Photo by Scott Allen Perry
The desert heat is no longer with me here in Michigan. I came home to wet and cold weather but also to my family, bed and comforts of home. It has been major deceleration as I went from a wild circus of people on the constant move to a much more relaxed pace at home. Things slowing a touch was is a good thing since I had a good case of jet lag. I’ve been trying to sort through mail (and email), pay bills and unpack even as bouts of tired struck me at odd hours. I’ve had many people reaching out and I’m sorry that I’ve not been able to get back with everyone. I’ve had lots of wrap up work on the most recent film and catching up on immediate business.
This weekend was a good day catching up with family business first at my niece’s b-day gathering yesterday at the local science center, Impression 5. I took science classes there when I was in Elementary school with my buddy John. It’s truly a great place to take your children and I’m glad that the place has survived and thrived for all these years. Today I’m up North visiting family and celebrating another missed b-day. Speaking of missing b-day’s, my girl was good about me missing her b-day while in AZ and I do appreciate her holding down the fort in my absence. It’s a hardship for all our significant others when we go off to create these stories. I saw many happy faces when loved ones (cast & crew) returned safely from the deserts of Yuma. So I give me heartfelt gratitude to all of those significant others who worked hard to maintain households while we battled to tell our tale in the desert.
The Christ Slayer
If you’ve not been keeping up – we filmed the 3rd feature film in “The Quest Trilogy” entitled “The Christ Slayer” in AZ. We shot for three weeks and change with pre-production and wrap out. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment because it was a 3 part film series and also the first time I had played the same role twice. That role was none other than Jesus, so that was no easy task. It challenged me in many ways everyday but I want to say my director (Nathaniel Nose) and my co-stars who helped make the process so very special. Carl Weyant and Josh Perry made each and every day a unique experience full of smiles and fist-bumps. Christine, Mel, Shane and every other actor I was blessed to share the screen with made each day easier with their enthusiasm. Their love for the story and their roles inspired me and honored me as a writer. The crew consisted of many warriors I’ve worked with prior and once again they brought their best. I additionally had the pleasure of working with a handful of new artists who I think enjoyed the overall adventure. They all worked extremely hard and the desert proved to be no joke, but the final footage revealed the results of those efforts. BEAUTIFUL! To all the people of Yuma associated with this picture, we love you. We could not have done this without you. The biggest question I was asked by many there was IF this was our last film. It was the last of “The Quest Trilogy” but I’m happy to announce that I will be penning a second slate of biblical films. This process might have already begun. (Insert sly smile) They will be separate from the three films we explored in this current trilogy. We will likely be going Old Testament with these new films.
“The Christ Slayer” has entered post and we’ll be rolling out behind-the-scenes photos and powerful stills (Like the one above) in the coming weeks. Also a teaser trailer is in the works and will release in the coming weeks. Releasing spring of 2018.
“Forty Nights” will enjoy its new release on 4/4/17 and I encourage all of you interested in the trilogy to watch it. Our post team did a very good job re-mastering the film both audio and visually and Bridgestone has put beautiful new artwork worthy of such a beautiful story.
Chasing the Star
On the heels of this new release the second film “Chasing the Star” will enjoy a premiere on the 22nd of April. Following this will be various theatrical showings starting in Lansing, Grand Rapids and Royal Oak with many more planned. Once we’ve done our theatrical run we’ll be releasing nationally on Sept 5th, 2017. Follow our Facebook social media page for updates.
“Wild Faith” is close to a locked picture and will move into music and sound design. I can say that the initial talks on the TV series have been positive. I think we have a good chance at spinning off into a television series. I’m looking at the business of it now and also working on some of the creative aspects for upcoming meetings.
I plan on aligning all our business and setting up for a strong 2018. There is a good chance we may film another feature or two this year but nothing is solid on the slate. As I noted before, I’m back to my daily writing and making some great progress. As the sun returns and temps warm I look forward to a productive year ahead. Thank you all for your support. (Cheers with a sip from the coffee cup)
It took me a while to sign in to my blog here. There are so many media communication sites. I get communications coming from all sides. Email is still the best way to contact me but even that is getting more complex. This morning we had a great breakfast in what use to be a train station in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The chill today is perfect for all the football on deck. MSU, my alumni school plays in a few short hours. Lions on Sunday plus last regular season soccer match before play offs. It was another grinding week but extremely productive. Let’s look at a few of the wins this week.
