I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee in my Oswald’s Bear Ranch cup. We were planning another UP Michigan trip when all this virus stuff erupted. Now we spent a good amount of time discussing that last week and so I’m not going to hammer that this week. In Michigan we have had our stay extended for two weeks. I’ll just call it confinement for all the things in my youth I got away with. Again it was a wonderful week of organizing, personal and biz calls and getting things done. Let’s start with our next film up – BEST YEARS GONE.
This week we’ll load in the last financial piece and we’ll be all ready to sail once the storm passes. We’ve got a new schedule to review and I’m putting some fine tuning to the budget now that our day-of-days is more defined. We’re announcing more of our crew and cast and preparing to do a few ZOOM script reads. Shot lists are being prepared and I for one will be ready to get out and tell another story.
I had some productive talks with our distributor and we’re already looking at marketing for the immediate and the year ahead. The Quest Trilogy has been playing strong during the holiday window which runs after Halloween on the run up to Thanksgiving through Easter. Many new countries like Mexico, Brazil and more have enjoyed our three biblical adventures. We spoke of them cutting a great TRILOGY trailer for the next ‘holiday’ season.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of watching Douglas James Vail’s new film 40: The Temptation of Christ – that also imagines the 40 days of Jesus in the desert. I enjoyed their beautiful locations, camera work and the unique way they handled the temptations. Take a watch if you enjoy these stories.
LOST HEART is just finishing up music and will be turning to sound design this last month before we mix, master and deliver. There is going to be a big need for new content so I think we’ll get a good push with this story. We might have a few other surprises when it comes to this film. This week ahead the distributor is working to lock up DVD wrap art. I would guess we’ll see pre-sales start after a while but we’ll see if we do any exclusive TV runs first. I’m excited to put this fun, heartfelt movie out into the marketplace. – Soon.
WILD FAITH / HASTINGS TV SERIES
The film is gathering fans as the distribution keeps getting deeper. Meanwhile we continue to have promising discussions on the TV series. If you have not seen the film please do and let me know your thoughts on a TV series. Like all the films, I had some fan mail on this film talking about the power of the themes and how nice it was to spend time in a world more simple.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also making the rounds thanks to all you fans out there. The reviews and word of mouth keeps growing our audience. I’m so excited that this film is making people ponder and discuss the topics. So watch with your family including the furry ones. As with any of the films just google the film in quotes and it will show where you can buy the DVD or watch the film. Again a big salute to all our service men and women who serve.
At this time my thoughts are with all our family and friends and we all look forward to sharing a few in-person laughs. Soccer season is approaching and I’m in hopes that we can still enjoy that. The blossoms are starting to bloom on the newly trimmed apple and mulberry trees. The hops and rhubarb are also starting to get some size and that is fun to watch. I’m going to use this nice day to get some more outdoor tasks completed. I hope you all have a wonderful week and be safe!
So we had unusually odd weather reports whereas they were calling for 4-5 inches of snow. Come on now Michigan, it’s almost May. Snow? Inches? This morning I heard our multitude of birds singing this morning outside and upon peeking – no SNOW! Yesterday I did a good amount of prep work outside in the yard prepping for the snow. The property which has had some changes including the addition of a storage shed, is looking right fine. I removed a small pond and moved an outside fire sitting area to make room for our Finn the runner. Also a new dart board is hanging and the first games took place last week.
I want to thank all of you again who follow along each week. I see a few artists from different countries stopped by for a read this week.
In all we have artists from over 80 countries stop by to get inspired. There are 195 countries currently in the world so we have some room to grow still. This past week consisted of various tasks both with family and with the film endeavors. We took another step towards moving into full green light on our new CDI film entitled LOST HEART. Four more of the investor units to move and we’re making a film. We had some great meetings last week so I hope that we can wrap it up this coming week. The sooner that we do this the more preparation time we will have. Lodging, casting, crewing, vendors and flights all need to happen once the ship is fully loaded (Fully financed) and is ready to sail. We are very close:)
Last week I hinted at one of the well known actresses that was reading LOST HEART for one of the lead roles. After speaking with her Friday, I got to hear how she absolutely loved the script. I was told her representation is often quite ‘stoic’ when it comes to projects but that they genuinely enjoyed the script. So I will get an agent intro this week and when we can make a firm offer they are ready. The July 15-31st timeframe is what we are aiming at to shoot at. Don Most who was one of the co-stars in MBF: Man’s Best Friend will be joining us again on this story in a much larger role playing opposite Melissa Anschutz. It is all coming together, I’m just anxious to get scouting, hiring and prepping! I’ve been having fun with a little character creation myself. I will be bringing Niles Cats to the small town of Lost Heart.
WILD FAITH – I have seen the proof DVD (See wrap above) and it looks and sounds great. They are in the warehouses and will start rolling out to retailers May 6th. This is followed by digital purchase and rent in June and Wal-Mart DVD release in July. Thank you to all the support of this film. I know many people want to see the film and those who have already watched it on the big screen want to own it. It’s a good one for the collection. I think audiences will really enjoy it.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – THE CHRIST SLAYER
From one bearded mountain man Ben Lily in Wild Faith to another bearded gent with playing Jesus in The Christ Slayer. I’ve heard from a good many people who enhanced their Easter by seeing this film in the theaters and/or streaming and DVD. I still might have some local event to showcase this film. It was suggested that maybe all three play together so in the coming weeks we’ll explore a few options.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is close to being done with the first pass at dialog and sound design. We’ll likely be sitting down the 1st week in May to give notes and do a final pass. Meanwhile VFX, color correction are being completed and we’ll be working on a final trailer. I’m very excited about this project and I think audiences will really be taken in by this story.
I’ve got follow-up meetings this week on literary representation that could include acting representation targeting the foreign market. The agency has been reviewing my materials and the response so far has been very enthusiastic. They handle/represent some very talented folks and I would be honored to try this pathway with them.
CDI is also moving towards a few production collaborations that might include a slate of new biblical adventures and more. We have action, sword & sorcery and a few other great genres developing. I need to circle back and finish my SciFi script I have been working on when time permits. But all in good time. ALL these film endeavors are hard to pull together. Experience makes them easier but they are still always hard. We use to have to shop, shop, shop and shop our final films. We use to hit multiple festivals to try and lure a distributor to the table. Now we have theatrical and international distribution partners from the get-go and it can still be a climb. But if you are sincere you have to keep climbing. There is risk and sacrifice at every level. Also where you put your energy becomes more and more important the older you get. PICK YOUR COLLABORATIONS CAREFULLY.
I still see some filmmakers occupying the space where student and upcoming filmmakers exist to learn and grow. I think some stay in this safer space because the big game is much harder. MUCH harder. I’ve been asked why we don’t enter some of the regional film challenges or award events. Simply because that space exists for developing filmmakers to get a few marketing hooks to assist in reaching for that next level. We do attend a few select events if it matches the film property. So if you’ve done well in these events for a while, perhaps it is time to step up. If things start to feel safe that can mean stagnant as well. Just a few words to ponder on.
I’m going to refill the coffee cup. We have a family get together today to cover a handful of bdays that we’ve recently had. Thursday (my new day) is my first soccer game of the season. The change in day is nice because it will give more flexibility to my Sundays that often includes family events. I wish everyone well on their artistic endeavors this week. Keep chasing your dreams. Until next week my friends!
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!
So it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.
Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz
It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.
But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.
I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance. I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.
SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA (LANSING)
10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05
In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…
The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.
Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.
“Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.
I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion. Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.
Be good to one another.