It is a sunny beautiful day in Michigan. I’m sipping at the coffee and reflecting on the week. Welcome to the many new readers and followers from France, Finland, Netherlands and more. We welcome you to our little weekly space to enjoy a few moments. Let’s talk first about the worldwide issue that is uniting the world in many ways. I’ve joked in the past that it would take an alien invasion to make us realize we are all one tribe. Or maybe a new virus? It did not bring out the unity as much as the panic in the USA. The toilet paper thing is crazy as if you used every square of paper you could still work your way through tissues and many paper products. The Sears catalog back in the outhouse days was tissue and reading. And lastly the cloth or jerseys of your least favorite sports team.
We are a “want it” generation and people are afraid of being without their “favorite” this or that. How many of us eat right down to the last handful of rice or beans? Some do and would be fortunate to have a few handfuls. So eating what we had versus what we want and we could survive a year or so without shopping. Also if Americans lost a little extra body fat that could only be a good thing. I think the impulse or fear shop is just an interesting observation. I think part of it is the hustle mentality of many who survive in a capitalistic society. I saw where someone had made a fast 70k off disinfectant supplies. People flip houses, cars and just about anything with a mark up so that doesn’t surprise me. I don’t think it is polite and could have consequences but it is what we’ve been taught. Survival instinct runs off fear. Fear is a powerful instinct to help keep us alive. When fear is controlled and channeled it can be a great motivator. Use fear but don’t let fear use you. There is a difference.
The science behind it seems simple enough. If mass groups interact and infection happens all at once it can overload a medical system. In another light – if only one month a year people came together to procreate in nine months you could have a maternity overload. But spread out across the zodiac with babies born all year – order can be maintained. This is worse because a pregnant woman knows why she is there. With illness they have to identify and take precautions not to join the infected. It is all about spreading the flow out so that sick folks can get the best treatment by rested medical people with the right equipment. If you want a fictional peak at crisis medical watch MASH on TV. Always understaffed, under-rested, under supplied trying to save lives best they can. It is often imperfect and sloppy and the best they can do with the situation. So we the people can help by limiting our social interactions for a bit and help our medical teams. I see people really going out of their way to help others but also we see the fist-fights over groceries. So much to be ashamed and to be proud of – choose your path.
Outside of the health aspects is the financial aspects. Many cannot avoid some social interaction and sharp declines in attendance will devastate some small businesses. One of the ways you can help our small business is when inside your self imposed sanctuary take a few days to watch the CDI films. I’ve got family and friends who haven’t seen the entire collection. This is a good time to catch up. In the film and TV production world many are getting hurt as projects take a pause. I have seen some producers make bold claims and I’m brave and honestly not afraid of the virus and myself. Do I want to be day 8 on a 15 day shoot whereas we have crew spiking fevers left and right? No. So what is the plan?
CDI officially moved into pre-production last week on BEST YEARS GONE. This comedy/drama has been coming together and our casting and crewing talks are underway. We have WINDOW 1 shoot dates in May and two weeks out from our on-set pre-production week we will evaluate. We already have a second WINDOW worked out and we’ll move to that pending our first evaluation. Beyond that we’ll likely go up (start) 30 days after we declare that we’re moving ahead. Evaluation and caution is not about “lack of balls” as I read from one producer but a responsibility to the money people. If this person is financing his own project, risk away. So the fine line is knowing our cast and crew could use the paycheck but don’t start something you can’t finish properly.
That said, we’re moving ahead in strength. More cast announcements this week and more to come. Yes. We are a tribe/troupe and you will find many familiar faces on a CDI film but the circle is always getting wider.
We also just concluded a major weighing of options for another key crew member. At CDI we evaluate many attributes in our keys.
ATTITUDE is #1 – I’ve heard that so and so is the cranky piss and moaner but they are so good…don’t care. Next. To have a fighting chance at a good product you have to have a good attitude overall on set. That starts with the top and goes down. Do you just point out problems or do you contemplate and contribute solutions?
ARTISTS – Being an artists comes pride in the work, passion and not being there just for the paycheck.
ACCOUNTABILITY – We also work off accountability. If we allow a key 1st to bring a 2nd there is accountability. We want people who work smart but if they make an error they see the power of accepting that. I have to take the accountability for what everyone does on set. Even people I won’t re-hire for quite some time I see as a failure on my part…in part. I can try to create an environment to succeed within but some will still sabotage themselves.
