Welcome one and all to my “Clawing My Way to the Middle” blog. It is noon and I’m back to sipping the last of the coffee while putting a few thoughts down on here. This week was full of meetings and interviews – vetting and exploring as we continue to move forward. Last week we announced “Wild Faith” our next film with director Jesse Low. The heat wave snapped with the storm yesterday in Michigan and I’m very happy about that. I’m more of a cool weather person and so we’re soon to transition into my favorite time of year. I picked a load of veggies yesterday from our garden. We’ve been enjoying fresh everything daily from tomato on sandwiches to steamed beans and squash. The rain also has the yard filling in dead spots from the brutal heat. My hair and beard are mountain man crazy (Is that a hint?) so the heat was mildly uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the weekly recaps.
The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” is moving steady down the post-production tracks and so if you’ve not seen part 1 – take a watch.
Chasing the Star
This week we should start looking at VFX work. The music and sound design is underway with that talented Dennis Therrian. Our INTRO will again be done by CHOP & HUE. We plan to have our first premiere before Christmas and I’m excited for audiences to see it. I had a dental cleaning and my dentist right away wanted to know how the second film was coming. He and his daughter attended the first one in the theater and loved it. So we have a built in audience waiting for part 2.
The Christ Slayer
Next month we will start to pull some business together on this film. The script is out to the returning players. I was happy to get such a beautiful response from our returning talent. I’ve been talking with other possible players and looking at behind the camera players also. I’m excited about shooting the last of the three in the QUEST TRILOGY.
Wild Faith will be officially entering pre-production as our business paperwork comes together this week. We’ve been looking at reels and reads and I’m excited about the cast coming together. We’ve been discussing the business behind this pilot feature and a possible 10 show season #1 to be shot in Michigan.
Knight Chills 2 – We’re prepping some PR that will detail our development underway with our friends at BlackJacket Films. Camera tests and casting have been quietly taking place. Distribution talks are underway both for the 20th anniversary re-release of the original and our follow-up feature.
Additional talks have been underway with Jeff Kennedy, Dean Teaster and Anthony Hornus and we might see new projects from all of them in the near future.
This week is full of more meetings but I’ve been enjoying the on-camera prep work I’m doing. We have the first round of soccer playoffs this eve so I’m looking forward to that. We finished 3rd overall and it’s been a great season. That intense running in the heat has me in good shape so running around in the woods should be a breeze.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead!
PS: Luke is home and doing very good from his bout of illness.
Ahhhhhh…sips of hot hazelnut coffee and a nice cool morning in the Michigan = peace. I want to welcome all our new readers from Poland and China! The soul of the artists is not divided up by territorial lines of nations or tribes. One world. This week we’ve been reaping the first harvests from the garden which is one of our best yet. We’ve already had beans, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I’ve been prepping for the coming Fall and Winter by gathering some wood for the office stove.
This week the office got some good use as creative minds have been coming together to prepare for new journeys ahead. Aside from meetings I’ve had lots going on within the realm of distribution. As you know we’re always looking to extend our reach and share our stories. Let’s look at some updates in no particular order.
BESTSELLER – We’ve started talks with a foreign sales rep and might have a few more this coming week. The film is expanding in the marketplace and we’re entering that great time of year for creepy films. Here is a nice review from our friends at Cinema Head Cheese.
Get cozy late and night and take a trip to Northern Michigan:)
40 NIGHTS (1st in the Quest Trilogy)
Many positive things happening here. I’ve noted that “40 Nights” is released now on Pureflix On-Demand. If you use their service please do take an opportunity to watch the film. Also we’re about to enter into some discussions with Brazil and other territories.
ASHES OF EDEN
Look for “Ashes of Eden” on Pureflix On-Demand also in the coming weeks. We’re also expanding this fine story into foreign territories in the coming months.
