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

Posts tagged “Michigan

First ‘Lost Heart’ Impressions and Christmas Season Updates

Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…

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So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.

  1. I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
  2. Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
  3. I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
  4. Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
  5. I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
  6. I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
  7. I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
  8. MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
  9. I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
  10. Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?

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LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry.  The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack.  I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.

I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.

Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.

My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.

I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece.  NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.

So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of  another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.

Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…

OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.

DJ


Spooky Shooting and NEW CDI Development

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Friends,

So it’s a rainy, overcast Michigan day with rain showers. Yesterday we had a beautiful day for a shoot we did. I use to love Halloween as a child making costumes with my mom and grandma’s. I use to try and make my candy last from Halloween to Easter by rationing. My brother would eat all his immediately and want some brotherly handouts. Lastly dad took his candy tax. Anything he liked, could be filled with razor blades or needles and so he would need to test a few. I recall childhood Halloween parties – one of my favorite at my buddy John Luginisland’s house. We made haunted attractions for all the neighborhood kids to attend. Later came costumes parties with spirits and “spirits” – drinks. I have not hit any Halloween themed parties in many years. Maybe because I play other characters in the movies I don’t have that itch like many do. Anyway…this is the reason I’m late with my blogging, doing it on a Monday. CDI was hired to produce “movie content” for a software company. We worked with director Nathaniel Nose (* The Christ Slayer)  and DP Jesse Aragon (* Lost Heart most recently) and many of the CDI usuals. It was a turn of the century spooky short taken from a feature script of mine entitled, “SMOKE & MIRRORS”. We had a cool Model A car out and shot at the Dodge Turner House in Lansing. Watch out Downton Abbey:) It is about a magician-escape artist debunker attending a seance…let’s just say, it was awesome fun to shoot. The crew rocked and the performances were on point. I think I will polish up that script because I might have found the next project to develop with Nathaniel Nose in mind.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND

I’ve continued to have great fan communications on this film. We have had charity events invites, film festival invites with waivers and just a slew of general audiences emails expressing their appreciation of the story. I could not be happier. We are looking for written reviews in magazines that would appeal to the target audience. That audience being military and dog themes. The film is a powerful story and I hope it keeps growing an audience.

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WILD FAITH – We just played the Happy Trails: Virginia Style Film event and I need to reach out to Darby Hinton and see how people enjoyed it. I’m starting to look at putting the pieces in play for the TV series. I think people would like to see these characters return. Take a watch this week and let me know your thoughts.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – We’ll start PR’ing these once we get past Halloween. All three are now in release and it will be great for people to see them all together. I’ve always said there is a greater story when you watch them all together.  Take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

Development is also underway with several other films to fill the 2020/2021 filming schedule. I hope to have a very productive writing schedule. I’m about to really start working a few scripts every day. We’re about to move into PR and development stages while enjoying our time with our families over the holidays. Thank you for stopping by and we’ll chat again on Sunday.

DJ

 


RECAP and Looking Ahead with Projects

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The hazelnut coffee is flowing and I’m finally landed back in the Michigan and catching up. We had a wonderful whirlwind trip to AZ whereas we were met at the airport by ‘Doc’ our AZ transportation Captain in a new RV. We went to Wilcox and had a few days of great friends old and new including Darby Hinton * who beat me for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ in the very entertaining film ‘Bill Tillman and the OutLaws’ who also had my dear friend Lana Wood in a great cigar chomping role that reminded me of the mother in “Goonies” – just great.

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I also had just bought a $2 Johnny Cash album at the flea market ‘Live from Folsom Prison’ and lo and behold we spent time visiting with John Carter Cash, his wife Ann and son Joe who had a short film “Dragon Song” at the festival and promoting a new documentary “The Gift” about Johnny. Just wonderful people and abound and so thank you to Rock and Brenda who put the Wild Bunch Film Festival on. We took home 7 awards of the 13 nominations.

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BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR and ACTRESS, BEST CHILD ACTORS, BEST FAITH FILM and I’m forgetting one. Come on coffee! It will come to me.

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That same weekend we had Lauren LaStrada win ‘Best Actress’ again in Wild Faith at the Hollywoodivine International Film Festival in PA. The film took Honorable Mention for ‘Best Faith Film’ and won ‘Best Film’ overall. Josh Perry was there representing THE CHRIST SLAYER and WON for his role of Albus. We were all so proud of him.

