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

Posts tagged “Melissa Anschutz


FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DJ

 


Day 5 and some Wild Faith Updates

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Sunday!

DJ

 


LOST HEART – Scout Trip and More

Happy Father’s Day! It is a rainy, cold Michigan day. I am lucky that I got to spend some time with my daddy this morning. I enjoyed a little breakfast of cornbeef hash and eggs. Today I feel pretty good having just returned from a whirlwind scout up North with our advanced scout team for LOST HEART. That is our next CDI film that will start filming in July. I’m excited about some of the beautiful locations we discovered and new friends we’ve met. Yesterday I was a touch under the weather due to multiple conditions but I didn’t get my full sleep due to a cabin loft bed that seemed more fun when I was 12 years old. Add in second day of soccer sore, less sleep and perhaps the sip of peach brandy and I was just tired.

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A Northern location scout – the team seen here with actress Kim Harsch (2nd from left) who co-stars in MBF. Also from left to right Anthony Hornus, Shane Hagedorn, Melissa Anschutz, Me and director Jesse Low.

As I’ve stated before, getting our daily filmed footage is only one of my goals. The other goal/priority is creating a memorable experience for the cast and crew. I think the latter will help us get the best footage. The cast and crew on Lost Heart should be very happy when they see where they will be housed. Lots to do in their down time also but we’ll be announcing more on that later.

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I wanted to announce Mr. Don Most will PR this week but we’re combining that announcement with another exciting one. That is the additional of Josh “Ponceman” Perry to the cast of LOST HEART. If you saw THE CHRIST SLAYER you got to see what an amazing talent he is. I’m looking forward to our time on and off screen. We also announced a young actress Cassie Dean who will be working with us for the first time. We will work to make her feel welcome.

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Our cast and crew is lining up and we think this might be one of our best productions yet. The story/script has gotten some great reviews and I look forward to having it brought to life. We always are trying to make the best story with our limited budgets. Many people don’t have any idea how hard it is to raise production funds. I’m sure some of my fellow filmmakers understand that plight. It’s why most all film projects fail to launch. CDI is not some big faceless corporation it’s actually a small Michigan-based production company trying to tell some good stories. I appreciate the artists and it is one of the traits we look at in our hires, appreciation.

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This week is going to be working to get the final funds into the account. Getting the commitment and getting the actual money can be a task in itself. Many investors don’t always understand our timelines and that can hurt a production. We will also be announcing a few exciting new sponsors. We’ve been targeting Michigan-based companies and we’re proud to align with them.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film is now being mixed with a few final audio tweaks being done. We will deliver the film on June 30th and they are already gearing up the theatrical marketing. This week is putting the end credits together and soon we will have another completed film.

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WILD FAITH – Our western is building its home video release. The digital rental on Amazon and other retailers will be June 24th. July 2nd is the official DVD release but some faith retailers were given a slight advance on the release. If you’ve seen the film please do leave us a review on IMDB.com or Amazon.com

I’ve gotten word the the legendary Lana Wood will be joining Darby Hinton at the HAPPY TRAILS VA STYLE film event in October I believe it is. I will keep updating everyone as I get more information.

A few of the discussions as of late have been about the WILD FAITH TV series. Once the film fully gets out there we’ll see if the characters in the film are a hit with audiences. If so we’ll be looking at bringing you a full season of the WILD FAITH story.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps adding audiences worldwide and I have enjoyed a handful of fans recognizing me from those films. Again if you haven’t enjoyed these films check out FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER on Amazon and other fine retailers.

This rain and cold is causing a postponement of my nephew’s Bday party and I too might have to reconsider a get together I was going to have for my birthday. Thunderstorms are not good for outside yard parties. But we did get the garden in and I also worked in some grass seed where needed. The rain is good for that. So this week will be more cast and crew agreements and working to lock locations. And…learn my lines. Yes. Even when you write the script you still need to work your lines although it is a touch easier.

