“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “roots

The Power of Teachers – CDI Updates

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Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.

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My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.

We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.

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My alumni school

I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.

Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.

High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.

I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.

I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.

I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience.  Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.

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FILM UPDATES

I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.

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LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.

LOOKING AHEAD

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BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.

https://www.prlog.org/12824284-snl-alumnus-victoria-jackson-returns-for-cdis-best-years-gone.html

Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.

  • We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
  • Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
  • We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
  • Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
  • Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects.  We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.

 

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I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.

As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.

Be safe and we’ll chat next week.

DJ

 

 


Coffee Cheers – Wine Making, Lost Heart, Best Years Gone…and more

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Welcome new readers from France, China and South India – welcome to our circle of artists. I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me and I’m ready to discuss some activities from the week. For starts I’ve been exploring an upgrade to my account so that I can have some control over the ads. If they are going to be here they might as well be things that pertain to what we all do. I’m also looking at reviewing a few items here and there and such. But let’s look at some of the highlights of the week.

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NATURE – This is something that most artists already know but a healthy connect to nature is a secret. The property is a natural garden of sorts. We are prepping to start the garden up with strawberries and rhubarb already showing. Apple blossoms and mulberry buds starting. I planted a hill of beans and some onions. I see the first of the ink tip mushrooms but no morels as of yet. Last night I did my first cooking of dandelions. If you read up they are all edible and full of nutrition. I cold washed and in a pan cooked them down in red cooking wine and garlic. I stirred in a few almond slices also and…bitter. I ate a few good bites and you could get use to it and I think longer cooking could reduce bitterness. Also different spices may help.

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I harvested the roots that I like for tea but I will need to work on my cooking of the greens. I’m reading on the wine process. I’ve drank dandelion wine but never made it. I might try dandelion, rhubarb and black raspberry wine. Add a little home grown hops which is already going gangbusters. The last wine the GRAPE APE was well received so I’m planning the next wine. Same with beer as I’ve got a new Irish Porter I think to try and make. The beer always goes fast (vikings:) but the wine does also pending the company. So my days find balance with some yard work. Try it and you will find that your days will be much more balanced.

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NEW ADDITION TO THE OFFICE – WHO IS HE?

OFFICE ZEN – I’ve been using this time to deep clean and organize the office fort. It’s been great fun to walk down the lane remembering all the trials and tribulations of the artistic journey. I’ve noted that our endeavors have paid out millions to artists on both sides of the camera and the support industries. I’ve found great pictures and promotion from films past.

I think in light of everything in the world virus-like – I will be adding an outdoor pergola and seating/meeting area to the office. I’ve been looking for a while. A few more tree trims and maybe an improved property fence.  For my fellow producers I will likely be installing a boost, extender…to enhance office internet. I like it low tech as that is where minds meet before going off into our tech-ridden world. I’ve been having lots of phone meetings and much has been getting done. We have some exciting projects in development and others about to be completed. Let’s talk movies.

90014352_10157767726050306_8951653001047572480_n The fan mail keeps coming and the films continue to sell deeper and deeper into the world market. Mexico, Brazil and much of Latin America has gone on a ‘quest’ watching THE QUEST TRILOGY.

Audiences young and old are traveling to 1870’s Michigan with Emmett, Haddie, Grace, Henry and Uncle McKinney in WILD FAITH.

Viewers have cried and cheered with Paul Landings in MAN’S BEST FRIEND. And the cautionary tale of ASHES OF EDEN pushes out an important message.

During these times our artists are proud to give you inspiration, hope, distraction and direction. Thank you so very much!

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LOST HEART  – VFX, Color Correction, Credits and sound design are underway. The music is nearly done and marketing with the distributor is being conducted. Long time collaborator Dennis Therrian is again composing a wonderful soundtrack. We might have a few guests joining the band Roanoke.  DVD artwork is almost complete and we’re all very excited to share this story with you.