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The weekend prior we were honored to have WON the Justice Award at Content 19 for WILD FAITH that was also recognized for SET DESIGN. Next week at the Green Mountain Christian Film Festival I’ve been nominated again for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ as Ben Lily. I’m proud of all the attention the films are getting.

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So if you have not stayed current these are some of the CDI films you can watch on TV or get the DVD.

ASHES OF EDEN

FORTY NIGHTS – The Quest Trilogy Part 1

CHASING THE STAR – The Quest Trilogy Part 2

THE CHRIST SLAYER – The Quest Trilogy Part 3

WILD FAITH

MBF: Man’s Best Friend

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  • Also if you want to see some old school – my 1st starring film with monsters in it is called IN THE WOODS and can be found on Amazon.
  • Also WICKED SPRING now released by CDI but an older Civil War drama.
  • R Rated – Halloween fare could include DARKEST NIGHT, DEADLY RENOVATIONS and THE 8th PLAGUE if you dare:)
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DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

The office has the wood burning stove going. This week I will harvest the apples for a crisp. We have been enjoying the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine at our meetings. We missed a family wedding yesterday to attend a memorial for my Uncle on the other side of the family. A unique, funny storyteller who will be greatly missed. He would have enjoyed LOST HEART.

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LOST HEART is past the 30 min mark in the edit and I’m looking to move it to sound design and music towards the end ofd the year. The distribution is set and this will be another enjoyable CDI film.

This week we’re prepping for a short narrative film that is actually a demo for a software company. It is a Victorian age film short taken from a feature film script of mine entitled SMOKE & MIRRORS. It will be a fun project for sure.

We also will be pushing hard with the new momentum for the WILD FAITH TV series. Plus we have a few features we are developing foe 2020 and 2021. With that I’m going to close this blog up and enjoy the morning.

Peace to you all!

DJ

 

 

 

 


Production Ramble and Film Updates

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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PRODUCTION THOUGHTS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 


Updates from On-Location – Lost Heart

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Good morning from the Double JJ Resort in beautiful Rothbury, Michigan. If you have a family that loves waterparks, mini-golf, arcades, horse riding and such this is a wonderful place. Also if you are one of the people who like to knock a ball into a hole with a stick (golf) they have a beautiful course here. Such friendly service from everyone here. How they handle 50-70k people here for their music fest I do not know. But that said, our small army of artists is no problem for them.

I was a bit under the weather the 1st day and a half of pre-production but most likely due to the stress of the transition from home to location. Trying to remember to pack everything personal and business and making the move. But several breaks overseeing the golf course with deer prancing about and such put me right back on track. It is amazing to see everything fall into line but it happens through hard work and communication. I’ve very proud of how this production is coming together. I also want to announce two more amazing cast members joining us. Sherryl Despres and Michael Walton will be coming to LOST HEART🙂

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While we have been here we’ve had the great joy of talking with several people who have seen our previous release WILD FAITH, which released on DVD nationally July 2nd. It is always a thrill to actually get to speak with your audience about the film. I sincerely hope that audiences continue to connect because a TV series might be around the corner. That would be great for our state and give lots of opportunities to weekly guest star talent. If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do. I know it can be purchased at Wal-Mart and many online retailers.

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The Quest Trilogy is also out there and it is NOT just a holiday trilogy. And while it is pulled from the lesser known corners of the bible and the lore surrounding it – they are adventure films. As an influence we also got to go for a STAR WARS look with the three films. So if you decide you want to catch up with CDI’s biblical adventure films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER, check your TV stations or rent/purchase the film via Amazon Prime or other participating platforms.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been getting marketing materials out to NAGRA/MyCinema who is booking our theatrical. I’m excited to see this film roll out to theaters followed by a home video launch in the fall. If you support our wounded warriors and/or love dogs this film will pull at your heart strings. Follow us on Facebook or at http://www.cdiproductions.com

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Aside from all this I recently completed two new stories for my contributions to an upcoming book. The book on horses that I have two stories in will be out this September I believe. Pre-Order here-

All this ties into the push with my literary work. I’m in hopes of announcing some new partnerships this fall. I’m going to get back to film work here but wanted to stop in and say hello. I appreciate all of you following along and supporting this endeavors. Cheers! Back to the hazelnut coffee:)

DJ