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

Posts tagged “producers

Father’s Day and Cusp of a Birthday – Updates!

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Good morning my friends. Welcome new readers from Serbia, Israel and coffee cheers to you all. I want to also take this moment to thank all of you Father’s out there. Thanks to all the men who take on father roles and give guidance. I’m so grateful to have my father who was kind, strict, generous and taught us much by his actions. I still am amazed by everything he ‘balanced’ while dealing with marriage at a young age and raising two boys. His dream and his goal was to have a family. My goals have included the building of a film family. I also have been so lucky to have the family life I’ve had. I’ve loved my furry family as much as I would have any human child. I value all life and nurture where I can. I’m also on the cusp of a milestone birthday. This week I’ll add another mark on the number of times I’ve gone around the sun. So I have much to be thankful for. I’ve also watched my brother follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a wonderful dad. So to all of you out there – Happy Father’s Day.

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Let me see – we had a producers ‘meeting of the minds’ this past week over our next CDI film BEST YEARS GONE.  So much great pre-production has been underway including the announcement of Erika Hoveland who will be playing opposite me in the film. Our tribe of talent gets a little wider with each film. Our restrictions due to the virus are getting slightly better as small productions start to creep out for commercial day shoots and such. Any of these shoots where you see them just ‘going for it’ with no precautions is a good example of again hobby shooting. If you have no accountability to investors, cast/crew safety, state/union/insurance guidelines we are not playing the same game. It’s a lot to balance but we have a great game plan forming up by great people.

Having filmed for so many years where many of our families deal with our strange storytelling habit I have always made a point to try and be wrapped for the year by Thanksgiving. I don’t like to be filming between Thanksgiving and New Year save a few exceptions. That said, we’ve chosen the furthest shoot window possible. So our onset pre-production week will be end of Oct into early November. And the shoot will be 15 days in November wrapping out a handful of days before Thanksgiving. We’ll make the few needed story adjustments and the hope is we will be further down the road from these virus restrictions. We’ll also start some B-roll, beauty and VFX shots in advance. I’m so very excited to get shooting but you want to be smart when you do it.

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LOST HEART is being mixed together. The musical score, sound design and dialog. We have started as a group to discuss how we will premiere the movie. We might have an outside big screen premiere much akin to a premiere we did for DEADLY RENOVATIONS in AZ. A band, food and the ability to have people spread out some. Following that a run in theaters and drive in’s would be the ideal situation. This funny and heart warming movie will be just the needed thing for many out there.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND might play a few more festivals this year but the audience keeps building. Thank you to all the fans of the movie who have reached out. I can say the same for WILD FAITH and the development work on the TV series continues. I also had some people reach out to express their joy in finding The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) I think it is helping that people are realizing that there is three films that have interconnecting pieces. I had People ask if CDI will be doing more biblical adventures. I would like to when the timing is right.

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I’m excited to announce that a new deal has been made with ITN Distribution to get three of the CDI associated films back out into the marketplace. The previously mentioned Deadly Renovations, Donors and Darkest Night. More as that develops and they have new art and new release destinations.

I’ve been two weeks without my Movie Magic software because of my computer update to Catalina but it has now been fixed. So I can continue my weekly writing and I’m very happy about that. The yard has never looked better and we just added flowers and got more plants for the garden. I seeded a few lawn spots due to tree-cutting and behold it is filling in. Daily entertainment from all the birds and critters which we’ve been feeding has kept smiles upon our faces. I hope you all have a productive week and I look forward to speaking with you all next week. Keep your chin up if you’re facing hardship and just keep moving forward.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 

 


Coffee Cheers – Wine Making, Lost Heart, Best Years Gone…and more

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Welcome new readers from France, China and South India – welcome to our circle of artists. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me and I’m ready to discuss some activities from the week. For starts I’ve been exploring an upgrade to my account so that I can have some control over the ads. If they are going to be here they might as well be things that pertain to what we all do. I’m also looking at reviewing a few items here and there and such. But let’s look at some of the highlights of the week.

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NATURE – This is something that most artists already know but a healthy connect to nature is a secret. The property is a natural garden of sorts. We are prepping to start the garden up with strawberries and rhubarb already showing. Apple blossoms and mulberry buds starting. I planted a hill of beans and some onions. I see the first of the ink tip mushrooms but no morels as of yet. Last night I did my first cooking of dandelions. If you read up they are all edible and full of nutrition. I cold washed and in a pan cooked them down in red cooking wine and garlic. I stirred in a few almond slices also and…bitter. I ate a few good bites and you could get use to it and I think longer cooking could reduce bitterness. Also different spices may help.

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I harvested the roots that I like for tea but I will need to work on my cooking of the greens. I’m reading on the wine process. I’ve drank dandelion wine but never made it. I might try dandelion, rhubarb and black raspberry wine. Add a little home grown hops which is already going gangbusters. The last wine the GRAPE APE was well received so I’m planning the next wine. Same with beer as I’ve got a new Irish Porter I think to try and make. The beer always goes fast (vikings:) but the wine does also pending the company. So my days find balance with some yard work. Try it and you will find that your days will be much more balanced.

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NEW ADDITION TO THE OFFICE – WHO IS HE?

OFFICE ZEN – I’ve been using this time to deep clean and organize the office fort. It’s been great fun to walk down the lane remembering all the trials and tribulations of the artistic journey. I’ve noted that our endeavors have paid out millions to artists on both sides of the camera and the support industries. I’ve found great pictures and promotion from films past.

I think in light of everything in the world virus-like – I will be adding an outdoor pergola and seating/meeting area to the office. I’ve been looking for a while. A few more tree trims and maybe an improved property fence.  For my fellow producers I will likely be installing a boost, extender…to enhance office internet. I like it low tech as that is where minds meet before going off into our tech-ridden world. I’ve been having lots of phone meetings and much has been getting done. We have some exciting projects in development and others about to be completed. Let’s talk movies.

90014352_10157767726050306_8951653001047572480_n The fan mail keeps coming and the films continue to sell deeper and deeper into the world market. Mexico, Brazil and much of Latin America has gone on a ‘quest’ watching THE QUEST TRILOGY.

Audiences young and old are traveling to 1870’s Michigan with Emmett, Haddie, Grace, Henry and Uncle McKinney in WILD FAITH.

Viewers have cried and cheered with Paul Landings in MAN’S BEST FRIEND. And the cautionary tale of ASHES OF EDEN pushes out an important message.

During these times our artists are proud to give you inspiration, hope, distraction and direction. Thank you so very much!

