And where do I even begin to describe last night? If you are not up to speed we had our Michigan premiere for our recent CDI film “Man’s Best Friend” at the NCG theater in Owosso, MI the home turf of our director Anthony (Tony) Hornus. In all my years I’ve been to premieres where after a showing people have all kinds of polite things to say. What I’ve found is that the screening itself doesn’t lie. With 270 people in each show you had a sea of viewers. The crying, laughter and even the occasional murmur such as “Shits about to go down now” give truth. We sit in our little studio mixing and watching with our small producers group but to witness a full theater absorb and react is…an artists dream.
In many ways I am living my dream. I’m doing what always made me happy and what I feel confident doing. Last night I got to see many old friends and fellow artists. It was a joy to get beyond positive feedback from folks in the military and the general audiences. Nov 11th is the target date for theatrical in N. America. So if you have a film chain in your area reach out to their management and ask them to book the film. We will be pushing to get it to all the places that are being requested. It is a wonderful film to see on the big screen and kudos to our tech team for doing such a wonderful job. I’m still in morning coffee bliss after meeting so many of you last night. I’ve had several people tell me this was our best film to date and my best performed role to date. I will let all of you be the judge of that. I love them all but recognize the power in this role. I put in the work. I watched and communicated with many actual wounded warriors to create an ‘everyman’ like Paul Landings. All I can say is that I will never forget last night. It was truly special for me and to share it with all of those who came just made it that much more special.
IF this is your first CDI film please do work your way backwards through our catalogue and watch the growth and development of our company. Once again I’m just so proud to have worked with all the artists in front of and behind the camera.
WILD FAITH will ride into Wilcox, AZ this October. We just found out that another Hollywood festival (Hollywood Divine International Film Festival) invited Wild Faith, MBF and The Christ Slayer to participate after being submitted by our distributor. I will get more info out on that event soon. IF you like to stay up on the developments please seek out and join our Facebook pages for these films. I just opened an official folder at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND facebook site for the MI premiere pictures. In the next day or so the pictures will start being posted. So join us at our FB site and follow the CDI films as they rolls out across the nation.
Aside from all the film work we’re doing final music with the amazing Dennis Therrian on a CDI commercial project. We’ll finish that up and deliver to the client. I’m almost done with LOST HEART clean up. We’re about 15 minutes into the rough edit of the film. Jesse Low has given his adjustments and so this week will be refining and digging into the next handful of scenes. This film will be under wraps being worked on while we promote the finished projects.
One of the biggest questions asked of me last night was what is next? Development is underway – rest assured. Stay tune. I’m going to make this a shorter blog today. I’m going to let all this positive energy soak in. I so enjoyed seeing everyone last night. I was up past my bedtime:) Thankful for 11:30 pm coffee:) Speaking of coffee, time to refill the cup.
Have a wonderful morning.
Good morning. I noticed we have readers this last week from Serbia and Japan, welcome. As artists, as storytellers – we have a great opportunity to introduce ideas, in a non-threatening way via story. This has been a busy week since we also had a CDI commercial gig for a client. We do occasionally take on commercial jobs and this one required powerful narrative storytelling. Needless to say, it was a good fit. If things stay smooth we might put some more energy into the CDI commercial side, but feature film and TV will be our main focus. This week also saw additional project wrap up – crossing things off the To-Do list. It has been busy but that is a good thing. Let’s look at the top PR of the moment.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND – The NCG Theaters in Owosso, MI is hosting our two show premiere on Sept 14th. Many of our stars in attendance and the total net profit will go towards two non-profits. One benefitting wounded warriors and the other the local animal shelter. One of my dear friends and co-stars in the film has a significant other who is living her last days. They were sent an advance DVD to watch the film. It made me feel so good to hear the feedback. How it made them both feel. If we get a reaction out of that from our public audience – job well done.
Many actors dream of playing that cool good guy, speaking in that Christian Bale batman voice. Or playing the suave bad guy, like Ricardo Montalban. My character of Paul Landings is neither. He is a humble damaged person who gave everything he had for his country. In return he was given months of medical service and a parade back home. Ten years gone and he is just that guy around town. Maybe homeless or close to, with little to no support system. But I think when all these people are near the end of their rope, animals have given them a bit more time. Cancer of the body is one thing but cancer of the soul is another. As an actor who had a start in the hyper-critical horror genre I’ve suffered my slings and arrows. It isn’t always praise it can be rocks or roses. I was afraid of tackling Paul at first. I did not want to mock our fine soldiers and I did not want to be mocked. After countless hours of watching interviews, docs and footage of real wounded warriors coping with life I realized that my fear of going too far…was really just representing a mild case. It is at that point that I wanted to become Paul for all the Paul’s out there. The externally and internally wounded. The mild and the severe wounded – some require 24/7 parental care. I was no longer scared but prepared to put one story down so that it might cast a light on areas we all would rather ignore.
Fast foward – This Sat we will show the first audiences the story. It’s odd because I’ve shot another film since entitled LOST HEART, and my role in that film is well…happier:) I had found out days before camera roll on MAN’S BEST FRIEND that my beloved buddy Luke (Mr. Brown) whom had inspired some of the story and been with me while writing was terminal with cancer. After the immense heartbreak we have a new joy in a young puppy named Finn. But this Saturday I travel back to a different period of time. A darker period of time in my life. That is not to say that the film doesn’t have goodness and positivity to it all, I just had to live the darkness. My biggest challenge in my heart that keeps me from being thrilled is that I was able to take out my hearing aides and the coke bottle glasses and return to being DJ Perry. My friends and inspiring stories that helped me create Paul live on, struggling. I do hope this film will help turn a compassionate eye towards adoption dogs and our vets in need. This story is for my buddy Mr. Brown (Luke) seen above napping with his daddy.
WILD FAITH will be represented at Content 19 being recognized for a JUSTICE AWARD and for SET DESIGN.
