I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee on a VERY snowy Michigan day. Negative degrees outside and blowing winds. But we will most definitely have a white Christmas. When we all left off, I had the premiere of SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, in Iowa. It has performed beyond expectations with several extensions (Algona until the 29th) and expansions into other theaters. (Follow our FB page) I did not attend the Michigan kick off at Celebration Cinema, as I was attending a funeral and memorial up North. My week stayed very busy with trying to deal with family things. Working with our team on prepping materials for the upcoming releases. It looks like we were able to get the film to a downloadable link for theatre owners. I was reporting and prepping for end-of-year check dispersement on the movies, which will happen next week. Lastly, was trying to get the Christmas stuff around. So, this Christmas is a bit chaotic with the death in our family, the blizzard and our film’s window of release.
Once we have this delivery of the film process set up, we’ll turn to looking at film festivals and a German screening. There is even talk of showing at one of the US military bases in Germany. This film will have an exciting journey ahead of it. The film has definitely gotten the positive response from the people I care about most with this story. I had an opportunity to speak with several elderly people and they gave high marks on the re-creation of the time. The regional people were so proud of this story and it is resonating with people everywhere. The film has already generated some heartfelt fan mail that is just humbling to read. That is the power of storytelling. Thousands have seen the film and many have seen it multiple times, taking friends and family. In Michigan, we’ll be looking at doing a special Owosso, MI screening and also a run around Detroit, MI in the new year.
Our battle plan with SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (SNIA), will continue through 2023. I’ve been re-reading a supernatural thriller for a possible CDI associated film. Also in 2023, we’ll get the foundation put in on our next CDI feature film, Harsens Island Revenge. We have already started scouting and we’ll be announcing our director early in 2023, as we enter the casting phase. So again, update those reels. I was able to take a few good meetings while attending the SNIA premiere. I’ve finished the first draft on the SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE, and some development actions will be underway in 2023. If all goes as planned we could be rolling cameras in 2024.
REFLECTIONS AND GOALS –
Every year, I do deep reflection on the past year. Success, failures, trials and tribulations, all equaling growth. This year has had great harvest being the biggest release year I’ve had since 2005. We saw BESTSELLER, BEST YEARS GONE, SMOKE & MIRRORS, FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH and SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA release. Has anyone reading here, seen all five releases?
I set business and personal goals. I set goals on home fixes or improvements. I set goals as an actor, writer and producer. I set goals for/with Collective Development Inc. (www.cdiproductions.com) – new projects. New divisions. New endeavors. New collaborations.
This year saw a few music videos release under CDI’s production. As someone who was there when MTV started, I loved working in that medium.
OFF TO THE RACES from the movie ‘Best Years Gone‘ by Vertical Bridge
LOVE these guys. From our state of Michigan! And these gents are also from MI and really, really kick ASS.
REVOLUTION by the band DeepFall
This year full of releases and we did produce and prep several projects. HOT ROD LOVE, the CDI racing comedy set in the 1970’s went back on the shelf this fall. We had some funding. We had some sponsors. We had some participation from track owners. SOME, doesn’t cut it in filmmaking. It is truly one of the funniest ensemble comedy scripts sitting at CDI, with Caddyshack being the tone inspiration. Everything in its own time. I had to finally let go of a look I was developing for my character in that film. I am setting my “acting/producing” sights firmly on 1926 with WW1 veterans going head to head with the Purple Gang mafia.
This past year, I did turn down two different acting roles. I usually do so for one of three reasons. One. Not connecting with the role. Two. Not connecting with the story/script as a whole. Three. I cannot give the project the due attention I put into all my roles. I don’t phone anything in. I take each and every role very serious. That is why once business is out of the way, you get 100% effort, no less. $200 or $200,000 will get you the same performance. With acting performances, audiences got to meet Mark Franklin, Gil Gilles, Mr. Hosworth and Col Lodell. Vastly, different gents. have you met any of them?