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LOST HEART  – VFX, Color Correction, Credits and sound design are underway. The music is nearly done and marketing with the distributor is being conducted. Long time collaborator Dennis Therrian is again composing a wonderful soundtrack. We might have a few guests joining the band Roanoke.  DVD artwork is almost complete and we’re all very excited to share this story with you.

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I will discuss one thing I’ve seen a ‘trend’ with and that is minimizing front credits. I’ve had multiple directors push to get to the story unhindered by credits. I don’t agree. While directors have gotten more powerful in Hollywood and can push for such things we play in the indie world where I stand by the fact that I’ve never paid an artist what they are truly worth. I can’t because some of them, most of them are beyond a price tag. What we can do is honor some of the main artists contributing and complete that journey with end credits. I don’t like on TV when they speed those end credits up but networks are dealing with time slots only. I see the opening of the film as a slow slip into our created world. The kudos of credits that slide across the screen give added appreciation. So my taste in music, my style of dress and my general interests may never be ‘trending’ or trendy but I am okay with that. I’m a touch old school and I admit it. I love the slower pacing of classic films. I enjoy black and white classic Hollywood films that played at my grandma’s pretty much 24/7 save when Law and Order was on:)  Maybe one day those like me holding onto a non-trendy, through-back storytelling will be GONE WITH THE WIND (My other grandma’s favorite) but until that point – stay classy.

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BEST YEARS GONE – I’ve had some interesting talks with our next project. This week we chatted with actress Cindy Williams who did a small bit for LOST HEART. We were looking to bring her in a bit more to the CDI family and will if scheduling permits. Once the storm lifts and productions can move ahead it might be like the wagons in the gold rush. Or some endeavors may have suffered from the economic hardships. Luckily, our ship sits in the harbor stocked up and ready to sail. STORM: 45 is what we’ve been calling this operation. Someone suggested it was a good name for a WW2 film. Simply it means that 45 days from the storm of regulation passing we’ll move forward with a safe game plan. Like many we’ve already been focusing on all this as well as doing prep work. Scheduling, shot lists and soon zoom actor reads will be enacted.

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NEW CAST ANNOUNCEMENT 

This week we’ll be announcing a few more of our actors. We’ve got a pair of twins co-starring in the story. For those roles we’ve looked at reads from across the country. I’m happy to say that we found our twins and they are going to be wonderful collaborators in our film. You can see them up above. To find out who they are join our BEST YEARS GONE Facebook page tomorrow.

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and remember to ‘Subscribe to the Tribe’

at http://www.cdiproductions.com

It is funny that someone mentioned WW2 film in reference to STORM 45. The big 2021 film is going to be a WW2 film directed by Anthony Hornus. It will be his follow up to MAN’S BEST FRIEND. We’re about to launch a national casting for the young lead in the film. We’ve been putting the business together behind the project and it looks like the first half of the financing is about to fall into place. I’m looking forward to storytelling in this time period. Maybe our secret code word will be Storm 45. Ok. That’s already taken so for now ‘Untitled Anthony Hornus WW2 film‘ will just have to work. We are also looking for German actors and actors capable of speaking German. Be honest with those resumes and special skills;)

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This TV series is gaining momentum. We had talks with our distributor and a few 3rd parties either about finance or licensing. Every month our fans of the Murphy family and the zany characters of ‘Hastings’ grows. Some of the larger licensors of WILD FAITH will be approached on pre-licensing commits but I think it will only be a matter of time. In a perfect world this would land after BEST YEARS GONE and before the WW2 film. This is not a perfect world but we have a lot of creative folks and will adapt as needed. The first season will be 8 shows. I think audiences will really love to learn more about these deeply evolving characters in a changing world.

In thought

We have development on animated features, documentary films and several features in development. I personally am also excited that I’ve gotten to do some writing on my SciFi script. We’ve got a few great ‘space/technology’ consultants and some concept art is being working upon. Merchandise of various sorts and expanding services will be developing as more artist join the CDI Tribe. I’ve been using this time to plan the next 10 years for CDI. We have a clear path and I’m excited to see what is produced under the flag. I’m going to wrap this up and get to some outdoor tasks.

Be good to one another! Coffee Cheers.

DJ


Secret of the 3 A’s, Virus Effects and More…

It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.

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We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive.  When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.

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The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.

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Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?

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CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.

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That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.

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We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.

ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?

ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.

ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.

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The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.

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We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.

  • MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
  • MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
  • Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
  • The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
  • CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
  • LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
  • Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
  • We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.

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I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)

I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.

DJ


MBF Screening TONIGHT in Texas, Festival Dates, Development and More…

Welcome new readers from Vietnam, Canada, Israel and the UK and USA. We’re so very happy to have you joining us. With the spring forward in time we awoke to sunshine which is nice. Yesterday the winter stuff left and the spring stuff came out in the house. Snowmen decorations were replaced with rabbits and Easter items. We also did a full clean on the house and I’ve been working with the basement. I’ve been doing some repairs and cleaning after we got rid of our basement stove which we used at holidays but now we have two ovens with the new stove. So that older one moved along to a couple in need. Now I’m looking at getting a stand up freezer to replace our deep freezer. Organization of the homestead is an on-going thing. I’ve already started some of the yard clean up and I’ve enjoyed getting outside. Let’s look back on the week-

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend which released at the end of 2020 is building momentum after its first WIN at the Equus Film Festival in Kentucky. This week we’ll be announcing a few of the new festivals and those in Bedias Texas can watch the film TONIGHT! See the ad above and so we’re excited that so many will get to see the film tonight.

We’ll also be announcing our participation in –

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This is a large and growing festival in our backyard of Lansing, Michigan. We’re proud to be showcasing at this festival. The last time was the 600+ sell out of ASHES OF EDEN a few years ago. More details soon. Additionally we are officially in the ICFF (International Christian Film Festival) in Orlando, FL where once again we’re up more ‘Most Inspirational’ feature film which is my favorite. Why? Because it represents ALL the artists and we did what we setting out to do. Under the ‘People’s Choice’ I was nominated for ‘Best Script,’ ‘Lead Actor’ (Paul Landings) and ‘Best Filmmaker’ now that last one is my least favorite because they named me personally when we all know it is a team. So I take that last one for the entire producers team that works so hard. Either way we are so very appreciative and proud of the story.

LOST HEART 

This beautiful film released the 1st trailer last week. If you missed it here it is again. Watch and share to your friends, family and groups. Melissa Anschutz stars with Don Most and Victoria Jackson and a slew of amazing talent. Music and sound design is underway as is VFX and color correction. We’ll be announcing DVD poster art in the coming days and working on our release. Enjoy and share!