I will let this end here and I’m going to organize my work from the scout trip so I can start Monday off right. Be good to one another and keep chasing your dreams.

DJ


Welcome JUNE 2019 – Updates

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June has just started and it has been unnaturally chilly and very wet with several storms passing through the last month. The yard is bursting to life with growth and soon berry season will be upon us. I’ve been harvesting rhubarb for wine-making and I think it is time to bottle the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine I made last season. I look forward to sharing some wine in the months ahead. I’ve been enjoying our soccer season and although most of the games have been wet and rainy I’m having great fun. I’ll keep working on the yard that is again the target for a returning woodchuck I named ‘Dig Dug’ 🙂 He caused me to redo the entire front porch of the office/fort with a ground wall, cement, rocks and logs. It looks nice but wasn’t planning on that being the priority. Today if it dries out it will be grass mowing and grilling.

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On the personal development front it looks like the new representation for my screenwriting and acting is underway. Paperwork will be exchanging soon and I might’ve had a first writing assignment on a TV show had LOST HEART been on deck. As a first assignment I did not want to try and do too much with all the pre-production at hand. Let’s talk on that…

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LOST HEART – We’ll have a locked schedule tomorrow and I’ve already been in first contact with several actors and agents. I hinted last week at the return of Don Most to CDI’s LOST HEART and after my Friday conversation with his agent, another trip to Michigan is happening. He will be starring opposite Melissa Anschutz (Seen above as Mother Mary) who is playing our lead. If my final conversation start of the week goes as good, we’ll be announcing Don with another great co-star.

We’ll be having another production meeting this week with our director Jesse Low and our team. Some crew talks have started and so we’ll be reaching out. All I can say right now is that the location on this project will be beautiful. The lodging and such may be one of our coziest yet. I’ve said it before but aside from getting great footage at the end of the days I want our cast and crew to have a memorable shoot that they can laugh, smile and recall for the rest of their life.

We are interviewing some office staff UPM’s and Prod Coordinator’s so if you think you qualify please do reach out. You will not regret it:) More on this fine project will be announced throughout the month. I look forward to seeing some old faces and meeting a few new ones on this shoot.

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I’ve made a lot of updates on WILD FAITH and The Quest Trilogy so today I’m going to pass along a list of some of the foreign territories releasing the films.

FORTY NIGHTS – Brazil, Benelux, S. Korea, Mexico, Romania

CHASING THE STAR – Mexico, Africa, UK, Greece, Netherlands

THE CHRIST SLAYER – Mexico, Brazil, S. Africa

WILD FAITH – Latin America, Benelux

  • Digital rental is June 24th for WILD FAITH

These lists will keep growing with each film market. I believe they just returned from the Canne Film Market so we’ll have more territories we will release into. I want to thank our hard working distribution folks.  If you are a buyer and your reading this – do reach out to Bridgestone Multimedia Group.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – So I was in studio doing some final narration last week and I also got to hear one of the final pieces of music for MBF’s powerful ending. We’re in discussions with our distributor as we prepare to cut the final theatrical trailer. It is a beautiful thought-provoking story and I think audiences will take to it. We deliver the film June 30th so soon after theatrical audiences will get to watch the film.

We have some other exciting development underway on several fronts. I look forward to the continued release of the trilogy and Wild Faith that might include a few special screenings. I know it will be playing HAPPY TRAILS VA STYLE this Oct. I believe. I will give better date and time once the screening time is set. We will know soon if we will play at the WILD BUNCH film fest. They have wanted the film since we started it. Also some great developments that could push the TV series even further. My new agency-to-be also really likes the film and there might be a few possibilities there to assist as well. I really enjoyed watching the DEADWOOD Movie. What a great world they created. Congrats to all the artists involved with that film.

