The hazelnut coffee, is tasting great on this snowy Sunday. I see where many folks elsewhere got 5+ feet of snow! Parts of Michigan, saw a large snowfall and even here in Lansing (Center of the State) we got a good amount. It is pretty to watch fall and it makes everything bright, which has been nice. But, it has been bitter cold for sure. The several days of arctic freeze gave me the time I needed to start catching up on all my biz paperwork.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – We have been working on getting the end credits around and from the list we’ll be double checking against our Algona, premiere list. This week, we’ll get a chance to review the film, with most all the elements inserted. The film will release first in Algona, Iowa on Dec 9th and the Fridley Theaters. Our hope is that they will open the film in all the cities they’re in. We are looking to see when the show times will go live, so folks can start getting public tickets. The trailer will soon be playing in front of other films. We plan to show the film into 1st quarter of 2023 in the theatre chains. We hope to have it expend across Iowa, and the midwest. An LA/Hollywood and German showing via theaters or festival is also being planned.
We also have some exciting things coming together for the 2023 home video release. I really do think that this film could create a “Field of Dreams” effect – whereas once a year the film returns to Algona, theaters and people travel to the town of Algona, to see the museums. We will also be working on the Michigan premiere, that might happen first of the year, due to all the crazy Christmas hustle and bustle. Many will have to have patience, if you miss the select theatrical showings. But come, the run up to Christmas 2023, the film will be getting a major push. Between the theatrical and the home video, we hope to show it in Germany/Austria. Thank you to everyone for your support.
We’re also going to be working with our sponsors and product partners, moving forward. Note, the period wraps on the Spam, Hershey’s bars and more. We are honored to have such wonderful partners in storytelling. We have had many great companies join us over the years. I look forward to many more, as we move ahead in our storytelling adventures.
Silent Night in Algona, will be the 5th release this year. Who has seen all five films? Who can name all five films? OK. It’s early and the coffee is still kicking in for folks. 1) BESTSELLER 2) BEST YEARS GONE 3) SMOKE & MIRRORS 4) FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH 5) SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – if you end up watching all 5, you are truly a CDI fan. I’ve had someone talking to me about a CDI fan club. You can SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE at http://www.cdiproductions.com and we’ll be doing some updates there soon. I use to have a wonderful fan club ran by a fine lady named, Pepper. I think she is still with us, loving her dogs and spreading joy. She and several friends, use to travel to different CDI premieres. She did interviews and highlighted co-stars and leading ladies. She reviewed films and really did many great and wonderful things. Her health, hasn’t allowed her to keep up with the webpage and it went down several years ago. I will check in on Pepper, over the holidays. I hope she has been doing well.
Once SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, is finished, we will be all caught up on production. We have been slowly prepping 4 films in the CDI library, for re-release with BMG. In 2023, we hope to bring KNIGHT CHILLS, FIGURE IN THE FOREST, AN ORDINARY KILLER and GHOST TOWN to the marketplace. Two are in the wrong aspect ratio and were shot in standard def so they’re all being digitally enhanced to HD. I will readdress all this once I get this current film locked.
But, I will say- I’ve seen the first draft of the new uprezed trailer for Ghost Town, and it looks beautiful. I need to watch and provide some notes. We are also working to get distributor back ups of all the films. KNIGHT CHILLS, we are trying to get the best source version. But this will get done. We are also working on a few cool extras, maybe even an interview from our director Katie Hicks. I might do a sit down, with Jeff Kennedy, to talk about those days. The sequel and video game became even more exciting, when I got to check out some of the new software and LED walls. Not only, will CDI keep working to enhance of VFX sequences in our films, we will be doing some films that are completely animated films. I have a few people in Michigan, I’ve been watching, about some possible collaborations. Ideas-forming.
Harsens Island Revenge – Get those acting reels together. Yes. CDI is an acting troupe of actor/producers, but we have several friends of the tribe, that we often collaborate with. Like, many projects, we have many more friends of the tribe, vs roles open in a film. But, we have some time, so we’re going to really use the time to cast, and look at talent for future endeavors. I use to travel to more film gatherings, events, networking. Oh, I feel a ramble coming on…
The truth is, with how busy my film work is, my daily hours are pretty full. I unwind, mediate, visualize, the week ahead. Refuel, relax and get good rest (Three R’s) to attack it all again the next day. Staying out late partying, isn’t really on my planner. Now, let me say for the record, I’ve certainly been there, done that and got that tee-shirt, but I’m at a different place on the path. I have a domestic life, that brings me peace and balance. It allows me to better focus my energies, achieving dreams. But, just like at one time, I knew every bar in my town, now, I do not. I was a work-a-holic, binge drinker, in my youth. The binge drinking (Viking drinking) was taught to me, from those glorious nights out, after games in Hornbaek, Denmark, playing soccer as a teen. What a great time that was for three summers. I love those good folks to this day.
Okay, back at it. So, I had unrealistic dreams (Acting) but, once I set my sights, there was no plan B. I worked, and lived in studios, we made our hours, working for days on end. Sometimes forced to using TV stations in the middle of the night to finish films. Often jumping on a jet planes, with my amigos, to go pitch ideas and finished films, around Hollywood for a couple weeks. Days full of 405 driving to meetings, parties in the hills. Hard partying, after, hard work, to try and turn our obsession off. But, the tequila would often just spur even more exciting dreams and ideas. I LOVE those days. The CDI crew was like pirates, we rolled hard, building. But, the journey will burn some out. I’ve seen so very many break, and fall. If I could have made myself fall into regular steady employment, I would have long ago. But, my simple mantra of putting everything into the film I’m working on, so it results in one more opportunity to tell a story, remains. So far, that has worked. I think because, there are so many stories, in every town, in danger of fading away, gone. But, a group of artists like CDI, can bring a story to life, for generations. That is what we do. That is what we are doing.
And back to development- this week saw a few really great steps. The script for Harsens Island Revenge (HIR) is going through that writer/director phase. Each character, action and line, discussed. I can say, every scene improved through long conversations. Motivations. Moments. I love this process with directors. All directors who have directed a script I wrote, have been through this process. It is fun, playful and enjoyable. We got through another 25 pages in a session and have likely 1-2 more sessions to get all the way through. Once the script is locked, the writer part of me steps back. All work from there will be between actors and director. But once you leave the director at the end of the process, they should have a deep understanding. It is an exploring, something even more important with period pieces.
HIR, will start looking at cast and crew, with our director, over the winter. We have a good idea of the look, tone, work flow and our scout trip has us all very excited. So, wrap up your year by getting your highlight reels together. CDI is mostly all actors, so pick and lead with your strongest material. If something is subpar consider leaving it off. Less can be more. At the same time, if someone is interested, they will watch a lot of your work. Especially if they are thinking of working with you.
SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE – After nearly two full days of polishing, I ended my week, with my first draft of the new Spirit Lake Massacre. I’m very proud of the final piece. I’m going to do even more research to add a sprinkling more of the historical gems, to this already powerful piece. In December, I’ll be able to have some more discussions on the locations for this 2024 project. Next year, might consist of some construction, and some prep work.
CDI HOLIDAY WATCHING – With snow and cold, forcing many inside- it’s a good time to watch some of the CDI classics with your family and loved ones. WILD FAITH, MANS BEST FRIEND, LOST HEART, THE QUEST TRILOGY! Encourage TV, Tubi, Amazon Prime, Google Play– check your platforms. I’m going to go do some holiday shopping both online and at the store. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving week. I’m always happy when I get to see family and friends. We are all thankful at CDI, to all of you fans.
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!