I’m working the last few pages on “Chasing the Star” our follow-up biblical drama. I was so happy about how the “40 Nights” script evolved and how it translated to the screen. This follow-up has distribution and it appears all our funding commits are in place. So we are looking to return to AZ and film our second film for Lightworx Entertainment.
“40 Nights” has been exciting because we are now seeing dialogue cleaned up/balanced and environmental sound design. I got the signed paperwork on our licensing deal for management of merchandising. This movie should be complete end of November.
Now we have a partially funded western also being distributed worldwide by Lightworx. Not only will it be a feature film but used as a pilot for a TV series that we hope to shoot in Michigan. We have been in talks with several actresses over a lead role. Also some great Hollywood celebs may come out to participate. Funding talks continue and we have a real strong shot at doing this film before the holidays hit.
Development talks for films beyond April 2016 are underway but I also have a few projects to act in that I’m watching to see when their schedule lands. The C.U.J.O. movie has been talked about prior and also my management is targeting a strongly anticipated TV series. Not sure if we’re looking at a guest starring or being a regular but I would be happy with either one.
WASTELAND poster is being sent and the director has been trying to target festivals that focus on Science Fiction. I also want to get updates on THE TERRORIST (Release dates) and DEAD QUIET (Premiere dates).
“BESTSELLER” is having an event showing at the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso, Michigan on November 1st. An EVENT PAGE coming soon! “BESTSELLER” is also being delivered to our distributor as is “Donors” so when I have release dates I will let everyone know.
In Lansing, MI we are kicking off a monthly CDI film screening starting in Oct. 15th at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge. I think it is $5.00 cover at door and the opening film is “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” – a smoky mountain western. It pits the two mountain men from DELIVERANCE – Bill McKinney & Herbert Cowboy Coward against one another.
I think Sanctuary Spirits will have some great whiskey specials. They have an apple and maple whiskey that is really good. I love their gin also. Not only can you have drinks there but you can buy bottles to take home. EVENT PAGE COMING SOON!
“Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for a release in less than a month. Here is a pre-sale link for BEST BUY
We will provide more ways for you to see this fine film in the weeks ahead.
In summary…working hard to finish up and deliver our current slate. We have some of the next slate funded and working on the ones after that. We are at a good place – working with distributors and making films to release directly into the marketplace. I’m really enjoying this new work flow. We will finish up this slate of films and look at moving to a few larger films. Patience is a virtue.
Have a great weekend and spend some time with friends and family.
GO MSU! Go LIONS!
Good afternoon fine people. I hope everyone is having a relaxing day. This week was busy with several things happening on many fronts. Some weeks tend to flow and some weeks feel like white water rafting. I think the holiday last Monday and helping a family member out put everything I had to do on just a few days. We did a new tweak on our previous 5.1 sound mix of BESTSELLER for the start of our theatre run. We also had to fix a credit and add our buddy Joe Carter who helped us grip. Let’s take one of my mistakes and use it to illustrate a lesson.
OH NO JOE
We stay organized at CDI with several processes that include standards in development, pre-prod, production and post. You MUST hire people who are accountable for decisions, spending, attitude, quality and take pride in their overall work. Our cast and crew lists are moved through the system from pre-prod to production. This info is used on film databases, websites, office and administration. We added Joe after we had started shooting and he fell off a list. Every film we’ve ever made – after all the hardship of taking so many layers of media and trying to tell the best story possible – the dreaded credits. Patterns have told me that you almost miss someone/thing always. If not a miss a misspelling. So on the way to the BESTSELLER premiere my girl asks me who might be there that she knows. I start reading some names off IMDB to her and I get to grips and ask myself where Joe is? WHO? She has no idea. I explain that Joe is a nice guy who works up North on productions and was added to help grip. He had even brought apples one day and was just an all-around good guy. He and I had several talks on Michigan and filmmaking. So, no data base credit means there is a good chance that…end credits!
