Thinking of this fine man on this snowy Michigan morning – Mr. Rance Howard. I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and reflecting upon the past week and what lies ahead. I’m also very excited about the present day which is starting with spending time with all of you. I want to thank you all for joining us all. We have several new readers from all over the world. Okay I know what I can speak on that maybe some of you can apply.
For fear of sounding like the old man talking of walking to school with no shoes, read me there was not a known “industry” in Michigan when I started out. There was a handful of crazy artists scrapping together money for “short end” film stock. Pulling favors to allow one to edit or make analog transfers at TV stations in the dead of night. In 1989 to tell your parents you wanted to be a filmmaker you might as well been telling them you wanted to walk on the moon. Tax incentives come in and business media announce Michigan’s best incentive and suddenly people saw a new word – filmmaker.
Many people look for short cuts but I would suggest rather than short cuts (which only short cut your education) * THROW BACK LESSON – Senior year in high school I learned the REPEAT function in typing class. Using the free time to work on scripts and storyboards, I got away with it until just before final exams. I think my grades in that class were like A, A, A, C. Enter my life where I type all the time on contracts, scripts, proposals, pitches and so on. I would have more time to put elsewhere if I had been a faster typer. So don’t look to get around certain hardships. Change the way you look at it. A teachable moments for yourself. An opportunity to learn.
OK. So seek to waste less time and/or spend time wiser, not seeking short cuts. It’s that smarter versus harder approach. So where is this smarter attitude leading us you might ask? Smarter might be faster but faster is not always better. It’s the toxic variable or strings attached that come with certain choices. I had another week of developing opportunities and options. Some are for the company and some were on a personal business level. They are intertwined like quantum pairing:) But I have to remind myself and honestly it is not hard at this point in my life – to walk not run. If an opportunity is not a fluke it will not be there and gone. It strengthens and grows with each steady step.
I’m working out an agreement with a management company. I’ve desired for a long time someone who appreciated the art individually (me) and collectively (Tribe CDI) and works to the best interest of these endeavors. I’ve had many agents from a collection of smaller agents to one from a big 3 agency in Hollywood. It’s HARD to find representation that fits. Many have a hard time finding a rep at all but the right fit is RARE. I have many celebrity friends with long careers and they are still seeking that right fit. But, I think I’ve found a company/people I like and could be a good fit. Now, even without this new opportunity things are progressing strong in an upward direction. What is offered in part by this proposed arrangement is SPEED and SIZE.
SPEED: I recall a Hollywood lunch meeting with an arrogant agent from a major agency years ago. Without rehashing the whole story – maybe this person landed in a blessed place where they could with a phone call do what might take me months to do. But their power came from an appointment of position not an earned stake in creating motion picture. They were selling speed but at what price?
SIZE: I have been asked in a few high end meetings about my business goals? I answered, to do exactly what I’m doing now but for myself and my people to be better compensated for it. Can this new opportunity perhaps put our showcased projects even higher? I know that if we had strong P&A many of the CDI films would have soared to some decent box office receipts. But our films were built on a limited theatrical- home video model. Even that money was work to gather. That is the key for all filmmakers. The ONLY thing that makes it easier is your REPUTATION.
People have tried to figure out THE SECRET OF CDI. The answer is reputation. I/We’ve become known for 3 things. 1) On budget. 2) On schedule 3) Ability to assemble the right team behind a project * The last thing I have been doing since high school when I had tricked that old type writer to ‘repeat’ while I assembled the after school cast and crew for our silly videos.
Become known for these things and an abundance of opportunities may follow. That is why accountability is so very important and many artists avoid that. Talking accountability I recently had a non-film discussion with a young family friend. I asked him a question about how he had left a job. He prepared to give me a lie? An excuse? Justification? Instead he just took accountability for it because I think he knew he couldn’t get one by me.
* I think that is why many don’t engage me at functions or meetings…if you’re selling BS I will likely call you on that – maybe privately, maybe not.
My point was, I saw the relief in his eyes. I saw the power that washed over him by taking accountability. He had just up and quit this job by not showing up. He had later apologized and expressed a desire to return to work. His former employer was not prepared to forgive but he will remember the apology and who knows. And by taking accountability this young man took on a new strength and insight that he could possibly use in the future. This accountability leads to wisdom.
