Star Wars Talk & CDI Film Updates
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.
Strong Week of Developments
Cool photo that I found inspiration in this week.
Hello my friends. I find the blog worldwide breakdowns very interesting. These are the countries my leading readers are hailing from. 1) The USA. I would hope so but you never know. 2) Australia. Hey Mates. I’ve never been down under but would love to one day. Mad Max/Kings Road/Miller…I’m looking at you. 3) Denmark. I LOVE this country. Always will. 4) Germany. I’ve had a lot of releases here. Wonder what their favorite is? 5) India. Namaste. Thank you. 6) Philippines. Like family. Great hospitality. 7) Ireland. Never been but will one day. Irish/Scot blood runs through me.
Okay. I was just enjoying where everyone is tuning into from. It has been a good week. Okay. That is modest, the week felt ultra productive. I think once you set a destination it becomes easier. A target to focus upon. In our business it starts with a solid blueprint (script) interested key talent and crew to make your proposal package. I think many chase money and when someone does say YES, at that point they start looking at details. I look at the details first knowing if they say yes, I can do this. I have the team that can make this happen. Again I see too many people saying yes, to endeavors they are not qualified to handle. And if they mess up it just becomes one more poisoned well. I personally would love 3-4 Michigan film entities making films and a few TV series rolling. That might lead to some good roles and guest star moments. So I really do wish all those around me the best. I’ve just seen over 20+ years so many good contacts ruined by bad business. I’ve actually reached a point in my career where the bad business makes us look better. But some drop out of the film game all together and everyone loses. So DO THE WORK. GIVE YOUR BEST.
Let me see where to begin.
The new CDI website is under construction. I will be uniting all the films and product to a central place where audiences can find what they are seeking. This new platform will eventually help other filmmakers out there. It will explain itself in time – stay tuned as THE TRIBE is on the move.
Here is the interesting side note… I was just having an unplanned chat with one of our vet members going back to the late 90’s. I was trying to explain where I was with everything. There is potential all over the board and I’m looking five years down the path and trying to chart the best course. But it actually feels fun. The final product is actually making it fun again. Make the wrong alliances, associations, partnerships or agreements and you lose time. Time is LIFE. The saying Time is Money is smaller in value to the other. Time is LIFE. I work as concise as I can and encourage the team to do so because another story is always in the womb. I have no less than two films I’ve given myself as a role in a world created by artists. The management in both cases – WAIT. Accountability – I’ve also WASTED time in my journey so refrain from a defensive stance. I’m saying IF you’re truly doing it for the art don’t hinder the endeavor with people who are not serious. How serious you say? Serious to me is when actions speak and words are not even needed. So be more careful with your foundations. Work out all the details before you accept investment. I know artists whose years have become consumed with production entanglements and endless legal loose-ends. That will rob you of your time, your LIFE. That space & time dance where you can create art for audiences if you choose. Just make good choices. Allow it to be fun.
OK. So when CDI was a tribe consisting of three crazy artists – myself, Jeff and Juanita Kennedy – we hatched many great ideas. Much inspired by our mutual love of classics especially in the fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror, Pulp genres. See STRANGER THINGS was my childhood. The love of the vibe that is that Golden-Age of Nerds whereas by playing Dungeons and Dragons you could also be a Rebel. Because much like young Rock and Roll, they (mainstream) did not understand it and feared it. “Knight Chills” is a classic tale, an urban myth almost of the bullied nerd. Retold in a world that now people are trying to recreate. STRANGER THINGS does that and my amigo Myke Michaels is up for an Emmy for his work on that show. But the film was shown in many circles over the years including Special Edition releases and box sets. It was released legally and not in several foreign territories. The film was common talk on Comic Con circuits. Hey, I didn’t believe “In the Woods” truly had a drinking game until I saw a theater full of people doing it Rocky Horror Picture style. So my vet of the Comic Con circuit David Hayes was a fan of the film. We joked about him doing a book until finally we made it happen. I wrote three other scripts that all took place after the first. Each one a small budget likely as we tried to harness and contain our imaginations. BUT graphic novel and comics…
Some of our early content is a perfect fit. KNIGHT CHILLS is the first and it will be for order in stores and also E-Book I believe. I know they are going to be selling on the Comic-Con circuits and we’ll be doing some cool promo. PR will go out next week but for all of you. Here is our new front cover.