The 3 A’s is a good start. With a TV series looming we’re starting to increase the depth of team. All these cruiser weight films are preparing our crews for the bigger steps. I reinforce development of people versus pointing out someones flaws or bad learnt behavior. If you are a KEY development is part of what you’re teaching by example or by direct influence. I’ve allowed a few to be promoted to keys who proved by their actions they were not ready. PLEASE GO HOME, like in the Shaolin Temple:) This development is so important and also relies on good communication. Patience and a willingness to learn is another great trait to work on. I see a LOT of false confidence which screams the opposite. I try to empty the cup and learn everyday. Try it.
We spent a good amount of time on the world situation. I will bullet point a few other notes from the week.
- MBF was accepted into the Capital City Film Festival and that has been pushed to Summer. Our festival run might get janky with all these cancelled events.
- MBF was up for several nominations at the ICFF in FL ‘Most Inspirational’ and People awards for the script, lead actor and filmmaking – status of fest unknown
- Wild Faith viewing has been spiking at various AVOD sites which you watch for free and the advertisers pay. It is like streaming old school TV with commercials. Tubi I think works on this method also so if you want to watch some CDI films free by watching commercials – we still get paid:)
- The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) – I’m looking to have a ‘Trilogy Trailer’ done next.
- CDI continues to look at film 2 for 2020 and some of that depends on launch date of film 1 – BEST YEARS GONE.
- LOST HEART – Need to jump into end credits – we have lots going on here but most important is music and sound design. We are focusing on landing a few “exclusive windows” vs pushing theatrical. First with Goodrich Theaters filing bankruptcy last I heard and major studios holding films back, theatrical schedule is gonna be tight for the independents after all this blows over. But we have a wonderful film coming at you this late summer/early fall.
- Want to see the film where I first met Melissa Anschutz watch “7 Stones,” my first starring role watch “In the Woods,” A found footage film shot in the Philippines watch “Darkest Night,” Shane’s first directorial feature with CDI watch “Ashes of Eden”…explore and enjoy.
- We are about to start talks with partners and product sponsors for our next film. We’ve always appreciated the shared marketing so if you have a company and want to be involved in a CDI film reach out.
I think I hit all the main points. I’m enjoying cleaning up the yard and office and getting ready for this year’s garden and get togethers. We’ll be restocking the wood bins to season up for next winter. The old wood stove kept the office toasty. I hope when we sit down to chat next week that things have moved in a positive place. But use this time away from the hustle and bustle to look inward. You might be wonderfully surprised by what you find. Or you can lie in your baby pool full of Purell surrounded by an igloo of toilet paper rolls in your root cellar listened to the ‘Breaking News’ – sun is shining:)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead. Be good to one another.
As I sit here sipping a bit more hazelnut coffee I ponder all the things we could touch upon this week. I also want to take a moment and thank all my readers from different countries. We are all cut from the same cloth just different mountains, trees and grasses. I just returned from running around this morning that included a stop at SEARS. I was stopped by someone I didn’t know smiling and pointing before asking my name. ASHES OF EDEN bringing in new fans and I love it. I know many friends, family and fans who went to (some are there now) in the theaters watching the film. It has been fun having one of the films play in our hometown/state. Let’s talk about that a touch…
In 2002 we shot AN ORDINARY KILLER and the only HD digital projectors were in California and traveling with the National auto show. We encoded for it and rented one of those traveling projectors for just under a week. We had the best theatrical run with 3,400 people in 5 days with 12 sold out showings and one still over 200 seats sold. We took those numbers to LA and at that time it would be a transfer to film and creating film prints. Shipping on those things was big $ and so P&A money would have to be spent. The thing is that we beat Harry Potter in that theater run but the cost of a theatrical was beyond us.
In 2006 we shot our smokey mountain western “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” and we ran it an entire summer in conjunction with a theme park. We sold steady but in a limited area but for many, many weeks. I would have loved to play more theaters but we refused to go back to DVD/BlueRay projection. The HD projectors by this time 2007/8 were only between 500-1000 in the USA and that was reserved for studio films billing the new Digital as they would IMAX or THX – bottom line too expensive still.