I think this conversation leads in nicely to the crew and cast talks we’ve been having on the new CDI film. A dramatic comedy with strong messages of hope, entitled BEST YEARS GONE. It’s an adaptation from a book that will be released in advance of the film. When I was approached with this opportunity I was prepared to say no if it wasn’t up to snuff. I can promise that even with money attached if a project is too outside my interest or the branding of CDI, a pass might happen. But CDI is a big garden that can accommodate many ventures of various genres. We’ve had several meetings to debrief and discuss cast and crew from previous projects. We’re always seeking the most artistically gifted with a positive “can do” attitude to develop.
Some of the past CDI directors…
* Side Note – I had a wonderful catch up conversation with an old school friend who has gone on to many great things including several government endeavors. We talked about people management. He spoke about the one person on a team often highly gifted but with a bad attitude. I said, I would not rehire the #1 guy and focus on the gifted #2 and #3 with good attitudes. Easier to inspire the best out of them. versus changing negative hard wiring. So now I work for the government. Just kidding. Wait! Do I? Like Elvis working with the CIA:) Hmmm…
My point – it’s about the journey not just the destination. As a former coach, sensei and camp counselor – I take even the few shortcomings personal. I’m about developing people where many are about using people. I see the potential to fail or succeed in a person. You try to inspire them to be the best version of themselves. A chaotic, disorganized environment would bring out the worst in some. We’re just about to build the new team and so you again you take accountability of past sets and look at all the variables. Also because of our budgets and just the scope of the story we can’t always work with everyone on every endeavor. That said, I’m excited to be working again soon with many of the ole TRIBE CDI this April/May. We’ll start making some announcements this week on BEST YEARS GONE.
LOST HEART – I’m looking forward to a sit-down with composer/sound designer Dennis Therrian this week. I’m excited to add all the audio layers to this charming and touching story of dreams. I’ll be following up to see what is also going on with our Nashville recordings. Poster art and trailer are being worked on and I hope to have something to share soon.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – HELLO TEXAS!
MBF: Man’s Best Friend will also be playing Bedias, Texas Feb 9 at the Christian Film Festival. I’m excited for a new audience to experience our story. We’ll keep expanding the showings at events and platforms. If you enjoyed this film and think someone else will also – please do share it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
This Easter help me make a tradition of watching the three films in the trilogy. FORTY NIGHTS focuses on the little known time Jesus spent in the wilderness. CHASING THE STAR presents a ‘what if’ you got to know the wise men magi. THE CHRIST SLAYER follows the Roman centurion who put the spear to Jesus on the cross. I can promise you that these films are unlike any other you have watched. We also see from the perspective of the angels both the fallen and faithful. They are a unique thread through all three films. RIP to Kirk Douglas who like Chuck Heston was an inspiration to me with their epic historic dramas. Please take a watch or re-watch and encourage some friends and/or family to watch. I watched them around Christmas and I’m very proud of what we created, collectively:)
WILD FAITH – Soon we’ll be entering into discussions over financing and distribution of a TV series spin off of WILD FAITH. If the time table works out I would love to roll cameras first part of 2021. Phase 1 – make our deal. Phase 2 – lock scripts/hires Phase 3 – shoot! If you have not seen this film treat you and your family to a watch. I’m happy to say just like several of the films I get weekly fan mail on this film. I’m passing on your howdy doo’s to Ben Lily. I am looking forward to having Ben and Hester return to the world of Wild Faith.
To wrap this up – I’ve got many people that I care and look out for as we journey. I’m excited about the prospect of SPEED and SIZE of the deals increasing to meet our needs better. But I also cannot tie my entire operations up. Blanket deals with no performance or exit clauses are often issue prone. I have meetings with my legal next week but I think slow and steady is better. I also think a trial period is helpful for both parties. My solution might just be to allow representation on a writer/actor level and production by a -la-carte not an overall. Also I always try same side of the table negotiations always. But sometimes when you receive harsh one-sided agreements it is from the scars of previous burns. We all have them. The secret is not to carry that over into your new relationships. If something or nothing happens on this front stuff is moving forward. The new screenplay I wrote will be produced this May and I’ve got a new character to become.
CDI in the Hollywood
Enjoy the day and the week that lies ahead. My congrats to all the Oscar nominations. I use to attend a yearly Oscar event “Norby Walters Night of 100 Stars” and might return at some point. I think we’ll be out in Hollywood next to show MBF.
Chatting it up with the vets of our industry like Martin Landau.
I’ve have had an opportunity to watch many of the films this year. What a great line up! They are all winners in my book. I could post my reviews but I have things to do today. Maybe next week we’ll compare my thoughts versus the actual outcome.
