(Last day on ‘Lost Heart,’ I was wrapped and spent the night working with craft service)
Ahhhhhhhh….chilly Michigan morning coffee sip. I’m enjoying the hazelnut coffee as I prepare to make some sort of attempt to describe this past week. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Last week I wrote on UNITY and that was a big hit. I’m a storyteller who loves to enrich audience’s life by entertainment and sometimes enlightenment. I have found that the story is one of the most effective ways to communicate. When people have conversation following a good piece of art it invokes meaningful dialog. People from all walks of life can come together and discuss the final show of The Mandalorian and debate themes, topics and differences. But they’re all united in their common love of Star Wars. In politics they should all be united in their love of our American system.
My belief is that both parties for decades now have drifted further from highlighting, promoting and pushing their party platforms and closer to no-holds barred character assassination. This includes trying to control how things are framed, presented and digested by the public. The reporters of days gone became known because they did not try nor want to be the stars, the story. But some due to their humble-approach, did become stars. Now we live in a time when people want to be “influencers” – what? We influence daily with our actions, words and deeds. I’ve seen the thirst for fame in these people and so the stories drift towards their opinions hammering the narrative to meet their goals. And where is the faith in the respected platforms? Faith that the masses will see the good in the endeavors and chose to back this person, party, platform. But some don’t have confidence in their platform and so they try to pitch, readjust, reframe a platform attempting to catch as much support as possible.
Example: Why is John Deere tractor better than Brand B
Just highlight the positives of what you are selling. No need to hammer brand B’s product customers will see this difference if it truly exists in terms of quality and performance.
Why should politics operate any differently? If you create the better product, better price point, better performance – you will never need to engage in cutting someone else’s rope short.
When I set out to make a movie, I don’t waste energy trashing anyone’s film – I just work towards making a successful story of quality. If I was running for an office I would not waste time tearing down an political opponent, I would just draw people to my platform.
Brand B tractor is a fine tractor but we at John Deere feel that we offer the better product and here is our list of why… but the cheap shots I’ve seen from both parties firing back and forth over the years, shows weakness in their stance. This weakening is what allowed a businessman with no real political experience to land in office. Running a corporation is very different because the power aligns with accountability. Our government is a system of checks and balances. It requires respectful communication and cooperation between the parties. This lack of – created a vacuum for someone from the outside to step in. Things happen much different in the two worlds and we saw many attempts at actions over four years that were deemed not legal in their process. Courts knocked it down and PR blame games took over. I joked we needed a good UFO attack to unify the world. We got a virus instead. This put the old HEALTH VS PROFIT question front and center. They need to flow together as one and not be positioned in confrontation. Healthy, long-living people can spend longer creating more on-going profit. But the medical system in the west has been reactionary vs preventative for a good long time. It is slowly changing and the unified collaboration of data and research is what allowed a quick ramp up on a vaccine. It was done quickly because PROFIT was set aside although the companies will profit. But best was the shared data to help deal with a health crisis facing us all. Can the world please tackle cancer next and be done with that horrible disease? If the cancer numbers had been highlighted and the spirit of collaboration embraced maybe it too would be a thing of the past.
Let’s focus on collaboration. What I see with social media and wall-debates is everyone feels a need to win vs lose and to gloat on that win. Lobbying to try and gather unanimous support vs same side of the table negotiations, talks, understandings.. Harsh ridicule used to drown out or squash any outside opinions but with no discussions. Unwilling to listen is the greatest form of disrespect. This also sounds like many organizations in their unwillingness. In science they have a process to drive towards truth but many outsiders have also been silenced by academic arrogance. Religion? Too many times to count. When I speak on religion I don’t cast any stones at divinity but at man-made institutions. Man-Made – If women want to jump on that bandwagon of also corrupting their institutions, please have at it. BALANCE should be the goal. We all have shared needs and concerns and we have different needs and concerns. I always think that the concerns of a person living on the Southern boarder of Mexico in Yuma, AZ will be very different from someone in Michigan. To find those common things that provide a mutual foundation and to take turns addressing concerns. I have seen HATE, not just dislike but HATE from people. Every time I see hate even pointing out something meaningful, I feel sorrow because that person is sick. Hate is a sickness. It starts with self-hate and preys on all the fears within us. If you hatefully denounce hate, you are still poisoning yourself. I see sickness all around which is why the positive fan mail from our stories have been rays of light. Our stories combat hate with love and leave some temporarily healthy, free of poison. This is only until the next projection of hate from that person and it builds. Unless habits are changed…HOPE.
