A beautiful pic taken by one of our talented crew on set of #wildfaith
It has only been roughly a week since I’ve returned home and it has been a whirlwind of settling back in, winterizing the homestead and handling all the business at hand. The business at hand is…well exciting to say the least.
I cannot elaborate completely because paperwork is underway and you don’t want to talk about deals before they are closed. What I can say is that the deal affects all our G, PG, PG-13 type material in our CDI library. I’m preparing reports and first returns on “40 Nights” to our investors. What this film, the trilogy and the new “Wild Faith” film has done is brought an opportunity. An opportunity to take everything to the next level. In this new deal “40 Nights” will be the first property to benefit as a new, larger push is about to be put behind that film. We did not have big P&A money behind that film and so it came out into the marketplace without a bunch of proclamation about the film being this or that. But the film has struck a chord with many people and now a larger corporation wants to step in and elevate the awareness of this film, the trilogy and beyond.
This deal will benefit some of the past films in the library for sure such as the “Wicked Spring” re-release that I had an opportunity with not to long ago but decided to hold. That will turn out to be a good choice. I see several films getting a new push into the marketplace. I’m glad that we spent the last couple years prepping the library because when opportunity knocks. (You know the saying) Now I was harping on actors in my last blog about not being prepared. I had a lot of people thank me for this common sense advice. If someone was going to get a job at a park as say a life guard. You would need to work out your own transportation. Your Parks & Recreation employer would not send a driver or pay your bills so you can…work. It sounds silly even writing it but that stuff happens in our industry. The rumor that our career field is a dumping ground for broken, misunderstood souls that don’t fit into the norm is only a romantic fable. You can be quirky, unique and artistic but you must have a common denominator of respect and ability to get-it-done and NOT be a flake. I’ve met so many of those types who want to act like the art is all that matters. Well, when using other’s money and having timelines that other businesses plan and spend around – flakes are quickly removed. My advice – don’t be a flake. If you commit, follow through. We’ve talked about that before – once I commit it doesn’t matter if I agreed to $100 or $10,000 you will get my very best. I’ve corrected people who have said, they only got paid this amount so they’ll only returning this amount of effort is acceptable. WRONG. Acceptable way to remove yourself from the climb. Why? Steps behind you is a passionate, struggling artist(s) willing to give everything they have. The day I don’t give 120% on-screen is the day some other artist would have been the better choice. I pick projects and roles I love. I bring the passion every time and so should you if you want to succeed.
I always talk of the team building because I am building a team of positive artists that in a well-organized setting their best work can come forth. After “The Christ Slayer” this spring the budgets will start climbing. Rates will nudge up and some departments might add depth. I’m not a person who steps over people – I develop people. That’s part of the deal that is happening now. As we grow, if our working relationship was good positive and drama-free that invite will likely come again. Ask yourself if you were a sail or an anchor to a project. As highlighted before in pre-production one potential hire didn’t like the pay rate and rather than just a polite pass they decided to burn the bridge. I know a few other producer/directors who worked with this person and I’m curious as to their experience. I actually felt a touch bad for this person I don’t know. Because I know when too many doors close that person is often faced with finding something to support themselves with and also try to maintain happiness in a non-filmmaking field. So when presented with a paid opportunity that has the possibility of making you happy, embrace it, they are rare. Many will never make it in our industry and will be faced with that reality of “what do I do with my life” – In hindsight, I considered granting this one person a special thanks. Their public rant actually helped us making more people aware, willing and wanting to work for a sub-contracted rate, actual pay. We were offering much more most, what so many often endure and again we paid. Not just in food or copy of finished film (if ever completed) or IMDB credit. We weren’t asking other artists to CROWD FUND our movie. We simply did what we could do financially – fairly and across the board. Again I will use the life guard job as an example. If you were looking at getting hired at the public swimming pool and what they were offering didn’t work for you – would you politely decline or would you spout off to some Parks & Recreation Coordinator killing your chance of ever working there? Right…Filmmaking should be given the same respect – producers talk and “black listing” is really just coming to a sound conclusion to avoid potential troubling issues be it a poor customer service vendor, an unprepared cast member or negative or unprofessional crew. Again…be a sail NOT an anchor.