Next month we will represent the film in AZ at The Wild Bunch Film Festival. More on this as we get closer.
We’re prepping The Quest Trilogy for a great holiday season ahead. We’re starting to look forward at the final 2019 projects and into 2020. I’ve cleaned out about 1/2 (300+) emails that I built up while shooting LOST HEART. That fine film is in editing and we’ll be meeting this week to finalize new TITLE font and discuss the first look trailer.
I hope to see some of you out this Saturday at the 1st release of MBF before the national theatrical and home video roll out. I look forward to talking with you all again on Sunday after the showings. I’ve going to finish my wood cutting for the wood stove in the office. Also have to give some love to the garden and yard. I’ve been enjoying all the veggies. I think this week will also mark the bottling of HOPPY GRAPE APE wine. Cheers!
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good morning to everyone out there. The week has been a busy one for sure. Where to start? Before doing this I was working down my list of TO DO’s nearly 20 items deep trying to get a jump on tomorrow. We are very close to on-set pre-production on LOST HEART. We’ve been meeting on cast, crew and various vendors and sponsors. Tomorrow we’ll be announcing two of other female actresses joining the cast. One is an amazing musician/actress and the other a SNL alumni, so stay tuned for that tomorrow. You can follow our FB site for LOST HEART at
We’ll also be announcing another major sponsor this week – which I can say enough how much that helps independent filmmakers. Some of our sponsors are already listed on the FB site and see http://www.cdiproductions.com where another LOST HEART page will be going up. Friends old and new will be coming together to tell a Michigan story.
WILD FAITH – I’ve started getting some fantastic emails from people who have watched and enjoyed the film. It is now for DIGITAL RENTAL on Amazon Prime and many platforms. On July 2nd it will release to DVD. Thank you to those who have pre-ordered. We’ll look at the TV series or sequels once the worldwide audience has spoken. I would love to do a Michigan based TV series. It would provide some great opportunities to showcase the talent here. Rent/Buy but I would love to read your reviews either on here or better yet posted to amazon.com, IMDB.com or wherever you have rented/purchased it. Giddy up!
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We’ve been quietly prepping this film for distribution 1st to theaters with home video to follow. I had the pleasure to watch the film through this past week and I was just amazed at the powerful performances made stronger but the score by “Tricky T” 🙂 We’ll have a premiere after we get done filming LOST HEART. It will likely be in the Owosso, MI area where our director hails from. The themes of military vets and adoption dogs will touch the heart’s of many. Get ready for another wonderful Michigan story brought to you by the tribe at CDI.
The Quest Trilogy ( Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer) – If you are enjoying CDI films and want to watch a trilogy of adventure films set in the biblical times- The Quest Trilogy. Take a watch and join the viewers from around the world experiencing these stories.
I am not going to wax on about any subjects today simply because I have a long TO DO list as noted that I want to chip away at. The garden is growing nicely and this week we had a new roof put on. It took about 3 hours and I admired their work flow. The roofers and the clean up support staff. EAGLE EYE ROOFING in Mason which was recommended after they just did a roof job for fellow CDI producer Anthony Hornus. OK. I hope you all have a wonderful week. When I write next week I will be preparing to leave for on-location pre-production for a week before cameras roll.
Have a great day!
Good morning from chilly Michigan. We have new readers from Canada and the Netherlands, welcome. This morning I spent an hour organizing and cleaning through emails and I still did not get through it all. I’ve enjoyed my little dude Finn this morning. He has brought major joy back into our household in 2019 and for that I’m thankful.
Let’s go with a bullet point update
- MBF: Man’s Best Friend – In two days 415k views of our promo piece with Animal Planet – of course a puking squirrel can get millions of views so…but we’re just happy so many of you are being exposed to this amazing film coming in 2019 from Collective Development Inc. and Bridgestone Multimedia Group. WATCH IT HERE: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalPlanet/videos/366247313928139/UzpfSTE5MTM1MDI2MzU1ODk3NDE6MjIyMTExMTY4ODE2MjE2Ng/ and we just might have a special surprise for you in the months ahead. What else happened with Duncan on his trip to Corunna/Owosso, Michigan to film? It would make a good show;) Editing on the 1st cut is almost done.
- Wild Faith – last month of western film was delivered with our celebrity narrator (preparing for a TV series) and a remastered picture. Keep an eye out for the various time versions of theatrical teasers for social media. Why? Wild faith will be riding back into theaters across the country in March. I think millions could benefit from this powerful film. I had a close friend of many decades tell me that Wild faith was their favorite film of ours to date. I have seen first hand the effects of this film on people’s hearts and minds. So I’ll hope that the number of screens is on the numerous end of the spectrum. I’ll have lists of when’s and where’s in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow our social media FB site for Wild faith and all our films. JOIN US HERE: https://www.facebook.com/WildFaithMovie/
- So you’d think that the above news would be enough to make one feel beyond humble and grateful but the good news continues. The Christ Slayer is complete and is being rendered all together for delivery. It was the biggest scope film in The Quest Trilogy consisting of Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and now The Christ Slayer. It feels great to have finished the film itself but finishing the three films is the realization of a longtime goal. They can be enjoyed as stand alone films but have a greater storyline embedded into the three films. I think Chasing the Star has a clearer conclusion if you’ve seen Forty Nights. And you could enjoy The Christ Slayer stand alone, but it will feel much more full if the other two films have been seen. There are some reoccurring characters in the stories that become richer if you’ve watched all three. So they’ve already cut theatrical social media promos and the movie will be on the big screen in April. FOLLOW US HERE “The Quest Trilogy” – https://www.facebook.com/The-QUEST-Trilogy-933210800141426/
- We’ll be forming the LLC for our next endeavor LOST HEART. We’ve got our first investor/EP excited to move forward so I have to play catch up. Our LOI to distribute from our distributor is now in place. This includes a full first look theatrical evaluation due to the partnership. We’ve got some returning stars from past CDI films and a few new faces too. We’ll finalize casting once everything is in place. I’m really excited about this next project and it will be fun, powerful and thought-provoking. Our PR on this will start rolling on this in a few short weeks.