Oscar Night – going to Norby Walters ‘Night of a 100 Stars”
I’m told it is national coffee day, so my hazelnut coffee is to be recognized, cheers! The past week and the days leading up to it have been jam-packed with activity. On a personal level I’ve had a fill of loved ones facing health struggles including a dear Uncle of mine. Last weekend we got to visit and share a few laughs as he was always that family storyteller I looked up to. Sitting in his chair or around a fire up in Harrison we were always treated to mysterious and exciting stories. His tales of Bigfoot and strange lights in the sky can be seen as an influence in my writing like ‘Lost Heart’ which sadly he will not see. He is nearing the end of this journey and soon to start a new one.
Others who have not lived the same full life are facing challenges that make us ponder our purpose and value while living our relatively short time. I’m proud that I outlasted all the slings, arrows, naysayer and doubters to do what I love to do. If my time here were to end early, I’m happy and doing what I always dreamt of doing. I work with some amazing people and I think in our own way we are helping.
I’m not a person who puts high value to trophies and awards knowing that some are just vanity. But the awards that recognize the team work are the awards that matter most. The ‘Inspirational’ and certain individual awards to others like Josh Perry, stepping outside the limited views of society to be nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” makes my heart sing. Filmmaking is NOT an individual thing but a collective thing, hence Collective Development. Being that we’re not submitting to these festivals our distributor is, we have surprises every handful of days. Lets look at a bullet point of some of the updates.
- Hollywoodivine International Film Festival will happen next weekend and we have (3) films MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WILD FAITH and THE CHRIST SLAYER nominated for ‘Best Film’ – two of those for ‘Best Director’ and ‘Most Inspirational’ – All three of our film’s leading men were nominated being yours truly, Shane Hagedorn and Carl Weyant – just incredible. Lauren LaStrada again for “Haddie” in ‘Wild Faith’ – Josh Perry as mentioned above ‘Best Supporting’ – All three films nominated for ‘Best Cinematography’ – two nominations for Jesse Aragon and one for Patrick Dowdle. Lastly the amazing score of ‘Wild Faith’ by Dennis Therrian.
- Wild Bunch Film Festival will be happening on the same weekend. Ben Lily, Hester Thickett and Emmett will all be in attendance with Darby Hinton, who is my ‘Best Supporting Actor’ competition from another western film. I LOVE the genre and I’m looking forward to representing the film that garnished 13 nominations including again Dennis Therrian’s score. Other nominations include Best (Film, Faith Film, Produced Film, Best Lead Actors (Shane and Lauren), Best Supporting Actors (Melissa Anschutz and I), Best Narrator Trace Adkins, Best Children Actors for both Joe and Xylia and Best Director. If we win anything or nothing it will be a good moment representing the CDI TRIBE!
- In Randolph, VT the 1st Green Mountain Christian Film Festival will take place Oct 18-19. I think all three films MBF, Wild Faith and The Christ Slayer will play. Among the nominations announced thus far I was granted a ‘Best Supporting Actor’ Nomination for ole Ben Lily in ‘Wild Faith’ – along side Burt Young from ROCKY fame who is an Oscar Nom and whom I met a handful of years ago at Norby Walter’s Night of 100 Stars. ‘The Christ Slayer’ is nominated for a ‘Most Inspirational’ with more nominations to come this week.
- LOST HEART editing is underway and we should be climbing to the 30 min mark and we’ve had some PR from Creative Motion and a few other publications. Look for PR to really hit hard 1st of the new year.
- I’ve had such powerful and heartfelt responses from those watching ‘MAN’S BEST FRIEND‘ and I cannot express how much that fills me with joy. I took a moment this week to read some of the wonderful reviews on our IMDB and Amazon page. I know that you can’t please everyone but overall I think the film is finding its audience. Thank you. The DVD is suppose to arrive this week on Amazon and once it does we’ll be sharing that with all of you.
- The book THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS by Revall/Baker Publishing is now out and you can read two of my stories in there. You can get online or at your favorite bookstore. It will make a great Christmas present. Mom no need to get one Santa might have you hooked up this year:) I might do some book store readings or some other PR we will see. I have more books coming that will feature a few of my stories.
- BUY HERE: https://www.amazon.com/Horse-My-Dreams-Stories-Horses/dp/0800727185
- We are almost done with a second abridged version of a ‘book video promo’ we did for a publisher. It has been a lot of coordination but in the end it will be worth it.
- Development talks continue as we prepare for 2020 and what CDI will produce in the years ahead. We have some collaborative meetings in the weeks ahead and we will be charting a course soon.
I’m going to wrap it up here. Again if you haven’t seen the films in our library please do take a watch. You can also look at more of the film details on http://www.cdiproductions.com
Have a great end to your weekend and a wonderful week ahead.