Fellow filmmaker friend Nate Quinn put this pic together after a recent hang.
NEW JOURNEY AHEAD
Happy Sunday my dear friends from around the world. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ mug and thinking about spring. I’ve just finished last week the next CDI script. I was engaged to translate a book to script and we’ll film it this May. With on-set pre-prod we’re looking at April 26-May 21st in Michigan. I’ll be doing some final edits this week before sending the script to others on the producer team and a few keys. We’re in talks on a director so we’ll see how that unfolds. This week I’ll be working the numbers and getting our battle plan together. We had a good meeting a week ago with our 1st AD Nate and we did some crew reviews. We hope to get most of the crew back together but we’ll have to make a few adjustments I’m sure either due to schedule conflicts or from our producer review, we’ll have a few changes to the team. We’ve got many who have expressed their interest should we need to bring new folks on board. It is hard as our budget only allows X amount of crew and our cast is limited to our story. But this film has committed funding, distribution interest and now we have our blue-print (script). I’m excited that we’ll be able to put so much in place in advance of our shoot. It will allow us to make this journey even more smooth.
We’re deeply evaluating CDI film #2 which will shoot fall/winter timeframe. It would likely be a fall shoot if in the Michigan and maybe winter if we go out west to shoot in AZ or Nevada. Slot 3 the 1st half of 2021 is being currently held as a possible WILD FAITH (Hastings) tv show. We would be working to finalize the season 1 scripts. The idea of revisiting the Wild Faith world is very exciting. Giddy up! If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do take a watch on Amazon Prime. It is a wonderful film for children also so I hope we reach more kids.
Ole Ben Lily might be back in action in ‘Hastings’ – coming soon?
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is now out in the marketplace and we’re starting to see that wheel turn. We’ve had lots more retailers and platforms pick up this title. We’ve got many events and showcases lined up this year with MBF. You can watch this film in your own home now on Amazon Prime. If you take a watch much like all the others, we encourage you to leave a review on our Amazon and IMDB.com page. I appreciate all the great feedback on the fight scene. I credit John Lennox for working with me on the fight arrangement. I also credit Graham Turner my practice partner and my co-stars in that bar scene. I’ve hurt an actor on set who would not focus and follow instructions during an action scene rehearsal. He was clowning with some actresses when we were going over a fight scene. On ACTION I pulled his shoulder out of socket because he turned the wrong way. So I was extremely happy and impressed by the focus of all those actors we worked with. John Lennox got them up to speed and we made a good sequence. I might consider a project with more action but that is not what I’m looking for. I seek strong stories to tell. Anyway, take a watch and if you like it, tell a friend.
Wrangler Robert Bradley faced a hard job with those dogs:)
LOST HEART is now in post audio with the amazing Dennis Therrian. He will be composing the score and sound design. The new locked edit is strong and I’m proud of Jesse Low and Scott Magie for their masterful work. The film will be delivered in June to BMG for distribution. I’m anticipating a premiere in the Whitehall area where we filmed. We’re now working on DVD art work with the distributor and the first trailer. Soon we’ll be able to give audiences a first look. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew for telling a beautiful story.
Who’s is this knucklehead? Niles Cass:) I really enjoyed this film because many of my scenes are with my brother from another mother Josh Perry. This film will start a slow build of PR towards a fall release.
EASTER season is upon us following a great Christmas with THE QUEST TRILOGY. I’ve had lots of great conversations over the three films. These biblical adventures create lots of good conversation. I’m excited how they are making their way around the world. These three films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER should be watched together. Amazon Prime search these films and take a journey full of adventure.
WRAP UP THOUGHTS
Last week while enjoying a visit with an old friend and his son, I took a call. It was an FYI that someone in our local market was speaking ill of CDI and a few folks, myself included. Oh, I’m not perfect, never claimed to be, but we work very hard at what we do. I take our storytelling very serious and I’m doing it for what I feel are the right reasons. It seems, one of the talented people that we’ve worked with several times was approached and during conversation with this person, several negative things were apparently said about our organization. The issue is that the person being spoken to, knew the truth having worked with CDI many times.