- From the CDI vaults, a much-anticipated sequel has been getting some real attention. We’ve had a few exploratory development talks with a few parties but this is starting to gel. It would give a new director an opportunity to do his first feature that already has an awaiting audience. A director, a pair of new fresh-faced co-stars, a few nostalgic faces and the game could be afoot.
Josh “The Ponceman” Perry and DJ Perry – The Christ Slayer this Easter!
Additionally I’m happy to report receiving the first paycheck of 2019. Freelance or the art of creating a paycheck each and every year is not for everyone. As one year ends we all wonder if another year of income will materialize. So that first one is always nice. I’m happy to report this one is from a new client, a major book publisher. This book runner, which I assume is much like a show runner, went to see Wild Faith. From there she watched a few other films I had written and reached out. I was asked to be a contributor in a book of horse stories. Having done a good number of westerns, I have a few good stories. From those two stories I contributed I was asked about contributing to two other books. I’m enjoying all the writing. I’ve been having some discussions on literary representation. I’ve done past deals just off personal relationships and attorneys but having someone actively seek/bid work-for-hire or sell off scripts I have, but don’t plan to produce, would be perfect.
I saw a cool little saying burnt into a wood plank the other day- something like,
“If the winds won’t agree with you, pick up the oars”
2019 my friends. I hope the winds will be at your back taking you closer to your dreams and goals. But if the air is still and stagnant and your boat sits idle, pick up them oars and get rowing. Life is short so don’t be afraid to fail. But do give your BEST EFFORT, always.
Talk at you next week.
Don Most on set of ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend’
I’m sitting in my lazy boy sipping the hazelnut coffee. It has been nice to sleep in my own bed and be cozy with my family. We have recently enjoyed a wonderful CDI shoot in Corunna/Owosso area and enjoyed great home away from home service at Quality Inn in Durand, Michigan. We got to enjoy many of the fine eateries in the area and filmed at many of the landmarks in the area. Many know that our most recent film was MBF: Man’s Best Friend that had themes of military wounded and shelter dogs. I encourage anyone looking for a good family addition to visit our friends at the Shaiwassee Humane Society. I got to work with the amazing staff and with many of the animals there awaiting you. We had a great visit from Animal Planet and we’ll be the focus of one of the new shows “Amanda to the Rescue” this fall. We had ‘Duncan‘ the two-legged boxer join our cast and what an inspiration. The VFW provided a fish fry that made this non-fried food eater give in just this once.
Duncan on set with actor Greg Mason
As for the art itself – I was so proud to share the screen with so many incredible actors and to work alongside such a great dedicated crew. (See IMDB.com) In all my years of producing I can honestly say this crew was just on point. I look forward to working with them again. I went to places with this wounded warrior character Paul Landings that I’ve not been on camera. These externally and internally wounded soldiers who live daily with this heaviness pushed me to complete truth. As the role ended I almost felt guilty because for many there is no WRAP on their role. They will still wake up to disfigurement or mental anguish and issues. It is why suicide rates are so high because how long can they carry the heaviness? Now dogs have proven to help carry some of this heaviness and to bring joy back into their lives. Emotionally I gave everything I had and I feel good about that.
Also when I was coming into our business – I did not want to do 1) Soap Opera or 2) Action films to start with. Both in my mind limited how audiences would look at you. I have a long history of martial arts study and practice but mainly use it for health and to allow me to do many of my own stunts. In this film I showcase a bit of my training and that was truly enjoyable. It actually felt very natural and I was happy that the crew seemed to really enjoy what we captured. Most of my fight scenes in the past consisted of deconstructing so as to not appear trained. I want to thank my fellow actors who performed with me and John Lennox who helped me coordinate the scene. I hope audiences enjoy it.
Robert Bradley our dog coordinator and Big Poppa aka Brown Boy in MBF
We do have one more pick up day for the film. It is flashback footage and will show war footage and Paul before being wounded. That will be the icing on the cake. We will be releasing this film again with BMG targeting early next year.
Speaking of BMG we’re in the final stages of putting together something exciting for WILD FAITH. We’re looking at a few more summer theatrical runs before a fall home video release. We also might be playing a west coast festival after being approached. We will know more about that in the coming weeks.
BMG is also the distributor of our biblical adventure films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR (2016/2017 ‘Most Inspirational’ at ICFF) are in the marketplace – Amazon Prime and many other specialty sites selling DVD and streaming. Here is one of the many new platforms –
Read about CHASING THE STAR
This Christmas part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER will be rounding out the trilogy with a theatrical followed by an Easter 2019 home video release. The theatrical trailer will release in the coming weeks. Music moves into high gear with the feature starting this week with our composer Dennis Therrian.
So this week will include getting all the paperwork straight on MBF and catching up on yard work. I’m back to playing soccer today. It killed me to take a few weeks off but as the lead role in a film, an injury would have risked just too much. But today we’re back at it and I’m ready to roll. I hope you all have a great weekend. For those following along with our boy Luke, he’s going to have his third radiation treatment tomorrow on his sinus tumor. He is doing pretty good but of course I wish I could do more. He is still doing three walks a day, eating and drinking well just a tad slower.
Have a great Sunday!
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):)
I have finally landed back in my comfy chair and will take a few moments with all of you. MSU plays football in a short while and I enjoy that time. We will watch and enjoy some Mexican eating as the night falls and the air turns cold. We had a streak of beautiful weather and only a short year earlier we had major snow. I’m not sure how Michigan will be this winter but we’ll deal with it. I think an oil change before the snow hits but other than that we will be ready. I need to do a final mow and put away certain things until spring. I’m ready to enjoy the season and continue to prep for the 2016 season ahead.
