Welcome new readers from France, China and South India – welcome to our circle of artists. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me and I’m ready to discuss some activities from the week. For starts I’ve been exploring an upgrade to my account so that I can have some control over the ads. If they are going to be here they might as well be things that pertain to what we all do. I’m also looking at reviewing a few items here and there and such. But let’s look at some of the highlights of the week.
NATURE – This is something that most artists already know but a healthy connect to nature is a secret. The property is a natural garden of sorts. We are prepping to start the garden up with strawberries and rhubarb already showing. Apple blossoms and mulberry buds starting. I planted a hill of beans and some onions. I see the first of the ink tip mushrooms but no morels as of yet. Last night I did my first cooking of dandelions. If you read up they are all edible and full of nutrition. I cold washed and in a pan cooked them down in red cooking wine and garlic. I stirred in a few almond slices also and…bitter. I ate a few good bites and you could get use to it and I think longer cooking could reduce bitterness. Also different spices may help.
I harvested the roots that I like for tea but I will need to work on my cooking of the greens. I’m reading on the wine process. I’ve drank dandelion wine but never made it. I might try dandelion, rhubarb and black raspberry wine. Add a little home grown hops which is already going gangbusters. The last wine the GRAPE APE was well received so I’m planning the next wine. Same with beer as I’ve got a new Irish Porter I think to try and make. The beer always goes fast (vikings:) but the wine does also pending the company. So my days find balance with some yard work. Try it and you will find that your days will be much more balanced.
NEW ADDITION TO THE OFFICE – WHO IS HE?
OFFICE ZEN – I’ve been using this time to deep clean and organize the office fort. It’s been great fun to walk down the lane remembering all the trials and tribulations of the artistic journey. I’ve noted that our endeavors have paid out millions to artists on both sides of the camera and the support industries. I’ve found great pictures and promotion from films past.
I think in light of everything in the world virus-like – I will be adding an outdoor pergola and seating/meeting area to the office. I’ve been looking for a while. A few more tree trims and maybe an improved property fence. For my fellow producers I will likely be installing a boost, extender…to enhance office internet. I like it low tech as that is where minds meet before going off into our tech-ridden world. I’ve been having lots of phone meetings and much has been getting done. We have some exciting projects in development and others about to be completed. Let’s talk movies.
The fan mail keeps coming and the films continue to sell deeper and deeper into the world market. Mexico, Brazil and much of Latin America has gone on a ‘quest’ watching THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Audiences young and old are traveling to 1870’s Michigan with Emmett, Haddie, Grace, Henry and Uncle McKinney in WILD FAITH.
Viewers have cried and cheered with Paul Landings in MAN’S BEST FRIEND. And the cautionary tale of ASHES OF EDEN pushes out an important message.
During these times our artists are proud to give you inspiration, hope, distraction and direction. Thank you so very much!
LOST HEART – VFX, Color Correction, Credits and sound design are underway. The music is nearly done and marketing with the distributor is being conducted. Long time collaborator Dennis Therrian is again composing a wonderful soundtrack. We might have a few guests joining the band Roanoke. DVD artwork is almost complete and we’re all very excited to share this story with you.
I will discuss one thing I’ve seen a ‘trend’ with and that is minimizing front credits. I’ve had multiple directors push to get to the story unhindered by credits. I don’t agree. While directors have gotten more powerful in Hollywood and can push for such things we play in the indie world where I stand by the fact that I’ve never paid an artist what they are truly worth. I can’t because some of them, most of them are beyond a price tag. What we can do is honor some of the main artists contributing and complete that journey with end credits. I don’t like on TV when they speed those end credits up but networks are dealing with time slots only. I see the opening of the film as a slow slip into our created world. The kudos of credits that slide across the screen give added appreciation. So my taste in music, my style of dress and my general interests may never be ‘trending’ or trendy but I am okay with that. I’m a touch old school and I admit it. I love the slower pacing of classic films. I enjoy black and white classic Hollywood films that played at my grandma’s pretty much 24/7 save when Law and Order was on:) Maybe one day those like me holding onto a non-trendy, through-back storytelling will be GONE WITH THE WIND (My other grandma’s favorite) but until that point – stay classy.