Onto other updates
CHASING THE STAR
We talked about what is happening with “40 Nights” and obviously that will also benefit the other two films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Met on Friday with Dennis Therrian our composer and sound design and he was thrilled by the new directions taken in this film. Bret Miller and Dennis Therrian came at the project from two different places but once they met in the middle – something beautiful happened. This is true artist collaboration at its best. It stems from RESPECT. Give it, to get it. Easy lesson but many cannot grasp it. The film is in sound design and VFX and the trailer is getting close. It’s really gripping and powerful and I’m excited for audiences to see it.
Footage is being organized and I have it on good word that the first few scenes are being assembled and it’s exciting. We’ll be preparing a sneak look for our new corporate partners. The direction of creating our series took a few major steps forward. NOTE: It would be about a four-month commitment of time to produce ten shows. So we will see how this unfolds but what a great thing for Michigan if it happens. I’m so proud of the cast and crew.
The film that I acted in and helped with is making its debut at the AFM next week. If you’re a buyer looking for a cool NYC based action/thriller this film should be looked at for licensing. Look up Adler Entertainment and arrange a sit down.
Post-Production and New Development work is underway. Stay tune for many new developments.
Be good to one another.
I’m sitting here watching the rain slowly fall from Hastings, Michigan the current location of our midWestern “Wild Faith”motion picture. Yes, I am sipping the hazelnut coffee and I just got done reviewing pics from the shoot. We have only days left this week and it will be a WRAP save one pick up Civil War flashback day. Of our 11 days we finished barely late twice, early once and on time all the remaining days. That is a tip of the hat to our fine crew and prepared cast. We shot in the Historic Charlton Park last week and this week a beautiful cabin at a Nature Center and a period train in Coldwater. I’m a tad tired because when not on camera our producer team is making sure catering, rentals and payroll are all completed. In a few short days I’m looking forward to trimming my nails, hair and beard which I’ve been living with quite a while. It has been worth it as I’ve enjoyed the character on-screen. I play trapper/tracker Ben Lily. I’ve enjoyed all the old friends I’ve had a chance to catch up with and the new friends I’ve made.
OTHER FILM NEWS
THE ACTOR is a great film I did in NYC with Jon Osman and my good friend Carl Weyant. It has a great message at the heart of it. Adler & Associates are taking it to the film market and soon we should know where it will land. Here is a preview trailer.
Additionally I’ve seen the locked picture of “Chasing the Star” with the music composed by the talented Dennis Therrian. That poster and trailer should release very soon to an awaiting audience.
“40 Nights” the film before “Chasing the Star” is gearing up to expand over the Christmas season. If you have not experienced the film I encourage you to do so. Once “Wild Faith” moves into post we will start focusing on the final installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY – “The Christ Slayer” …
“Bestseller” is in prime season and they had it here in Hastings at the Family Video. I think a news story came out yesterday that talks about “Wild Faith” filming but also drops “Bestseller” as something audiences here can easily see in store.
So much positive momentum on “Wild Faith” and once again this film will showcase the beautiful of the state and of the artists. When naysayers come at you the best course of action is to prove them wrong by doing. Over the past 20 years plus I’ve heard lots of lip service but it is the people who create that I respect. Producing movies is hard work and it takes a tribe of artists to do so. I don’t compare or contrast our company with others we just do our thing. If you’ve worked with us you know how we roll. If you haven’t worked with us – you don’t know. Just work hard to keep the drama on the screen and always give your best effort. This team has been wonderful and I know some will be relationships that continue for years to come.
Enjoy your Sunday, I’m going to get another cup of coffee and prep for the week ahead. A few more days and this film will be “IN THE CAN” haha…or maybe “ON THE DRIVES”…Oh, how life and technology changes.
Be good to one another.
It is a beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. I had a good week overall despite going to two memorials for friends that had lost parents. Conversely, I just found out that a buddy of mine (Casey Sweaten) had a baby boy – well, not him…you understand. So the circle of life is in full motion this week with life and death. I guess this leads me into a few other thoughts I’ve had this week.