The last gent was an honor and a very complex character to play. Let’s talk, Col Lodell. First the name of several characters based on actual camp assigned people, were altered. The events are true cut the characterizations are just that, not meant to be a biopic. That said, the camp commander that I portrayed, took his internal motivation from his faith in ‘The Golden Rule’. To treat others (Captured Germans) as you would want your PW boys treated. The filming was cold and rugged and that plays on everyones face in the film. A grit that cannot be manufactured on a stage or with a LED wall. We’ve been experimenting and will use LED walls in future VFX but there is something about a wild wind in your face, eyes near watering, and experience something closer to what these actual men did. We get to hear CUT and go back home. Every perspective has a story and they all dance closer and closer to a true event that helps to restore a touch of the humanity we all seem to have lost. Unity. Love. Even with a world at war. The fallout. The anguish, shame and soul crushing heartache.
My backstory was after serving in combat in WW1, Lodell, is pulled from academia, back into action as a camp commander. Seeking out Nazi-rot that grows inside the camps threatening lives and a PR nightmare should an escape happen. A majority of the PWs are farmers taken in desperation and forced to fight. Surrender came fast, not willing to fight to the death for Hitler’s war. Real threats. But like a needle in a haystack. The heaviness of supervisions production in many ways mirrored Lodell’s challenges. I channeled much of my real heaviness of responsibly to my performance and it works.
EVERY soldier just like the prisoners of war, missed their own bed, toilet, lazyboy, pet, family. I love a scene in SNIA where Col Lodell is just watching a Christmas scene of Santa and his nurse ‘elves’ giving children presents. He is the man with the most medals and he is as sad and homesick as the lowest prisoner. WAR hurts us all. I think that is why many SPORTS came about so that things could be handled more easily for both parties.
I’m happy that people are enjoying the film. Lodell, had to be the Col Potter of MASH. Leadership on screen or in real life takes many qualities to do it even semi successful. Lodell, has the secret to leadership but you’ll have to watch the film. I got to get more clean cut and play in the world of my dearly departed grandfathers. Burt Swope, in the Navy and Robert Emerson flying cargo in the Pacific, I believe in the Army. Air force was started in 1947. Anyway. This film captures everything that is nostalgic but also makes you feel as if you are living in it. Not some black and white flicker, cold and distant but in living color. If you can see SNIA on the big screen do. Otherwise, after running our theatricals into March or so, we plan to screen in Germany and a few film festivals. It will start DVD and home video around Nov 1st is my best guess. Meeting next year will tell. TRIVIA: On that scene above, my face got so cold I blew a take unable to fully pronounce my words. I asked for a moment, gave the face a rub down and a few good smacks before ACTION nailing it.
I think the performance will open a few new doors. I always tell actors, don’t get frustrated by people because they don’t see what you don’t show them. This is usually followed by, I don’t get a chance. The 14 year old filmmaker in my rolls his eyes. Almost everyones phone is a studio, where you can work a monologue a thousand times. Comedians and magicians work their craft over and over. If you get the slightest bit off when a camera comes close, you need to work on that. That camera should be that old friend, never glanced at- yet always embraced. Being natural leads to comfortable which leads to the environment to make interesting. In 2023, don’t get in your own way with doubts and ‘cannots’ and all that negativity. See dead ends, as paths of the maze mapped and now known. The true path becomes closer.
WRAP UP –
I truly do LOVE winter. I always have. It teaches you a healthy respect for nature. You admire the beauty of pines that thrives under the blankets of snow. Crackling fire, destroys the old leaving nurturing ashes to sprinkle for the spring plantings. Writings and new ideas like to seep into the pondering mind. A season of hardship and helping where you can. When everyone does a little the world is a better place. We here at TribeCDI are resting and rejuvenating with our loved ones. But rest assured the call of the storyteller rides these cold Michigan winds. Tomahawks and Tommy guns. Hot Rods and Painted Horses. I want to thank all our cast, crew, sponsors, supporters, families, friends and FANS. Tom T. Hall use to have a song, I wish I had a million friends – and I’ve complained about Facebook ‘Friends’ vs acquaintances – but with so many of the films being seem by tens of millions and I’ve been blessed to read your notes of encouragement and connection. I do feel like I have millions of friends, because you accepted our stories, our characters, into your homes. You’ve hunted Bigfoot with Niles Cass in Lost Heart. You felt for Paul Landings and his terrible loss in Man’s Best Friend. You’ve laughed with Ben Lily in Wild Faith. You’ve taken comfort during the holidays watching a relatable Jesus, in The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) And I could go on- my point is thank you. Sincerely, from a childhood dreamer who started with my friends and a VHS camcorder, thank you.
