I’m back from a flea market whereas a VHS of BLACK BELT JONES starring Jim Kelly so that’s a $2 WIN:) I LOVE looking for props both for our worlds and my own characters within them. We are working hard to get the 70’s drag race film fully fueled up. We had a good meeting with Nate Robertson this week to debrief from the previous shoot and talk about the upcoming. We try to get feedback from people especially concerning people in their departments or just the department as a whole. We always work from the inside out starting with story to script to producers to director to cast and crew and the ripples move across the creative pond until we have a finished film. But I can honestly say that materialistically I get more excited by the VHS find or the Bear recurve bow estate sale take versus all these items whereas YOU are paying for that marketing campaign. Luckily I love a cabin as much as a castle, and a driving a vehicle with character versus high value. I recall as smaller flip phones were the vogue, the jokes in Hollywood about my ‘yellow brick’ Nextel construction phone. The whole CDI group was on walkie talkie. I made some good deals on that phone. I’m not against nice things at all I’m just saying simplify your materialistic wants. Many purchases don’t bring the happiness or added skill. A golf pro could still take most golfers with basic sticks whereas the opposition could be playing with clubs worth several thousands. A car that goes faster than you’ll ever drive. More square feet or acres that you won’t put to use. Many use it (coins, property, stamps, paintings, gold) as an investment to hold or increase value versus some conventional savings. Often it can be a good process. But you just don’t want to get caught overreaching to impress or project an image. Only negative things usually follow that kind of advertising. I like to keep things real and you’ll often find all walks of life at our table. This nice weather had some of the meetings taking place outside. The yard is green and in full swing. I’ve been working to get some trees trimmed and prepping new firewood for the coming winter. The clover in the yard we planted as been really starting to take over and it is beautiful. Irish beauty was one deception of it this week. Do take the time to create your ZEN place. If you live in tight quarters maybe try some plants. Nature is great for balancing one so you can better focus on your TO DO’s.
- I have some PR that will start going out on BESTSELLER this week. It will essentially be talking about my start in the thriller/horror genre and follow my diversifying into more genres. BESTSELLER is one of my most intense roles and I’ve had several. Plus I love the author and this work really captures the haunting and moody atmosphere that is Michigan. Have you seen it? If so please do go to https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16421224/reference/ VOTE and leave us a review.
- BEST YEARS GONE will start rolling out on July 5th both DVD and digital. Providing you still have enough fingers from your drunken 4th bottle rocket / Roman candle war to press play on the DVD or navigate the remote – you need to settle and watch our tale.
- Aug 3rd is the date when we should know the Toronto Film Festival’s decision on acceptance of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH or not. We would love to hold our premiere there and so we’re remaining optimistic. We should also have our home video dates from Deskpop Entertainment very soon.
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – The rough semi-polished first draft is almost done. It will be reviewed and that point by our team and any suggestions will be put forth. We are looking to picture lock in July which will move us to music and sound. Both of those are already in motion as sound FX libraries are being gathered and music beds are being played with. We hope to provide a great behind the scenes of our model and VFX team on board.
- SMOKE & MIRRORS has been submitted to a few festivals and we’ll await response. Once we have word it will be a nice eve with the CDI tribe celebrating this fun endeavor that will develop itself into a feature film.
- WILD FAITH and HASTINGS – the momentum continues and on a few fronts we are so close but sometimes you have to relax and let things work themselves out. If it does well at Peacock perhaps they will work with us to order up the first season.
- LOST HEART aka BIGFOOT, UFOS & JESUS is a great summer film. We are looking at some different marketing campaigns including new poster art for Lost Heart. I still want to do tee-shirts of the BF, UFOS and Jesus artwork. We’re looking into selling iron on sheets so you can put some great artwork on your favorite shirt. That is 70’s and 80’s style right there. I think I had a DARTH VADER LIVES tee shirt that was an iron on.
- I’m waiting on word to see how the HD file of KNIGHT CHILLS is coming along for the upcoming Blu-Ray. We have interest in a digital release from Deskpop Entertainment and we’ll still probably do a DVD of the CDI Classic Collection Double Feature of KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS. And we have the video game which I think I want to call KNIGHT CHILLS: DICE DON’T LIE – what do you think?
- This week I’m set up to record another book chapter for the audio book series FOR GENERATIONS TO COME that I’ve been doing. Look it up on Amazon under author Ronnie Lee.
- This past Friday, I met in person with several CDI folks mainly over FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH. I could have taken the day and likely ended with my first draft of the new script HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE. Instead I enjoyed the beautiful day and spent some time outlining. One of the rainy days this week I’ll finish the first draft. I’ve had a wonderful time working on this amazing story and looking forward to bringing the script to an exciting end.
I will no doubt start working on another script soon after I finish the one I’m working now. If I don’t have a script for hire on deck which I just might, I have a few scripts that were underway. We made more steps on HOT ROD LOVE and we are about to start scheduling work soon. Chipping away at what needs to be done in order to get this film green lit. It was a great week for soccer again and our team brought another win. Either way it is still about the battle that keeps you mentally and physically strong. I do have another bday in a few weeks (23rd) and I’m not sure what I might do to celebrate another journey around the sun.
I’m going to wish you all well. I hope that you have or have had some clarity this weekend, that will allow each of you to have a very productive week ahead. Be good to one another.
Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!