I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee while admiring the Christmas tree from last week’s harvest. I just realized when cleaning out my email messages that I missed a Christmas event/party I had planned to attend. DOH! I’m finally well-rested and attacking my TO DO’s with strength. It took a good part of a week to get caught up on my rest. I got most of the production totes stored and everyday we work hard to tie up the production loose ends from our previous SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (SNIA) film shoot. This week will also be full but I hope to get some more winterizing done. Several things in the yard need to get put away for winter. One of the nice refreshing things from last week was spending an afternoon with my dad and meeting my cousin for lunch. We meet so that I can pick up venison which is one of the main meats I eat. I actually made some venison steak chili yesterday that turned out great. My cousin and his boys are avid hunters. I enjoy nature and have hunted but I don’t find enjoyment in it. It is a very lean meat and healthy, something that the midwest hunters have enjoyed forever.
As we finish all the wrap up business on SNIA we’re prepping for post. One of the production drives have landed with the editor. We have established a production flow between editor and director. Our DP is doing a first batch of stills to help establish the color palette. He’ll be working with our director and editor in finding certain shots. Meanwhile a few VFX pick ups need to be looked at for a really cool sequence in the film. Dennis Therrian is being prepped on the film as he’ll be doing our sound design and composing our film’s score. Some VFX model work will begin soon in Canada with one of our amazing artists. Anyway the course for the film is being set and I’m excited for everyone to start looking at it.
At CDI we’ve been looking ahead to the future. I’ve been working on the next script for ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS‘ my working title on the reworking of the feature script. A short film SMOKE & MIRRORS was finished just as we started filming SNIA. A wonderful commercial piece that we used to do a proof of concept short. I think it does just that- gives a great look at what the full feature will be like. Nathaniel Nose directed the short and he is who we’re eyeing for the feature. The script is the key to everything. This will be a late 2022 or early 2023 shoot from my best estimates.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – For those who have seen the feature film “Wild Faith” you’ve been treated to a story for the whole family. Inspirational without preachy just good lessons from a more simple time. Now we have the first season (8 shows) ready to film. It will be part of several talks I will have in the coming weeks. The key with this is CREATIVE CONTROL. We are being selective at how we finance this property so we don’t have strings that will hamper the integrity of it. It will happen and our perfect timeline would be the second half of 2022.
The Spring is always an exciting time coming out of winter. We’ll be doing a feature or two this first half of 2022. We’ve been doing a heavy evaluation of properties and some of these will be included in my distribution talks ahead. But I really think I’ve landed on the right property. It will showcase all your favorite CDI troupe in a great story.
As a side note – this previous news made me think of a recent discussion. The story/script is the most important part of the process. For many filmmakers this is just an afterthought. We need a script and some actors and we’ll get to shoot all this cool stuff. CDI evolved in part because of how poor the scripts/stories were out there. I say this 100% from an actors perspective. That is why I’m always floored by the actors who will emotionally commit before reading a script/story. Anyone can be excited from a good pitch but having that translated to a tightly woven script is another thing. I know many actors who only read their parts and that too is having ‘blinders’ on. I also have told actor friends that you can glean information about their characters sometimes from what other characters say about them. EXAMPLE: You might find out your character has a wife, children or a pet from other character’s dialog. Perhaps gossip reveals that a character previously worked construction before their white collar job, all in the script. The whole story needs to be absorbed from the outside and the inside- internally and externally.
So perhaps a good rule of thumb is A) Evaluate content fully, quietly B) Don’t sign on to anything without reading the entire story and vet the production’s reputation C) Once attached learn the entire story before focusing on just your role’s world/words – important information might exist within the script.
Just my two cents from my experiences. There is a great word EXPERIENCE.
The great GOOD, BAD and UGLY as I like to call it. The goal is to take this accumulated knowledge (Remember Bruce Lee’s – the best way to learn a technique is to get hit by it) EXPERIENCE and translate it and apply it to your situations allowing it to become WISDOM. Now I’ve had my fill over the recent years from some individuals severely lacking experience in certain areas. Yet that want to present from a point of assured confidence that dances in arrogance. Arrogance usually follows someone who has experienced and learned a little yet thinks it gives them license to talk down to someone. A teacher who forgets that he is also a student will be humbled.
From my associates in business I get many complaints about the youth in several areas. (never their use of technology) But I always point out that most of us who have found some success have done so with the assistance of good mentors. For some that starts with a father but not for everyone. It is those special people who come in your life and help shape you. I have had a handful of these people and I’m happy that I recognized by lack and their gain. I emptied my cup and showed patience, listening and learning. I am fond of the old KUNG FU (David Carradine classic) TV show where all the boys have gathered at the Shaolin Temple. They wait and are being watched. Each day they are asked to go home and as time advances and patience is lost – most leave. In the rain those few who remained seem to have the potential for sincere growth. They are invited into the hospitality chamber and served tea. The unmindful who gives into their urges and drinks immediately are asked to “please go home” – shocked the few get up to leave. One is stopped – “Not you, please sit.” When asked why he did not drink he responds that he was respecting the opportunity. He was waiting to drink- being mindful and appreciative of being there. My soccer player/coach, martial arts lifelong student and teacher and a camp counselor all influence how I live. To the frustrated elders know you can influence and guide the youth. To the youth, empty your cup of your perceived absolutes and learn. The journey is a two way street and the glue that binds it all together is RESPECT and LOYALTY. The latter cannot be taught save by example. Those few who observed loyalty and the benefits of the practice and decide to give in to this practice. It is hard for many to give up selfish ambitions mixed with a lack of patience – it often leads to isolation, frustration and hardship that lasts until mindsets change.
