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

Posts tagged “MBF

Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 

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FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.

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While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.

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Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.

  • Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
  • Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
  • Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
  • Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone.  For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.

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Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.

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The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.

Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.

DJ

 


LOST HEART the Final Stretch and More…

I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my room at the Double JJ Resort. I’m close to being wrapped with my character of Niles Cass in the film LOST HEART. It’s been a great ride thus far with only a few small bumps in the road.  Luckily, when you have a great team gathered you address and flow past those issues. We truly do have a great team of artists who are also problem solvers not creators.  I was again so proud the other day when we had our new friends Susan and Norm out to set. They are the owners and until recently ran the Double JJ Resort for several years. That duty has largely been passed down but they are the ones who still care deeply for the resort and it’s on-going future. They know that keeping your word, taking pride in your work and maintaining excellent customer service is what keeps people returning. So again it was a pleasure to have them visit and see the ‘zen’ flow of how smooth our set runs. That night it was all chill save the occasional radio communication at basecamp calling the roll out. Like Susan and Norm, we’re making some great contacts and friends in this area and are seriously considering filming in this area again.

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Our newest mid-western WILD FAITH, is really heating up now that the DVD’s are for sale including at the Wal-Mart. Here is fellow producer ‘Tony’ Hornus at the Whitehall store. If you have not seen the film please do treat yourself. After if you feel inclined to leave a few kind words please do so.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend is delivered to our distributor and is now being prepped for the theatrical and home video run. It will be great to get this story out there to audiences. Paul whom I played in the film is one of my most challenging characters to date. I wanted to properly represent the soldiers who have been wounded, sacrificing themselves to keep us all safe. A premiere is in the planning so stay tune for updates on that and also the other releases.

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The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) continues to expand and I’m exciting for the upcoming holiday season with all three films complete. I hope that several TV networks pick them up to watch together. All three are available to purchase or rent.

I’m going to go get ready to drop stuff at the office and have lunch with the crew. I’m back on camera tomorrow so I’ll be refreshing myself with those lines. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.

DJ


Day 5 and some Wild Faith Updates

NOTE: Due to storms and internet this is being posted on Monday

Good morning from LOST HEART:) Actually I’m writing in the late night here so I can post before bed. We at have a very full day tomorrow plus we producers are moving into the production rooms after a nice stay during pre-production in the suites. Our crew is enjoying their condos and the area has a serene nature to it. This is the grounds where the infamous ELECTRIC FOREST festival takes place. We were offered passes to this but we had work to do. Plus the older I get the idea of tens of thousands of people does not appeal to me. But it appeals to many people in the 50-70k range. We’ve knocked down our first four days of shooting and after a day of rest we are back at it. We had our biggest day yesterday with lots of extras at a beautiful location in Whitehall. It is a Bed & Breakfast owned by the mayor of the town and her husband. It is called The Lewis House. I got to make some great moments with Don Most, Victoria Jackson and Melissa Anschutz. Old friends and new are being made on this shoot. These two talented actors from Michigan will be joining LOST HEART. I’ve enjoyed all the positive on the story and script and it is a pleasure to see how invested each actor is in their role. Also the artists behind the camera have worked very hard to capture our moments. The heat was very hot but we had good holding areas and won our day.

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WILD FAITH just keeps getting recognized. We did not enter this festival so it has been a surprise and an honor to first be recognized with a JUSTICE AWARD and now they announced recognition for set design. IF you have not watched this film and you like what we’re creating please do take a watch.

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I posted some PR earlier. Almost immediately I saw that some young living historian we had in the film negatively commented that the film wasn’t worth watching he heard because they were only seen for like 5 secs. First I told him, watch it. The flashbacks to war are much longer than 5 seconds. He also was going off someone else so I told him to watch it. Also people are subjective in what they like and don’t like but make up YOUR mind. Also if you love to present your impression of a Civil War soldier to an audience our film probably will give you once of the biggest showcases of your career. Millions of eyes foreign and domestic but for this fella if he did not get enough screen time the project wasn’t worth it. I can say that in twenty years when an older man looks back at a film that immortalized a younger him in a great story, it will be worth it. It isn’t always about you. Sometimes were are part of something bigger together. I sincerely hope this person finds some peace in his life. I can’t always figure people out. I was nice. He was nice back. He wants to still watch the film. Watch it and make your own opinion. Don’t be a sheep.