Had their experience been truly negative it would have ended at one film but this person has worked with us multiple times. So my reaction to all this was a shrug.
“ACTIONS speak louder than any words.”
Find me a group that works as hard as we do and creates on our level or beyond and that is someone I or CDI might work with one day. RESPECT. But, while others talk toxic wasting breath and time, we’re creating and constantly moving forward. So decide to be a person of ACTION, not just talk. To know the truth of a matter look at the ACTIONS not the talk. So, keep the drama on the screen and sail forth telling the world stories and leaving a legacy for your artists. We’re prepping another ship (Film) for another great CDI journey so casting and crewing will be in the weeks ahead. We’ll be making announcements soon but you got the news here first.
Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.
Good morning. I want to welcome new readers from Belize and Qatar to our little weekly circle. Lots of interesting things to discuss but while I’m welcoming people here it makes me think on ANCESTRY. For Christmas we decided to do our DNA test and see what our family history actually is. Here is my breakdown – EUROPE WEST – likely German 46%, Great Britain 33%, Ireland/Scotland/Wales 16%, Europe East 2%, Finland/NW Russia 1% and for trace amounts under 1% – Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal), Asia South (India and surrounding region), Europe South (Greek) and Scandinavian (Viking). So I’ve enjoyed discovering the trace amounts and think it is completely amazing that we’re so connected. This kind of enlightened knowledge can make the mindset of people more unified. I knew the first three but I’m happy to know what else lies in the past family tree.
This week also was great for writing. I’ve been working on the script for what will likely be our next CDI feature film. I’ve been sitting out on the patio surrounded by hop vines and sipping coffee. The story is starting to really flow and I’m excited about where it’s all going. This week will include more time spent with the imagination.
It was a week that saw a few good meetings at the fort. A few new meetings including a local director. Always fun to get to know someone and see where their journey is taking them. Also had Curran Jacobs out this week. He’s one of my co-stars in MBF: Man’s Best Friend. He also resenting became the World Champion for Catch Wrestling, the premium style pre-WW2. It’s making a come back and I’ve enjoyed watching the matches on SNAKE PIT’s Event site. Curran was battled MUCH bigger opponents. I watched these monsters go from no respect to major respect. That is because respect is earned. He earned respect. That is what we must do in all our engagements. I’ve seen in our industry circles people with a bit of success who withhold or fail to give others respect. They view them as unimportant and with little to nothing to contribute. I respect everyone until they give me a reason not to. From top to bottom on our cast/crews EVERYONE is important. I’ve observed people acting this way to others and that alone is reason to keep them at an arm’s length. Life is too short to have toxic people in your circle even if they have access to something helpful. No when to say no, because that is what will define you and your work.
As the holiday season is around the corner we’re looking to market our trilogy, getting people to enjoy Forty Nights and Chasing the Star before we release part 3 The Christ Slayer. Part 2 just won a silver Crown Award at the ICVM this month. The theatrical trailer for part 3 released a few weeks ago. If this looks interesting please do go back and watch part 1 and part 2. This films could be enjoyed if you never stepped one foot in a church or never cracked a bible. It is the age of style of the parable of telling stories that gives something back to the audience.
WATCH/BUY ‘FORTY NIGHTS’
WATCH/BUY ‘CHASING THE STAR’
THE CHRIST SLAYER – trailer
The film is having music and sound design work done and I’m looking forward to that. Our composer Dennis Therrian will bring forth a powerful and inspirational score.
We’re going to be playing on the big screen at the AMC in Burbank, CA on Sept 8th – please do join us and take a trip back to the 1800’s.
We’ve got some exciting things happening for the home video release and things are developing for the TV series. It is still too early to discuss it but it is all very exciting. I would like to see the TV series go into production back half of 2019.
‘MBF‘ is all on the computers and editing is ready to start in full. We’ve got great ideas for the teaser trailer and will have one to release in the fall. It was an amazing experience and I look forward to inviting this team back together. We’ve just released our first official still and we’ll be releasing 1-2 a week on our FB social media site. Follow us here! Thank you to all the military and dog supporters who have joined us.