Now it is 2014 and I’m happy to report most all modern theaters are digital and we now have an in-demand film. This run is a partnership run not a four wall (rent out) and we are able to supply content. The cost is more in line and now theatrical could be part of our revenue stream. We will be opening CDI Theatrical and looking back into the CDI library to do some special screenings.
I will be going with some friends tonight to watch what could be one of the last showings at Celebration Cinema. Remark that I said at Celebration Cinemas:) Also we will be playing the film in the Detroit area and beyond but you have to wait for the official word on all that. We also had yet another distribution deal step forward that includes some possible foreign. I’m just happy that we are at a level where we can bring high quality content in the same format as the studios. Stay tuned for much more CDI action to grace the big screen!
“Bestseller” pick ups are about all set. By the end of this next week we will be locked up. Now my one pet peeve of the week. Insurance which we’ve always carried from film 1 at CDI. First you need to acquire high end gear not the small cameras and so these vendors require this. Next – we carry protection for our cast/crews because this is the right thing to do. Now again because we try to do everything right, note I said TRY, it costs. I was taken back because a one day pick up quote was near the same rate as our 18 day shoot prior. Because a new policy has to be started versus reactivating one. Anyway, we will do what we must but again I would bet a slew of filmmakers out there are running without insurance. It’s all good until something happens and it will, eventually. So stepping up is just part of playing as a professional I say but to the many who want to call themselves professional – actions speak louder.
“Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” was suppose to start streaming on Indieflix.com yesterday. I would love to hear from anyone who subscribes and watches the 1st three shows. www.indieflix.com
I had some good development talks this week and a few more investors interested in this project or that. So once I get past this final pick up on “Bestseller” I’ll be ready to look at some new projects. I’ve been picking berries for an upcoming wine batch. We shared some good homebrew and wine with my mother and friends at her belated Bday gathering. We smoked a pair of pork shoulders for 8 hours and that turned out great. Okay. Now I’m hungry.
Have a great week ahead!
Well I spent a good day and a half with no wireless internet. Comcast just came and gave the major upgrade/overhaul and now things are working great. I had to stumble through a slew of email business exchanges via my phone and I apologize now for the random misspellings that likely made it seem that I had suffered a stroke. It has been a beautiful week outdoors with only one day hotter than I truly enjoy. Our garden is yielding its 1st tomato’s and after a good mow today everything looks great. It has been a semi-busy week that I tried to balance out with some good downtime just to ponder and think. Never underestimate the power of the quiet mind. You must make that time for yourself to think outside the mind storms that so often threaten to swallow us and our focus.
The more that I’ve refocused energy on my home state the more hmm… disappointed I’ve been on the state of things here. (In our film business) I love Michigan and am proudly, a life-long resident. I think that entitles me to have an opinion. I’ve been accused before of not really taking as much of an interest in my home state’s film industry. I think that is only partially true and comes with a major clarification. I really do feel that I’m in a Collective worldwide with groups of sincere artists. I don’t see lines on a map and boarders of state and country, as much as I see A) sincere storytellers OR B) fame-chasing bullshit artists. I know well the reputation we can get as Michiganders. I’ve got almost two decades working in this business and some years prior as a struggling artists. I’ve taken my journey step-by-step with no shortcuts or huge helping hands. I’ve fought hard by my ACTIONS, not words, to change how people think about Michigan. I know to a circle of industry people they know myself, they know CDI and they know the companies and projects we associate with and that is what they think of when they think Michigan. Our ACTIONS have earned us the positive associate with our state.
I unfortunately have been privy to the other side of the coin. The pecking order, name dropping, fake it until you make it mentalities. Insecurities by many of our state’s artists that create division vs unity. I’ve been made aware of some of the painful decisions by certain individuals /companies over the years. Situations whereas some half-heartedly take on projects without a real clue to what it takes to successfully complete something. As long as they can wear their shades, talk on a blue-tooth and pretend they know what is happening – all good.
