A week ago we were recovering from a snowstorm. Today it was in the 80’s and beautiful. Again – this is Michigan. I’m enjoying moving the blog writing to Sundays. I see many new readers from a few new countries and so welcome. I’ve enjoyed the April 5th release of “Ashes of Eden” and of course “40 Nights” films. It has been fun to hear from someone around the country every couple of hours on their viewing of the films. I’m thankful and appreciative of those who are taking the time to watch the films. I was conservative in my joy that came from almost every viewer of one film gushing with praise. I do think it is one of our best to date and love that the film is touching people’s emotions. I told others that I will enjoy it but the rocks are coming. Once the film or any film is finished I toast the art and strap on the business armor. You will never make everyone happy. A spectrum of tastes and ideas and additionally we as artists often operate in a poison environment of peers. By that I mean many artists “hate” because of doors or opportunities mostly EARNED by others yet desired greatly by those denied. This results in masked hate. I find these people fascinating and I feel a deep sorrow for these people. If I don’t agree I usually just don’t participate and redirect my efforts elsewhere. To expend energy to try and hinder someone else is energy someone did not use for themselves. Why spend twenty minutes to spill hate about say a script when you could spend twenty minutes working towards your own successful script. The one film I was speaking of is well made because of the many talented artists. On a scale of 1-10 is in a 5? 7? 10? Perhaps. It will run a spectrum of evaluation but is it deserving of a 1? Speaking for the artists involved I know this film is not a 1:) But someone, one person threw that out there and with that small act of hate his or her world got a little darker. Their worst traits eclipsed a bit more of their better traits. A decade and a half ago I might have felt insulted but it is all part of the game. Going against the grain is a last-ditch effort to be recognized. But how are you seen by others? You choose your actions that define you. You get to decide which attributes you showcase and you’ll become known for these actions. Be positive. Work with positive people. You’ll find positive things manifest in your life.
“Donors” a thriller that we helped our friend Charles Pisaeno produce is now in DVD release and in May the much-anticipated “Bestseller” will release nationally. Stay tuned for updates on these two films.
This week included a handful of great meetings over “Chasing the Star” and we’re now officially in editing. The footage is with our editor and director and the story is going to start being cut together. I’m excited as the footage looks great!
I’m finishing writing on the third script in the QUEST TRILOGY that I chose to do another pass on after shooting the second “CTS” film. I’m also bringing on my business front and center on our fall project. Stay tuned there also for some exciting news!
I’m off soon to go kick the soccer ball around to get some practice in before next weeks first game. We did a bunch of yard work and spent time with the furry babies. The hops have been moved. The pond is being cleaned up. The wood piles are organized now that we have the office wood stove in action. I found an old antique ash bucket which was perfect. I greatly enjoyed the zen peace of preparing the garden/yard for the summer ahead. I do a lot of business by phone walking the grounds so I enjoy getting things ready. My thoughts are with those dealing with the deadly quakes.
Be good to one another.
I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and the sounds of geese and morning birds are singing. Yesterday I got the back yard all mowed up and today we are working on the flooring of the office/fort. The pond, the garden (which has its first bean sprouts) – all these natural wonders that I try to surround myself with as I go through my day-to-day. Yesterday also included a meeting over ASHES OF EDEN distribution on a patio with sushi. I’m happy to say we have our first distribution offers on national domestic on the table. Now comes a process of looking at pros and cons and looking at our entire battle plan. We also have some foreign interest that could turn into solid offers very soon. One of the things I felt really good about was the comments that they gave on the production value that they stated was extremely high. They deal with a 100 films a week in submissions and it was a great nod to all our artists. You have to find folks with the talent and inspire them to give their absolute best. Every time I hear ACTION! I give nothing but my very best. It doesn’t matter if I’m being paid $1,000 or $10,000 you still give it all. When a group of artists all do the same thing the results can be well…
“BESTSELLER” is a great example of REPEAT! Not a crime drama but a dark thriller but same breed of passionate artists who again are inspired to turn out quality. The 1st trailer has gotten lots of exposure and the 1st distribution interest. We now have our shot list of pick ups and that will be budgeted and we will schedule this one day pick up. I’ve been getting myself back into my previous role and I’m excited to play Mr. Franklin one more time. It will be nice to be up North and see friends again while completing our art. Our music and sound design deal is in place and we are ready to bring this one home by years end. Look for a fall premiere!
