GOOD MORNING! I’m sitting here with the hazelnut coffee trying to get my thoughts around. It was a super productive week. I want to welcome all the new readers from Panama, Denmark, Germany and more to our weekly get-together. The winter chill has been brutal but we’re getting some 50 plus degree heat today. I’ve been so ready to start doing some spring clean up on the yard but it is still frozen. The wood supply is dwindling and should make it to the end of winter. Let’s talk about some films –
BEST YEARS GONE – This past week we officially announced our next CDI film. You can read about it here. We’ve been casting all winter as I’ve been putting the final touches on the script.
This project will again be shot in Michigan. Part of the process as a screenwriter is for the writer and director to talk through all the characters and go through the script scene by scene – line by line. This resulted in many of the scenes strengthening. One of the characters got folded up into another and every line has something to say directly or in the subtext. I’m proud to have this work represent one of my pieces of work. This is made even more special because it’s a reworking of another artist’s work in our medium.
See with CDI, once the writer releases the script to the director it is his vision. He is who actors and crew should go to with creative questions. On some sets having the writer there can cause much conflict with a director, confusing folks and slowing the entire process. So we get all that talk out of the way with meaningful talk about the characters and moments. After a full day of Thai food and typing we now have a director’s draft.
Director’s draft? Who is the director you say? We’ve worked once prior with this director in a collaboration. The film got strong reactions from audiences because of the character study aspects of the story. A few other past projects were considered with this artist but either the art or the life schedule did not allow them to take the chair. (Directors) So who is this person? We’ll be doing an official PR release next week but for those who join us here – advance intel. This person that we’ll call S.H. directed a film called AOE. Do you know who it is? I’m excited to tell this story. Our IMDB.com page is open and we’ll be adding cast and crew names in the coming weeks. Some of our keys have been brought on and more to follow.
IMDB page (Join us here)
Watch for more additions to the team.
This week we’ll start putting end billing credits together as we move along the post process. I have seen the trailer music (composed by Dennis Therrian) put to picture. Once our director Jesse Low marries the master trailer audio with the master visual, audiences will be in for a treat. The film breaks some new ground for CDI while keeping the magic that we’ve gotten known for. So I would say about mid week we’ll be releasing the 1st trailer. I’m excited to hear everyone’s responses. The distributor is excited to have the trailer so they can start pre-closing some deals. Stay tune for a lot more updates on this film. Check out this films IMDB.com and Facebook page. Thank you for your support.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This beautiful film has been expanding its distribution and gaining ground as one of the top dog-theme films on Amazon and TV stations like Valorous TV where MBF was listed as #1 Best film for 2019 and #3 was WILD FAITH. Both also are now on Amazon Prime, Tubi and other streaming outlets. DVD’s are also available for people like me who like their physical media. We’ll be announcing more event showings for both of these projects.
We’ll soon be announcing some official development on HASTINGS, the Wild Faith TV series once I can get some pen to paper. If all goes according to plan we will shoot in the Spring 2021. This will provide a lot of opportunities for Michigan artists.
THE QUEST TRILOGY (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER) – This Easter we at CDI invite your family to watch the trilogy that is making its way around the world and becoming a holiday tradition. Available wide on DVD and streaming take a watch with your family!
I’m going to take advantage of the sunshine outside and get a few things done. The warm weather also has me thinking about soccer season! Soon. I hope you all have a great Sunday and week ahead. Work hard and make some time for your family and friends.
Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
Today’s time has been filled looking for the return truck to carry gear that came from LA. Several departments have been securing props and wardrobe for transport. Key Set PA is looking everywhere for walkie’s that did not get returned during the excitement of wrap. These are all elements to breaking down the circus. By circus, I mean -film circus. We’ve just completed another amazing task of telling a feature-length biblical-era movie told largely in the wild deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’ve been living out of a motel for weeks, working hard with a very talented group of artists. After reviewing footage, I can say that once again we captured some movie magic. It’s all about a group of artists who care about the product. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. Or maybe a disease:)
We pick ambitious goals and we strive hard to try and achieve them. That’s the great pride I get from visitors to set who talk about our professionalism. The distributors who know we work hard to bring art with the solid business. Our last director here on “The Christ Slayer,” Nathaniel Nose suggested the slogan “The CDI difference” – which is actually quite catchy:) Hey, we don’t always do everything right here but we’ll get caught trying to do it right every time. Best Effort’s is our motto and when challenged we sometimes discover where our best effort stride actually IS. These films keep getting stronger because the people involved are giving their best efforts. Yes, they tire and slow like us all, but they take pride in their work. They put the gloves and boots back on and attack each new day. It’s a huge collective effort and it always reminds me of the truth that lies at the heart of our company name – Collective Development Inc.