BEST YEARS GONE – I’ve had some interesting talks with our next project. This week we chatted with actress Cindy Williams who did a small bit for LOST HEART. We were looking to bring her in a bit more to the CDI family and will if scheduling permits. Once the storm lifts and productions can move ahead it might be like the wagons in the gold rush. Or some endeavors may have suffered from the economic hardships. Luckily, our ship sits in the harbor stocked up and ready to sail. STORM: 45 is what we’ve been calling this operation. Someone suggested it was a good name for a WW2 film. Simply it means that 45 days from the storm of regulation passing we’ll move forward with a safe game plan. Like many we’ve already been focusing on all this as well as doing prep work. Scheduling, shot lists and soon zoom actor reads will be enacted.
NEW CAST ANNOUNCEMENT
This week we’ll be announcing a few more of our actors. We’ve got a pair of twins co-starring in the story. For those roles we’ve looked at reads from across the country. I’m happy to say that we found our twins and they are going to be wonderful collaborators in our film. You can see them up above. To find out who they are join our BEST YEARS GONE Facebook page tomorrow.
and remember to ‘Subscribe to the Tribe’
It is funny that someone mentioned WW2 film in reference to STORM 45. The big 2021 film is going to be a WW2 film directed by Anthony Hornus. It will be his follow up to MAN’S BEST FRIEND. We’re about to launch a national casting for the young lead in the film. We’ve been putting the business together behind the project and it looks like the first half of the financing is about to fall into place. I’m looking forward to storytelling in this time period. Maybe our secret code word will be Storm 45. Ok. That’s already taken so for now ‘Untitled Anthony Hornus WW2 film‘ will just have to work. We are also looking for German actors and actors capable of speaking German. Be honest with those resumes and special skills;)
This TV series is gaining momentum. We had talks with our distributor and a few 3rd parties either about finance or licensing. Every month our fans of the Murphy family and the zany characters of ‘Hastings’ grows. Some of the larger licensors of WILD FAITH will be approached on pre-licensing commits but I think it will only be a matter of time. In a perfect world this would land after BEST YEARS GONE and before the WW2 film. This is not a perfect world but we have a lot of creative folks and will adapt as needed. The first season will be 8 shows. I think audiences will really love to learn more about these deeply evolving characters in a changing world.
We have development on animated features, documentary films and several features in development. I personally am also excited that I’ve gotten to do some writing on my SciFi script. We’ve got a few great ‘space/technology’ consultants and some concept art is being working upon. Merchandise of various sorts and expanding services will be developing as more artist join the CDI Tribe. I’ve been using this time to plan the next 10 years for CDI. We have a clear path and I’m excited to see what is produced under the flag. I’m going to wrap this up and get to some outdoor tasks.
Be good to one another! Coffee Cheers.
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee in my Oswald’s Bear Ranch cup. We were planning another UP Michigan trip when all this virus stuff erupted. Now we spent a good amount of time discussing that last week and so I’m not going to hammer that this week. In Michigan we have had our stay extended for two weeks. I’ll just call it confinement for all the things in my youth I got away with. Again it was a wonderful week of organizing, personal and biz calls and getting things done. Let’s start with our next film up – BEST YEARS GONE.
This week we’ll load in the last financial piece and we’ll be all ready to sail once the storm passes. We’ve got a new schedule to review and I’m putting some fine tuning to the budget now that our day-of-days is more defined. We’re announcing more of our crew and cast and preparing to do a few ZOOM script reads. Shot lists are being prepared and I for one will be ready to get out and tell another story.
