Good morning. Coffee cheers. Well, today would have been one of the first holiday family get-togethers but alas we are not due to the lock down in Michigan. I have a good amount on my mind this week plus several good film updates on several of the projects.
I’m beyond happy that the stories we tell are being seen by millions and I’m receiving such uplifting fan mail that tells me what we do has a positive purpose. What WE do. That is an important word WE. We’ll address that more soon. The new CDI release is LOST HEART which is truly a ray of light filled with laughter and tenderness gifted to whomever takes a watch. I believe that the lessons inside our stories can be taken to heart for ALL people. From the negativity I’ve seen fly, EVERYONE can use a little story to remind us of the goodness in us all.
Lost Heart has 3 leads in it. Melissa Anschutz, to know her is to respect her dedication and love to the character’s she becomes. This film is a crown gem in her growing list of roles and stories. It is also deeply personal because of losing her husband to cancer and her own personal struggle with the disease, all while putting this movie together. Victoria Jackson who is a true comedic genius and is a tad outspoken in her political lean has drawn some praise and fire. Now add Don Most, who recently was heavily criticized by some and applauded by others for attending a ‘Happy Days‘ fundraiser for Biden. FOX took a PR piece on Lost Heart and really played the political slant almost like a TMZ piece. While it has added thousands of views it has angered some and so the days after the FOX story posted anger responses erupted from a few and the VOTE score on the film 1-10 dropped from mid 8’s to 3-4 over politics.
Political or not, it happens to all the children (movies) and while I wanted this child to be safe from bullies/trolls – people will vent their frustrations before taking accountability or accepting differences. Conservative MAGA or Cancel Culture Liberals – EVERYONE can use a good story with lessons about being good to one another and the value of kindness. I’ve been around long enough to know the drill. Friends, family, peers drive the score UP and the haters arrive and it goes down and fans start to bring the score back up and it will settle into a final score in a few years. Older audiences, myself included are not as savvy with computer reviewing so that is often not reflected. CDI works with respectful artists period from across the spectrum. I personally don’t ride the rollercoaster of hi’s and low’s. I try to live each film as a “drop the mic” moment and enjoy each day.
BEST YEARS GONE – The edit is coming along great with over 40 scenes cut. We’ll have a first edit in a couple weeks and the goal is to lock picture end of Jan. 2021. Let’s talk about that film in light of what we just discussed above.
Our motion picture has been adapted from a self-published book entitle “Hope from Heaven” by author and small-town barber Karl Manke, who by challenging state law during the Covid lock down earned himself the moniker of ‘America’s Barber’ whatever good or bad that name might bring. One man’s personal actions put him in line with the theme or agenda of others and against state law, an outlaw or patriot was born unto the media depending on the opinion piece. But I can say that Karl did not ask for the media circus and was not trying to be a flag bearer for anyone.
(One of several projects I was honored to work on with Dan Haggerty)
Enter our CDI (www.cdiproductions.com) a Michigan-based motion picture company since 1996 that has produced various films over the years and has found a niche of positive, well-told stories that often include a few life lessons woven within. CEO DJ Perry, often the screenwriter these days, gives credit to the early TV shows like The Waltons, The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams and Little House on the Prairie. These were shows strong in character development and story. Often with a treasure of a lesson buried at the heart of the story for the audience to dig up, leaving them with something to ponder beyond the screen.
“We believe that our stories speak to the entire spectrum of audiences – it doesn’t matter where you stand politically, our stories are for everyone.” – DJ Perry
The story seems simple enough, a young woman raising twin teen daughters as a single parent falls in love with a less than perfect man and conflict ensues. Also said, less than perfect man is an ex-race car driver who had a team and a dream with his cousin. This relationship ends due to the poor decisions whereas the thin threads of family are broken. These characters while extreme, are still relatable to most either in shared qualities or as the worst versions of ourselves in some alternate universe.
This political year combined with the Covid situation made filming plans even worse. CDI had originally planned to begin filming in April 2020 on ‘Best Years Gone’ the adapted film name. The well-written book was full of colorful characters and a nice blend of realism and mystery. The book and script both speak to imperfect relationships and the importance of forgiveness to the self. In the public arguments the means by which many communicate shows no desire to really be heard, understood or to find common ground. Most remarks are inflammatory and meant to injure the other party by slandering things they hold dear and sometimes sacred. This story had greater messages that can be applied to anyone.
CDI has a strong reputation for staying on schedule, on budget and creating exceptional quality stories within business guidelines. This quality is by gathering talented artists and uniting them behind a story. UNIFIED BY A STORY! So is the way of the TRIBECDI. What is the tribe you say? The creation of a sacred artist space whereas the art of storytelling can be told unhindered by differences and distractions. A philosophy that demands respect towards one another as artists and only asks for your best efforts to be put forth without any added drama.
