Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
Good morning to all of you out there. I’m happy to see all the readers from our Canadian neighbors, Germany, China, Australia and more… if you think someone might benefit from a read please do share our blog site. I’ve been sipping the coffee this morning as I ponder what I should discuss. The holidays are now truly behind us. The beautiful Christmas tree is now seasoning by the woodpile to give fire starting material as the last years tree does now. We had a touch of warm yesterday that melted some of the snow and had all the animals out enjoying the day and gathering food. I’ve been sharing some old peanut butter holiday cookies with the squirrels each day. Now they look in my windows as if to say – hey now.
So this week has been full of steady work and so I think I will random a few of these updates out there.
- End-of-the-year tax work on the movies. It’s not the most fun you’ll have in film but it comes with the territory. If you aren’t doing that work you’re likely a hobbyist and aren’t accountable for anyone’s money. Hobbyist is fine but when you do start working in film professionally do your required work. I see people who want to just play and I understand that but paying people (which requires tax work), union, insurance, state filings… the biz of showbiz. I want to thank my hardworking team. I’ve said it before, it is not easy to do things right and even with best efforts we make mistakes. But when people don’t even try…
- We’re banking more capital on CDI’s next movie MBF (Man’s Best Friend) and still in talks to assign the final units. We’ve got several projected plans pending what happens in the next few weeks. People think raising money is easy and it is not. Even when you stay on budget, schedule, assured distribution to the marketplace, talented artists – it can still be difficult. I think with the tax change it had many pausing until the new year. But we’ll lock it up soon.
- So “Chasing the Star” has been submitted to ICFF and the Crown Awards by our distributor. It was a strong Christmas season and we’ll start to feel that in the next few months. The biblical adventure is a worthy watch at any time of the year. As Easter approaches BMG will keep pushing both “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” we also are expanding into more foreign territories. I think Germany was most recent. Also what a great fan responses over the holidays. Thank you for all the communications.
BREAKING – So a good case point/example. I was sipping coffee and typing to all of you when I got a communication from one of my producers asking for additional info for our tax reporting. Forty minutes later – I’m back. But it’s why I don’t run the streets hard like I did as a younger man. Business pops up and you have to try to be prepared to keep the train a rolling. More coffee vs whiskey and more tea versus wine but I do still enjoy the sip with company. Being well rested is another key. Many people openly brag about how run ragged they are and how little sleep and such. It’s worn proudly like a badge of honor. But I don’t see a badge nor honor. I see a person admit that their time management is not good and likely most of their endeavors are wrought with mistakes and oversights due to being “tired”… put a spin on tired if you want but it still just plays as tired. Look how hard I work! Maybe look how smart I work is better. It’s the angst of the living artist. Look at me I’m suffering. Yes, when dreams are just outside your reach there is suffering. Usually self-induced suffering because we look at what we want and don’t have versus what we have and use that as steps to a new place. So in 2018 if you’re one of those who takes on too much – do less and do it well versus more and tired. I think you will like the changes it makes around you.
4. The Christ Slayer is locking up VFX and will move into studio for sound and music. The trailer will get a mix before releasing in a couple of weeks. The first poster is also looking to release next month. I’m excited to bring the last chapter of the trilogy to audiences and let them enjoy them individually or together.
5) Wild Faith. Yes. Quite the buzz building over this powerful 1800’s story. That time period is a favorite of many of us at CDI. We watched the most recent pass of the color correction with the theatrical 5.1 surround mix. WOW! Meetings this week about the premiere opportunities and theatrical roll out. I’ve had a few more talks on the TV series and I’m feeling good. Good about the fact that once people are brought into the town of Hastings, Michigan in 1875. Once they meet and grow close to the lovable characters in Wild Faith, that a TV series will happen. I am going to talk to broadcast sponsors also. I would love a MI based series as it would allow us to work with many artists in our state. If this is the first time hearing about this film look up the trailers, Facebook page or website.