I had some productive talks with our distributor and we’re already looking at marketing for the immediate and the year ahead. The Quest Trilogy has been playing strong during the holiday window which runs after Halloween on the run up to Thanksgiving through Easter. Many new countries like Mexico, Brazil and more have enjoyed our three biblical adventures. We spoke of them cutting a great TRILOGY trailer for the next ‘holiday’ season.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of watching Douglas James Vail’s new film 40: The Temptation of Christ – that also imagines the 40 days of Jesus in the desert. I enjoyed their beautiful locations, camera work and the unique way they handled the temptations. Take a watch if you enjoy these stories.
LOST HEART is just finishing up music and will be turning to sound design this last month before we mix, master and deliver. There is going to be a big need for new content so I think we’ll get a good push with this story. We might have a few other surprises when it comes to this film. This week ahead the distributor is working to lock up DVD wrap art. I would guess we’ll see pre-sales start after a while but we’ll see if we do any exclusive TV runs first. I’m excited to put this fun, heartfelt movie out into the marketplace. – Soon.
WILD FAITH / HASTINGS TV SERIES
The film is gathering fans as the distribution keeps getting deeper. Meanwhile we continue to have promising discussions on the TV series. If you have not seen the film please do and let me know your thoughts on a TV series. Like all the films, I had some fan mail on this film talking about the power of the themes and how nice it was to spend time in a world more simple.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also making the rounds thanks to all you fans out there. The reviews and word of mouth keeps growing our audience. I’m so excited that this film is making people ponder and discuss the topics. So watch with your family including the furry ones. As with any of the films just google the film in quotes and it will show where you can buy the DVD or watch the film. Again a big salute to all our service men and women who serve.
At this time my thoughts are with all our family and friends and we all look forward to sharing a few in-person laughs. Soccer season is approaching and I’m in hopes that we can still enjoy that. The blossoms are starting to bloom on the newly trimmed apple and mulberry trees. The hops and rhubarb are also starting to get some size and that is fun to watch. I’m going to use this nice day to get some more outdoor tasks completed. I hope you all have a wonderful week and be safe!
So we had unusually odd weather reports whereas they were calling for 4-5 inches of snow. Come on now Michigan, it’s almost May. Snow? Inches? This morning I heard our multitude of birds singing this morning outside and upon peeking – no SNOW! Yesterday I did a good amount of prep work outside in the yard prepping for the snow. The property which has had some changes including the addition of a storage shed, is looking right fine. I removed a small pond and moved an outside fire sitting area to make room for our Finn the runner. Also a new dart board is hanging and the first games took place last week.
I want to thank all of you again who follow along each week. I see a few artists from different countries stopped by for a read this week.
In all we have artists from over 80 countries stop by to get inspired. There are 195 countries currently in the world so we have some room to grow still. This past week consisted of various tasks both with family and with the film endeavors. We took another step towards moving into full green light on our new CDI film entitled LOST HEART. Four more of the investor units to move and we’re making a film. We had some great meetings last week so I hope that we can wrap it up this coming week. The sooner that we do this the more preparation time we will have. Lodging, casting, crewing, vendors and flights all need to happen once the ship is fully loaded (Fully financed) and is ready to sail. We are very close:)
Last week I hinted at one of the well known actresses that was reading LOST HEART for one of the lead roles. After speaking with her Friday, I got to hear how she absolutely loved the script. I was told her representation is often quite ‘stoic’ when it comes to projects but that they genuinely enjoyed the script. So I will get an agent intro this week and when we can make a firm offer they are ready. The July 15-31st timeframe is what we are aiming at to shoot at. Don Most who was one of the co-stars in MBF: Man’s Best Friend will be joining us again on this story in a much larger role playing opposite Melissa Anschutz. It is all coming together, I’m just anxious to get scouting, hiring and prepping! I’ve been having fun with a little character creation myself. I will be bringing Niles Cats to the small town of Lost Heart.
