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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
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.
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.
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
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
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.
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.
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!
Today’s time has been filled looking for the return truck to carry gear that came from LA. Several departments have been securing props and wardrobe for transport. Key Set PA is looking everywhere for walkie’s that did not get returned during the excitement of wrap. These are all elements to breaking down the circus. By circus, I mean -film circus. We’ve just completed another amazing task of telling a feature-length biblical-era movie told largely in the wild deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’ve been living out of a motel for weeks, working hard with a very talented group of artists. After reviewing footage, I can say that once again we captured some movie magic. It’s all about a group of artists who care about the product. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. Or maybe a disease:)
We pick ambitious goals and we strive hard to try and achieve them. That’s the great pride I get from visitors to set who talk about our professionalism. The distributors who know we work hard to bring art with the solid business. Our last director here on “The Christ Slayer,” Nathaniel Nose suggested the slogan “The CDI difference” – which is actually quite catchy:) Hey, we don’t always do everything right here but we’ll get caught trying to do it right every time. Best Effort’s is our motto and when challenged we sometimes discover where our best effort stride actually IS. These films keep getting stronger because the people involved are giving their best efforts. Yes, they tire and slow like us all, but they take pride in their work. They put the gloves and boots back on and attack each new day. It’s a huge collective effort and it always reminds me of the truth that lies at the heart of our company name – Collective Development Inc.
I will say a few words about the role of Jesus. He’s my 1st character I’ve played in a film twice. What an interesting and complex role to become twice. I’ve had several fine moments of pondering WWJD in different moments. I guess that’s what led to these stories in part. Well, Jesus has left the building and ascended to higher grounds. It’s mighty refreshing to let some of that heaviness go and to knock down some of that giant Jesus beard.
I’m going to return home this week and need to go finish breaking down the circus. But ahead of us lies music and sound design for “Wild Faith” – a new domestic release for “Forty Nights” on 4/4/17, a Michigan premiere and theatrical release of “Chasing the Star” and “The Christ Slayer” is officially in editing.
I’m looking forward to seeing family (Happy Bday baby) and friends, soccer games and working in the garden and yard. Almost time to turn that soil and fire up the grill. I will say that I feel accomplished now having finished The Quest Trilogy.
Keep following- much more more to come. “Forty Nights” releases April 4th!
Today we are doing final prep on “Chasing the Star” the second film in our QUEST TRILOGY. I’m happy to announce that these three gentlemen are the actors we landed on after looking at reads from around the United States. These three are representing the Texas, South Carolina and NYC (By way of Michigan) markets. If you work hard you can make it happen from anywhere. It’s been fun to see all the artist come together – every day new props, new wardrobe tests, new gear arriving and new family. Yes. The film family is a unique experience and as a producer I’ve always strived to create an experience that people will remember. I think we’ve been doing that at Collective Development Inc. for some time. Even those early films like “From Venus” and “Heaven’s Neighbors” were filmed with great care creating lasting memories for all.
While this new film is launching we’ve been heavily promoting and pushing our other films to market. We’ll be doing our Yuma, AZ “thank you” premiere of “40 Nights” on March 13th, hosted by Champion Church. They helped us with everything from background talent to use of locations. The Lansing/Grand Rapids theatrical run of “40 Nights” has just expired. We’ve been approached by many interested people who wanted to see the film on the big screen, so, we may move the film to the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge or other such venue to keep that momentum. Many are asking us to bring it into Detroit via one of the chains there. We will try. Here in AZ we’re looking at a meeting with Harkins Theaters to do a run, so we’ll see if that comes together. April 5th is the “40 Nights” DVD release at most major retailers. The streaming release looks like it will happen in June – more on that soon! You can pre-order the film DVD at several retailers but here is just one.
We also just released distributor poster art for “BESTSELLER,” which releases in May. This film is a great curl up and watch thriller. Be afraid! “Ashes of Eden” is another film of ours that releases on April 5th – great story, music and performances.