We’ve been all hands on deck with post production trying to bring “40 Nights” to a close. Many people are VERY excited including our marketing people with Lightworx. Sound design and music at one studio, VFX at two studios and color correction awaits at the end. The distributor wanted to know if they could get screeners now (work in progress) but the film is in layered pieces. But soon the pieces will all be married together into one final film. If you are just starting to hear about “40 Nights” check it out.
Theatrical showing events will take place before our April 1st release and that is no joke:) Some may know that “40 Nights” is the first in our QUEST TRILOGY. The second is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we’ve just announced our director and some of our returning cast. Take a look at the press release below.
I’m excited to once again play in this powerful, moving world that we’re exploring. Jesse Low, our “40 Nights” director will likely be ready for some R&R before moving into our CDI mid-“western” that he’ll direct. I purchased something today that will either be a costume or set dressing. It was a bear skin. Now I’m personally not for hunting predators. I think these sport hunters who kill at some silly distance with a rifle are disgraceful. It isn’t like you used a bowie knife. Anyway, I knew that this could be an awesome prop that fit our period. So this animal skin is now in the office. I have also been looking for something long to hang on a wall beam in the office. I had someone approach me with a trade that was just too cool. It was a 7 foot long whale harpoon mounted on this beautiful aged wood plank covered with nautical rope. Again, I’m not a supporter of whale hunting in this age of easier food. I know religion, beliefs and other traditions factor into the practice of whale hunting. But those who did this by hand were obviously also putting their life on the line. So today I took possession of a whale harpoon and a bear skin. I don’t say that too often. Okay, I’ve never said that.
“Bestseller” had a great showing in Owosso, MI last Sunday and I want to thank everyone who came out. I want to thank filmmaker buddy Nathan Quinn for coming out and supporting. It was good to catch up and I appreciated the beers. CHEERS! Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand had a great signing earlier that day for his young fans. Next stop for the film might be Detroit area following Grayling, MI. It was fun to once again watch the audiences be scared. It’s worth a watch with a group in a theater but I know it will also play great in that small dark room late at night. Did you hear something? Boo!
We are so close to announcing our TV premiere with “Ashes of Eden” – I can’t get ahead of our distributor’s PR so I have to wait. But that film will be getting out to audiences worldwide every soon.
The Nov 19th CDI film mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI will be showing “An Ordinary Killer”. Now if our transfer worked correct from the D5, I intend to make DVD’s to purchase also. We’re planning on doing new runs of all the classic CDI films.
We’re passing contracts back and forth on the book/DVD re-release of “Knight Chills”. I’m excited to revisit this world in the many formats. The sequel film and comic book adaptations could be happening sooner versus later. Stay tuned!
Well, I’m going to wrap this up and do a little work while watch MSU. Enjoy your weekend.
Happy Halloween! This day reminds me of early days plodding around in our neighborhood usually in the damp drizzle bravely approaching dimly lit houses. We transformed with our costumes, one that my mom or grandma (If major sewing was required) helped construct. Mom made sure we had our share of classroom Halloween treats and Halloween parties at the house. Later years brought howling at the moon and we were drawn more to the attractive outfits of the ladies versus the haul of candy. Yes. Priorities had shifted. I love Oct. 31st because it’s the portal into those longer, darker, self-introspective days of winter. The harvest has mostly been collected (we still have beets in the ground) and our dwelling and self are both being prepped for the much colder days ahead. Often in my later years the movie sets have taken me away at this time. The beautiful change of season is highly sought after by filmmakers. I’ve been in the Smoky Mountains, India, and various locations on this day This year our timeline is full with multiple screenings and the final month of post-production on our film “40 Nights”. These films we’re doing have distributors and retailers waiting and so this timeline is VERY important. I had a good couple of weeks of the actor-self feeling like a beast in a cage. Add in the time off from soccer (my body thanks me) whereas I’m not getting my weekly BATTLE lust and well…it left me seeking my balance. This day is one of great re-balancing. It prepares one for the months ahead. We have much to do!
One thing we’ve been seriously doing in preparation of our next feature, “Chasing the Star” is seeking the right director. This is an important task just like casting and crewing. Every artist is an important part of the whole. This is also an interesting process because this is #2 of a trilogy. The right person has to align with the script and also be producer friendly. Business does trump in the non-hobby filmmaking world and so you need someone who understands that. In no way does that mean that business is a hindering factor – just is a factor. Often it never even becomes an issue. Just when it does you want a director who is on board PRE-filming. Each director is looked at for their experience and connection to story. Lastly, they must possess qualities that are of a respectful, grateful and appreciative nature. One film can change everyone’s life path.
Many first time filmmakers never make that second one because it is truly a task not for the weak. Those that continue to grow are the ones that learn collaboration and compromise within a business structure. I’m happy to say we’ve found our director on “Chasing the Star” and will be announcing in the days ahead. Congrats! The CDI tribe welcomes you.
“Bestseller” is having a Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I will be attending. It is at the Wrought Iron Grill and shows at 6:00 pm – I hope to see some of you there!
Our next CDI art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits with Red, White and Blue Project is Nov. 19th in Grand Ledge, MI. The film will be “An Ordinary Killer” filmed entirely in Michigan.
This concludes a great week of meetings that included book and comic book deals, soundtrack/VOD talks, touring discussions and several other interesting developments happening with our CDI library.
I’m waiting on a new “C.U.J.O.” draft along with an action script that the studio wants me to look at. I had a great talk with a producer who is doing westerns and we’re looking at collaborating. Also had a surprise phone call from a NYC area director who is sending me his book/script for a film they are prepping to shoot in 2016. So not sure which and when yet but I will be back in front of the camera at some point here soon. So with that I’m enjoying being home in the fall.
I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m updated out:)
Be safe on whatever path you’re on tonight.
