SPRING CASTING NEWS and FILM UPDATES
Good morning and welcome our new readers from S. Korea, Bolivia and Norway! I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee on a chilly Michigan morning. Our weather has been bouncing between warm (including record highs) and cold. But I’ve gotten some good clean up down in the yard and my clover planted is starting to come up. The new hops are already growing and many flowers have come up adding some color. I’ve got a few things that I would love to do including privacy fencing, tree trimming and lastly a new deck. I think we have an idea of what kind of patio deck design I just need to do a blueprint.
The birds and squirrels have been busy at work and I love to watch them. Our chickens are producing eggs steadily and so that means wonderful breakfast meals. I love watching the interactions between all the birds and watching them has become a fun pastime. As a matter of fact I’ve used ‘birdwatching’ as part of the back story of my character in our next film. Our dogs have been enjoying the Spring allowing them to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
Before the heavy heat of summer I will be working on splitting and stacking wood to prepare for the winter ahead. I also need to rebuild our compost bin which is made of pallets and has seen better days. I’ve also got some plant seedlings germinating but need this cold to pass before planting.
On the personal – I’ve been working steadily while occasionally dealing with a tooth pain. I’m a person who stays up on all that even doing dental cleaning three times a year vs two. I had a few bad days and was happy when the dentist found the crack. It was on the backside of a back tooth. You think you’re tough until you get tooth pain. It can be very humbling but I’m happy to report the fix has happened and all seems well. Just in time for soccer season! Soccer and martial arts have put me on the receiving end of a few blows that could have caused damage. Or less thrilling it could have been a seed or nut. But my service warning to young folk out there is this- do not neglect your teeth.
Before I get into talking about our films I want to mention something as a proud uncle. I’m actually very proud of both my niece and nephew who are just so fun to watch grow and gain new interests. They are both playing soccer together and are into Star Wars, Superheroes and Dungeons and Dragons. They are both into playing and make believe too. At a bowling party recently my nephew was thrilled with a stormtrooper outfit we brought him and he had to wear it immediately. Bowling with a Star War’s stormtrooper. My niece age 9, recently (last night) participated in a short proof of concept film for a filmmaking buddy. It was filmed at a great turn of the century mansion where we shot SMOKE & MIRRORS. She was playing a ghost girl. I went up to visit towards the back half of the shoot not wanting to be a distraction. When I first arrived, I sat away from set and listened to her work for a while. She is confident and fearless. She was asking about backstory and character motivations. She was enjoying working with these adults. My favorite thing I heard her ask the director was, “How many other actresses did you interrogate?” I think she was looking for audition or interview but either way I got a good laugh. At that age we had build our own spaceship cockpit with pillows and such but this was not just free imagination but directed work. I wonder if all that could infringe upon the passion of make believe and just being a kid. Her mom is an amazing actress in her own right so she has it in her blood for sure. But as I’ve stated the artist road is a hard yet rewarding road. I don’t want to encourage or discourage and so this was a nice test run. I saw where she was tired towards the end and losing some focus. But she listened and did what she was suppose to. She has a part where she sings a child’s song and it was downright creepy. We took a great picture together but she was in her ghostly get up so I’m not going to post it unless I get permission from production. NOTE TO TALENT. Anyway, I was a very proud uncle. I also got to see a few old filmmaker friends. Zoie Dye (Best Years Gone) also played a part and Gals and Ghoul’s Dayna Green was doing the awesome make up work. I’ll be curious to see how it all comes together and the hope is that they can turn it into a feature. But either way it was a great experience for my niece and it put a big smile on my face.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – The film continues to play in theaters and even more are requesting it. I think it will keep playing until we are close to the home video release. We’re about to master the new home video version of the film that has greatly improved VFX. It is being being proofed carefully before we marry it to the improved sound design and mix. New credits and subtitles are also being inserted. Just things that we saw on the big screen that we could improve upon and we had the time to do it. This is the difference between CDI and some companies and artists. Good enough is not a term our folks like. We want our best efforts represented on the screen. So if you enjoyed the theatrical showing know the home video version will be even better.
HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE is the next CDI film. We are preparing for our second big scout next week to start locking in our locations and finding the final few. We will have our AD team there to start gathering the info for basecamps and a schedule. Our director, DP and Art Director there to start looking over sets. We are starting to put together lodging and will explore catering but I will say this- the cast and crew will get to work in a beautiful place at a beautiful time of year.
We were going to go Sat and network at a Model T club gathering but had a rain out. We’ll have some cool boats, cars and maybe even a plane in this next film. Props are being gathered and soon with our cast getting closer to being set, wardrobe. We added John Demarco aka Johnny D to the cast as a styling club owner Bob Jansen. We have reads coming in from the various agencies in our state. I would think our cast will be set by the end of May. Crew is also getting closer but we have a few places we are still working. Positive attitudes and a willingness to give BEST EFFORTS is what we look for. Storyboards, teaser poster and more are all being worked on. I’m enjoying working on character development a little bit each day. I truly love that process and will bring a new unique personality to the story and screen.
