The hazelnut coffee is flowing and I’m finally landed back in the Michigan and catching up. We had a wonderful whirlwind trip to AZ whereas we were met at the airport by ‘Doc’ our AZ transportation Captain in a new RV. We went to Wilcox and had a few days of great friends old and new including Darby Hinton * who beat me for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ in the very entertaining film ‘Bill Tillman and the OutLaws’ who also had my dear friend Lana Wood in a great cigar chomping role that reminded me of the mother in “Goonies” – just great.
I also had just bought a $2 Johnny Cash album at the flea market ‘Live from Folsom Prison’ and lo and behold we spent time visiting with John Carter Cash, his wife Ann and son Joe who had a short film “Dragon Song” at the festival and promoting a new documentary “The Gift” about Johnny. Just wonderful people and abound and so thank you to Rock and Brenda who put the Wild Bunch Film Festival on. We took home 7 awards of the 13 nominations.
BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTOR and ACTRESS, BEST CHILD ACTORS, BEST FAITH FILM and I’m forgetting one. Come on coffee! It will come to me.
That same weekend we had Lauren LaStrada win ‘Best Actress’ again in Wild Faith at the Hollywoodivine International Film Festival in PA. The film took Honorable Mention for ‘Best Faith Film’ and won ‘Best Film’ overall. Josh Perry was there representing THE CHRIST SLAYER and WON for his role of Albus. We were all so proud of him.
The weekend prior we were honored to have WON the Justice Award at Content 19 for WILD FAITH that was also recognized for SET DESIGN. Next week at the Green Mountain Christian Film Festival I’ve been nominated again for ‘Best Supporting Actor’ as Ben Lily. I’m proud of all the attention the films are getting.
So if you have not stayed current these are some of the CDI films you can watch on TV or get the DVD.
ASHES OF EDEN
FORTY NIGHTS – The Quest Trilogy Part 1
CHASING THE STAR – The Quest Trilogy Part 2
THE CHRIST SLAYER – The Quest Trilogy Part 3
MBF: Man’s Best Friend
- Also if you want to see some old school – my 1st starring film with monsters in it is called IN THE WOODS and can be found on Amazon.
- Also WICKED SPRING now released by CDI but an older Civil War drama.
- R Rated – Halloween fare could include DARKEST NIGHT, DEADLY RENOVATIONS and THE 8th PLAGUE if you dare:)
The office has the wood burning stove going. This week I will harvest the apples for a crisp. We have been enjoying the HOPPY GRAPE APE wine at our meetings. We missed a family wedding yesterday to attend a memorial for my Uncle on the other side of the family. A unique, funny storyteller who will be greatly missed. He would have enjoyed LOST HEART.
LOST HEART is past the 30 min mark in the edit and I’m looking to move it to sound design and music towards the end ofd the year. The distribution is set and this will be another enjoyable CDI film.
This week we’re prepping for a short narrative film that is actually a demo for a software company. It is a Victorian age film short taken from a feature film script of mine entitled SMOKE & MIRRORS. It will be a fun project for sure.
We also will be pushing hard with the new momentum for the WILD FAITH TV series. Plus we have a few features we are developing foe 2020 and 2021. With that I’m going to close this blog up and enjoy the morning.
Peace to you all!
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
NOTE: Due to storms and internet this is being posted on Monday
Good morning from LOST HEART:) Actually I’m writing in the late night here so I can post before bed. We at have a very full day tomorrow plus we producers are moving into the production rooms after a nice stay during pre-production in the suites. Our crew is enjoying their condos and the area has a serene nature to it. This is the grounds where the infamous ELECTRIC FOREST festival takes place. We were offered passes to this but we had work to do. Plus the older I get the idea of tens of thousands of people does not appeal to me. But it appeals to many people in the 50-70k range. We’ve knocked down our first four days of shooting and after a day of rest we are back at it. We had our biggest day yesterday with lots of extras at a beautiful location in Whitehall. It is a Bed & Breakfast owned by the mayor of the town and her husband. It is called The Lewis House. I got to make some great moments with Don Most, Victoria Jackson and Melissa Anschutz. Old friends and new are being made on this shoot. These two talented actors from Michigan will be joining LOST HEART. I’ve enjoyed all the positive on the story and script and it is a pleasure to see how invested each actor is in their role. Also the artists behind the camera have worked very hard to capture our moments. The heat was very hot but we had good holding areas and won our day.
