It has been a week of just beautiful days in Michigan. I was able to enclose my wood shed in with logs from the recently fallen tree. I also took the axe to the older logs and so the stockpile for the office wood stove is growing. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Japan. That is what I love about this blog. Artists, perhaps filmmakers but united here by passion. Invite someone you know to share with us.
Now last week was an unexpected loss of a mentor (Rance Howard) and to all those who reached out – thank you. I’m at a loss of exact words but we met over storytelling on Miracle at Sage Creek and that relationship took us through many stories. I will miss sitting on the patio in Yuma, AZ having a nice Mexican food lunch and just talking.
On set “Forty Nights” with Judy & Rance Howard and T (Tony Hornus)
With my experience I find myself being a mentor more often and losing my own mentors. What a man Rance was working right up until his passing. Bill McKinney (Deliverance) was the same way having filmed 2 weeks before he passed away. I don’t think you retire from being an artist. I am sad that I won’t be able to get Rance’s feedback on The Christ Slayer film. He was so excited about the final chapter of our trilogy. It was a major accomplishment and he loved playing the Devil. He also loved that we took an honest look at the ‘being’ and relationship he shared with others, Jesus in particular. But he will be looking down and I hope he is proud.
The Howard boys several years ago –
I do look forward to working with Clint one day and perhaps Ron and sharing some of the great conversations I had over the years with Rance about his family. I will be sending a nice note to both of them with the trilogy once Part 3 is done and released.
The Christ Slayer is locking up the VFX and edit and preparing to move into post music and sound design with the amazing Dennis Therrian who will once again compose the heart and soul into the story. The first official director’s poster is about to be completed. Also once we hit the new year the PR on TCS will pick up. Right now it’s all Forty Nights and Chasing the Star. They have been doing great over at Amazon and our other fine rental/retailers. Family 7 TV network in the Netherlands will be showing Chasing the Star and soon after I expect Forty Nights. Also I saw some promotional give aways for Chasing the Star to celebrate the release into the United Kingdom. Forty Nights should also be joining our friends in the UK. This time next year all three will be released! Also Chasing the Star will be playing on the big screen in Bedias, Texas at Miller’s Theatre I believe on Dec 7th. I’m very happy about all the developments on these films.
These two knuckleheads from ‘Wild Faith’
Wild Faith – the end credits are almost done. The VFX work is all in and the audio is being tweaked around it while color correction takes place. We did paperwork on all this at week’s end and so if a short time we’ll have all that complete. We will have a finished film VERY SOON. Before the end of the year – Merry Christmas to all of us.
This month we also did some work on other properties to boost them back into the marketplace. ASHES OF EDEN has a few options/offers to rejoin the market. We’ll be making a decision on that this week. A child’s animated feature THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ will be releasing back into the marketplace and FIGURE IN THE FOREST is making a few moves. Our bridge into India is also underway and soon I should have news to report there. In 2018 we will have that bridge open. Many more deals will be put into play.
Where ideas are born…
This week will be several meetings as we bring 2017 to an end. I’m going to cut this short as we’re taking the mom’s to a beautiful turn of the century house for a Christmas event this afternoon. I hope you all get to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Our development work on MBF continues and we plan to move into full preproduction at the end of January 2018.
Be good to one another!
Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.
People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.
With Shane Hagedorn
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.
The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)
With Tony Hornus
Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.
I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.
I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)
OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.
A beautiful pic taken by one of our talented crew on set of #wildfaith
It has only been roughly a week since I’ve returned home and it has been a whirlwind of settling back in, winterizing the homestead and handling all the business at hand. The business at hand is…well exciting to say the least.
I cannot elaborate completely because paperwork is underway and you don’t want to talk about deals before they are closed. What I can say is that the deal affects all our G, PG, PG-13 type material in our CDI library. I’m preparing reports and first returns on “40 Nights” to our investors. What this film, the trilogy and the new “Wild Faith” film has done is brought an opportunity. An opportunity to take everything to the next level. In this new deal “40 Nights” will be the first property to benefit as a new, larger push is about to be put behind that film. We did not have big P&A money behind that film and so it came out into the marketplace without a bunch of proclamation about the film being this or that. But the film has struck a chord with many people and now a larger corporation wants to step in and elevate the awareness of this film, the trilogy and beyond.