TEXT TO MELISSA ANSCHUTZ:) Is Joe Carter in the end credits?
She doesn’t recall seeing his name. She recalls the nice grip who brought us all apples! (HEY Joe knows old school – like bringing a teacher an apple. Who doesn’t love a good apple?)
I feel bad. I really had thought that we had dodged that credit monkey that tries to always ride your back. It was easier in the early days with the 3 man Mike Kallio gorilla crew being chased out of a graveyard filming. I looked at the new MAD MAX credits last night – CRAP! Whose job is it to check those credits? DOH!
SHOW MUST GO ON:)
I’m told that you can’t let one thing ruin a good night. I find myself wishing hard that Joe could not make this show. Bad thing to say but honest – I don’t want anyone to be that guy watching the end scroll with family/friends and your name never appears. (So…you said you were gone on a film set for 3 weeks – right:) Just kidding. So honestly, I thought maybe Joe had missed our showing but my buddy Tony Hornus told me – Joe was there. With friends. He drove 3 hours. He noticed his name was not in credits.
I contacted Joe first thing that next morning. He was very good about it. No poison apples. Well it’s now fixed and re-rendered from when we made the film for the DCP. It required hours from many of us including myself but well worth it.
The point of the story? PRODUCTION: Check harder. Maybe that last once over. (As if that will stop Murphy’s Law) and Cast/Crew – Have patience when mistakes are made. Finishing a film can be exhausting. We’ve even started working end credits in advance to get fresher eyes upon them.
BESTSELLER 5.1 and Credits T
The good news is after watching the film several times – I still enjoyed the film. I am enjoying watching people laugh at jokes and be frightened in all the right places. I’m a person who can watch one of my films a few times and then I’m good. I do go back and view occasionally on some anniversary or special occasion of a film. I do like when I find a random TV play of one of our films.
OK! So Grand Rapids is up next for BESTSELLER. June 5th is the kick off at Woodland Celebration Cinema, GR, Michigan showing. I will be there with some of the cast and crew (including Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand) for a Q&A after. It will run for a week at that theater. It is Not Rated but I would considered it R maybe PG-13 – so not bringing young kids would be the best call.
This week I did get some good script writing done. We had some good development talks and are currently looking at CDI’s production slate for remaining 2015/2016.
“40 NIGHTS” is getting close to a 1st edit with director Jesse Low. I’m been working on some biz paperwork for licensing on that film. It seems you will be able to get lots of items in conjunction with that film. And I encourage you to buy all of it:) I want a “40 Nights” COFFEE CUP. Here would be my slogan “A day without coffee feels like 40 NIGHTS!” – Cool:) Do I have a coffee sponsors yet?
Paperwork came in last week to license some of our films to a TV network. We will announce some of that in the coming weeks. HINT- You can see Steven Sutherland, Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, Mary Jo Cuppone, Dax Spanogle, Burt Johnson and others on TV. (Some again) It will also include the amazing efforts of some civilian and military folks making a true difference.
I’m sure I have more updates in me but I have a family member’s graduation party to attend. So I’m going to say goodbye and go get ready. I hope you all have a great day.
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee before starting my day. I will be up North without my computer tomorrow and so I thought I would write my weekly blog update in advance. I want to thank all those who follow the blog on here from 13 countries. I enjoy using this as a way to praise, inform, vent and offer insights to our entertainment industry. The lessons discussed can be used in various industries but I speak about what I know best. Let see where to begin…
Let’s talk about our local entertainment media, not all, but some of them. I find it absolutely crazy that some projects get immense spot light when they have no chance of launching. You don’t see someone wanting to open a new steak house begging for donations so they can first buy the building (For 175k) and after that beg for an additional million plus dollars to put the… (business?) (venture?) I’m not even sure what to call it so let’s call it a pipe dream, in motion. This approach is so unreasonable. Since when is a begging venture worthy of being spotlighted in the media? Sadly that defines what is happening in our area. With so many newsworthy projects due attention someone deemed a begging project, that won’t even achieve the 1st goal, worthy. Thankfully I saw that this project doesn’t take any money if it can’t raise all of it. It only has a few days left and is not even close. But why was this even attempted? Did these people honestly think that they would be successful? No accountability to perform. Unreasonable budget. No real track record. I had a better chance of digging up Templar buried treasure in my back yard. Despite that some media got behind it as did various industry people. It must have been on the off-chance it succeeded those people might get considered for work. It makes those people look as film uneducated as those trying to do something way beyond their reach. Are all these folks just playing ass kiss – being too afraid to just speak it plain? If you’re factoring business logic into it all – it’s no different from community theater. As I’ve said, there is a time and place for that but these people are in hopes that someone will plop down hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim. When was the last time someone wanted to do Shakespeare at the local theater raised a hundred thousand dollars plus for their show? Exactly.