WILD FAITH just keeps getting recognized. We did not enter this festival so it has been a surprise and an honor to first be recognized with a JUSTICE AWARD and now they announced recognition for set design. IF you have not watched this film and you like what we’re creating please do take a watch.
I posted some PR earlier. Almost immediately I saw that some young living historian we had in the film negatively commented that the film wasn’t worth watching he heard because they were only seen for like 5 secs. First I told him, watch it. The flashbacks to war are much longer than 5 seconds. He also was going off someone else so I told him to watch it. Also people are subjective in what they like and don’t like but make up YOUR mind. Also if you love to present your impression of a Civil War soldier to an audience our film probably will give you once of the biggest showcases of your career. Millions of eyes foreign and domestic but for this fella if he did not get enough screen time the project wasn’t worth it. I can say that in twenty years when an older man looks back at a film that immortalized a younger him in a great story, it will be worth it. It isn’t always about you. Sometimes were are part of something bigger together. I sincerely hope this person finds some peace in his life. I can’t always figure people out. I was nice. He was nice back. He wants to still watch the film. Watch it and make your own opinion. Don’t be a sheep.
Kudos to Jen Raine and Austin Two-Feathers and let’s not forget our director Mr. Low seen in the background. He cares about these films like we do and LOST HEART will make his third with CDI in the directing chair. Congrats to all the cast and crew.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – We have a lot of upcoming announcements concerning this film but I am going to make you wait. It is past my bedtime and I have our second biggest day shooting on LOST HEART. So I will withhold a little until next week. I’m also trying to confirm a few things.
Have a great Sunday!
Happy Father’s Day! It is a rainy, cold Michigan day. I am lucky that I got to spend some time with my daddy this morning. I enjoyed a little breakfast of cornbeef hash and eggs. Today I feel pretty good having just returned from a whirlwind scout up North with our advanced scout team for LOST HEART. That is our next CDI film that will start filming in July. I’m excited about some of the beautiful locations we discovered and new friends we’ve met. Yesterday I was a touch under the weather due to multiple conditions but I didn’t get my full sleep due to a cabin loft bed that seemed more fun when I was 12 years old. Add in second day of soccer sore, less sleep and perhaps the sip of peach brandy and I was just tired.
A Northern location scout – the team seen here with actress Kim Harsch (2nd from left) who co-stars in MBF. Also from left to right Anthony Hornus, Shane Hagedorn, Melissa Anschutz, Me and director Jesse Low.
As I’ve stated before, getting our daily filmed footage is only one of my goals. The other goal/priority is creating a memorable experience for the cast and crew. I think the latter will help us get the best footage. The cast and crew on Lost Heart should be very happy when they see where they will be housed. Lots to do in their down time also but we’ll be announcing more on that later.
I wanted to announce Mr. Don Most will PR this week but we’re combining that announcement with another exciting one. That is the additional of Josh “Ponceman” Perry to the cast of LOST HEART. If you saw THE CHRIST SLAYER you got to see what an amazing talent he is. I’m looking forward to our time on and off screen. We also announced a young actress Cassie Dean who will be working with us for the first time. We will work to make her feel welcome.
Our cast and crew is lining up and we think this might be one of our best productions yet. The story/script has gotten some great reviews and I look forward to having it brought to life. We always are trying to make the best story with our limited budgets. Many people don’t have any idea how hard it is to raise production funds. I’m sure some of my fellow filmmakers understand that plight. It’s why most all film projects fail to launch. CDI is not some big faceless corporation it’s actually a small Michigan-based production company trying to tell some good stories. I appreciate the artists and it is one of the traits we look at in our hires, appreciation.
This week is going to be working to get the final funds into the account. Getting the commitment and getting the actual money can be a task in itself. Many investors don’t always understand our timelines and that can hurt a production. We will also be announcing a few exciting new sponsors. We’ve been targeting Michigan-based companies and we’re proud to align with them.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film is now being mixed with a few final audio tweaks being done. We will deliver the film on June 30th and they are already gearing up the theatrical marketing. This week is putting the end credits together and soon we will have another completed film.
