I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee while admiring the Christmas tree from last week’s harvest. I just realized when cleaning out my email messages that I missed a Christmas event/party I had planned to attend. DOH! I’m finally well-rested and attacking my TO DO’s with strength. It took a good part of a week to get caught up on my rest. I got most of the production totes stored and everyday we work hard to tie up the production loose ends from our previous SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (SNIA) film shoot. This week will also be full but I hope to get some more winterizing done. Several things in the yard need to get put away for winter. One of the nice refreshing things from last week was spending an afternoon with my dad and meeting my cousin for lunch. We meet so that I can pick up venison which is one of the main meats I eat. I actually made some venison steak chili yesterday that turned out great. My cousin and his boys are avid hunters. I enjoy nature and have hunted but I don’t find enjoyment in it. It is a very lean meat and healthy, something that the midwest hunters have enjoyed forever.
As we finish all the wrap up business on SNIA we’re prepping for post. One of the production drives have landed with the editor. We have established a production flow between editor and director. Our DP is doing a first batch of stills to help establish the color palette. He’ll be working with our director and editor in finding certain shots. Meanwhile a few VFX pick ups need to be looked at for a really cool sequence in the film. Dennis Therrian is being prepped on the film as he’ll be doing our sound design and composing our film’s score. Some VFX model work will begin soon in Canada with one of our amazing artists. Anyway the course for the film is being set and I’m excited for everyone to start looking at it.
At CDI we’ve been looking ahead to the future. I’ve been working on the next script for ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS‘ my working title on the reworking of the feature script. A short film SMOKE & MIRRORS was finished just as we started filming SNIA. A wonderful commercial piece that we used to do a proof of concept short. I think it does just that- gives a great look at what the full feature will be like. Nathaniel Nose directed the short and he is who we’re eyeing for the feature. The script is the key to everything. This will be a late 2022 or early 2023 shoot from my best estimates.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – For those who have seen the feature film “Wild Faith” you’ve been treated to a story for the whole family. Inspirational without preachy just good lessons from a more simple time. Now we have the first season (8 shows) ready to film. It will be part of several talks I will have in the coming weeks. The key with this is CREATIVE CONTROL. We are being selective at how we finance this property so we don’t have strings that will hamper the integrity of it. It will happen and our perfect timeline would be the second half of 2022.
The Spring is always an exciting time coming out of winter. We’ll be doing a feature or two this first half of 2022. We’ve been doing a heavy evaluation of properties and some of these will be included in my distribution talks ahead. But I really think I’ve landed on the right property. It will showcase all your favorite CDI troupe in a great story.
As a side note – this previous news made me think of a recent discussion. The story/script is the most important part of the process. For many filmmakers this is just an afterthought. We need a script and some actors and we’ll get to shoot all this cool stuff. CDI evolved in part because of how poor the scripts/stories were out there. I say this 100% from an actors perspective. That is why I’m always floored by the actors who will emotionally commit before reading a script/story. Anyone can be excited from a good pitch but having that translated to a tightly woven script is another thing. I know many actors who only read their parts and that too is having ‘blinders’ on. I also have told actor friends that you can glean information about their characters sometimes from what other characters say about them. EXAMPLE: You might find out your character has a wife, children or a pet from other character’s dialog. Perhaps gossip reveals that a character previously worked construction before their white collar job, all in the script. The whole story needs to be absorbed from the outside and the inside- internally and externally.
So perhaps a good rule of thumb is A) Evaluate content fully, quietly B) Don’t sign on to anything without reading the entire story and vet the production’s reputation C) Once attached learn the entire story before focusing on just your role’s world/words – important information might exist within the script.
Just my two cents from my experiences. There is a great word EXPERIENCE.
The great GOOD, BAD and UGLY as I like to call it. The goal is to take this accumulated knowledge (Remember Bruce Lee’s – the best way to learn a technique is to get hit by it) EXPERIENCE and translate it and apply it to your situations allowing it to become WISDOM. Now I’ve had my fill over the recent years from some individuals severely lacking experience in certain areas. Yet that want to present from a point of assured confidence that dances in arrogance. Arrogance usually follows someone who has experienced and learned a little yet thinks it gives them license to talk down to someone. A teacher who forgets that he is also a student will be humbled.
