“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “peace

Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 

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Creating Sanctuary in the Chaos

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(A sip of coffee) What a week. I have to say weather-wise it was very cold but quite mild compared to other states. Lots of great developments including getting all the business taxes submitted to our movie accountants. Only my personal taxes are left to tackle. I’m really staying focused on the films because I think unity is something we all really need right now. I’ve almost eliminated any social media viewing for pleasure save STAR WARS updates. There is so much hate, anger and fear – and Yoda taught us those things lead to the dark side:) But seriously, we all have different priorities pending our lot in life, but I’m saddened by the chaotic state of our nation. I think the health of our planet and the future we leave the children of tomorrow should be the priority.

I mostly enjoy people and that is never based on the clothes they wear, the car they drive or the house they live in. It’s based on their attitude, humor, compassion and how they treat their fellow human beings. I think we’re back to a dark place in America like pre-9-11. As tragic as all that was at least we saw the best in people rise from the ashes of those towers. The intangible tower of UNITY. Now if anyone values or dares looks at things differently, they’re considered STUPID right-wing, IDIOT liberals, ignorant ASS HATS. There is no real communication just shouting and babble.

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Beautiful – by artist Jeff Butler

I’ve seen the left think Bush was the root of everything wrong. After that it was Obama who became the target. What people fail to understand is that all that negativity is poison spewed is also poison to the self. The crazed look of hate and non-rational ranting heard from both sides has damaged people badly. We’re a country of change complete with checks and balances. Trust in that and don’t be swept up in the chaos of it all. Seek clarity. The best actions are made when they come from a place of clarity.

Sanctuary of Storytelling

I want to be part of sanctuary that grants clarity. When people are no longer are able to cope with wild emotions that have pulled them so far from their normal orbit – they will crave peace. Once the TV NEWS gets turned off and they immerse themselves in a darkroom -the lights dim as the wind, music and beautiful visuals appear- messages of hope. FILM truly can be a sanctuary. We’ll be here tending that sanctuary ready to give peace of mind to all who enter. Maybe we can send calmer, cooler heads back out into the world. In America we must seek compromise – same side of the table negotiations versus hate and gridlock. It cannot be an all or nothing mentality where certain policy is only good for some. We’ll face many more challenges in the future and we’ll all need those moments of sanctuary. Allow yourself to go there. Let the venom be purged and your mind become calm.

Now to the films…

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FORTY NIGHTS

We’re excited that “Forty Nights” is getting an expanded 2017 release. The change in name from “40 Nights” to “Forty Nights” will allow people who ASK for the film to find it easier. Many first run retailers who were asked in person likely typed “FORTY” and – Nope. Nothing in our system. So this expanded release will correct that issue. It will also have (in my opinion) stronger art work. The previous cover was a rush job by Wal-Mart. The cover was not our Jesus, and it was…poor quality in my opinion. The film is now being digitally re-mastered and may include a few extras goodies. I hope to reveal some new artwork in the coming weeks.

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CHASING THE STAR

We met last week over the second film which is now in final VFX and color correction. This week we start to work on the end credits and we’re going to be setting up theatrical play dates soon after “Forty Nights” 4/4/17 home video release date. On Friday I had the first draft of our home video deal with BMG. We’ve got a bit of back and forth but should have an exact release date soon. This film lives up to what we started with “Forty Nights” and I’m so excited to see audiences take this second journey –  Chasing the star!

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The Christ Slayer

Once again, I’m in a race against the harsh desert of AZ trying to get all our investors and business in line. It has not been an IF but WHEN on these films and often these folks don’t realize what we face time-wise. We’re often the small investment and the urgency is not always understood until they feel the desert heat. That said, we’re moving strongly forward with the worst case situation being us having to shoot on the other side of the AZ summer. (124 degrees is too hot) With all the pieces falling into place I would rather shoot in March, so I’m going to push hard. Last week we announced our director Nathaniel Nose. Before that we announced our returning cast. Soon here we’ll be announcing our new leads in the film. We’ve found two of the four and we’re also casting a few new antagonists. I’ve had a few reels start to come in to me after requesting Middle East or Italian actors send their materials. Thank you. The crew is also shaping up nicely and we’ll be once again bringing some Michigan keys out to work with our AZ team. I really would enjoy storytelling in AZ when Michigan is buried under snow.