Advice taken from my dealings – If you’ve made a deal on something in writing don’t try to re-visit in the 11th hour. Also live by what the final deal is. Example – I knew a writer/director/filmmaker who was submitting around a business summary. In it was a bio whereas the filmmaker had himself credited as a Co-Producer on some large projects. So I had people vetting (background check) this person and nowhere could these credits be found. As I sincerely liked this person I confronted them about this. His response was about ghost writing and a verbal on a co-producer credit…blah, blah… I told him that nobody knows all that drama and if that was the deal it should have been put in writing and done deal. When someone cross checks and they don’t see a credit on a film, movie/poster billing block they just see a liar. Don’t be that person. Many won’t care about you enough to even bring it up but if you are trying to get someone involved and they find false info – look to be rejected. This also applies to name dropping. If I had a dollar for every time someone name dropped and I know the person – I mean can call them – I would have a nice handful of cash. Just be real. I’ve read websites whereas they encourage people to try underhanded tactics. Actor wants footage – get to know the editor. HINT: An editor that releases footage without production permission is open to being fired, sued and black-balled. Nice advice website – and the actor could get the same treatment. I’ve never worked with an editor that foolish but I guess they exist. Actors desperate enough to try it – ah many…but don’t. Patience. You are not part of a hobby 48 hour film short contest. These are business ventures with marketing and distribution plans and lots of money on the line. You want your footage while the film is still being edited go do a student film. That is what they are for but I’m just saying actors – be wise.
I had a nice talk with a director over a comedy film. We talked schedule and such and it may work out. But you want to sincerely connect. Initially I was talked to about two roles. The script was sent after I did a sketch read – meaning a few choice lines NOT 14 pages. They will not invest giving me a script until they like my reels or a sketch read. If they like that I ask for a full script. Why? Because if I don’t like the full script or think it will turn out poorly I would rather work in the garden instead. Ask to see a directors reel – they want to see yours. It’s a two-way street. Now if you like the script make sure you connect with a character. Back to that example – after reading the script one role didn’t feel right to me. The other I really felt I could bring something to the role. I’ve often chosen a supporting role after being offered the lead because it fit better. So I’m not sure if it was a surprise but when I said I would not play the one lead role even if offered I think it strengthened my given interest in the second role. It wasn’t a game I was dead serious. I want them to make a good film. I want to perform a great role. It all has to fit together. Some people will take anything just to belong and I’m just not about that. When I sign on I bring all my energy with it. I don’t take that lightly.
These are all elements I try to use in my own productions I supervise and I think that is what helps direct these projects towards quality. Throwing a name actor in a wrong role makes others stand up and notice the mess of a film you created. Make a strong film and use that name actor wisely where they are proud of the work and they will always be there for you.
OK. Refill on my coffee and I’m going to get ready for food and fort/office work. We have a soccer match tomorrow and the sun will be shining. Have a great weekend with family and friends.
Okay! I made it. It was an early morning of activity that ended with us getting everything we need for the garden. The seeds, the plants and everything to get that underway. The pond that we finished now has fish in it and I love the little solar fountain that creates such a relaxing sound. The backyard is really coming together which is nice because that is where many of the recent film meetings have been happening. It was interesting that I recently read an interview with music producer Rick Rubin and much of what he had to say were lessons I apply to my life. The best meetings don’t happen around a boardroom table and controlling your environment allows your energy to flow positive. I think that is something many people find attractive. I had several meetings with a director on a soon-to-be-released feature that I’m a producer on and also co-star in. I was watching the edit and giving notes and suggestions. We really came up with a few good ideas to add layers to the film. He commented on how he enjoyed our talks because they always left him feeling positive and full of inspired ideas. That is what we as artists should do and in the best collaborations that is what happens. Not ego-wars and bullshit drama but solid strides and passing of creative ideas. This particular director is excited to work together again on his next feature and a TV show that he has in the works. Life is too short for bad working relationships and so if you are in one – finish your obligations and part ways with sincere well-wishes.