6. WEBSITE – Collective Development Inc. is revamping its website to take us into the new years ahead. http://www.cdiproductions.com is still under construction but it will be a place for a) better casting info for people b) A streaming community with interviews, film advice, BTS and a movie watching club. c) Merchandise. I’ve been asked over the years about merchandise. I LOVED it as a kid, okay and as an adult. We will be seeking to enhance this area. Lunch box? Action figure? Posters?
7. The animated division is going to get more attention. Why? As a kid I loved cartoons and so why not. “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” is on Vimeo On Demand and will be releasing to Amazon. We’re also in talks on another collaboration that will be animated. More soon.
8. I’m reading a few scripts and I have several to get back to that I started before Christmas. Most are from past collaborators bringing new projects forth to see if I/CDI would be interested in involvement. Yes. I do enjoy going to work on other’s projects – it really is about the role and compensation is also a factor. I’m also trying to do my daily script writing but actually it’s been only a few times a week. Organize that time. I try to take my own advice.
This is me returning a handful of hours later. That business work can take over that fast. I’m sure I might have missed a few updates but some of the deals are highlighted here. I hope you all have a productive week.
Be good to one another.
I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
I’m sipping coffee on this peaceful Sunday. Beside me is a new 5 gal of Green Goblin 3.0 wine started on Halloween and by 11/4 on the full moon it was bubbling like a possessed spirit had invaded it. See what I did there? The spirit, okay back to the blog. New readers/followers from The Netherlands, welcome. Readers from Israel has been following us and again, thank you. I love this space – open for artists to stop by and listen to a story or two. To get a few updates and let you know that these battles we fight to create our art are natural. Part of the process of healing people with the power of a story. A medium that weaves so many emotions through so many of the human senses.
David Gries in THE CHRIST SLAYER
It’s been a strong week of organization and prepping to move into 2018. New announcements on MBF, our next CDI film. We added David Gries and Shane Hagedorn two other fine artists. I’ve worked with both of them and these roles are in caring hands. March will be a nice mix of old and new talent working together. This coming week I plan to open the bank account. Small steps on the path to production.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
American Film Market is underway and BMG has Forty Nights and Chasing the Star there right now. We made some announcements that the films were making their way to the UK. I also see evidence that Asia might be getting the films next. I was notified of a Singapore government ratings for Forty Nights. I will seek to confirm but I really do hope that our fans to the East can enjoy these beautiful films.
Domestically our recent goal now that we’re past Halloween, has been making people aware of the first two films in the marketplace for Christmas. Amazon Prime now has both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR. Watch them back to back and if you enjoyed them give them a little word of mouth or post a review. I think those films are just starting to travel a long journey of being exposed to artists worldwide.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is the 3rd film in the trilogy and it’s moving right along. We released a still of it being worked on in post VFX. (Here)
This third film will bring things together nicely. The poster is on the 3rd draft and getting stronger with each one. This film is preparing to enter music and sound design in Jan 2018.
For that to go in WILD FAITH needs to come out. The music first draft is DONE save tweaks and end credit roll. We’ll start putting that together now. I have high hopes that once the film is done the full merit of a series will be seen. We’re soon to sit and watch the film with the music in. Right now mixing and balancing is underway. The 10 sec of remaining VFX footage is what we’re dealing with still. But the plan is in motion and I’m confident we’ll complete that shortly.