From my associates in business I get many complaints about the youth in several areas. (never their use of technology) But I always point out that most of us who have found some success have done so with the assistance of good mentors. For some that starts with a father but not for everyone. It is those special people who come in your life and help shape you. I have had a handful of these people and I’m happy that I recognized by lack and their gain. I emptied my cup and showed patience, listening and learning. I am fond of the old KUNG FU (David Carradine classic) TV show where all the boys have gathered at the Shaolin Temple. They wait and are being watched. Each day they are asked to go home and as time advances and patience is lost – most leave. In the rain those few who remained seem to have the potential for sincere growth. They are invited into the hospitality chamber and served tea. The unmindful who gives into their urges and drinks immediately are asked to “please go home” – shocked the few get up to leave. One is stopped – “Not you, please sit.” When asked why he did not drink he responds that he was respecting the opportunity. He was waiting to drink- being mindful and appreciative of being there. My soccer player/coach, martial arts lifelong student and teacher and a camp counselor all influence how I live. To the frustrated elders know you can influence and guide the youth. To the youth, empty your cup of your perceived absolutes and learn. The journey is a two way street and the glue that binds it all together is RESPECT and LOYALTY. The latter cannot be taught save by example. Those few who observed loyalty and the benefits of the practice and decide to give in to this practice. It is hard for many to give up selfish ambitions mixed with a lack of patience – it often leads to isolation, frustration and hardship that lasts until mindsets change.
“Getting deep, Shaolin Monks, kung fu and drinking cups…What? What?” – Gil Gilles
BEST YEARS GONE has recently finished a second run in Lansing, MI over the Thanksgiving week. We might explore a Detroit area and Grand Rapids showing. Also we’re exploring a few key festivals mainly based on places we would like to visit. I’m in hopes that after my next conversation with our distributor that I’ll have some updated info on our home video release. I’m glad that the films are being met with enjoyment and laughs. I loved one review that likened it to STEP BROTHERS and JOE DIRT which I love Step Brothers but Joe…okay I see it:)
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer)- is now in season with the passing of Thanksgiving. Our distributor BMG wanted myself and Melissa Anschutz to do a promo inviting folks to subscribe to Encourage TV and watch. We were going to use a few places in Algona, Iowa as the back drop when filming but got too busy. We were going to shoot something at the office by the wood stove but decided we might save that for WILD FAITH promo. We shot in front of the Christmas tree, 3 takes- all funny and DONE. While doing some work last week I did play Forty Nights in the background. It was fun to watch and recall all the shooting we did in the deserts outside Yuma, AZ. Take a watch on all three and make it part of your holiday tradition.
I could rattle on about watching all the CDI films…but I’m sure you will get there in your own time as the nights grow longer and the outside colder. A good night to light a candle or fire and watch a good story unfold. I’ve got some yard clean up and some holiday shopping to do so I’m gonna wrap this up here. It was a pleasure to spend this time with you. Until next week. Be good to one another.
Coffee cheers and welcome to all our new readers and followers from Peru, Ireland, Austria and more! The week actually flow by and we went from unusually warm to cold and rainy and now sunshine is called for later in the week. As of Monday it will mark my week 2 after my second Covid shot. We just visited with a neighbor last night who had a memorial for their 52 year old nephew lost to Covid complications. So for many it is still a very real thing. I’m actually looking forward to getting back at in-person meetings, biz mixers and such. I’m very happy with all the weekly progress on our CDI projects.
(DJ Perry & Erika Hoveland in ‘Best Years Gone’)
BEST YEARS GONE (In Post) has many things happening at once. The film is undergoing color correction, dialog edit with music and sound design up next. I bet we listen to all the cleaned up dialog soon. The Battle of the Bands is giving us a good listen at some of the artists. Merchandise for this film is going to increase which is exciting. But the premiere planning is really cool. We are looking at having “The 1st Annual Gilles Cup” a regional “Best Up&Comer” amongst the “spectator drag” racing participants. This will be followed by the winning music video and the film itself playing on a huge blow up screen inside the in-field of the track.
For the Love of Catch (In Post) This amazing documentary has been filming for a month plus now and will be moving into the post-production phase. We will start to assemble these legends who speak about their exploration into the art of grappling and ultimately the love they have for the sport.
SMOKE & MIRRORS (In Post) – This passion project is a short film adapted from a feature script of mine of the same name. We had a commercial opportunity that needed “demo footage” and so we filmed a condensed short story. I’ve been reworking the feature script for a future production with Nathaniel Nose directing. I’m thinking of playing the short in front of BEST YEARS GONE to start its run. We also want to do a benefit screening for the Turner-Dodge House where we filmed. It is a spooky, fun short with amazing performances from David Gries and Melissa Anschutz.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND enjoyed a new General Market push which started out with a bang as a Latin American license was immediately made. The film is really starting to get out there and I’m so appreciative of all the reaching out by those that love this film. I keep hearing people ask about a sequel and I’m just not quite sure. I like how the film ends. It is not all tied up in a bow. An action/martial arts film? Maybe. I do have a pretty good idea for one. Thank you for all the compliments and it was nice to showcase some of my skills.
LOST HEART continues its march and the general market release will take it even further. Thank you to ICVM for the nominations. I’m proud to have two films in the top 5. This film is up for many nominations this May and I know that Melissa Anschutz and Victoria Jackson will attend. Don Most might attend as well as one of our nominated actors. They will have a great time!