Speaking of posters, we have one being designed for the upcoming FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH 2 poster. We have some meetings coming up for WILD FAITH: Hastings TV show and I’ll be checking in on the supernatural themed associated film SHJ looking to film in the spring. Next month is also a meeting over the SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE which could move slow or quick pending the meeting’s outcome.
We are working to restore and re-release some of the classic CDI films. WICKED SPRING, a Civil War film we shot in 2000 has had that treatment and is available on Amazon Prime. If you enjoyed WILD FAITH, it might be a good one to check out. It is a lot of time to pull these together when my time is split between the present and future films, but I keep plugging along. I really do love the 1800’s in my storytelling.
This week will be reaching out to some potential sponsors and looking at some incoming reads and reels from actors for HIR (Harsens Island Revenge). I want to acknowledge the loss of a talented photographer from MI film scene who passed away, Dan Irving. I only know him from as the still photographer from the 7 STONES film that you can watch that on Amazon. Way too young. RIP.
I’m going to close this blog up and get a few things done. Maybe a few eggs. We have a birthday late lunch or early dinner today and that will be fun. I’m still trying to set up and get to know my new iPhone but that is all set and good for the next three years. I hear the camera on the phone is amazing so I’ll have fun playing around with that.
We talked about young people exploring their passion for the first time and others having their journey ended too soon. We’ve talked about the work behind projects working their way out to the world and others just coming together. Life is short in the overall scheme of things so don’t wait until tomorrow to start working on yours. Even small steps of progress will have you feeling good. You are heading in the right direction.
In addition to the film development work, I’m going to be seeking someone who can do book layouts in the Lansing, MI area. We might also start explore soundtracks (LP’s) and even audio books along with more movie merchandise. Always something to do. And now that my tooth is feeling better maybe I can return to some creative script writing. I am again thinking of literary representation and maybe talent. I’ve considered a few acting gigs but they have to make sense business and time-wise and most of all-I have to connect with a role. I do appreciate those who have reached out and continue to do so.
The coffee is about gone so I’m going to go get some breakfast going. Until next week-
ARTISTS Around the World, Updates and Award Nominations
Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
Stoke the Inner Fire, the Art of Patience, the Circle of Producers
Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!
Seven Updates and Some Past Week Pondering
(Last day on ‘Lost Heart,’ I was wrapped and spent the night working with craft service)
Ahhhhhhhh….chilly Michigan morning coffee sip. I’m enjoying the hazelnut coffee as I prepare to make some sort of attempt to describe this past week. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Last week I wrote on UNITY and that was a big hit. I’m a storyteller who loves to enrich audience’s life by entertainment and sometimes enlightenment. I have found that the story is one of the most effective ways to communicate. When people have conversation following a good piece of art it invokes meaningful dialog. People from all walks of life can come together and discuss the final show of The Mandalorian and debate themes, topics and differences. But they’re all united in their common love of Star Wars. In politics they should all be united in their love of our American system.
My belief is that both parties for decades now have drifted further from highlighting, promoting and pushing their party platforms and closer to no-holds barred character assassination. This includes trying to control how things are framed, presented and digested by the public. The reporters of days gone became known because they did not try nor want to be the stars, the story. But some due to their humble-approach, did become stars. Now we live in a time when people want to be “influencers” – what? We influence daily with our actions, words and deeds. I’ve seen the thirst for fame in these people and so the stories drift towards their opinions hammering the narrative to meet their goals. And where is the faith in the respected platforms? Faith that the masses will see the good in the endeavors and chose to back this person, party, platform. But some don’t have confidence in their platform and so they try to pitch, readjust, reframe a platform attempting to catch as much support as possible.
Example: Why is John Deere tractor better than Brand B
Just highlight the positives of what you are selling. No need to hammer brand B’s product customers will see this difference if it truly exists in terms of quality and performance.
Why should politics operate any differently? If you create the better product, better price point, better performance – you will never need to engage in cutting someone else’s rope short.
When I set out to make a movie, I don’t waste energy trashing anyone’s film – I just work towards making a successful story of quality. If I was running for an office I would not waste time tearing down an political opponent, I would just draw people to my platform.
