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

Posts tagged “management

Home is Michigan

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Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?

I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.

Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that  are…

  1. Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
  2. Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
  3. Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through.  This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude.  Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
  4. Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things.  Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.

OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community.  I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.

Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home.  Home is Michigan.

Emmett in woods

Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature

WILD FAITH

We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.

WICKED SPRING

If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.

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Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.

Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films

https://www.ranker.com/…/all-civil-w…/all-genre-movies-lists

We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on

Wicked Spring Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/

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Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…

THE QUEST TRILOGY 

Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.

SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.

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ACTING

Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted  collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.

MBF: facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow.  Coffee cup is low.

Be good to one another!

DJ

 

 

 

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Casting, Candleberry and Create VS Hate

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The first snow of mention kissed the ground last night. It’s beautiful and welcome at least for a while. The harvest was finished yesterday with the pulling of the beets. A final mulch and mow and stowing the last of the yard items until spring. This morning has been all coffee (BREAKING update) I may have a new coffee sponsor – stay tuned. Speaking of sponsors, this morning has been wonderful with coffee and The Candleberry Candle Company! They have been a personal sponsor for a few years helping me find my mindspace to work on scripts. My zen to keep patience when dealing with accounting and BS technology issues. OK. Let’s be honest on that front. 98% of my technology issues are with my technological issues. From my earliest days of friends playing with the video camera – my buddy Darrel was always the camera guy. He could get the camera to roll back to the right VHS frame. We didn’t have editing back in the day. We shot one take in order. Boom box on set was our music. Those days were fun and free. Of course being young without the daily adult issues was more free. I cherish those days beyond words. I’ve worked hard to establish a worth in our business and I can’t just play. It reduces value and being part of something “bad” (maybe still fun) can make you go backwards. I’ve got management pushing me up into the larger films. I’ve got a few studios that have taken an interest in developing my branding. I still have fun when playing on set now – it just has to make sense business-wise.

"Don't Hate - Create" - DJ Perry

I had a funny message a few weeks ago but I was too busy to really even address it. It was from a filmmaker whom I had heard all good things about. Previously they had expressed to a mutual associate that they wanted to get a script in my hands. It was in the thriller/horror genre as I recall. With good recommendations behind them I even thought a future collaboration might be possible. I have a few horror scripts with interested distribution and foreign sales waiting. It has to be the right director and the project just is not front and center right now in development. They were working on a script and we inquired about bringing to the table scripts that made business-sense because business was there. I recall the idea being just lukewarm. Lot’s of people have their own scripts to do but if distributors/retailers don’t want it why shoot it? So fast forward and coming from Yuma shooting “40 Nights” I recall getting a script and reading it at the airport. It wasn’t bad as I recall just not anything I was into doing. Maybe I needed time away from playing Jesus before heading into the dark side again? But whatever reason – it was a pass. Now under some odd screen name I got contacted and scolded for talking SHI$% about their script and making a Jesus film. OK. They wanted to twist a dagger with a “So and so also just made the same Jesus film…” 🙂 First, you have not seen our film. Second, that is like saying, “someone else made a film about a haunted house” – okay. I’ve had rocks thrown at me for years and I’m okay with that. It is a badge of honor and respect – some of my celebrity friends have all confirmed – when hate starts you’re getting success. Now, when I got around to reading this message I wasn’t mad. To me, I saw a frustrated artist who took my rejection of a role as a rejection of his art.  Not true. I almost reached out because if he is a good artist this kind of negativity leads to career death. I can say that because I’ve seen it. That was the funny thing about our screening of “An Ordinary Killer” last week. A perfect movie? No. Art is subjective. It did sell out 12 of 13 theatricals, USA/Australia distribution and played on ABC. We made that film 13 years ago. WOW! And that was our 5th CDI feature and the library is much larger now. The point is I want people to succeed but by good business and hard work. No shortcuts and half-ass business. People who know me will say that I give you an honest opinion. I’ve had lots of experiences in our business and while I learn something new daily – I’ve gathered a good amount of knowledge.

Terry Jernigan and DJ Perry in "An Ordinary Killer"

Terry Jernigan and DJ Perry in “An Ordinary Killer”

RESPECT. I’ve given it and had several good advisors and mentors.

IF YOU GIVE IT – you too can learn, grow and thrive.

That one communication was just a good example of how not to build bridges. You get feedback and you get defensive – that shuts down any respectful communication. Do I practice what I preach?

