I’m back from a flea market whereas a VHS of BLACK BELT JONES starring Jim Kelly so that’s a $2 WIN:) I LOVE looking for props both for our worlds and my own characters within them. We are working hard to get the 70’s drag race film fully fueled up. We had a good meeting with Nate Robertson this week to debrief from the previous shoot and talk about the upcoming. We try to get feedback from people especially concerning people in their departments or just the department as a whole. We always work from the inside out starting with story to script to producers to director to cast and crew and the ripples move across the creative pond until we have a finished film. But I can honestly say that materialistically I get more excited by the VHS find or the Bear recurve bow estate sale take versus all these items whereas YOU are paying for that marketing campaign. Luckily I love a cabin as much as a castle, and a driving a vehicle with character versus high value. I recall as smaller flip phones were the vogue, the jokes in Hollywood about my ‘yellow brick’ Nextel construction phone. The whole CDI group was on walkie talkie. I made some good deals on that phone. I’m not against nice things at all I’m just saying simplify your materialistic wants. Many purchases don’t bring the happiness or added skill. A golf pro could still take most golfers with basic sticks whereas the opposition could be playing with clubs worth several thousands. A car that goes faster than you’ll ever drive. More square feet or acres that you won’t put to use. Many use it (coins, property, stamps, paintings, gold) as an investment to hold or increase value versus some conventional savings. Often it can be a good process. But you just don’t want to get caught overreaching to impress or project an image. Only negative things usually follow that kind of advertising. I like to keep things real and you’ll often find all walks of life at our table. This nice weather had some of the meetings taking place outside. The yard is green and in full swing. I’ve been working to get some trees trimmed and prepping new firewood for the coming winter. The clover in the yard we planted as been really starting to take over and it is beautiful. Irish beauty was one deception of it this week. Do take the time to create your ZEN place. If you live in tight quarters maybe try some plants. Nature is great for balancing one so you can better focus on your TO DO’s.
- I have some PR that will start going out on BESTSELLER this week. It will essentially be talking about my start in the thriller/horror genre and follow my diversifying into more genres. BESTSELLER is one of my most intense roles and I’ve had several. Plus I love the author and this work really captures the haunting and moody atmosphere that is Michigan. Have you seen it? If so please do go to https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16421224/reference/ VOTE and leave us a review.
- BEST YEARS GONE will start rolling out on July 5th both DVD and digital. Providing you still have enough fingers from your drunken 4th bottle rocket / Roman candle war to press play on the DVD or navigate the remote – you need to settle and watch our tale.
- Aug 3rd is the date when we should know the Toronto Film Festival’s decision on acceptance of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH or not. We would love to hold our premiere there and so we’re remaining optimistic. We should also have our home video dates from Deskpop Entertainment very soon.
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – The rough semi-polished first draft is almost done. It will be reviewed and that point by our team and any suggestions will be put forth. We are looking to picture lock in July which will move us to music and sound. Both of those are already in motion as sound FX libraries are being gathered and music beds are being played with. We hope to provide a great behind the scenes of our model and VFX team on board.
- SMOKE & MIRRORS has been submitted to a few festivals and we’ll await response. Once we have word it will be a nice eve with the CDI tribe celebrating this fun endeavor that will develop itself into a feature film.
- WILD FAITH and HASTINGS – the momentum continues and on a few fronts we are so close but sometimes you have to relax and let things work themselves out. If it does well at Peacock perhaps they will work with us to order up the first season.
- LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT, UFOS & JESUS is a great summer film. We are looking at some different marketing campaigns including new poster art for Lost Heart. I still want to do tee-shirts of the BF, UFOS and Jesus artwork. We’re looking into selling iron on sheets so you can put some great artwork on your favorite shirt. That is 70’s and 80’s style right there. I think I had a DARTH VADER LIVES tee shirt that was an iron on.
- I’m waiting on word to see how the HD file of KNIGHT CHILLS is coming along for the upcoming Blu-Ray. We have interest in a digital release from Deskpop Entertainment and we’ll still probably do a DVD of the CDI Classic Collection Double Feature of KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. And we have the video game which I think I want to call KNIGHT CHILLS: DICE DON’T LIE – what do you think?
- This week I’m set up to record another book chapter for the audio book series FOR GENERATIONS TO COME that I’ve been doing. Look it up on Amazon under author Ronnie Lee.
- This past Friday, I met in person with several CDI folks mainly over FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH. I could have taken the day and likely ended with my first draft of the new script HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE. Instead I enjoyed the beautiful day and spent some time outlining. One of the rainy days this week I’ll finish the first draft. I’ve had a wonderful time working on this amazing story and looking forward to bringing the script to an exciting end.
I will no doubt start working on another script soon after I finish the one I’m working now. If I don’t have a script for hire on deck which I just might, I have a few scripts that were underway. We made more steps on HOT ROD LOVE and we are about to start scheduling work soon. Chipping away at what needs to be done in order to get this film green lit. It was a great week for soccer again and our team brought another win. Either way it is still about the battle that keeps you mentally and physically strong. I do have another bday in a few weeks (23rd) and I’m not sure what I might do to celebrate another journey around the sun.