Brand B tractor is a fine tractor but we at John Deere feel that we offer the better product and here is our list of why… but the cheap shots I’ve seen from both parties firing back and forth over the years, shows weakness in their stance. This weakening is what allowed a businessman with no real political experience to land in office. Running a corporation is very different because the power aligns with accountability. Our government is a system of checks and balances. It requires respectful communication and cooperation between the parties. This lack of – created a vacuum for someone from the outside to step in. Things happen much different in the two worlds and we saw many attempts at actions over four years that were deemed not legal in their process. Courts knocked it down and PR blame games took over. I joked we needed a good UFO attack to unify the world. We got a virus instead. This put the old HEALTH VS PROFIT question front and center. They need to flow together as one and not be positioned in confrontation. Healthy, long-living people can spend longer creating more on-going profit. But the medical system in the west has been reactionary vs preventative for a good long time. It is slowly changing and the unified collaboration of data and research is what allowed a quick ramp up on a vaccine. It was done quickly because PROFIT was set aside although the companies will profit. But best was the shared data to help deal with a health crisis facing us all. Can the world please tackle cancer next and be done with that horrible disease? If the cancer numbers had been highlighted and the spirit of collaboration embraced maybe it too would be a thing of the past.
Let’s focus on collaboration. What I see with social media and wall-debates is everyone feels a need to win vs lose and to gloat on that win. Lobbying to try and gather unanimous support vs same side of the table negotiations, talks, understandings.. Harsh ridicule used to drown out or squash any outside opinions but with no discussions. Unwilling to listen is the greatest form of disrespect. This also sounds like many organizations in their unwillingness. In science they have a process to drive towards truth but many outsiders have also been silenced by academic arrogance. Religion? Too many times to count. When I speak on religion I don’t cast any stones at divinity but at man-made institutions. Man-Made – If women want to jump on that bandwagon of also corrupting their institutions, please have at it. BALANCE should be the goal. We all have shared needs and concerns and we have different needs and concerns. I always think that the concerns of a person living on the Southern boarder of Mexico in Yuma, AZ will be very different from someone in Michigan. To find those common things that provide a mutual foundation and to take turns addressing concerns. I have seen HATE, not just dislike but HATE from people. Every time I see hate even pointing out something meaningful, I feel sorrow because that person is sick. Hate is a sickness. It starts with self-hate and preys on all the fears within us. If you hatefully denounce hate, you are still poisoning yourself. I see sickness all around which is why the positive fan mail from our stories have been rays of light. Our stories combat hate with love and leave some temporarily healthy, free of poison. This is only until the next projection of hate from that person and it builds. Unless habits are changed…HOPE.
For the record, I think protests often breed poison if the leadership is weak. They start with words crying of unjust but often turn to poison in one’s own mouth. Watching a group of extremists who wanted to win their position at all costs, clearly demonstrated their uncaring position about balance. I’m still greatly saddened to see the way sacred halls were turned into a scene like ‘Cedar Fest’ after MSU lost a big game. These turned into mobs of people burning things and being unruly. Again, someone lost the big game. And by their actions we all lost, because our character was tarnished. But our character on the world stage was being tarnished by those we elected with their on-going actions. We all have much in common and if the elected people cannot find those bridges and take turns making each other’s priorities something to discuss and enhance, maybe the wrong people were elected. But people can change…
I saw the political bodies House and Congress united in fear and renewed purpose finish their work. Even the most ambitious-party minded politicians had to ask themself what was/is their real “purpose” in service. Now I was looking for that UFO invasion but what we got was an invasion on our process of democracy. I watched some of the most sincere words come from the mouths of people where I had only heard negativity and blame previously. I saw a unity that did not exist 24 hours earlier. Now this unity was not the intent I’m sure but it will likely be the result. It has caused all Americans to sit back and re-examine much like the Covid virus. I think that many never slow down enough to truly ponder and Covid did that. Now we can ponder the past week’s actions. I hope that I never witness such poisoned individuals rabid with hate but I know that is unlikely. It will only get better when we all get tired of the taste of poison hate and seek the sweetest of love and listening.
All this writing and I have not yet got into any film updates. I know that many don’t want any views from their entertainers and I’m often one of those people. As a screenwriter and artists I like to observe, seeking to experience the event from all sides. To question why things happen. I cannot say what tomorrow will bring. But I can control my thoughts, action and deeds and keep the poison from my mouth. I feel bad for the sick wrought with hate. Start a change with what you can control – YOU.
- BEST YEARS GONE – The 1st edit is done and it’s being polished so we can take a watch end of this coming week. The reports from editing has been very encouraging with the story, acting and execution of the story being hailed. This all done in a small break during the Covid lock downs.
- We are going to launch a ‘Best Years Gone’ Battle of the Bands to give one artist(s) a chance to have their song in the soundtrack plus be involved in a music video.
- Merchandise for CDI films has been in development and will be making a big jump in 2021. Stay tune to http://www.cdiproductions.com for updates – SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE!