CHASING THE STAR (2nd film in the Quest Trilogy)
This past week we watched the 2nd edit and it is almost there. It was much stronger in many places due to small adjustments. My notes were more commenting on how scenes and performances had enhanced. Only a few areas to look at for tweaks but I was so proud of our team. The actors are going to be very happy with their moments. Music beds have started to be constructed and will be tailored once we lock picture.
THE CHRIST SLAYER (3rd in the Quest Trilogy)
Our talks with returning cast has almost concluded and their response to the story has all been extremely positive. We’re also talking to various directors to find that right fit for our part 3. I’m anxious to share further developments as they unfold.
Last week we announced the 2017 release of the 20th Anniversary version of “Knight Chills” that was our first film all those years ago.
Join us here for updates and to see the anniversary trailer here –
That film was so much fun to film back in the day due to our love and interest in fantasy sword and sorcery. It also was announced that a sequel is in active development. We’ll soon be announcing some of the team behind this next adventure.
Jesse Low, our director from “40 Nights” is set to direct with CDI again. We’ve chosen to develop a western property inspired by one we tried to launch several years ago. I’ve enjoyed going line-by-line and scene-by-scene discussing each and working to make it the best we can. I’m exciting to be prepping to go in front of the camera again. This rugged look has not been the easiest with the heat but I’ve survived. We will be making some major announcements here very soon. Maybe as early as next week. Casting talks have started and this week will intensify. I want to take another good solid look at some of the Michigan talent. This film could be the pilot feature for an on-going TV series so casting regionally could be helpful long-term.
I’m reading a script I was sent to consider acting in and what I like was I had NO IDEA what it was about. I thought it was one thing when all of a sudden BAM! I will say that it fits into the horror genre but it is a sub-genre I have not done. It is hard for me to find a genre I have not done. I liked the character but I want to do another read and have a few discussions. Another benefit is I may just be able to sleep in my own bed. NICE:)
I’m going to wrap this up. It is a beautiful day and I’ve got a mid-afternoon soccer match. Our team is having one of its best seasons. I just appreciate the challenge and strengthening of body and will that comes from it all. Challenge yourself, don’t be afraid to fail, give it your best effort.
Keep Clawing your way to the middle!
I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the early morning here in Michigan. We had a nice relaxing day up North after a very busy week of business. I want to welcome some of our new blog followers from India. Our international readers might enjoy some of the updates as we work to get more of our films to you.
I spoke about some “uninvited drama” last week. It has been put to rest. You have to seek to do that. Actually the less attention and energy you give it the better. I have a friend that I’ve known a long time. They seem to be going through an adjustment and break from a TOXIC relationship. I do note that they get into these long drawn exchanges of words. Now as someone who writes this blog, I know how much time they take to write. When people take all this additional time to debate what should not be debatable, it eats huge amounts of time with no payoff save frustration. DELETE and move on. Consider not posting things that will end up wasting your time if you are unable to IGNORE. To apply that to my life – if I was to take every critical personal attack to heart and waste all this time defending – little would get done. But in the time it would take to read or address these negatives – I’ve landed a new distribution deal. I’ve written another script scene. I’ve combed through a budget. Even a “Charlie Brown” (Whoa is me) statement will often bring a bunch of sympathy responses. Answering all those with a polite retort can eat a morning up or afternoon. So be careful what you throw out there. Someone who is feeling down and engages in such behavior risks only feeling down again for lack of productivity. Now push those feelings aside and get a list of TO DO’s done and I promise you will feel better. An issue might still exist but you did not feed it. You did not allow it to consume you. You controlled it and TCB baby! (Took care (of) business) Next time you feel like writing a short novel spewing the frustration over someones actions you can’t control – try ignoring it and taking care of yourself. Tackle that task that you’ve been putting off and I promise you – you will start to feel empowered. Less talk – more action!
To the FILMS…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – What can I say? My goal is that all three films will become a holiday tradition to watch. I think they have the power to do so but we will see in 20 years now won’t we. Family Video has joined our growing list of retailers and rental houses. Here is a new review that was sent over today –
I’ve heard of people watching the film multiple times for an uplift. I’ve been told of the DVD being given as a gift. I’ve enjoyed hearing what joy has come from the little film we artist created.
