Good morning. The sun is shining and the buds are blooming on the apple and mulberry trees. The first sprouts of rhubarb are poking their way up also. I hope all my fellow artists and friends are getting by during this challenge. I still think it some ways that the alien UFO attack still might have been better than this virus. We had a short time where politics disappeared and people just focused on solutions versus blame. It is a unifying event by the threat but it has kept many of us separate from loved ones. This has caused some emotional and some financial pains – understandable. What disappointed me this week was the rise in division again. Here is the thing…
I went to Northwestern Elementary School, Otto Middle School and Sexton High School. It is in Lansing’s public school system and before any right to choose. I believe given a choice many out of fear will choose to remain apart. Divided by race, creed, financial status or any number of things. I think going to public schools was one of the best things ever for me. The real world has divisions but many more sectors that cross over. Why? Because at the heart of it we all have hopes, dreams, fears and we all are born and will die. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity of my friendships. If someone was really in life threatening danger I would work to save them. It would not matter the color of their skin, how they were dressed, who they vote for, how they worship or where they call home. You could be wearing a BERNIE tee shirt or a MAGA hat, it doesn’t matter. I would try to save you. Those that think they are different when understand on their last few breaths that they are not. We are all the same. How we appreciate the life we have and those we share it with varies I’m sure.
We are seeing the best of who we are in some of those working front lines to contain this virus. Where it came from? Misuse of nature or manipulation of the nature order of things, doesn’t matter. Blaming? Why? The mild differences between the way we feel on certain topics is made worse by these extreme situations. We are seeing love and hate – but know hate comes from fear. To love takes courage because of the fear of losing it and feeling pain beyond our control. A dear friend lost EVERYTHING in a house fire but gained a perspective and newfound appreciation for life that could only come by walking through that pain.
We are walking through that pain. My sincere hope is that we gain that new insight to respect and appreciation. This is all someone else’s issue until you suffer a loss or the fear of that loss. In my business I have to make decisions all the time and some that are not always met with full agreement. But the ones held accountable are trying to do their best they can. When people see my name listed above theirs it doesn’t make me more powerful just more accountable. And in politics we have opposing sides who no longer play by gentlemen rules. (gentleladies too) If you misstep and we all do, they will use that against you. That is why many would rather be over-protective vs under protective but with the economical issues that will be politically weaponized it is unfortunately a lose-lose situation. Know that deep down nobody wants death nor financial ruin and how to navigate that path is not a perfect science. Sometimes you need to get outside the emotional storm. Fear vs Fear is what we’re seeing.
If you have a horrific car crash and are trapped in a burning vehicle you would not deny help if the person has different color skin, wears turban or Trump hat, is gay or prays on a mat facing East…you would accept the help. All I’m saying is, don’t be a bitch to fear. Now I’m a person who listens to people in the medical field not the political. I mean we all listen because they spend so much to try and grab our attention. They are just numbers until it is personal. How many would willingly accept a business set back if it meant saving the life of someone they loved, a mother, father, sibling, child? If someone close to you gets sick you will likely suffer that financial set back in some way anyhow. So let those accountable do their job and no matter how they do it I know people will face criticism. As a boss or employee, parent or child and definitely as artists we all face that. Because some people hold up their identity by going against the grain. Trolls on the internet. Gossipers in social circles. Art critics. We will get past all this and I hope your loved ones come out safe. Some unfortunately will not. But how many friendships will be damaged by the negativity once we get to the other side? I love all my friends and their priorities on various topics don’t change that. I am often disappointed by actions I see but I too have disappointed people. Hence forgiveness. I hope many of you forgive one another after all this. That you know that all the irrational words, actions and deeds were done out of fear.
I knew I was going to speak on some of the current topics above but was so happy to get an email this morning.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is now playing on one of the largest TV networks in Mexico. It might have further reach into Latin America I’m not sure. What I’m sure of is that millions of people are watching our stories. FORTY NIGHTS
CHASING THE STAR
and THE CHRIST SLAYER
On behalf of the entire CDI family of artists we hope the millions of new viewers take something positive from these stories and make they part of their traditional watchings.
I also want to thank all the fans of WILD FAITH and MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND the fan mail is appreciated. I’m just so happy that we can bring some entertainment and thought to our audiences.
We’re moving strong and I’m excited to see the soundtrack put to picture. This movie will be just the dose of happy that many need. I have more talks this coming week about the roll out of the film.
BEST YEARS GONE
We announced some of our talented cast and crew last week.
The ship stocked up even more this past week and we’ll be ready to roll when the storm passes. You can look us up on Facebook to follow the films or Collective Development Inc. as a company. Our website http://www.cdiproductions.com is undergoing some updates. Including a subscription mailing list on the CDI site. We’ll be using that for future casting and crew calls and more. So take yourself over there and sign up to stay current.
Even this blog here is going to undergo some revamping in the next couple weeks.
I’ve had all kinds of great conversations- some personal and some business in the past weeks. Calls that maybe you were too tired to make after a long day of work. I don’t, can’t and won’t judge people as I don’t walk in their shoes. I would say do channel your energy into something positive. I’ve seen people type arguments longer than some college papers. These people could have written books, scripts, blogs but instead just throw names and negativity back and forth. I’ve actually gotten a lot of writing done and will complete much more. Some of these writings will become future stories and some will be sold. What is the return on your writings? Loss of friendships? High blood pressure? Lack of sleep? Undeserved venting at those closest to you? Again I never claimed to be the greatest artist or any of that cocky nonsense. But I do outwork a majority of people. Not just in quantity of the work for the quality. How productive? Which projects did you put energy behind? Just evaluate and see if you can increase your peace of mind. I probably spent 15-18 hours a week in personal meetings before all this. I’ve been using all that extra time to be better prepared. And amazing opportunities continue to develop behind steady development work. There is no short cut.
I’m going to go work in the yard and do some grilling today. Keep your chin up and stay busy with positive things that make you feel accomplished at the end of your day. Know that accomplished tasks which could be just reconnecting with a few people from your circle, can do wonders for yourself. Until next week be good to one another. Coffee cheers!
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)