I also think this could be a jumpstart for the original film for new licensing and the sequel script is written and director talks have taken place.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights continues the roll forward as Chasing the Star enters the home video orbit. DVD’s were being mastered to prep for the warehouses and Sept. 5th release. Now this Friday following a development meeting we were all treated to the first teaser to The Christ Slayer with temp sound/music. What the…! Holy…! Speechless… Play that again please. And another time. It pummels you with emotional power. What moments given by the cast and what power captured by the crew. I’ve been feasting on the Summer Movie Trailers so my taste are high. (Production Value)
I’m proud to once again have our collective names put on a story invoking much emotion. Right now its being used just for a few business things but audiences, cast, crew will get a first strong showing of the Official Teaser. But the few who’ve seen it can attest – it makes all the hard work worth it. It almost makes it fun again.
Wild Faith sits in a good place right now. Strong interest as business talks keep moving ahead. The talks are centered on the first season of the TV show. The interest is there on a few fronts and once we have the additional trailers and final film to show I feel that the tv deal is a real possibility.
Looking forward to working with this guy as an actor again on M.B.F. – The last time was ‘An Ordinary Killer” a few years ago. Mr. Anthony (Tony) Hornus is our director.
Man’s Best Friend is Officially going to go by M.B.F. – we’ve had a surge in business since announcing this project. The foundation of the house is almost in. Another great meeting this week is showing us a clear path. The response to the script has been on-point, luckily:) Some people are being reached out to about availability. Casting Calls will be going up. I’m excited about telling this story. I think it will strike a chord with many people.
Okay, I’m off to eat some lunch and I have to get ready for a soccer match in this balmy heat. The garden has been kicking and I’ve enjoyed the results. I had fresh BLT’s yesterday. I didn’t grow the bacon:) The masses have enjoyed the Irish Stout and I’m soon to make my batch of mulberry/rhubarb wine.
Have a great Sunday and rest of the week.
New BESTSELLER Showings, Apples and Announcements
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.
Crowd Funding Space Stations & Clowns Killing Our Industry
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee before starting my day. I will be up North without my computer tomorrow and so I thought I would write my weekly blog update in advance. I want to thank all those who follow the blog on here from 13 countries. I enjoy using this as a way to praise, inform, vent and offer insights to our entertainment industry. The lessons discussed can be used in various industries but I speak about what I know best. Let see where to begin…
Let’s talk about our local entertainment media, not all, but some of them. I find it absolutely crazy that some projects get immense spot light when they have no chance of launching. You don’t see someone wanting to open a new steak house begging for donations so they can first buy the building (For 175k) and after that beg for an additional million plus dollars to put the… (business?) (venture?) I’m not even sure what to call it so let’s call it a pipe dream, in motion. This approach is so unreasonable. Since when is a begging venture worthy of being spotlighted in the media? Sadly that defines what is happening in our area. With so many newsworthy projects due attention someone deemed a begging project, that won’t even achieve the 1st goal, worthy. Thankfully I saw that this project doesn’t take any money if it can’t raise all of it. It only has a few days left and is not even close. But why was this even attempted? Did these people honestly think that they would be successful? No accountability to perform. Unreasonable budget. No real track record. I had a better chance of digging up Templar buried treasure in my back yard. Despite that some media got behind it as did various industry people. It must have been on the off-chance it succeeded those people might get considered for work. It makes those people look as film uneducated as those trying to do something way beyond their reach. Are all these folks just playing ass kiss – being too afraid to just speak it plain? If you’re factoring business logic into it all – it’s no different from community theater. As I’ve said, there is a time and place for that but these people are in hopes that someone will plop down hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim. When was the last time someone wanted to do Shakespeare at the local theater raised a hundred thousand dollars plus for their show? Exactly.