For the record, I think protests often breed poison if the leadership is weak. They start with words crying of unjust but often turn to poison in one’s own mouth. Watching a group of extremists who wanted to win their position at all costs, clearly demonstrated their uncaring position about balance. I’m still greatly saddened to see the way sacred halls were turned into a scene like ‘Cedar Fest’ after MSU lost a big game. These turned into mobs of people burning things and being unruly. Again, someone lost the big game. And by their actions we all lost, because our character was tarnished. But our character on the world stage was being tarnished by those we elected with their on-going actions. We all have much in common and if the elected people cannot find those bridges and take turns making each other’s priorities something to discuss and enhance, maybe the wrong people were elected. But people can change…
I saw the political bodies House and Congress united in fear and renewed purpose finish their work. Even the most ambitious-party minded politicians had to ask themself what was/is their real “purpose” in service. Now I was looking for that UFO invasion but what we got was an invasion on our process of democracy. I watched some of the most sincere words come from the mouths of people where I had only heard negativity and blame previously. I saw a unity that did not exist 24 hours earlier. Now this unity was not the intent I’m sure but it will likely be the result. It has caused all Americans to sit back and re-examine much like the Covid virus. I think that many never slow down enough to truly ponder and Covid did that. Now we can ponder the past week’s actions. I hope that I never witness such poisoned individuals rabid with hate but I know that is unlikely. It will only get better when we all get tired of the taste of poison hate and seek the sweetest of love and listening.
All this writing and I have not yet got into any film updates. I know that many don’t want any views from their entertainers and I’m often one of those people. As a screenwriter and artists I like to observe, seeking to experience the event from all sides. To question why things happen. I cannot say what tomorrow will bring. But I can control my thoughts, action and deeds and keep the poison from my mouth. I feel bad for the sick wrought with hate. Start a change with what you can control – YOU.
- BEST YEARS GONE – The 1st edit is done and it’s being polished so we can take a watch end of this coming week. The reports from editing has been very encouraging with the story, acting and execution of the story being hailed. This all done in a small break during the Covid lock downs.
- We are going to launch a ‘Best Years Gone’ Battle of the Bands to give one artist(s) a chance to have their song in the soundtrack plus be involved in a music video.
- Merchandise for CDI films has been in development and will be making a big jump in 2021. Stay tune to http://www.cdiproductions.com for updates – SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE!
- As LOST HEART continues to expand in viewership here is an other PR article that I’m proud of because it really highlights the script. That is the issue with so many projects is they lack a powerful script that says something. http://m.digitaljournal.com/entertainment/entertainment/happy-days-star-don-most-opens-up-about-lost-heart-film/article/583626
- I love the time and process put into doing the final WRITER and DIRECTOR polish on the ‘SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA‘ script. Tony Hornus (MBF) and I spent 4-5 hours each day last week to go through every line of the script. To discuss each and every scene and motivation. We get to have advance discussions about what will be needed in production. We likely have one more day of work on it – maybe two.
- HASTINGS Tv show which is a spin off from WILD FAITH is being read show by show by some of the actors and proposed directors. Those reading the shows are expressing their joy in them. Shane Hagedorn star and one of the series directors said, “The shows are about being good to one another.” Sounds like something we could use. I’m in talks with several parties and I think this series is a matter of when not if.