WILD FAITH – I have seen the proof DVD (See wrap above) and it looks and sounds great. They are in the warehouses and will start rolling out to retailers May 6th. This is followed by digital purchase and rent in June and Wal-Mart DVD release in July. Thank you to all the support of this film. I know many people want to see the film and those who have already watched it on the big screen want to own it. It’s a good one for the collection. I think audiences will really enjoy it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – THE CHRIST SLAYER
From one bearded mountain man Ben Lily in Wild Faith to another bearded gent with playing Jesus in The Christ Slayer. I’ve heard from a good many people who enhanced their Easter by seeing this film in the theaters and/or streaming and DVD. I still might have some local event to showcase this film. It was suggested that maybe all three play together so in the coming weeks we’ll explore a few options.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is close to being done with the first pass at dialog and sound design. We’ll likely be sitting down the 1st week in May to give notes and do a final pass. Meanwhile VFX, color correction are being completed and we’ll be working on a final trailer. I’m very excited about this project and I think audiences will really be taken in by this story.
I’ve got follow-up meetings this week on literary representation that could include acting representation targeting the foreign market. The agency has been reviewing my materials and the response so far has been very enthusiastic. They handle/represent some very talented folks and I would be honored to try this pathway with them.
CDI is also moving towards a few production collaborations that might include a slate of new biblical adventures and more. We have action, sword & sorcery and a few other great genres developing. I need to circle back and finish my SciFi script I have been working on when time permits. But all in good time. ALL these film endeavors are hard to pull together. Experience makes them easier but they are still always hard. We use to have to shop, shop, shop and shop our final films. We use to hit multiple festivals to try and lure a distributor to the table. Now we have theatrical and international distribution partners from the get-go and it can still be a climb. But if you are sincere you have to keep climbing. There is risk and sacrifice at every level. Also where you put your energy becomes more and more important the older you get. PICK YOUR COLLABORATIONS CAREFULLY.
I still see some filmmakers occupying the space where student and upcoming filmmakers exist to learn and grow. I think some stay in this safer space because the big game is much harder. MUCH harder. I’ve been asked why we don’t enter some of the regional film challenges or award events. Simply because that space exists for developing filmmakers to get a few marketing hooks to assist in reaching for that next level. We do attend a few select events if it matches the film property. So if you’ve done well in these events for a while, perhaps it is time to step up. If things start to feel safe that can mean stagnant as well. Just a few words to ponder on.
I’m going to refill the coffee cup. We have a family get together today to cover a handful of bdays that we’ve recently had. Thursday (my new day) is my first soccer game of the season. The change in day is nice because it will give more flexibility to my Sundays that often includes family events. I wish everyone well on their artistic endeavors this week. Keep chasing your dreams. Until next week my friends!
The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.
Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.
Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker, or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own STRANGER THINGS life.
I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.
The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings. There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.
I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.
This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.
MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…
THE CHRIST SLAYER!
Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.
Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.
Have a great Sunday!
My head is spinning from recent activity and I’m gliding into a much deserved relax mode so I can spend a few moments with all of you. Busy. Very. But nix that I want to talk about FIRE. I’ve had a fascination with fire since and early age. I’m told that fire and clock were two of my earliest words. Interesting…I mean fire is transformation – the sacred change. It is creation and destruction united in a dance. I do appreciate clocks – my favorite might be my one and only Star Wars Force Awakens merchandise. I take that back I was also gifted an R2D2 flash drive. I have the Death Star plans! So the office is finally getting the antique stove installed tomorrow. It has been a couple years in the planning but now it is happening. The office “my fort” is a creative space and the warm fire will add to those fall and winter days and nights.
Okay now we can return back to the other talk of films and such. So we’re about to do what is in a way, my first sequel. I’ve played many characters whom I felt deserved a continued story. JUDGES 2 got stumbled by the passing of Russ Stine who was slated to costar. Alex Kenwood, Mayfair, John (several), Stan Reed, Kendall and even Mason from “The 8th Plague” who died so Germany wanted a prequel. We still may do “Soul Eater” in the future once I find the right director. But the world shown in “40 Nights” is alive and we’re about to go play in it again. This happens right as audiences will be experiencing “40 Nights” on the big and small screen. Early reviews and the reactions from buyers has been very strong. We are starting on the 26th of Feb in Lansing & Grand Rapids Michigan, with screenings at Celebration Cinema.