THE QUEST TRILOGY prime season window of Thanksgiving to Easter is now over. We’ll see how we did and we’ll be sending revenue to our supporters.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – The movie continues to grow in popularity and the TV series is developing. I had good talks with our distributor and we have a few new opportunities to help launch this into a 2022 series shoot.
With our co-productions – BESTSELLER might get a new release in full in 2022 as well as several of the CDI General Market titles. AMERICAN LIAR and THE ACTOR are both available to watch on Amazon Prime.
Silent Night in Algona we announced the new cast of Shane Hagedorn and Christine Marie. Both are amazing actors who have brought some great characters to the screen. They will do this once again. Our next two announcements will be a great semi-regular talent working with the tribeCDI and one from our “Ghost Town” past. This matching will be incredible and I can already see the magic scenes they will create. MAY will be when we start to officially approach sponsors. If you have interest in aligning your service or product with our WW2 film please do reach out.
The ‘Chicken Land’ is fully operational and the girls love the greens. They have also started giving eggs so that is a great addition to the mornings. I am going to wrap this up and go do some sunny side up with rye toast and 4H bacon. I also purchased a pair of long elevated grow beds so that we can still do some of the garden favorites. Rhubarb and catnip are ready to harvest and I’m about to put the first lawn mow down. Also May 6th starts up soccer season! I’m excited to get back out there. I do strength and stretching daily along with my martial arts practice but running…not a fan unless I’m doing something. So the first few games might be rough not to mention just your ankles and knees getting their first stop/start work outs. Blueberry bushes will arrive soon. The apple trees look like they are going to be full this year. I will also start working to fill the wood boxes again for next winter.
I’m also going to get back to my script writing since I don’t currently have an assignment. I’ve been bouncing between my SciFi script and the feature Smoke & Mirrors rework. I’ve enjoyed the pondering, research and scribbles as I pull these stories together. Carry on with your own endeavors and watch as those daily small steps all add up and take you closer to your goals and dreams.
Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee as a gentle rain falls outside. The morning started with bacon and eggs and that can’t be bad. I’ve had a very rewarding week and have been basking in a glow for much of it. Lots of good business unfolded this week but the highlight was a producers watch on the film at the media center on the big screen. It was epic and Michigan looked just incredible. It was the first time all us producers had been together in a good long while. And it was a watch full of laughter, tears and joy.
We’ve had a few ‘outsiders’ to the production circle watch the film and I really believe this film has something for everyone. We will use the next few weeks to set up as many theatrical, drive-in and other such event screenings as possible. I feel as we’re evaluated by several TV networks that someone will take an exclusive window before the streaming and DVD home video rolls out. UpTV, Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC – battle of the network stars. Just joking although we use to love watching that TV special.
If you want it to play in your area you need to reach out to the venue and get the name/contact info for mgt. We will be doing a few premieres and I really want it to play LA deeper into the year. Not sure with the state of things it will happen but we will see. I know we will be playing in the area we filmed in White Hall/New Era and would love to play Muskegeon too. So LOST HEART is about to be on the move and whether you see it on the big screen or your personal big screen we hope to bring you a few smiles.
Onto other film news…
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) will be getting a powerful new trailer showcasing all three of the films. The idea is to really start to promote the three together. When seen out of order or not seeing all three does effect the overall understanding of the story. As the window for these films (Thanksgiving to Easter) starts I’m excited. I love all the fan mail from around the world these movies have brought. These biblical adventures are a good watch at any time.
WILD FAITH – So exciting developments continue – apparently the film was nominated in 2019 for several categories at some Red Letter Awards. Nominated for BEST ACTOR (Shane Hagedorn), BEST ACTRESS (Lauren LaStrada), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Darby Hinton), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Christine Marie), BEST SCREENPLAY – (That DJ Perry guy), BEST DIRECTOR and EDITOR (Jesse Low) and BEST PICTURE. Their announcement went unseen and so…just more people feeling the power of this story.