This is coming the morning after my usual Saturday postings. The delay started with the MSU game here and continued with a few friends watching TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – cool Halloween flick. So, you’re getting a first thing Sunday morning update. Another thing to note is the large audience I have here for my blog – Australia topped the list of readers this week. I will have to make extra efforts to get more film product there. It would be great to go film over there at some point
By the end of this week I was tired of calls, meetings, emails, proposals and breakdowns. Besides the post work we’re getting ready to launch into CHASING THE STAR our second biblical era film. We’ve been interviewing directors and looking at reels from west coast talent. You want to find that person who has that right blend of experience and passion. Not just a willingness to try but succeed and improve upon our last endeavor. That is always the overall goal to streamline and make the process flow while learning as we go.
I don’t have any deep insights this week. This past week like all weeks are always full of disappointments and also exciting possibility. The disappointment is often in the actions of people. The exciting possibilities also come from the actions of people.
POSITIVE COMMUNICATION! Choose positive approaches to problems and always treat people with respect. Do you know what you get in return? Respect. Such a basic thing but I see people put their own foot in their mouth time after time. They often think they are being passive-aggressive clever but really they paint a sad picture of their personal security and identity. I’ve had people that I’ve watched – speak aloof with little to nothing to truly back it up. Those situations will often bring those individuals face-to-face with future hard realities. That reality is that it takes a team and if respect is lacking – like in sports – they will trade you. You cannot thrive in team environments without respect. I’ve experienced so many people with a wide range of ego. I’ve seen some people evolve into very successful careers while others go one and done on feature films. The universe has away of self balancing itself and things will fall as they should. Be positive. Be kind. Respect others. Your chance at success will be greatly increased.
40 NIGHTS – We’re chugging down the line. This week we will be promoting the page on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website that allows you to sign up for your organizations interest in a theatrical showing. We will be announcing another company partnering with us from Michigan on this project so stay tuned.
BESTSELLER – Looking forward to the Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I think the film will also be playing in Grayling, MI this year. We’re still trying to set a few Detroit area dates.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just had two showings in Grand Ledge, MI at the Sun Theater and I hope this week we can announce some good news about TV play.
AN ORDINARY KILLER is the film up next for our Sanctuary Spirits mixer Nov 19th with our friends at Red, White and Blue. This based on a true story of amazing detective work that led to the capture of a serial killer at 28 years. Please join us if you are able.
KNIGHT CHILLS our 1st CDI venture is getting a re-release with the new book that will be available both electronically and hard cover. We’re also still in active development on the sequel film.
This has been just a hard grinding week that gave us small moves on the board but important moves. I’m looking for another highly productive week. I was put on notice of another version of the C.U.J.O. script coming my way. It sounds like they are getting closer to setting shoot dates in 2016. I’m not going to lie – I’m getting to that point where I would love to create a character but I’ve just focused that energy on my script writing and wrapping up this end-of-the-year business.
Enjoy the remaining amount of weekend and have a productive week. I’m back to the hazelnut coffee and going to get a few things done.
Until next time!
I’m sitting in a nice silence after returning from a family birthday event that featured MSU TV. Now my father and I both graduated from MSU and so I like the tradition. I’ve always liked that MSU could beat anyone on a given day but most of the time were underdogs. In the recent years they have become the team to beat. I do like how they keep their humble class and whip ass. I’m proud of how they represent. I was sitting outside on the porch of the office watching the night sky. I see some comparisons to filmmaking. I’ve always wanted to wear pride behind our company name. I try to run a fair ship and make dependable, creative content. I know that many that have worked with Collective Development Inc. have felt the teamwork and professional respect we try to extend. Many haphazard production entities can whirlwind a location or town and create an unwelcome environment for future productions.
The other part of my MSU comparison was just the tenacity that the teams are known for. I feel like that attribute, which existed before MSU, but was further honed by a university that exemplifies these traits. I think MSU has been playing up and down to their opposition. U of M has looked good but the Spartan mentality is not like others. Also with those few seconds I noted those who did not go to MSU start to waiver tonight when the chips were down. But those that went to MSU knew not to mourn until the battle is over. To the last second you fight to move forward. Breaking into the film industry is a battle and one that many lose. But for those who stand at the last twilight of a battle and go that last round – sometimes a foe falls. An obstacle is removed. A challenge is overcome. As I sat looking at the night sky I took several deep breaths and embraced that spirit. Along time ago I drew my sword and started my march forward. Other like-minded people asked if they could walk with me. Respect one another. None of that drama that follows so many of these powerfully, creative egos were allowed to walk with us. If you feed on that strife your path is elsewhere. Films are hard enough and should never be made worse by those variables. So a good team of people who don’t QUIT and you never know.
ADVICE: don’t quit.
It’s a really big read into the character of a person. Before trusting any budget upon an artist you have to know you aren’t dealing with a quitter. I know some talented artists that I just can’t hire. They quit on a task – large or small it doesn’t matter. Only the risk changes. If you give up easy – you’ll be working in some field outside filmmaking – just a matter of time. Filmmaking is not for quitters. They are a breed to themselves. They all have some internal, creative calling. Some will engage creativity where they can and try to keep the storytelling beast in a cage. Others will go full tilt. Here is where you must have a good plan of action or you’ll moth to the flame. For some this is just an illustration for a lifetime of frustration and for others it is literal. See you on the other side Smiling Joe.
In summary – good job MSU!
“Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” kicked off our screening arts mixer every 3rd Thursday at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. It was a good look back at our first western with CDI. It was released with Lionsgate and was the #1 western rental for 7 weeks. Top 10 for 17 weeks. More than all that it featured some great talent on both sides of the camera and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever shot a movie. Maggie Valley/Cherokee N.C. – We will announce the November movie on Monday. If you have any requests send me a shout out:)
“Ashes of Eden” is preparing to announce some news about TV broadcast but you can still catch it in select theaters. It played today and will play again tomorrow at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you have not checked out “Ashes of Eden” on the big screen this is a great theater to watch it in. Classic!