- As LOST HEART continues to expand in viewership here is an other PR article that I’m proud of because it really highlights the script. That is the issue with so many projects is they lack a powerful script that says something. http://m.digitaljournal.com/entertainment/entertainment/happy-days-star-don-most-opens-up-about-lost-heart-film/article/583626
- I love the time and process put into doing the final WRITER and DIRECTOR polish on the ‘SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA‘ script. Tony Hornus (MBF) and I spent 4-5 hours each day last week to go through every line of the script. To discuss each and every scene and motivation. We get to have advance discussions about what will be needed in production. We likely have one more day of work on it – maybe two.
- HASTINGS Tv show which is a spin off from WILD FAITH is being read show by show by some of the actors and proposed directors. Those reading the shows are expressing their joy in them. Shane Hagedorn star and one of the series directors said, “The shows are about being good to one another.” Sounds like something we could use. I’m in talks with several parties and I think this series is a matter of when not if.
- As we start the drive towards Easter season I hope people will take the time to watch THE QUEST TRILOGY. These are not preachy and propose an interesting perspective for seekers who might not align with the mainstream organized religious bodies. That is not to say that the various organizations haven’t enjoyed them as they all were nominated as ‘Most Inspirational’ winning twice but they were not created in a bubble. They relate very well to the world and I think the films have as many fans coming from a non-religious place. I’ve said it many times that you could be from a totally different faith from Christianity and still enjoy the films. Take a watch and see for yourself (Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star, Part 3 The Christ Slayer)
Okay I could go on about a few more updates but it is noon and I have things to do. Several of the films can be seen free on Amazon Prime, Encourage TV: Youtube and more so enjoy a few of the stories and please do let me know what you think.
Be good to one another.
Weighing In on Feature Film versus Commercial Production. Release Dates!!!
New York Time Square – I’ve had success and setbacks. But taking a group of sailors/artists out to sea is always an adventure. Every great thing ever done started as an idea. I’ll tell you something that I see around me that I really like. And this kudos centers on my state of Michigan but extends beyond that. I see DOERS. I see people finishing. I see people reaching. I’m not a better artist. We’re all artists who either create or derive some pleasure from the art of others. Active is always more conditioned than observer. The football player will always be in more condition versus the watcher of football. The artists who stretches his imagination, cooperation and does will always be more conditioned than he/she that watches.
It is hard to make any movie. A bad movie requires lots of work. Try organizing four of your family or friends to go bowling. Scheduling. This happens because of passion and compensation. Being compensated for something you would do for free is golden as a goal. When someone is required for a lengthy stretch of time/days/weeks compensation with agreement is better than free even when you can get it. Bad cold. Flu. Fever. I’ve had it on sets before. But everyone of those artists is working towards the common goal. You take a vitamin C packet. Rest, best you can and wait to be called to set. People not fully committed can and do flake. But I carry a zero tolerance for that. Too much benefitting too many artists at stake. I’ve missed a grandma’s funeral being on set. She encouraged me all through my career, she can and did understand. It is a total commitment to process. I hear horror stories of crew attitudes and walk off’s. I’ve only dealt with those issues in the easiest of days where the rigor of “war/filming” can test everyone’s limits. We at CDI try to be a fertile creative ground to grow within. Not perfect but we strive individually and collectively. Negative folks can allow the positive flow to align them or they are removed from the circuit of energy.
I’ve recently seen a few debates between film producers I know and commercial crew members who dog his hiring practices. Both tried to argue their points while the negative slings and arrows flew. Producing commercials (production service) is very different than film production (investment). Again with said producers, I disagree with his model of business creatively and otherwise BUT he might also disagree with mine. I’m okay with that. I think that producers who produce for profit – narrative story in a VERY competitive field, are entitled to set an offer however they wish. I think compensating will draw more experience to the project. That in turn effects the timeliness, quality or both. But getting that experience is the catch 22 for crew and talent. Who is going to trust a 500k film on the back on a first time actor? How hard is it to land in the director or DP chair of a financier feature film? Sometimes these smaller projects help develop people for the path ahead. You can star in a story without the stress. You get to shoot a film versus being the clap board 2nd AC.
Some productions are in that middle ground because of budget. Yes. I’ve done 4 min automotive commercials with larger budgets than a feature film. Meetings, notes, tweaks…not as exciting as a narrative story. When you mix experience level the goal is to raise people up and not have it brought down. This requires the right leadership in the right place. All this? Maybe bowling would have been easier:) So if you’re making good money in commercial production don’t try to apply that to narrative filmmaking. LOYALTY is what brings crew into the bigger game. It is a two way street. They work to help tell a beautiful story with audience changing power. Those few filmmakers that grow are smart to take their team with them. Some producers do sell out and take this composer who did this or that…this designer is more…they worked on…TRUST ME on this one. Stay with the team that got you there. Now they might need to keep growing with the collective. Soldiers all gotta march. But if someone likes what you’ve built they should respect the builders.
I’ve had a strong week of film business mixed with good times with the new puppy Finn and family. I made beef jerky for the studio and worked on dehydrated apples now. This week I’m going to rack the GRAPE APE wine to the secondary. I put a deer worth of venison into the freezer. Wood cutting for the office stove will continue this week. Let’s do some bullet point film updates.
