The Loss of a Mentor – and Film Updates
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
Beautiful Sunday Updates
So I’m able to attract a distillery sponsor but still no coffee. Well, I’m sipping a nice dark coffee flavored with…you guessed it, hazelnut. I’ve been working hard to catch up on business and get back into the flow. I’m just about there.
The Easter month has brought the beginning of our release schedule with The Quest Trilogy. We’ve started with the new release of “Forty Nights” – See here to buy the remastered DVD, digital stream to rent or own.
Funny story. Many themes are spotlighted in these biblical films. Several of these themes addressed are what works against organized religion to the everyday person. You have all these branches of the tree that all want to claim being the roots. But the tree has but one seed. While people argue to own divinity so much is missed. One retailer who deals in “Christian” merchandise passed on carrying the “Forty Nights” DVD. I found it amusing that here’s a gatekeeper who believes they have some sort of authority to judge. Meanwhile the film has been nominated by an international Christian body for several awards including “the most inspiring film” yet…
Therein lies the issues I have with the “status quo” of organized religion. The beauty of these stories produced by amazing artists will reach beyond the small genre audiences. They’ll reach audiences worldwide and not just the Christian audiences. I’ll be having conversations with our distributor about the possibility of another slate of biblical period films. I cannot see creating an inferior product just to appease one retailer gatekeeper. Make a film that people want to watch and empower those retailers that DO carry the title. I saw some of the communications and it put my artistic self directly against my business self. Now I’ve always said, we create the best art within our business lines. But, without a strong script you cannot get strong artists on board. You end up with watered down product and that’s not what I do.
I’m sure a good balance will be found. But this example is why I don’t get too high on the praise or the criticism. It just amazes me that some feel empowered to judge believing they have some real power. Actually the only power this one retailer had was over greed. They can try to impose their will by refusing unit buys unless it fits their view. I also thought about how commerce often works against spiritual when “Christian reviewers” where just hammering the film NOAH. Now I like Russell Crowe and thought the film was just okay with many “over the top” events but like I told one person in private – If it inspired one person to go read the source material and put them on a path towards God, would the film not be a success? After I make a film I strap on my business armor and enter the fight. The haters will always exist and they really don’t have much of an effect these days. I think this one situation bothered me because fresh off of playing Jesus I tried to get to discover the core of the man and his beliefs. What would he think of someone censoring in his name? It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that. I think much like the table tossing in the temple he would walk into their offices and crack the whip.
But I believe these parables were created to unite people not divide. So I hope audiences do continue to connect with the material and seek it out. Those like the censoring retailers will likely get forced out of business in time. The daily fan mail tells me that many are reaping the rewards of the positive messages. If you want to see “Forty Nights” and the other films demand them:) Seek them.
Chasing the Star
So the film was watched and listened to again by multiple ears and eyes in studio last week to prep for the theatrical lay off. We’ve got a couple of weeks before our Grand Rapids premiere on the 22nd. After that they’ve announced my home town of Lansing, MI as the next stop. The play dates will be on the 24th and 25th of April at Celebration Cinema. More cities will be announced as we move forward. Again Sept 5th is the national DVD/Streaming release and it will be a wonderful Christmas time film for the entire family. I know the marketing team at BMG is already working on the release.
The Christ Slayer
Here is the video that our director posted with his SELECT shots from the film.
Sound has been married to picture and Monday editing will begin. I will be giving many more updates and you can join the FB site and follow us.
Our western is now in discussions over VFX work before we can lock the picture. We’ll have discussions with director Jesse Low this week. I will also be discussing poster art and marketing. The TV show is a real possibility and will be part of my business discussions this week. A busy week ahead.
We’ll be looking at the CDI library to possibly re-release some of our other films into the market. A few foreign sales talks are heating up and I will be exploring that. I’ve recently undergone a major hair cut to be ready for soccer that starts this month. I’m in good fighting shape thanks to the deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. We’ve been getting the yard around and soon the garden ground will be tilled. We’ve got many new projects that are just seeds. If we plant them in fertile grounds with a little TLC I’m sure we’ll have new projects sprouting soon.
Have a beautiful day and week ahead.