I know many directors out there. Many are doing short format to develop their style and learn how to communicate with crews and talent. Many of those aspiring will never make a full feature film. WHY? It’s hard work. Anyone who has made a feature film can attest to this truth. To work with any real budget you must be a producer’s director. By this I mean able to work within the business limits set by the producer. This ability requires a responsibility by the director to stay on schedule and budget. It requires a self starter who is very motivated throughout the process. A film that has pre-signed distribution must be completed in a pre-determined timeframe. We work towards being tighter and tighter as a production unit because as we continue to enter a distributor/studio relationship we must maintain and improve that reputation of being a reliable source of content.
SUMMARY – Directors must be reliable and time motivated
I have director friends outside CDI whom I’ve done on-camera work with that still hasn’t seen the light of day. (Some almost 15 years) Other’s have been grinding at post-production for years upon years. That’s their accountability to live with to their people. I feel an accountability to my cast and crew along with my investors. Those that do not see that accountability factor makes me sad. Sad because they likely will not work in a true business structure. Others will not thrive because they can’t see beyond personal ambition.
This is hard to grasp but is a secret to at least some of my success.
Let’s see if I can explain – actors tend to think that after years of struggling – once cast – the one film released will make them an instant star – that all the suffering is over. It DOES and CAN happen like that but someone also wins the daily double – daily. It is possible but not good enough odds to build a career from. Actors may not connect with audiences until they get several films down the road. I’ve never had what I would call a home run. Oh, you’re the guy from THAT MOVIE (Home run) but I’ve been a steady base hitter. My market penetration has gotten greater and greater internationally with each film. People have connected/embraced certain roles and so thanks to all of them- I get paid to bring my version of a character to the screen. A major humbling reality from a dreaming kid with a VHS camera who was constantly told he had to grow up someday.
Say when;) That’s for you Tony.
Now directors don’t have as many opportunities as actors. Why? Just numbers. Many cast members and only one director’s chair. From there – quality opportunities are even more scarce. Funding even a quality opportunity is hard. Look at any film school – a room full of directors. Not always true but many do have this desire. How many feature directors in that room? A few perhaps.
Facts I’ve often found to be true with directors
First – Only a few directors will ever actually direct a feature length film. Some may start one but for countless reasons – many don’t finish.
Those that have finished a feature film – they’re in a special club.
Now only a few of these directors who finished had a team behind them that created the quality worthy of distribution. What is that? If X distribution company values your film above and beyond the time and cost required to exploit revenue streams.
One Example for rejected films:
Actor Appreciation – If you view actors as just props and try to replace seasoned talent with volunteers – it will almost always show. If you spend it on cameras spend it on talent. Bad talent shot with a RED EPIC is anything but EPIC. I had to use that camera for the joke. Someone out there is correcting my joke that this or that camera is better…next.
Distributor likes it but do you have the business organization/releases to deliver a film. It can be a bitch – especially to a major studio.
Now pending the performance of their film in the distribution market – many directors will never direct a second feature film.
It can take a few years to put any clout behind a directors name. It will likely take a half dozen films realistically.
The director may just be unwilling to create product that distributors actually want. I do know of several directors that are just working on things they deeply enjoy. Like painting, drawing or any number of creative releases IF it’s just a hobby that’s cool. But you can’t complain about the system. The system is largely set by audiences. Business is catering to their tastes in order to sell them stories.
What happens often when it’s just starting to work –
Like a band – some production outfits start to get rolling and they change too much, too soon. Someone wants to explore their inner blues and Tommy really wanted to try drums. Two lead singers. Before they can establish themselves as a pattern of success – the band breaks up.
Why all this director talk?
