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

Posts tagged “Sci-Fi

Thoughts On Casting and December Updates.

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So with the weather change in Michigan from bitter cold to wet and warm, my sinuses were bugging me this morning. I also had to play ref for doggie wrestle-mania. Also with the snow melting I had to do some puppy proofing in the yard. Little Finn is starting to explore, dig, patrol and eat sticks, bark, mud. I had to harvest up the remaining wild grapes because grapes can cause kidney failure. He started some puppy classes and Daphne, our older dog has been teaching him good and bad. Before Luke got sick Daphne and he use to play fight every day. She is a touch out of shape but Finn is making her exercise daily. They are quickly becoming good siblings. Our only regret is that Luke did not get to take on a parenting role with a new little one.

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In between playing referee and doing work we’ve had TCM playing and I’ve enjoyed watching the many classic films. It is funny now how we can watch the credits and so many names are lost to me. I’m a lover of film and I still don’t recognize certain names that I’m sure were common household names at one time. But that is why we seek to make a few classic films that stand the test of time. To create those few roles that people will talk about for decades to come. I feel like I’m just coming into my prime as a storyteller both as an actor and producer. I also feel like my writing is finally being acknowledged and that’s a gift. But all the recent success is built upon many years of hard work.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

I think 2019 is finally the year to do the EARLY YEARS OF COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT which will be part film education. I would like to include the four first CDI films and the BTS and maybe a few retrospective interviews which might go on the social media. But before Michigan had a film boom it was truly a barren landscape with just a few filmmakers making a go at it. But KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS, HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST were our learning years and we paid close attention to the business. I would like to package them up into a definitive collection.

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Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Another area that I want to focus on is merchandise with our films. It’s something that I truly enjoyed throughout my life and I would like to be part of that tradition. I’ve had big ideas but like most filmmakers I’ve always been under financed. That is changing and I would love to put some of those plans in action. So feel free to drop a note here about any ideas for merchandise that you would like to see.

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This week many projects were taken to the next level. In 2019 we’re going to see three CDI films move out strongly into the marketplace. We’re now on the front lines of a new theatrical partnership our distributor has put together. I’m awaiting the home video dates on WILD FAITH that has been delivered to the distributor. Tomorrow the re-mastered theatrical version of WILD FAITH will go to the theatrical partners. I’m in hopes to have a much more detailed announcement next week. We are still putting the final touches on a few deal points. But it will be all worth the wait.

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MBF has had a good showing at the first film markets. The feedback I received was commenting on the professional quality and strength of the story. Our first trailer was put together somewhat in haste due to a sudden demand for a first look after Mipcom. It was decided to spruce up the AFM teaser and release it as a first trailer. I’ve had many people reach out who support our military and/or dogs to comment on the story. This will be a wonderful film with a strong message and we look forward to bringing it to everyone. There is an initial interest in a limited theatrical release – more to be discussed once we get the film further done the line.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – If you’ve watched FORTY NIGHTS and traveled into King Herod’s lands in CHASING THE STAR, the next journey is coming. The Quest Trilogy will be complete with part 3. We’ve been working hard in the studio and the film is now sounding great! The picture is just epic and now the music is matching. Sound design is so much fun adding wind, animals, crowds, creaks, sails, swords and the list goes on. We’re adjusting dialog where it’s needed to create great from good. Post is a serious process that really seperates the professional from the amateur. It takes time to get there and those watching our films would notice a steady progression. Now when we sit in the IMAX watching it on the big screen I’m always taken back to those early days. Keep moving forward.

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LOST HEART is the film that is slated to be on deck for Spring 2019. A funny heart-warming drama that also deals with a few serious topics. Add a large dose of Michigan charm and I think we’ll have another great film. It will again be distributed under our deal with BMG. I’m also looking at Summer and Fall films and I know it will be a productive year ahead. I think we’ve found a few of our actors and some are returning favorites. We’ll be posting on this film as we enter the new year.

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I’m going to also use the winter to finish a few of my other scripts including my Sci-Fi script. I’ve had a few people talk to me about commercial and non-commercial projects in the new year. Again if your script is good. You’re financed and compensating your talent, and you think I fit something, run it by me. I know, I’ve offended a few people with passes on projects in the past, but it was done politely.  We are defined by what we say NO too. When I say YES, I put my all into it. I’ve got a few projects that I put a lot of myself into and they never got finished. A couple were well compensated projects but still the art is buried. So I look for quality and people who can finish.

