It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
First I want to welcome the new readers from Hong Kong and Singapore. It is a wonderful Sunday and I’m sipping coffee on this chilly morning. Yesterday I did a one-armed mow for the second time. The wrist in a splint and getting stronger each day. The flexibility will take a bit to return but happy it is healing well.
This week I’ll be watching a new visual work link of THE CHRIST SLAYER with most of the VFX inside. Sound design passes are done and we’ll keep refining plus ADR were required. We’ve been releasing new promo as we head into fall here getting prepared for a premiere, theatrical and home video release. Broadcast and digital will be 2/4/18 and DVD 3/4/18. Who is excited to see part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY? See part 1 FORTY NIGHTS and part 2 CHASING THE STAR to catch up.
CHASING THE STAR
Each one is a stand alone adventure but they also have parts that tie into an overall story. It will be fun to see who gets the stories that unfold throughout the three films.
This week had a good conversation with a prod/distribution studio over the series and we might be putting a few of the older titles down a new distribution channel. We’re working to put a narrator on the front and end of the film that would tie into the tv series. We’ve been working this hard so we can close this home video deal. But just like everywhere communication (or lack of) can slow things. But we’re close to wrapping this up and that will allow us to move forward. It will also move us as a company onto bigger and better things.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
We’re still rolling out some official stills and this coming week our director and DP will be adding some pick up shots. The opening intro has been recorded and they’re working on that. We should have a first cut (edit) end of October and a locked picture in November. I’m excited that our film will be showcased on a new ANIMAL PLANET show called ‘Amanda to the Rescue’ this fall. Here is a story in PEOPLE magazine.
We hope to have the first teaser for you before Christmas:) Ho! Ho! Ho!
Development work is underway. If WILD FAITH had been all wrapped up with our narrator and to the distributor that would give some peace of mind. This deal is more complex because it sets the table for the TV series and more. I’ve been slowed in my personal life slightly with my wrist now out of the cast and in a splint for 3 more weeks. It is slowly getting stronger. Also our furry boy Luke has been undergoing cancer treatment since we were in pre-production on MBF. But I did use the time to prep one of the new scripts working with our distributor BMG. I finished the first draft and have been doing a fine polish. For me this is making it all flow – painting a picture in the mind of the readers. This helps when it comes to translating from page to screen. I’m still looking at a few other writing projects and talking with possible lit agents for a good fit.
I’ve been reading a few in-house scripts and looking at the options. If I can close up the WILD FAITH deal in good time I might look at a winter project but more likely will be spring project. LOST HEART – the script I’ve been polishing is looking like a fall 2019 project. I don’t want to rush it into production we know what happens when that happens. But with THE CHRIST SLAYER premiere and release and end-of-the-year business taxes, I will be busy. I like to take Thanksgiving through Jan. 1st for family activities. My goal is to have TCS ready to premiere by Thanksgiving.
Today I have family over for a cook out and a close friends Bday so I’m going to go get after a few things. I hope you all have a great finish to your weekend and a wonderful week ahead!
I have finally landed back in my comfy chair and will take a few moments with all of you. MSU plays football in a short while and I enjoy that time. We will watch and enjoy some Mexican eating as the night falls and the air turns cold. We had a streak of beautiful weather and only a short year earlier we had major snow. I’m not sure how Michigan will be this winter but we’ll deal with it. I think an oil change before the snow hits but other than that we will be ready. I need to do a final mow and put away certain things until spring. I’m ready to enjoy the season and continue to prep for the 2016 season ahead.
We’ve been all hands on deck with post production trying to bring “40 Nights” to a close. Many people are VERY excited including our marketing people with Lightworx. Sound design and music at one studio, VFX at two studios and color correction awaits at the end. The distributor wanted to know if they could get screeners now (work in progress) but the film is in layered pieces. But soon the pieces will all be married together into one final film. If you are just starting to hear about “40 Nights” check it out.
Theatrical showing events will take place before our April 1st release and that is no joke:) Some may know that “40 Nights” is the first in our QUEST TRILOGY. The second is entitled “Chasing the Star” and we’ve just announced our director and some of our returning cast. Take a look at the press release below.
