Hazelnut coffee cheers! It’s a wet and slightly chilly morning here in Michigan but the birds are chirping and the neighborhood rooster is crowing. I want to welcome all our new artists from France, China, Pakistan and more. Subscribe, and invite a friend to join in and share a few moments with us. I’m so happy Spring is right around the corner. It has been fun to work around the homestead getting ready for the year ahead. At a few of the meetings this week we’ve enjoyed a few of the wines I’ve made in the past. The lilac wine “Royal Lilac” was sampled, as only a few bottles remain. It tasted like Spring in a bottle. I’ve only made one batch of this wine since the plucking of 15 lbs of pedals was labor intensive and my significant other did not like coming home to all the lilacs cut down, but it did come out heavenly. Before I get into film updates I will speak into something that we can all work on.
Understanding and kindness- Like all of you my Facebook news feed randomly brings up all kinds of posts. I saw one where a performing artist was playing at a festival and some young fella likely running late as many people are, stepped in to get a microphone or some piece of audio equipment. It must have been a momentary distraction like a person getting in an actors eye line. This moment had been filmed and the artist posted it with a “look at how rude this person is” type of commentary. What followed is a slew of negativity and insults with at least one person offering to do physical harm to this person. Knowing festivals like I do – this person was surely a volunteer. Obviously not a professional stage hand or band “roadie” but a young person, likely socially awkward, who was just trying to do his job. We’ve all been that guy. I’m that guy every holiday when I stay in the kitchen too long, in the way and messing stuff up. This kid could have just been plugged into his computer with a headset, hidden away in a room playing some video game. But instead, he was likely trying to help and learn from a new experience. To just rip someone apart is just lazy. Take this young man aside one on one after the set and explain to him the right way to do it. Young people need mentors, teachers and people to help guide them. Not highlight their mistakes to embarrass and shame them publicly to draw some sort of sympathy for oneself from the masses.
I work on our films with teenagers and those well into their 70’s and beyond. It works great to combine the old and the young. They learn from each other and learn to respect one another. That is what I really dislike about cancel culture mentality. It either destroys a person vs developing them or it entrenches them deeper into the behavior pattern that is not constructive. Again, that is why we work with all types of people from all walks. Diversity isn’t just about race. It’s about of various backgrounds, customs, traditions and more. Working side by side on positive endeavors having positive experiences creates a new mindset. And if you need to course correct someone the best way is by direct message or behind closed doors. Anything else seems like grandstanding for attention. It’s negative attacks like that which causes people to quit or worse. Yes. Suicide is real and when someone feels the world is against them because someone with a fan base attacks them… You get my point. Many see an opportunity to create a “woe is me” moment versus seeing a chance to help someone grow. I was moved to comment publicly which I seldom do. That kind of group negativity doesn’t usually deserve my attention and energy but I saw a chance for a lesson.
In the same week, I saw a post whereas someone had a personal disagreement with someone privately and in person, yet they presented this to their circle of social media followers along with the persons profile and encouraged “trolls” to go get them. A “Social Media Mob” with torches and pitch forks. But it’s funny how if you just turn it off, it doesn’t matter. Clucking hens, and I already got those here. Which speaking of hens, they’re back up to 4 eggs a day. We have 4 chickens for those that have just recently joined us. It just takes me back to ole Spiderman “Uncle Ben” telling “Peter Parker” that with great power comes great responsibility. If you do carry some influence over the flow of people, use it wisely. Use it to help people grow not tear them down. I just feel for the meek who might be trying something new and not doing a stellar job getting attacked and shamed. No. Shame on you for being part of the problem versus being part of the solution.
Let’s move on to some amazing endeavors where people do work together to do something positive. Let’s do a TOP TEN updates shall we?
TOP TEN UPDATES FROM LAST WEEK
I’m being told that BEST YEARS GONE is an official selection of the 2022 BareBones International Film & Music Festival nominated for BEST COMEDY. This is in Oklahoma I believe and so again nice to see the story and humor translate to so many folks.
The DVD wrap art for BEST YEARS GONE is underway and I think the pre-orders on Amazon and other places will start soon for a June release.
Also preparing for release in May is BESTSELLER, an intense thriller releasing with Deskpop Entertainment. Again pre-order on the DVD will be appearing soon.
The paperwork on FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH doc is awaiting counter signature and we’ll start delivering the film. Once all materials are in and approved they will set a release schedule. We are in talks about the premiere showings. We might be doing it in Las Vegas which would be fun.
