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.
Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
Good morning and Happy Memorial weekend from Michigan, USA. I want to wish everyone and memorable weekend with family and friends. I’ve been doing yard work that past week between all my film duties. In honor of the day let’s start our discussions with our film that has wounded military vets and adoption dogs at the heart of our story.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
The film is now having music composed. I will be going in this week to do some Voice Over/Narration work. MyCinema has accepted MBF into their booking selection. That is followed by our home video roll-out by BMG. Here are a few of the upcoming release dates. Subject to change by the distributors but likely solid.
We will deliver the final film to our distributor on June 30th.
Public theatrical/TV cable release will be 8/1/19
Digital purchase 9/2/19
Digital Rental 10/28/19
It was enjoyable to watch the work-in-progress with sound design and dialog balanced. It really is a cool film and I promise will have people talking. I’m excited about the audiences who will get to see this film on the big and small screen. There are some amazing performance but some talented artists that I get to call friends and peers.
Official BTS of Man’s Best Friend here plus follow us on Facebook
Do your research. We get many communications on our films from fans and artists wishing to bridge with CDI. If you are really interested in a film or company, research it. We get questions submitted that put people in a bad light. If we just posted a promotional trailer with release dates and we get asked, “When does this film?” “Are you cast up?” – Umm…
Fans get more of an excuse but a simple google by even the most challenged computer users will often yield an immediate answer. Artists seeking work need to be even sharper in your communications because this IS often your first impression. “Do you make features?” “I don’t have a reel but can read something?” Yes. We make features. No reel equals limited experience. Get your game footage. Be prepared. Research. http://www.cdiproductions.com
Part of this might include watching product by the company just as a company will watch your game footage. BOOKED IT!!!!! Have you watched the previous work by this or that company? You might have beat out other talent but failed to vet out the company. Maybe you won the role because others vetted the project and…a polite pass. I know many of these postings are just to help the wounded artist’s ego that gets slammed by rejection on a regular basis. But I would rather have a good table read to scratch a creative itch versus performing in a poor production. Where you put your TIME will determine if you do this as a HOBBY or PROFESSION. You can work on your CRAFT with either path but they are very different. Explore this in your own thoughts. IF you want to work with CDI explore our recent releases – ASHES OF EDEN, BESTSELLER, FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH…trust me I do it when looking at working with someone. It saves time, energy and keeps your momentum forward.
WILD FAITH will be coming out for digital rental in June. I think the day after my bday, so on the 24th. DVD pre-sales are popping up like dandelions with the date being July 2nd I’m seeing the most. ADDITIONAL NOTE: These are being released through corporate distribution channels. I do not control every detail of this process. If a release date at a store changes by a week, I cannot do anything.
THE QUEST TRILOGY mentioned above – can all be found on Amazon. I’m curious to read some reviews from people who have seen all three films. I think now people are realizing – it is a TRILOGY. The films can be watched individually but together a better understanding will be granted. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER – watch them together. I do want to host in our town a theatrical one day trilogy watch. Maybe for Christmas this year. I’m going to try and find out what foreign territories are getting our films. All of you on here represent over 80 countries. I would love for you to all enjoy our art.
LOST HEART – It looked for a while like director Jesse Low was going to get bucked from directing by life but alas he has climbed back in the saddle. Our director of photography is going to be Jesse Aragon who shot The Quest Trilogy and Wild Faith. We love to call him ‘Smooth’ for his camerawork. It will be nice to welcome him back into the state.
We had our 1st pre-production meeting since officially going into pre-pro mode. Cast and Crew spots are being discussed by departments. I have to say, I’m really proud of the developing artists (crew-wise) in the area. That is not to say, actor/artist wise but “back in the day” we always had more actors vs film crews. I think some of those traveling off will find that the equation of more opportunities in ratio to more people wanting that opportunity, makes things about even. So you might as well make a stand in the greatest state in the Union:) Where the mosquito is the state bird. The weather is…random.
The return of ‘Smooth’
Here is some real – many in this new day and age will seek the shortcut, the better market, the easier path. When Michigan was timber rich there was no easy path. Pioneers made their own path. R.E. Olds pioneer. Barry Gordy, pioneer. (The Last Dragon, Sho-Nuff) Two Men & A Truck and countless business empires built here. The MICHIGAN spirit is the spirit of a pioneering people. Build it here. Now some will say that certain people moved away with their success. NOTE THIS! Next time our state looks at injecting the film scene with policy look within first. Reward a company for years of business and keeping it at home. In-State film grants over incentives to outside projects or at least balance it. I saw great crew members driving vans and incredible actors being extras and drinking the juice. Possibility to learn and get a check – for sure. But the ceiling was your zip code. Ten groups given 500k each could do much for our community. Should outrages success find me – look for something like this to happen. It might not be via the State of Michigan but Collective Development Inc. is a Michigan company and wants to see development in Michigan.
OK. Back to LOST HEART:)
Rumors of Don Most joining “Lost Heart” – Inquiring Minds Want To Know!
Lodging an army is a task. Add a limited budget and summer availability and you have a challenge. We are luckily in a place where our locations are not confining so we’ll plant our lodging flag first and move out from around that.
We plan to start making official offers to our talent once the new schedule is set with our actor days. Some crew talks are underway and we’ll be working towards locking that up in the next couple weeks. We’ll work to conclude our final investors and sponsors that are supporting this film endeavor. Even a few good product placement talks whereas a brand will get millions of eyes upon it. If you have a service or good you are pushing and wish to purchase some marketing lets communicate.
I’m about to go prep for a day of grilling and chilling. Burgers and brats was the request for today. Also going to sip some PP&J beer from Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, MI. They just might end up being a sponsor:) If you have not tried it, do. Kufner. I’m coming after you and your water brand:) Have a wonderful day and remember those that served.