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Speaking on this. I recently saw a project that looked interesting but before someone rearranges their day or even does a read, especially as a co-star or major role, I think signing a non-disclosure to read a script is in order.  If I have not worked with the group before, I do ask that the project be funded. Because reading, really reading can take 1-2 hours and if that time is spent, it should be worth it. There are exceptions, but I’m talking cold auditions for unknown parties. The response of “compensation is pending role and will be discussed if role offered” or “script provided only if cast”…whoa! What if the talent dislikes the script. Hours driving, memorizing, reading only to drop out after a read because of a poor script/blueprint. I don’t like my time wasted or to waste other’s time but will often do a quick “sketch” off sides if the story interests me. If they like the sketch the next step is to read the entire script if the film is funded. Nothing like those inexperienced filmmakers trying to raise 3.2 mil to do their first film. That’s like me and a few buddies building a spaceship out of lumber and junk to fly to Mars. Not likely. So, I’m going to remain open to working with some new folks but if you approach please do have your ducks in a row. I’m happy to see that happening with some of the Michigan groups. I’m beyond happy to see the success both in business and storytelling.

And with that…I’m going to make some lunch and do a few things around the house ands get ready for another great week. It has been a great mix of business and catching up with family and friends. I hope you also enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

DJ

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A Season Begins – Holidays Ahead

Good morning everyone. Coffee skol!

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With business, it’s been a crazy week but also exciting at the same time. Personally it was a mixed week with a memorial yesterday for my aunt. It was great to see all my cousins and uncle but the bubbly laughter of my aunt was missed. We are hosting a second puppy playdate today to see how our remaining dog Daphne interacts. We’re looking to bring another member into our little pack this month. The holidays are hectic but our personal schedules slow which allows for some bonding and training time.

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The snow will soon come to lower Michigan and I’ve been working in the yard to try to winterize. Our Viking Thursdays have been cutting some wood for the fort/office wood stove. We had some good visits around burning logs this past week. Let’s discuss some of the battles from the past week.

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I like to stay ahead – prep for upcoming things. Our distributor had a good response to MBF at mipcom and wanted a teaser first look at footage for AFM. I don’t like rush jobs but in two days the team pulled together a trailer for AFM. We need to sit back and fine comb the footage. A tailored music score needs to be added along with a re-recorded Voice Over. We are looking to have that done but at the same time we’re trying not to disrupt the work flow on – THE CHRIST SLAYER.

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I’ve seen the rough DVD poster art that BMG is using at AFM. I like it. It’s a slightly different style from the first two and features some of the characters from the film. I know that is pretty common and some like that and others do not. Either way it’s very polished. I like our teaser poster and I look forward to sharing the DVD art soon. I have not seen the entire wrap. I hope to have theatrical info on the film so we can PR the entire release schedule.

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WILD FAITH is also part of those theatrical talks. We’re also working the home video deal. That includes the celebrity narrator we’re adding to the film. We almost had that recorded in LA last week. We had a studio on stand by and I was coordinating between agent and our director. Shooting on a project running over nixed that session and now we’re looking at Nashville next Tuesday. I’m in hopes we can close that down soon. Another great 2019 release!

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LOST HEART development is ongoing. What I like about this film is a zany group of characters whose antics and actions offset the heavier aspects of the script. It has several solid messages woven into the fabric of the script. It is more grounded versus some of the other more high concept stories.

I’m also enjoying my writing on the Sci-Fi project that I recently spoke to a distribution company about. The literary agent review will continue into 2019. The stories I wrote for the book collection of horse stories is prepping for release. I’ve got to return some paperwork on payment this Monday. I’m looking forward to more book contributions in 2019 also.

Our other holiday films FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR are starting their holiday season. DOVE streaming, UpLift Network and more are featuring some of the stories. I’ve stated before in was a dream to have the trilogy play together every holiday season. Last year the first two films were playing often in rotation and I’m exciting to be adding the third THE CHRIST SLAYER. From Nov 1 – Easter is going to be a fun ride.

Fun also not just because of the business but because of friends and family. I’m going to end this so I can get cleaned up. We have the puppy play date followed by a family bday get together. We’re also putting away the ghosts and goblins and the Thanksgiving stuff is coming out. The squirrels are loving the remains of Halloween. Those pumpkins will not go to waste. Have a great week everyone.