Next up New Years Day! So Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Good morning to all of you and I hope your foray into Fall has been great thus far. I want to welcome the new readers from Russia, Ireland, UK, China and the Philippines. Coffee (or tea) cheers to you all and thank you for stopping by. I LOVE this time of year and I’ve been beyond thrilled to work on the films as the leaves turn and fall. I’m feeling like just shotgunning out some of the updates.
The NCG Owosso premiere showing of ‘BEST YEARS GONE‘ is over and word has it that it is coming next for a Lansing NCG premiere on Oct 16th with two shows – a 6pm and 8:15pm I believe. You heard it here first. This week an event page and some PR will begin so some of the home town folks can enjoy the film. It has been remixed from the first premiere for delivery to our distributor and for our future premieres. I got a peek at some of the DVD/release artwork our distributor is working on. I think they are planning on a Feb 2022 home video release. Until that release we’ll keep at the theatrical premieres. If you’ve seen the film feel free to visit our IMDB.com page (also has a premiere video there) and leave a few words about your favorite scenes.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – pre-production is on the final run up. With a home office I get that great privilege of a short daily commute – about 30 or so stone steps. We’ve been doing more in-depth meetings with departments making sure they have questions answered. I was happy that one of my estate sale finds – a $5 military trench coat was the correct period and matched the photo I had. The office has been reaching out and getting crew agreements in line and this week cast will follow our set “day-of-days” coming from the AD department. We’ve had a few changes in cast and crew that happens when life happens. But I’m excited to see many of the Tribe and tell one last great story before we call it a year.
WICKED SPRINGS HD release should start rolling out this month. That was an epic shoot back when we were rather young. I’m excited to see this rolling out to streaming platforms so folks can enjoy the story in HD.
LOST HEART/BIGFOOT, UFO’s & JESUS – is starting to really pick up steam as the alternate title works into the marketplace. I had the chance to talk with many who have really enjoyed this film. The laughter and heartfelt messages play well with audiences and that is why we do it. This is true for MAN’S BEST FRIEND which again brought questions of a sequel which I’m not ruling out but it’s not on deck at this time. I was made aware of it playing on various TV stations like Charge TV. WILD FAITH just broke the 5-million views mark on Encourage TV and I’ll be taking more meetings on season 1 of the TV spin off. THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) is about ready to start its run once the ghosts and ghouls have their Halloween.
As we follow the tradition of setting up new campaign runs for older films in the CDI library like BESTSELLER and THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ will be getting 2022 release dates soon. We just got everything submitted for one and the other is in the works. We are working to get several more prepped to release. Our distributor now has a general market label which is opening many doors of opportunity.
SMOKE & MIRRORS our concept short is done. I was exploring how to help the location house with our film. We will look at some festivals also just for fun. The feature script is being retooled and will be great as an extended story.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – the first in a series of CDI in association with The Red, White & Blue Project Inc. documentary films. The locked cut is about done and so we’re going to master record the narration and do a once over mix/check at the studio with Dennis Therrian to prep the film for delivery. This brand we’ve created has a lot of growth possibilities. We also might look at a December premiere release likely at the NCG Owosso. Why? Curran Jacobs our director/host is from Owosso, MI. A lot of creative individuals from that area.