We’ve also been delivering materials to our distributor for WICKED SPRING. It is an interesting feeling bringing that film to the forefront again. I did that role 17 years ago. Crazy. KNIGHT CHILLS had a new release with the book this year and that is a great little Christmas story. I’m smiling – but I will admit for people who have not been exposed to my work having KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS or IN THE WOODS be your intro is…scary. Zac, Frank and Alex are all great roles just not current representations. These films like others have gathered fans to which again I’m appreciative. My debate as of late was to accept invitations to participate in Comic Cons on occasion to celebrate these old works. I guess as I pondered it I got a touch of insight into Jeff Daniels who wants to be known for his dramatic excellence but people often just remember DUMB & DUMBER. How many sick, lonely, troubled and just bored people did that film make laugh? Giving relief by way of 90 mins of humor. Who are we to judge what people will enjoy? Hence art is subjective. Also some of these early films had so many rocks thrown at them. Some justified but many just the rise of the troll in this new medium of inter-webs:) I still hear the AOL dial-up. But if people can embrace these films more power to them. At the 15th anniversary to sit in the Alamo theater (Kazoo) and watch people shout, laugh and play the drinking game associated with IN THE WOODS was a joy. As we move through the present towards the future we must always make peace with our past. I’m getting there. I’m looking into the “Appearance circuit” although I’ve always wanted people to see the characters before the actor. I have met thousands of fans over the years and I’m appreciative. Although I don’t appear at many of these events it’s because of new work. I had a distributor friend ask if I was going to be at AFM. (Film Market) Actually I’ve had many ask. I told this person I was in MI overseeing post on two films while we prep for our new one. I would like to attend an AFM in the near future.
In addition to MBF prep we’ve been reviewing and looking at several other CDI & CDI associated projects. I think we’re preparing for another strong slate on films. As always I really do appreciate you stopping by. I hope the season is productive and wish you all a strong week ahead.
The last week of the 47th trip around the SUN:)
A whirlwind week leading up to the bday weekend. Forty seven trips around this star we call the sun. We had a busy week leading up to the weekend whereas we had a small gathering of folks for my bday and the CDI gathering. I had a busy week because of the dropped elm tree causing a lot of chaos to the yard. All the small stuff got burnt up and the logs stacked and/or organized. The garden is getting a lot more sun with the dead tree down. We smoked a pair of pork shoulders and a large turkey to have sandwiches at the gathering. So the latter part of the week I got to conduct business to the wonderful smells coming from the smoker. The house, office and yard all got a good grooming which is always nice. The spring cleaning is over and time to enjoy summer. My brother made me a wrought iron arch that you install logs onto and also the upper siding will be put on the office this week. (Happy Bday to myself) – After several years I now have a new grill – so grill N chill can power on.
The garden is growing like crazy and I’ve been getting bowls of mulberries everyday for my wine endeavors. Last night at our little gathering we had some of the “Top of the Day” Irish Stout and I think it passed the test. We had some great punch with a punch thanks to my friend Mr. Glarner and Sanctuary Spirits. The RUM was flowing like a pirate fest. Many activities every weekend in the Summer for people so I’m just always appreciative to whomever makes the stop by. I think a good time was had by all and it was a good day to reflect on all the good that has happened in the last year. Lots of excitement and talk about the next 12 months ahead. I will do a short recap of things but I believe I might need a nap before tonight’s soccer match. The temps should be much better as long as we don’t get rained out.
Okay. A few movie updates.
WILD FAITH – ADR work has been underway in the studio as well as spicing up the sound design on the battle scenes. VFX foundation work underway and I’ll be meeting with director Jesse Low to discuss more on this project. I will say some nice BTS, a new trailer and poster are just some of the cool new promo pieces coming soon.
The Quest Trilogy
The website for the trilogy will house the sites for all three films in the future and so we’ve been developing that. Also a new CDI website will be going up this Summer. Forty Nights is expanding into the General market as Sony keeps pushing the digital. We had a few nice reviews coming out on “Forty Nights” and so we’ll be encouraging people to watch the 1st film in the trilogy. We’re still exploring more theatrical on “Chasing the Star” but the film is delivered and will soon be mastered by BMG. “The Christ Slayer” is polishing the edit and VFX work has started. We shared a short model video on the FB site for “The Christ Slayer” and more will follow.
The Friday of my Bday I completed Version 1 of a new screenplay. That put a smile on my face. Scripts are the blueprints that a team works from. I’m happy to be in development mode. The back half of the year will be interesting. We’ll have films releasing as we start the creation of new content. Thank you to everyone who sent their well wishes. I had a few people I know pass away this year that won’t be going on this new journey around the sun. So that said, I’m appreciative that I can keep clawing my way to the middle:)