 

WILD FAITH continues to be a top viewed film on Tubi, Valorous TV and Amazon Prime. Please do enter our world of Michigan 1875 and meet our cast of characters in this powerful drama. We’re putting the proposed deal together now for the TV series more once the ink is dry. This TV series will be a great thing for the state of Michigan. It will allow an opportunity for us to work with many artists in our state.  Please do take a watch and let me know your thoughts. I look forward to playing Ben Lily again.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY start your journey with FORTY NIGHTS follow it with CHASING THE STAR and bring it home with THE CHRIST SLAYER. This Easter watch the trilogy with your family and start a new tradition. These films are not ‘preachy’ and just present an interesting, powerful perspective to these stories. We also stole a page from ‘Star Wars’ and present these films in a cinematic fashion similar to the original three SW films. I think the merge of styles worked really well and I’m proud of this endeavor. It is what has given confidence to the WILD FAITH tv series mentioned above.

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Rance Howard appeared in all three of the films. He told me playing the Devil was a career highlight after a career of ‘good guys’ he got to play the ultimate ‘bad guy’ – yes you did my friend.

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BEST YEARS GONE is our next CDI venture. We announced Shane Hagedorn as our director. If you want to see his previous feature take a watch on ASHES OF EDEN on Amazon. We’re starting to roll out our cast members as we’ll enter official pre-production this coming week. We’ve been looking at DP reels from across the country and having talks. If you have a DP reel and want to be considered for the May shoot you can send it to me or to our director Shane.

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We announced the first addition to the cast this past week. Some will recognize Jim from Man’s Best Friend as the Sheriff. I first co-starred with Jim in a monster creature feature IN THE WOODS, years ago. It was my first starring role. It will be a joy to once again share the screen with my old friend. Congrats to Jim! How about another cast announcement? I want to welcome another actor friend whom I’ve known almost as long as Jim. Mr. Greg Mason. Greg has been with Tribe CDI since our maiden film KNIGHT CHILLS those many years ago. Congrats to Mr. Greg Mason!

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We’ll be announcing more amazing talent as we go. We’ll also be locking more crew end of this week also. It is going to be another great shoot and I look forward to working with everyone. Follow our FB and IMDB page for this and all the CDI films. We’ll also be starting to talk to sponsors and product placement partners.

WRAP UP

I submitted and had accepted my new story for the upcoming book on dogs at Christmas. I have two stories in the book release on horses and this fall 9/15 I believe…the book on Cats is released. I have one story in that book about our dear Lulu:)

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I’m also returning to work on a few other screenplays. Development, development, development…and maybe a few TV shows:)

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I’m off to get some breakfast and do a few things around here. Tomorrow I’m back on the attack with all our projects. Thank you all for your support. We appreciate it so very much.

DJ


LOST HEART Preps Post Audio and More…

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I’m sipping on my morning coffee and happy to be sitting down with all of you. Again our reader BASE jumped this past week by a substantial number. Many new countries joined us in our read. Maybe the subject matter hit home with some of you. Either way I want to welcome all our new readers. So grab your favorite relaxing beverage and join us. I hope you all in the path of the storms stayed safe. Michigan got some but our home town of Lansing was not too bad. We’ve had much worse in the past years.

I’m excited to see all the new year projects that are coming together. This is also the start of a new decade and I’m excited to see what our creative tribe will produce.

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WRITING 

I’ve been working away on the new script. The book I’m turning into a screenplay is coming along great. I’m at the half way point and after a read through with one of our development producers, I feel great about it. I found a character I related to and decided to write from that characters point of view. It is a 300+ page book so limiting the POV is helping me to target the 90-100 page mark. I’m currently called it “Best Years Gone” which is more reflective of the script. The book may ride out under a different title which is just fine. Same story but two different approaches – I like to find those unique takes on a story. I will have the script completed this month. This will be a 2020 CDI production. We got some good news about one of the locations we may use to tell this story. It is a piece by piece building of what will be another CDI story.

READING

The Sat reading event of …

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…was cancelled due to the severe weather and will be rescheduled for May I’m told. I will pass along any info I get on that new date.

We have 4 other script/projects in various degrees of development. One of them is the new project that MBF director Anthony Hornus will helm. It is another CDI period piece that takes place during WW2. Distribution interest is in place and we’re building the funding pieces as we speak. Once I get done with my current writing I will work on the directors draft with Mr. Hornus. We will be putting a call out to actors of German ancestry who can speak German.

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THE QUEST TRILOGY – I’m excited to have all three of these films in the marketplace. I want to try and work on a TRILOGY trailer that pitches all three films at audiences. They are meant to be seen in order and together so I think that TRILOGY aspect has to be reenforced to our audience members.

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WILD FAITH – We’ve almost finished putting some presentation materials together for ‘Hastings’ the WF TV series. I will be working with a new mgt company in trying to find the right home/partners for the series. This TV series would shoot in MICHIGAN! If you have Amazon Prime this film is free to watch. Please do and leave your review and comments on the Amazon/IMDB sites.

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MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This amazing little film is also now free if you have Amazon Prime. We’re also seeing more DVD retails places since 1/7/2020 so I do recommend adding the DVD to your collection. It will play in Feb in Bedias, Texas and a handful of festivals and events. ICFF will be one of them and perhaps our home town festival CAPITAL CITY FILM FESTIVAL. We are planning on additional showings this year including in Hollywood for our amigos there. The response to this film continues to make me smile. Thank you to all of you that have reached out.

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LOST HEART – So this past week we say edit 2 of the film. We have a watch and talk through session at the studio with Dennis Therrian who is prepping to do the music and sound design. The movie is REALLY GOOD. I’m excited for all the artists involved to see the final results. We’re prepping to do a bit of music work in Nashville in the coming weeks. The film will release late Summer or Early Fall is my best guess. We might have some art work to show soon and a trailer is next once we lock picture and move it to post audio.

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I might bring this to a close. We have protein waffles almost done in my Death Star waffle maker which was a gift. I’m been outlining scenes for the script writing to hit hard again on Monday. I’m lining up a few meetings for next week at the fort. This week I plan to outline and assign some of the development tasks to our CDI producers. Updates to the CDI website including some casting announcements. http://www.cdiproductions.com

Aside from that I’m just getting ready for a decade of great new projects. Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 

 

 



Making Yourself A ‘Must Re-Hire’ and other CDI Updates

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I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.

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I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.

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Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ

I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development.  At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.

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I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?

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CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH

So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.

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LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.

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WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.

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Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.

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The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.

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DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.

Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.