I’ve had my second business opportunity in the past two months approach me over screenwriting. When I write to assign to one of our productions I work discounted knowing that the film employs many of our artists. I also produce and often act so there is much more involvement. On these “work-for-hire” projects I’m raising rates and even doing something like a writer/option whereas the script is written for X amount w/ a 50% copyright hold until the script is financed and the balance paid in return for the remaining 50% copyright. So they end up with complete ownership and have to go less deep financially to be able to shop. I still try to work under the minimums suggested by the WGA which I’m not part of by choice, and my cost of living can handle this. That again is what I love about Michigan. You could have a small crap box in LA or a country kingdom in Michigan for the same price. Part of the secret of productivity is being somewhere you like and that gives you peace between your often hectic dealings. I will pick up where we left off on negotiations this week and what is meant to be will be. But I do enjoy all the new writing opportunities. I am still looking at possible representation for the writing and still might try something out for the foreign market.
As we discuss writing, one of my loves, I must mention a new book coming out. A few years back when WILD FAITH was moving and grooving in the theaters across several states, an author/book running that writes under Callie Smith Grant saw our film. She enjoyed the story/script and that led to an offer to submit stories. That has led to my participation in several of these books. This is the most recent one. Pre-order/order here – https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Who-Came-Christmas-Stories/dp/0800741250 a great Christmas gift!
Producing, writing and preparing daily to play a new character on screen. I’m playing Lt. Col Lodell a fictional character based loosely on the actual camp commander in one major way. The ‘Golden Rule’ is the basis/foundation used during the operation of the PW camp. This character fit so perfect when I cracked the script back open to look at it. It feels close to where I’m at in my life with setting an example is the easiest way to inspire. Words can be wasted be the speaker or the listener if no action follows it. I just like to keep plugging away each and every day. I don’t feel in competition with anyone or anything. I feel like I’m just flowing like water (Thanks Bruce) doing my best each day. I’m doing the projects I’m suppose to do. So many stories to tell – I’m just very grateful to be able to. I don’t take that for granted. I try not to take any of it for granted. I’m just happy that I evolved to where I am. A place of good balance of mind, body and spirit. Learn to laugh at yourself. Forgive yourself. And wisdom that comes with ‘know thyself’…
(Above ‘Tricky T’ has been working with CDI since film #1 ‘Knight Chills’)
I’m going to wrap this up and maybe go make another cup of coffee. I’m looking forward to the week ahead. Also the old suitcase is going to have to come out. I like to slow pack over a couple weeks. I also have CDI stuff to gather also. This week we touch base with our Algona team. I’m going to go enjoy another soccer game with my niece and nephew playing. An art department meeting that I’m looking forward to. So many good developments on that front. As you study the time period some things seem very old although I’m convinced the black and white photos and footage makes it seem older. Other pictures could have been shot today. How we captured history has a lot to do with how we see it now. Just like old Civil War pictures. Once colorized – man! They really come to life. I love history and the stories that have carried down collectively to all of us. I will continue to try and put some of these wonderful stories to the medium of motion picture. Have a great week and be good to one another!
The coffee is nice and hot as the chill wind in Michigan really blows hard this morning. Last night I got to take a few hours to go down the road to the opening of an art gallery. The Meta Collective (they like the Collective title also:) -did a wonderful job showcasing the art of many of the local artists. Music, food and drink just added to the experience. After we went and got some Thai food and called it a night with X Files. We’ve been watching the entire show from season 1 onward. We’re close to watching the new shows that will feature some friends like Rance Howard. Thank you to all of you who reached out with your kind messages about Rance.
Many times I’ve written on here about my focus on the path ahead. While others prepare to celebrate our achievements I’m always seeking that next project for the tribe. One step in front of the other – the climb. Friday was a busy day to top off an already busy week. My TO DO list almost always carries over to the next week. I did knock a few things off the list yesterday and have a few more things to do today. This industry tends to be a series of planned advancement like ‘Rocky’ running up the steps. Can you go the distance?
