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!
Hazelnut coffee is a flowing and soon it will be snowing and…welcome to 2016! I got up nice and early and had some communications with our post supervisor. We have a final “40 Night” audio file (music, sound design, mixed) and visual file (color corrected with intro/outro and VFX) and overnight they were “baking” the two together into one final film. That will be uploaded to the gent who has mastered the DVD for mass reproduction. Monday morning he gets the Closed Caption file to insert and move on to the manufacturer. From there the creation of DVD’s and shipping to the warehouses. So we are close to having a COMPLETED movie.
Last night I was working on my answers to a Yuma Sun interview. We’ve also got a few more story requests from magazines coming in. I’m starting to move these to the distributor so the PR department can organize. We will also start looking at event showings of the film leading up to the national March release. Once we have our screening link they will start their oversea sales.
This coming week we’ll start pulling things together on “Chasing the Star” the second film in this QUEST TRILOGY. We had a big production meeting yesterday and it looks like a few days of our schedule will be shot in Michigan. The bear share will be in Yuma, AZ but a few sets make sense to shoot here on our home turf.
I’m happy to announce that our final script in the series has a first draft. We will be announcing that project once we announce “40 Nights” done and “Chasing the Star” prepping to film. I think we’ve found 2 of our 3 magi leads. We’ve been centering in on many other roles and I’m excited to see this project come together. It is a beautiful story and will be an excellent film that I can only hope will become a Christmas classic.
It is funny I had a conversation with another distributor this week on a different project. They were VERY aware of “40 Nights” and expressed how deeply they wished they had that film. We would do X, Y and Z = coulda, woulda, shoulda. I had to paint a very clear picture for him. They stated before that advances and guarantees were not their thing because they did not need to. Why? Because they have new filmmakers who need a way into the marketplace. I know the filmmakers behind one of their upcoming titles. The director is a good guy. He has unfortunately attracted a local parasite… Anyway, the distributor has that product versus our “40 Nights” because he didn’t put his money where his mouth is when he could have. I had to politely, but directly, shut down his debate. One organization came with action (A 3 film deal) and one has just big talk – after the risk of production was over. “40 Nights” and all three films have a deal in place. This was done BEFORE we started filming the first one.
If you want quality product like what I’m offering you have to speak with action (A deal). I’m about done chasing deals after the fact – except maybe in associated projects. So TALK IS CHEAP. I’m not looking for short cuts or pie-in-the-sky promises. I just want solid business partners to grow with. I’ve also discovered that our production outfit is rare. We do ambitious material with a proven market audience. We stay on schedule and budget. (Ask the E.P.’s on “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller,” “40 Nights”) And our turn around on finishing “40 Nights” is ten months. FYI: All three of those above films will release during the 1st half of 2016.
These success stories have led to more projects being brought to our table to consider producing. Even with $ attached and acting offers, you must look at the material, the people attached and pay close attention to strings attached. 95% of the issues we’ve ever had come from people we did not choose but had put upon us as part of a deal. I’ve said NO to a lot recently because a paycheck is not worth just my time. I have a purpose. I am a storyteller and we want to create good product.
Funny that same conversation with the distributor – he stated, I left some money on the table. Did I? Their business model is only around money-grabbing one off’s, which is fine I guess. They want, action spy flicks or family films with dogs and horses. I told him while we’re creating product to be profitable I would much rather have a solid film with long term success and credibility versus a “flash in the pan” sale that dies once they realize beyond the poster and opening credits the film is…subpar. I stated, if money was all I was chasing I would not be in our business. There is much easier ways to make money but I don’t want to look back at my career at 80 years old and see I just made mindless reality shows (Some I do watch) or bad exploit films. “A HORSE FOR EASTER” or “ST. PADDY PUPPY” – now I know people who do these films just like knock off slates that follow the studio mega hits. I just want more from my career when I look back. I’ve been creating for 20 years now and I can dream of making a few classics. Several films such as “Figure in the Forest” are still playing TV after several years. That longevity to me is success and so I will stay upon my path and try to create original product.
I guess it all goes back to creating your own mythology. You are defined by what you act in, produce, write and ultimately do – so keep that in mind. Also don’t be distracted by haters or what anyone thinks. They all have their own issues. I loved the article that someone wrote in response to a Huffington Post reviewer commenting on the new Star Wars film. Too many people willing to just stir the pot and create noise to get attention. All those people involved with the new Star Wars still made a movie whose merits will be debated for a lifetime. The goof who just tried to rip apart the film flaws is just an angry little-minded person. Somewhere along the line he got knocked down and never got up.
That was one of my 2016 changes I made. As always, several fools in our field doing bad business. I pointed out to one of my producers ranting on a valid point, THAT person has to wake up and be THAT person. If you’ve wronged people, you’ve likely slept poorly. You’re likely living in partial hiding from people looking for you because of unkept promises or criminal activity. Their bridges are burning all around them and they have not an ounce of the one thing they so badly yearn for – RESPECT! It is nowhere to be found. WHY? Because you have to earn it. You can’t demand it. So while I don’t have any enemies there exists enemies to our business. I’ve risen above most all of that. I focus on our own. I likely won’t be paying attention when these people implode. I do feel a bit sorry for the person they could have been. But you reap what you sow.
MAKE A CHANGE!
Off for more coffee and maybe some breakfast. Have a great weekend and productive week ahead. As always, thank you for your time.