“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)

Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Top 10 Film Updates “And at the end of all your rainbows may you find a pot of gold”

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Top of the morning to you all on this frosty, spring-like Michigan day. It is also St. Patrick’s Day and being that I’m largely Scot/Irish I’ll be toasting to your health today.

“May you have all the happiness
and luck that life can hold—
And at the end of all your rainbows
may you find a pot of gold.” 

My college alumni team Michigan State University advances in their Big 10 Championship and will play U of M today. Go Green!

I also subbed in for the last indoor soccer game last week with my new team. Nice guys and I look forward to a fun season. It was good to run the engine hard and get those running legs working again.

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(He WAS so small — about 50lbs and growing)

My little boy Finn is growing like a weed and giving us joy every day. Now the ice tundra is leaving us we can enjoy a lot more yard time. I especially enjoy the outdoor meetings at the fort that includes dart playing.

Today we will have the mother’s over for corn beef and cabbage and I’ll be drinking a few PB&J Porters from my friends at Elk Brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

To the film updates…how about a TOP TEN for the BIG TEN tournament today.

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(Mr. Trace Adkins)

  1. The cat is out of the bag (what a bad saying) Mr. Trace Adkins has joined our WILD FAITH movie endeavor. You can read about it here. https://www.prlog.org/12759600-country-music-stalwart-trace-adkins-joins-collective-development-incorporateds-wild-faith.html
  2. The first of the theatrical screenings announced in Grand Rapids, MI – Get your tickets here. This is remastered and should be a great viewing experience. https://celebrationcinema.com/film-info/woodland-mall/wild-faith
  3. May 6th is the WILD FAITH DVD release and I’m hearing in Walmart in June or July.  Did I tell you how much I love the cover art? I do.
  4. We have just gotten word on The Christ Slayer that will be showing at the International Christian Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for 4 awards that we’ll PR this week. 1) Most Inspirational 2) Best Film 3) Best Director (Nathaniel Nose) and 4) Best Supporting Actress Melissa Anschutz – I’m super proud of our cast and crew. DVD and Streaming available now – in theaters starting April 19th.
  5. Upcoming director of LOST HEART Jesse Low and I are so close to a final script. I have a review once I finish this blog. It is really fun script – emotional and funny.
  6. LOST HEART Location scouting and vendor talks continue while our producers work to lock in the final investments. Northern Michigan is such a beautiful place. It will be great to have it in front of our cameras.
  7. Also with LOST HEART we’ll be announcing the addition of two knuckleheads to the cast, Mr. Shane Hagedorn and some guy, DJ Perry:) We’ll both be playing supporting players in this fine story.
  8. MBF: Man’s Best Friend has a locked picture edit and is moving into sound and music with Dennis Therrian. The story is really moving and I’m thrilled by the final story.
  9. Once MBF is moved over to sound the final VFX and Color Correction work will begin. Once that is complete we will cut a new trailer from the edited and color corrected footage.
  10. Last week I recorded two commercial voice over pieces. It went great and I hope the client is happy. I know the director was so we’ll see. Again, feel free to approach me with a project just come with an offer. This is not a hobby for me it is how we put bread on the table and wine in the glass. (Actually I make wine)

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(Looking ahead to the new roles)

I’m going to wrap this up so I can refill the coffee cup and get to my LOST HEART review. Have a great end to your weekend. Be safe and have a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 


Wrapping up the 2018 Year – Looking Ahead to 2019

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New readers from Samoa and China joined us last week. I know that the filmmaking experience (resources, distribution, audiences) changes slightly from culture to culture. But at the heart of it we are passionate beings who love engaging in the storytelling experience either as listener/watcher or teller. I love being a creator and being an audience member. So yesterday basically two years to the day we finished the final elements to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Our director Nathaniel Nose came in and we polished the final mix/design with our incredible Dennis Therrian. His musical score is absolutely one of his best. The complexities and grandiose arrangements take you back to the classic days of Hollywood. We worked with Mr. Sundberg on our color correction, conforming and final composition. Last night at the office we shared a few beers and looked at the wide-screen, color corrected final master. A few of the final VFX shots have to be rendered into the timeline but I was blown away. Jesse Aragon, our DP did a wonderful job. This was the final film in The Quest Trilogy and is likely the largest scale production to date. CHASING THE STAR had more animals but the VFX in THE CHRIST SLAYER makes it the largest scope to date. Both the director and I liked the epic inspiration of Lawrence of Arabia and that soundtrack was with me in Yuma, AZ when we filmed.

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The previous day we tweaked a few Mother Mary lines. This film has some powerful female characters in it. Especially the roles played by Melissa Anschutz and Christine Marie, who appear as they’ll be co-starring in a CDI film this spring. Brittney Risner and Carl Weyant give a classic Hollywood love relationship. And Josh Perry, will simply steal hearts. Amazing supporting performances across the board by Dean Teaster, David Gries, Bob Shepherd and more.  Taymour Ghazi, Shane Hagedorn and my departed mentor Rance Howard brought the power one last time. Rance’s performance might be his last feature film role he ever performed. The final scene we share together in the film was our swan song to working together. I’m very proud of it. We talked for hours about that final scene. He made notes and adjustments – just two costars working out our motivations. I recall being so proud of Rance and feeling how special it was, never guessing it would be our last story together. Now all the elements will start to be pulled together for an upcoming delivery to our distributor. We’ll soon get to see how audiences enjoy this film as it travels to theaters and to home video. Stay tuned for CDI’s most epic adventure yet this Easter season.

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I’m excited for everyone to get back to the office in 2019. I will be ready for a slight rest from the intensity of final post. You work end credits so hard knowing that by Murphy’s Law some misspelling or missed ‘thank you’ or name will take place. If your ever on the receiving end of that – know the filmmakers likely did not intend that. I had one situation that was suspect only because the misspelling came after working on a project whereas one producer on that project was NOT brought back on a film CDI was hired to reshoot. Either way, it showed a disregard for my brand ability to draw my audience to that film. No business reason why, so perhaps it was a true mistake or maybe it was personal. I don’t hold a grudge, but it makes me less likely to work with that company again. I passed the second time I was invited but it was partially timing, pay rate and the role also.

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Integrity matters.