This week I have to finish review of a few distribution agreements. My printer is not working properly and I like to review paper vs digital so I’m behind. But a KNIGHT CHILLS blu-ray deal is under review as is a full wide distribution deal for DARKEST NIGHT, the CDI associated “found footage” movie shot in the Philippines.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – We are eagerly awaiting the first cut of the film but I might have gotten a peek of a couple of scenes. I can see why our editor has been so excited. The teaser trailer is being worked on as we speak so that will be rolling out likely at the end of the month.
We’ve been starting to meet with potential backers and sponsors for the next CDI film, HOT RODE LOVE. An ‘American Graffiti’ comedy with drag racing at the heart of it. We have the first few stones in the foundation and will be working to put more in place. The fact that this film is in 1975 will give a good challenge to the tribe CDI team but having just tackled 1944 they are ready. Do you have a business that might want to align with this film. Reach out and join many great product partnerships like Hilton, Hersheys, Smithfield Foods, Hormel and more.
I’ve just finished reading a great book that is being looked at as my next scriptwriting project. This would go into production maybe this year or in 2023. If I can get that darn printer working I will send over the paperwork. I really do love the screenplay writing and love to see it come to life on the screen. Do you have a favorite?
CDI is finishing the final touches on a music video we did with the rock band DEEPFALL. The single “Revolution” drops on April 1st, no fooling:) on Spotify and iTunes. They are also about to go on tour with Sevendust. Much like our friends at VERTICAL BRIDGE this venturing into the music video realm is fun. The video was directed and edited by Carl Weyant. He also filmed along with our good friend Travis Hayward.
I need to meet again on merchandise. I really would love to see a BIGFOOT, UFOS and JESUS tee-shirt. Lunch boxes and even action figures and/or bobbleheads. You can find various CDI merchandise on the http://www.cdiproductions.com page – subscribe and stay up with the CDI tribe. If you have any ideas for CDI merchandise feel free to drop me a communication.
WRAP UP: I’m about to go into the third week playing indoor soccer. This is great training for touch and endurance before outdoor starts in April. Last game I was lucky enough to score the winning goal in the final seconds of the game. It has been fun to run and play with my brother and friends. Speaking of my brother, on our way to Menards to pick up brinks to build a chicken coop foundation, he notified of an abundance of unused bricks. They worked perfect and I got an amazing shoulder work out. We’re also putting a brick foundation down for the new fire pit.
We had a great Friday CDI wrap up meeting to celebrate a few of the wins and to plan the next moves on several of the projects. I’m also getting a new water dispenser in the fort/office greenroom. Soon will be some tree trimming and wood cutting to get the wood boxes full for next year. I hope to make many improvements this year. We are also still working our new adopted Luna Mae into our family pack. What a good dog and she is learning Finn (our other dog) and all his quirks. We’ve had a few muddy dogs that required major wipe downs or a bath. Especially Finn as he’s low to the ground without any mud flaps. I’m going to add a few pictures to this and go have a few eggs for breakfast. I hope MSU, my alumni does well today in their play offs. To bring our talk full circle- look around for opportunities to help others grow with sincere feedback versus angry condemnation or shaming. Be part of the solution not problem and know that at one time you too were likely a knucklehead frustrating someone. Ask my dad:)
Be good to one another and I’ll chat with you next week.
The hazelnut coffee taste so good on this chilly Sunday morning. We got a record setting 13 inches when the snow storm came through. We might get a bit more later in the day. I for one love the beauty of the snow but I’m ready to move on to Spring. We had a “Viking” day chopping wood to keep the wood stove roaring. I’m excited to implement many new improvements to the property this year. Our moving of veggies and herbs to raised beds and turning the garden into chicken land has been fun. They are fun to watch like little Dinosaurs.
I want to say that everyday that I read about someones untimely passing it reminds me to love what I’m doing and the people I’m doing it with. That is professionally and personally. I know friends and family that have lost pets, parents, grandchildren and even one past film peer was announced to have passed away. I was not extremely close with him but exchanged communications over the years when either of us has a new success. The sad thing about the last mentioned loss was that it may have happened by their own infliction. I’ve had a few friends over the years that fight real mental battles with themselves. I think on some levels we all do but some cope poorly where others eventually find their way out of the forest.