“40 Nights” – I’m waiting to hear this week about VFX updates. Also the film INTRO is soon to be underway. More sound design and dialogue clean up has been done. I’m excited for the musical score to begin. I’m ready to share this film with the world audiences.
“Chasing the Star” – the script is in the hands of several actors. The feedback has been wonderful. We’re looking into locations and preparing to film in Feb 2016. We will start hiring in December once the film is up and running. Our “40 Nights” director Jesse Low is attached to director our western in 2016. This has us looking at several possible directors. The second script in our deal with Lightworx is essentially about the quest of three magi.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event Nov 1st in Owosso, MI. I enjoyed this week at a dental cleaning – my dentist was all smiles when he told me he saw one of my films. I asked which. He said that he and his wife saw “Bestseller” at Celebration Cinemas. He said, “you were really intense – we loved it.” I thanked him for taking the time to go see it and promised him not to trash his office Franklin style. He was happy.
I’ve been closing in on finishing two scripts. One being the 3rd in the biblical film series. The other is Knight Chills 2. Two VERY different film scripts to be sure. I enjoy the writing and look forward to finishing those two up. Additionally just doing some budgeting work and we’re finishing up some other sales work. But I’ve also been enjoying the fall. It is getting frosty and I saw my first snow flakes today. Winter is Coming (CUE Game of Thrones music)
I’m sure I missed maybe an update or two but I need to kick my feet up. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.
It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.
I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work. Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.
SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated
I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day. (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.
This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.
Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from. Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.
Say when;) That’s for you Tony.
Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard. Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.
Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors
First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.
Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.
Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.
One Example for rejected films:
Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.
Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.
Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.
It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.
The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.
What happens often when it’s just starting to work –
Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.
Why all this director talk?
We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations. Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)
SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)
Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.
If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.
We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution) So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.
We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.
It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development. I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.
ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.
Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door- starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!
On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.
I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.
We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.
I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.
I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.
Another beautiful Saturday. The coffee is now gone and we’ve moved into watching MSU football. I’ve grown to enjoy the game over the years. It is a series of short-term goals versus my game of soccer that is a constant flow with a goal. Our soccer season ended and I really enjoyed the play. Now I let the legs heal and start my strength training. Okay many of you here are tuned in to hear about the films and the challenges making them. Let’s look at some of my recent decisions I’ve been faced with.
Our “Chasing the Star” script (version 1) is done and out to several key players. This is the second biblical film in our 3 pic series. “40 Nights” was the first and that film should be done late November. Now due to script it will mostly shoot in AZ. This film has the commits to finance and so pre-production work will be starting. But due to the heat of the desert that dictates when we shoot. We are looking to shoot a few weeks earlier than “40 Nights” to make it easier on cast and crew.
We have a western-era film we want to shoot in Michigan. It has a good amount of money committed to it but we will only move forward with full funds in place. This is a good policy but required when you have distribution in advance. You want to be reliable for delivering your product. Now we have X amount of producer pre-prod work and also on-location pre-production before the shoot. I wanted to get the film in the can (hard drives) by the holidays. We are getting closer to that decision-making deadline. It is hard because the artists all like to work and the biz of it is everyone getting a final paycheck before the holidays. That’s ham on a table that toys under a tree for people, but the best choice has to be made for the film.
Now if our date comes and we don’t have all the filming fuel we need we will push the film to the other side of “Chasing the Star” in May. That would be a nice time to film and give ample time to close the financing. That is happening but can it happen in our timeline? We will see.
As noted “40 Nights” is moving down the post production line. “Bestseller” is getting ready for the Nov 1st, Owosso, MI shooting. It is also being delivered to the national distributor as is “Donors”. I need to call Jon Osman, our director on “The Terrorist”.
In other news I came off “Chasing the Star” scriptwriting and flowed right into the third film script. It was there and I almost couldn’t stop it from flowing. I’m grabbing legal pads and just scribbling notes at all times. I’m excited about these three but also excited to go finish out a few other scripts.
I will have news here soon on “Knight Chills” book and film reissue. Sound track deal still needs my attention. So I have crossed a lot off my TO DO list but many things still remain. We have “Ghost Town” getting ready to play at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI and we will be doing this once a month. It is a meet and greet for fans and fellow filmmakers. I’ve been trying to get out and meet some of the other fine talent in our state. This helps in casting and crewing when required. We’ve been reviewing reels for several weeks and are excited by some of what we’ve seen. REELS! Make those reels actors!
I hope to see some of you Oct. 15th (Grand Ledge) we are digging out and selling some classic “Ghost Town” swag. We had an entire product line for a few years at Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, N.C. so that should be fun. Also I will be in Owosso, MI November 1st and I heard author Chris Wright will also be doing an appearance/signing for his Johnathan Rand children’s books (“American Chiller”) earlier that afternoon.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and go MSU!
It is half time of the MSU game and we’re teaching the Air Force team a thing or two about football. It has been rainy but we are getting back to the nice fall weather. We’re still pulling good from the garden and BLT sandwiches have been great. Tomorrow we have our first round of soccer play-offs. Last week we had a tough game but beat the team 6-4 after losing to them prior by a goal I believe. I had my first goal of the season which was great because I play defense. So we will hit it hard tomorrow and see what happens. We play a very good team. Beatable but very good.
This week was very productive. First, I’m very happy to announce my official first draft of “Chasing the Star” is done. It is the 2nd film in our 3 film deal with Lightworx Entertainment. The 1st movie in the series is “40 Nights” it’s now in post sound. I’m going to start doing some video updates at our distributors request.
The “Chasing the Star” script has the same depth and power that I loved about the first one. And I’ve almost got the third one mapped out. I thought they might be stand alone films and they are BUT…they do connect. I’m excited for a few people from “40 Nights” who might bring roles back in this second film.