I will say a few words about the role of Jesus. He’s my 1st character I’ve played in a film twice. What an interesting and complex role to become twice. I’ve had several fine moments of pondering WWJD in different moments. I guess that’s what led to these stories in part. Well, Jesus has left the building and ascended to higher grounds. It’s mighty refreshing to let some of that heaviness go and to knock down some of that giant Jesus beard.
I’m going to return home this week and need to go finish breaking down the circus. But ahead of us lies music and sound design for “Wild Faith” – a new domestic release for “Forty Nights” on 4/4/17, a Michigan premiere and theatrical release of “Chasing the Star” and “The Christ Slayer” is officially in editing.
I’m looking forward to seeing family (Happy Bday baby) and friends, soccer games and working in the garden and yard. Almost time to turn that soil and fire up the grill. I will say that I feel accomplished now having finished The Quest Trilogy.
Keep following- much more more to come. “Forty Nights” releases April 4th!
What a week! It was a bit crazy but now as I sit quietly sipping my hazelnut coffee and listening to the birds outside sing – all is good. The crazy really wasn’t all that bad just some things left up in the air while other people continue some predictable patterns. By that I mean like in any venture you will have partnerships that click and others that just do not. For some people it’s an ignorance issue whereas they don’t know better and they act foolish. Others know or should know better and yet they still act foolish, that is stupidity. Now foolish is one thing but sneaky and self-serving is another and trust me we have a lot of those folks in our business. I had to deal with both the ignorant and the foolish and while I think the first can be corrected through education and patience – the latter is pretty much a lost cause. I don’t regret either of these ventures (I’m going to remind myself I said that) as both are learning experiences. The bottom line is I’ve worked with some talented people but sometimes they become their own worst setback . Furthermore it affects others and at the end of the day it is not worth it. I’ve gotten where I pass on many project.. I’m beyond the magic of seeing myself or a character on the screen and so it has to be interesting and fun. By fun I mean I’m not afraid of hard work but if you are having fun the work seems less a burden and more a challenge to get to the next step. I’ve been around so long in this business that I can often spot the BS in moments. It is a fine tuned meter and I use it well. I’ve been fooled before but that just helps to fine tune.
Funny last week we talked about people boosting IMDB Star Meter’s, faking where they live, faking what they are doing or who they know – the whole “fake it to you make it” mentality found almongst the sea of wanna be’s. I saw a great documentary film on primates and male alphas. It is a natural way that non-alpha’s try to compete by faking their importance. It is funny how many of these traits I’ve seen in people around me. I think I’ve always walked my own walk. I’ve always been the organizer, the peacemaker and draw my self-importance by being true to myself not by working to get others approval. I guess for a few people they earned a bit more patience out of me while I realized they were really just non-alpha primates trying to gain peer acceptance. It doesn’t help their cause and still puts them in a weak light. But I guess they can somewhat hide behind their own weakness. A slave to genes.
Our CDI Sales Team has started talks with many countries over licensing. We’ve got offers which we have counter offered on. I think once Canne ends around the 26th we will finalize many of these deals. It is work but quite exciting to be in more direct control of the product.
Lot of good PR going for the July release of “Darkest Night”. “Deadly Renovations” and “Locked in a Room” still selling. I’m looking forward to “Benjamin” having a mainstream release later this year. I’ve entertained a few acting offers this week. I’ve read at least one script that I really liked so we will see where that develops.
I’m hearing “Figure in the Forest” and “Wicked Spring” will release on Parables TV in June. That will be nice for the old B-day month.
The week also had us doing some great clean up to the yard. I’ve been working on the garden fencing and today might be some mulching and such. I had invites to a film showing and a party around the Motorcity Comic Con and pending the energy levels after a day of yard work we will see. Both are an hour away in opposite directions. Tomorrow it is back to battle on the soccer field and I’m ready to rumble. I hope you all have a great weekend.