I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my room at the Double JJ Resort. I’m close to being wrapped with my character of Niles Cass in the film LOST HEART. It’s been a great ride thus far with only a few small bumps in the road. Luckily, when you have a great team gathered you address and flow past those issues. We truly do have a great team of artists who are also problem solvers not creators. I was again so proud the other day when we had our new friends Susan and Norm out to set. They are the owners and until recently ran the Double JJ Resort for several years. That duty has largely been passed down but they are the ones who still care deeply for the resort and it’s on-going future. They know that keeping your word, taking pride in your work and maintaining excellent customer service is what keeps people returning. So again it was a pleasure to have them visit and see the ‘zen’ flow of how smooth our set runs. That night it was all chill save the occasional radio communication at basecamp calling the roll out. Like Susan and Norm, we’re making some great contacts and friends in this area and are seriously considering filming in this area again.
Our newest mid-western WILD FAITH, is really heating up now that the DVD’s are for sale including at the Wal-Mart. Here is fellow producer ‘Tony’ Hornus at the Whitehall store. If you have not seen the film please do treat yourself. After if you feel inclined to leave a few kind words please do so.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is delivered to our distributor and is now being prepped for the theatrical and home video run. It will be great to get this story out there to audiences. Paul whom I played in the film is one of my most challenging characters to date. I wanted to properly represent the soldiers who have been wounded, sacrificing themselves to keep us all safe. A premiere is in the planning so stay tune for updates on that and also the other releases.
The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) continues to expand and I’m exciting for the upcoming holiday season with all three films complete. I hope that several TV networks pick them up to watch together. All three are available to purchase or rent.
I’m going to go get ready to drop stuff at the office and have lunch with the crew. I’m back on camera tomorrow so I’ll be refreshing myself with those lines. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.
HOT TOPICS – INSIGHTS
OK! I have my hazelnut coffee beside me as I work on a few business items. I think it’s good to first say thank you to all our military folks who allow us all the freedoms we enjoy. While we are far from perfect as a society here in the USA we do strive to better ourselves. I personally did not elect to be a politician and so my personal feelings on certain subjects are just opinions. I did choose to be a storyteller. Be you – Right wing, left-wing, wing nut, black, white, yellow, brown or purple – I want to entertain and enlighten you via motion pictures. I recall late last year getting fan mail from Egypt following one of our films playing the Cairo Film Fest. I got fan mail a few weeks ago from India over another film. I really love people’s cultures, traditions, foods and art. I think we are in a time whereas people are boldly putting mortal agendas onto divine heresy. Words are symbols combined to convey meaning. I see communication breakdowns passing a few instructions down the film production line. Imagine various levels of educations, multiple languages, lacking the right word to describe something, unable to describe something and the humanistic urge to put their own agenda and spin on something. Now multiple this by hundreds or thousands of years and things get very blurry.
I would say preach whatever religion or outlook you wish. Shall and Shall Nots. But nowhere does anyone mortal have the anointed position to make judgement spiritually. People flock together to feel more confident in their own choices and decisions. Numbers don’t make one right. And each person may be judged (if you want to subscribe there) individually. But not by anything or anyone here – not in matters of soul, spirit or divine essence. If people would let people live and stand accountable in the end for their own actions – all would be better. Concern yourself with yourself, I say. The Golden Rule is beautiful because you don’t know if you are right. You can tell yourself that. You can quote from text that may or may not be accurate. But in the end IF you believe in judgement – what if you are wrong? What if a half-dozen people different from you in their beliefs are brought forth and asked if they would vouch for you as worthy. Did you give kindness, compassion and love to these and other people? Or did you pass hate, intolerance and judgement upon people. That feels like a power best left to scales held on a much greater divine level. When I see those who stand in high judgement I see the coming of their fall. When I hear talk so crazy or hate-filled – I imagine what great displeasure of someone who puts words into others mouth. People may await the return of a savior but from what I see – people should not be so excited by this unless God is grading on a curve. And those who think they have the cheat sheet created by authors – edited a thousand times – and hand selected for digestion again by Wise? Men? Be careful!