It will also be hitting the shelves at Walmart on March 5th and other retailers start to get the film around April 5th. But I encourage everyone to experience it on the big screen. The camera work is breathtaking. Kudos to Jesse “Smooth” Aragon.
We’re on the launchpad with the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY “Chasing the Star” – this week we’ll be announcing lots of the talented people onboard. I had a chance to talk to a well known actress who burst on the scene at 21 and has kept a steady flow of films. She is busy getting ready to go film in Peru? We want her for this role and so I sent a sales link to our first film. She said, I’ll watch a few moments so I can have a conversation. She watched the film all the way through to the end, totally drawn into our world. She gave great remarks about all aspects and noted how you could tell the care and craftsmanship that went into the film. WOW! She started too by saying how smoke blowing is not her thing and honest was. I thought I was in for a harsh review but instead accepted praise for the whole team. She badly wants to be in our next film and if she gets back to the USA on schedule that just might happen.
The point is we are doing something right. The business people like us because we stay on schedule, budget and turn out unique art. Why the first is important is so that marketing teams can plan on you in advance. I’ve got a few great director buddies and I’ve never seen them turn something around in 10-12 months. And trying to get them to that playing field would likely cost our friendships.
Speaking of good business – I want to thank our friends at the Garmax Group for again sponsoring and riding with us on “Chasing the Star”
March is “40 Nights” but April is “Ashes of Eden” and “Bestseller” and “Donors” are May. So the ramp up to many releases – pre-production, promotions…you get the busy.
All that said, I’m also looking forward to another outdoor soccer season. My body is healed from a season of demolition derby and running like a 20 year old. Playing soccer weekly in a highly competitive league is my best weekly meditation.
The soundtrack deal is on the table and I have to finish that up. We’re leading off with “40 Nights” and moving down the line. More licensing deals and such will be coming as we make our way through all these deals.
It was great having films like “7 Stones” and “Figure in the Forest” playing on different television channels and people reaching out. I think this year we’ll be licensing the films to more networks and territories.
So IF you can get to one of the Michigan “40 Nights” screenings do so. Here is our newly remastered theatrical trailer –
We’re also working to bring it on the big screen to several other states. Church’s have submitted and asked to license the film at http://www.40nightsthemovie.com you can direct your church or organization there. The films were not designed business-wise to release as major theatrical but after finishing the film – it deserves it. So we’ll keep working it. I do know we are about to set some showings working with our friends in Yuma, AZ. Get ready Champion, it’s almost time.
It is wet and cold in Michigan as the Christmas activities come to a close. It was an enjoyable season despite the lack of a white Christmas. Right up to Christmas eve we were hard at work on “40 Nights” and now the machine has to start back up. We’re trying to deliver the film that first week in Jan. 2016. I’ve seen things I really liked about our flow and a few things that certainly need to change on the second film. “Chasing the Star” is the next film on deck. I had a wonderful Christmas despite a sinus cold that has been chasing me for a week. I think also when I let my guard down and relax some of that internalized grind manifests and well, I’m a little sick.
We had a relaxing Christmas eve and our day was nice with family. It was the first Christmas dinner with my divorced parents since that event. It has been over 15 years not sure how long exactly but it was enjoyable. I use to be more of a lone wolf – workaholic. I’ve rebuilt my home stone with my girl and the pack. We’ve got a lot of love in the household and we saw that over the last couple days. I’m a twice-over uncle thanks to my brother and wife and watching them is always fun. I guess the oldest said my name for the 1st time when I was running out to the car. She was banging on the screen door and saying my name. I look forward to when I actually do hear her say my name.
We had a nice dinner with some of my old school friends from my childhood. My one good friend is looking to RETIRE back to Michigan. I don’t see retirement in my future as I think I will need to create until the end. My mentor Rance Howard is in his 80’s and still working steadily along. That will likely be my path.