I’m so thankful that a handful of filmmakers in the area are doing good business! Real honest to goodness film business. I hope these filmmakers help define us as a film community. Because anyone in the business who reads an article like I read will just shake their head with disbelief – “Ah silly little Michigan wanna be filmmakers.” This is what others do say about us when they read that nonsense. I’ve fought almost two decades against the backwoods mentality people assign to Michigan filmmakers. I feel proud when I see “Gods Not Dead” or any of the distributed films from a small handful of filmmakers. But as for the media – I ask you to embrace these projects that celebrate good art within a business framework. These projects with good management & business plans have earned the right to be recognized. But don’t support silliness.
I swear I am going to start a social funding campaign to do something crazy like build a space station or beg for someone to support me financially so I can try to earn a place on the Olympic soccer team at forty plus years old. I mean if I posted campaign people would say, “Come on DJ” or “That’s unreasonable” – BUT raising a million plus dollars by begging – sure SUPPORT. LIKE. SHARE. Please…if you can do that UNICEF, The Red Cross or any number of legit organizations would love to have you as a fundraiser. Now nothing personal as I don’t know most of these people and they likely would not appreciate my honesty BUT I would be the one person truly giving them helpful information. Or I could just LIKE something and once the time expires and the campaign fails I’m still just fine. Just a small waste of my time and credibility supporting something that was never going to happen. But when this happens we as a community are not fine. We are just that much more a joke to certain professional circles who are really working in the career field. And people ask why my production circles consist mostly of business-art doers from all over the world and not just from my local area. There is your answer.
I got a good response a few days ago because of a posting about clowns needing to get out of our business. Now many the people I mentioned above are NOT clowns but just misguided artists but we also do have our fair share of clowns. One popped up for a second this week on a project only to spout some nonsense in a voice mail and unfortunately remind us that you are still around. Investors must VET out your management staff. Let’s say that you actually have a business plan. You get investors to back your film plan. You seek out experience to help assure your project is successful but instead you hire a fast talking joker. The blame goes both ways with BUYER BEWARE. I always say, 2 weeks of vetting can save two years of litigation. Now this person doesn’t deserve any communication save from the legal department. This clown is just lucky he wasn’t sued for major damages. In my opinion he should stay under his rock and hope nobody comes after him.
Why DJ are you so unhappy about this? Good question –
If you actually have a person or group that would like to see a film made (maybe the first of many) and they get burned…what happens? Right. That well dries up and furthermore at every gathering of those with income to invest – IF film investment comes up – likely the response will be A) Stay away from film investment B) Hire someone outside the state because locals are not experienced. So you can see how one film screw up can have a run down effect on your (You aspiring filmmakers) projects. Still those hindered by these screw ups in our area will still endorse, LIKE and accept every move some of these folks make. It reminds me of a saying about SHI#@%# where you sleep. So when there is a lack of work in your region you can partially thank those who helped ruin it. You can’t blame everything on film incentives. Being positive, professional, passionate, hard-working people who turn out good product is what will bring more work to the area.
BACK ON TRACK
Let’s get back to talking about actual business. “Ashes of Eden” finished its 1st theatrical run and we will soon be announcing more theatrical play dates. We also are entering into domestic (US/Canada) talks and I can say we are targeting 1st quarter 2015. Look for additional theatrical and TV play prior to that national release.
