The rain has stopped after storms last night. The air was cooler but the humidity was/is still high. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee and enjoying these quiet moments with you as the Olympics play on. I had a very busy week but also had a very enjoyable one. We are in the final run to finishing BEST YEARS GONE our next feature film to release. I got to go spend six hours or so doing some narration which also allowed me to see some of the sound design and music. Just amazing work by Dennis Therrian and once again just excited to bring this project everyone. We are putting the final plans together on the premiere event we will be doing at the Springport Racetrack. It is something new and exciting with a ‘Gilles Boyz’ spectator drag. You got a fast car? Got a need for speed? You can show it off at the Sept 11th event! Maybe win a huge trophy and some cash. We are also looking to finalize and start promoting the Owosso, MI screening also. We started uploading assets to the distributor BMG as they prepare to start artwork and such.
I’m also told that our short concept film SMOKE & MIRRORS will be done here in August and we’ll look at some places to show that including maybe a fall premiere at the Dodge Turner house where we filmed. It is worth noting that I’m reworking the feature that we will look to produce with Nathaniel Nose (dir. The Christ Slayer) directing. Our ‘For the Love of Catch’ documentary is in full edit mode and we’ll have a first cut to review soon. SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is coming together in grand fashion. Our crew is almost full as is our cast but we have a few more to lock in place. I’ll be reaching out to more folks this week. But we will be announcing two more cast this week – one is an old friend/co-star from 2002 and many of you will know him from his famous TV series that was also set during a war. And the other is a VERY recent co-star – perhaps in a film not yet released. Can you guess who they are? The German talent will be our August kick off and we have some amazing talent coming on board. I’ve been in talks and climbing up several major companies with Smithfield Foods being one of the first major brands onboard. We’ll be announcing some great brands that will soon be joining us! In Augusts I want to start putting paperwork under folks and prepare travel arrangements. November will be here soon enough!
Looking to take the rescheduled meeting over HASTINGS the Wild Faith TV series this week. If this comes together it will be a great thing for the MI film community. Everything from the feature film “pilot” to the 8 written shows are being evaluated. I got feedback that the interest is there and so now to see if we can land the deal. Speaking of writing, having written the 8 shows, I’m looking at my literary collection to see if I have scripts to sell. I had a good talk with a literary management company to sell off scripts I don’t plan to produce. I also have a few possible work-for-hire writings but they are just in the talk stages. SciFi, more biblical and a few highly charged social issues have been brought to my table to consider. I believe what is meant to become, will become.
I’m looking to have a good update conversation with our distributor. They are doing new campaigns for a few of the films and I want to keep that rolling. So I’m going to discuss several other films that would do wonderful in these streaming environment. If you are looking to see what you’ve missed at CDI feel free to look over the http://www.cdiproductions.com website. Subscribe to the Tribe!
Balance is the key and even I can get off keel once in a great while. Your mind can follow your health and so good health and sleep are large factors in keeping balance. I had one night where I had a stomach ache from the wrong mix of food which likely was brought on by a high protein mango mega body building shake a gift at a meeting. It set up like cement which kept me from getting a good sleep. A fuzzy head worried if I’m missing something on my ‘To Do’ list – luckily an intense soccer battle which I considered missing for a beat but I’m always willing to battle even at less than 100%. It was exactly what I needed. Strong exercise is sometimes exactly what you need to get everything right again. So again I’ve found my balance and I’m ready to move into the week with strength. But I did have two days where my balance was not quite perfect. I know a lot of people deal with sleep issues and I too use to be a night owl but getting great sleep is a must for success. I don’t use technology on the run up to bed and create a routine to rest. I do some reading at thew end of each night. Soothing music and peaceful meditation on the day’s events and what is to come tomorrow. But after that I turn the switch off and allow my mind to rest. I’m also on a no eat from 9:30 PM to 9:30 AM which puts the body in rest and repair versus digestion. All things that help balance the body and mind. Focus on your sleep and watch how productive all your other activities become.
I also had a great couple days of catch up with a dear friend from 1st grade on who was here to visit his mother. It was almost 2 years since I’ve seen him due to Covid. It was a great time and we even made it out to another school buddies house for several games of pool. Now both of them have or have had pool tables growing up and are good players. I actually came out on top with games won which was a first. I credit some of my new zen mediations on free mind and avoiding fixation. It is close to my views on pulse versus ray with our energy. The mind can overthink (fixate) and cause us to (in this case) miss the shots. Or you can ‘be the ball Danny’ by not fixating and flow to a positive outcome. So maybe the SLEEP = BALANCE and trying to remove FIXATION can greatly enhance everything. I do see all the time people trying to impress others with how hard they work to the point of exhaustion… this is not impressive but loudly illustrates someones lack of time management skills. So if you feel burned out and like you’re not getting things done try resting. I don’t have time to rest I hear. You often don’t have time to NOT rest. A well rested 3 hours will likely be more productive than 7 hours of stressed unfocused work.
I’m going to bring this to an end. Today we will go pick up our meat from our 4H purchase. This year we’ll likely add another deer to the freezer as well. We’ve finally been using some of the meat while entertaining. We did BBQ ribs early this month for a mom bday and we’ve enjoyed venison steaks and pork chops as well as grilling veggies from our raised garden beds. The chickens are turning out wonderful eggs which I just enjoyed. I’ve been harvesting rhubarb and herbs but not the mulberries. I’ve been leaving those for the birds including the chickens that LOVE them. I should be doing more paid product endorsements but my new Ryobi battery 40w push mower works great. I might have to put it to use again today or tomorrow as the rain is making a jungle of the yard again. Until we chat again next week keep chasing those dreams but make sure your are rested and focused.
Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!