Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
So again this morning I enjoyed watching our squirrel friends eating the strawberry tops and some aged bread. My desk now looks out over the favorite feeding spot for our furry friends. Our yard is already a haven for wildlife with our acorns, mulberries, edible mushrooms and our garden full of abundance in the season. This winter we had a few cold days coupled with a heavy snow here or there but overall not too bad. This week I might bottle up the next batch of wine “Frankenberry” which was a use up of fruit taking up freezer space. We have a lot to celebrate as of late and I foresee more toasting in the near future.
This weekend started with a nice surprise bday gathering at a local place called DUSTY’S CELLAR. I had a great blond ale that tasted a lot like the last beer I made. Also had some aged ribeye that was wonderful. The full moon also allowed me a few indulgences. I eat junk food (donut, cake, candy bar, ice cream) only during 24 hours of each month. It makes those things a little more special and keeps my sugar/junk intake very low. To anyone who might try – it was only hard the first month or two. Sugar addiction is real and while I seldom partake I know it can be a real challenge. My funniest moment that night was walking into the wrong private room. “Someone order a stripper?” Just kidding – it was funny for sure.
This Sat I had a chance to see BLACK PANTHER and it was cool to see an exotic take on the superhero genre. We always see the NYC-type big city so it was great to see a story based in Afrika. My brother got to join us and that is always fun. A good movie in my opinion. I did re-watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” this week while doing some desk work. That is truly a great film in my book. Okay, we’ve come around to talking about movies. I guess we can discuss our movies.
This week saw “Wicked Spring” premiere to digital streaming and remastered DVD this past week. It is on various platforms but Amazon Prime is the big one. Read about it here – https://www.prlog.org/12695043-digitally-remastered-cdi-civil-war-epic-wicked-spring-hits-amazon-prime.html
The Amazon link is here – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HWQQKC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1519913275&sr=8-3&keywords=Wicked+Spring
This film is the one we cut our teeth on as producers. This is a wonderful primer as we’re about to premiere our new 1800’s action/drama “Wild Faith” this month. We did a great Showbiz Weekly radio show and we have more PR leading up to the March 16-22 run at Celebration Cinemas in Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets can be purchased now online –
You can also read an earlier version of the film here – I would appreciate any reviews-
Book your tickets here –
This past week and the week ahead will be important meetings for the film and possible TV series. I’m just excited to have family, friends and fans watch this film. Those that have gotten the advanced look have raved about the balanced blend and pacing which is a hard thing to achieve. On the indie level I see that people often become close friends with all the talent and there exists pressure not to cut certain scenes. This can be because of an insistent writer. Or not wanting to hurt feelings – but the overall film needs to be a deciding factor. I think those involved will be very happy. I’m also excited to have friends from out-of-town coming in to see the film.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
As the 3rd film “THE CHRIST SLAYER” is being worked on we’re about to put the Easter push on the first two films “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” which are great adventures to watch at any time. But families gather at the holidays and these films are built to be enjoyed by the whole family. Have you watched these films? They can be found on Amazon Prime and several major platforms or on DVD.
MBF – We made some good advances on Man’s Best Friend, and we’re so very close to moving into pre-production. We’re into a slight push from our ideal time and so the sport theme in the film may change but it does nothing to our story. We’ve had some great strides made by the Red, White and Blue Project non-profit that is sponsoring some of the military vets so they can do some educational events as well as filming. If you want to see how your company or you can get involved feel free to reach out to me direct.
Aside from all these endeavors I’ve been looking at future acting possibilities and preparing to cut some checks back to investors. A few new deals underway and I’m just flowing with 2018. I had updates on a few projects I thought had faded out but apparently not. One could mean a script sale this year so we’ll see how that works out. Always good to have a few irons in the fire. But a few of those irons are RED HOT. Soccer season is also soon upon us and so I’m going to be increasing my conditioning. I had a good winter of healing last year’s battle wounds and I’m ready to go at it again. With our few nice days I was able to get a lot of yard work done. I’m excited for Spring.
Have a wonderful day. If you feel like supporting feel free to watch some of the films at your leisure at home or experience them on the grand screen. We will be announcing other play dates throughout the Spring/Summer for “Wild Faith” – have a great day!
Last night I enjoyed watching a pre-season Lions game while doing some work. This past week was very home-centric since my furry boy came home from the MSU hospital after an extended stay. We held meetings in the house vs the office so I could keep an eye on my buddy. I’m happy to report he had a really good week and is recovering in his own home. It did allow me to focus on the paperwork and get a lot of stuff done.
We’re making a run at setting up a new film to shoot this fall. While the business paperwork has been getting organized our team has been locking locations and doing some initial casting. We’re first reaching out to our large circle of talent and trying to identify the right talent for a part. I’ve enjoyed meeting a few new actors and/or watching their work. The film working title MBF has strong themes of our military vets and shelter dogs. The reaction to the script has been strong and we’ve got our distribution deal in place. I love filmmaking in the fall and we’ll see if we’re meant to go this autumn.