“Bestseller” is about to enter medium GRIT editing. If you’ve ever polished rocks you know you have ROUGH, MEDIUM, FINE and POLISH. That pretty much sums up editing work. We’ve captured our required puzzle pieces and now the Medium edit begins. Test audience after that followed by a fine edit. Lastly, we polish up with color correction/CGI and such. It is going to be a very suspenseful film. This film rose above the initial issues and will be the first of a series of great films.
Music work on “The Terrorist” is underway and sounding great from my talks with director Jon Osman.
In talks with a few foreign territories on “Donors” so stay tuned…
Our recent development talks have gone great on at least one project that could have us filming at year’s end. I’ve also been in talks to possible play the bad guy in a Mad Max like film. We will see. Overall I’m just really enjoying working around here on post work, wine making, office organizing and such. I don’t work to just work – it has to be the right project and with the right people. Speaking of such – the yard/garden is looking good and I’ve got to prepare for my short trip North. An old-school soccer buddy will be getting hitched next month and the posse of amigos will be off to a cabin for a few. I do have another soccer match on Sunday so I will be back to do battle.
Have a great weekend and week ahead.
What a week, what a day… where to begin? We had a blitz of media leading up to the Lansing, MI release of “ASHES of EDEN” that kicked off last night. It will keep playing in theaters for another week and starts the Grand Rapids, MI run on Monday. We’ve received new national distribution offers this week to consider and will keep hitting the theatrical cicles. I think Detroit area is next for this film. We also have a nice support of directors DVD, posters and T-Shirts. Our first night was a great kick off and we had a handful of the stars show to do some signings.
I was with my CDI associate/close friend Dean Teaster who tied the knot last night. It was a great dinner and social and I had one of the best steaks I’ve had in a long time. I tried a bevy of drinks last night and was reminded of my age with a small ache this morning. I was able to meet up with our “Ashes of Eden” keys and enjoy the exciting stories from the nights first showings. So if you have not had a chance to see the film please do. (Look at the CELEBRATION CINEMA websites)
On deck is our final pick up shots for the dark thriller “Bestseller” and we have all those details just about worked out. It will be fun to return and capture these last few pieces. It will included a little bit of in-water work but at least I won’t be bumping my head on ice:)
An exciting drop that I will give you here first is that “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” will look to launch on Indieflix’s AFTERDARK programming this forthcoming Friday. It is funny with a little sexy mixed into it all. The 1st three shows will be available on there and I think audiences will enjoy this adventure.
We are also about to start shopping “DONORS” which is another thriller starring Niki Saletta best known for “7th Heaven” and also co-stars in our upcoming “The Terrorist”. She does a wonderful job in both films and we are happy to have her artistry.
My parents both had birthdays this past week and we are have a party for my dad today and likely hosting a dinner with my mom first of the week. We’ve been using the smoker and grilling a lot and soon fresh garden veggies will be in abundance. Besides yard work that I need to get done this weekend we are going to put a cleaning on a new purchase. It is an old late 1800’s hutch that Doc Holiday would have been right at home with. It needs a little work but will be a great piece in the office.
My only advice this week for filmmakers or anyone working in art as business – don’t allow yourself to be dragged into peoples drama. Don’t associate with people that will tarnish your good name and work. Let those people isolate themselves and they will burn themselves out. It is funny how when I hear of projects that are disorganized cluster%##@@’s – I’m never surprised to discover that one of those handful of known screw ups is somehow involved. VET people out! If you are going to invest (I didn’t say donate like these social hand out sites) invest – talk to people. I would be happy if anyone were to talk with our past E.P’s because you would hear that we stayed on schedule, budget and handled ourselves professionally. Now, I’m not the only one that runs a tight ship in this area but there are only a few. There are many BS’ers out there trying to tell you what they think you want to hear and others still that will laugh and tell you how disorganized they are as if that is truly funny. No. Funny is when your work reflects your effort.
I need another coffee before going to see how we are going to clean up this old timey hutch.
Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll talk with you all next week. If you go see “Ashes of Eden” feel free to send me your comments here.