Additionally I have heard that ‘ASHES OF EDEN’ will be releasing in another country but I will let Mr. Shane Hagedorn announce that once the ink is dry. This film can also be found on Amazon Prime if you’ve not watched it. I really do love the role I played in that film.
Today we have another soccer match. Last week we played a tough squad in the blazing heat and won soundly. This is a good kick off to the second half of the season. I do enjoy the battle each weekend and the second half of the season leading into fall is my favorite. This week I’m looking to bottle the FRANKENBERRY WINE because I need my carboy for the upcoming wine. We have lots of wild grapes growing around the garden. I’ve been researching recipes and I’m excited about trying something new. Thanks to the squirrels we have a few vines of either pumpkin or squash growing around the yard. We had to also shut down the access by a woodchuck under the office porch. I think he has moved on. I look forward to the week ahead – more writing, more development, more post work and more enjoying time with people. Have a great week and be good to one another.
Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
I have a full day so I’m up and typing before the coffee is even done brewing. What an exciting past week. This week looks to hold even more excitement. I want to welcome some of our new blog readers. Look at the diversity in where people live but a commonality in their passion for the arts and life entwined with art.
Let’s get right into it. Here is a great PR release that focuses on the ‘Warrior Spirit’ and gives praise to our Native American talent. I know that Abby Mason who wasn’t mentioned in the article and played our school teacher also is from Cherokee descent. Actually many of us probably do carry those blood lines and I’m proud of the relationships I’ve had with the tribes over the years. Most of that comes from just respect of the people, culture and what they’ve been through. Take a read about a few of the actors in ‘Wild Faith’ our mid-western now in theaters.
Cherokee Robert Bradley with a find close to his home in Maggie Valley, NC
Last week ‘Wild Faith’ played Goodrich Quality Theaters in Hastings, MI and due to the large attendance it has added a family friendly show time of 1:40 today. Take the family down to the show and experience Michigan in 1875.
This coming week ‘Wild Faith’ will play Monday & Wed in Jackson, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. If you enjoy the time period this tale is something you might truly enjoy. There is a reason some have watched 3, 4 and 5 times on the big screen. I think as a society being swallowed up by technology audiences find it relaxing to see how life was a handful of year’s ago.
I also want to thank Dee Freeman for having me on her show to talk about the writing of ‘Wild Faith’ which was a rewrite on an early script called ‘Wild Michigan’ – Dee was the author of the book adaptation. See what changes and what stayed the same. I need a few reviews online with Amazon so if reading is your thing –
The push on THE QUEST TRILOGY continues and I had some wonderful fan email this week about how these films were seen at just the right time in their lives. These films both played in theaters and so will the third installment ‘The Christ Slayer’ around Christmas time. If you enjoy our storytelling style these films are well worth the watch. If they go back into the theaters as a holiday event picture do yourself and favor and see it on the big screen. But they can be seen right now on Amazon Prime. Look for the new trailer to release this summer once Jesse Aragon (Our DP) gets done with the color correction.
MBF (Man’s Best Friend) is in heavy pre-production. I’m proud to announce we’ve locked in our director of photography Mr. Pat Dowdle. Pat’s been with us on a few films now and his positive attitude and developing style makes him a perfect fit for this next story. We’re interviewing a few people for the unit production manager position to work our office under the producer staff. I will also be looking at editors this week. But the script and schedule is locked and soon our cast and crew will be full. The ship is fueled up and ready to travel. I’m excited about seeing so many friends again and telling this powerful story.
This week I also have a quick turn around trip to AZ to discuss the Collective Development Inc. production deal with our distributor. We’ll be discussing the future of ‘Wild Faith’ and the production slate of films. I’ve been doing a lot of writing as of late and I think we’ll be just fine. A TV series and a few films a year would be just fine with me.
NEW Lights put up around the office.
This weekend I put up some new lights at the office. I have a commercial voice over this week and today is our first outdoor soccer match. We’ve had a handful of people report in that they’ll be missing the first game. It’s about making the best hand with what you have. I think despite us playing a strong team we could take it. I’m coming to play in good shape and I’m ready to throw down. It will be a battle.