1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

1st official teaser poster from the 2nd film in the QUEST Trilogy

CHASING THE STAR – On Friday Bret Miller, our director and I, concluded a three-hour plus script meeting.  I’m happy to say we have draft 2 with the directors input. We moved a few scenes for pacing and flow and he had a few ideas that we put in there. Our distributors had purchased a suit and we were giving it a tailor. It is exciting and so that will start to go out next week.

On casting we’ve been looking at several reels – most on the west coast because we’re limited on flights. We also fly in several of our keys because that is just as important. They are stars on the other side of the camera. Funny. In Michigan I hear complaints when films come in and bring their keys. I will once again get back at them by bringing some of our Michigan keys. I can’t bring everyone and that is a hard balance. But once again some of us will depart Michigan in Feb for Arizona. Maybe that is why I can enjoy the snow.

"40 Nights" - the 1st film in the QUEST trilogy.

“40 Nights” – the 1st film in the QUEST trilogy.

40 Nights – This week my goal is to pull in the intro sequence and VFX. Sound design is closing up and our director loved the direction. The music score is also coming together. We released a teaser that used a snippet of music.

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

We’ve been re-mastered the CDI library in prep of some new VOD, foreign, TV deals and a possible CDI Online store. The book/DVD deal on “Knight Chills” is signed and some PR will release on that.

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set "Ashes of Eden"

DJ Perry & Shane Hagedorn on set “Ashes of Eden”

I thought some PR from our distributor was coming out on the “Ashes of Eden” TV deal. Something for next week! Closed caption deal on “Donors” releasing Feb 02. “Bestseller” is playing Grayling, MI Dec. 10th look for a new event page and updates. The national release date on “Bestseller” might be March 02 but we’re trying to confirm. I will confirm that artwork is being done and I’m looking forward to that.

Script, script, scripts… – I signed an NDA and had a book sent to me that will be followed by the script. A studio I’m working with sent me a script that they want me to star in. Also another couple of projects to consider/talk about  – one is a TV show reboot and the other a major film on par with C.U.J.O.. That project is moving forward and looks to shoot in 2016. I will say more when I can.

My alumni school

My alumni school

Let’s wrap this up. I’m going to watch MSU and maybe read a script.

Enjoy your weekend!

DJ

 

 


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


My 2014 Year in Recap

Ah, the hot sips of Hazelnut coffee greets my morning once again. Old Saint Nick must know my love of the smooth java as I got several bags of the fine stimulating stuff. Insulated jeans and cargo pants, a few sweatshirts and such greeted me as this is Michigan. When “out and about” I tend to love my boots but more likely these days you will find me comfortably wearing my slippers about. I got several pair this year. One pair for the house, the office and one to “roll in” when I don’t feel like changing up to take a drive to the studio. I also enjoyed the gift giving and watching others open and enjoy such finds. The food has been wonderful. From ham to lamb, shrimp to scallop potatoes. I stayed away from all sweets but enjoyed more than enough of everything else. Tonight is a yearly outing with some of my oldest friends (Hard to beat 1st grade) with a delicious steak in my future. To note the other 2 best 2014 steaks. A tie between the one from Eric Nelson’s wedding (Lansing Country Club) and Dean Teaster’s wedding! (Dusty’s Cellar) so we will see how the Knight Cap fits in there.  I’m usually a venison eater but once in a while that steak is just heavenly.

The BIZ

I’ve done a pretty good job of not engaging in too much business over the last few days. It’s exciting to move into 2015 and like a present you unwrap, see what lies there. I’m exciting for so many new films finishing up – releasing  and re-releasing!

New poster work has been underway for “Wicked Spring” and “In the Woods,” with plans to do a new commentary for the latter celebrating 15 years.  2015 will see a book release for “Knight Chills” with a sequel film in development. “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors,” “The Terrorist,” “Division 19,” “Dead Quiet,” and “Bestseller” will all roll out in 2015. The new Sci Fi/Western “Wasteland” will have the 1st part assembled by Spring and will return to shooting the others parts this year.