This deal will benefit some of the past films in the library for sure such as the “Wicked Spring” re-release that I had an opportunity with not to long ago but decided to hold. That will turn out to be a good choice. I see several films getting a new push into the marketplace. I’m glad that we spent the last couple years prepping the library because when opportunity knocks. (You know the saying) Now I was harping on actors in my last blog about not being prepared. I had a lot of people thank me for this common sense advice. If someone was going to get a job at a park as say a life guard. You would need to work out your own transportation. Your Parks & Recreation employer would not send a driver or pay your bills so you can…work. It sounds silly even writing it but that stuff happens in our industry. The rumor that our career field is a dumping ground for broken, misunderstood souls that don’t fit into the norm is only a romantic fable. You can be quirky, unique and artistic but you must have a common denominator of respect and ability to get-it-done and NOT be a flake. I’ve met so many of those types who want to act like the art is all that matters. Well, when using other’s money and having timelines that other businesses plan and spend around – flakes are quickly removed. My advice – don’t be a flake. If you commit, follow through. We’ve talked about that before – once I commit it doesn’t matter if I agreed to $100 or $10,000 you will get my very best. I’ve corrected people who have said, they only got paid this amount so they’ll only returning this amount of effort is acceptable. WRONG. Acceptable way to remove yourself from the climb. Why? Steps behind you is a passionate, struggling artist(s) willing to give everything they have. The day I don’t give 120% on-screen is the day some other artist would have been the better choice. I pick projects and roles I love. I bring the passion every time and so should you if you want to succeed.
I always talk of the team building because I am building a team of positive artists that in a well-organized setting their best work can come forth. After “The Christ Slayer” this spring the budgets will start climbing. Rates will nudge up and some departments might add depth. I’m not a person who steps over people – I develop people. That’s part of the deal that is happening now. As we grow, if our working relationship was good positive and drama-free that invite will likely come again. Ask yourself if you were a sail or an anchor to a project. As highlighted before in pre-production one potential hire didn’t like the pay rate and rather than just a polite pass they decided to burn the bridge. I know a few other producer/directors who worked with this person and I’m curious as to their experience. I actually felt a touch bad for this person I don’t know. Because I know when too many doors close that person is often faced with finding something to support themselves with and also try to maintain happiness in a non-filmmaking field. So when presented with a paid opportunity that has the possibility of making you happy, embrace it, they are rare. Many will never make it in our industry and will be faced with that reality of “what do I do with my life” – In hindsight, I considered granting this one person a special thanks. Their public rant actually helped us making more people aware, willing and wanting to work for a sub-contracted rate, actual pay. We were offering much more most, what so many often endure and again we paid. Not just in food or copy of finished film (if ever completed) or IMDB credit. We weren’t asking other artists to CROWD FUND our movie. We simply did what we could do financially – fairly and across the board. Again I will use the life guard job as an example. If you were looking at getting hired at the public swimming pool and what they were offering didn’t work for you – would you politely decline or would you spout off to some Parks & Recreation Coordinator killing your chance of ever working there? Right…Filmmaking should be given the same respect – producers talk and “black listing” is really just coming to a sound conclusion to avoid potential troubling issues be it a poor customer service vendor, an unprepared cast member or negative or unprofessional crew. Again…be a sail NOT an anchor.
Onto other updates
CHASING THE STAR
We talked about what is happening with “40 Nights” and obviously that will also benefit the other two films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Met on Friday with Dennis Therrian our composer and sound design and he was thrilled by the new directions taken in this film. Bret Miller and Dennis Therrian came at the project from two different places but once they met in the middle – something beautiful happened. This is true artist collaboration at its best. It stems from RESPECT. Give it, to get it. Easy lesson but many cannot grasp it. The film is in sound design and VFX and the trailer is getting close. It’s really gripping and powerful and I’m excited for audiences to see it.
Footage is being organized and I have it on good word that the first few scenes are being assembled and it’s exciting. We’ll be preparing a sneak look for our new corporate partners. The direction of creating our series took a few major steps forward. NOTE: It would be about a four-month commitment of time to produce ten shows. So we will see how this unfolds but what a great thing for Michigan if it happens. I’m so proud of the cast and crew.
The film that I acted in and helped with is making its debut at the AFM next week. If you’re a buyer looking for a cool NYC based action/thriller this film should be looked at for licensing. Look up Adler Entertainment and arrange a sit down.
Post-Production and New Development work is underway. Stay tune for many new developments.
Be good to one another.
Hello to everyone out there. I’m sipping away at my coffee on this beautiful day in Michigan. It has been a doozy of a week for most as more of our pop culture icons have passed away – Chyna, Prince. I think as we age and we see our actors, musicians and artists pass away if really reframes the world. It is why we as artists must also strive to step up and fill a purpose. A purpose to educate, entertain, comfort and encourage people in various ways.