CDI has diverse, artistic individuals from all over the spectrum of beliefs and affiliations. In some those beliefs can be polar opposite and in other examples just differing priorities on taxation, spending or any of the various topics debated around dinner tables. The issue is that in a growing culture that becomes more inclined to try and gather to only like-minded groups finding that singular group at the larger level of inclusion is near impossible – you WILL end up working with diverse people and that is a good thing. At CDI we don’t endorse or support any one life path save the path of telling a good story. I think that many could learn from the environment we work to nurture and grow. We continue to refine and grow ourselves and the key is to keep the story in sight. While others flounder due to poor communication we are still able to speak to the audience as a whole. We create great little stories with powerful topics- often softened slightly by humor. The story a gentle reminder not to take life too serious as we only go around once and life is too short a ride to do it mad or with a chip on your shoulder.
Okay now my Top UPDATES
- According to our distributor Wild Faith is still growing an audience with the film ranking in BMG’s Top 5 on most platforms. We had HASTINGS talks and progress is being made.
- I’ve started doing the writer/director polishing passes on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. We are close to a full green light. We just have a few units to still assign in the project. Once we do expect some big PR announcements.
- I’ve been doing some writing on the new updated draft of the SMOKE & MIRRORS featured script. CODE NAME: ASH – I’ve had a wonderful time researching and writing and the short film will be done and released in 2021.
- The Quest Trilogy is being licensed for the season and I’ll notify as I find network and such featuring it. If any of you see it playing let me know.
- MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – If you enjoyed this film the dog who played Brown Boy is named Big Papa and he needs surgery. It is the same kind that a few of our own furry family had to have. If you enjoyed the film and want to help out a great guy Robert Ash, is needing help with the costs so if able think of donating at the link provided. https://www.gofundme.com/f/big-papas-surgery?fbclid=IwAR1g6JR1Kz8lDcM7laYtwgXU_Oz5N4EAAyhDlJQtJxGlhuMnQQWIXFrc7VA
- The doc “For the Love of Catch” will start rolling cameras again start of the new year!
- NEW merchandise is coming so that is quite exciting to me.
SPOILERS SO IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE FINAL ‘THE MANDALORIAN” SEASON 2 FINALE STOP READING
(My bro and I are intergalactic bounty hunters in our spare time)
The POWER of storytelling. I’ve been a lifelong Star Wars fan and give much credit to A NEW HOPE for me wanting to be an actor/storyteller. I was and still am a big Han Solo fan. Luke was always somewhat secondary for me. But in this time of hardship, stress and frustration for many Luke Skywalker is just what the world needed. The odds look to be just too much. The battle appears to be a losing one when “one X wing” how is that going to…wait a minute. Was that R2D2? Is that? Glove? Green lightsaber! I like millions had imagined scenes like what we saw unfold in our childhood imaginations. I loved seeing the JOY that overcame so many watching this unfold. I cried and I’m not even sure why. The need to through back to another time. To truly escape back to a Far, Far Away Galaxy. To have Luke Skywalker come and save the day – to save 2020. It again showed me the power that can come from storytelling. Now to bring it all full circle the haters will come for this show also. Maybe Mark Hamill will say something that offends someone or just going against the grain is what some need to do to get noticed. But for me it was collective joy. Seek a Collective Joy in 2021 and by our individual actions lets make 2021 the year we all want. Appreciate people as you get to spend time in 2021 even if they have different priorities versus yourself. Communicate respectfully and as if that person were in the room with you. If you want a better 2021 you need to do your part – actions. We will circle back and talk next Sunday for the last time before 2021. Be good to one another and have a Merry Christmas!
Last Note: These films are made with collective love by diverse artists who share the sincere hope each of our stories will bring you some amount of joy. A person drowning in negative filters will not ever see joy in anything and will actually want to destroy the experience of joy others may experience. But those icy haters should know we don’t EVER give up on you. We create and await that one day that our one story made you crack a smile, laugh aloud or shed a tear. We immerse ourselves in a made-up world and tell a story. All while giving up precious time with families and friends. As artists, we’re called to reach out with a story and try to melt the icy negativity that stretches across the hearts and minds of so many. To give them a chance to find some joy. To feel a story of Collective Joy. Here’s wishing JOY to you.
Coffee cheers to our new readers/followers from Taiwan, Romania, Kenya and more. I love that we are a world group of artists – a collective of sorts:) If you are not subscribed to the tribe please do add yourself to our Collective Development Inc. http://www.cdiproductions.com
It has been a great week and by great I mean productive. On a personal productive the chickens are doing great with their new home. The new fence is solid and doing its job. I’ve started to cut up wood for the winter wood stove in the office. And we had our first wood stove fire at our end-of -the-week CDI meeting.