A couple of actors who had small parts might be given larger roles in this follow up. We’ve also been looking at and discussing many actors for this film. We are looking mainly in the AZ and CA area whereas talent can drive to our location. Many more crew people will get a 1st look at the script this coming week. Anyway, I’m happy this draft is complete and now some scheduling/budget work can be done.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event showing in Owosso, MI take a look here please.
We also have an October 15th event showing of “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” in Grand Ledge, MI just outside Lansing. An event page will be forthcoming. We will be doing a movie a month and use the time to interact and meet some of the local film community.
“Ashes of Eden” releases nationally Oct. 13th and we should have word on some of the foreign territories we will be releasing to. Here is one retailer releasing it Oct. 20th
I hope to have home video release dates for everyone on “Donors” and “Bestseller” but we don’t have those yet. “40 Nights” would like to welcome THE GARMAX GROUP for their platinum sponsorship.
You will see their logo in front of the film. We might seek one other promotional sponsor for that opening billing. We are starting to look at some marketing. The licensing management deal is done. Also trying to lock distribution on soundtracks. Always something that needs to move forward on the TO DO list.
We also are closing in on finalizing the financing on a western era script. We have to get it done within a certain timeline or else we have to move it to the other side of “Chasing the Star” but we are pushing. I would love to be playing a rugged role in the fall/winter here in Michigan. It just might happen. We are prepping to play as we speak.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend and proceed on to a great week ahead.
It took me a while to sign in to my blog here. There are so many media communication sites. I get communications coming from all sides. Email is still the best way to contact me but even that is getting more complex. This morning we had a great breakfast in what use to be a train station in the late 1800’s early 1900’s. The chill today is perfect for all the football on deck. MSU, my alumni school plays in a few short hours. Lions on Sunday plus last regular season soccer match before play offs. It was another grinding week but extremely productive. Let’s look at a few of the wins this week.
I’m working the last few pages on “Chasing the Star” our follow-up biblical drama. I was so happy about how the “40 Nights” script evolved and how it translated to the screen. This follow-up has distribution and it appears all our funding commits are in place. So we are looking to return to AZ and film our second film for Lightworx Entertainment.
“40 Nights” has been exciting because we are now seeing dialogue cleaned up/balanced and environmental sound design. I got the signed paperwork on our licensing deal for management of merchandising. This movie should be complete end of November.
Now we have a partially funded western also being distributed worldwide by Lightworx. Not only will it be a feature film but used as a pilot for a TV series that we hope to shoot in Michigan. We have been in talks with several actresses over a lead role. Also some great Hollywood celebs may come out to participate. Funding talks continue and we have a real strong shot at doing this film before the holidays hit.
Development talks for films beyond April 2016 are underway but I also have a few projects to act in that I’m watching to see when their schedule lands. The C.U.J.O. movie has been talked about prior and also my management is targeting a strongly anticipated TV series. Not sure if we’re looking at a guest starring or being a regular but I would be happy with either one.
WASTELAND poster is being sent and the director has been trying to target festivals that focus on Science Fiction. I also want to get updates on THE TERRORIST (Release dates) and DEAD QUIET (Premiere dates).
“BESTSELLER” is having an event showing at the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso, Michigan on November 1st. An EVENT PAGE coming soon! “BESTSELLER” is also being delivered to our distributor as is “Donors” so when I have release dates I will let everyone know.
In Lansing, MI we are kicking off a monthly CDI film screening starting in Oct. 15th at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge. I think it is $5.00 cover at door and the opening film is “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” – a smoky mountain western. It pits the two mountain men from DELIVERANCE – Bill McKinney & Herbert Cowboy Coward against one another.
I think Sanctuary Spirits will have some great whiskey specials. They have an apple and maple whiskey that is really good. I love their gin also. Not only can you have drinks there but you can buy bottles to take home. EVENT PAGE COMING SOON!
“Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for a release in less than a month. Here is a pre-sale link for BEST BUY
We will provide more ways for you to see this fine film in the weeks ahead.
In summary…working hard to finish up and deliver our current slate. We have some of the next slate funded and working on the ones after that. We are at a good place – working with distributors and making films to release directly into the marketplace. I’m really enjoying this new work flow. We will finish up this slate of films and look at moving to a few larger films. Patience is a virtue.
Have a great weekend and spend some time with friends and family.
GO MSU! Go LIONS!
What a week with the friday morning/afternoon being a touch chaotic. The communication flow between people is one of the utmost important aspects of filmmaking. Let’s jump into some of this since I have running around this morning and I’m attending a wedding this afternoon.
BESTSELLER is a picture lock providing our director is happy with her small insert today but I think we’re onto the next phase. The materials are being moved about to their new destination and I’m excited for the scoring of the music to begin. We will be announcing that formerly this coming week but you heard it here first.
ASHES OF EDEN also has PR waiting to come out. We’ve been waiting for the theatrical link to go up at Emagine Entertainment so we can start heavy promoting our Sept 19th start dates. So if you are from the East side of the state of Michigan and want to see what all the hype is about – your chance is coming. Canton and Novi is where we will start the release and we’re also working towards setting up a showing in the Owosso, MI area. We had an amazing run with AN ORDINARY KILLER there and think people there would love the new film.
And speaking of AN ORDINARY KILLER it may be one of the films returning to theaters from the CDI library. I see GHOST TOWN also making a run in the coming months. If you have not seen either of these films on the big screen you are missing something.
AOE (ASHES OF EDEN) is also close to closing its 1st TV deal and we are in final stages of negotiations on the DVD, VOD National deal for 1st quarter 2015.
I have a new VOD multi national deal interested in several of the CDI library. We will do a test run with a few titles and see how that goes.