The past weeks have been exciting with audiences purchasing/renting “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and now “Donors” has been released. I’ve had “fan mail” and communications every couple hours over the films. I think because of the main role in “40 Nights/Jesus” more of the feedback has been about that film but “Donnie/Ashes of Eden” and “Dr. Savior/Donors” are both worth meeting. The Walmart sales have been very strong in pockets but not across the board, so we have to just keep pushing the PR and redistribute stock internally to the stores that are moving more DVD’s. FishFlix, Amazon.com and others have been selling out online but restocking quickly. Ask your local retailers and that will help spread the distribution patterns. “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are now HD Digital On Demand so you can watch immediately.
ON DEMAND – Here are links…
ASHES OF EDEN
Feel free to leave reviews at any of these sites, IMDB.com, Amazon.com as these all help push the films.
You must build bridges. But only with good character people in like minded partnerships. There’s a company that was presented to me by a close associate. This company does various services in the commercial industry. For about 18 months they were presented to me and finally we met. A few guys trying to carve their artistic path out from a sea of creatives. So on a project this company ended up doing two services for us and it was done with quality. A first step in a new relationship. Now a second project follows with a new creative director and only one of the two services would be required. One of the services was being covered as a result of direct negotiations with the director before filming or even hiring. Another advantage is the second task has more time to allow this one service to be done. A second step in a new emerging creative relationship – WAIT! In my opinion, one partner there did the service we had no need for. Now this opportunity would allow whomever does the second service a real chance to shine. This is not high pay but t’s not free, and it surely gives more creative than a commercial project. I’m about people who want the opportunity to participate with our artists but I feel like some of my time was wasted during those 18 months where I was being told these guys were eager for an opportunity to grow with us. So it goes.
MORE ADVICE ON WORKING FOR CDI
Most all hirings come from recommendation and standing accountable. Finger pointing and blame shifting is the worse thing you can do at CDI. There is not much of that because we pull those weeds. Strength comes in admitting a situation got the best of you. By recognizing that it shows strength and wisdom. I’m also looking to put people into a long term working relationship. Some of our people have been with us 16-20 years and counting. Once we work with someone I’m looking at…
1) Attitude – this is priceless. Are they CAN DO positive people? Do they inspire others? This also means sincere talk over gossip/poison. Keep your vulgar jokes and such until wrap and you’re with your friends. If you have experience over someone see that as an opportunity to share/teach not gloat. Be that valuable person.
2) Artistic passion – this is a drive to do something outside the cogs and wheels of society. It’s both divine and humbling all at once. Powerful enlightening stories that can give ease and escape to others in high stress jobs. Humbling in the fact that if you create a poor scene nobody flatlines on a table. Passion is a MUST in all our hires. If you are not passionate about a certain position DON’T do it. If you do it poorly or by dragging your feet, those attributes will be applied to your overall character.
3) Dependability – I once had a talented director work within a crew (Not directing). He failed at his tasks by the worse way – quitting. I like this person just fine but by policy I cannot risk any money behind this person going forward. If they quit at something small they could quit at something big. Another recent example also had a key crew member quit before starting a project in a poor way. This character example again makes him not suitable for re-hire. I like this person greatly and friendship wasn’t taken off the table. But the communications became less (none) because he knew I had less to offer him. On a positive when this person had to be replaced on the fly one of our “tried and true” stepped up into a position they had not done and won. It was an example of stepping up and that is likely why he’s been with us almost two decades.
4) Leadership – The last line I typed above ties into this bullet point. Upon working with us on a film, people will be evaluated in a few ways. Did a KEY step up and problem solve within his department? Did they keep their department on budget? Did they keep their department organized? Did they use all their resources? Attitude? Sometimes we hire a key that in retrospect needs to be placed under a more experienced key on future films. This is usually someone who really tried just lacks the organization skills and leadership, but worked hard. In some non-keys, we realize the hard work and notice leadership attributes that may lead to a promotion on upcoming films. Some people after the fact are evaluated and deemed a no rehire.
NOW if you’ve worked for us on a film and a second call to action hasn’t come it’s often not anything personal. It’s sometimes about finances, such as how many people can be flown here or there. It can be keys that surround certain directors and are requested. I guess I wanted to put this out there because crew like cast are artists. Actors are usually quick to think that something they did or did not do is why they were not hired. Sometimes it is an AGE or a LOOK thing. Crew feels the same thing at times so I wanted to shed some light. Rates of course are another factor but if I like working with a company I try my best to maintain that relationship. When you get out of line someone hungry is there to take your place.