- The Christ Slayer artwork is just truly beautiful. We’ll be announcing Feb streaming purchase, March DVD, April EVENT SHOWINGS on the big screen across the country. Post work is full steam ahead for the next couple weeks.
- Wild Faith artwork for the theatrical and DVD has begun. Wild Faith will be hitting theaters across the US in 3/1/19, TV cable 4/1/19, digital purchase 5/6/19, DVD 5/27/19
- MBF is now re-focused on the film edit and we’re working to have a first cut by end of the year. The trailer has been getting a great response. Please follow our Facebook site and watch the trailer. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBFthemovie/videos/
- Tis the season and feel free to take a watch on our other films. FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are the two previous films in The Quest Trilogy.
- LOST HEART is slowly moving down the tracks and will start to pick up steam 1st of the year. Stay tune for more opportunities. Also follow http://www.cdiproductions.com
Okay. It’s time to cap off the hot hazelnut coffee. Make some breakfast and get ready for a good day. Yesterday we went up North for a belated Thanksgiving fest and today is a family bday party. Go Lions!
Exciting Updates. New Joy. A Few Nuggets of Wisdom
So I’m balancing my laptop as I sip my coffee and try to type. Lulu our cat has taken an interest in our new little furry boy Finn. Daphne our other dog is taking her time to warm up. It took her 3-4 days with Luke before he was totally accepted and it was a lifelong love affair from there. Little Finn has all the same courageous and brave attributes. He was his puppy pack leader. He’s slept great for two nights now and has had zero accidents. He had the outside potty down from his two visits. Play, sleep, explore and eat. Repeat as needed. It was an emotional tear to put this bundle of joy over the pain of losing Luke too soon. I joked that Luke’s ‘force ghost’ is coming to Finn and teaching him all the fun stuff as we sleep. He is his own little man but he will definitely be the new cuddle king and will grow into the protector. Even last night on the back porch Daphne was barking at the top of the stairs at whatever critter was wandering the yard to collect food. Finn ran up beside her to give his support. They shared a sniff as if to say, “I got this” and Finn bounced down the stairs first. No lack of bravery. After a hard month of loss in October the month of November is shaping up to be a thankful one.
This past couple weeks has been extremely busy with the movie business. I remember being in the midst of the storm, working five projects with different artists. Finishing sound design, listening to musical score, VO and title credits approvals, new trailer, new posters, finalizing deals, development but before frustration could ever sit in, I felt blessed.
I get to work with all these fellow artists creating beautiful stories. I get to watch such talented actor friends become these roles. I know the hard work that our crews gave each day so that we could assemble the pieces. I was moved by the music that just injected the scenes with hair-raising emotion. What are these developments? A few early spoilers before the PR releases.
- The Wild Faith phase one deal is done. An actual purchase of the property will take place before a TV series moves forward. But that has to wait because as the kick off film in a new partnership/division WILD FAITH will be going into theaters in March 2019. This will be a wider release vs our limited showcase that did very well. We’ve added a new narrator that will start and end our story. He will be well-known to almost everyone and our own Melissa Anschutz got to be in-studio with him in Nashville. There is your hint:) We started delivering elements to the distributor and we’ll deliver the film later next week. The theatrical screens could be tens, hundreds or even a thousand plus as that is what is in their network. They LOVE the film and we know that this film is very timely so I hope many get to see it on the big screen. But any number of screens over our 10 or so we did on our own will be viewed as a success.
- THE CHRIST SLAYER is looking and sounding so powerful. It had a great response at mipcom and AFM markets. The new poster art is beautiful. We’ll be announcing that with our release dates that will include 2/4/19 broadcast/digital, 3/4/19 DVD and national “special event” Easter theatrical showings in April. This is all being done through BMG with their theatrical partnership. I’m so EXCITED to see this film on the big screen. Model building, digital matte paintings and more make this one of the largest scale movies we’ve produced.
- We have a batch of new teasers inviting families to watch FORTY NIGHTS and already CHASING THE STAR is being add to many Christmas line ups. I encourage you to take a watch or purchase for your collection. If you enjoyed the experience leave your thoughts on IMDB.com or Amazon. Both are on Amazon Prime along with many other great platforms and networks.
- MBF also made an early appearance at the film markets. We’ve had major interest including in the theatrical. A rough trailer made an appearance at AFM and we’ve polished it up and will announce Tuesday when and where audiences can see it. Also the first official poster will be released. Here is the bottom half of it above. MBF was one of my, if not my most vulnerable roles emotionally. After seeing the trailer and about 30 minutes of the rough cut I think I’ve succeeded in honoring the most important people, our vets. Dog lovers will also enjoy this story because it rings of truth. So much that ANIMAL PLANET is making it one of their featured shows on “Amanda to the Rescue” on Sunday nights. I’m told it’s one of the later shows.
