I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!
What a great week it was both personal and professional. I have to say that seeing plants start to grow and the warmth slowly creep over the land has been a positive and uplifting thing. I do love winter but this one was pretty intense. I had a chance to do some yard clean up. We’ve got plans to get the patio rocking this year also getting the pond going. Taxes both company and personal are submitted so that is off the plate. This week should have me becoming an Uncle which is an exciting thing. I have 6 gal. of beer brewing which I’ve called STAN REED’S SUMMER BREW. It is named after my character in the spring break movie TANGY GUACAMOLE. I’ve also got everything for my Banana/Coconut wine and that will be put into play very soon. So I’ve about drained the hazelnut coffee and I’m ready to throw you all a few new updates.
ASHES OF EDEN – This week has been watch-overs on the final version looking for tweaks here and there to be made before it all gets mastered out. We have one final watch/listen again on Tuesday of the stereo mix version. We spotted 5 or 6 improvements and those are being made as I type. The excitement by the masses is growing with record-setting ticket sales topping 500+ in only a few days. We could have close to a 1,000 people ready to watch the local showing. I hear that we will have several of our out-of-state stars coming in as well. If you are in the Michigan area and you want to be part of this showing go to the Capital City Film Festival site. Tickets are only $5 through the festival. I’m looking forward to telling this story to the masses. From there we will start talks with the interested distributors.
BESTSELLER should be close to a locked edit by month’s end. We should also be releasing the 1st trailer about that time. I’m excited by the preview because it really did capture the essence of the original story.
DONORS, the thriller we helped produced out of Yuma, AZ will have its first local showing on May 24th. There is a good chance that we may be in the area shooting on another feature. That is a HINT and if things go as planned I would look for an announcement around Easter.
REALIZISM a great short film that I acted in for Mitch Nyberg will play also on April 13th at the Grand Rapids Film Festival. Check out their site for times.
Several of the CDI films are in talks for additional Network and foreign licensing and I’m confident that we will have several releases to inform you of very soon. I’m going to keep it short but let me see if I can give any insights pulled from this week of business.
My advice would be to invest of yourself and your time wisely. If a project is going to be sub-quality or never be seen by any audiences beyond a few fest crowds why do it. If you need to build a resume and hone your skills – sure. But if you are established, which can be hard to do, do not kill your worth by taking on projects that are not worthy. Value yourself.
Have a great weekend.
I think I actually felt spring in the air if you can imagine that. Once the snow goes we have some tree cleaning to finish, fence fix and our gazebo took a hit under the snow and ice. I’m excited to do a few cosmetic things to the new office this year, which is looking great. It is truly the dream office and a great place to oversee the creation and on-going enterprises here at http://www.cdiproductions.com which has been kicking it strong since 1996. If you haven’t poked around the website do so as we’ve put several new updates on there. I also want to thank all our new blog fan adds from Australia. We are even now in talks to get more of our films released there and elsewhere. I’ve been asked to keep adding little tidbits of advice for aspiring filmmakers, actors and writers etc… I think people like the advice because it is brutally honest. No agendas here I just call it like I see it.
Let me see, filmmaker advice – best told by a story.
FILMMAKER CONFIDENCE – I had a good talk this week with a very talented artists on both sides of the camera. He was/is frustrated because of lack of progress and lack of control on moving a project forward. I like something he said – “I have confidence in the project but I lack confidence in myself.” That is a truthful statement but comes from a lack of experience. Imagine yourself a youngin’ standing on the edge of a swimming pool looking at the other side. Now we are talking width of the pool but you’ve never swam from one side to the other. Maybe you have your water wings on or maybe you don’t but you stare at that other side and you muster all the confidence you can. If you stand your ground and never dive in you will not reach your short-term goals. So finally with the right amount of encouragement – you DIVE in!
You swim, swim, swim and behold you make it to the other side. You turn around and you do it again. And again. Pretty soon you are looking at the length of the pool believing that you just might be able to swim the length.