The second “Chasing the Star” should have its second cut. We will be reviewing this week. Things are in line with music and we will be addressing our INTRO and VFX soon! It is exciting to see it all come together and I’m so proud of our team.
I’ve started the hunt for the director of our third film, “The Christ Slayer” which despite the harsh title is a beautiful story. We’ve been dealing with returning cast and also starting to look at new artists. I will be excited to finish this trilogy next year.
Many of our CDI/CDI Associated films are expanding. Every couple of weeks we’re announcing new pathways. Let’s look at a few developing.
- “Locked in a Room” is moving into a secondary distribution including a few new foreign territories. It is already in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it will be expanding again it looks like. This is a unique thriller by the awesome twisted mind of director Larry Simmons.
- PR this week will be announcing the return of the “Knight Chills” franchise. The new Facebook page is up although not much to it yet save the new trailer. It will release in 2017 with the book that is complete. https://www.facebook.com/KnightChills/?fref=ts
- 2017 will see several new releases as our deal making continues.
- “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” continue to widen their circle of availability. This past week we announced FAMILY VIDEO carrying this trio of films.
- The CDI Classic library is now digitized and so in 2017 some of these films will enjoy their first On-Demand or Blu-Ray releases. Some special edition DVD releases will also happen in 2017. (Wicked Spring:)
We discussed “Knight Chills” and while we’ve been keeping it under tight wraps – the sequel is in active development. We’re tweaking the teaser trailer for the sequel and we’ll be doing some strong PR on this exciting event in the near future.
A Jesse Low directed western project is in active development and nearing pre-production status. It’s inspired by a project we tried to launch during the writer’s strike years ago only to have it die a slow painful death. Yes. I too have failures. The heart of the previous story will beat strongly as we move forward with this new creative team. We will have some strong announcements concerning this project in the coming weeks.
- YES both the projects could provide some Michigan casting opportunities. So as I’ve said before – we like looking at “game footage” so get your acting reels together.
Men out there, words of wisdom – IF you plan to audition for a western (which we are trying to shoot this year) LET IT GROW, LET IT GROW! Same with our biblical films as we DO NOT like fake beards/hair etc… I think it comes from one project I had an association too – it was fine enough drama but it was so distracting because it looked like someone glued beaver pelts to people’s faces. I think that scare of all that hard work suffering because an actor can’t make the commit to grow hair/beard when required. So…there you have it.
Here is another little gem with casting at CDI anyway…always feel free to send an updated reel or clip to me. But to put minds at rest – if we’ve hired you before to no issues. (You trouble makers know who you are) Providing you brought your performance A-game and you were a sail NOT an anchor, you will be considered. You are often hand delivered under the nose of a director. My phone always rings more during casting times than non but I love you all the same. I just want some of you who don’t get called to know you were likely considered. Your location vs budget, age, look etc…all can factor into decisions but ole DJ remembers his co-stars. Some of you can attest to getting the calls out of the blue – sometimes years after a discussion. But keep your materials strong and current.
While on casting let me point out one other observation. I think this is important to many of those tween talent growing into adulthood. I follow a handful of promising talent that I am impressed by but waiting for the right project. I caught a glimpse of an actress I’ve followed and almost worked with – going through a public store with a couple co-stars. They were loud, obnoxious and created a few messes. Now, I’m not a saint and I’ve been kicked out of a few stores in college BUT I was not away on business representing a project and a company. I was just disappointed because I, as a company owner look for professionals that reflect well on our casting decisions. These young ladies I’m sure had no problems talking about their project but I felt like I was watching an episode of JACKASS. I guess this works for them and they might all be great actresses but I do think they will lose out on some roles because of how they paint themselves off camera/on set and off camera/off set. Yes. Wrap is called and it’s your free time but I think some professional behavior is desired by some productions. Like ours.