We’ve been looking at directors with this slate of CDI films before us. In summary a director must prove himself to a producer’s director and execute product that we’ve identified as something the distributor wants. I like to use the example of a well established film director I know. Most of his films have been with 20th Century Fox. He initially had a film get accepted into Sundance. He got a behind-the-scenes directing gig for a big Hollywood name. Soon an opportunity to direct a studio film came up. He stayed on budget, schedule and people liked the film. He’s often given a choice between two or three projects that the studio has approved. He’s done a few smaller personal films and his clout has allowed that. I see directors who want to grow too fast or get stuck -and can’t take the self-inflicted frustration. They don’t ask themselves the hard questions and accept the real situations. Directors like actors must earn the right to creative freedom in the non-hobby world. It’s not an entitlement that comes with the name tag. It’s a business. You want total freedom? 48 hour film challenges are all over the country. Giddy up:)
SUPPLY AND DEMAND or is that SUPPLY and COMMAND:)
Here at CDI we’re really getting into the business of working with distributors and cutting out the shopping aspect. That’s great for investors because the revenue stream starts sooner and we have financial guarantees from distributors to help protect our investors. This exists because of what I was writing about earlier. Professional dependability and quality of our product is what creates the relationships we enjoy.
If you are exclusively into your scripts – you must bring the money at risk with your story. If you accept this situation and want to turn out quality on schedule and budget maybe a collaboration with CDI is a worthy discussion. Raising the $ an undertaking is only the first big battle. Don’t go inexperienced into important endeavors. Be honest in your accessment of your team.
We’re making films that distributors want and that is the way it will remain. I’m getting too old for spec films/shopping and at higher budget that’s not a responsible action. (Filming without distribution) So I’ve been sitting down with lots of filmmaker/directors. I was happy to sit down with another on Friday. A young man who is paying equal attention to SHOW and BIZ. He has completed his first feature and it has landed initial distribution. It was scary for him being out there facing the rejection. They had enough quality onscreen to pull it above the other films struggling for attention – and because of that, got a good starter deal.
We’ve got both types in CDI – directors with pet projects – that if they bring the bank we’ll make that film on schedule and on budget. Additionally CDI is picking/creating projects based on distribution/marketing meetings.
It is a tough game. We debate these things with ourselves where art and business meet. I enjoy bringing to life other people’s characters/stories. As a writer I love to see my own story brought forth but only if the product is in demand. We make collective art for the collective masses. I know several directors that only get excited by what they pen. If that becomes the routine you better keep writing and get it into development. I think this is on my mind because I was asked twice about directing this week. I don’t “desire” to direct. I don’t want to take an experience and building opportunity from someone really trying to get ahead and would appreciate it beyond words. If you want to see my directing go to indieflix and watch the first three shows of “Supermodel Showdown” – enjoy:) I have enough hats and I’m not looking to direct.
ASHES OF EDEN is holding on our domestic home video street date. We’re in negotiations on a TV deal and so we’re open to adjusting our release pattern. Additionally I’m told it is playing Oct. 17th and 18th at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, MI. Check online this week for times.
Funny thing – Also in Grand Ledge, MI – on Oct 15th we’re kicking off a monthly art mixer at Sanctuary Spirits distillery. It’s $5 at the door- starts at 6:00 and at 8:00 (sundown) we will be playing our smoky mountain western that was released by Lionsgate. Come watch “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and mingle- see some of you there!
On November 1st at THE WROUGHT IRON GRILL in Owosso, MI we will be showing BESTSELLER. Author Chris Wright/Johnathan Rand will attend. It will be a nice event at another cool venue brought to you with our friends at RED WHITE and BLUE Project. I’m trying to close on a run at the Alamo theaters in K-Zoo and we are working towards a Detroit area showing.
I’ve been reviewing the KNIGHT CHILLS book that will release with a reissued film. All this is to prep for KNIGHT CHILLS 2 in development. The script is being actively worked on and casting talks have started.
We have kicked up development on CHASING THE STAR which is set to film in Feb 2016. Our talent initially approached thus far have loved the script. This is a follow up to “40 Nights” that is chugging down the post production line. We will be starting music on “40 Nights” soon. VFX work should be finalizing in a few short weeks and color correction can begin. It’s all very exciting. The 3rd film in this trilogy is about half way done. We will have a 1st draft by the end of the month.