When in post this week, I was sent a news story that a Detroit-based – I struggle for the right word. I will use filmmaker, because he has made films. But in a promotional news story for FOX he claimed to be a producer on our CDI Ghost Town movie, our 2006 Lionsgate film. SMALL ISSUE  – he wasn’t. He did not exist in pre, prod, or post production and was caught trying to do some head shaking actions in conjunction with this film. I didn’t really like, nor trust this person from day 1 and tolerated him out of respect for one of my producers until that head-shaking point. After that, I was done with him. Easy enough. These people burn themselves out as their true nature is revealed. But I would never go on a TV interview and openly lie and use it to promote myself. I was questioned if I should have legal bring it down. I might. But the justice in all this is I get calls on people about their character, integrity and true place in the film community as I see it. Yes. My opinions and sometimes my direct knowledge of someone’s actions. I’m always honest. I warn or endorse people simply by saying if I would work with this person or not. I’ve been contacted often. It’s a small film community and I do know many people who trust me to shoot them the straight skinny. And I have.

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I recently had a great discussion about what another peer filmmaker is developing. All of it was heavily tainted in my mind all because one of his close partners. I’ve had first hand experience with that person and actually let them go. Not a bad person at all. I just would not risk any further capital on his efforts. Would you re-enter a situation with negative elements/variables? This fellow filmmaker lamented the often true statement of how every set he’s worked on has had the cancer of negativity. I’ve had a few “negative” situations like this over the years but those elements were isolated and corrected or dismissed.

Bottom line. This is not some vanity game for me but a noble tradition of storytelling. I’ve been blessed to have several great crews working with us but that all starts at the top. That means conducting good business, constantly streamlining your communication and having a solid battle plan. I believe in our artists and I’ve grown as an artist with many of them. We don’t participate in these popular film challenges, although they teach new crews excellent finishing skills. One friend, had his possible award-winning short disqualified because run time ran over by seconds. He could have either A) Organized a social media gripe that his team was treated unfairly for petty seconds of overrun or B) Accept responsibility that as team leader it was a costly mistake made by their team or him. In football they say it’s a game of inches. So start taking accountability as a new year’s resolution and watch the new growth happen.

I’m in hopes to discover a few good projects, properly funded to come act on this year. I also have to connect with the script/role as you always should. Aside from that, I plan to produce 2-3 features with CDI this year. I’ve had many new folks reach out about financial involvement and we’ll entertain those interested parties once I’ve addressed my current backers with opportunities. Beware of any investors that also bring too many strings attached. Sometimes those strings can be the downfall of a project. I’ve seen it happen.

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We’re around the 1.3 hour mark on MBF and should have first cut in a few weeks. I would love to lock a cut by the end of Jan. we will see where we sit very soon. I think many of you enjoyed the behind the scenes MBF short we released on Christmas Eve.

WILD FAITH new art, theatrical dates and more should be announced soon. It’s heading back to big screens in March across the country. Home Video dates follow close behind. Those dates can be found on the FB, official Wild Faith or IMDB sites.

I’ve been in the trenches hard-working on these new films to bring them out of post. Once I get a few days rest here while our tech guru’s assemble and deliver – development will continue full ahead. I also plan to set my goals in writing for the new year and see how close I came to last year’s goals. Have a great wrap up to your year. Be safe and plan your 2019 approach. If you would be so kind you can take a watch on our past and forthcoming films. Handcrafted from our family to yours.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ


Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

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To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

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I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

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I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

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BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

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The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

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This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 


Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.

The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.

This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.

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I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.

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BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?

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OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.

So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.

I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.

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I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.

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WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut.  But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.

I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)

Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.

Be good to one another!

DJ


Thank you – Family, Friends and Fans

The sun is out and the hazelnut coffee is flowing. WHAT A WEEK! First I want to welcome our new readers from Romania. Our international group of artists is expanding with each week. For a few weeks now I’ve managed to stay a step or two ahead of the sick bugs striking people down. Family and friends with children and those working around large groups have been fallen ill. I’ve managed to stay the course and not get full-blown sick but my energy level has been tapped. Add the amount of business and the ‘Wild Faith‘ premiere kick off events and…walking a thin line.

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Family and friends make the day extra special.

Our cast and crew premiere at Studio C was a wonderful event. I had one of those days I could not get warm all day. Body aches wanted to set in but I managed to pull it all together. Warmth was my fashion and so a nice warm sweater was just what the doctor ordered. It was this showing that meant the most because it was for everyone you see in the end credits. It was our investors, sponsors, cast and crew and I wanted them to be as proud of the work as I am. To say we had a positive reaction is a modest statement. This industry is hard with many projects that implode before take off or never get finished. The ones that do get completed often suffer from not being able to consistently keep the quality on-screen. That could be said about our earliest work but we always did the best we could with what we had. So many came in for the event which made it extra special.

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We have a great CDI producer team and we would be unable to achieve what we have without these three – post supervisor Dennis Therrian and co-producers Melissa Anschutz and Anthony Hornus helping lead the charge.

The very next day was our public premiere with showings kicking off in Lansing and Grand Rapids. That was also just incredible and these are not the biased artists these are the paying public. The feedback from people I knew and did not know was overwhelming. I was happy I felt a touch better on Friday but Saturday was spent chilling and recovering. I even got to do some yard work which after our cold winter was enjoyable. “Wild Faith” will play twice a day 4:30 and 7:00 in both Grand Rapids (Woodland) and Lansing until Thursday unless they hold it over. It has been selling out the nighttime performance so we’ll see. We have even been getting members of the Living History community coming out in full period garb. How cool! Here is one of my favorite quotes from a Owosso Community reporter “The acting, location, and music causes a person watching this movie, made on a tight budget, to have the same experience as if they were watching an $80 Million-dollar movie.” – we try is all I can say on that.

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Developing new directors is something I enjoy and this makes #2 with Mr. Jesse Low

NEWS PICKS

http://www.thedailyreporter.com/news/20180316/little-river-railroad-featured-in-film-opens-tonight

https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/entertainment/movies/2018/03/15/locally-made-movie-premiers-celebration/32919247/

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As noted last week “Wild Faith” is up for 4 awards at the International Christian Film Festival in FL. Best Film, Lead Actor/Actress and Director. Right beside it is Part 2 of ‘The Quest Trilogy’ “Chasing the Star” with 5 nominations – Best Film, Most Inspirational, Best Actor, Best Score and Best Screenplay. This film and Part 1 “Forty Nights” is a great holiday watch for the Easter season. The screenplay nod is nice as I’m working to take on a few work-for-hire and also sell off a few screenplays I don’t plan to produce. If you’re looking to buy a script or hire a writer – let’s talk.

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Music Video ‘My Ghost‘ Directed by Tomaki Boaz 

The day before the cast/crew premiere I was given an opportunity to play a part in a music video for artist Trey Connor with a song entitled “My Ghost” that will release mid-April. I had a great time working with everyone. With this music video and the recent promotional before Christmas I’m opening myself to hiring out on things that interest me. My feature film work keeps me quite busy but always will work to try to make a schedule work if the art entices.