DJ

 


New Distribution, Updates and Observations

In the upcoming "Dead Quiet"

In the upcoming “Dead Quiet”

Hello everyone! I want to welcome our new readership from Greece. It has been a busy week here in the good old USA. I’m not going to touch the powder keg that is Michael Brown/police relations but I can say I’ve been a smart ass to the police as a teenager. I’ve been roughly questioned and searched BUT I’ve never hit or tried to take a gun away from a law enforcement officer. All actions have consequences some tragic and some with wonderful outcomes. Other high points this week – the new Star Wars trailer. I was an absolute Star Wars fanatic and I’ve said in many interviews that I got into acting largely because I wanted to be Han Solo when I was seven years old. I’m excited to play my 1st role this December in a Sci-Fi western “Wasteland” playing a shady space pirate type. I flatly refuse to accept the three prequels in my mythology of Star Wars. I think they were mostly poorly casted and some of the plot holes were too far for me to jump. A jedi-knight in my mind would have never left a poor women enslaved to a flying worm. Period. But I’m personally a fan off JJ (the new director) and with the old cast back I feel the excitement from when I was a child.

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I have great respect for Native American rights and therefore can’t fully attach myself to the traditional meaning of thanksgiving. You don’t accept help from your neighbor and one day decide to take his house. But the Natives have figured out the white man’s greed and casinos are a great revenge. Plus you can see Tom Jones sing:) I do like the idea of family, friends and being thankful – reflecting upon all that is good in our lives. As Americans we do have it better than many who struggle each and every day for basic rights and necessities. We went up North and feasted with family and watched our Michigan Detroit Lions win. Today we are having more family over and yet another feast. We are doing two turkeys and I’ve been smoking one which was started at 4 am this morning. Tomorrow we are getting the Christmas tree so we will be flowing right into the next holiday. I do love having a fresh tree in the house. I also planted a new tree in the yard. My brother gifted me a red wood tree “RED” which we had for several years. That ice storm last year put the kill on poor Red who is now a Harry Potter-like wand hanging in the office fort. My brother bought me a Giant Sequoia. It should survive in Michigan better and so it took the spot where “Red” once was. This week I also tried my hand at venison jerky and from all reports it was a success. I’m going to fire up a beer batch this coming week to share with my amigos.

Movie Biz

This week I address a question to the social media public about social funding. More specific the type that accepts donations in exchange for perks and allows you to keep said funds even if the goal amount is not reached. In doing this the campaign people default in the perks because most are tied to having a finished project. Give A in exchange for B once C is completed. But if C is never completed B cannot be given yet A is kept. By logic it sounds like fraud. Or another way – I’m hosting an event and selling signage sponsorships. I take that money for said promotional signage and never hold the event. I posted asking for failed campaign people (Lots of them around) to give me their thoughts. The post was read by hundreds and not one comment or LIKE. An associate also shared or re-posted this posed question and only one filmmaker liked it. It was a director we’ve worked with and my guess is that he has never engaged in that social funding fraud and so felt comfortable posting. Now this only pertains to these ENTERTAINMENT properties. If you are raising money to offset funeral costs of Uncle Sal’s passing and you raise 1k of the 5k campaign and use it to offset the costs – great! That is a different story. So all I can say is that a lot of guilty filmmakers or weak spine filmmakers afraid to rock the boat because they have friends/associates engaging in this type of campaign. Bottom line is use that energy more wisely and do yourself a favor and learn some business along the way. I’ve said the same thing about enterprising criminals that if they put the same energy into legit business they would be successful. As a joke I am going to create some goofball campaign in the near future to showcase this but I just can’t believe nobody has ever pointed this out. Someone will end up one day with 25 group action in small claims court. I think that is the protection for these people. Who is gonna chase $50 or $100? Instead they brand filmmakers as hucksters and investment opportunities dry up. So next time you have trouble getting something financed maybe blame the never produced social media crowd. Let’s get to some real business.

Movie News

It was announced that “Wicked Spring” our Civil War drama is going to get a reboot this spring with the Winters Film Group. We’re targeting a wider audience and I’m excited to get this film out there on PPV, VOD and a new version of DVD and maybe Blu Ray. The hour-long making of when be included amongst the extras.

“Donors” the horror/thriller will also be releasing this 2015 also signed to the Winters Film Group. This creepy film examines the dark seedy underbelly of kidnapping and organ stealing.

“Dead Quiet” is starting to make some noise as they head towards the finish line for a 2015 release.

“The Terrorist” also is wrapping up post-work for a 2015 release.

“Ashes of Eden” is being prepped for its release and should announce a release date by years end. Also some foreign sales are underway.