Thoughts from the week –
I still stand by the fact that many of the youth today don’t know how many more opportunities in our business exist now compared to a decade ago or so. I see more kids who have classroom experience but their real world experience is still playing catch up. Example – doing shorts, commercials, music videos and such do NOT fully prepare you for 3-5 weeks of feature filming shooting. It’s a self battle with endurance, focus and teamwork. I had to have a firm conversation or two this week with people over little issues. I think there can be a lack of appreciation of what it truly takes to produce a film properly. The UNSEXY parts of the business – the paperwork, accounting and on-going work opening up new opportunities to release. But this is what I do for a living and I love it. I’m extremely serious about my film work and the art we create because at one time even the idea of doing motion picture work was seen as a joke. Now our films get done with quality all while trying to create the best crew experience you can within a closed environment like a film set. I try to be fair and work with people and their issues or explain why I cannot. But if people start becoming too much of an issue – they just need to go work elsewhere. I know many people who found new respect for what we do once they had to go work on a less than organized film set. I’m not talking short films – where some say “I did this short and it ran perfect.” GREAT, it was 3 days! Come talk to me when you’re deep into week three and see how the ship is doing. Feature filmmaking is a long distant run not a sprint. Also being a pain in the you know what is an easy way not to get invited to sail next time around. I use to feel for the few bad apples but I try not to now. Some people do something silly and they just need to learn the hard way. When you have a lot of people doing the right thing you can’t waste too much time on that one person or so hurting themselves. It is often best to cut them loose and let them learn elsewhere. Knowing your craft is NOT enough. You having the right attitude is what is valuable.
SUCCESS CAN BREED RESENTMENT
This week I also had conversations with people who are not quite feeling the love in their new-found success from some around them. I explained that if you have not transitioned to FULL TIME filmmaking/acting and are working a day job – many may secretly resent you. Why? Because they wonder why you can’t just be happy being as they are. Why do you feel like you need to do something greater? How dare you think you are better than me? To others you can often be that “in your face” reminder of the dream that he/she let go. Did they really want to go to coach sports? Did they always dream of owning a coffee shop? It’s harder to strive for true happiness. Some people can truly be happy playing their part in a job while others see it as a stepping stone to their dreams. If you can be happy in a 9-5 job that is a blessing. For some, they feel compelled to create. It doesn’t make creators any better it’s just what they feel a need to do. Often it creates self suffering for the artist in the journey but can lead to great satisfaction. You just can’t expect everyone to support your journey. When I see people throwing negativity I feel bad for them because it they put that same energy into their own dreams they would be much better people. It would help them be better people for sure. Instead they are the negative ones always casting stones. Keep smiling and keep moving forward.
It was just one of those weeks but it ended with true progress and some very promising news. There may be times where you walk against the blowing wind trying to slow you down. I say don’t pee against the wind and just keep walking steady. That’s what the week felt like but now things seem quite at peace.
Enjoy the struggle. If it was easy everyone would do it.
What a week it has been and how nice to be sipping coffee and spending a few moments with all of you. The snow has just about all melted save a little pile here or there. The birds are out and I notice green starting to work its way back in. I think if I was going to touch on a small lesson today it is about the SHOW and the BIZ again. The artist may want to do the SHOW but the BIZ must make sense. I recently had a film that was interested in me as their lead. They were light on funds and so I reduced my rates to work with them because I really liked the script. Their efforts were made and a TV Network even offered to give an advanced contract that would cover my wage. The issue was adjustments to the script. This would have gotten them the lead they wanted plus advanced distribution deal. That means others would follow. At the end of the day they decided they wanted to keep the script so they could do festivals. Why do people do festivals? Exposure and the hope of a distribution deal. The avenues previously created with distribution have grossed over a million dollars. So instead of money for a bankable lead with assured distribution they want to go to festivals. I think these are wonderful people I do but I really don’t have time for people who are just doing this for a hobby. That is unless they want to pay really well. I mean famous bands play personal birthday parties if the price is right. Okay Bob Barker I will send you a dollar. So each of you have a balance to achieve between artist and taking care of business. If people started saying “Hey come into the office and work today. We aren’t going to pay you but it will be fun.” I’ve got time for fun which usually includes grill and chill with family and friends, archery, guitar, soccer… I’m lucky enough that I love my WORK but it is MY WORK. Are you a professional or a hobby actor/filmmaker? There is nothing wrong with being on that end of the stick if that is what you decide you want for yourself. If you don’t like your current employment and want to do this art as WORK you must make smart choices. Sometimes that means knowing when to say NO.
As a recent release suggested “SOUL EATER” the prequel of “The 8th Plague” is in active development. We are looking at locations that right now point at a Michigan shoot. We have also been in talks with a director and several distributor partners.
We also have been locking up development work on a western era film that we do plan to shoot this year. Many of the cast are in place but there is still a handful of roles. We are also looking at expanding this into a TV series. I’m excited to share this info but not quite yet. The film is out to a few other star actors and so we will keep a lid on all this for now.
Poster art went out to Parables Network and I think they are close to releasing “Figure in the Forest” and “Wicked Spring” to their subscribers. I think these and other films are going to get a lot more exposure.
The digitizing and editing on our TV series shot in Costa Rica is underway. The PR work is underway that will announce CDI Television and its show line ups. It has been fun to re-live that journey and I can say we have some great footage surrounding some great talent.
I also got to oversee some of the new music score for http://www.donorsthemovie.com and I was very happy with it all. It really is coming to life with the music and it is one of my favorite aspects of the post process. Niki Saletta who stars in the film does an amazing job.
Aside from all this work we have “Ashes of Eden” getting closer and closer to an edit. I’m extremely proud and happy about this film. We just released “Road to Eden” about the making of. Check it out at http://www.ashesofedenmovie.com
April is upon us and that will bring an Owosso screening of “Outside the Wire” with music acts and such on April 6th which I plan to attend barring any unforeseen events. Also coming up is the theatrical release and DVD launch party for “Realizism” which I think is the 16th in Grand Rapids. I will comment with more info as we get closer. And with that I say to you all get out and enjoy the SPRING!