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

Posts tagged “Niles Cass

Next CDI Film, TV series – Action vs Talk

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Fellow filmmaker friend Nate Quinn put this pic together after a recent hang.

NEW JOURNEY AHEAD 

Happy Sunday my dear friends from around the world. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ mug and thinking about spring. I’ve just finished last week the next CDI script. I was engaged to translate a book to script and we’ll film it this May. With on-set pre-prod we’re looking at April 26-May 21st in Michigan. I’ll be doing some final edits this week before sending the script to others on the producer team and a few keys. We’re in talks on a director so we’ll see how that unfolds. This week I’ll be working the numbers and getting our battle plan together. We had a good meeting a week ago with our 1st AD Nate and we did some crew reviews. We hope to get most of the crew back together but we’ll have to make a few adjustments I’m sure either due to schedule conflicts or from our producer review, we’ll have a few changes to the team. We’ve got many who have expressed their interest should we need to bring new folks on board. It is hard as our budget only allows X amount of crew and our cast is limited to our story. But this film has committed funding, distribution interest and now we have our blue-print (script). I’m excited that we’ll be able to put so much in place in advance of our shoot. It will allow us to make this journey even more smooth.

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We’re deeply evaluating CDI film #2 which will shoot fall/winter timeframe. It would likely be a fall shoot if in the Michigan and maybe winter if we go out west to shoot in AZ or Nevada. Slot 3 the 1st half of 2021 is being currently held as a possible WILD FAITH (Hastings) tv show. We would be working to finalize the season 1 scripts. The idea of revisiting the Wild Faith world is very exciting. Giddy up! If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do take a watch on Amazon Prime. It is a wonderful film for children also so I hope we reach more kids.

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Ole Ben Lily might be back in action in ‘Hastings’ – coming soon?

MBF: Man’s Best Friend  is now out in the marketplace and we’re starting to see that wheel turn. We’ve had lots more retailers and platforms pick up this title. We’ve got many events and showcases lined up this year with MBF. You can watch this film in your own home now on Amazon Prime. If you take a watch much like all the others, we encourage you to leave a review on our Amazon and IMDB.com page. I appreciate all the great feedback on the fight scene. I credit John Lennox for working with me on the fight arrangement. I also credit Graham Turner my practice partner and my co-stars in that bar scene. I’ve hurt an actor on set who would not focus and follow instructions during an action scene rehearsal. He was clowning with some actresses when we were going over a fight scene. On ACTION I pulled his shoulder out of socket because he turned the wrong way. So I was extremely happy and impressed by the focus of all those actors we worked with. John Lennox got them up to speed and we made a good sequence. I might consider a project with more action but that is not what I’m looking for. I seek strong stories to tell. Anyway, take a watch and if you like it, tell a friend.

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Wrangler Robert Bradley faced a hard job with those dogs:)

LOST HEART is now in post audio with the amazing Dennis Therrian. He will be composing the score and sound design. The new locked edit is strong and I’m proud of Jesse Low and Scott Magie for their masterful work. The film will be delivered in June to BMG for distribution. I’m anticipating a premiere in the Whitehall area where we filmed. We’re now working on DVD art work with the distributor and the first trailer. Soon we’ll be able to give audiences a first look. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew for telling a beautiful story.

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Who’s is this knucklehead? Niles Cass:) I really enjoyed this film because many of my scenes are with my brother from another mother Josh Perry. This film will start a slow build of PR towards a fall release.

EASTER season is upon us following a great Christmas with THE QUEST TRILOGY. I’ve had lots of great conversations over the three films. These biblical adventures create lots of good conversation. I’m excited how they are making their way around the world. These three films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER should be watched together. Amazon Prime search these films and take a journey full of adventure.

WRAP UP THOUGHTS 

Last week while enjoying a visit with an old friend and his son, I took a call. It was an FYI that someone in our local market was speaking ill of CDI and a few folks, myself included. Oh, I’m not perfect, never claimed to be, but we work very hard at what we do. I take our storytelling very serious and I’m doing it for what I feel are the right reasons. It seems, one of the talented people that we’ve worked with several times was approached and during conversation with this person, several negative things were apparently said about our organization. The issue is that the person being spoken to, knew the truth having worked with CDI many times.

Had their experience been truly negative it would have ended at one film but this person has worked with us multiple times. So my reaction to all this was a shrug.

“ACTIONS speak louder than any words.”

Find me a group that works as hard as we do and creates on our level or beyond and that is someone I or CDI might work with one day. RESPECT. But, while others talk toxic wasting breath and time, we’re creating and constantly moving forward. So decide to be a person of ACTION, not just talk. To know the truth of a matter look at the ACTIONS not the talk. So, keep the drama on the screen and sail forth telling the world stories and leaving a legacy for your artists. We’re prepping another ship (Film) for another great CDI journey so casting and crewing will be in the weeks ahead. We’ll be making announcements soon but you got the news here first.

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 


Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


JUNE 23rd Bday Thoughts and Reflections

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So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.

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WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.

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LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A  small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.

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We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.

LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.

So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.

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I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.

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  • NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.

While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.

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I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.

DJ