Alright, I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m going to go have another coffee and enjoy the day. Another soccer battle today. We won the last game so we’ll see if we can earn another victory.
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.
Hello to everyone out there. I’m sipping away at my coffee on this beautiful day in Michigan. It has been a doozy of a week for most as more of our pop culture icons have passed away – Chyna, Prince. I think as we age and we see our actors, musicians and artists pass away if really reframes the world. It is why we as artists must also strive to step up and fill a purpose. A purpose to educate, entertain, comfort and encourage people in various ways.
The past weeks have been exciting with audiences purchasing/renting “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and now “Donors” has been released. I’ve had “fan mail” and communications every couple hours over the films. I think because of the main role in “40 Nights/Jesus” more of the feedback has been about that film but “Donnie/Ashes of Eden” and “Dr. Savior/Donors” are both worth meeting. The Walmart sales have been very strong in pockets but not across the board, so we have to just keep pushing the PR and redistribute stock internally to the stores that are moving more DVD’s. FishFlix, Amazon.com and others have been selling out online but restocking quickly. Ask your local retailers and that will help spread the distribution patterns. “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are now HD Digital On Demand so you can watch immediately.
ON DEMAND – Here are links…
ASHES OF EDEN
Feel free to leave reviews at any of these sites, IMDB.com, Amazon.com as these all help push the films.
You must build bridges. But only with good character people in like minded partnerships. There’s a company that was presented to me by a close associate. This company does various services in the commercial industry. For about 18 months they were presented to me and finally we met. A few guys trying to carve their artistic path out from a sea of creatives. So on a project this company ended up doing two services for us and it was done with quality. A first step in a new relationship. Now a second project follows with a new creative director and only one of the two services would be required. One of the services was being covered as a result of direct negotiations with the director before filming or even hiring. Another advantage is the second task has more time to allow this one service to be done. A second step in a new emerging creative relationship – WAIT! In my opinion, one partner there did the service we had no need for. Now this opportunity would allow whomever does the second service a real chance to shine. This is not high pay but t’s not free, and it surely gives more creative than a commercial project. I’m about people who want the opportunity to participate with our artists but I feel like some of my time was wasted during those 18 months where I was being told these guys were eager for an opportunity to grow with us. So it goes.
MORE ADVICE ON WORKING FOR CDI
Most all hirings come from recommendation and standing accountable. Finger pointing and blame shifting is the worse thing you can do at CDI. There is not much of that because we pull those weeds. Strength comes in admitting a situation got the best of you. By recognizing that it shows strength and wisdom. I’m also looking to put people into a long term working relationship. Some of our people have been with us 16-20 years and counting. Once we work with someone I’m looking at…
1) Attitude – this is priceless. Are they CAN DO positive people? Do they inspire others? This also means sincere talk over gossip/poison. Keep your vulgar jokes and such until wrap and you’re with your friends. If you have experience over someone see that as an opportunity to share/teach not gloat. Be that valuable person.
2) Artistic passion – this is a drive to do something outside the cogs and wheels of society. It’s both divine and humbling all at once. Powerful enlightening stories that can give ease and escape to others in high stress jobs. Humbling in the fact that if you create a poor scene nobody flatlines on a table. Passion is a MUST in all our hires. If you are not passionate about a certain position DON’T do it. If you do it poorly or by dragging your feet, those attributes will be applied to your overall character.
3) Dependability – I once had a talented director work within a crew (Not directing). He failed at his tasks by the worse way – quitting. I like this person just fine but by policy I cannot risk any money behind this person going forward. If they quit at something small they could quit at something big. Another recent example also had a key crew member quit before starting a project in a poor way. This character example again makes him not suitable for re-hire. I like this person greatly and friendship wasn’t taken off the table. But the communications became less (none) because he knew I had less to offer him. On a positive when this person had to be replaced on the fly one of our “tried and true” stepped up into a position they had not done and won. It was an example of stepping up and that is likely why he’s been with us almost two decades.