WILD FAITH – Our western is building its home video release. The digital rental on Amazon and other retailers will be June 24th. July 2nd is the official DVD release but some faith retailers were given a slight advance on the release. If you’ve seen the film please do leave us a review on IMDB.com or Amazon.com
I’ve gotten word the the legendary Lana Wood will be joining Darby Hinton at the HAPPY TRAILS VA STYLE film event in October I believe it is. I will keep updating everyone as I get more information.
A few of the discussions as of late have been about the WILD FAITH TV series. Once the film fully gets out there we’ll see if the characters in the film are a hit with audiences. If so we’ll be looking at bringing you a full season of the WILD FAITH story.
THE QUEST TRILOGY keeps adding audiences worldwide and I have enjoyed a handful of fans recognizing me from those films. Again if you haven’t enjoyed these films check out FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER on Amazon and other fine retailers.
This rain and cold is causing a postponement of my nephew’s Bday party and I too might have to reconsider a get together I was going to have for my birthday. Thunderstorms are not good for outside yard parties. But we did get the garden in and I also worked in some grass seed where needed. The rain is good for that. So this week will be more cast and crew agreements and working to lock locations. And…learn my lines. Yes. Even when you write the script you still need to work your lines although it is a touch easier.
I will let this end here and I’m going to organize my work from the scout trip so I can start Monday off right. Be good to one another and keep chasing your dreams.
I hope the weekend has been good to all of you. I’ve had a busy and productive week both in business and just in getting things done. Where to start? I started the week a touch low because like many families out there I have a sick uncle. He has been more of an inspiration and influence than he knows. His fun wear what he finds comfortable is practically a mantra. His storytelling is simple and engaging and I’ve been thinking of my uncle and cousins at this time. That said, it also reminds us that age not withstanding, that tomorrow is not promised. So boldly we move forward, creating and living.
Soccer has been fun and getting me into strong running shape. Running 70-80 minutes of stop and go in all directions will do it. I’ve been doing lots of yard work and prepping for the garden that is now planted. Beans, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkins and more are in the ground. I’ve also installed a retaining wall around the office porch. I need to put some grass seed down. All the stuff I enjoy doing while making business calls.
I’ve been organizing acting ands literary materials for future work with this new agency. I had a possible opportunity to write for a TV series but we’re in preproduction on LOST HEART and I don’t want to do any less than my best at either endeavor. Lesson here for people not to try and do too much and do poorly at both things. So first on deck is LOST HEART which I was the screenwriter on. It is a funny and emotional character study with the bizarre and wonderful Northern Michigan as the backdrop.
We announced Lauren LaStrada joining our cast last week and we will announce Cassie Dean this week. She will play a younger version of our lead in some key scenes. Also we’ll be announcing the addition of Don Most from Happy Days fame. He played a strong supporting role in MBF: Man’s Best Friend and will step to a co-starring role in LOST HEART. I’m exciting to have him joining us again.
MBF – The music pass is complete and now mixing is underway. I went into the studio last week and did my final narration. We will be working end credits this week and prepare for a final watch through. I’m excited for audiences to watch this film. If you have a soft spot for our military and/or animals, dogs in particular, MBF might be for you.
The Quest Trilogy – I’m going to be exploring merchandise in the coming year. I would like to see a few products available as we move into the next holiday season. If you take a watch on FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER please leave us your thoughts on IMDB.com or amazon.com
WILD FAITH – This month digital rental becomes available on June 24th the day after my Bday! So do me a birthday solid and watch WILD FAITH with your family. I think all ages will really enjoy the film. Oct 17-19 WILD FAITH will play the Happy Trails VA Style festival. I think the film is playing on a Saturday. I will provide more info soon but I know Darby Hinton will be there to talk about the film and the genre. In July the DVD will release at various retailers. My goal is to see it at Cracker Barrel🙂
We have lots of development work on a handful of projects. I was also approached about a few possible acting roles. I will need to read the scripts and see if the characters speak to me. Exciting days ahead but right now I’m most excited about bringing the story of LOST HEART to life. Again we have more companies aligning with our film. Feel free to reach out on how your product or service can participate.
With that I’m going to go do some mulching around the office.
Have a great week.