As stated “40 Nights” is almost done. As always it is a great undertaking with lots of communication. One of my keys has not done a great job on communication. Usually people don’t want to communicate when they don’t have the right words to say. Usually because they are behind schedule and they don’t have a good excuse for that delay. I continue to create opportunities for new people who have the artistic skill set. The idea is to see if they can operate in the real world. Not fun fan films and such but in the real world where many artists are all working hard to follow the blue print. Well, a few more days and we will see how that all ends up. The work I’ve seen has been wonderful. We will see – a tribe needs chiefs and followers. Some people are not equipped or yet ready to be chiefs.
Let’s talk about one of my challenges. Walmart is placing a big order for “40 Nights” and that is the main reason for our deadline. Walmart created some artwork they liked based upon past success of their marketing team. It shows a Jesus-like figure walking in the wilderness but does not reveal the face. They used a model/art they had which A) Is not me B) Is not our wardrobe – long short is that this will be Walmart’s exclusive cover. I had to accept business over art in this matter. Once the DVD is bought and put in a player or downloaded – we present our art, our story. I also think this will be the first of many, many movie covers over the lifetime of this project. But this one order alone will likely shoot this project into success.
I’m fighting the holiday slow down to see if I can get our “Chasing the Star” up and running in time to shoot before the desert of Yuma becomes unbearable. That is the desire and goal but everything has to happen in an order. Our LLC is formed, our paperwork done and now we have to get the bank account open. No rest:)
As we prepare to enter the new 2016 year it will be many releases – DONORS, ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER and 40 NIGHTS. A couple of films I acted in DIVISION 19 and DEAD QUIET might release in 2016.
I did get some writing done and I’m closing in on finishing two scripts. I’ve enjoyed my few moments with you this morning. My apology for not blogging yesterday. I had a family event and was a little under the weather. I’m going to be back on the horse trying to finish up projects and prep the new ones. I also love to look at my 2015 goals I made in Dec. 2014 and see how close I came. I do this every year and it is good to focus the energies.
I hope you all had a great Holiday season and I wish you a Happy New Year!
It is a peaceful Saturday and I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and spend a few moments with all of you. This last week was extremely full of meetings, handing off of materials, in-studio work and many other matters of business. But let’s take a moment to discuss the topic everyone is speaking on.
I think that most of the headlines are currently focused on the terrible happenings in France. We can watch the misery and yet it still feels distant until it hits home. I remember how I felt when one of my best friends from the neighborhood growing up – got caught in that Boston bombing. He suffered some wounds but nothing too severe. I would guess the thoughts of that day would be the worst. But I imagine my pain had he died or lost limbs like so many. We watch on TV these masses of people fleeing savage behavior in their homeland, but imagine it was yours. I wonder where or when we all failed? Where tribes of people with differing beliefs exalted themselves above one another using their religion as justification. I believe if people truly anticipated a final judgement of sorts that was based upon how they lived their lives and treated people – the world could be a better place. So much violence being inflicted over something as simple as differing opinions on paths of faith.
As the possibility of life on other planets becomes more real versus just science fiction – perhaps that will change things. Now some scientists realistically fear attracting higher life forms, like alien hunters. Maybe if another life form started seeing all mankind as something to be harvested, removed or eliminated – maybe our little differences between us would lessen. Religion should be about tradition and something intimate between a person and who/what gives them their peace and purpose. I don’t like to talk judgmental politics or religion – my place is as a storyteller. But violence against innocent people is once again just a horrible example of the worst that mankind has to offer. It’s been happening for a long time to many tribes all over the world. This recent tragedy is just a current reminder of how horrible we can be to one another. If a religion pits people versus people it was likely created by people to serve people – not divinity. If your organized religion endorses this lack of tolerance – question the source.
Enough of that topic. Let’s look at some of the movie updates from the week.
“Ashes of Eden” – Some wonderful PR rolling out this week. That is the extent I’m allowed to talk about it for now.
“Bestseller” – Artwork with the distributor has started and I believe our national street date will be March 2016. Meanwhile we’re traveling to Grayling, MI next. That might be followed by Kalamazoo and the Detroit area.
“Donors” is releasing Feb. 2nd, 2016. EXCITING!