You have to BUILD that confidence with small realistic goals. You build it by DOING. I will find out this coming week if this person jumped into the pool or is still standing on the edge. The point is that even in failure with an earnest attempt – that is success. So you took on some water and maybe you had to swim to the side before you reached the end goal- maybe next time. And next time you will have more confidence.
ACTORS – IF you are at that point where you want to be accepted as a professional – DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Let’s say that all together now. DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Work at a discount if you believe in developing these people but just say no. I see in our own state all these actors working the student films and free projects. That is where new upcoming actors get their experience and build their resume. So if you have experience and a resume that can compete professionally – GET OUT! Now if you are a hobbyist – sure do your community filmmaking deal, but don’t be surprised when professionals don’t take you serious. If you are in demand and you hold out – you force filmmakers to grow. It’s the whole, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Every time a professional actor does a free project – GO TO JAIL (Loss of name value) DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200. An experienced actor beating out a bunch of newbie’s trying to get their first projects under their belt impresses absolutely nobody. Dive into that larger pool.
Now onto some updates! You know I like to give Blog readers advanced updates. So here we go!
DONORS, the thriller I did with Niki Saletta (7th Heaven) is complete. They will screen the film for investors this Sunday and plans will be made to get this ready for presentation to distributors. It is a cool little film that has some serious tension to it.
BESTSELLER released a new teaser poster this week and the rough cut is under review. Our director is making notes for a second round of editing as we speak. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great performances caught by a hard-working crew. We’ve got early interest on the film by distributors and I’m relatively happy with our work flow. The overall film will likely be done in August and premiere in Sept or Oct.
ASHES OF EDEN will also be releasing some new poster art. I’ve been bouncing some ideas with our director on a new opening of the film. We should be done with everything this month save maybe the final mix. It’s exciting because even as strong and enthusiastic as the test audiences were – the final product is so much better. We’re planning a premiere for cast/crew followed by a theatrical test run and that may lead to a wider release via one of our several distributors bidding for a first look. This will be one of the films to watch and it will help put Michigan once again on the map with international releasing.
And speaking of international releases – following last month’s release of the Michigan-Made “Locked in a Room” to Germany, Austria and Switzerland those same territories will be getting the Philippine darkness unleashed upon them. Yes. On March 28th, “Darkest Night” will release there. That makes three new films released in those territories in the last six months. So congrats to the CDI Sales Team for that. More territories are in the works and we will announce as it happens.
The CDI Associated doc film “Outside the Wire, Forgotten Children of Afghanistan” is also getting a VOD release soon thanks again to CDI Distribution. This is a powerful film by Anthony Hornus. It was filmed while embedded with the US military in Afghanistan. I encourage everyone to check out this powerful film when it releases.
Other random news of events still developing include – a new casting for a CDI film on IMDB which you can search out under “40 Nights”. We will be doing a full PR release on this film in the weeks ahead. It’s a very exciting pet project and I’m happy to see this developing so fast. Actually we have development work underway on a handful of projects including an “Anthony Hornus” feature “Race to Judgment,” the “Soul Eater” film, and a possible new association with Detroit’s AT RISK ENTERTAINMENT. There also might be a theatrical showcase of CDI films coming to the Detroit area so stay tuned for big updates in the weeks ahead. Additional studio talks, new rep from India joining CDI and the list goes on. Enough of all this – get out there and enjoy your weekend!
So before I get into my weekly chat I will note how nice it is to have temps climbing back into the “above zero” range. One of our furry babies has some knee issues and the cold has been really hard on his joints. Many of us can likely relate to all that. I spent last night down on the couch with my buddy who is having the issue. The vet had said he might need surgery at some point. I’m just afraid it might be sooner versus later. We’ve been through all that with one of our other dogs and it is a real process. I’m happy to say our dog who did have the procedure is doing just great. So my buddy’s knee(s) was hurting him bad last few days and the stairs were not going to work last night for him. He cried being left alone downstairs and so I came to him to bring the snuggles. They are going to up his meds some to help control some of the pain for now but that is just a band-aid. Something more will need to be done here soon. So with that said, back to work in 2014! Surgery is not cheap for people or animals.