- As we start the drive towards Easter season I hope people will take the time to watch THE QUEST TRILOGY. These are not preachy and propose an interesting perspective for seekers who might not align with the mainstream organized religious bodies. That is not to say that the various organizations haven’t enjoyed them as they all were nominated as ‘Most Inspirational’ winning twice but they were not created in a bubble. They relate very well to the world and I think the films have as many fans coming from a non-religious place. I’ve said it many times that you could be from a totally different faith from Christianity and still enjoy the films. Take a watch and see for yourself (Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star, Part 3 The Christ Slayer)
Okay I could go on about a few more updates but it is noon and I have things to do. Several of the films can be seen free on Amazon Prime, Encourage TV: Youtube and more so enjoy a few of the stories and please do let me know what you think.
Be good to one another.
The hazelnut coffee is here beside me on another beautiful day in Michigan. Let me again start by thanking all the readers we have in our artists circle. Here are just a few from last week –
This past week I had some of my first in-person meetings over CDI merchandise which will be “COLLECTIVE COLLECTABLES” and over a new documentary film CDI is assisting in producing. Also this week I did some major yard upgrades which included power washing and staining the deck. I love to work out there on nice days and today we’re having the mothers over for a first cookout. The yard is all trimmed up and cut and I will be adding some privacy screening this coming week. Also we’ve entered my Bday month – the countdown to the 23rd. It will be a good month as many wonderful updates are unfolding. Let’s take a look.
LOST HEART – The music and sound design is almost done and we’ll be starting to mix. VFX and color correction should also be almost done. We’ve been slowed a touch by weeks of not being in the same room/studio. The film is just the right amount of funny comedy and inspirational drama. I think they want an early fall release which means we might do a theatrical or I hope…a drive in run! How fun would that be and it was a goal prior to all this virus stuff. Along with Roanoke’s music we’ll have some music contributions from a very famous musical family. More on that soon. Plus we might have a great uncredited cameo:) Just so much fun with this film.
BEST YEARS GONE – So much fun we are about to do it all again. We announced last week the addition of Victoria Jackson to the project making this the second time she has joined the CDI family. The film also has a layer of small town race car culture in it. Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been tweaking some dialog to reflect that. We once again have some really cool cars that will play into the film. I’ve started dealing with sponsors for the film and we’ll start announcing those also. We’re aiming to roll cameras in August and right now we are looking at clearing those dates. We’ll still be making some major forthcoming announcements on cast. This film will be a fun one for sure! Find our Facebook page and follow us along.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – The films are marching forward into new territories. South Korea looks to be next following Mexico, Brazil and Latin America. So audiences will continue to adventure with FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. These films can be enjoyed by anyone and are surely to create discussion and dialog.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This beautiful film was recognized with nominations by the International Christian Film Festival for screenplay, filmmaking, most inspirational and I was nominated for an actor award for playing Paul. I did not watch the online awards so not sure if we won anything or not but it was an honor to be recognized. I hope we can attend at least one festival this year but we will have to see what opens up. Again if you have not seen this film please do. It has some powerful themes in it and will surely move you.
WILD FAITH – In a time of much strife I’ve been pleased to get so much positive response to this film with racial harmony at the heart of it. I’ve gotten some great fan mail from people around the country who are drinking in this film and the truth it lies out. Nothing is forced but it effectively illustrates that knowing and understanding go hand in hand. We are working to bring this world to audiences as a TV show. Just working on the financial part which is always the hardest. Take a watch and let me know if you see a TV show in there.
This past week also included investor dispersement on certain films. Also putting a new batch of actor residuals in motion which most will see just in time for Christmas when the union sends them forward. We’re putting materials together on our 2021 WW2 drama and excited about that. I have a few new proposals to help produce other projects that will come with their own money. But even those need to be weighed out because they all take time.
I hope everyone out there stays safe as we re-open and start to interact once again. As you move out into the world do so with a new found appreciation of one another. Allow people to have different opinion and ideas. Try to communicate better and also learn to listen. A common middle ground is what most will need to find as the world moves forward. The attitude of all or nothing is not exactly reasonable as the world is not black and white but a great spectrum of colors that flows between. The GOLDEN RULE of do unto others as you would have them do unto you, would work well as a guiding principal.