I’ve had dark days in my past whereas my parents divorced after 30 years putting me in the middle and my acting career was struggling. Michigan’s film scene in the late 80’s and into the 90’s was lacking. I see folks complaining about a lack of opportunities today and chuckle. Today is like a sea of opportunity versus the 90’s. Also post tax incentives the term filmmaker became legit to the common everyday person. Much of my darkness was knowing what I wanted but not having any guides or mentors in that field. My dearest mentor, my father, was rightfully concerned. I had essentially came home and told my father I was going to be an astronaut. Again something made more realistic thanks to the billionaire space race. But he knew how easy life could be if I took the easier road, the practical road. His concerns came after several years yielded very little, in his mind. Failure can affect people different.
A certain amount of punishment and failure can break some and force them into a secondary or pie-life. Pie-Life is when you work X amount of the pie to earn shells and beads ($) so you can freely enjoy the remaining part of the pie, your life. A few years in the real world and most have sufficiently built a standard of living prison around them that forces them to stay the course with the survival job, pie-life. For others of us that have “it” (passion) bad and refuse to let go no matter how much rough ground they’re dragged over. I felt like Indiana Jones being dragged behind that Nazi truck hauling the ark. (Raiders of the Lost Ark) I climbed hand over hand up the whip, climbed on the truck’s bumper, over the side, kick in the doors, punch and throw the driver out and took over the truck. BAM!
If someone can do something else occupational and be happy living the ‘pie life’ or even something close to contentment, do it. But if you are stricken with that passion that will not leave you, embrace it. By that I mean stop being half-ass and whining and do those things you were afraid to try. Pull your confidence, self-worth and inner fire from your own personal well and don’t just try to pull energy from people. When people feel your personal geothermal-like creative energy, they will be drawn. People who draw energy from the masses is a slave to the masses. Now artists create for the masses but often to show a perspective. Life is all about perspective and perception. What we perceive can be seen via positive or negative filters. A failure might be seen as negative but in deductive reasoning it can be a positive. An elusive goal might have just been made easier to obtain as certain roads are found to be dead-ends. No more time wasted or spent. Although some will get caught in that loop, beware.
So the negative of loss that I see each day ever since we’ve all become so much more inter connected as a society, can be a positive fuel to live and pursue dreams and goals. I’m so proud of one of my associates who set out to write and take a few children’s books to market and he has. Tomorrow isn’t promised. A beautiful and haunting statement. Life is a mysterious and short phase of existence and so I would ask that those out there questioning, stay the course. Ride life and learn whatever lessons you can but best of all is learn to be the best you. I’ve said this before, the path to your dreams sometimes lies in helping others with theirs. I know some people will say I’ve helped their journey immensely and others will say, I have not. The truth is you can’t help everyone. You can inspire by your actions to pass it on. I’ve had mentors and I try to mentor. But I come from that martial arts background and sports. To take valuable time from some teachers you have to be prepared and focused, ready to learn. You can apply that lesson to teachers in school. Respect that they are there to try and teach you.
Let’s bring this around to movies, my favorite medium. It also includes some of my favorite artists, filmmakers. Last week we were treated to the announcement that BEST YEARS GONE was multi-nominated and won a few awards. The biggest award being BEST PICTURE which is great because it embodies the collective effort.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is soundly in post. A BTS (behind the scenes) video is being worked on and the first look teaser is being outlined. Meanwhile the feature is being cut with the first rough being done by mid March. We’ll keep rolling out some new photos while we wait for these first videos.
HOT ROD LOVE is the next CDI picture and we’re looking to prep in May and shoot in June. It’s a heartfelt comedy that has many classic 70’s and 80’s influences. We’re putting our investor/sponsor presentation materials together, but the truly exciting news coming this week is the announcement of a director and Dir of Photography- Mr. Shane Hagedorn and Travis Hayward. This re-teaming is building on the previous chemistry of BEST YEARS GONE, coming to home video starting in June. Our #1 goal with BEST YEARS GONE was to have fun filming. The Covid lockdowns had beaten everyone down and the humor and fun making the film translated to the final product. That laughter is the big take away from the theatrical playdates thus far. The world needs more laughter right now.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – More great discussions on this TV series spin off. I have follow ups first thing this coming week. It is going to happen, I’m just trying to follow the best road to production that keeps the integrity intact. Have you seen the feature WILD FAITH? Take a watch. Leave a review on imdb.com or the film’s amazon page and let us know if a sequel interests you. I love the idea of how many folks will be involved should the tv series happen.
The WEEK ahead-
This week is wrapping up end-of-year tax materials for the films. I actually got almost all my personal tax stuff around. This year has been quite smooth so far thanks to our amazing team. I’ve also been keeping my daily screenwriting happening. I’m deep into another comedy script from a treatment I’ve been bouncing around for years. I’ve got my next work-for-hire script/production coming up. It is an adaptation from a book, which I’ve almost finished. I’m really excited about the time period and the storyline. One other work-for-hire script/production is in discussion. Everything in their own time. But I find these cold days are the best for screenwriting.