“Getting deep, Shaolin Monks, kung fu and drinking cups…What? What?” – Gil Gilles
BEST YEARS GONE has recently finished a second run in Lansing, MI over the Thanksgiving week. We might explore a Detroit area and Grand Rapids showing. Also we’re exploring a few key festivals mainly based on places we would like to visit. I’m in hopes that after my next conversation with our distributor that I’ll have some updated info on our home video release. I’m glad that the films are being met with enjoyment and laughs. I loved one review that likened it to STEP BROTHERS and JOE DIRT which I love Step Brothers but Joe…okay I see it:)
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer)- is now in season with the passing of Thanksgiving. Our distributor BMG wanted myself and Melissa Anschutz to do a promo inviting folks to subscribe to Encourage TV and watch. We were going to use a few places in Algona, Iowa as the back drop when filming but got too busy. We were going to shoot something at the office by the wood stove but decided we might save that for WILD FAITH promo. We shot in front of the Christmas tree, 3 takes- all funny and DONE. While doing some work last week I did play Forty Nights in the background. It was fun to watch and recall all the shooting we did in the deserts outside Yuma, AZ. Take a watch on all three and make it part of your holiday tradition.
I could rattle on about watching all the CDI films…but I’m sure you will get there in your own time as the nights grow longer and the outside colder. A good night to light a candle or fire and watch a good story unfold. I’ve got some yard clean up and some holiday shopping to do so I’m gonna wrap this up here. It was a pleasure to spend this time with you. Until next week. Be good to one another.
OK. Pre-Star Wars I was SPEED RACER, MR. ROGERS and SCOOBY DOO.
I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from a ornate Star Wars mug with various scenes upon it. Like many in the storytelling business around my age some inspirational credit can go to George Lucas and the original Star Wars film in 1977. In anticipation for the last in the Skywalker story, yes we have tickets, we’ve been watching them all in story order. IF I was 7 years old and Part 1 of the Prequels was the first film I might have still liked the ships, lasers, etc…but ‘A NEW HOPE’ was just gritty and did not dumb things down for kids. We could take it George including Han firing first. When we went from the three prequels to SOLO, such a difference in the world and story telling. The prequels felt like video games with planned segments that really felt like watching your friend play a video game. But SOLO is like taking the best parts of James Bond and Mad Max put into a gritty ‘New Hope’ like world. ROGUE ONE again just better character development in a world that felt more grounded in reality.
I actually can speak into this having done a trilogy of films. It was important to try and keep the world cohesive despite the changes in style from director to director. Also because I have been looking at promo material personally and as a company, I’ve been playing The Quest Trilogy behind my accounting work. It’s very satisfying to have the linking storyline. It was always my goal to see if I could take some “obscure” stories from the Bible and tell them in a ‘Star Wars’ type fashion. The stories actually adapt over quite well and when you add what I call the “Chuck Heston – bible film effect”, you have our style.
I will say that it is a pretty sure bet that we’ll return to this genre again. One script is complete and the other two outlined stories are forming up. I’m not sure when all this may happen but we will see.
I also put my first SciFi script to pause while I finish writing the script for “Hope for Heaven” which is my working title. We are working with a few different titles but I need something when I write. It has many of the great qualities that ‘Lost Heart’ had by way of characters and story. I’m a good many pages into the story and how it starts can sometimes be the hardest. But it’s flowing and when I did do my first test read with one of our development people, it was strong. This film will shoot in late summer/early fall in Michigan. The nice part is via a few agent talks we might have a good lead on a very important casting aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing the writing this week.
LOST HEART rough cut by Scott Magie working with our director Jesse Low is looking good. I talked about the view last week. This week we’re prepping some things for the music and sound design to follow. I know that poster/DVD artwork is starting and that will be exciting to see. Again just proud to have this be part of the Tribe CDI films.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Following our premiere we saw a “best film” and “best actor” nods at the Hollywoodivine Film Festival and won ‘Best Film’ at the Equus Film & Art Festival. 2020 will have many more events and showings as the film moves out deeper into the world market. I’ve had several people reach out this week about how this film touched them. I’m so proud that it is becoming a voice for veterans and dogs. Two groups that truly understand loyalty and service. Watch it yourself on Amazon and other platforms and if you enjoy it add it to your DVD library.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Help us start a family holiday tradition with the telling of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. (All on Amazon and many platforms)
It has been a true joy to receive an abundance of fan mail on these films from around the world. I saw the breakdowns and the films are making their way to you. Some all our friends in other countries be patient, the CDI films are coming. Many of you already know that because you can watch the films on TV and DVD. If you have watched them feel free to vote and leave your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com and remember these are films.
WILD FAITH – This film also continues to be enjoyed and shared by new audiences. I had some fans from this movie also communicate this past week. They were Civil War era fans and so I had them seek WICKED SPRING. It was a Civil War film we produced back in 2000. It can be watched also on Amazon.
I’ve been taking meetings and looking at filming the balance of our production slate for the next 2 years. We have many scripts and it just depends on several factors as to which gets moved into active development or pre-production. We’ve had a few wonderful meetings and with the new management involvement in 2020 I’m excited to see where it leads. I’ve been working on a few ‘Character Reels’ and a new 2020 sizzle reel along with what will be a CDI showreel.
Next weekend our first family Christmas starts and so I have a bit more shopping to do and we’ve been enjoying the season. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday season with your family and friends.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
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!