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Don Most looking to return on CDI’s next film “Lost Heart”

I’m going to wrap this up. It was nice yesterday at a family graduation party to see Doug Emerson who follows this blog. Also met another nice lady who had seen THE CHRIST SLAYER in Texas. I had attended a memorial for another old friend prior to that and it was nice to meet some great people. Several of them expressed how much they enjoyed the films. Aside from here in this blog or doing an interview I don’t carry on too much about the films. It is nice to meet some of the people “in person” – and to hear what they enjoyed about our films. Our films have been seen by millions of people over the years but I seldom get to speak directly to them. Know that we do truly appreciate you all taking the time to listen to our stories.

OK. I’m going to go mow the lawn (Movie Star activities:) and fire up the grill.

Have a great Sunday and week ahead.

DJ

 


Top 10 Film Updates “And at the end of all your rainbows may you find a pot of gold”

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Top of the morning to you all on this frosty, spring-like Michigan day. It is also St. Patrick’s Day and being that I’m largely Scot/Irish I’ll be toasting to your health today.

“May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.” 

My college alumni team Michigan State University advances in their Big 10 Championship and will play U of M today. Go Green!

I also subbed in for the last indoor soccer game last week with my new team. Nice guys and I look forward to a fun season. It was good to run the engine hard and get those running legs working again.

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(He WAS so small — about 50lbs and growing)

My little boy Finn is growing like a weed and giving us joy every day. Now the ice tundra is leaving us we can enjoy a lot more yard time. I especially enjoy the outdoor meetings at the fort that includes dart playing.

Today we will have the mother’s over for corn beef and cabbage and I’ll be drinking a few PB&J Porters from my friends at Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

To the film updates…how about a TOP TEN for the BIG TEN tournament today.

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(Mr. Trace Adkins)

  1. The cat is out of the bag (what a bad saying) Mr. Trace Adkins has joined our WILD FAITH movie endeavor. You can read about it here. https://www.prlog.org/12759600-country-music-stalwart-trace-adkins-joins-collective-development-incorporateds-wild-faith.html
  2. The first of the theatrical screenings announced in Grand Rapids, MI – Get your tickets here. This is remastered and should be a great viewing experience. https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/woodland-mall/wild-faith
  3. May 6th is the WILD FAITH DVD release and I’m hearing in Walmart in June or July.  Did I tell you how much I love the cover art? I do.
  4. We have just gotten word on The Christ Slayer that will be showing at the International Christian Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for 4 awards that we’ll PR this week. 1) Most Inspirational 2) Best Film 3) Best Director (Nathaniel Nose) and 4) Best Supporting Actress Melissa Anschutz – I’m super proud of our cast and crew. DVD and Streaming available now – in theaters starting April 19th.
  5. Upcoming director of LOST HEART Jesse Low and I are so close to a final script. I have a review once I finish this blog. It is really fun script – emotional and funny.
  6. LOST HEART Location scouting and vendor talks continue while our producers work to lock in the final investments. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place. It will be great to have it in front of our cameras.
  7. Also with LOST HEART we’ll be announcing the addition of two knuckleheads to the cast, Mr. Shane Hagedorn and some guy, DJ Perry:) We’ll both be playing supporting players in this fine story.
  8. MBF: Man’s Best Friend has a locked picture edit and is moving into sound and music with Dennis Therrian. The story is really moving and I’m thrilled by the final story.
  9. Once MBF is moved over to sound the final VFX and Color Correction work will begin. Once that is complete we will cut a new trailer from the edited and color corrected footage.
  10. Last week I recorded two commercial voice over pieces. It went great and I hope the client is happy. I know the director was so we’ll see. Again, feel free to approach me with a project just come with an offer. This is not a hobby for me it is how we put bread on the table and wine in the glass. (Actually I make wine)

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(Looking ahead to the new roles)

I’m going to wrap this up so I can refill the coffee cup and get to my LOST HEART review. Have a great end to your weekend. Be safe and have a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 


Auditions, Updates and Other News

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I want to sincerely welcome everyone out there for joining me again at ‘Clawing my way to the Middle” blog. I had a multitude of topics to discuss but events of the last few days have put my head in a spin. On a personal note I lost all my grandparents years ago but have enjoyed having that relationship with my lady’s grandparents. One of them passed away last week. She was 89 which is a full life but it still leaves a hole. She was a great supporter of our films especially the biblical adventures. Unfortunately she did not get to watch THE CHRIST SLAYER part 3 of our trilogy. We talked about it last time we were together. So I’ve had a few trips up North and will spend a few more days this week up there for visitation and the memorial.