Let’s try random 10 film updates-
The big news that has people buzzing is our announcement of the first theatrical run at Celebration Cinema in Lansing and Grand Rapids of “WILD FAITH”
Watch our social media for new showing sites – click below
2. We are having serious talks about the TV series in additional to final talks on our home video. The home video release is looking like fall into winter/Christmas push. It doesn’t work to talk to all of you about the TV series until you see the film. I can say our distributor LOVED the film and could see the vision for a spin off TV series. So pitches are being made and the TV series is one of my goals for this year. Production for the series would likely be 2nd half of 2019 in Michigan.
3. Just to prime you all – our past 1800’s classic WICKED SPRING * (getting a major release 18 years later is a “classic” status to me) is rolling out. This film will start appearing in March on various digital platforms and DVD. I think Christian Cinema is already playing it. Amazon and others should be available on or around the 5th of March.
4. MBF (Man’s Best Friend) – We had a great week working development on our next film. We’re now down to talking with our final potential backers. About the cost of a good new car to go and we’re rolling into pre-production. Also our distributor is very excited about this project and will be participating early in the process with a few nice perks. I’m excited about what that means but I cannot share that information just quite yet. In the meantime I’m working hard with our team to gather the already committed funds which at times can be like wrangling cats. Meow!
5. “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” are being licensed into other foreign territories. I’ll enjoy announcing these new releases as they happen. Part 3 of the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” released their theatrical poster art last week. The trailer is about to undergo color correction and the music and sound design is being polished. The feature is also in post audio and will be there for a few months. This Christmas season audiences can see this powerful final chapter in the theaters before the Easter 2019 home video release. Also congrats to our director Nathaniel Nose and his wonderful wife on the arrival of their new baby:)
6. I had a good talk with Chris Wright/Knight, the author/EP of “Bestseller” and we discussed the new marketing of this film. We also discussed future endeavors – but it’s always a joy talking with another great Michigan artist.
7. “Ashes of Eden” as noted before has been assigned to a new distribution company. The film was delivered last week and so we should have some exciting new ways to see this film in the coming months.
8. The distributor talks this week did include CDI’s production slate of the next biblical adventure trilogy. I’ve been outlining and researching as I prepare to pen the next trilogy. It seems that they are very happy with the writing and production of these past films. It’s a nice place to be with set distribution after countless months shopping films in years past.
9. Screenwriting is creating many new opportunities. I’m back on a good weekly writing schedule and enjoy seeing with my imagination. I’ve been asked about screenplay writing for hire. Make an offer and if the story connects with me and the business is right a deal could be made. I will not take on a story that doesn’t connect with me. Again that lesson of knowing when to say NO. Actually you cannot afford NOT to say no in some situations.
10. Last week I was happy to present a character reel that my amigo Shane Hagedorn edited for me from my “Forty Nights” work. You can see it on my IMDB page or my social media sites. I am looking for that next project to act in after we complete “MBF” this Spring. I do have a western in Colorado that wants me to co-star as the Sheriff. Playing an 1800’s lawman would be a first for me and they have a strong cast forming up. So again that question of acting was brought up to me. Same answer as above. I am more selective with my acting because of my time spent in producing/screenwriting – but right script, right role, right business – maybe. Make an offer and we’ll see.
A great week of business and now some down time preparing for the week ahead. It was nice to do a bit of raking and yard clean up before the rain hit. We did not have any flood water here but other places were not so lucky. Water can be a bitch so I’m sorry for all those that had to contend with water issues. If you want to see “Wild Faith” on the big screen get your tickets online. I will be there on Friday in Lansing to greet a few people at the two kick off shows. I think some of our Grand Rapids cast/crew will attend the Woodland showing on Friday. I sincerely hope that you enjoy the hard work of many Michigan artists. For all you artists not involved watch the film and see if it is a world you would like to ‘play’ in if the series moves forward. I am always open to spending 2-3 min watching a reel of talent out there. I’m watching:)
Congrats to other filmmakers in the State of Michigan showing their art. I’m so happy to see the developing industry post-incentives. “Keeping it home-grown after the carpet-baggers have flown” – Keep dreaming. Keep creating.