I’m going to rack the wine, harvest the hops and slowly start getting things around for winter. I’ve been organizing the office and I’ve enjoyed all the treasures I’ve discovered.
BIZ TOP TEN UPDATES
- I’ve got the book Second-Chance Cats that I was a contributing writer for releasing Sept 15th at various stores and online across the country such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Baker Book House, Books-a-Million – and more!
- We announced our VIRTUAL PREMIERE INFO for Lost Heart on Nov 7th – https://www.prlog.org/12837497-encourage-tv-offers-the-world-tickets-to-the-red-carpet-premiere-of-lost-heart-nov-7th.html
- We are moving on BEST YEARS GONE with a new updated schedule almost approved. It will film closer to mid-Michigan around the Jackson area and be broken up into a few smaller shooting blocks so we can adjust and pivot as needed. Location scouting has been going great and I advise anyone interested (cast and crew especially) to join our BEST YEARS GONE Facebook page.
- WILD FAITH has been doing great in the marketplace with just our distributors AVOD site racking up views approaching 3 million! All this is great news for our ‘HASTINGS‘ (Wild Faith TV series). We had some wonderful talks on this new project and we just might have this up and going by Spring 2021. If you have not seen this film please do:)
- The poster art for SMOKE & MIRRORS is almost complete. Also the music and sound design is underway and should be finished soon.
- ‘For the Love of Catch‘ documentary film has started rolling cameras and we’ll be getting ready to film phase 2 of interviews. IF you have an interest in getting involved with this project please reach out to me.
- I’m looking at doing some additional VO (Voice Over) work on musician/author Ronnie Lee’s audio book ‘For Generations to Come‘ and will provide a link when available. The paper and digital book(s) will be available soon.
- We just about have our documents together on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA the WW2 drama to be directed by Anthony Hornus that we’ll shoot in fall 2021. We have a few investment units left on this project that we’ll offer to our previous backers. We only have a few left to offer after the participation from a Foundation.
- We’re planning our LOST HEART CAST & CREW SCREENING which will be filmed and be part of the virtual online premiere. We have some great national PR underway and I think this will be a fun and unique event for an undeniably unique year. If you are a PR source and want to be invited to the media part of the event, again reach out.
- CDI as a company is about to embark on a new journey and I feel absolutely wonderful about our new direction. At CDI we always work hard to give the cast and crew the best possible experience and that is going to get even better. We often have to overcome obstacles that should be assistance. We’re forced to deal with jumping through hoops that don’t actually help the project nor the artist. We’re taking control back and looking forward to the next decade of storytelling. COFFEE CHEERS!
I’m going to wrap things up here. We’re going to a flea market see if I can find a few more cool props. We’ll do a few things around the homestead and tonight I get to visit with some family and friends. I hope each and everyone of you are finding success as you navigate the day to day. Until next 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
It is actually the night prior and I’m typing this blog so it will be there in the morning to greet people. I’ve got to take a family trip up North tomorrow and so unless I want to get up way early this makes more sense. It has been a crazy busy week but things are exciting as they unfold. Let’s take a look at a few of the updates. This week was full of meetings, releases, PR and more.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend has moved into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. We deliver the film June 30th and so our post team will be hard at work.
Good talks with a distillery out of VA about a possible cross promotion and some promotional work with CDI. I’ve also got new development talks concerning a possible new biblical epic. We are also moving development pieces closer on the WILD FAITH tv series. You can see the film on the big screen –
WILD FAITH playing until Thursday the 28th of March in Grand Rapids, MI.
Out team has been participating in various PR. Many were excited this past week at our announcement that we added country start Trace Adkins.
Radio host Steve Gruber talks with Shane Hagedorn about WILD FAITH
WILD FAITH TV Interview again with Shane Hagedorn.
The Christ Slayer – Star and friend Carl Weyant promoting
In-Depth review of The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer)
LOST HEART is at a place where we’re trying to hit our ideal shoot dates. We have some but not all our funds committed but we plan to try to get this all funds in line this month. Once we put that in place we have a month of pre-production and want to shoot in May before Memorial Day. That is the goal that sits before us. With the biblical films the window was when the heat was bearable in the desert. With Lost Heart we’re dealing with N. Michigan tourist season. But this wonderful story will be told. We’ll be announcing a few more actors in the coming weeks. We will start bringing on crew as soon as we move into pre-production with all funds in place. This week you have a few interviews to read, watch and listen to. So enjoy the multimedia. I’m ready to have a great week ahead and I hope all of you do the same.
Be good to one another.
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.