I’m sure many out there are not tuning into my blog to listen to my rambling on gardening:) Let’s get to some film updates…
“BESTSELLER” – The 1st trailer for this thriller based upon Christopher Knight’s book of the same name is DONE. Tomorrow we will be releasing a PR release with the link to the trailer. So watch the BESTSELLER FB page and such for this official release. I’m very proud once again of the cast and crew made up mostly on Michigan folks doing work at the international level. https://www.facebook.com/BESTSELLERTHEMOVIE
We have had early interest from distributors and so I’m excited to give them the look they have all been waiting on. Oh! And you too – the audience:)
“ASHES OF EDEN” continues to move forward with distributors. This week we had a few respond with their interest. We have some meetings being set that will be our first rounds of negotiations to see who can provide the best home. We also have some exciting news coming this week about the 1st Michigan theatrical releases. We have a deal on the table and pen and paper should meet this week. Once that is done a press release with full details will be forthcoming. Multiple theaters, multiple screens, multiple weeks, multiple showings – very exciting stuff for all involved.
Lots of development work is underway with many investor talks, script reviews and such. As we get these post production films into their final stages it will be exciting to get into production with a new slate of film work.
Enjoy your weekend. I’m off to sow some seeds to reap at a later date. That is what you should do in your creative life also. Sow the seeds of good honest collaboration. Sow seeds of mutual respect and hard work. Sow seeds of always giving someone more than what they paid for. Sow seeds of not cutting corners, holding yourself up to higher standards and taking pride in your work. Do this and your personal garden will be filled with bountiful rewards later down the path.
It is truly the journey not the destination in the grand adventure of life. A friend of mine who I called to catch up with had news that set me back. His father had unexpectedly passed away. This was the year of starting a retirement and of course he thought he had many more years of enjoying and learning from his father. That was not to be. As I like to say, losing parents seems like losing training wheels. Prior to this I was having my daily issues usually with patience at some timeline that was off or a communication I was waiting upon. I tell people that many folks could not lead the artist’s life whereas you don’t always know where that next paycheck is coming from. Now it is exciting when you get a nice lump sum or you hob nob with some other famous folks but there is a balance to it all. The following day my father and I were to have lunch and he insisted on picking me up. He rolled up on his Harley and we went on a couple hour ride in the country looking at all the places he grew up. Truthfully, it was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. As a young child I use to wait for him to come home from work so we could go for a ride on his motorcycle. It was one of those full circle moments and also a deep appreciation for what I still had in a mentor and a sorrow for what my friend was now missing. So I guess my point is for all you driven artists inflicted with that ego driven urge to create art that will be seen and possibly appreciated – don’t forget what is in front of you. I know my father would likely be happier if I had a normal JOB but he also is proud of the character of his son who can thrive in my environment. I deeply cherish my friends and family and most of them haven’t seen half my films. I’m alright with that because I have my support for that in my fans. I appreciate the personal support that comes in laughter, insight on life and remembering the past. This fills my cup.
TODAY is the premiere of “DONORS” the thriller that I play a shadowy role in:) IF you are in Yuma, AZ area and want to see a cool indie thriller – please do. All info is right here https://www.facebook.com/events/649394905132609/
I want to give a BIG congrats to Niki Saletta who carries that film almost single-handedly.
We are getting close to announcing active development on a new associated film. It will shoot somewhere down South and has some development to finish but script work is coming along. I want to speak to some distributors in the coming weeks about it and also BESTSELLER that fits the demographic.
BESTSELLER is gearing up for planning on our pick up day. We will gather our clips and get this film moving onto the next phase. I’m waiting on the shot list from our director and editor. I’m excited about this because I’ve seen the footage and know what we have and seeing beautiful Northern Michigan even for a day or so will be great.