I’m excited to once again play in this powerful, moving world that we’re exploring. Jesse Low, our “40 Nights” director will likely be ready for some R&R before moving into our CDI mid-“western” that he’ll direct. I purchased something today that will either be a costume or set dressing. It was a bear skin. Now I’m personally not for hunting predators. I think these sport hunters who kill at some silly distance with a rifle are disgraceful. It isn’t like you used a bowie knife. Anyway, I knew that this could be an awesome prop that fit our period. So this animal skin is now in the office. I have also been looking for something long to hang on a wall beam in the office. I had someone approach me with a trade that was just too cool. It was a 7 foot long whale harpoon mounted on this beautiful aged wood plank covered with nautical rope. Again, I’m not a supporter of whale hunting in this age of easier food. I know religion, beliefs and other traditions factor into the practice of whale hunting. But those who did this by hand were obviously also putting their life on the line. So today I took possession of a whale harpoon and a bear skin. I don’t say that too often. Okay, I’ve never said that.
“Bestseller” had a great showing in Owosso, MI last Sunday and I want to thank everyone who came out. I want to thank filmmaker buddy Nathan Quinn for coming out and supporting. It was good to catch up and I appreciated the beers. CHEERS! Chris Knight aka Johnathan Rand had a great signing earlier that day for his young fans. Next stop for the film might be Detroit area following Grayling, MI. It was fun to once again watch the audiences be scared. It’s worth a watch with a group in a theater but I know it will also play great in that small dark room late at night. Did you hear something? Boo!
We are so close to announcing our TV premiere with “Ashes of Eden” – I can’t get ahead of our distributor’s PR so I have to wait. But that film will be getting out to audiences worldwide every soon.
The Nov 19th CDI film mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI will be showing “An Ordinary Killer”. Now if our transfer worked correct from the D5, I intend to make DVD’s to purchase also. We’re planning on doing new runs of all the classic CDI films.
We’re passing contracts back and forth on the book/DVD re-release of “Knight Chills”. I’m excited to revisit this world in the many formats. The sequel film and comic book adaptations could be happening sooner versus later. Stay tuned!
Well, I’m going to wrap this up and do a little work while watch MSU. Enjoy your weekend.
I love this sandstorm picture. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the follow up film in our biblical series with Lightworx Entertainment. It will be announced in some official development PR soon. The script is called “Chasing the Star” (working title).
Casting has been on-going and I have to say I’ve seen some great talent from around the world. This film is gearing up for an early 2016 shoot.
Staying on the topic of development – it’s an exciting and challenging time. I know what follows the casting, financing, scheduling and development work – PRODUCTION. (Battle Drums) I really take these opportunities serious. A successful project brings continued prosperity for all those involved. It’s a team of people making their artistic mark within set business parameters. If you don’t agree our “tribe” is not for you.
We’ve had exploratory talks (J.M.) that yielded good financial news. This week we’ve had several productive talks with certain keys on some of our upcoming projects. These films have their worldwide distribution deals in place. It’s a new experience working with the distribution studios in advance but I like it. It means no shopping required after the fact which increases production flow. With a good deal that means less financing effort and with worldwide rights pre-assigned – it means moving into development on something new sooner.
I’ve had representation of many types from small local agents to Hollywood big 3. I’ve had managers from many different walks – all with their own ideas of how to promote. Many wanted to mold or change you – following some trend. I think most artists fight to be understood and respected in our business. RULE #1 for someone representing – that is they have to believe in what they are selling. You NEED someone who really GETS YOU. Are you a character actor? A lead? Do they understand why you say YES or NO to a gig? Many agencies are shotgunning talent aiming for anything and everything. I recall years ago when starting out, I asked Bruce Campbell at a sit down with director buddy Mike Kallio, “Any advice on finding a GOOD agent?” to which he responded “Good agent? Good luck with that one kid.” I think he meant finding a good agent was like finding Bigfoot. At another dinner I asked actress Lana Wood the same question. “I’m still looking honey” was her response. I’m saying, if you find that person who believes in you treat that like gold. How many actors would be lured by the grass being greener seduced by bigger agents or opportunities? Be loyal if it’s working. Col. Parker, Peter Grant and others played a large part in the overall success. Art and Business.
She recently had my work put before a well known director. I was presented exactly as I should be and without any BS spin. I think in our faced-paced world just getting someone to stop long enough to see your talent is half the battle.