Some of the best artists out there are not the loudest talkers because they are in action. They are asking themselves, “How do I complete my art and make it fit into a business world?” Others talk the talk but seldom walk the walk. So I guess my interest/our interest as a company really is on the right collaborative fit and the character of the people, not the place they call home. You would think Collective Development Inc. says that all in its name. As a company we’ve spent millions of dollars outside our state and also a good amount inside our state. Sometimes it is the story that dictates location and sometimes business decisions do play in. I see many frustrated artists sound off because they can’t get any financial traction but they still want to only focus on the art/show/fun vs the business aspects. If you don’t do it as a business you do it as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that either. I make wine but I don’t own a vineyard. I play guitar but I don’t get paid to do so- They are hobbies. If you’re a hobby filmmaker who hates business – I would say avoid investors and focus more on donations like fundraising sites. Make stuff for fun and festival showings. Just don’t create disasters in the investor pools by piss poor management. When a project can’t even make it to market – to fail or succeed by an audiences vote to buy, that is ultimate failure. Now failure in itself can be a positive if you learn from it. If you accept it and embrace accountability and consequences. I’ve been witness as of late to some of this damage done and it really disturbed me. I wasn’t as mad but more sad because I know how hard it is to get established. I also know how small this industry truly is and how a few bad decisions can end careers.
As I pointed out last week – some careers being ended could be good for the whole. When we first started out and were given an opportunity – we gave every ounce of effort we could squeeze out. Even with that full effort we made our share of errors and had to overcome issues and setbacks. Now when you see folks “half assin’ it” (My dad’s favorite saying), it’s just disheartening on many levels. Usually because someone nearby would treat that opportunity like gold. I’ve always done that when I say YES to some project. I always go into every film as if it could be my last. I have come to realize that some people claiming passion don’t really care about the work as much as they just want others to respect them. Hard lesson but still very simple – Respect is earned! You can’t buy it, demand it or find it. It’s earned! Make a movie under respectful conditions and you’ve earned the respect for life. I’ve lost a lot of respect of some folks just by observing, listening, reading and watching. I want Michigan to be respected for the great artists living and working here. You are defined by your character and in turn help define us all as a whole. You will be defined by your actions.
Off the SoapBox – Other Film Updates:)
– Strong movement on “Supermodel Showdown” and with new footage – we’re making it even more compelling. Cool first TV series for sure.
– German sales deal moves into final delivery stages on our 3 films licensing to those territories.
– Awaiting MFO approval on a project – Shoot OR push that is the question. It all depends on how fast these ducks line up BECAUSE pre-production doesn’t happen with a wave of a magic wand. This project if it goes this year will employ many actors. Please do get your reels of previous drama work ready. If it moves ahead we will be moving fast. If you have reels I plan to eliminate many of the hoops and cast from reels with possible interviews. We will treat you as professionals but be ready like professionals.
– CDI announced new production deal on “Bestseller” and major re-organization underway. Some of the previous management on this project inspired some of my opening blog statements. Not all of them. I will also be announcing an on-screen role. I was offered a role in the film and after 3 days of consideration I accepted. I’m excited about this and I think fans will really enjoy it:)
– GREAT movement on ASHES OF EDEN. We had a good 30 country radio interview this past week. New theatrical trailer almost done. Dialogue edit almost done as music and sound design continues.
– Development of new relationships with networks continues. Working on some new HBO development.
– I did get a last-minute call from a director friend (J.B.) shooting some B-Roll in Lansing for a cool UK Sci Fi drama shooting in Michigan. I stepped in and did a great cameo doing something on camera that was a first for me. It was a cool character and a cool scene. I was a little jacked up with energy on Take 1 and gouged my finger fast drawing a pistol. I guess if you ain’t bleeding – you ain’t working hard enough.
I will also be announcing that I have a new run going with a theatrical agent in Hollywood. I wanted a foot there because I am going to work into maybe a studio picture a year. I’ve had many of my A list crew friends working studio films in Hollywood ask why I wasn’t wanting to work on studio films. I’ve been fond of the diverse, unique filmmakers I’ve gotten to collaborate with in the indie world. I keep working based on people who know my work on and off-screen. I don’t play Hollywood BS games very well and so if the best ass kisser is gonna win – well, it won’t be me:) Ass kicker maybe:) But the agents think my art is strong enough and if the studios are looking for a new face – cool. Otherwise I’m just continuing to grow my audience film by film – country by country. Either way is fine or a nice mix:)
“Locked in a Room” is part of a fall “8 Horror Films” set at Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart and other fine places. I think $10 or under and we share billing with several other stars showcasing their scary goods. It is getting scary movie season and I’ve put 3 out there and you can go back and watch even early classics if you so choose.
Some of these notices will be explained in more detail in forthcoming PR but I like to give all of you the advanced scoop:) Enjoy your weekend! Nice job by the LIONS also last night!