Keep fighting for your dreams.
USA, Australia, Brazil and China are the top four countries where our readers are from. I’ve not been to any of the last three but I’m appreciative to you all. I’ve had films released in all three of those territories – following the USA. What I do love is the community of artistry. We’ve had a lot of rain this week but also signs of the coming fall. MSU football is getting close to kicking off and that is excitement. With my boy Luke on recovery the squirrels have come in force stripping roughly a third of my apples off the tree and making a play for the garden harvest. I cannot blame theme but we’ve got more than enough for them to eat without their garden raids.
This week was full of ups and downs but steady movement forward especially with post work and development work that is about to go full pre-production. I will speak briefly about one encounter. I had a business intro call that was set up to make introductions and set the foundation for future business. This was to be with an executive at a well-known company. Just because you are dealing with a larger corporation does not make them BETTER organized. It had been many years since I had to deal with attitude from someone. But, I always go in with respect and professionalism. That said, when someone line steps you sometimes have to put them into check. But, you must be willing to lose the business. The best business is not when someone tries to discount a property to leverage the best deal. I love when they are honest with what they really like and express a wish to do some same-side of the table negotiation and create a WIN-WIN. That is the difference between true leaders and those who were in a position and gone in 8-18 months. These people also represent the BRAND. I take great pride in our artists on both sides of the camera. I would rather develop the right personality versus working with an ass that may be talented but makes the journey sour. This one individual had a couple of possible reasons for their odd behavior but most stem from low self-esteem. He had another young female executive on the phone call and was trying to be manly by being confrontational. Well, that conversation did not go exactly how he planned it. Remember this people.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
Many think that a name tag, door plaque or desk moniker will automatically give respect. Initially people will respect the office but if the personality is unfit they become a joke. That only enhances their need to try to feel powerful by treating people poorly. I’ve had many people over the years treat me well only to have me observe them treating others they feel below them, poorly. Don’t be this person. I respect everyone on our projects from DP to he or she who makes the coffee. This person will likely continue to hurt their branding. Don’t hurt YOUR branding.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – As we move towards finishing Part 2 “Chasing the Star” more people are introduced to our biblical world in “40 Nights” – Also had the pleasure recently of taking several meetings over our third upcoming film “The Christ Slayer” which despite the attention grabbing title is a beautiful story.
“Chasing the Star” – some amazing new stills will be rolling out. A poster, a trailer – all these great promotional items will start rolling out as we close in on the finish line.
“The Christ Slayer” – The returning cast are very excited by the third installment. I’ve been looking at and developing some of the important foundation elements of this story. I will enjoy the final trek into this world one more time as Jesus. A swan song to a beautiful role which has brought smiles to many people. I thank all of you audiences for that.
“Wild Faith” – Our team has started to line up our cast and crew for this 1800’s story that takes place in Michigan shortly after the Civil War. I’ve been engaged in discussions with key artists and we’ll have many more announcements soon. This week we announced Melissa Anschutz and Lana Wood joining the cast. I’m excited about the additional announcements. I love Michigan in the fall. I love westerns. I love my fellow artists who will join in telling the story. Each cast and crew is unique. I’m excited to be prepping to play a role in this film and to work with all these fine people telling this story.
I’ve got much more I could ramble on about but instead I’m going to pick from the garden and do a few things around the homestead. Be good to each other. Keep following your dreams. Keep clawing.
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)
Ah! Nothing like a good steaming cup of coffee on a snowy Saturday. I think I’ve been good at trailblazing ahead in filmmaking and not sweating the nay sayers. I DO care about our audiences and I DO care about the artists I work with. I want them to be proud to be part of a Collective Development project. The films have always been made with passion from the very beginning. So last night on the big screen, we did our first showing for our Michigan-based cast and crew of “40 Nights” that traveled to Yuma. A few significant other and special guests attended but I wanted to keep it intimate and low key. The theatrical version will be a more powerful 7.1 mix but even stereo, the film played powerful. What it will mean to each of you – that is what peaks my curiosity.