“Chasing the Star”
OK. “Chasing the Star” is in editing and we also plan to have a first teaser in the coming weeks. Here is our new font to put into our teaser poster.
We’ll be having lots more promotional stuff rolling out soon. I’ve just finished polishing the 1st draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. That has been sent to the first few people to look at. I had great talks with our distributor this week on THE QUEST TRILOGY and I’m excited moving forward. VERY EXCITED!
Keep moving forward my friends. Be the person they want to hire and hire and hire…
Have a great weekend. Our first soccer game is today so I’m ready to do battle again this season. Happy Spring!
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’m back at home sipping the hazelnut coffee and watching some soccer on TV. I have to say the past week of shooting was exhausting. It was a combination of many factors which I’ll get into a little bit to share some of my insights with you all. This will be especially helpful if you are just starting out in the film business but I think it will have some good insights for all. First I will tell you a bit more about the project. It is a program ran by Grand Valley University whereas they do a film with students intermixed with professionals. I was approached by the director Mitch Nyberg on set of “7 Stones” about participating. I liked the purpose of the program and myself tried to spearhead a program at my alumni university – Michigan State. I ran into politics not at the top but at the bottom. The professors from different colleges who just could not get along or agree. Film covers a vast spectrum and doesn’t fit neatly into one college or department. Egos are large in that arena and ultimately a program that I feel was superior to all I’ve seen was mucked down in politic mire. Not the first time we have heard of that.
Producing a film can be fun but it is not a game. It is a complex weaving of business agreements that align artists towards a single goal of telling a story and having the proper releases to make it a business entity. IF you are in one of those management positions you have to take it extremely serious. If these roles are not filled by highly motivated and organized individuals the project will fail or at best be like a horse drag over broken glass. On this projects the cracks of disorganization were there from the get go. Like I told the program and film director – this is not an everybody wins community recreational project. This is a program to attempt to prepare students for a chance to make it in the professional film world. 90+ % of these students will end up at TV stations or other smaller media positions that are a far cry from their initial dreams of working in our industry. There are no grades in the real world of filmmaking. No B, C, D – just pass or fail. I had inside info from the director on the state of things and secondly I know. I mean after producing 40+ projects in all formats, sizes and genres – I know. You can’t BS me and if you try I will call you out. If I had a dollar for every time on set I heard “I assumed” I would have doubled my pay. Every student should have been given or required to have a clip board, pen and legal pad. Pre-production meetings were obviously lacking as departments were not always on the same page. Furthermore producers are not hired shoppers. I saw problems that were only solved by spending and then trying to cut corners elsewhere. When you are attached to a learning experience the community participating via sponsorship or gifted use of vehicles, locations, services or products should come easy. You have to get off your ass and make contacts, shake hands, give out biz cards and make the deals. I didn’t see that – I saw them trying to go back to pre-made deals and try to squeeze talent costs. I hate to say it but that doesn’t usually work in the real world. You can’t make a deal for say Martin Landau and then go try to nix his pay because you can’t go get craft service sponsorship. Also contracts are real legal agreements and in the real world there are consequences and they are often costly ones. The hit to your reputation can be worse than the damages from legal actions – as I write now the Grand Valley Film Program is in breach of contract and working on a speedy remedy. They are in breach because of lack of organization. I truly love these kids but see that I had a passion for this industry that some of these kids lack. When I was struggling there was not any film programs like this one available to me. We had to produce up everything. When I see lazy or lack of self motivation it really strikes a chord. I’m a nice person but many in our industry are not very forgiving. Honest mistakes happen via unforeseen events and the best of the best ANTICIPATE these events. Others create issues by “assuming” which as the old statement goes, will make an ass of you and me. Don’t assume! Know! Define! Eliminate gray areas and anticipate!
Technically the folks all worked very hard. They were 20-25% slower than a seasoned crew but that is just a learning curve. I think we captured some great magic on camera and I’m very happy about that. How many will take their errors, setbacks and failures and use them to propel them forward? I don’t know. I saw some fixation on things that created an issue versus just rolling with things. Filmmaking is a TEAM effort. A well oiled production machine is like army ants on a march.