- Development. LOST HEART. Often when I write I sometimes have someone in mind. I know literally thousands of actors and that gives good imaginative fuel to me as a writer. That doesn’t mean that the casting always falls that way, sometimes my imagination gives the better read. But often it works out and that leaves only a few castings to find. We’ve started to get in a few requested reads. The response to the script has been very good. I had good talks about it with our distributor. I’m excited about the upcoming slate of movies that CDI will produce. The theatrical aspect will be incorporated into this new production deal. Yes. PR will be coming out on this as we enter into the new year. 2019 will be exciting.
My last point that can be applied to your own situations. First, vet people, companies and projects. Valuable time can be wasted from your personal or business time on unrealistic or unattainable goals. I’m an optimist for sure but no matter how high I train to jump the peak of Everest will still remain out of my reach. But a path. Many, many steps. Good prep and planning and the goal of reaching the top is possible. Others profit from your time or efforts if you make it or not. These are dangerous people and performance is key. Actions vs words. I see many more projects getting launched and finished. At my various meetings I still hear the horror stories and they often include the same names over and over. So do yourself a favor and be careful where you put your trust and energy. This weekend while concluding some business with an executive I received this added note which I have to say made my day.
“BTW – thank you for the business partnership and friendship. It’s relationships like ours that I can point to as the reason why I love what I do.”
Generations of Collective Development Inc. directors
People have often looked for an agenda in me because of my kindness. It’s real. I can be tough when required and the trick is not to be tough on a new contact because of scars from old business wounds. I am proud of what I’ve done with others in this lifetime. I hope I have many more stories to tell before someone adds a RIP next to my name. The truth is we don’t really know. So how I get to my goals is more important to me versus just getting them at all cost. My goals will not be obtained by stepping on people or screwing people over. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I’ve made unpopular decisions. I’ve miscommunicated before. I’ve unintentionally hurt feelings. But my actions on this path tell people I’m sincere. This is my path. Like me. Dislike me. Nobody can question my dedication to the hard path.
Furthermore, If several projects that your associated with keep having issues, is it bad luck that you keep stepping into? Or are you part of the issue as a common denominator? Passing blame is weak and poor leadership. Accountability is power, take it. We’ve had various small bumps while working on all these projects associated with several films. Any bad communication is always my bad. I spend a good amount of effort trying to keep the communication lines strong and proper. Some days it can be difficult managing but once a good flow is established things really do flourish.
Enjoy the harvest of November. Be grateful for what came to be. Reflect and take accountability for what did not. How can you make a positive change and increase the harvest next year? Do the kind of business you wish to receive.
Have a great week ahead. Watch for those PR releases.
That’s a WRAP! ReCap!
Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.
Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith
Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.
‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.
40 Nights trailer
And the second film…
Chasing the Star trailer
And now the business of development on the third film is starting.
So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.
I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.
Have a great week ahead!
Riding Out Summer – Getting Ready For Fall!
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.
A Humble Thanks, Time to do it AGAIN!
The sun in Michigan (Above) is slowly melting the inches of snow accumulated over the past couple days. I’ve been packing and prepping for our trip west to film. (Too many dragons) The past few days have been really special. We’ve been promoting the Celebration Cinemas run of “40 Nights” in Michigan. Right now it is releasing in Lansing and Grand Rapids – it kicked off with three daily films yesterday. The first show in Lansing is today at 12:30 today.
I have tried to be lower key with the PR in our home town over the past years. I use to chase that but it actually created some isolation, awkwardness with some people. I’ve done countless interviews, press junkets and been featured in many articles around the world- but this was special. I liked that my father got to see on the front page of the paper our film. A beautiful lay out and interview that showcased the work of some very talented artists on both sides of the camera. My father use to worry about me with all this “movie stuff” – which was fine as a creative distraction when I was young – but a career? It has been a LOT of hard work. That is why I tell young people that they better really want it and you must always strive to refine. If you chose film as a career option because you don’t have a sure course and filmmaking sounds fun – stop. If just money alone is your goal – follow another path. There is money to be made but mining a project is hard work and can take years.
There are some exciting developments with “40 Nights” such plans to release in Yuma, AZ theaters. We will be working that deal when we arrive next week to start final prep work on “Chasing the Star” the second film in the QUEST TRILOGY. We want to expand to several states. Even though the DVD will be hitting stores in March/April for the Easter season IF you can experience it on the big screen treat yourself. You know I like to drop things here early to my faithful readers so – a soundtrack for “40 Nights” is the first release in a new deal we’ve made for the CDI collection. We will have some other licensing deals happening where it makes sense. I’m excited about the branding push that can help all three of the films in this unique series. The first show starts in five minutes and so I wish all of them a wonderful time as they go to experience “40 Nights”!