HASTINGS the TV series is under active development and I have a series of talks and proposals that need to go out. As I told our team with the TV series it is WHEN not IF. Stay tuned and some of your favorite characters may be coming back to tell their on-going story.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – So for the first time since all this virus lock down I went for my dental clean. The receptionist is married to the dentist and they have seen all the films for several years now including his daughter. I got my temp taken and they gushed on how much they LOVED MBF and that it was their new favorite. She admitted that tears were shed watching the movie. I have to say this little exchange made my day because it reminded me that daily our stories are having an impact on people. The receptionist was former military and said usually she is yelling at the screen because of the things they do wrong in military films. She exclaimed that we really did our research because it was spot on. Again I’m so happy the military community respects the performance and the film.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – MBF director Anthony Hornus will be directing this WW2 era drama. We’re still in the development phase but things are coming together nicely. We are still looking for German and/or German speaking actors. Also we will be doing a national casting for the young boy lead in the film this fall.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – This is shaping up to be a great little show piece for the forthcoming development of the feature. Directed and edited by Nathaniel Nose (The Christ Slayer) this 12-15 min piece is another great CDI period piece. Early 1900’s – great location, car, clothes and a cast of quirky characters. I have some post discussions this week. David Gries is the lead in this short and again shows the amazing and talented folks we have the honor of working with. The poster art is also being worked on and we’ll release that once completed. A new CDI page will be coming to http://www.cdiproductions.com (Subscribe to the Tribe)
Victoria Jackson returning to the Tribe in ‘Best Years Gone’
BEST YEARS GONE – Were going to be meeting to identify the VFX shots and such that can be filmed before the main circus. We are still targeting end of Oct pre-prod and Nov shoot. Lots of talks with sponsors and such about this film that will be a great addition to the TribeCDI films. We have more cast and crew to announce and we’ll be doing that starting this week where we’ll meet the ladies from Gal’s & Ghouls:)
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – CDI is helping produce a documentary film about the history of catch-can wrestling. We’ve got a lot of great people appearing in the doc to discuss their passion for this old fighting art finding a new golden age. More meetings before cameras start rolling. With my love of martial arts this is a pure joy project for me.
I could go on about other projects either getting new releases or new development but I think you have a good picture of the situation. CDI is on the move and will just keep doing what we do. Music, Animation and many other exciting things will be happening at CDI in the near future. We keep adding to the tribe and the projects keep growing in number and scope. I saw a few posts this week about and from a MI company having all kinds of issues with one of their “producers” whose job should be to eliminate issues not create them. But once I saw who they were talking about it all made sense. Again just be careful who you create with. It should be a wonderful experience and not marked by drama and nonsense. As I watched all the LOST HEART cast and crew names scroll down the big screen I was deeply moved. From organizing after-school video camera shoots to where I am now is just…amazing. I am so thankful to be on this journey and with such amazing artists. If you like the style of storytelling CDI has gotten known for you will not be disappointed in CDI’s new offering LOST HEART. We’ll see you soon:)
Stay safe and be good to one another! Have an amazing week. Stay on target. Focus. Direct your energy to what you can control, enhance, organize and don’t forget to laugh daily.
Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.
My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.
We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.
I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.
Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.
High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.
I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.
I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.
I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience. Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.
FILM UPDATES –
I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.
LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.
LOOKING AHEAD –
BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.
Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.
- We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
- Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
- We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
- Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
- Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects. We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.
As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.
Be safe and we’ll chat next week.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
I want to welcome new followers/readers from Ireland, The Philippines and Australia. It has been a long eventful week and the weekend was even more busy. This weekend was our high school class reunion – a two-day event that allowed us to share a laugh, a story and a drink with our former classmates. It was an enjoyable visit and as a whole I’m happy that many are happy and healthy. I had a bevy of close friends unable to attend due to life. I was never a huge fan of high school. I had several school friends, many of those I still see to this day. I was grateful that I got to spend three summers overseas playing/coaching soccer in Denmark. It was always a true culture shock to return back to high school in the US after those trips. I spent lots of my school days writing scripts, storyboarding and organizing after school video shoots. But it was fun to catch up with my classmates.
This weekend at the 2018 ICVM Crown Awards in Nashville our film “Chasing the Star” was being given award consideration for Best Film. It was represented by our distributor BMG and we won silver (2nd place) so we’ll do some PR on that and congrats to our cast and crew.
I also want to give congrats to Curran Jacobs one of my friends/co-stars (MBF) who fought multiple battles this weekend to earn the World Catch Wrestling Championship. Many know that I’ve been involved and enjoyed the martial arts for many years. It is exciting to see everything happening today but I’m happy I don’t make a living getting punched and kicked in the head.
Speaking of MBF – we’ll be releasing some of the official screen captures soon. The film is going to be powerful and engaging and I’m excited to see that move down the line. Talks over the first teaser trailer have started some maybe in a few weeks. I’m also going to look within the MBF family to see if I have someone to hire to assemble the BTS footage.
This week I’ll also be doing investor updates on the projects which is a regular thing. We have lots to report and I’ll be giving some exciting updates regarding Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, Wild Faith and upcoming The Christ Slayer.
I’ve also been working on what will likely be the next CDI film shot. The working title of the film is called LOST HEART. I’m enjoying spending some time daily working the script. Some location scouting has begun – just looking at possible areas to shoot. I will say that the next film is planning to shoot in Michigan again. Follow http://www.cdiproductions.com for updates.
I also want to have a sit down soon over our website which is looking good but we have even more exciting directions to take it in. I’m going to cut this short as I have a list of things to do before our early soccer game today. I will also have to watch the World Cup finals in a few. I hope you all have a great wrap up to your week and a productive week ahead.