I had some good enjoyable meetings this week. I had a sit down with legal over sushi, late night production meetings over a home-brew and many phone meetings. I’m working to house clean CDI biz and simplify things within the company. I need to stay on top of things as our CDI sales team gets into more direct business. We’re now in talks with buyers in a few more territories around the globe. So we should see more of the CDI films rolling out to international audiences. I submitted several to them and now we wait as they evaluate.
One small setback with “The Beast” which is on hold until GPI can fully move here to the USA. Our first collaboration with GPI was “Darkest Night” and is supposed to be opening on Hulu soon. I haven’t seen it up on Hulu yet but I also have not checked in on Hulu for a while. Post work on “Ashes of Eden” draws to a close and next week editing is to start on “Bestseller” – so that is exciting news on both fronts.
There is a slew of small moves about the board with other projects. I guess my mind is drifting to that place of advice giving. I had a situation recently whereas I had a different view on career moves with my West Coast agent. I’m not one to allow myself to be molded into the norm, the status quo. I’ve had good success by standing on my unique qualities and attributes. Also I’m not desperate for work as I turn down my fair share for one reason or another. But it is just hard to get others to represent you properly the way you represent yourself. It is hard to get people to sell you a certain way. I would love to move some of that negotiation work over to an agent for their +10% but I still land the best work directly. I will see how the year unfolds as we go agent-wise but I do have several new options opening. Next week many of the industry people will be back in full swing so I look forward to moving some business along. As you work with representation remember it is about working WITH them not FOR them.
Peace be with you on your travels down the path of 2014.
I’m enjoying sipping the coffee on this chilly morning. I slept sound last night after some long moments in the cold yesterday shooting on the film “Dead Quiet”. I got to have some extreme FX make up done with some latex which I’m still peeling off in little pieces. It was nice to see Gabrielle Stone and work again with her. It is hard to believe it was 4 years – oh, how time flies. I also met some real nice cast and crew and I think they will pull off a good film.
It has been a busy week of business as many opportunities that have been worked on for some time have been opening up. It appears that the western that I’ve signed on to star in is moving along and once they do a formal PR announcement I will discuss more. It appears that the faith films in the vein of “Book of Ruth” could be going into production in 2014. Looking at sales reports we should be doing more of these. There appears to be an option against purchase on one of my scripts looking promising. Production and distribution options via a studio could be looming as discussions continue on that front. I’m excited about that because while we are doing some good direct sales with CDI Distribution I would love to focus more on production and less on funding and distribution. Also with budgets climbing into multiple millions having some additional experience of a studio would be welcome.
On the post front, “The Terrorist,” “Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” will all be coming out in 2014 and we will find a home for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV show. With 3 shows completed and being shown I think we will narrow down and find a home soon. Also many of the CDI library will also be expanding their audience into the foreign market.
Overall I would say that my plate is full. I’ve had 3 other possible acting projects for 2014 start discussions with me and I’m excited by the possibility of those. I enjoy the occasional “just acting” as it provides a much more relaxed journey. As I’ve mentioned before I also am happy that the state of Michigan has had more feature film production happening. Some of the best advice that I’ve ever had or given was to just do your thing. Do it to the best of your ability. (this means producing especially) Don’t keep looking over your shoulder. By this I mean, don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing – focus on what you are doing. I’m so busy with running our business and when I’m not busy with that I’m enjoying family and friends – I don’t keep up with everything everyone else is doing. It is not an arrogance it is a management of time. I have only so much time. I can spend it doing my development, production and distribution duties as well as evaluate acting offers. I’ve got an obligation to give my best. It doesn’t mean that I don’t make errors or fall short – but that is happening with my focus. Imagine if I spent more time stalking people’s work to see what they are doing. I don’t wish for what others have I just build my own and keep moving. Plain and simple – I outwork people. I also try to always give my best. That said, so should you. And between those projects remember to live.