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

Posts tagged “magic

FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

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.

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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.

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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.

2nd AD directions

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.

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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.

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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.

DJ

 

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Wave of Happenings – Just Keep Swimming:)

So I’ve got a busy Easter Sunday like everyone else and I have a good amount of info to get across. First let’s just talk about time – my thinking is not naturally inclined towards linear it tends to be more abstract. I saw a childhood friend of mine today. Yes, he’s part of the ole Saratoga Farms Goonie’s gang from our elementary school days.  FOND MEMORY: Frozen pond playing ice hockey with no pads – branches for sticks and a petrified mushroom as a puck. This buddy of mine caught a power shot to his nugget. He always did have a good-sized melon but it gave him a K.O. on the ice. He got up after a few with a small mushroom-shaped bruise on his forehead. Well, long story short – his mother passed away. She was the jolly German mom who was always positive and funny. She always had cool activities such as coloring the glow-in-the-dark shrinky dinks. I also think her German chocolate cake was one the best desserts I can recall. So it’s been almost 30 years since I saw this friend and his father. It was wonderful to visit even if it took a memorial to bring us all together. Another close friend lost his dad when I was filming in Yuma, AZ. He always had a beer for us guys and was willing to school us all in a game of pool. It’s just an odd feeling as our wisdom keepers around us start to fade away just as our gray starts to fade in. Interesting. Well…

FADE IN:

INT.  MY WRITING CHAIR – NIGHT

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Returning as Jesus in ‘The Christ Slayer’

The Christ Slayer

I’ve been in research and writing mode. I start with just a little bit each day and honestly that’s all the time I’ve had time for. End of year business has kept me busy and working on the wrap up on “The Christ Slayer” production. But that is almost complete and the film is in editing where the magic can start happening.

Chasing the Star

Next week we have our Michigan premiere for “Chasing the Star” which is open to the public.

http://www.uica.org/calendar/chasing-the-star

UICA showing

Following that –

Celebration C-LansingIt will be moving to other cities in the days ahead including this showed up on my news feed.

Coming to…?:) maybe a hint below…

http://www.emagine-entertainment.com/showtimes/movie/?title=Chasing+The+Star

The Temple Top

What will become of mankind? The Devil & Jesus debate the fate of mankind.

Forty Nights

This film is getting a wonderful launch during this Easter season. Here are some of the retailers that were quick to jump on this first telling in the trilogy. We thank you.

WORD ALIVE
CROSSROADS BOOK & MUSIC
GOOD NEWS BOOKS
BOOK STORE
BOOKERY INC
ABUNDANT BLESSINGS CHRISTIAN
CHRISTIAN BOOK & GIFT
MUSTARD SEED CHRISTIAN BKST
GALILEAN
CHRIST CENTERED LIFE STORE
MARDEL WAREHOUSE
TRI-CITY CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE
BREAD OF LIFE
GOOD NEWS BIBLE & BOOKS
NEW BIRTH MISSIONARY BOOKSTORE
WAY TO EMMAUS INC
LIVING ROOM BOOKSTORE LLC
EMMANUEL BOOKSTORE
CHRISTIANCINEMA.COM INC
GOOD NEWS CHRISTIAN BOOKS
LIGHTHOUSE BOOK & BIBLE
PATHWAYS CHRISTIAN BOOKSTORE
CLC BOOKCENTER SONSHINE
HALLELUYAH WAY
BARNHILL CHRISTIAN RESOURCES
GREATEST GIFT & SCRIPTURE SUPPLY
BRIMAR – DBA J FARVERS
CROSSROADS
THE ARK BOOK AND GIFT
STEWART TRADING LLC
WILLAS BIBLE BOOKSTORE

This week the “Forty Nights” release has brought us all kinds of good PR. This is in the wake of the reviews and nominations by ICFF for four separate awards this May.

Forty Nights

One of the stories from the week

http://pilotonline.com/entertainment/columnist/editors-desk/hampton-roads-actress-and-philanthropist-work-on-christian-based-movie/article_85e0328c-6078-5fb4-9f67-a6fc7db11600.html

Here is one of the powerful reviews coming at the film. For those who take the time to share their positive experiences with us we’re humbly appreciative. We hope the trilogy of films will create positive talk, discussions and actions.

 

Wild Faith

As if all this wasn’t exciting enough – I have a new cut of Wild Faith waiting to review and that means we’re close to a picture lock. That means music and sound will be on deck with Dennis Therrian. VFX discussions have been happening and I’m excited about some of the creative and business discussions we’ve had. We’ve got all kinds of links. Who wants to see an extra created “Wild Faith” BTS video from our Civil War shoot. I really enjoyed making this film – let’s take a watch.

Next week it will be picking right up where we left off. I’m diving deeper into development on 2018 projects and we have a few possible projects to finish this year. As for now I have a garden to get prepped and a soccer season about to kick off.

Have a great Easter weekend. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Wrapping the Circus

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:)

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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.

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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!

CORRECT COVER


Partnerships, PR & Primates

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.

DJ