I wanted to share that screening with some good people – and we did. Thank you so much to the Lansing Media Center for hosting our cast and crew showing last night. It was great to see it on the big screen. Yuma, AZ-area cast and crew get ready. I’m very excited to show everyone there VERY soon.
Also we’re entering another phase in the filmmaking journey. I compare finishing a feature film to dropping a kid off at the bus stop, ready for their first day of school. At home, you can feed the child all the encouragement, love and preparation before the harsh world has contact. Our child is now on the bus. Creatively, what is – IS. Now the debates can rage – love it, hate it – why didn’t someone fund my film versus this…like I said in a post, “stepping out of the darkness where the masses wait with rocks or roses”-
Audiences will decide. I shift to business mode arranging things that will assist exposure of this film. My biggest regret on “40 Nights” after watching in studio was that it lacked P&A to show in theaters around the world. I thought it would play epic – last night at our first private viewing – it did. Much is credited to the capture of beautiful locations and the skilled hard work of our production team. A special credit to the vision of our director who translated the story from page to screen.
Feel free to sign up your local theater, church or venue for a screening opportunity. The page is on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website.
My upcoming director and editor on the second film got to attend the showing. I wanted to show them for weeks the cut of “40 Nights” as we prepped for part 2 “Chasing the Star” BUT I wanted them to see it EPIC. I wanted them to get to experience the world and I think they did just that. This second adventure will also be one for the books. Getting ready to chase the star:) Building the team.
I’ve talked about this before. I’m blessed with having played team sports from a young age. My father was big into sports and so that was part of my life. You rise and fall together and you participate in witnessing what can be done with proper COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION. Coordination is that synergy between it all and the lines run on professional respect. That is, respect for the story, that will all bear their names. As stated, my goal is to have my cast and crews be proud of the participating. These teams can develop over time but I’ve realized, some don’t really know what a team truly is. I am going to give an example and perhaps it will help someone, somewhere.
Three films with fixed budgets are contracted. A team is hired for project one. Project done. Proposed hirings again for project two from project one – A few want more compensation. (Who doesn’t) But the trilogy was outlined – it is a business plan. Now the end game goal, is to take the three completed films to sell NEW development at a studio or TV network. Or just raise budgets to reflect ROI from the trilogy films and move forward with a new slate. Budget increase will equal pay increase. Okay, everyone should be with me.
As a producer,I HIRE, yet as a writer or actor I’m often, THE HIRED. If you made an offer for a short time commit at lower rates (I did not say FREE nor for IMDB credit). These are rates with transportation, lodging, food and such. Now as an actor, would working under your assumed rate, on a short term project, by a company that hires repeatedly or on a regular basis. That sounds good.
To me, the quality has to be at a certain level for acting consideration, but I think when possible that quality should also be looked at by crews. I know many do pick and choose very carefully where to put their artistic heart. I understand schedule conflicts – why work always wants to land on one another versus nose to tail? It just does. But doing a project, that I believe in for a smaller rate. I’ve done it. And it won’t kill my yearly income by working a few days under rate. I have often nurtured relationships that would grow and expand in scope and budget over the years. The movie BOTTLE ROCKET shot immediately to mind. Several creative individuals that collaborated and still collaborate.
Back to the job offers, I watch people work on a series of free projects and turn around to tell me a rate offered is too low. Do I carry the burden that this person chose to play versus work? Other client(s) that did not pay? Whatever the case, now someone behind in bills, pushes to get more $$. Now, I’ve been successful as an actor because I respect the long game. A career of building respectful relationships that when the large paycheck opportunity comes along that person is happy to give it, because you gave so much when they had so little. Respect is real power. I give people a clean slate to make their own respect. Together I invite people to travel on a journey of storytelling. I’ve dedicated my life to following this path. I will be direct and people understand, I’m looking at the end game. A finished film. A story made by a team of artists. One that I can only hope everyone is proud to have worked on. Enough of this ramble.
I’m going to cut this short as I have some work to attend to and I want to finish a polish on a script. I’m almost there. That script is the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”…
Have a great Saturday! Keep clawing!