Be good to one another.
Don Most on set of ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend’
I’m sitting in my lazy boy sipping the hazelnut coffee. It has been nice to sleep in my own bed and be cozy with my family. We have recently enjoyed a wonderful CDI shoot in Corunna/Owosso area and enjoyed great home away from home service at Quality Inn in Durand, Michigan. We got to enjoy many of the fine eateries in the area and filmed at many of the landmarks in the area. Many know that our most recent film was MBF: Man’s Best Friend that had themes of military wounded and shelter dogs. I encourage anyone looking for a good family addition to visit our friends at the Shaiwassee Humane Society. I got to work with the amazing staff and with many of the animals there awaiting you. We had a great visit from Animal Planet and we’ll be the focus of one of the new shows “Amanda to the Rescue” this fall. We had ‘Duncan‘ the two-legged boxer join our cast and what an inspiration. The VFW provided a fish fry that made this non-fried food eater give in just this once.
Duncan on set with actor Greg Mason
As for the art itself – I was so proud to share the screen with so many incredible actors and to work alongside such a great dedicated crew. (See IMDB.com) In all my years of producing I can honestly say this crew was just on point. I look forward to working with them again. I went to places with this wounded warrior character Paul Landings that I’ve not been on camera. These externally and internally wounded soldiers who live daily with this heaviness pushed me to complete truth. As the role ended I almost felt guilty because for many there is no WRAP on their role. They will still wake up to disfigurement or mental anguish and issues. It is why suicide rates are so high because how long can they carry the heaviness? Now dogs have proven to help carry some of this heaviness and to bring joy back into their lives. Emotionally I gave everything I had and I feel good about that.
Also when I was coming into our business – I did not want to do 1) Soap Opera or 2) Action films to start with. Both in my mind limited how audiences would look at you. I have a long history of martial arts study and practice but mainly use it for health and to allow me to do many of my own stunts. In this film I showcase a bit of my training and that was truly enjoyable. It actually felt very natural and I was happy that the crew seemed to really enjoy what we captured. Most of my fight scenes in the past consisted of deconstructing so as to not appear trained. I want to thank my fellow actors who performed with me and John Lennox who helped me coordinate the scene. I hope audiences enjoy it.
Robert Bradley our dog coordinator and Big Poppa aka Brown Boy in MBF
We do have one more pick up day for the film. It is flashback footage and will show war footage and Paul before being wounded. That will be the icing on the cake. We will be releasing this film again with BMG targeting early next year.
Speaking of BMG we’re in the final stages of putting together something exciting for WILD FAITH. We’re looking at a few more summer theatrical runs before a fall home video release. We also might be playing a west coast festival after being approached. We will know more about that in the coming weeks.
BMG is also the distributor of our biblical adventure films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR (2016/2017 ‘Most Inspirational’ at ICFF) are in the marketplace – Amazon Prime and many other specialty sites selling DVD and streaming. Here is one of the many new platforms –
Read about CHASING THE STAR
This Christmas part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER will be rounding out the trilogy with a theatrical followed by an Easter 2019 home video release. The theatrical trailer will release in the coming weeks. Music moves into high gear with the feature starting this week with our composer Dennis Therrian.
So this week will include getting all the paperwork straight on MBF and catching up on yard work. I’m back to playing soccer today. It killed me to take a few weeks off but as the lead role in a film, an injury would have risked just too much. But today we’re back at it and I’m ready to roll. I hope you all have a great weekend. For those following along with our boy Luke, he’s going to have his third radiation treatment tomorrow on his sinus tumor. He is doing pretty good but of course I wish I could do more. He is still doing three walks a day, eating and drinking well just a tad slower.
Have a great Sunday!
Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.
Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith
Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.
‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.
40 Nights trailer
And the second film…
Chasing the Star trailer
And now the business of development on the third film is starting.
So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.
I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.
Have a great week ahead!
It is a peaceful Sunday morning and I’m sipping the ole hazelnut coffee and about to give some updates on our film endeavors. First, I want to note the earthquakes that are hitting multiple areas around the globe. Also with the new wildfires erupting in the N.C. mountains. I hope my friends there stay safe. Earthquakes and wildfires and that could also describe the political shake up here in the USA. I’m not a politician and as a storyteller I want to enrich the lives of all people. My only note as of late is I’ve never seen positive communication between parties when the volume becomes LOUD and the EMOTION sets in. Ears close and frustration mounts as people feel unheard. Talking is always better than yelling. Trying to hear both sides and seek compromise will always beat out yelling in someones face. I think a majority of people who felt unheard just went silent and let their vote speak. Also as a former soccer coach I’ve noted that many people do not know how to lose. I saw a climate of “everyone wins” grow over the years and many of us know that is seldom the case. Now I’ve had immense amount of set back in my life and I try to waste as little energy as possible on things I cannot change. I try to accept situations and make solid moves from that stance. I hope that the divide which is now more in the open creates good communication, understanding and compromise. Time will tell.