“40 Nights” the distributor and marketing teams have started work on marketing materials. I do believe Wal-Mart is assisting with the marketing art so we know they’re one of the participating retailers. Tomorrow we’ll release the 1st of a series of short teasers. Meanwhile we have music and sound design still full speed ahead. VFX work is finishing up so we can lay it all in and color correct. The next couple weeks we PUSH hard!
The “Chasing the Star” script was the center of meetings this week. We also have been doing a good amount of west coast casting since we’re shooting in AZ. We’ve been excited by some of the reads we’ve seen and we’ll be announcing some new casting choices this week. The business paperwork will be signed this month and we’ll start putting paper under people next month. In time for a Merry Christmas with this Christmas themed film.
I’ve got final paperwork for the distribution of the “Knight Chills” book and film. A comic book/graphic novel could also go into play. The sequel script is being worked on and may get some attention once I finish this. “From Venus” might also get this treatment.
“An Ordinary Killer” is getting remastered to prepare for a re-release. It will be the film showing Nov. 19th at our Sanctuary Spirits mixer. That is in Grand Ledge, MI and there is an event page on Facebook.
If you want to come meet some other actors, filmmakers and enjoy great distilled spirits come join us.
Lastly, I’ve got an NDA to sign and return. I’ve got a company sending me a book and script for an upcoming 2016 project. We will see:) I’m excited about the 2016 CDI western we’re doing with “40 Nights” director Jesse Low. Overall, I’m trying to have a productive end to 2015 and get ready for a great 2016!
Have a great weekend and be good to one another.
It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.
I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work. Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.
SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated
I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day. (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.
This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.
Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from. Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.
Say when;) That’s for you Tony.
Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard. Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.
Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors
First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.
Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.
Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.
One Example for rejected films:
Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.
Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.
Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.
It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.
The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.
What happens often when it’s just starting to work –
Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.
Why all this director talk?
We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations. Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)
SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)
Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.
If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.
We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution) So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.
We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.
It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development. I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.
ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.
Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door- starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!
On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.
I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.
We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.
I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.
I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.
Yesterday we wrapped yet another motion picture. The term “in the can” doesn’t apply any longer but “on the drives” or some term would. We rolled in here three weeks ago from Michigan and with the collaboration of many artists both sides of the camera we once again did what we do. We finished on budget, on schedule and with this particular film the distribution deal is signed. “40 Nights” will be distributed by Lightworx Entertainment. The faith-based company is operated by Randy Maricle, the former VP of Operations & Marketing at Pureflix. I got to know him over the last few years and I was impressed by how he helped push “Gods Not Dead” into the marketplace. We had a couple of offers on “40 Nights” and while Lightworx not only offered the best deal – they also sweetened the pot. They have entered into a deal for me to write and produce two additional biblical era movies. I think I already know what the second one will be and have a few ideas on the third. But one step at a time. This film will immediately move into post and we have an aggressive release schedule ahead. Our distributor made a trip to the set on one of our big market days and got to see all the extras at work plus the animals. It is the kind of film that both my grandma’s would have truly loved. I think this film will find its way into the hearts of many and be a favorite for years to come. It is EPIC.
So now we wrap up the circus. We are having a wrap cook out today provided by the community who has been extremely supportive of our efforts. I think they saw the magic of what was happening. This film is the second I’ve had shot in this area and I think when it gets cold in the Michigan this might become a destination. I also saw a few great locations for our westerns. So I’m certain that we will be returning to film here in the future.
BESTSELLER music should be getting close to done. I can’t wait to return home to do a watch/listen through that film and get ready for our 1st showings in May. May also looks like it will be the month of the special WICKED SPRING showings in Grand Rapids, Michigan. May is also the National release of ASHES OF EDEN. This stretch into Summer is going to be busy with film releases and premieres. I also heard that DEAD QUIET is making its way through post production looking at fall showings.
We have a commercial project to shoot when I return and otherwise just overseeing all this film flow will be the focus. I also had a couple of acting offers present themselves. Right now I’m thinking about home, family and my own bed:) I’m also in negotiations to write a script for a company later this year so that is always fun. I like writing – just me and my coffee on the patio.