Be good to one another.
New readers from Denmark, Thailand and other countries around the world – welcome. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here by my side and I’m sitting down to give you a few updates on this Memorial Weekend. In my home state of Michigan it has been a bit of a challenge most recently with the rain causing multiple dams to break and at least one town needing to evacuate. Also our virus restrictions have eased some and my hope is that we don’t have spikes leading to a tightening down.
The American way of freedom and rights has been put to the test on many fronts. As a capitalistic society we have long put profit ahead of health and safety. Now because of an increase in communication and perhaps compassion? -the health of individuals is carrying weight because those that put wealth above health are being exposed and being held accountable. But for many their immediate livelihood also effects their health so we have a challenge is seeking that balance.
I don’t look down on people with less formal education because while some can recall all kinds of knowledge others have a knack with mechanics, electronics, skilled labor that also is important. What I see is that many just don’t understand virus transmission. Also those seeking proper information are being confused by opposing information made worse when a political agenda is attached. So people get frustrated and just get to a point of F#@%@%#@ IT!
Others need to fill their lives with conspiracy and such and those things have happened down through the ages. But friendly speculation can turn deadly when people take this as truth. I enter every conversation knowing I could be wrong. I try to ’empty my cup’ and learn from every interaction I have. I fear that in America during this election year that we’ll not get any relief until after the new elections. I read of people complaining because stores are trying to accommodate everyone’s concerns. Someone who refuses store rules should be out, my opinion. Just like NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE. People not following directional arrows because they are proving a point should be asked to leave. That business came up with rules that was best for them based on recommendations.
Now we’re working on our policy and rules for working with CDI on our next film BEST YEARS GONE. We’re financed and ready to roll once we feel we can safely handle production and work within guidelines. Now if someone on the crew did not want to work under these set conditions they would not be hired. I don’t care if you think 5G towers did this and so-and-so says masks do nothing. If the policy is a mask on a hot set – you wear or we don’t hire you. A sickness of any kind can really stumble up a business or project. Those accountable for finishing the project need to make the best decisions and safe is better than sorry, as mom use to say.
We are currently targeting August to film but stand ready to push a month or two if needed. Things are looking better but if people start going total disregard – we could see our situation go backwards. Either way we will move forward with caution. We are soon to announce another cast member who recently worked with the tribe on LOST HEART. We’re happy to have them in the TribeCDI family. Stay tuned for more cast and crew updates and we’ll start announcing some of our sponsorship partners as well.
LOST HEART – The music and sound design is almost done and mixing will be next. The color correction and VFX are also close to being done. We have a few surprise announcements also but we’ll wait for the ‘ink to dry’ as I like to say. We’ll be exploring how we want to premiere the film in the coming days. I’m really excited for people to enjoy this wonderful story and you will – soon!
I’ve had wonderful fan mail from folks watching MAN’S BEST FRIEND, WILD FAITH and The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) and so while spending time with your family please enjoy the hard work of our artists.
We’ve been hard at work here at CDI and soon we’ll be launching ‘COLLECTIVE COLLECTABLES‘ our merchandise division. The CDI Music Division and we continue to explore the animation opportunities. If you have skills and a reel from me a line – I want to see what artists are doing.
I’m happy to say we’ve made great strides on the ‘HASTINGS‘ TV series and our WW2 film for 2021 is over half financed. I believe we’ll have all our commitments by the end of summer if not sooner.
Be kind to one another as we navigate through these times. Channel your energy into what you can control. Adversity can create great new opportunities. You are forced out of your comfort zone and from that new place great ideas can spring. But the key to success is to be a doer. It is not enough to have a good idea you must vet the idea and if deemed worthy – do it.
Until next week. Zen your space. Be mindful of others. Create don’t hate!
New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.
The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more. Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.
I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.
When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.
I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.
Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.
I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.
We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.
WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.
I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.
Have a great Sunday!