posts tagged “loyal

Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

IMG_4111

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.

IMG_1429

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.

IMG_3212

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.

IMG_1507

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.

IMG_2530

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.

IMG_5656

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?

IMG_5423

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.

Outlaws

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.

1240439_522771837803277_2112199205_n

Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 

Advertisements

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