To pre-order on DVD
We have other deals developing on many fronts but right now my focus is to get “Chasing the Star” up and running. We have a great slate of films and look forward to keeping the flow. I want to thank our many, many supporters. My next blog will be from Yuma, AZ the Sat. before we roll cameras. I will be able to share some great photos and such as we move down the production line.
Time to Chase the Star – please keep chasing your own star!
RESPECT, ORGANIZATION and RESPONSIBILITY
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)
Show Me & I’ll Show You – Plus Distribution Updates
I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and the sounds of geese and morning birds are singing. Yesterday I got the back yard all mowed up and today we are working on the flooring of the office/fort. The pond, the garden (which has its first bean sprouts) – all these natural wonders that I try to surround myself with as I go through my day-to-day. Yesterday also included a meeting over ASHES OF EDEN distribution on a patio with sushi. I’m happy to say we have our first distribution offers on national domestic on the table. Now comes a process of looking at pros and cons and looking at our entire battle plan. We also have some foreign interest that could turn into solid offers very soon. One of the things I felt really good about was the comments that they gave on the production value that they stated was extremely high. They deal with a 100 films a week in submissions and it was a great nod to all our artists. You have to find folks with the talent and inspire them to give their absolute best. Every time I hear ACTION! I give nothing but my very best. It doesn’t matter if I’m being paid $1,000 or $10,000 you still give it all. When a group of artists all do the same thing the results can be well…
“BESTSELLER” is a great example of REPEAT! Not a crime drama but a dark thriller but same breed of passionate artists who again are inspired to turn out quality. The 1st trailer has gotten lots of exposure and the 1st distribution interest. We now have our shot list of pick ups and that will be budgeted and we will schedule this one day pick up. I’ve been getting myself back into my previous role and I’m excited to play Mr. Franklin one more time. It will be nice to be up North and see friends again while completing our art. Our music and sound design deal is in place and we are ready to bring this one home by years end. Look for a fall premiere!
Advice taken from my dealings – If you’ve made a deal on something in writing don’t try to re-visit in the 11th hour. Also live by what the final deal is. Example – I knew a writer/director/filmmaker who was submitting around a business summary. In it was a bio whereas the filmmaker had himself credited as a Co-Producer on some large projects. So I had people vetting (background check) this person and nowhere could these credits be found. As I sincerely liked this person I confronted them about this. His response was about ghost writing and a verbal on a co-producer credit…blah, blah… I told him that nobody knows all that drama and if that was the deal it should have been put in writing and done deal. When someone cross checks and they don’t see a credit on a film, movie/poster billing block they just see a liar. Don’t be that person. Many won’t care about you enough to even bring it up but if you are trying to get someone involved and they find false info – look to be rejected. This also applies to name dropping. If I had a dollar for every time someone name dropped and I know the person – I mean can call them – I would have a nice handful of cash. Just be real. I’ve read websites whereas they encourage people to try underhanded tactics. Actor wants footage – get to know the editor. HINT: An editor that releases footage without production permission is open to being fired, sued and black-balled. Nice advice website – and the actor could get the same treatment. I’ve never worked with an editor that foolish but I guess they exist. Actors desperate enough to try it – ah many…but don’t. Patience. You are not part of a hobby 48 hour film short contest. These are business ventures with marketing and distribution plans and lots of money on the line. You want your footage while the film is still being edited go do a student film. That is what they are for but I’m just saying actors – be wise.
I had a nice talk with a director over a comedy film. We talked schedule and such and it may work out. But you want to sincerely connect. Initially I was talked to about two roles. The script was sent after I did a sketch read – meaning a few choice lines NOT 14 pages. They will not invest giving me a script until they like my reels or a sketch read. If they like that I ask for a full script. Why? Because if I don’t like the full script or think it will turn out poorly I would rather work in the garden instead. Ask to see a directors reel – they want to see yours. It’s a two-way street. Now if you like the script make sure you connect with a character. Back to that example – after reading the script one role didn’t feel right to me. The other I really felt I could bring something to the role. I’ve often chosen a supporting role after being offered the lead because it fit better. So I’m not sure if it was a surprise but when I said I would not play the one lead role even if offered I think it strengthened my given interest in the second role. It wasn’t a game I was dead serious. I want them to make a good film. I want to perform a great role. It all has to fit together. Some people will take anything just to belong and I’m just not about that. When I sign on I bring all my energy with it. I don’t take that lightly.
These are all elements I try to use in my own productions I supervise and I think that is what helps direct these projects towards quality. Throwing a name actor in a wrong role makes others stand up and notice the mess of a film you created. Make a strong film and use that name actor wisely where they are proud of the work and they will always be there for you.
OK. Refill on my coffee and I’m going to get ready for food and fort/office work. We have a soccer match tomorrow and the sun will be shining. Have a great weekend with family and friends.