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Like a sleeping giant “The Christ Slayer” part 3 of the trilogy is moving ahead. Work on the next trailer and the film itself are underway. Just know something special is in the works and will be heading to theaters 4th quarter this year.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is CDI’s next film and we’re so very close to closing up business on this powerful story. More “fuel” came in and more next week. The ship is getting close to launch and we’ll work hard to bring audiences again, a very special story. Many ways to get involved with your businesses too. Our partners at the Red, White and Blue Project are taking donations into their non-profit for their educational side of the film. I’m working hard with our team to complete funding by month’s end and move into official pre-production. This will be another great film in the CDI fleet.

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For those who want more 1800’s please do watch our “Wicked Spring” playing Amazon Prime now. Also if you’ve seen “Wild Faith” or any of the films take a few moments on Amazon or IMDB to vote and leave a review. I’m going to leave all this right here. I want to thank the huge outpouring of support for these films. I loved each and every conversation I had with people after watching “Wild Faith” – thank you again. We had general audience members come in from other states to see this film. Also people driving in and making it an event. The story is greatly needed in this day and age and we hope that we entertain and bring a little fresh air into the conversations. Love over hate.

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Meeting supporter Kim Harris at the public premiere

I was proud to have my family and friends join me in the send off for this newest film. As film artists we don’t always get to see all our fans. To cite an example one title has sold over 300,000 DVD’s and I likely don’t know 298,000 of them. So I’m excited for all the people I do not know who will enjoy the film(s). But it also makes it that much more special to shake a hand and hear about your favorite character/scene/part of a film. Know that each and every one of you we don’t know are appreciated. To our fans around the world – thank you.

DJ

 

 

 


Home is Michigan

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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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature

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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.

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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.

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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

https://www.ranker.com/…/all-civil-w…/all-genre-movies-lists

We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on

Wicked Spring Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/

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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.

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ACTING

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.

MBF: facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

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!

DJ

 

 

 


Week’s Top Eight Updates

IMG_3164Good 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.

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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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.

DJ

 

 

 


Want Versus Wise – Know the Difference

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Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.

People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.

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With Shane Hagedorn

The Quest Trilogy

Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.

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The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)

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With Tony Hornus

Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.

I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.

I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)

OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.

DJ

 

 

 


Yard ZEN – Reflect, Relax and Recharge

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Lots of coffee flowing – actually this morning I was so tired I ground the beans and forgot to add the grounds. I was watching the pot and thinking that the coffee looked light, watery – because it IS water. Take 2. Coffee is now flowing and about to go at the second pot. The last few days we’ve been putting upper siding on the office/fort bringing it closer to being down on the outside. Going tight up to the rafters will help even more with keeping warmth and cold inside. After this step it will be a bit of overlapping shake in the front and back with cedar planks enclosing the rafters. We had a little bat visitor when working on the siding yesterday. He just came to say hello. Also had a belated bday gathering at the father’s that also doubled for his bday gathering. His bday is next week and so is my mothers, so a few days to celebrate this coming week. It was a nice get together with family and we also had a good work weekend. Big thank you to G-Money for his assistance.

A few random film updates from last week

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I spent a good amount of time with director Jesse Low brainstorming on the poster art for “Wild Faith” – just cannot seem to get that right. We’re getting closer to having found our final images and now just working background and blending everything together. The film has lots of cool elements to hint at and it’s nearly impossible to highlight all of them. New trailer, BTS and poster all in the works – COMING SOON!

The Quest Trilogy

Review and PRE-order sites are appearing for “Chasing the Star” that releases Sept 5th.

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Here is a nice RECENT REVIEW of “Chasing the Star” – enjoy…

http://www.imom.com/movie/chasing-the-star/#.WVo70zOZNsM

PRE-ORDER site

https://www.christianbook.com/chasing-the-star/9781945788239/pd/889043

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DJ Perry at waters edge while shooting “40 Nights”

The first film in THE QUEST TRILOGY “Forty Nights” continues to sell as post production work is full steam ahead on “The Christ Slayer” film. A trailer, poster and more is being worked on for “TCS” as we speak. We’ll be releasing some PR this coming week on our VFX team with that film.

Forty Nights – Watch TODAY!

https://www.christianbook.com/forty-nights/pd/8167VS

As for “The Christ Slayer” look at some of the cool stills, BTS and even a VFX video at our social media FB site.

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https://www.facebook.com/thechristslayer/

In other random develop news

The new CDI website is being built. The “Knight Chills” book will release later this month. (PR Coming) Also my first official version of a new script looking to possible film later this year is done. It’s a subject I feel passionate about and I’m extremely happy with the final draft. My first round of producer reads is currently underway. The first script feedback has been strong with good excitement about the story. We’ll start looking at locations (MI) and casting (Mostly MI) and if all the business lines up…so get your reels up to date.

But enough business for now. I’m going to go set up one of my bday gifts which was a new grill. We have the deck all cleaned up and decked out. We’ve got  hops growing up around the deck. The yard/garden/office truly is the site of great personal zen. I encourage you all to create your own space and use that space to reflect, relax and recharge.

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July!

DJ

 

 

 


Post-Production & New Developments

img_0092A 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.

What business?

Travis in Action

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.

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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.

"Don't Hate - Create" - DJ Perry

THE CLIMB

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.

The faith to follow

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.

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WILD FAITH

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 ACTOR

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.

Official Trailer

 

Post-Production and New Development work is underway. Stay tune for many new developments.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 


October Updates- Movies

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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

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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.

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“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” …

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“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.

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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.

DJ

 

 


Showings, Cycles and Selecting Ones Path

Autumn is Upon Us

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.

Directors/Storytellers

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.

Why?

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.

Collaborations

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.

In-House

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.

Film Updates

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

DJ Perry as Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN

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!

Bestseller Premiere Poster

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.

Sequels

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.

40 Nights

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.

DJ

CDI's Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate

CDI’s Smoky Mountain Western released domestically by Lionsgate


Film in Michigan, Financing and the SECRETS

What a great week. We had some good rain here at week’s end which has been great for the garden. We ended up with tomatoes, beans, peas and beets planted. I also had to fortify a wood tee-pee structure that has veggies planted within. I had to make sure our dogs could not get in and dig as they so love to do. I also have been doing some work on the two-tier pond. All these things play into the overall as it provides a great atmosphere to sit and take biz calls. This week I had some meaningful talks with my management, new filmmakers and also a few distributors. Let’s look at a few project updates…

BESTSELLER

We also just concluded our BESTSELLER theatrical run in Grand Rapids, MI to some great response. The film is about to move to additional cities and I’m glad that so many want to see it. I had several great communications from audience members and I’m happy that we as artists did our job. People are being thrilled by this Michigan based thriller and we are all…thrilled.