I had a wonderful email sent to me from an 8th grade history teacher Wade who uses “Wicked Spring” as a teaching aid in his 8th grade students. I think that is one of the best compliments as a filmmaker. That film has played network TV, played in the UK and sold hundreds of thousands of dvd’s and that was made over a decade ago. Now with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War I’m happy that we have made a “classic”. I’ve had a handful of emails from around the country about the performances and the picture of life in that time that we painted. Kevin Hershberger, Curtis Hall, Anthony Hornus – the entire cast and crew can be proud of the storytelling job. It was my grandmother’s favorite film and in a career lifetime you hope to have a handful of these. I recently also had that happen with “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” which could be on its way to a similar status. Strive for this and it may happen – only the audiences can make it so. I know that “Heaven’s Neighbors” has been used in classroom settings to illustrate mental illness. It is a grand ability to entertain and educate. So for crews working hard when the going is rough – if you are working on a project with heart, the right dose of business – you might be part of cinema history. Cast – there is no throw away roles – you should live, love and be the role you take on. This fan mail that included how many young minds were being taught via our storytelling was one of my weeks high points.
My script review continues on a few projects presenting acting offers. All of them are period pieces which is pretty cool in my book. Development continues on a few projects including gathering investors and setting up locations. Our sales team is in talks to bring the CDI library to many new foreign territories. “Ashes of Eden” distribution talks continue. All in all a very productive Spring whereas I’ve been holding court on the patio in the sunshine. I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable long weekend. I think I’m going to smoke or grill my first full duck (Thank you Shane Hagedorn). The garden got tilled (Thank you Stacy Hagedorn for the Mantis use) and I worked on the pond which we will fill today and add some water plants. Spend some time with your love ones and we’ll get back at it next week!
Keep clawing your way to the middle:)
What a great week it was both personal and professional. I have to say that seeing plants start to grow and the warmth slowly creep over the land has been a positive and uplifting thing. I do love winter but this one was pretty intense. I had a chance to do some yard clean up. We’ve got plans to get the patio rocking this year also getting the pond going. Taxes both company and personal are submitted so that is off the plate. This week should have me becoming an Uncle which is an exciting thing. I have 6 gal. of beer brewing which I’ve called STAN REED’S SUMMER BREW. It is named after my character in the spring break movie TANGY GUACAMOLE. I’ve also got everything for my Banana/Coconut wine and that will be put into play very soon. So I’ve about drained the hazelnut coffee and I’m ready to throw you all a few new updates.
ASHES OF EDEN – This week has been watch-overs on the final version looking for tweaks here and there to be made before it all gets mastered out. We have one final watch/listen again on Tuesday of the stereo mix version. We spotted 5 or 6 improvements and those are being made as I type. The excitement by the masses is growing with record-setting ticket sales topping 500+ in only a few days. We could have close to a 1,000 people ready to watch the local showing. I hear that we will have several of our out-of-state stars coming in as well. If you are in the Michigan area and you want to be part of this showing go to the Capital City Film Festival site. Tickets are only $5 through the festival. I’m looking forward to telling this story to the masses. From there we will start talks with the interested distributors.
BESTSELLER should be close to a locked edit by month’s end. We should also be releasing the 1st trailer about that time. I’m excited by the preview because it really did capture the essence of the original story.
DONORS, the thriller we helped produced out of Yuma, AZ will have its first local showing on May 24th. There is a good chance that we may be in the area shooting on another feature. That is a HINT and if things go as planned I would look for an announcement around Easter.
REALIZISM a great short film that I acted in for Mitch Nyberg will play also on April 13th at the Grand Rapids Film Festival. Check out their site for times.
Several of the CDI films are in talks for additional Network and foreign licensing and I’m confident that we will have several releases to inform you of very soon. I’m going to keep it short but let me see if I can give any insights pulled from this week of business.
My advice would be to invest of yourself and your time wisely. If a project is going to be sub-quality or never be seen by any audiences beyond a few fest crowds why do it. If you need to build a resume and hone your skills – sure. But if you are established, which can be hard to do, do not kill your worth by taking on projects that are not worthy. Value yourself.
Have a great weekend.