BESTSELLER Week 2 Wrap Up
I’m sipping some hazelnut coffee and relaxing a few back at the condo before we go into our last day of the week on BESTSELLER. http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com The film is the current thriller that CDI is producing and I’m co-starring in. I have to say we have been earning our pieces of footage each and every day via hard work and cooperation. Petoskey in late October has a bite for sure. We have some great artists working on the film and they are being challenged daily. I think several are more experienced in shorts and commercial and so the challenge here is just the endurance challenge. This is further out to sea than most have traveled. This is a shorter voyage for me and not in a far away place but it will leave a newly seasoned crew better suited for feature work. Most all the keys have fought the feature-length challenges and so they are showing the way. I had 3 days straight of high intensity and yesterday my voice was all Eastwood and rough. We are moving to interiors for our last day of the week and I only have one major talking scene so that will help recovery. I will use Sunday to additionally rest the pipes. Overall I think this will be my strongest thriller produced to date.
I am just off the phone with our post supervisor and things are really sounding great with “Ashes of Eden” and I could not be happier. That will be exiting just as “Bestseller” is entering. I’m excited to bring both these projects to audiences worldwide. I’ve got other film things in motion and will have more to update you all on once I get a few more pieces in place. In the meantime I have an accounting meeting and have to get ready for tonight’s shooting. After that one more week and it will be a wrap. Have a great weekend and stay warm if you are in the midwest. Thank you Canada for all that cold air coming our way. I will appreciate that when I’m freezing in the water next week. Lastly, go MSU:)
The Ship Into Port
Today will be the last day of our ASHES OF EDEN journey. It has been an incredible journey filled with one powerful performance after another. It has also been captured by a very talented crew. I’ve had my patience tried once or twice over minor issues but all those things fade. What we will be left with is a story that is a testimony to what we cast & crew did this last quarter of 2012. I was surrounded by some of my old warriors and new ones. We attacked each day riding on the enthusiasm from the day before. What is great is that now the holidays are upon us and we can all rest knowing a job well done. The post process will begin with editing and move into music and sound with my supervisor Dennis Therrian. This will be a great experience putting this story together.
The VOD (Video on Demand) sites for “Deadly Renovations” are starting to pop up. “Book of Ruth” in Meijer stores now and I think Wal-Mart also. Tonight is a big showing of “Benjamin” in NYC at the Big Apple Film Festival. I thought it was last week but that is because I was in some odd time warp and got my days mixed up. I’m excited for that whole team of artists that busted in the record NYC heat to capture that film. I wish I could be there with all of you but I know it will be well received.
The old FORT/office is sold. The new FORT office is built and most of the furnishings are there now just packed up. This week it will be about organizing everything. We are still doing the walls in a few places so that limits what can be placed but by 2013 it will be a fully functional Deathstar:)
I’m off to go prep the final payroll today and off to set to hand them out. After that I’m back to Ionia for the night to help breakdown and oversee the production breakdown. The ship will be in the port and it will be time to secure it and unload our precious cargo.
Have a great weekend!
“Darkest Night” Announces US Distribution Tonight & More…
It is the end of a long day and I’m tired. I’ve been doing some major moves on three different fronts. I’m packing up the old office, finishing stuff on the new office and prepping to go into high gear next week before we start filming Oct 29th. Today the final window went in and so it is all enclosed. Oak staircase being put in now and it looks great. I love the rustic and it has that charm. It has been odd packing up all the things at the old Fort but the new office is a big improvement. All day it has also been back and forth on casting, crewing, accounting, flights and prepping for day one of the production office. There will be some PR releases on new cast. We have some new sponsors coming on board as well. More ASHES OF EDEN updates soon.
Tonight in San Fran at the FACINE festival we are having the 1st public US screening of “Darkest Night”! There will be an announcement there which should excite the fans following this film. Next week a PR release will go out on this as well. Also look for some news on “Donors”! “Locked in a Room” also will be announcing our distribution very soon! So excited to have this rolling out to you.
Also it looks like a pair of our biblical films will be rolling into production. A lot of back and forth on that and I still need to read the most recent draft of one of the scripts for “Rachel” (working title). We are locking the “Ashes of Eden” script and it goes to printer tomorrow. It is great to now be able to read and visualize many of the actors. Boy! We have some real talent stepping up on this film. Watch IMDB.com to see who our in front of and behind the camera team consists of.
I’ve had many small trials and tribulations over the last week or so but I am flowing. I’m just trying to do what I can – where I can and not be unmotivated by what I cannot effect at this time. I’m excited to be riding out the year in and around my home town. I’m excited for the holidays that will soon fall upon us and allow us time with our family and friends.
Okay I’m off to catch a few Zzzzzzzzz’s!
Enjoy the weekend!