IMG_7269.JPG Kudos to Jen Raine and Austin Two-Feathers and let’s not forget our director Mr. Low seen in the background. He cares about these films like we do and LOST HEART will make his third with CDI in the directing chair. Congrats to all the cast and crew.

MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We have a lot of upcoming announcements concerning this film but I am going to make you wait. It is past my bedtime and I have our second biggest day shooting on LOST HEART. So I will withhold a little until next week. I’m also trying to confirm a few things.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ

 


Updates from On-Location – Lost Heart

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Good morning from the Double JJ Resort in beautiful Rothbury, Michigan. If you have a family that loves waterparks, mini-golf, arcades, horse riding and such this is a wonderful place. Also if you are one of the people who like to knock a ball into a hole with a stick (golf) they have a beautiful course here. Such friendly service from everyone here. How they handle 50-70k people here for their music fest I do not know. But that said, our small army of artists is no problem for them.

I was a bit under the weather the 1st day and a half of pre-production but most likely due to the stress of the transition from home to location. Trying to remember to pack everything personal and business and making the move. But several breaks overseeing the golf course with deer prancing about and such put me right back on track. It is amazing to see everything fall into line but it happens through hard work and communication. I’ve very proud of how this production is coming together. I also want to announce two more amazing cast members joining us. Sherryl Despres and Michael Walton will be coming to LOST HEART🙂

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While we have been here we’ve had the great joy of talking with several people who have seen our previous release WILD FAITH, which released on DVD nationally July 2nd. It is always a thrill to actually get to speak with your audience about the film. I sincerely hope that audiences continue to connect because a TV series might be around the corner. That would be great for our state and give lots of opportunities to weekly guest star talent. If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do. I know it can be purchased at Wal-Mart and many online retailers.

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The Quest Trilogy is also out there and it is NOT just a holiday trilogy. And while it is pulled from the lesser known corners of the bible and the lore surrounding it – they are adventure films. As an influence we also got to go for a STAR WARS look with the three films. So if you decide you want to catch up with CDI’s biblical adventure films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER, check your TV stations or rent/purchase the film via Amazon Prime or other participating platforms.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been getting marketing materials out to NAGRA/MyCinema who is booking our theatrical. I’m excited to see this film roll out to theaters followed by a home video launch in the fall. If you support our wounded warriors and/or love dogs this film will pull at your heart strings. Follow us on Facebook or at http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Aside from all this I recently completed two new stories for my contributions to an upcoming book. The book on horses that I have two stories in will be out this September I believe. Pre-Order here-

All this ties into the push with my literary work. I’m in hopes of announcing some new partnerships this fall. I’m going to get back to film work here but wanted to stop in and say hello. I appreciate all of you following along and supporting this endeavors. Cheers! Back to the hazelnut coffee:)

DJ

 

 


FINAL Countdown to Location Pre-Production and MORE…

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Good morning everyone. I first want to start my wishing my mother a Happy Birthday! She has always been supportive of the journey I’m on with storytelling via film. She is spending time with her significant other and we’ll have a nice dinner when I return from filming LOST HEART. My brother and wife are overseas on a wonderful vacation to Ireland. Tomorrow is my father’s Birthday and we just had a nice dinner with him. I gifted him a 1 gal beer making set. I do beer and wine 5 gal at a time and often share it with family, friends and film amigos. He can get the experience of what I do but on a small scale. I’m lucky to still have both my parents with me on this life journey. A few close friends have lost their loved ones recently and my thoughts are with them.

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My dad to my right and Johnny Demarco on my left

So I’ve been pre-packing all week so that I can travel north for a month producing and performing in LOST HEART, our next CDI film. We’ve been announcing new talent coming on board and still have a few to announce. Here is the amazingly talented singer/actress Taylor Dupuis and I guess I can say the same about Victoria Jackson. Many will remember her from her Saturday Night Live run and the slew of TV/films that followed. They both play wonderful parts in this comedy drama.

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Once this is completed I will have a week of rest and to set post in motion before a week-long vacation up in the UP of Michigan. We will be taking the dogs so they can have a few adventures also. My young furry boy Finn has been my shadow, especially during the fireworks. I know he will do well as the little man of the house.

