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

Posts tagged “post house

Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 

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Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

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Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