The first snow of mention kissed the ground last night. It’s beautiful and welcome at least for a while. The harvest was finished yesterday with the pulling of the beets. A final mulch and mow and stowing the last of the yard items until spring. This morning has been all coffee (BREAKING update) I may have a new coffee sponsor – stay tuned. Speaking of sponsors, this morning has been wonderful with coffee and The Candleberry Candle Company! They have been a personal sponsor for a few years helping me find my mindspace to work on scripts. My zen to keep patience when dealing with accounting and BS technology issues. OK. Let’s be honest on that front. 98% of my technology issues are with my technological issues. From my earliest days of friends playing with the video camera – my buddy Darrel was always the camera guy. He could get the camera to roll back to the right VHS frame. We didn’t have editing back in the day. We shot one take in order. Boom box on set was our music. Those days were fun and free. Of course being young without the daily adult issues was more free. I cherish those days beyond words. I’ve worked hard to establish a worth in our business and I can’t just play. It reduces value and being part of something “bad” (maybe still fun) can make you go backwards. I’ve got management pushing me up into the larger films. I’ve got a few studios that have taken an interest in developing my branding. I still have fun when playing on set now – it just has to make sense business-wise.
I had a funny message a few weeks ago but I was too busy to really even address it. It was from a filmmaker whom I had heard all good things about. Previously they had expressed to a mutual associate that they wanted to get a script in my hands. It was in the thriller/horror genre as I recall. With good recommendations behind them I even thought a future collaboration might be possible. I have a few horror scripts with interested distribution and foreign sales waiting. It has to be the right director and the project just is not front and center right now in development. They were working on a script and we inquired about bringing to the table scripts that made business-sense because business was there. I recall the idea being just lukewarm. Lot’s of people have their own scripts to do but if distributors/retailers don’t want it why shoot it? So fast forward and coming from Yuma shooting “40 Nights” I recall getting a script and reading it at the airport. It wasn’t bad as I recall just not anything I was into doing. Maybe I needed time away from playing Jesus before heading into the dark side again? But whatever reason – it was a pass. Now under some odd screen name I got contacted and scolded for talking SHI$% about their script and making a Jesus film. OK. They wanted to twist a dagger with a “So and so also just made the same Jesus film…” 🙂 First, you have not seen our film. Second, that is like saying, “someone else made a film about a haunted house” – okay. I’ve had rocks thrown at me for years and I’m okay with that. It is a badge of honor and respect – some of my celebrity friends have all confirmed – when hate starts you’re getting success. Now, when I got around to reading this message I wasn’t mad. To me, I saw a frustrated artist who took my rejection of a role as a rejection of his art. Not true. I almost reached out because if he is a good artist this kind of negativity leads to career death. I can say that because I’ve seen it. That was the funny thing about our screening of “An Ordinary Killer” last week. A perfect movie? No. Art is subjective. It did sell out 12 of 13 theatricals, USA/Australia distribution and played on ABC. We made that film 13 years ago. WOW! And that was our 5th CDI feature and the library is much larger now. The point is I want people to succeed but by good business and hard work. No shortcuts and half-ass business. People who know me will say that I give you an honest opinion. I’ve had lots of experiences in our business and while I learn something new daily – I’ve gathered a good amount of knowledge.
RESPECT. I’ve given it and had several good advisors and mentors.
IF YOU GIVE IT – you too can learn, grow and thrive.
That one communication was just a good example of how not to build bridges. You get feedback and you get defensive – that shuts down any respectful communication. Do I practice what I preach?
CHASING THE STAR – On Friday Bret Miller, our director and I, concluded a three-hour plus script meeting. I’m happy to say we have draft 2 with the directors input. We moved a few scenes for pacing and flow and he had a few ideas that we put in there. Our distributors had purchased a suit and we were giving it a tailor. It is exciting and so that will start to go out next week.
On casting we’ve been looking at several reels – most on the west coast because we’re limited on flights. We also fly in several of our keys because that is just as important. They are stars on the other side of the camera. Funny. In Michigan I hear complaints when films come in and bring their keys. I will once again get back at them by bringing some of our Michigan keys. I can’t bring everyone and that is a hard balance. But once again some of us will depart Michigan in Feb for Arizona. Maybe that is why I can enjoy the snow.
40 Nights – This week my goal is to pull in the intro sequence and VFX. Sound design is closing up and our director loved the direction. The music score is also coming together. We released a teaser that used a snippet of music.
We’ve been re-mastered the CDI library in prep of some new VOD, foreign, TV deals and a possible CDI Online store. The book/DVD deal on “Knight Chills” is signed and some PR will release on that.
I thought some PR from our distributor was coming out on the “Ashes of Eden” TV deal. Something for next week! Closed caption deal on “Donors” releasing Feb 02. “Bestseller” is playing Grayling, MI Dec. 10th look for a new event page and updates. The national release date on “Bestseller” might be March 02 but we’re trying to confirm. I will confirm that artwork is being done and I’m looking forward to that.
Script, script, scripts… – I signed an NDA and had a book sent to me that will be followed by the script. A studio I’m working with sent me a script that they want me to star in. Also another couple of projects to consider/talk about – one is a TV show reboot and the other a major film on par with C.U.J.O.. That project is moving forward and looks to shoot in 2016. I will say more when I can.
Let’s wrap this up. I’m going to watch MSU and maybe read a script.
Enjoy your weekend!