Last week we talking about video game development and more which haven’t advanced too much in the past week. I got buried in numbers for a few days. But several projects including animation and a music video are in development. It is a busy time but as we discussed prior, get doing- if that is your calling. I have lots to work out in the coming weeks as we’re also in some serious production talks that could be a multi-year commitment. I laugh, because it’s all really a multi-year, lifetime commitment. It’s all a process to try and streamline funding and production. Balance. It’s all about balance. I’m going to bring this to a close. I have some writing to attend to and a few things to do around the homestead.
Good sunny, arctic morning to you from Michigan. It’s 8 degrees today and with windchill…it is bitter. So the Christmas season is about at an end with people looking forward to the coming year. I have to say that 2017 was a pretty good year. I loved our U.P. trip exploring the upper reaches of our great state. We also had our challenges like anyone else such as our furry boy who faced a few medical issues once agin. I’m glad to say he’s now doing great aside from despising the chilly cold. I lost some beloved friends from childhood, mentors and others close to me this year. They will no longer need to debate or navigate the small issues of life. They rest at peace while the remaining group of us look forward to 2018. I hope 2018 can be a year of better communication between people. Better could be translated to say respectful communication. I saw so much negative operating outside our sphere while at the same time being impressed by our positive approach to our endeavors.
Again if someone has a different culture, religion, viewpoint on something indulge it. It might not change your stance but it might refine your reasoning. I said it last week, practice not saying anything in text/posts that you would not say to that person directly. And if you’re a person who says you would – SAY IT TO THEIR FACE – do it. Communicate with someone, interpersonal communication. It was an odd course in college but I can see where that is now lacking. I get asked for advice often about our filmmaking endeavors. Become a good communicator and try to always keep your word. Good communication goes for everyone. The better a director can communicate to his keys the better. Conversely you must become a good listener as well. With decreasing attention spans that is hard for many. This is also a good hint to actors. I see many what I call 50% actors. By that I mean, don’t be a great actor when speaking and go blank when your listening. By truly listening you are reacting which is at least 50% of acting. Look at your own work and see if this is a problem you might have. Do you keep missing that casting opportunity? Take an honest look and see if this is something you need to do. It is an easy correction but just requires awareness and acceptance.
Last year we worked hard to bring our films to you. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star – parts 1 & 2 of The Quest Trilogy hit the holiday scene hard. As we head towards Easter I think the push will be towards Forty Nights. The Christ Slayer – part 3 will be going into music and sound design. We’ll be releasing a new poster and trailer heading into Feb. I got to see 75% of the new trailer and I was floored by what I saw. Everything we’ve learned shooting the trilogy really comes full circle in the last chapter. It was also a huge joy to see Forty Nights and Chasing the Star playing together on Parables TV. I see the day of all three playing together during the holiday season.
WILD FAITH – The 2018 year will kick off with this mid-Western tale. As a treat we released this PR with a link to our new theatrical trailer.
We’ll be meeting more in the new year to talk premiere, theatrical and home video. It will be exciting. For everything that the trailer IS it is not the best of this film. The movie really excites me in a way that is hard to do after 50 movies+. I think it will become a favorite especially for lovers of the time period and genre.
Speaking on the genre WICKED SPRING our 2000 Civil War film will be getting a new release with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. Other CDI films will be getting new life in 2018. We’ll also continue our march into foreign territories.
It’s now time to push hard and bring on the last of our investors on our next CDI project which is MBF (man’s best friend) a powerful tale about our military vets and shelter dogs. You’ll be reading about more cast and crew and updates as we move forward.
I’m going to cut this short. We’ve got a few things to do around here before we welcome in the new year. We’ll be spending time with a few friends tonight likely with some chill music, cards and some good eats and drinks. I will not be waking up with any hangover. Leave that to you young bucks. Those of you who do blow it out party style get a ride. You don’t want the legal or additional results from an accident.
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
The storm cometh
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…
We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.
ASHES OF EDEN
The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.
This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!
DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights
FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)
There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.
Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.
Maybe Government could be the answer?
The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.
Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary
All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.
I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.
SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.
SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.
EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.
Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)
Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.
Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it. I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.
Respect earns Respect
When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.
How can we improve this?
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.
Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?
I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be. As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.
If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.
If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.
I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.
With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.
As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!
HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable. A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.
I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.
Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS
Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS
Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS
No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS
If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.
The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do) I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.
I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.