I’m going to wish you all well. I hope that you have or have had some clarity this weekend, that will allow each of you to have a very productive week ahead. Be good to one another.
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!
I’m sitting in my big leather chair by my electric fire – The Candleberry Candle and sipping the hazelnut coffee. I’ve got sleeping dogs around me happy to have me back into the fold of the pack.
Shane Hagedorn rolling with the Collective Development OG’s:)
I’ve just returned from running with another pack of artists filmmakers creating an 1800’s action drama. I can honestly say it was some of the best fun I’ve had in many years. It reunited me with many friends and artists some that worked together last in this genre a decade ago.
Production Designer Jen Raine & Art Director Austin Two Feathers
It introduced me to a slew of new artists who I think appreciate the Collective Development Inc. approach and take to filmmaking. We use to do this as children for free – the make-believe. And now to pay people to create that same fun but with bigger toys and doing it day after day until we get our puzzle pieces. I got to observe seasoned film warriors work side by side with what will be the next generation of film warriors. I saw people realize that within a powerful problem solving group strong art can be born. I saw people forget past dealings with others and give us a chance to be a positive experience. I’m developing key crews and key to me starts with a 100% positive attitude. You can make several mistakes giving your best effort and from me you will get mentoring and compassion. That positive attitude is hard for many to keep in this industry – you don’t have to dig far to hear the horror stories. I’m a person who dislikes having my time wasted, who does? I’ve got several ways I can waste my own time and still enjoy it – I don’t need waste imposed upon me. I do shun people who purposely waste my time with unreasonable. Do I have any examples to help illustrate? Perhaps…
A mix of acting talent on set #wildfaith
One acting role in our recent film underwent several discussions before falling to a very talented, 200% positive (through the roof) ready for success gent. The first major look came by association – one of our producers had worked with this person. A read that was strong and a direction was set – but full disclosure of a change in residence lost this person the role.
Another option – a young hopeful gives a good read but ultimately has no vehicle. I’m not judging, but as an actor I can say that a phone and car are the two things you need to thrive in our smaller regional market.
Opportunity knocks again – As a talent when you get a call from a company that based on your previous work wants to hire you again – slam dunk? Not quite – instead of an easy transaction of business someone suggests a string of silly actions – not anything a production in pre-production can or will handle. It also speaks poorly of this persons maturity, character and true dedication to do what you need to do until your craft is accepted.
This casting string really created a well needed lightness to the pre-production talks. CDI is ran primarily by actor/producers and individually we’ve all had and some continue to have the struggles that come with acting. To see three actors shoot themselves in the foot was offset by the enthusiasm of the one who got to call BINGO!
Be prepared actors. (Take 2) Be prepared actors. Not just in your craft but in your professionalism. Not fixing that car because it is a pain in the butt. Not getting a job with flexibility of schedule. Don’t help yourself fail in an industry that is already difficult. By taking care of your business you can be ready for when opportunity knocks. Organized. Prepared. Ready to succeed.
We had a key position whereas because of a change in our shoot locations we had to make a change. One person visiting Michigan on another endeavor got a call and within two hours was onboard. They started the next day. Opportunity knocked and it will likely result in another hiring in the spring.
I’ve seen people I’ve hired before return with new battle hardness that made me smile. I saw the few situations we had handled with calm professionalism. Now some may have experienced their first feature run and decide short format is more their pace. Feature shooting is harder, longer and requires a different mental and physical endurance. With our larger budgets we often had additional on location pre production and additional shoot weeks. So to all my crew that traveled with us – I’m tipping my hat. To the ones there all the way through – be proud that is a true benchmark.
One additional planned day of battle footage and a few powerful moments with our films lead Shane Hagedorn. It was a really cool experience to see Shane ride this story out. He made it his and brought such a cool edge to the role. Our Lisa Smith who plays opposite him was such a find. Many of the actresses had a great take on the lead role. This actresses brought it out in Shane, it showed. The children, the outlaws, townsfolk, circus folks all cast with care and it shows.
My humblest respect to my fellow producing team – 1st AD Nate Robertson who TCB (Takes care of Business) on set and the staff who handles everything behind the scenes from accounting to PR and everything in between, we are ONE TRIBE. Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon) what an honor to story tell with you both again.
Jesse squared (Jesse Low & Jesse “Smooth” Aragon)
Check us out on Facebook
“Wild Faith” coming 2017
I had a chance to see the first rough trailer for “Chasing the Star” and it exceeded my expectations greatly. I think because we’re dealing with a topic that people have such a limited insight to – how do we present that? And I think it was done in a beautiful fashion. Music is complete and dialog clean up is underway with sound design. VFX work is also underway. Bret Miller and CDI have a great follow-up with part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY.
Which brings me to part 3 – This week I will be starting to put the business together on “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in the spring. More intense talks on this film in the coming weeks.
“40 Nights” is flowing in the positive direction and this week we’ll be discussing marketing efforts with Lightworx about “40 Nights” and the trilogy moving forward.
I’m going to go finish unpacking my vehicle that was packed up “Beverly Hillbilly’s” style – just needed a rocking chair on top:) Have a great fall morning and keep moving forward. Dare to dream. Create don’t hate.