THE CLOAK THAT COVERS THE SPARK
The color of our skin is but the traveling cloak. Perhaps our body itself just the bio-organic clothes we wear over our individual sparks. I see how a spark within us could be created in the image of a greater – more vast powerful divine spark. Stripped of EVERYTHING mortal how are our sparks different from one another? Ponder that. I’ve often thought that while so many sit and await some return of a savior perhaps the people themselves have the power over when that someone will return, reveal or make oneself known. Should mankind evolve to a higher state where they are truly ready – maybe someone will step forth. It could happen:)
SYMBOLS – GOOD, BAD & UGLY
I have also done a Civil War movie in Virginia (Wicked Spring) and spent much time in the beautiful South. I was also born in the North, in equally beautiful Michigan. While I will be the first to say I’ve seen shunning and disparaging talks about people wearing different traveling cloaks everywhere. I’ve always been quick to step up on these conversations if in earshot. Some Brits talking about Indians. (From India) Indians (From India) talking about darker skin Indians. Japanese talking about the Chinese. Whites about blacks. Canadians about the Detroit Red Wings. Seriously – all shaped by our experiences with one another. Be that good experience. I can say with all truth that in my travels IF people labeled me as an AMERICAN – I left them with a good impression of how we can be. FREEDOM TO BE. Just because we have the freedom to exercise something it is up to us to question should we. Where does the motivation lie? Pride, Shock, To Hurt, To Isolate, To Associate? Take a sensitive issue like FLAGS. What are flags? Symbols. These mean different things to different people. The cross. A dove. Crossbones with a skull. Symbols meant to rally, inspire, unify and identify. I keep hearing the comparison to the Nazi flag. The symbol on their flag was used first in Neolithic times. It has different meaning to the Chinese or the Indians. WW2 left dark meanings on a symbol that for thousands of years meant lucky. The beholder will see what they see. Today is a day that we celebrate the stars and stripes. I say it represents the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. We as represented by that flag – have done remarkable, shameful and unthinkable things. But UNITED WE STAND. Our goal is to add more GOOD to our list of accomplishments. Can we ever erase the BAD or UGLY? No. But the ratio can be off set by adding additional GOOD deeds. We are also a country of freedom that purposely limits censorship. The need for “Censorship” to me often shows a lack of faith in select individuals to make good choices. AND while those groups may be partial correct – (We make bad choices as humans all the time) – to error allows one to grow. You will fall learning to walk. We allow much free will in America and constantly try to adjust our compass. Politics and special interest of those who hoard of shells and beads (currency which = symbols on paper or metals) this will make change slow but it will change. For better? For worse? Flags can mean PRIDE or HATE. Flags can get a reaction of PRIDE or HATE. The stars and stripes do not bring tears of pride to inhabitants of a far-away village accidentally bombed in some drone attack. The stars and stripes proudly flew on the moon. A flag can be the good, the bad and the ugly. It often is all three.
Finally! I know some of you are saying that. I usually take a step back on all those current issues but had many people ask my views. I had to ponder them for a while. Meanwhile in the film world GREAT things are happening.
We announced our new Parables TV licensing for “7 Stones,” “Outside the Wire,” and “Standing Post” – congrats to those cast and crews.
ASHES OF EDEN Oct. 13th worldwide release and how about that poster art! I love it.
BESTSELLER – We will know Monday about the July 21st show date at Studio C Celebration Cinema BUT we have our week run at the south Lansing location from the 24th-30th of July and I’m excited that some home town folks can come see the film. Audiences have really enjoyed it. I’m in talks with a handful of distributors for VOD, foreign and such. We are close to setting up some dates in the Detroit, MI area. We also have been working several others in hopes of getting it to all of you. We’ve gotten your communications and we’re working on it!
DONORS does look like it is signing a domestic deal with one of the distributors CDI Distribution has been in talks with. More on this is the coming weeks.
CDI Distribution is in talks with the Philippines and India on some licensing of films. China may be next via one of our associations.
40 NIGHTS – I’m very excited by this film. I got my final notes over to our director/editor and I think we will be closing up the edit in the next couple weeks. I would love to have the film move to music and sound around July 15th. The first official trailer is also almost done and I love it. The great part is that the trailer is powerful yet the film itself holds so, so much more! Not one of those trailers where all the best parts are thrown into the teaser. We do have a place on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website where churches and organizations can sign up if they want a screening. We will push this harder once we release the trailer.
UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS & CASTING
I’ve finally gotten to a point where development (always ongoing) is ready to take front and center. I’ve been writing on a handful of projects which will have their own PR forthcoming BUT those of you who come here to this blog get the 1st drop on some of these developments. Let me bullet point a few as my fingers are growing tired and eggs are calling me.
– We will be looking for (2) African-American Michigan-based talent. One is young girl 8-10 years of age and also a fine young lady of mid-late 20’s. We want to see dramatic resume reels and they can be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be looked at by our development team. NO OTHERS AT THIS TIME PLEASE.
– I’ve been working on the “Knight Chills 2” script and that is moving along nicely. It will possibly go into production this year.
– I have started in on the next biblical feature to be shot as part of our Lightworx Entertainment deal. It is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we are looking to once again shoot in AZ come Jan/Feb 2016.
A couple other scripts are also being worked on as time and inspiration hit.