I will be working to get the release dates on “Donors,” “Bestseller” and “The Terrorist” . “Ashes of Eden” is gearing up for the 13th of October US release. I think we might have a theatrical ASHES OF EDEN re-run just before the DVD/VOD release. Stay tuned.
“40 Nights” is now undergoing dialog polishing. VFX work is underway and sound design/music on deck.
I’m very proud of the last three CDI associated films cast and crew. The Michigan reputation has gotten better with west coast executives but the truth is we have been seen as backwoods. Hey, I love the outdoor association to backwoods. We have our pines, birches, oaks – Michigan is full of breathtaking nature. I’m told, We’re Southern Canadians in many ways. They believe that in Canada because it helps soften the blow when the Red Wings kick on them.
Back to the backwoods and how that relates to the former incentives – let’s be truthful, our cast and crew got fed mostly scraps. There exists exceptions and if you’re an exception – GREAT! Only love. But for most – the jobs offered were much below their true skill level.
The State of the State Now
I think we’ve got great talent in Michigan. We produce good players but often bad teams. I think the competitive in-state nature doesn’t always allow the best collaborations.
– To bring this full circle
Kudos to the crews from the previous three CDI features. But if I’m going to do that I can go all the way back to CDI film one. We’ve always taken filmmaking serious. I knew what Hollywood thought of us even then. We often get labeled as inferior but I know we’re NOT inferior. But to say that isn’t the best way. To show them now that’s the way. I’m pleased by what I’ve seen in the wake of the film incentive death. Some cried and left and others are finding their grit again. As the eye of TMZ moves away from Michigan, so does the vast amount of people wishing to be celebrities versus those working to have their art revealed.
I’ve been filled with compliments recently by “Hollywood” insiders on not only the final product but our dependability. That is something that is such a secret to success. If you cannot keep a timely/on-budget production or post a film within a timely turn around -you’ll likely NEVER make it in a studio system where production funds are granted. They are investing into dependability that a marketing team can work with in unison.
CDI – The Brand
We’ve built a BRAND (Collective Development) that represents diversity, quality and dependability. And we’ve been able to do that because we hire people who take great pride in their work. Hire people who are truly talented, accept accountability and maintains a professional respect amongst peers. I’m just very proud because all these films are built largely upon the Michigan talent pool.
DO IT. DO IT RIGHT.
WE WILL ALL WEAR THE FAME OR SHAME OF OUR UNITED ACTIONS
BE THE CHANGE YOU DESIRE
DARE TO BE FAIR
SAY NO VERSUS GO IF THE SHIP AIN’T TIGHT
ONE STATE TO RULE THEM ALL (Sounds Lord of the Rings)
A STATE OF WINNING (Okay this fun exchange just went Charlie Sheen on me – I’m out-E)
Have a great weekend everyone. HOPS are almost ripe. Maybe time for a warm up cup of coffee.
This will likely be my last, okay as my wording jumps around, it WILL be my last post on this computer. It has served me well since just after GHOST TOWN in 2006 or so. I now have a new MacBook Pro and my main task is moving my software over. This last week was full of updates but I want to discuss something that can really benefit all of you working in film or any business. I will frame the situation without using names.
I have been doing business with a studio. They have a script of mine under option. They have been ultra professional and cross T’s and dot I’s on contracts. Even better, their checks come and clear. Now they’ve talked to me about acting, producing and distribution. I know their roll out plan on a pair of their previous films. No smoke blowing in my discussions with them as what they’ve discussed matches/aligns with talks I’ve had with another BIG STUDIO. So far all good marks on this relationship. On another front – a partner/biz associate had been dealing with a key member on one of these films owed by the studio paying me an option. In casual discussion I was presented with news that directly conflicted with what I had been told by this said studio regarding distribution of their property. I looked at some public information posted on social media sites that confirmed this conflicting information. Essentially someone without the executive power to sell a film was doing just that. I had seen previous postings advertising this film selling but sometimes a small run for family, friends of the film is permitted. It is not usually sold or advertised widely as it can label a film as being “previously distributed” and devalue it. I simply took a few screenshots and asked the studio if they were aware of this and was it authorized. What tipped me off to something being “Rotten in Denmark” was this unofficial version being sold by an unofficial party was said to have been offered a distribution deal. That at least speaks good of the film:) Now my associate confronted this unauthorized party before and was met with side stepping answers. This unauthorized version was being sold and not by pirates in Asia or Russia, but a key(s) on the film. I assume legal stepped in and it was immediately halted. Now my associate was confronted by this guilty party. They were upset that public information was gathered and presented to the studio. Initially they denied selling the film even though the proof was all over the internet including reviews of the illegal version and my associate had a copy of the DVD in question is his hands. This guilty party was seemingly mad that the studio wasn’t going to ever work with them again. He wanted to know what producer/writer had brought this info front and center so he could be sure never to work with them. After this person denied selling the film he retracted his statement the next day admitting to selling a few DVD’s “Only X amount was sold and only because they needed Christmas money”. Yes. That is what I was told. Okay. Let’s recap again.