I’m so thankful that a handful of filmmakers in the area are doing good business! Real honest to goodness film business. I hope these filmmakers help define us as a film community. Because anyone in the business who reads an article like I read will just shake their head with disbelief – “Ah silly little Michigan wanna be filmmakers.” This is what others do say about us when they read that nonsense. I’ve fought almost two decades against the backwoods mentality people assign to Michigan filmmakers. I feel proud when I see “Gods Not Dead” or any of the distributed films from a small handful of filmmakers. But as for the media – I ask you to embrace these projects that celebrate good art within a business framework. These projects with good management & business plans have earned the right to be recognized. But don’t support silliness.
I swear I am going to start a social funding campaign to do something crazy like build a space station or beg for someone to support me financially so I can try to earn a place on the Olympic soccer team at forty plus years old. I mean if I posted campaign people would say, “Come on DJ” or “That’s unreasonable” – BUT raising a million plus dollars by begging – sure SUPPORT. LIKE. SHARE. Please…if you can do that UNICEF, The Red Cross or any number of legit organizations would love to have you as a fundraiser. Now nothing personal as I don’t know most of these people and they likely would not appreciate my honesty BUT I would be the one person truly giving them helpful information. Or I could just LIKE something and once the time expires and the campaign fails I’m still just fine. Just a small waste of my time and credibility supporting something that was never going to happen. But when this happens we as a community are not fine. We are just that much more a joke to certain professional circles who are really working in the career field. And people ask why my production circles consist mostly of business-art doers from all over the world and not just from my local area. There is your answer.
I got a good response a few days ago because of a posting about clowns needing to get out of our business. Now many the people I mentioned above are NOT clowns but just misguided artists but we also do have our fair share of clowns. One popped up for a second this week on a project only to spout some nonsense in a voice mail and unfortunately remind us that you are still around. Investors must VET out your management staff. Let’s say that you actually have a business plan. You get investors to back your film plan. You seek out experience to help assure your project is successful but instead you hire a fast talking joker. The blame goes both ways with BUYER BEWARE. I always say, 2 weeks of vetting can save two years of litigation. Now this person doesn’t deserve any communication save from the legal department. This clown is just lucky he wasn’t sued for major damages. In my opinion he should stay under his rock and hope nobody comes after him.
Why DJ are you so unhappy about this? Good question –
If you actually have a person or group that would like to see a film made (maybe the first of many) and they get burned…what happens? Right. That well dries up and furthermore at every gathering of those with income to invest – IF film investment comes up – likely the response will be A) Stay away from film investment B) Hire someone outside the state because locals are not experienced. So you can see how one film screw up can have a run down effect on your (You aspiring filmmakers) projects. Still those hindered by these screw ups in our area will still endorse, LIKE and accept every move some of these folks make. It reminds me of a saying about SHI#@%# where you sleep. So when there is a lack of work in your region you can partially thank those who helped ruin it. You can’t blame everything on film incentives. Being positive, professional, passionate, hard-working people who turn out good product is what will bring more work to the area.
BACK ON TRACK
Let’s get back to talking about actual business. “Ashes of Eden” finished its 1st theatrical run and we will soon be announcing more theatrical play dates. We also are entering into domestic (US/Canada) talks and I can say we are targeting 1st quarter 2015. Look for additional theatrical and TV play prior to that national release.
“Bestseller” is about to enter medium GRIT editing. If you’ve ever polished rocks you know you have ROUGH, MEDIUM, FINE and POLISH. That pretty much sums up editing work. We’ve captured our required puzzle pieces and now the Medium edit begins. Test audience after that followed by a fine edit. Lastly, we polish up with color correction/CGI and such. It is going to be a very suspenseful film. This film rose above the initial issues and will be the first of a series of great films.
Music work on “The Terrorist” is underway and sounding great from my talks with director Jon Osman.
In talks with a few foreign territories on “Donors” so stay tuned…
Our recent development talks have gone great on at least one project that could have us filming at year’s end. I’ve also been in talks to possible play the bad guy in a Mad Max like film. We will see. Overall I’m just really enjoying working around here on post work, wine making, office organizing and such. I don’t work to just work – it has to be the right project and with the right people. Speaking of such – the yard/garden is looking good and I’ve got to prepare for my short trip North. An old-school soccer buddy will be getting hitched next month and the posse of amigos will be off to a cabin for a few. I do have another soccer match on Sunday so I will be back to do battle.
Have a great weekend and week ahead.