ASHES OF EDEN

The distributor has announced the official release date in October and showcasing the new DVD art. It’s starting to appear as a pre-order in select retailers now. We will promote these rental/retail sites as we get closer.

40 NIGHTS

This coming week we’re preparing to sit down with our FX supervisor and plan out the required shots. We will also tweak the final film edit as we plan to move into post sound in July. We’ve been pulling promotional stills and have started working the 1st trailer. I’m excited to watch this one move down the production line. Stay tuned!

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

DJ Perry as JESUS in 40 Nights

FILM IN MICHIGAN (My Opinions)

There has been a lot of news and anger flying around about the state of the filmmaking in Michigan. Now dear vendor friends such as David Lowing, lumber yards, hotels and many more such suppliers will certainly suffer some loss with the incentives gone. I see many people seriously upset about the tax incentives getting nixed. My initial hope was that the incentives would focus on the development of FILMMAKERS.

Education?

Previously I had helped construct a program whereas the arts (filmmaking) could be put on par with sports at the university level. Our program was well received by everyone from president down until it got to professors. Too many wanna-be chiefs with too little actual experience. TRUTH.

Maybe Government could be the answer?

The hope with the ideal government program would have been to assist business-minded (Read that part again) filmmakers to get to the next level. Controlled grants or matching funds programs for film corporations operating in Michigan for 5-7 years. Again I have many ideas on how we could have developed our creative force here. But importing was the agenda set with our incentives. Some of our best people on both sides of the camera would only find use as back ground extras, van drivers and production assistants. Good if you have zero experience and want a peek within – but these people I’m speaking of are highly experienced and working in non-challenging studio positions.

Filmmaking Added to The Vocabulary

All that the film incentive did in my world was make the word filmmaker legit in our state. When I started out we only had a handful of narrative filmmakers. People who didn’t recognize the industry in Michigan now saw enough headlines to put the word FILMMAKER out there.

New Growth

I think every young person unclear about what they wanted to do with their life loved the idea of filmmaking. To play with technology and create stuff to impress other people is enticing. But the business of it is not nearly as fun for most and that kills most careers. They don’t teach the business like they should.

Advice

SUPPORT THOSE THAT LOVE THEIR STATE. These people will plant and nurture seeds.

SUPPORT THOSE WILLING TO SUFFER THE HARDSHIPS OF LEARNING THE BUSINESS OF FILMMAKING. (Sorry social funding/hand-outs don’t count) ACCOUNTABILITY IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE LEARNED! Mentors from the business community please help these people.

Interconnected

EVERY failed film project in our state that wasn’t self funded (By the artist) HURTS the whole state industry. Those that have disposable income to invest (Note they made their $ not begged for it via fundraising) will recognize a solid business plan. They see some of themselves in this young upstart. NOTE TO MANY – They also can see through BS. Many failed artists think they were/are smarter (in biz) than everyone else – they are not. The person who is being invested in is just as important as what is being invested in.

Character, integrity and responsibility. (People invest in this)

Peer Accountability

Artists need to hold one another accountable. But unfortunately for many in the local scene the worst offenders are also some of the best networkers. (Kind of) This often creates a fear of being blacklisted by the local networkers. But in my experience these people are rarely associated with the best projects. Why? Experienced people explore before hiring. The projects that do end up with these people are often not something to be missed – chances are strong for a disaster. I like to call it dodging the bullet. I’ve almost signed onto a few projects that I would have regretted.

Investors

Now – when an arts supporter/investor takes a burn on a venture they will surely communicate that to a wide circle. It may be it on the 19th hole of a golf course or some charity function. Often an industry/community can get defined by some of the worst participating in it.  I have seen official statements made by individuals that I know – they don’t speak for me.

Respect earns Respect

When someone refuses to RESPECT and take the challenge of producing serious thus creating a mess – the insecure masses are still there to smile, hug and handshake at their next mixer. These fiascos mean that Michigan filmmaking has once again been defined and not in a good way. That’s why Michigan cast and crew are mostly not respected – I know that as truth as someone who does a fair amount of west coast business. I’ve fought the “Backwoods Michigan” view held by others my whole career. It was easier back than to defend the lack of work versus incompetence of work.

How can we improve this?

DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY – NO! If the biz doesn’t add up say – NO.

Too big of a script, too little $, too few days – SAY NO PRODUCERS! You can’t remake the laws of the universe. People accept impossible tasks and I have to think it is for the paycheck. It’s like if you knew the ship the Titanic was going to sink how much would someone have to pay you to go for a ride? How much to charge a live firing squad?

EXAMPLE:

I have one project I co-starred in and finished all my scenes several years ago. It’s stuck in that in-between HELL. The result of a fight between the management entities of the film project. It’s hard because of all the hard work that many artists put into that project/film. I feel bad for all the artists but even more for the investors. They are victims of bad business. As just talent I just have to let things be.  As a producer I wish they would have found me. If I had said, yes – they would have a film on schedule and on budget.

More Advice

If you can’t manage a group effectively – DON’T PRODUCE. I could not be a DIT on a film. So I don’t accept a job as one. Same with producers but it is a flashy title and so many are drawn to it – moth to flame.

If long set hours are not for you on a non-union crew job – SAY NO.

I’ve just allowed my thoughts to roll out but I think in summary I see the death of the film incentives and perhaps office as a new beginning. A new chapter could rise from the ashes. Let the fly-by-night people seek scraps from another table. Once the grumbling stops creative circles will start to look ahead.

CDI

With the exception of when a script requires a certain location – we always consider Michigan. FACT: Collective Development Inc. will be making films in Michigan and incentives and/or film office is not required for us to do so.

As you form your circle of filmmakers – dedicate the time to learning to do it right. I heard a story this week that a film group didn’t want to learn SAG union paperwork because it was too much red tape. I’m not a union cheerleader but what is “too much” to advance your career and learn? Learn the process!

HOLD your people accountable! Producers hold your cast and crew accountable. Cast & Crew hold your Producers accountable. We all make mistakes and set life is NOT a vacation or PERFECT but stand accountable.  A full cast and crew should not have to lodge in one room – Poor planning. Tents are not acceptable crew quarters – Poor planning. Late. Unprepared. Lack of pre-production – failure is worn by all. Failure is a step towards success ONLY if you don’t keep making the same mistakes.