4) Leadership – The last line I typed above ties into this bullet point. Upon working with us on a film, people will be evaluated in a few ways. Did a KEY step up and problem solve within his department? Did they keep their department on budget? Did they keep their department organized? Did they use all their resources? Attitude? Sometimes we hire a key that in retrospect needs to be placed under a more experienced key on future films. This is usually someone who really tried just lacks the organization skills and leadership, but worked hard. In some non-keys, we realize the hard work and notice leadership attributes that may lead to a promotion on upcoming films. Some people after the fact are evaluated and deemed a no rehire.
NOW if you’ve worked for us on a film and a second call to action hasn’t come it’s often not anything personal. It’s sometimes about finances, such as how many people can be flown here or there. It can be keys that surround certain directors and are requested. I guess I wanted to put this out there because crew like cast are artists. Actors are usually quick to think that something they did or did not do is why they were not hired. Sometimes it is an AGE or a LOOK thing. Crew feels the same thing at times so I wanted to shed some light. Rates of course are another factor but if I like working with a company I try my best to maintain that relationship. When you get out of line someone hungry is there to take your place.
“Chasing the Star”
OK. “Chasing the Star” is in editing and we also plan to have a first teaser in the coming weeks. Here is our new font to put into our teaser poster.
We’ll be having lots more promotional stuff rolling out soon. I’ve just finished polishing the 1st draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. That has been sent to the first few people to look at. I had great talks with our distributor this week on THE QUEST TRILOGY and I’m excited moving forward. VERY EXCITED!
Keep moving forward my friends. Be the person they want to hire and hire and hire…
Have a great weekend. Our first soccer game is today so I’m ready to do battle again this season. Happy Spring!
Two days ago I was thinking about turning soil in the garden and also doing some training for soccer season. We had a flurry of snow the other night and that continues today. So the office wood stove has been getting a work out and I love the smell and vibe it puts out. I have a few more things to do to the office/fort this year but I was really happy to get the stove in.
When shooting “Chasing the Star” in Corunna, MI I was surprised to find a brew store at this little gas station sized store. I ended up getting some green foil tops for my upcoming bottling of “THE RETURN OF THE GREEN GOBLIN” an October wine. I will let it age until the fall – this summer will be some “Tropic Thunder” (Banana/Coconut) sipping.
Speaking of CTS (Chasing the Star) we’ve been wrapping up paperwork and books while the master audio and visuals are being married. Editing should start this upcoming week and also work on a first teaser will begin. Several key meetings happening this week and really just making that full shift into post-production.
“40 Nights” has been a fun project to watch roll out into the marketplace including Walmart. I really feel that film will speak to people – not just church going folk but many people. It is a beautiful piece of art thanks to the stunning landscapes provided by Yuma, AZ. A lot of people worked hard on that film and I’m happy to see audiences get a watch. The feedback thus far has been very strong and I’m happy people are connecting with it.
Promotion – “Donors” DVD snuck into the marketplace in Feb. and we’re prepping for the April digital release. “Bestseller” will be releasing on DVD in May and so we will start promotions on that film soon.
“Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” promotion will continue with possibly some foreign and other event showings.
“Dead Quiet,” “District 19,” and “The Terrorist” are still out there and I’m sure will announce distribution developments.
Location scouting and director talks on the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY have begun. A final polish on the script this week.
Our CDI/Jesse Low project for the fall will start having meetings. I look forward to producing this Michigan based 1800’s story. There is talk of this being an on-going TV series.
I will be looking for a project perhaps just to act in this summer. I have a few films in talks but that always depends on their ducks lining up properly.
I have decided that I’m going to start pushing my writing aka selling scripts. I’ve been paid to turn a few books into scripts. I’ve had books written from my scripts. I’ve sold a few scripts and had a few produced here at CDI. I also have a few scripts that I could just sell. Those scripts are ones that I have no immediate plans to produce. I do also enjoy seeing others interpret my words be it by an actor, director or company. I will explore this path more.
I’m off to get some things done. Enjoy your day and may your week ahead be productive!