In the works is a new powerful drama with Anthony Hornus directing.  A new biblical-era dramatic feature will be finalizing its business in January and gearing up for a spring shoot. Development is underway with a new film collaboration with Shane Hagedorn. (Exciting) My management is working on several options for studio/network projects. My writing projects are building with two screenplays underway now. One optioned script may move into production this winter still and I’ve been asked to consider another Work-For-Hire writing just days ago. BUSY but fun work:)

In recap, I can see the forthcoming year will be filled with great storytelling adventure. I wonder what words I’ll be typing here a year from now? Perhaps thinking back on the releases of these forthcoming films in 2015 and hinting at what projects will be on deck for 2016. I will enjoy a few more days of family and friends – organizing and preparing myself for the busy year ahead. I already have meetings and such lining up which is all good. That is progress in motion and moving ahead in creation. So enjoy these few days of continued holiday before once again rolling up the sleeves and attacking the work ahead.

Happy Holidays and wishing you all a great start to your new year!

DJ


New Distribution, Updates and Observations

In the upcoming "Dead Quiet"

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

Hello everyone! I want to welcome our new readership from Greece. It has been a busy week here in the good old USA. I’m not going to touch the powder keg that is Michael Brown/police relations but I can say I’ve been a smart ass to the police as a teenager. I’ve been roughly questioned and searched BUT I’ve never hit or tried to take a gun away from a law enforcement officer. All actions have consequences some tragic and some with wonderful outcomes. Other high points this week – the new Star Wars trailer. I was an absolute Star Wars fanatic and I’ve said in many interviews that I got into acting largely because I wanted to be Han Solo when I was seven years old. I’m excited to play my 1st role this December in a Sci-Fi western “Wasteland” playing a shady space pirate type. I flatly refuse to accept the three prequels in my mythology of Star Wars. I think they were mostly poorly casted and some of the plot holes were too far for me to jump. A jedi-knight in my mind would have never left a poor women enslaved to a flying worm. Period. But I’m personally a fan off JJ (the new director) and with the old cast back I feel the excitement from when I was a child.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I have great respect for Native American rights and therefore can’t fully attach myself to the traditional meaning of thanksgiving. You don’t accept help from your neighbor and one day decide to take his house. But the Natives have figured out the white man’s greed and casinos are a great revenge. Plus you can see Tom Jones sing:) I do like the idea of family, friends and being thankful – reflecting upon all that is good in our lives. As Americans we do have it better than many who struggle each and every day for basic rights and necessities. We went up North and feasted with family and watched our Michigan Detroit Lions win. Today we are having more family over and yet another feast. We are doing two turkeys and I’ve been smoking one which was started at 4 am this morning. Tomorrow we are getting the Christmas tree so we will be flowing right into the next holiday. I do love having a fresh tree in the house. I also planted a new tree in the yard. My brother gifted me a red wood tree “RED” which we had for several years. That ice storm last year put the kill on poor Red who is now a Harry Potter-like wand hanging in the office fort. My brother bought me a Giant Sequoia. It should survive in Michigan better and so it took the spot where “Red” once was. This week I also tried my hand at venison jerky and from all reports it was a success. I’m going to fire up a beer batch this coming week to share with my amigos.

Movie Biz

This week I address a question to the social media public about social funding. More specific the type that accepts donations in exchange for perks and allows you to keep said funds even if the goal amount is not reached. In doing this the campaign people default in the perks because most are tied to having a finished project. Give A in exchange for B once C is completed. But if C is never completed B cannot be given yet A is kept. By logic it sounds like fraud. Or another way – I’m hosting an event and selling signage sponsorships. I take that money for said promotional signage and never hold the event. I posted asking for failed campaign people (Lots of them around) to give me their thoughts. The post was read by hundreds and not one comment or LIKE. An associate also shared or re-posted this posed question and only one filmmaker liked it. It was a director we’ve worked with and my guess is that he has never engaged in that social funding fraud and so felt comfortable posting. Now this only pertains to these ENTERTAINMENT properties. If you are raising money to offset funeral costs of Uncle Sal’s passing and you raise 1k of the 5k campaign and use it to offset the costs – great! That is a different story. So all I can say is that a lot of guilty filmmakers or weak spine filmmakers afraid to rock the boat because they have friends/associates engaging in this type of campaign. Bottom line is use that energy more wisely and do yourself a favor and learn some business along the way. I’ve said the same thing about enterprising criminals that if they put the same energy into legit business they would be successful. As a joke I am going to create some goofball campaign in the near future to showcase this but I just can’t believe nobody has ever pointed this out. Someone will end up one day with 25 group action in small claims court. I think that is the protection for these people. Who is gonna chase $50 or $100? Instead they brand filmmakers as hucksters and investment opportunities dry up. So next time you have trouble getting something financed maybe blame the never produced social media crowd. Let’s get to some real business.