This week I do start a new batch of wine that is bubbling up a storm. It is rhubarb and mulberries I harvested. I’ve wanted to make a wine with rhubarb for a while now since my grandma use to grow and cook with it often. So ‘Ida’s Wine’ is underway. The garden has been giving tomatoes and beans in abundance. Will we see a Green Gobin 3 batch? Perhaps:) The HOPS are also looking really good this year.
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will be pushed with the second film Chasing the Star starting in September. For those outside the business – September is the start of the Christmas push for product.
Here is a nice review for “Forty Nights/40 Nights”
And a brand new review for “Chasing the Star”
Stay tune for new pre-sale DVD sites!
The Christ Slayer – as said above when the title cards read coming Christmas 2018 that means a home video release in September. Before that we’ll do a theatrical run as wide as we can. These films were not set up as theatrical as a business deal but they do play great on the big screen.
We’ve played with many posters and are getting close just have not gotten the right first image. The music is being composed and VFX is being worked on. It is looking like we’ll finish this film end of the year. If time permits we’ll try to do a cast and crew screening. In 2018 we’ll do some theatrical and lock the home video release. We are in talks on the TV series and so a few things are still up in the air. But the film looks great and I’m excited to show audiences. Our trailer is making its way into ‘western’ and ‘Civil War’ circles of interest. A behind the season teaser should finally be ready to show this week. (Fingers crossed)
Aside from all this business we’re getting ready to put the final top layer of shake siding on the office/fort. It was being painted this weekend (forest green) to match the roof. I have another soccer match this afternoon to battle one of the top teams. We’ve had a good second half of the season with only one loss. I’m looking forward to next week and making some good progress on our endeavors. As a last note it was cool to see “Wicked Spring” playing Parables TV last night. We produced that film 17 years ago and to see audiences still enjoying it makes me feel good. I think we’re creating some classics now that audiences will be enjoying for decades to come. That is the conclusion I’ve come to recently. If I’m going to spend moments of my life developing, producing these films I want to reach high for quality. Now enjoyment of a storyline can be subjective but quality of production is undeniable. Okay, be good to one another. Time to finish off the coffee pot.
Thank you for your time.
The last week of the 47th trip around the SUN:)
A whirlwind week leading up to the bday weekend. Forty seven trips around this star we call the sun. We had a busy week leading up to the weekend whereas we had a small gathering of folks for my bday and the CDI gathering. I had a busy week because of the dropped elm tree causing a lot of chaos to the yard. All the small stuff got burnt up and the logs stacked and/or organized. The garden is getting a lot more sun with the dead tree down. We smoked a pair of pork shoulders and a large turkey to have sandwiches at the gathering. So the latter part of the week I got to conduct business to the wonderful smells coming from the smoker. The house, office and yard all got a good grooming which is always nice. The spring cleaning is over and time to enjoy summer. My brother made me a wrought iron arch that you install logs onto and also the upper siding will be put on the office this week. (Happy Bday to myself) – After several years I now have a new grill – so grill N chill can power on.
The garden is growing like crazy and I’ve been getting bowls of mulberries everyday for my wine endeavors. Last night at our little gathering we had some of the “Top of the Day” Irish Stout and I think it passed the test. We had some great punch with a punch thanks to my friend Mr. Glarner and Sanctuary Spirits. The RUM was flowing like a pirate fest. Many activities every weekend in the Summer for people so I’m just always appreciative to whomever makes the stop by. I think a good time was had by all and it was a good day to reflect on all the good that has happened in the last year. Lots of excitement and talk about the next 12 months ahead. I will do a short recap of things but I believe I might need a nap before tonight’s soccer match. The temps should be much better as long as we don’t get rained out.
Okay. A few movie updates.
WILD FAITH – ADR work has been underway in the studio as well as spicing up the sound design on the battle scenes. VFX foundation work underway and I’ll be meeting with director Jesse Low to discuss more on this project. I will say some nice BTS, a new trailer and poster are just some of the cool new promo pieces coming soon.
The Quest Trilogy
The website for the trilogy will house the sites for all three films in the future and so we’ve been developing that. Also a new CDI website will be going up this Summer. Forty Nights is expanding into the General market as Sony keeps pushing the digital. We had a few nice reviews coming out on “Forty Nights” and so we’ll be encouraging people to watch the 1st film in the trilogy. We’re still exploring more theatrical on “Chasing the Star” but the film is delivered and will soon be mastered by BMG. “The Christ Slayer” is polishing the edit and VFX work has started. We shared a short model video on the FB site for “The Christ Slayer” and more will follow.
The Friday of my Bday I completed Version 1 of a new screenplay. That put a smile on my face. Scripts are the blueprints that a team works from. I’m happy to be in development mode. The back half of the year will be interesting. We’ll have films releasing as we start the creation of new content. Thank you to everyone who sent their well wishes. I had a few people I know pass away this year that won’t be going on this new journey around the sun. So that said, I’m appreciative that I can keep clawing my way to the middle:)