1) My associate is considering work with this person.
2) Information posted and presented is in direct conflict with other information known.
3) One party is by-the-book, contract heavy and follows through with said agreements including payment.
4) Second party avoids direct answers to presented questions. It is discovered he used rights without authorization and lied about it until they knew they were caught red-handed.
5) Guilty party is now mad at being caught and gives said excuses.
Okay. Now this party is mad at myself and this associate of mine for vetting out information that did not make sense. The guilty party wanted to know who presented the info but he knew. So, after admitting he DID sell the film, he said they would never work on anything with me involved. God. I hope so! That means anyone working with me is at least protected from that circle of deceit. Life throws you a finance curveball and this person gives in to lying and stealing…I feel pity for them. I don’t know this person. I never worked with this person. They are likely a fine artist but business is not just a game to play when it suits you. SHOWBIZ! I’ve had film rights stuck with a distributor that I wasn’t happy with. Hell, I was mad at them. But I can’t just go against agreements and do anything I want. Projects have managers who run the show NOT the investors. I’ve had to fight with my legal to get rights back on projects. Otherwise you are illegally re-assigning rights to a new distributor and creating an issue for them just by trusting you. Hence why you use a chain of titles. Your name and reputation is so important and this is an ultra small business community. A friend/associate of this guilty party also called me a jerk and wanted to know what my deal was. I had no deal other than seeking out some truth. I heard something that didn’t add up. I gathered some info and asked for clarification. Now, I’m a jerk. Someone else who makes positive message films but cheats, steals and lies and they are somehow a victim? Okay. So I’m done with all that but luckily this associate of mine won’t be doing business with this person. Let me tell you something. If they stole 30 units they would steal 300, 3000, 30,000 or 3,000,000 units. If they lie about something small in business they will surely lie about something big. I just implore you all out there to protect your business integrity and character. If you need help financially and can’t help yourself (swallow your pride and get another JOB) just don’t tank your future by dishonest business. This person could be the next big thing but if you sell out your trustworthiness, your career will die. I’m not mad at this person or those around who are justifying the actions. I just want some of you out there to reconsider when tempted to do something wrong. Even if you’re mad, frustrated or the other party is a jerk. If you’re a professional and you don’t have the right to do something – don’t! It could get you in big legal trouble. Ruin the domestic run on a film for a few hundred-dollars and you could get sued for millions in lost revenue. Good people can do desperate things when put in a bad situation. A man will steal food to feed his starving family. But selling yourself out to buy an XBox or some holiday gifts is not worth it. A gift-light holiday that still has love and honesty is better that the other option. You also are setting an example with your choices and behavior to people who look up to you. So I’m fine with the outcome but wonder what kind of world it is where the guilty plays the victim and the innocent becomes the scapegoat.
Onto the next updates:)
– Good meeting over film education program in Michigan
– Good meetings over upcoming CDI theatrical showings
– More TV deals underway with CDI films
– BESTSELLER FX about done and sound design is an hour + completed
– ASHES OF EDEN going national on April 7th
– Multiple foreign licensing underway with UK, Australia, Germany and more…
– Development on several CDI films moving along with one about to enter pre-production in Feb.
– Post-Edit work underway on “WASTELAND” film.
– Stay tuned this coming week for PR announcing release dates nationally on “Donors” and re-release of “Wicked Spring”
Keep moving forward and even though the road may be longer, steeper and rougher – remain on the highroad. There are no shortcuts and when they do present themselves they often come with compromises that will have long-lasting effects. Have a great weekend and a good week ahead!