The Quest Trilogy
I hinted at a deal that is going done to take these films and other CDI properties to the next level of distribution and production. We have our first paperwork and are reviewing. I plan to put pen to paper this forthcoming week. I’ve been also prepping the other projects for presentation.
40 Nights – the beautiful comments continue and the new marketing teams will start work to prep for the new 2017 release push. I cannot discuss this too much until we have concluded the deal.
Chasing the Star – we’re entering the final phase of post-production. The first look trailer is being polished up and will be released soon. Audiences will be in for a great journey with this second film in our trilogy.
The Christ Slayer – this film is now moving into active development. We’ll be announcing new developments on IMDB.com and via new PR releases. I will be returning to my role as Jesus in this film. I look forward to completing the trilogy with this heart-moving, thought-provoking film.
Wild Faith – the editing is underway and approaching the half way point. We’re also prepping for one last pick up day that will be flashbacks of our main character. It is a return to shooting some Civil War footage and so fans of “Wicked Spring” will be happy.
I plan to roll out several of the classic CDI films from the library but I’m holding while we work out this new deal. But I assure you we will see several of the films re-release. Some will see their 1st Blu-Ray or streaming/digital deals.
I’ve had several people ask howe they can be considered for CDI films. The first thing I always say is get that showcase reel together. GAME FOOTAGE. On the CDI site http://www.cdiproductions.com we do post what we’re currently seeking. We do sometimes use IMDB Casting, Backstage or other casting notices but as a company of actor/producers we keep our eyes and ears open. When new talent is found that fits – they are brought into the discussion. Also if you’ve worked with CDI with no issue that puts you to the front of the list for consideration. I’ve talked about being ready for opportunity in past blogs but it is important. If you work a day job get one with flexibility. I use to live, and still do, quite conservative. I don’t spend money I don’t have on flash. I try to stay on top of my personal so when duty calls I can transition into business as needed.
I did have one good conversation with an actor aspiring to produce at a certain level. I gave my honest advice which essential was about taking steps. If you’ve only done 5k shorts what experience says you’re ready to manage 2 million dollars? If you’ve never done the 50k or 500k project you’ve missed so many lessons. I liken it to the martial arts whereas you learn in phases. Nobody jumps belts or degrees without learning the lessons at each new phase. I don’t see where people in film think that is a good idea. And if you lack that experience it is easy for outsiders to run amuck with your project. And team building is so important. One bad “player” can damage/kill a project so the team is so very important. If you can make a solid 50k film you will be in better shape to do that 75-100k film. The learning curve is so very important. So if a project, passion or not is too big for you – set it aside and do something smaller. BUILD.
I’m going to go do a few things in the yard to stay ahead of the snow which will find us. Embrace the differences amongst us and communicate calmly. Less shouting. More listening. Smile. Work towards real change. I will keep influencing people with a story. A STORY can change the world.
Be good to one another.
I’m taking these few quiet moments late on Sat night to write versus tomorrow which could be busy or peaceful zen. We’re on location with our pre-production team telling an 1800’s story that proudly weaves a lot of Michigan into it. The mail system continues to be the stress it has been for twenty years. But we’ve done just fine thanks in part to the digital age. It does get hard to digest more and more digital. I’m a paper person. I love trees and all the many kinds of woods and their properties and aromas. Man has survived by wood, paper and pulp. I just cannot enjoy reading a script digitally like I do a book. Our sets become more and more digital communication BUT we do interact as artists, IN PERSON.
We have a wonderful team of people forming up to tell this story. Some are new to our circle and others have been here for many of moons. I’ve known the joy of giving an artist their first ever paycheck for their art. They cried. It is something that I will always remember. Now artists when starting out often do unpaid work to get exposure. When they get to a place whereas people will pay for their art that fulfills something in them.
Now many are ready to suffer and sacrifice for their exposure. In the film world it is the “NO PAY but IMDB credit and a COPY of the film” deal. The first is a database of film work and the second the piece of history that those artists shared – gaining exposure. That is not us, we’ve paid people since our second film at our company in the late 90’s. I can say in all honesty I’ve never been able to fully pay what I think these artists are worth. But, we do pay what we can. We’ve paid many artists over the last twenty some years. I’ve payed what each film can afford and I have many friends that commit onto our films rate unknown. They know I pay across the board the fair price that a project can afford. If you’ve never launched a feature film than you don’t know the true hardships of doing so. When a “playground” for the arts does finally launch and a story is going to be told – it’s a voyage. Now, imagine a backyard football game or capture the flag as a kid with the neighborhood full of kids. There was always that one kid that came into a game complaining about the brand of the ball or lack of this or that – never seeing what is provided but only what isn’t. Half empty versus half full we would say in the martial arts. These attitudes are a character flaw – a cancerous negativity that will cause them great strife throughout their life. On a film set you have to learn to identify and avoid these toxic people. They are not ready. If they cannot balance their own filters they will never find happiness – just flaws. HINT: Life is flawed. The long lesson is that we’ve put literally millions of dollars into the coffers of artists and vendors. Sometimes by big checks and sometimes by small, again what that film can handle, but we always made something that made us collectively proud. Our stories travel into the world marketplace and touch people’s minds and hearts. In a short handful of years the shells and beads earned will be spent frivolously and forgotten and only the art will remain. A lasting display of the story that those people told. Some have not learned this lesson and others never will. Okay enough about those type of individuals as they run their course and after they burn every bridge they settle into a job they dislike and the circle of negativity is full circle. Of course for these people it is always because of someone else.