So that is the short recap. I’m very proud of the hard work by all our cast and crew here. Only a pair of longer days due to the desert sun which was our biggest monster. I think when we shoot here next time a month or two earlier will allow things to run even smoother.
Stay tuned for lots of more exciting updates in the weeks ahead!
I know I should have a coffee sponsor out there for as much as I talk about it. Many know my love of hazelnut but I’ve also been adding cinnamon on the top for some time. It’s supposed to be good for digestion but also is just GOOD tasting. It has been a busy week of prepping for this role in Nevada playing a space pirate in what I can describe best as a Sci Fi western. WASTELAND Tales From the Desert Part 1. I’m looking forward to a return trip to Las Vegas which as far as cities go I do enjoy. I’m looking forward to seeing a few movie friends inside my hectic film schedule. I’m looking forward to trekking about the location of our filming which will be the Valley of Fire State Park. I’ve noted before that I’ve gone there as a child but I can’t really recall much. I know from what I’ve seen that the place will look great on camera.
I’ve been working on two scripts that are looking to shoot in 2015 – one is a long-awaited sequel to our original 1st CDI feature “Knight Chills”” and it’s fun and exciting to be creating here. We were very green when we did that 1st film and despite the great exposure here in the US/Canada and in several countries it was a major chore to complete. Now with all that we know and the better equipment for filmmakers this movie will be great and a smooth ride. It has a few appearances from original cast but will star two newcomers in the soon-to-be franchise. It will feature our famous villain and I look forward to having him on the big screen. A novel based on the 1st film script is in the works and will join a new re-release of that film to prep audiences for the sequel. Also we are looking at TV and other foreign sales for the old/new films. I’m excited by this and it will be fun.
I’ve also been working a powerful drama that has strong military and animal rights themes. It has been fun to bounce between these two scripts based on my mood for the day. I do enjoy writing and take great enjoyment in the process. I might have yet another script job after these two and again just a great pleasure to change gears from business and just swim in the imagination and create.
I’ve been working with graphic artists and distributors in getting new marketing materials around on “In the Woods,” “Donors,” “Ashes of Eden,” and “Wicked Spring” all coming out 1st half of 2015. On the re-releases it’s fun to go back into these great projects. On the new projects releasing – even more fun as you prepare the 1st looks for audiences out there. 2015 will be a busy year with releases and I will keep my promises to my foreign friends to get these films out there further so they can be enjoyed in your countries.
BESTSELLER – WOW! The FX work I’ve been seeing out of DNA Design has been wonderful. Soon we will be laying the FX plates into our time line along with the music beds being composed by Dennis Therrian. This film will be great to see all together. Those who have seen the early clips are raving about the suspense and intense nature of this film.
We have also been working development as noted by some of the script work. Additionally we have more than half the funds committed on another soon-to-be announced feature. Actually come Jan. we should be fully funded and we will make some announcements. It is a powerful script and role and we are working out our deal with distribution now. I plan to perhaps announce this film on or around Christmas.
Outside of all this I’ve been in talks with management on over a dozen projects where some TV series I’m looking at guest starring and some perhaps a regular role. We are targeting some of the casting on these studio films and at least one I’m already slated to be part of the cast. These are tens of millions of dollars and so they move at their own pace so I get to keep on doing my thing until they role into pre-production.
I got most of my Christmas shopping done and everything is wrapped and under the tree. I am not a “wait to the last minute” person – must be the producer in me. This weekend I will enjoy the family life here before I go do my movie thing for a week. I will come home to be thankful for the past year. Thankful for all of you who make this journey worthy. Thankful for family and friends who give love and support without care of what role I’m playing. I’m happy to be doing what that teenage boy was doing with his friends and camcorder so many years ago. It’s times like this that I just feel incredibly grateful.
I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and productive week ahead preparing for the holidays. My next blog will come probably late on Saturday once I return home from Las Vegas.