I’m enjoying the fall immensely. Next week I will be making a batch of wine I will call RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN. If you’ve been lucky enough to try the GREEN GOBLIN wine you’ll be excited by this news. I also have a new beer brew batch to mix up. I’m healing up nicely from a brutal soccer season. Acting – If the right acting project comes along great – but right now I’m just focusing on our end-of-the-year business and prep for 2016.
I’m going to wind this down but have a great weekend.
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.
Another Saturday here in the beautiful area of N. Michigan. We are a few short days from camera roll and I’m a proud producer. We’ve got a hardworking team that I ‘m confident will show the talent here in our state. This is not a “just get by production” this is truly a get ahead production. You can have fun but that is secondary and a result of good work. This morning is our last pre-production meeting with department heads. It is a meet N greet for the new crew coming in and a point check of all week one scenes. I’ve got to hand it to everyone once again. Some of you know that this project is a reboot after some hired guns tried to “wing it” with production. To each their own and I wasted enough time talking about those who don’t do it right. That is why I’m so happy with what we have here on both sides of the camera. I’ve worked with crews around the state and in a few different countries and I think we have a good team built here. I’ve fought the Michigan backwoods reputation my entire career and I always take a step forward and elsewhere others put us three steps back. Investor wells run dry and those filmmakers contained to the state dry up and die on the vine. So as these years have clicked by it is good to share some of the gathered experience. Many of these good folks will move into other positions over their careers to director of photography, producers and directors. As they do I hope they recall fondly the production(s) we’ve shared and seek to create in a similar fashion. Most know that I’m an actor first and so I produce things that I see as a good vehicle and feel strong about. Many at CDI come from that camp of actor/producers. I have to give Melissa Anschutz a lot of credit on her second producing gig with me as her energy is inspirational. Many people want to work hard and have pride in the work. All that starts at the top and the example carries through down to the pride in a craft service table or tweaking that last look on make up or set dressing. I’m happy that we are able to provide such a good experience to our crew and cast due in part to the many sponsors we have on board. You can see some of them on the BESTSELLER website. http://www.bestsellerthemovie.com
Our crew are staying in beautiful condos that are several thousand dollars a month. No tents, campers or Motel 6 on this one. Yes, some major extra work by the staff but at the end it is a great way to show them how much we appreciate them all. This and many other extras were not achieved by throwing money but by representing ourselves well and creating a win-win for both parties. We even have a soccer field that may result in a day off match but somehow I see beer drinking and watching the Lions more likely:)
I’m excited to be flying in a few famous friends to help tell our story. All seasoned vets of our industry that I’m proud to have in our cast. Their work speaks for them and they loved the story and know the commitment of CDI and its partners to telling a story. I love the excitement just before we roll. The beautiful thing is we have not had one panic moment and everything has been calm and orderly. When you walk in the office you hear just the tap-tap of laptops and the sipping of water and coffee. I’ve also had a major fill of seafood since I’ve been here. Thank you to the local Native Odawa Casino for a couple of great “All you can eat” crab leg prime rib pre-production meals.
“Ashes of Eden” is getting close to finalizing sound design and what a difference that makes. WOW! We’re taking our time to put these last elements together perfectly. It is a great film and soon we will show the world.
“Donors” is also finalizing sound design and that is all that needs to be completed.
The same is true with “The Terrorist” formerly “Benjamin”. After a recut of the film that made it much edgier they just have to polish up the sound before a 2014 release.
“Darkest Night” has launched on HULU and that is exciting. So if you have that platform please do check it out.
Well, I’m in need of another hazelnut coffee to get ready for this 10 am meeting. I’ve had a great treat last night and tonight as my girl is up with her cousin visiting and shopping in the area. They brought my furry son Luke and he was so happy to see me yesterday. He is having a great time as they are staying outside of town at a B&B that allows animals. He met his first horses yesterday and was completely interested in them. I think he saw them as the largest and most unusually smelling dogs he has ever met:)
Until next Sat when I will have a 1st week rundown. Depending on our schedule it might have to happen on Sunday which is our day off. I hope everyone has a great productive week and enjoys the harvest of fall around them.