I discussed some of the silly university politics around film titles and such in an earlier blog. The attempts at censorship really runs against the grain of artistic expression. I saw where a little bit of the University BS tries to tie the hands of the production. If the goal is to try to create a real world work situation than the sanitized, overly cautious attitudes of the few need to go away. Marketing and promotion are real aspects of filmmaking and even though this project is more for festival and limited release – practice as if you are working towards worldwide distribution. You ultimately play how you practice so the program really needs to look at this as a model to professional production/distribution and not a summer camp. Now I always said, I always counted on folks being slack ass so that I could outwork them – And I did. In summary – I appreciate the opportunity and knowing the reputation that we’re given here in Michigan (this holds true for entire Midwest) as being assbackwards. I’ve realized as a MI resident who works mainly outside the state or in other countries that in some ways, okay many ways – WE ARE! I don’t want that reputation and those who have worked on a CDI produced project where we were the parent company in control – know we work hard to not make that our reputation. Sure. We’ve made mistakes but it has to be about wanting to be better. The willingness to work harder to make things better vs the easiest path. The doing just enough or more often not enough. When that happens it is like the human body. If you fall into reactive mode it is like a virus or disease running wild through the body of the production. PREVENTATIVE is always the way to go. It is an Eastern vs Western medicine approach and I think my martial arts background helped me blend ideals. A surgeon knows the task ahead. He has anticipating several possible negative things that could pop up. He has equipment on standby should this or that happen.
Also accountability. IF you are in a position of monitoring for and addressing issues immediately – you must monitor all departments for accountability. I see a lot of friendly friendships that doesn’t allow direct brutal immediate corrective decisions. I’ve become friends with people who started as associates. First came respect for someone who worked hard and took accountability. From that friendships grew because we were interdependent with one another and these were FILM WARRIORS! They worked tireless to make sure the ship was SHIP SHAPE! So when you raised a drink at wrap with ship safely in port – friendships form. But I’ve gotten serious and firm with everyone I’ve worked with at some point and I would say that 98% of them know it is because I care about the ship and all of us on it. Usually if someone is messing up they know where that is happening and accept responsibility and correct it asap. Why? Because it is a TRIBE. One department affects the whole! Each department should strive to be the best they can be. That in turn inspires other departments. An AD will know exactly where a lag is and try to define the issue slowing things up. A UPM works tirelessly to prep for the days ahead. I saw a UPM on this last project who worked hard but was acting like a Key Set PA. They were swallowed in the NOW so how can they prepare (preventative) ahead? The answer is an external office apart from the chaos and getting stuff done. The producer if not needed on set should be taking care of things forthcoming and making sure with the UPM that everything done is business sound.
I think that many will grow from this experience. If you get offended by this blog you are one of those who will likely be working public access TV or not in this field at all. If you take it for what it is – advice from someone who has been there done that on various continents in various genres with various artists who are awesome – you will grow! I collect the daily resumes. I deal with the vendors, the distributors, the marketing departments and as a younger man I didn’t 100% grasp that paying your dues statement. I do know now. I’m excited for the select people out of that student crew that will make the cut and join our ranks. We are the business artists. This is our tribe. Not everyone is welcome. If you don’t pull your weight or take pride in your work and work for the collective whole – move on. That is the heart of motion picture or TV storytelling industry. I always get slightly offended by outsiders who always think they could easily be an actor or crew member. That is like saying anyone could jump on a boat with a few folks and win the AMERICAN’S CUP (Boat race). So if you want to make it. I mean really make it. You have to give it your all. I’m here to tell you if you can be happy doing something else – do it. I’m speaking to those artists that have no choice. This is their calling.
IN OTHER FILM NEWS
I was just informed that http://www.darkestnightmovie.com will get a wide release in S. Korea.
http://www.deadlyrenovations.com releases nationally on Aug. 21st, VOD in Sept and is for pre-sale now!
“Locked in a Room” has an offer on the table that we like and so some back and forth will be happening with the N. American rights. More once a deal is done.
“Benjamin” had a great NYC showing and distribution will follow shortly I’m sure. The interest is already there it is finding the deal that feels right.
“7 Stones” stuck in post audio BUT it needed it. The film is too good to have poor sound so I say take your time and do it right.
Several new film projects about to finalize either in acting, producing or both. Internationally I’m still in talks on films in France, Mexico and Morocco. We will see. Also a few home state Michigan projects brewing so again students could be finding their way to PA positions if they have the right attitudes. Some guys may find their way on to grip electric teams because they impress the right people. HINT: David Lowing helps me crew up most of those departments and I trust David. He knows who hustles and who constantly disappears and is never to be found. So I’m excited about http://www.cdiproductions.com as we expand into more international work. I’m also excited by opportunities to film right here in Michigan.
I hope everyone has a great weekend. And if some of the G.V folks are reading this – hustle on my learning amigos. You could be our tomorrow storytellers and I’m here to tell you the road is hard. Only those with the deepest wells of passion will survive.
I hope to see you in the jungle. The Tribe marches!