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I will discuss one thing I’ve seen a ‘trend’ with and that is minimizing front credits. I’ve had multiple directors push to get to the story unhindered by credits. I don’t agree. While directors have gotten more powerful in Hollywood and can push for such things we play in the indie world where I stand by the fact that I’ve never paid an artist what they are truly worth. I can’t because some of them, most of them are beyond a price tag. What we can do is honor some of the main artists contributing and complete that journey with end credits. I don’t like on TV when they speed those end credits up but networks are dealing with time slots only. I see the opening of the film as a slow slip into our created world. The kudos of credits that slide across the screen give added appreciation. So my taste in music, my style of dress and my general interests may never be ‘trending’ or trendy but I am okay with that. I’m a touch old school and I admit it. I love the slower pacing of classic films. I enjoy black and white classic Hollywood films that played at my grandma’s pretty much 24/7 save when Law and Order was on:)  Maybe one day those like me holding onto a non-trendy, through-back storytelling will be GONE WITH THE WIND (My other grandma’s favorite) but until that point – stay classy.

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BEST YEARS GONE – I’ve had some interesting talks with our next project. This week we chatted with actress Cindy Williams who did a small bit for LOST HEART. We were looking to bring her in a bit more to the CDI family and will if scheduling permits. Once the storm lifts and productions can move ahead it might be like the wagons in the gold rush. Or some endeavors may have suffered from the economic hardships. Luckily, our ship sits in the harbor stocked up and ready to sail. STORM: 45 is what we’ve been calling this operation. Someone suggested it was a good name for a WW2 film. Simply it means that 45 days from the storm of regulation passing we’ll move forward with a safe game plan. Like many we’ve already been focusing on all this as well as doing prep work. Scheduling, shot lists and soon zoom actor reads will be enacted.

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NEW CAST ANNOUNCEMENT 

This week we’ll be announcing a few more of our actors. We’ve got a pair of twins co-starring in the story. For those roles we’ve looked at reads from across the country. I’m happy to say that we found our twins and they are going to be wonderful collaborators in our film. You can see them up above. To find out who they are join our BEST YEARS GONE Facebook page tomorrow.

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and remember to ‘Subscribe to the Tribe’

at http://www.cdiproductions.com

It is funny that someone mentioned WW2 film in reference to STORM 45. The big 2021 film is going to be a WW2 film directed by Anthony Hornus. It will be his follow up to MAN’S BEST FRIEND. We’re about to launch a national casting for the young lead in the film. We’ve been putting the business together behind the project and it looks like the first half of the financing is about to fall into place. I’m looking forward to storytelling in this time period. Maybe our secret code word will be Storm 45. Ok. That’s already taken so for now ‘Untitled Anthony Hornus WW2 film‘ will just have to work. We are also looking for German actors and actors capable of speaking German. Be honest with those resumes and special skills;)

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This TV series is gaining momentum. We had talks with our distributor and a few 3rd parties either about finance or licensing. Every month our fans of the Murphy family and the zany characters of ‘Hastings’ grows. Some of the larger licensors of WILD FAITH will be approached on pre-licensing commits but I think it will only be a matter of time. In a perfect world this would land after BEST YEARS GONE and before the WW2 film. This is not a perfect world but we have a lot of creative folks and will adapt as needed. The first season will be 8 shows. I think audiences will really love to learn more about these deeply evolving characters in a changing world.

In thought

We have development on animated features, documentary films and several features in development. I personally am also excited that I’ve gotten to do some writing on my SciFi script. We’ve got a few great ‘space/technology’ consultants and some concept art is being working upon. Merchandise of various sorts and expanding services will be developing as more artist join the CDI Tribe. I’ve been using this time to plan the next 10 years for CDI. We have a clear path and I’m excited to see what is produced under the flag. I’m going to wrap this up and get to some outdoor tasks.

Be good to one another! Coffee Cheers.

DJ


First ‘Lost Heart’ Impressions and Christmas Season Updates

Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…

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So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.

  1. I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
  2. Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
  3. I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
  4. Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
  5. I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
  6. I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
  7. I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
  8. MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
  9. I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
  10. Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?

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LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry.  The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack.  I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.

I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.

Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.

My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.

I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece.  NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.

So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of  another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.

Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…

OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.

DJ