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WILD FAITH

The first STILL photos are starting to roll out and soon I hope to have a teaser poster and trailer. I’ve seen some amazing footage from the film and I think audiences will really enjoy what we have.

FUTURE ENDEAVORS

We’re looking at future projects and where we want to go with our film slate. We have many options to consider. Keep putting one foot in front of the next one and before long you’ll surprise yourself on how far you’ve traveled.

Until next week…

DJ

 


Peace, Purpose and Progress!

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It is a peaceful Saturday and I’ve finally gotten a chance to sit down and spend a few moments with all of you. This last week was extremely full of meetings, handing off of materials, in-studio work and many other matters of business. But let’s take a moment to discuss the topic everyone is speaking on.

I think that most of the headlines are currently focused on the terrible happenings in France. We can watch the misery and yet it still feels distant until it hits home. I remember how I felt when one of my best friends from the neighborhood growing up – got caught in that Boston bombing. He suffered some wounds but nothing too severe. I would guess the thoughts of that day would be the worst. But I imagine my pain had he died or lost limbs like so many. We watch on TV these masses of people fleeing savage behavior in their homeland, but imagine it was yours. I wonder where or when we all failed? Where tribes of people with differing beliefs exalted themselves above one another using their religion as justification. I believe if people truly anticipated a final judgement of sorts that was based upon how they lived their lives and treated people –  the world could be a better place. So much violence being inflicted over something as simple as differing opinions on paths of faith.

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As the possibility of life on other planets becomes more real versus just science fiction – perhaps that will change things. Now some scientists realistically fear attracting higher life forms, like alien hunters. Maybe if another life form started seeing all mankind as something to be harvested, removed or eliminated – maybe our little differences between us would lessen. Religion should be about tradition and something intimate between a person and who/what gives them their peace and purpose. I don’t like to talk judgmental politics or religion – my place is as a storyteller. But violence against innocent people is once again just a horrible example of the worst that mankind has to offer. It’s been happening for a long time to many tribes all over the world. This recent tragedy is just a current reminder of how horrible we can be to one another. If a religion pits people versus people it was likely created by people to serve people – not divinity. If your organized religion endorses this  lack of tolerance – question the source.

Enough of that topic. Let’s look at some of the movie updates from the week.

On Set ASHES OF EDEN

“Ashes of Eden” – Some wonderful PR rolling out this week. That is the extent I’m allowed to talk about it for now.

DJ Perry as author Mark Franklin

DJ Perry as author Mark Franklin

“Bestseller” – Artwork with the distributor has started and I believe our national street date will be March 2016. Meanwhile we’re traveling to Grayling, MI next. That might be followed by Kalamazoo and the Detroit area.

“Donors” is releasing Feb. 2nd, 2016. EXCITING!

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Jesus (DJ Perry) in the upcoming “40 Nights”

“40 Nights” the distributor and marketing teams have started work on marketing materials. I do believe Wal-Mart is assisting with the marketing art so we know they’re one of the participating retailers. Tomorrow we’ll release the 1st of a series of short teasers. Meanwhile we have music and sound design still full speed ahead. VFX work is finishing up so we can lay it all in and color correct. The next couple weeks we PUSH hard!

The “Chasing the Star” script was the center of meetings this week. We also have been doing a good amount of west coast casting since we’re shooting in AZ. We’ve been excited by some of the reads we’ve seen and we’ll be announcing some new casting choices this week. The business paperwork will be signed this month and we’ll start putting paper under people next month. In time for a Merry Christmas with this Christmas themed film.

I’ve got final paperwork for the distribution of the “Knight Chills” book and film. A comic book/graphic novel could also go into play. The sequel script is being worked on and may get some attention once I finish this. “From Venus” might also get this treatment.

AN ORDINARY KILLER

“An Ordinary Killer” is getting remastered to prepare for a re-release. It will be the film showing Nov. 19th at our Sanctuary Spirits mixer. That is in Grand Ledge, MI and there is an event page on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/events/187821044889028/

If you want to come meet some other actors, filmmakers and enjoy great distilled spirits come join us.

Lastly, I’ve got an NDA to sign and return. I’ve got a company sending me a book and script for an upcoming 2016 project. We will see:) I’m excited about the 2016 CDI western we’re doing with “40 Nights” director Jesse Low. Overall,  I’m trying to have a productive end to 2015 and get ready for a great 2016!

Have a great weekend and be good to one another.

DJ