“Bestseller” is being worked on with the score, sound and visual FX all coming together. This will have a premiere early in 2015 and I’m very excited from what I’ve seen/heard thus far.

Other re-releases are being looked at including a deal that should have several of our CDI films releasing in India. Many know I co-starred in a film “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” that released wide in theaters there in 2009. I’m excited that a bridge to our product is being constructed.

The announcement of the novel being written off the “Knight Chills” script has sparked some interest in the sequel. The prequel to “The 8th Plague” is also in talks with a new director. A few other (for now secret) projects are getting very close to launching. Some major business talks begin again 1st week of December to see if we can lock up a few things before the year ends. I’ve been in talks with my management over a few high-profile projects. I’ve been in talks on a few other new independent projects and so I’m excited to see what projects/stories I end up doing. Well, I need to go refill the water pan in the smoker. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.

DJ


New Distribution & New Projects – Full Steam Ahead

The cold is creeping into Michigan and our bodies fight to adjust to the biting chill. The cold rain will soon become something else – snow. I’m sipping at the coffee trying to get the sinus pressure to let go of the vice grip on my head. It has been a very busy time for me as I try to wrap up business for the year and manage lots of new business that is emerging for the year ahead. I’ve been doing some heavy training prepping to play my role in December. I’m giving myself that physical edge that one would require to live and survive in a harsh alien world. WASTELAND shoots just before the week of Christmas and I’m looking forward to that change of pace. Let’s take a moment to look at some of the developments this past week. I’m glad many of you survived the ghosts and goblins of Halloween.

ASHES OF EDEN  – I think our last festival play is over and I’m happy to be moving on to distribution. We announced our deal with the Winters Film Group to release the film nationally on DVD, VOD, PPV, TV. The distributor in our meeting this week praised the marketing as the buzz is out there. He already had a PPV (Pay Per View) faith company reach out to license the film. This film walks a great edge that will appeal to audiences who enjoy faith and non-faith films. We’ve got several more reviewers watching the film to release ahead of the film. I’ve also been in talks with several foreign territories and we will get this film out to all of you also.

BESTSELLER – This film has been in transition as we prepare to build the music and sound FX. We had a great meeting with much of the post team. We went through the entire film and plotted what and where each of these audio elements would go. We talked about the FX which has already begun. Some amazing work already created and next week we should have the opening credits done. What I love about this film so much ties into my watching of PSYCHO this past Halloween. The film has elements of the classic thrillers of days gone by. A true stylistic edge that will help the film stand apart from the same old, same old that can tend to be the norm. This film has some new team members working on it and so getting these folks up to speed and on the same page workflow wise can be an effort. But you are molding a team for future work. The key is to look at it less as an individual piece by piece and more like a group of runners passing the baton. The key is to be ultra focused as you pass the baton to the next person. The clean up and organizing of files can make it easier for the next runner who has to take the baton. That said, I think we are getting into a groove and communication is going good. That is the key to all of this. In this new age of technology text messages or emails do not or should not replace phone calls or face to face meetings. The baton is passed much smoother between the “runners” and so your run times get better. Communication is the key to good leadership and so if you are a key out there make sure to communicate well. You will become valuable and find much more success.

WASTELAND – Prop building is underway and also some key decisions on equipment. This coming week we are doing a read through with the director and key cast. I’m looking forward to it. A Sci-Fi western is going to be great fun. I’m awaiting some concept art on one of the space craft. Exciting stuff for sure.

DONORS another thriller of ours has an offer forthcoming. WICKED SPRING also has interest to get a Special Edition out this spring and so we will be discussing that this week. We actually have a few distributors taking interest in the CDI library.

Our legal team finally got our domestic rights back on a pair of CDI films that got stuck.  Long story but now that we have them back one I can get those film back out to market. I also have wanted to release a collection of the early CDI films together. Now with this deal that is possible.

We also have some possible reboots, sequels, prequels and new films launching. I’m beyond excited about a few of them and once the ink dries we will be discussing. Of course, all of you who follow the blog here will get some early updates.

On the acting front – I was informed that two films I was slated to be in have been green lit and will be moving forward. Both are quite large projects and will be great fun to play. I think I will be back in action with Ray and some of the “Book of Ruth” team in 2015. There are lots of projects closing their deals that will allow them to shoot in 2015. I’m excited to participating in them. 2015 will see the release of several films while we film those that will come to you in 2016. That is the way of the business. Develop. Produce. Post. Release. – Repeat often:)

Enjoy your weekend and the coming holidays –

DJ