Movie News

It was announced that “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama is going to get a reboot this spring with the Winters Film Group. We’re targeting a wider audience and I’m excited to get this film out there on PPV, VOD and a new version of DVD and maybe Blu Ray. The hour-long making of when be included amongst the extras.

“Donors” the horror/thriller will also be releasing this 2015 also signed to the Winters Film Group. This creepy film examines the dark seedy underbelly of kidnapping and organ stealing.

“Dead Quiet” is starting to make some noise as they head towards the finish line for a 2015 release.

“The Terrorist” also is wrapping up post-work for a 2015 release.

“Ashes of Eden” is being prepped for its release and should announce a release date by years end. Also some foreign sales are underway.

“Bestseller” is being worked on with the score, sound and visual FX all coming together. This will have a premiere early in 2015 and I’m very excited from what I’ve seen/heard thus far.

Other re-releases are being looked at including a deal that should have several of our CDI films releasing in India. Many know I co-starred in a film “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” that released wide in theaters there in 2009. I’m excited that a bridge to our product is being constructed.

The announcement of the novel being written off the “Knight Chills” script has sparked some interest in the sequel. The prequel to “The 8th Plague” is also in talks with a new director. A few other (for now secret) projects are getting very close to launching. Some major business talks begin again 1st week of December to see if we can lock up a few things before the year ends. I’ve been in talks with my management over a few high-profile projects. I’ve been in talks on a few other new independent projects and so I’m excited to see what projects/stories I end up doing. Well, I need to go refill the water pan in the smoker. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

DJ


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ

 


New Fall Releases & New Upcoming Projects

I’m sitting here relaxing and thinking back on the busy week. It was truly a busy, busy week but I’m happy with all the new developments. I’m happy to report that almost all these business actions were all done against the backdrop of our emerging fall. Let’s look at some of the things that happened this week and let’s hope that I don’t forget any.

ASHES OF EDEN – We just concluded our theatrical run in Canton & Novi in Michigan. No sooner had we concluded and we have more good news concerning this film. I know that PR is about locked and loaded to share some of this good news with all of you. I enjoyed the nice comments from all the people who came out to see the film. This film has been a strong showcase for Lansing, for Michigan and for some of the best emerging talent in the region. There may be some new opportunities to see this film – stay tuned.

LOCKED IN A ROOM is getting a new Halloween season release from Echo Bridge Entertainment packaging us with some classics.

http://www.horrornewsnetwork.net/articles/62-horror-movies/10592-28-hours-of-horror-19-movie-dvd-collection-coming-out-on-october-14th

BOOK OF RUTH, Journey of Faith is now selling in a 2 pack at major retailers.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004KO1OQQ/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_ymijub0P3CRMW

“GPS The Movie” that played CHILLER TV is getting a new release in November and heading to the foreign market.

http://www.amazon.com/GPS-Movie-Hunt-Daniel-Magill/dp/B00NLM0S6A/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1411787621&sr=1-2&keywords=GPS+the+movie

BESTSELLER has started sound work and CGI/Graphic work. We are all excited to have this moving down the post production line.

THE TERRORIST is another film that is in post sound and we hope to have done at the year’s end.

I also was informed that my 1st feature I starred in called IN THE WOODS is having a theatrical screening to celebrate 15 years since the video release. That is the film that put me on the map first. While it does have a good cheese factor it has become a favorite of many fans out there. For all of you – some special news will be forthcoming! Stay tuned.

I think one of the biggest questions I get is WHAT’S NEXT? My management has been in talks with several casting agents as we try to find the right projects to showcase my acting craft. I’ve been introduced to some amazing production groups working on some amazing films. But I did have one extremely exciting project come to me. In the period of a week this film just seemed to just come together. The ink is dry, flight and hotel booked and I’m excited to announce this week my involvement in a SciFi/Western. I’m playing one of the leads and will be assisting in distribution via a CDI association. The official press release will be coming this week. It will be shooting out west in a famous State park and I’m beyond excited. The 7-year-old in me who wanted to be Han Solo is excited:)

 

I’m sure I missed a few updates – mostly development talks. We’re close to launching a few other films. Upcoming 2015 will be a BUSY year I can tell already.  This weekend will be some fall clean up, football and archery. I’ve bottled up the TROPIC THUNDER wine and I think next week some hard cider might be in order. I’m also almost through my STAN REED SUMMER BREW and so time to get another batch of that going. Michigan folk know how to stay warm.

Have a great weekend!

DJSciFi Western