What is next acting-wise? I’ve gotten this question quite a bit as of late. We do have a few CDI projects as noted above that I will be participating in. Outside of that I’ve got a few projects my management has presented. It looks like I’m going to shoot a western trailer in August with an actor I truly admire. I’ve also been submitted directly to producers on a film to perhaps play a very famous person of history. Next week I’m also announcing my involvement in a studio project that has been coming together for a while. I had to get studio approval on everything but now that is all in place – SHAZAM! My HINT: The original source material is a Stephen King book.
I might have missed a few things but it is the 4th of July. I need to go relax and eat some good food with family and friends. Be safe everyone!
Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)
I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.
2015 Distribution Updates
ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.
DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come
WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!
We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.
HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.
BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.
NON-CDI RELEASE INFO
I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19 and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).
Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!
My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.” I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water. Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over. We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you? Do you give your best effort, always? Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.
Happy Full Moon!
The quiet rain outside falls against the colored leaves of fall. My review of budget for the morning puts a cautious smile on my face. The call to set tells me that everyone is working steadily along to capture our last day of week 1 on the thriller “Bestseller”. This is my final action before my pick up to set. Terence Knox came in and was on-screen yesterday and it was good to see an old friend. He has mellowed some in his age and I see moments of tender and sweet – perfect for his compassionate doctor. The gruff soldier and ex-boxer that he was has given way some and I like how he wears it. The previous day was the 1st time I’ve ever had fellow Lansing, MI gone Hollywood actor Taylor Nichols on a CDI project. He was powerful in his work and we had equally strong talent in Ralph Lister, a MI adopted Brit playing opposite him. Today Lana Wood, true Hollywood royalty is once again gracing one of our films. I love her performances and I will be seeing her within the hour. The crew is bonding and I purposely put the hardest part of the schedule up front. Once we are past that it will be settling in for two weeks at a much more operational set with much less breakdown and no true company moves. The emergency vehicles and tighter sets will be shot out and only the large beautiful lakeside sets remain.
I also got to bookend my character this week. My first and last scenes are done and now I truly know my beginnings and end of my arc. So now the story will unfold for me within these fate marks. I’m ready to play and I can freely do so because of the confidence I have in our crew. The hard work was done in pre-production and so it will now pay off in the quality of the work we produce. That brings me to my little soapbox moment of the week. For 17 years I’ve proudly fought the “backwater” stigma that follows Michigan. A reputation of being 2nd rate artists because we aren’t from Hollywood or NYC. It is unfortunate that for every set experience I give to outsiders that leaves them astonished at the professionalism there is a half-dozen clusterF#@% sets that leave people stating “Worst film experience ever” uttered about BRING BACK THE SUMMERTIME a film I almost produced but they refused to listen to reason and I decided to not participate. Sad that it was someone’s 1st Michigan experience and that is the story they will tell. Now I see and hear of other great productions in state. 10 West studios, I don’t know them but I’ve seen their product and it is very good. Rich Brauer, had lunch with him and know his product. These people I see the effort to stand proud as storytellers. On the other hand I see gross neglect and piss poor planning just destroying the film community. Now I work all over and so the state of our local film community really doesn’t affect me completely but I do care. When I see people not only show complete disregard for professional process but brag about it as if it was hip or cool – I feel pity. I feel bad for those so in need of a paycheck or so desperate that they climb on board a doomsday ship. “Welcome to starship screw up – next destination – the sun.” Now I know some of these people or know of them. I see boasts of pushing crews too hard, unreasonable expectations, managing with anger and admission at a full house premiere that they barely had a script and that they were disorganized in their schedule most of the time. This was presented as some kind of joke to be made at the Oscars. I cringed because the product reflected all those things. And to many not in the knowing that is what reflected our State of Michigan and the artists within. To these people – do better. Take some pride in your work and process. Don’t treat our industry like a joke. Because what you don’t realize is that you ARE the joke. You are also giving our State and our artists a bad name. Now in our industry it has a way of weeding out the ASS CLOWNS as I like to call them but not before damage is done. And for some of you out there be careful what circus you join. You are artists to be respected. You are all a vital part of every storytelling endeavor be it in making coffee, pulling focus, last looks, lint brushing to musical scoring. Take pride in your work. Leaders take pride in your product. Art is subjective and not everyone will love it despite the outcome but always give your best efforts.
Have a great weekend. Off to set.
After a string of just wonderful days we finally have some rain but for all the blooming plants this is much-needed. This week we did some major clean up on our sticks/tree limb pile after we had some cutting down around the new office. I got to burn, burn, burn this material into ash to till into the garden. There is something very powerful about burning away old dead growth and created new fertile ground. I can apply this in many ways to events unfolding around me. I think that we all carry a certain amount of negative weight built up from people and events around us. I work hard to try to not create negativity myself and keep my energy flow positive. I succeed more often than not and often nobody ever knows when I struggle to eliminate negativity. That flow will not stop if you repeat actions or continue to work with others that generate this negativity.