WILD FAITH – This pilot film has been making some amazing announcements about casting. I’m thrilled about the crew forming up behind this film. It is all team building for moving forward. We will be announcing more castings in the next few days which includes a legend of the western genre and one award decorated actress. Yes. I will be acting/co-starring in this film but I want to get my other announcements out there first. I’m looking forward to “playing” with some other talented actors and an amazing crew being led by director Jesse Low and director of photography Jesse Aragon. We all worked together with our producing team on “40 Nights” which you can check out now.
More updates have been given to me on a pair of other possible network shows that are interested in having me act. One would be a reboot of a very famous series and the other a continuation of a very popular series. I just keep doing my thing and when they are ready to get serious I’m all ears.
CHASING THE STAR – The music is complete and we’re heading to the finish line. Official poster and trailer close to a reveal. Stay tuned!
BESTSELLER – A perfect season for this film. We’re working our foreign set up so all those friends asking overseas – soon:)
40 NIGHTS & ASHES OF EDEN continue their advance into the marketplace with more places to watch almost weekly.
NEW releases of classic CDI films in the works. Development on the next slate of films is underway. Once this film has set sail we will start putting the foundation together on the third and final film in the QUEST TRILOGY entitled “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in 2017.
I’m going to finish my hazelnut coffee and hit the shower. I have a long list of TO DO’s for today’s pre-production. We’re gonna grill out with our pre-prod crew tonight and make final preparations.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.
The Detroit Lions have just kicked off making this a traditional fall day in Michigan. I spent the morning organizing for our upcoming film shoot and also prepping a few things in the yard for approaching winter. I picked beans this morning while going over mental check lists.
We’ve been putting paperwork under cast and crew this week for our western endeavor. I’m looking at the opportunity to work with some other talented artists. I see several productions that pool the cash resources in a few places and puts the sacrifice on the others. We spread the sacrifice across the board but pay by strict rates. Staying on budget – there is no special trick it just requires that you hire the right individuals. Individuals that understand the modest rates are so crew across the board can be paid. Crew working in all needed departments are what create good flow in production. It often requires working with what you NEED versus WANT and making it quality through artistry and good planning.
Is everything done perfect? No, of course not – but the effort is always seen and steps are taken to course correct when required. Passion is a valuable jewel and many people lose sight of it. The best cast & crew for me is one that has the best passion for a story. Gaffers, grips, camera – creates mood and tone. Audio captures words that can change hearts and minds. Wardrobe and hair/make up help create believable characters to exist in world that the art department creates. Fore-men, office planning, coordinating of meals – all fueling the storytelling endeavor. I had to sacrifice much to climb to where I am now. I look for that hunger in people’s eyes. When a situation is hard I look for who states the obvious and who has problem solving skills. Who vents frustration and who is quietly focused because they are already planning multiple possible paths to travel. I love that we attract artists who want to be part of a powerful story. They understand their partial sacrifice to an endeavor is helping support the artists standing next to him. Many have been abused in the free and paid circles and so until someone knows differently they expect what they expect. I love giving people a good experience storytelling. That is why we have more people seeking us out wanting to participate on both sides of the camera. Empty your cup is an old zen saying we used in martial arts. Being open to a new experience without the taint of a previous bad experience but other people. If we carry that past negativity we take it into our sacred create space. Again in martial arts – the dojo. You bow and leave your outside world distractions at the door. You respect the new process of learning and exploring before you. When we do this we often discover great things about ourselves and in our example – create good storytelling.
In this blog I will encourage you to seek out some of the recent films
40 Nights, Bestseller, Donors, Ashes of Eden – check out some of the earlier films also and see what creative groups of people created working together. Send your feedback and comments here if you wish.
“Chasing the Star” – I’m reviewing a picture lock cut and post work in full speed ahead. As I said last week, new trailer and post art will be forthcoming!
Lots to do today so I’m going to cut this short.
Have a great week ahead!
Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)
I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.
2015 Distribution Updates
ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.
DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come
WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!
We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.
HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.
BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.
NON-CDI RELEASE INFO
I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19 and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).
Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!
My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.” I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water. Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over. We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you? Do you give your best effort, always? Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.
Happy Full Moon!
Welcome to Feb. everyone. We are past the holidays and off to a great start. Before I get into some of the exciting updates I wanted to share a story. Many years ago when I was just starting this journey I knew this young girl. I knew her from the acting workshop that ultimately led to my 1st starring film role. The years that followed opened more doors but she was having trouble getting her first footholds. She was a blonde bombshell type that you might find on BAYWATCH or such. The girl could really act and really sing but her appearance made most see that first. I remember telling her over a game of pool that she would have to work twice as hard to get people to see past her boobs. It was true. I saw Bruce Campbell at an event climb over a table to come meet this young lady who arrived with a few friends. She had that appeal but still could not land that dramatic role she needed to showcase herself. She decided she wanted to go to Hollywood. I told her as hard as it was she should really try to get her experience in secondary markets before going Hollywood. She had her heart set on going and so I told her she had to be focused. Hollywood is like a full time spring break for young people. It is where wanna-be actors from around the world come with dreams in hand. They have what I call actor ghettos out there. Basically it is expensive out there and so aspiring actors live in certain areas. They usually party and talk about finding agents, finding a gig, blah, blah. The point is more talk than action. My 1st trip to LA I was invited. I went to read for Wes Craven and I stayed in one of these areas. In two weeks people were amazed because I had done more in two weeks than they did in two years. I don’t think I am more special than anyone I just have a focused way about me. I think that is from martial arts. So I told this girl don’t get caught into these traps. The trap of young people putting play before work. All night parties that lead to late wake ups that lead to day long hang overs that lead to food, coffee and where is the next party. They bitch about the unfair system that keeps a person down. I can’t get an agent. I never get the role. I can’t get a break because of…. never was there accountability. So I fill this girl up with as much common sense wisdom my immature self can muster. She heads out to grab her dream. Three weeks into her move I get a call and she was now dating some musician from a well known rock band. Long-short is that a handful of years later she is cast aside for a younger rock groupie. She has not done a single film but she has done every destructive drug possible. Her “glow” had faded and while she is still pretty she is now older and cannot compete with the better resumes. She moved back and spent more time here chasing cocaine and the next party. She ruined her image at a company party by asking around for “meth”. She moved here and there and I would occasionally get the call asking if there was any acting parts. Yes. I want to risk investor money on a worn out looking girl showing wear and tear of a woman twice her age. A flakey drug addict that may or may not show up somewhere. The last time I saw her was years ago at a local bar where I had gone to meet a few friends during the holidays. She was a hot mess and full of regret. I recall the words of encouragement I shared and wished her well. She was living in Florida but was home on holiday. Years go by and nothing from her. I finally got a phone call a few years ago saying she had moved back to Michigan and was working at her church. She said we should catch up and party a bit. I was not in that mode and surely did not want to feed that. My career path has not been easy and if you are not a hard worker you will fail. I never called her back but emailed her something to the effect that I was glad she was back in-state and getting her life together. I mentioned maybe coffee sometime but I did not follow up. I think because she was still asking about acting and I did not want to hurt her feelings – I never met up with her. I would not be hiring her anytime soon for an acting role knowing all that I knew already. Years clicked by and unfortunately the only time she sprang to mind was when I saw an AOL story on before and after of METH. Well recently I found out that she died in 2011 at age 33. They did not mention how but it had to be drugs either by accident or purposely. I found this out only this week. I was having a day of slight frustration waiting for this deal to close or that. It took me all the way back to the beginning. I wanted to tell this story on here because if it saves even one person it will have served a purpose. I see many of the same type of people looking for short cuts to stardom. So heed my words. Remember the solid words of the hard working people around you. Love yourself. Thank you for listening.
TO MOVIE NEWS.
A deal has been made for the inspirational film “Figure in the Forest” and the powerful Civil War drama “Wicked Spring” to play on the Parables Network. It should start playing later this month and I’m proud to have these films going out to new audiences. We will be working additional distribution deals on these and all our films.
We will also be announcing that “Deadly Renovations” is going to vudu VOD platform expanding the release of this film even more. The film is also opening an AZ festival by special invitation. Pre-sales on “Locked in a Room” and “Darkest Night” will be starting this month. “Benjamin” is playing the Long Island Film Festival in March also. April 19th with be the theatrical and DVD release of “Realizism” in Grand Rapids, MI.
Today I’m going out to look at “Ashes of Eden” editing work. The trailer has created a lot of buzz and it should. I think it really gives a powerful peek at what the film is about. Also we will be discussing future collaboration between our companies.
I hope you all have a fun and safe weekend. Enjoy the Superbowl with family and friends and have a great month.