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 it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.
Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz
It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.
But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.
I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance. I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.
SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA (LANSING)
10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05
In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…
The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.
Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.
“Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.
I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion. Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.
Be good to one another.
I’m writing to you from my amigo’s place in Marina Del Rey, CA. It was a true worry about getting out of Michigan with the major storm we had. Delta redirected my trip to avoid the storm and everything worked out great. I’ve had a chance to meet my buddy’s beautiful family. I had a few things to accomplish here but it all feels like a nice relaxation from the past year grind. That grind has produced a wonderful feature film “Wild Faith” finished in full just days ago. Our director Jesse Low worked with the colorist to get just the right look. And boy, does it look good. And Dennis Therrian did a wonderful job with the music and sound design again. We’ll be announcing the first showings for the film premiere run very soon. The first showing to our likely home video distributor went great. They loved it and I think I will get the collaboration I need to make the TV series fly. More updates as we move forward in confidence.
Also amazing work right on the heels of “Wild Faith” with the third installment of The Quest Trilogy, entitled “The Christ Slayer” – directed by the talented Nathaniel Nose. We now have a first official poster that will release next week. I might give a first peek here we will see. The trailer is looking epic and I can say that some people here are very excited to see one of Rance Howard’s last performances in this film. Also I had some great talks with our home video distributor about this film. The theatrical run will be for the Christmas season and Easter run up will be the target for home video. They plan to make this film their focus for the Easter 2019 season. It will be worth the wait and with “Wild Faith” releasing to home video in the fall it will be good to space them by a quarter.
The first two films in the series are expanding as more people discover them. I had one of the heads of a NC festival who is a fan of the films approach me. We will see what business there is to be done. Thank you to all the fan mail over these films. We make them for audiences to enjoy so thank you for taking the time to let us know you did. Watch “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” and drop me a communication about your experience.
WICKED SPRING is releasing to Amazon and several other platforms 3/1 – please do add this remastered classic with a wonderful behind-the-scenes to your collection. CDI Distribution will be working to get more of the classics re-released to market.
MBF – This trip is a nice mini-break before we go full tilt on this next CDI film. I had a chance to visit with Tony Becker (Tour of Duty, The Waltons) while here. He will be playing our lawman in MBF. The film will be very dramatic and Tony’s role is one that he will surely knock out of the park.
It looks like today will be nice and sunny. I’m going to take the opportunity to recharge and visit with some more friends and associates out here. My blog next week will have many more updates. I’m going to get a fresh coffee and go enjoy the day.
Welcome new readers from Sweden, France and Russia. I’ve been to Sweden years ago with my overseas soccer team. I’ve never been to France or Russia but you never know. This week marked the back-to-business full steam ahead. I had a wonderful holiday and truly appreciated the downshift in schedule. I had to keep some work flowing but it is important to take those moments to appreciate. You don’t want to keep moving your goals back. Allow your self to enjoy where you are and to reflect on what made that journey easy or difficult. Learn.
These two knuckleheads were clawing the frozen ground seeking food. I hooked them up. Needless to say, they are now very happy and have joined the DJ Perry fan club.
These five talented men – I’ve co-starred with all of them previous to “Wild Faith” – I’m excited for all of them to see what they created. It is a goal for cast and crew to be proud of their involvement. Some don’t always appreciate the endeavor until many years later and some understand the life and love we put into these stories as they live it. Be appreciative of the friendship, the art and opportunity. Films are HARD WORK.
New meets old guard as we announced two more fine actors going the cast of Man’s Best Friend – MBF. Curran has only worked with CDI on one previous film and Greg, well he was in CDI’s first film and has done many films with us, so he has OG status within the tribe)
This past week has been spent organizing for 2018 and prepping for the new 2019 films. We took a few steps closer to financing fully our MBF film. I’m excited to return to that role once I lock this business down. I’m trying to get it done by the end of the month.
Wild Faith new trailer dropped (HERE)
The response has been great. But I can say in all honesty that the film is so much more enjoyable. The trailer is strong but the performances and characters created by everyone just make the world a place you want to return. I’ve got a few companies to run the final film by. I’ve held back from assigning to our current distributor only because I’m trying to leverage the TV series. The world is great and I can see a great opportunity to showcase more of the strong Michigan talent. The final audio and visual tweaks are being made. We’re starting some theatrical discussions in Michigan. Also we’ll be discussing a cast/crew/media showing and a Michigan premiere. It will be a fun spring and summer showing the film followed by a fall/winter push to home video. Exciting to see where it all goes. Some big eyes will be on the final film.
Josh Perry (Albus) and DJ Perry (Jesus) on set “The Christ Slayer”
The holiday season was a wonderful push for the first two films released in The Quest Trilogy. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star did very well and I’m sure we’ll be seeing the results of that soon. It will continue to play Amazon Prime and add new platforms, networks and territories. As we get to the end of January we’ll start to roll out a new level of promotion on the third film The Christ Slayer. I actually had a nice catch up with Josh Perry, one of our co-stars. We’re all excited to finish the trilogy. The first meetings over music and sound with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian and director Nathaniel Nose took place. I was shown the new trailer in the works. The first official poster should also be close to ready at the end of the month. The film really looks great and the trailer will be another great look. The teaser was intense but the trailer…smiles all around.
New releases this year for ASHES OF EDEN, WICKED SPRING and more…CDI Publishing launched with If I have any readers that enjoy doing reviews please do.
Dee Freeman is the author of the book based upon the earlier Wild Michigan screenplay. I have a few other books to post once the deal is done. Teaster (Dean’s Teaster’s Ghost Town) by Bob Terrell might be next. The KNIGHT CHILLS book starts a tour this year with author David Hayes. Again great to be working with all these artists.
TO BUY the KNIGHT CHILLS book * and movie
Lastly, we will be announcing CDI’s new website. We’re going to be expanding into streaming films with great talks coming from some of your CDI favorite actors and crew on the making of these projects. Direct Casting information to deal with our rush of reels and a new Merchandising section. Swag and merchandise has been one of the most asked about things and so I’m going to make efforts to grow that. You can JOIN THE TRIBE: Don’t hate, Create! – I was asked to take this saying of mine and put it to a shirt. Perhaps:)
Okay. Have a productive week everyone and try to stay warm. I’m going to cuddle in with this guy for a few and visualize the week ahead. Never stop dreaming. Never stop doing.