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

Posts tagged “producers

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

 

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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.

WICKED SPRING

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