The Secret

I hear people asking about my SECRETS – The SECRET is if the business doesn’t add up – pass.

Inexperience in key areas + unreasonable schedule/script = PASS

Someone with a track record of bad producing = PASS

Dodgy answers or avoidance of answering questions directly = PASS

No plan of action after film is done “Get into some high-profile film fest” = PASS

If nobody would say YES to a poorly planned project they would be forced to re-evaluate a project and make modifications. Respect. Accountability.

Wrap Up

The incentives can come – go – come again and I truly won’t miss a beat. I’m a filmmaker who works with talented artists. I always strive to make things better. We make mistakes and try to always correct and learn from them. I hold EVERYONE of our artists on a project accountable and hire problem solvers not complainers. Your time working with us can be one and done or decades pending what YOU do. (Or don’t do)  I may not be everyones friend but those artists that I work shoulder to shoulder with – who respect their contributions and take pride in their final work – we all share something greater than friendship. Craftsmenship. A tradition of storytelling. We share that film as our collective work at that point in our lives/careers.

I had a lot of words and I tried to put an order to them. We have a family event this afternoon so I’m going to bounce off here. These are but my OPINIONS for those that wish to read them. You can apply these principles despite what state or country you live in. Artists are an insecure lot and that gets exploited so often. But work hard and believe that your artistry will find the proper outlet. Just remember you are more often defined by what you say NO to versus what you say YES to.

Have a great weekend!

DJ


Show Me & I’ll Show You – Plus Distribution Updates

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.

DJ

 


Harvest of Fall and Filming

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.

DJ


Conquering Chaos & CDI Updates

Hazelnut hazelnut coffee of mine you warm my belly and make me feel fine:) I have to say it was a busy semi-chaotic week due to some of the elements floating about. The week had some great high points which include a screening of the rough cut of “Ashes of Eden” which was actually a very powerful watch. It is the performances that really make this film stand apart from 90% of the indie films. That was a comment by our DP and it is true. More times than not casting is not always giving the attention that it should. I also see trends in Michigan that will unfortunately keep our talent’s value low. It is the excitement of being offered a job at the lowest possibly fee and the talent and management way too eager to just say YES, YES, YES. What they need to realize is that those producers/directors want the best for their film knowing that talent is key. Why pay big money for a talent and surround them with the lowest fee taking/limited experienced talent? I had one film in Louisiana talk to me as a co-star but in response to a small counter offer they went with someone’s friend who volunteered. Now maybe that will turn out okay or maybe they will get just what they paid for.

I recently did a film at scale to help a friend/filmmaker out and that was because I liked the material, the lead talent I would be working with and it only took up 2 days. Now scale is about 1/10 of my normal rates and I’ve been paid considerably more. Why? All of you fans out there. That is right – after 40+ films playing on numerous networks in various countries and millions in units/sales – I have a beloved group of fans. I’m not talking about Facebook friends or twitters – I’m speaking of the people I don’t know that are reflected in the units moved, VOD watches and viewers on TV. I’m careful with choices I make these days because I’m thinking of them/you. I want to make good choices and help tell good stories. I do understand that different folks like different films and due to my work across genres not everyone might like all my films. My mother is not a fan of my horror films. 🙂 I’m not talking about these ego building “fake it” folks playing Hollywood. I’m talking about being true to yourself, your audience and in turn demanding true compensation for your art and followers.

Tuesday was a watch through on “Donors” with a full music score and it is always great to see how the images take on a completely different vibe once the haunted atmosphere is added. It is an artsy thriller and I found my attention captured and trapped right along with the films lead Niki Saletta. This film is getting closer to being complete.

Weds was a day of reworking the business summary for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV series in post. We have several interested parties in this series and I’m enjoying watching it all come together.

ON CHAOS

Chaos exists until the order within can be seen. So I wanted to express a few feelings on CHAOS. Recently an aspiring producer who I think bit off more than they can chew made a comment to an associate that “You know how chaotic production is…” as an excuse. If you worked on the recent CDI associated film “Ashes of Eden” or previous CDI films (especially the more recent) you will recall challenges but not chaos. I’ve been at this 17 years and I have achieved zen and peace in my personal life.  Drama causing folks will be put outside the zen zone until they get their energy straight. I bring that calm onto a set because if you are in chaotic reactionary mode you’re always barely getting just what you can get. With strong pre-production and the right leadership – you get a peaceful fertile garden to grow new and exciting moments on-camera. IF you are existing in pure CHAOS something is very wrong and it starts at the very top. Even capable keys need that leadership glue – again there is no manual to teach some of these things. Either you have those qualities and possess the ability to align mutual respect in the most productive path for a given project or you don’t. One recent project I know of is operating in chaos. They are in total reaction mode and they have a serious cart before the horse issue. Also if you are producing always deal in truth. I know the reputation that some comically give producers as slimy car salesmen played by Steve Martin, telling everyone what they think people want to hear. I disagree – truth only. I vet everything out hard these days. When you discover things said to be untruthful it really destroys any confidence in a project. Producers-in-training in bad need of a paycheck should not accept or sell themselves on jobs they are not qualified. This has caused issue on our projects when I refuse a credit to a crew member. The last thing I want is someone to hire someone after seeing they possess a credit on a CDI project only to find this person NOT qualified once they hire them. This is how films go off schedule, off budget and poison investor wells because someone unqualified sold a skill set that doesn’t exist. Now I’ve had my set backs in this industry but it always has fallen on the integrity of 3rd parties. INTEGRITY once lost in this business is nearly impossible to get back. It is a very small world. Over the years I’ve seen many come and go – buried along the filmmakers “Trail of Tears”.  Yesterday I had a phone call and a nice card from two investors on a previous film who had recently gotten checks. I love writing people checks. It makes me feel good. I know it is odd but I do. Be true.

Now I will get off my soapbox – We had 4 films in contract stage for Germany but one of them had to be taken off the slate after they realized it was a 44 min short. All the others are feature films but I was still disappointed. Not just the $$ loss but I was excited for German audiences to see the work of these artists. That film will find a home in various countries but I too get disappointed. But I had to look at the positive of the 3 films going to Germany. I’ve had some previous releases in Germany and due to “The 8th Plague” selling well over there we are doing a pre-deal on the “Soul Eater” prequel.

I’ve been communicating with various TV Networks and companies and I look forward to filming some of these other stories we have been developing. I’m going to have a nice breakfast here and relax into the weekend. I hope all of you enjoy your weekend and prepare for a good week ahead.

Live true, be you and let integrity be your compass in business and life.

DJ