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As if that wasn’t bad enough a dear and close friend and associate lost his home in a fire. Also lost were the family pets and that is just devastating to hear about. This week it will be about helping him get back onto his feet. Luckily he himself did not perish in the fire but my heart goes out to him.

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I had planned to discuss a topic with acting but after all the tragedy it has lost some of the punch. Basically I considered a role in a feature and was even willing to do a sketch read of the character from sides. The issue is that in ALL situations I will sign an NDA (Non disclosure agreement) so I can read the entire script/story. I know few successful actors that will jump on a project sight unseen unless they have immense trust from previous work. Their position was that a script will be provided once talent is signed on. Ummm…once you’re trapped contractually. But many actors due to lack of choices do just that – sign on sight unseen. I’m too far down the path to do such a thing. Also a director will a major lack of experience and it was a polite pass. Value yourself and know what you’re getting involved with. I do wish them luck on their storytelling endeavors.

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I did agree to do two commercial voice over jobs. It pays well and I don’t have to get a hair trim. Anyone need a viking in your film or TV show? That’s me right now. LOST HEART is also developing nicely. As you all know we announced our director Jesse Low (Wild Faith, Forty Nights) and our star Melissa Anschutz playing country music star ‘Hannah Sweet’. She is returning home to her small Northern Michigan town of LOST HEART for her father’s funeral. This week we’ll be announcing Dean Teaster as the father Harrison. Also amazing actor David Gries will be announced as playing the younger version of Harrison in a few very important flashback scenes. So again you got the early skinny here. Later this coming week I will go page by page with our director and lock up a shooting script.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I have a first cut of the film edit. I did a first review for the story and it’s powerful.  It got me at the end of the film emotionally. We need to review and trim for pacing but the story is there and it’s powerful. I was so proud to see the great work by everyone. A couple of weeks of trims before the next phase.

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This past week we’ve been promoting the current digital release of THE CHRIST SLAYER and the upcoming March 4th DVD release. Also April 19 the film will play select theaters across the USA. I’m very proud of this film. As with every film when we get to credits we go over and over and try to put as many eyes on it as possible. But we always make an error of missing a name or more likely misspelling a name. It’s why we run the end credits by so many people. I was unhappy to learn that one of our incredible actresses had her last name spelled wrong. So Brittany Risner my deepest apology. The DCP theatrical is loaded, DVD’s are in the warehouse and digital is released. That film was so massive with VFX and digital info that it took days to render it. There is just no fix to the issue but I wanted to openly apologize here.

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The film minus the ‘Jesus haters’ is getting a great reaction. I state it again, you don’t need to be a Christian to enjoy the stories of Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments or any other biblical stories. Also these films are not biographies or meant to be some historical documentary films. They are parable stories with lessons taken from the teachings of Jesus, presented in a unique and artistic way. No more. If you have not seen it yet I ask that you take a watch. The films are different from what you usually see on the topic I assure you. The first two films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR can also be found on Amazon Prime.

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WILD FAITH is also preparing to ride into theaters next month March 23rd. I will be publishing cities and screens for both THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH once provided. We’re also preparing some PR for this fine film that includes the addition of our added story narrator. I will again be publishing cities and screens once that info is provided.

I had planned to chit-chat more on various topics but my mind is on some of the recent events. I’m feeling good about the various CDI releases and I’m excited to get my notes over to our director and editor on MBF.  Check in at http://www.cdiproductions.com during the week. We will be posting a few casting notices there in the next week or two.

Enjoy the balance of your weekend and have a great week ahead.

DJ