I can also say that in our industry seeking “fun” in the most child-like manner is fully acceptable. I always strive to have “fun” on our film sets because it translates to the screen. I’ve trial run with individuals on films whereas some I will not produce with again and others it is a no-brainer. Much of that is if they are listeners. Some people have a need to make the decisions via insecurity and are often not open to advice. Almost all the “associated” CDI features are constructed in a consulting fashion. I feel in any situation the best option should win despite who comes up with it. No pride or ego but this works only if someone is open to all possibilities. I think people and their lack of communication skills often lead to these bad decisions. A good idea presented poorly never gets accepted as the wrong tone/approach/lack of respect gets a defensive reaction and a good idea will go unheard. If you can offer sound advice that could PREVENT issues because possibly you’ve had that issue in the past – it becomes painful if someone doesn’t want to accept or discuss something because it did not originate with them. In situations where this has happened I may perform as talent with the right material and right compensation in the future but I will not produce again with them.
Now also I added to some conversations on the dreaded IMDB StarMeter this week. It is corrupt because desperate talent looking for a short cut have learned to manipulate it. Entire companies have emerged just to feed the egos and play on the insecurities of these people. It is pretty easy to spot and professionals are not fooled. It actually plays against those who cut corners. I’ve been deeply disappointed when I discover these actions but I cannot save anyone from themselves. It is a personal integrity issue and while I cannot control all people’s actions I will work to discourage and eliminate these factors from our dealings. WORK BEGETS WORK. POWERFUL PERFORMANCES WILL GET NEW OFFERS. It is very simple really and I know a large number of people use negative tactics from attempted investor stealing to buying “marketing packages” to boost some ego rating. I just refuse to lower myself or our company actions to those levels. I would rather take the long path and arrive with my dignity and integrity intact. I hope many of you can say the same. If not – consider correcting your path. Character is important to me and others and I’m not talking in a script:)
I had a good couple of days working on “Holiday Miracle” and while they are still developing as a team they worked hard and they were having fun! I can also say that Dean Cain was a friendly professional and being a Michigan boy – of course he is:) I think they will have a great feel-good film! Thank you again to that entire cast and crew for letting me come play with you all.
I did fall behind a bit on script reading this week. I had a few acting opportunities come my way and I’m having good discussions on those. On development we are making some good steps with some new bridges forming with foreign partners. Many of these companies have already realized some success with films I starred in so they have been great to work with. Our CDI Sales Team is starting to get momentum going forward. I had a handful of offers on our films from a foreign source and more are developing. I had a pain sending out a screener to a foreign company and I’m not use to wasting that kind of time – but I will get a process down. Fully developing a sales team will take a bit of time but to have success right out the gate is giving me great hope for this new direction.
I also took a few more steps on the path to personal management. I think this opportunity could speed up timelines, increase revenue flow and prove to be a good way to do a few studio produced projects. I see the path pretty clearly and so it is about visualization, execution and patience. The last one can be hard and I consider myself to have a descent amount of patience. So earlier we talked about people looking for a short cut and that stems from lack of patience. It is hard but if you can control this many more things in your life will flow better. Stressing about things that are not yet in your control will harm your health mentally, physically and make you into a person that others find – unattractive to deal with. This creates set backs and causes patience issues and…a vicious cycle.
So in summary I think the more you engage in sincere respect and compassion to your fellow artists – the more attractive as a working partner. You become a sail to whatever boat you’re upon and not the dreaded anchor of negativity. If it becomes too stressful and you become too jaded I say, get off the boat. This career is not worth it if it turns you into someone who family, friends and peers grow to dislike. I’m here to say that if it ever loses the “fun” aspect for me I will exit this career. I have chosen “Brewer” as my second career:) Often you can protect that “fun” by eliminating those negative influences. You can almost look at the lessons of childhood. The ones who did not share, were bully like in nature or didn’t play nicely with others – they didn’t get the invites to B-Day parties, after-school backyard football games or whatnot. These lessons are the same now so which kid were you? I was usually the one organizing all these activities but I guess that was just my nature. I still have friends from 1st grade on up that I see on a weekly basis so I guess those values have stuck with me. They have carried over into my film career and I will continue to nurture the positive relationships. But if other relationships go negative I will burn them away like dead branches. From Ashes new growth can come forth.
Speaking of ASHES now a shameless plug
Rough cut almost done:)
Have a great weekend.