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WILD FAITH is now out on all formats digital and DVD. I’m told that in the fall it looks like it will do an exclusive run on one of the Subscription VOD platforms. If you do watch the film and enjoy it please do leave a review at the site be it Amazon, Wal-Mart, BestBuy or wherever you purchased plus on http://www.imdb.com – All this is in hopes that we’ll be doing a sequel script or on-going TV series. Thank you to all of you that have reached out to tell me how much you enjoyed the story. Keep the word of mouth going as I think the film message is needed in this day and age.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – Ahead of us in the first season whereas all three films are released and can be seen together. It is meant to be watched as FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’ve noted that some people who watched only part 2 where slightly confused because they had not seen part 1. It is a trilogy whereas the angels and devil create a story thread throughout the three films. Many films do not examine what the events do/did to the angelic folk. They are great adventure stories that can be enjoyed anytime of year. Treat yourself to the watch. I know Amazon has all three but can be found on many platforms.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This powerful film will start rolling out into select theaters with myCinema in August. Home video in the fall. I know we’ve been very focused on the other CDI films but I think this movie might surprise and grab audiences. Wounded military vets and adoption dogs are the main themes. I will say that this role scared me at first. That doesn’t happen very often but when it does that is a good sign. I play a wounded Marine Paul Landings. While I’ve played other soldiers in films, many of them are from past wars like the Civil War. I know this film was made with a lot of help from military vets and I wanted to represent them well. I think I did and I’m so proud of the work all the artists did on this film. We will be planning a premiere in the town where we filmed. It will most likely be in late August or early September when we host the premiere. I should also start to have theater dates from around the country.

NEXT Sunday my blog update will be from up North as we prepare to capture the LOST HEART story. Thank you all for following along and I will be sharing some great pics in the coming weeks. You can follow the LOST HEART facebook page or http://www.cdiproductions.com landing page for LOST HEART.

Have a great week ahead and be good to one another.

DJ

 


Week B4 Location Pre-Production, MBF and More…

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Good morning to everyone out there. The week has been a busy one for sure. Where to start? Before doing this I was working down my list of TO DO’s nearly 20 items deep trying to get a jump on tomorrow. We are very close to on-set pre-production on LOST HEART. We’ve been meeting on cast, crew and various vendors and sponsors.  Tomorrow we’ll be announcing two of other female actresses joining the cast. One is an amazing musician/actress and the other a SNL alumni, so stay tuned for that tomorrow. You can follow our FB site for LOST HEART at

https://www.facebook.com/lostheartmovie/

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We’ll also be announcing another major sponsor this week – which I can say enough how much that helps independent filmmakers. Some of our sponsors are already listed on the FB site and see http://www.cdiproductions.com where another LOST HEART page will be going up. Friends old and new will be coming together to tell a Michigan story.

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WILD FAITH – I’ve started getting some fantastic emails from people who have watched and enjoyed the film. It is now for DIGITAL RENTAL on Amazon Prime and many platforms. On July 2nd it will release to DVD. Thank you to those who have pre-ordered. We’ll look at the TV series or sequels once the worldwide audience has spoken. I would love to do a Michigan based TV series. It would provide some great opportunities to showcase the talent here. Rent/Buy but I would love to read your reviews either on here or better yet posted to amazon.com, IMDB.com or wherever you have rented/purchased it. Giddy up!

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been quietly prepping this film for distribution 1st to theaters with home video to follow. I had the pleasure to watch the film through this past week and I was just amazed at the powerful performances made stronger but the score by “Tricky T” 🙂 We’ll have a premiere after we get done filming LOST HEART. It will likely be in the Owosso, MI  area where our director hails from. The themes of military vets and adoption dogs will touch the heart’s of many. Get ready for another wonderful Michigan story brought to you by the tribe at CDI.

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The Quest Trilogy ( Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) – If you are enjoying CDI films and want to watch a trilogy of adventure films set in the biblical times- The Quest Trilogy. Take a watch and join the viewers from around the world experiencing these stories.

I am not going to wax on about any subjects today simply because I have a long TO DO list as noted that I want to chip away at. The garden is growing nicely and this week we had a new roof put on. It took about 3 hours and I admired their work flow. The roofers and the clean up support staff. EAGLE EYE ROOFING in Mason which was recommended after they just did a roof job for fellow CDI producer Anthony Hornus. OK. I hope you all have a wonderful week. When I write next week I will be preparing to leave for on-location pre-production for a week before cameras roll.

Have a great day!

DJ