PRE-BUY “Ashes of Eden” here
I will write more later but right now our team is doing a dozen different things to final prep for tomorrow. Because tomorrow we start “Chasing the Star” …
Keep clawing your way towards your dreams!
Good morning to all – likely afternoon when I post this. Yesterday was just a perfect Halloween day. I had lunch with my father and we had the mothers over for a Mexican theme Feast of the Dead. The rain/snow cold kept most of the trick or treater’s away. We ended the night watching a Halloween themed film and it really was perfect. I didn’t partake in all the craziness of years past and I was just fine with that. I had things I needed to get done today and business to attend to. As the midnight hour came I ended it all by finishing Christopher Knight’s book “Season of the Witch” – perfect. I see many stories within that would also translate nicely to the screen. If you don’t know the author immediately he is also known as Johnathan Rand, author of the popular children series American Chiller. He is also the author and client we have been working on with the thriller “Bestseller” (also a book). RE: Bestseller – We had some tech meetings on Friday and this week we have a great creative meeting coming up. This film will be done early 2015 and already has some distribution interest.
Speaking on distribution, we will be making an announcement on “Ashes of Eden” this weekend at the East Lansing Film Festival. It’s great that our inspirational crime drama is back playing for a home town audience. We may have a few more theatrical runs before the wider release but I do have TV and foreign talks underway. Not just with these two fine films (Ashes of Eden & Bestseller) but the entire CDI library. I have some important talks with some large territories. Many of our films have released to multiple foreign territories but that release is going to get wider and wider. Stay tuned as our films could be reaching billions. Yes. I said billions. Movies are loved all over the world and we want to introduce ours. Numerous deals are underway and I’m excited about the possibility of new 2015 releases.
We are gearing up to shoot “Wasteland” in December and the props under construction are really looking good. It also looks like a few of our films may be moving forward into production in early 2015. I don’t want to jinx anything so I’ll limit what I say here. Additionally, a pair of follow-up pictures behind “Book of Ruth” look to be coming together also. I’m excited about a pet project of mine that looks like it’s moving forward to shoot this Spring. It actually could turn into a slate of films. The business paperwork on some of these will be coming together in the weeks ahead. I’ve had numerous development meetings over the last few months with a few filmmakers that I see have the right combination of artistic talent and willingness to work within a business model. So we may be bringing a few filmmakers into the fold of the CDI tribe to develop them into feature film directors with international distribution set ups.
As a front-of-the-camera talent, I’ve had a few projects that were in holding patterns approach me this week with positive updates. My management contacted me with developments on my possible involvement in a few large scope projects. If scheduling is the issue I have to deal with in 2015 – I can work that out. You always want projects to go nose to tail so you can do them all. But as typical in life, things often overlap or all try to happen all at once. I don’t stress. I go back to the ole “cross that bridge when you get to it” mentality. Things do have a way of working themselves out and I sincerely believe that I end up doing the projects I was meant to do.
This next coming Sat I will be attending the showing of STANDING POST, directed by my friend/associate Anthony Hornus. It features the acting work on Steven Sutherland (Ashes of Eden), Mary Jo Cuppone (Figure in the Forest) and Dean Teaster (Ghost Town) and so I’m greatly looking forward to it. Please do come out and support the Red, White and Blue non-profit and their work with our US Military. It should be a great night and lots of fun.
I’ve also been getting some writing in and that feels good. I’m still a touch behind on my reading (Sorry) you all know who you are:) I’ve been trying to get these “Wasteland” scenes in the old memory banks. Financed projects with offers have to be read first and I’m sure is understood by all. I’ll wrap this up – guacamole might be calling me. I still have a few domestic things to do getting ready for winter here. I might try to pop into the East Lansing Film Festival tonight (maybe) but I do plan on being there tomorrow for the 4:30 showing. I think they might also have ‘Ashes of Eden” merchandise on hand. I’ve been wearing my ASHES OF EDEN sweatshirt due to how COLD it’s been in Michigan.
Enjoy the rest of your day. Be good to one another.