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

Posts tagged “self

HELLO CLEVELAND! Updates From Indie-Gathering and More…

I’m back in my comfy chair sipping on some hazelnut coffee having just returned from a dentist cleaning. I’m writing on this fine Michigan Monday after returning late last night from Cleveland, Ohio. Some of our BEST YEARS GONE team traveled for the 27th Indie Gathering International Film Festival. It was nice to be around storytellers and talk our craft. It was extra special because we were joined by Detroit filmmaker Harley Wallen representing ASH & BONE, a cool horror film that is a true tip of the hat to some classics. I have to say that actress Erika Hoveland gave a funny, disturbing performance in ASH & BONE and does an incredible job in BEST YEARS GONES, as Sylvia. It was cool to have Michigan filmmaking represented and Erika co-starred in both films. Shane Hagedorn, directed and co-starred in BEST YEARS GONE and also had a supporting role in ASH & BONE. Amazing to watch these films almost back-to-back and to see the range of Erika and Shane’s performances. I only appeared in BEST YEARS GONE but I’m humbled to say I received the festivals ‘Best Actor‘ award, for my Gil Gilles performance. Gil, Gil, Gil…he is truly a character and if you have not seen either of these films you can watch BEST YEARS GONE now on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google and more. ASH & BONE releases in October. Congrats to Harley and his team. Congrats to all the folks at the Indie Gathering. We had some great Mexican eating also. Thank you Melissa Anschutz and Deskpop Entertainment.

Soon I will unpack and likely take a nap. The above film event in Cleveland kept me up past my bedtime. I’ve got a good sleep pattern down and closing down a bar mixer was already over my sleepy time but we had to pass on the 2am to dawn tailgate with grilling and games. If I was 24 I would have been there but…and I’m still tired. We talk about that often. Sleep. Many like to impress folks with how much midnight oil they burn. How hard their grinding. But I can say, that experience and life has shown me that good rest results in better quality use of time. You can say, I worked eight hours straight but how productive were you. Some can do the same work in three focused hours with good rest behind them. Even those meditations, sleep shut down for even 15-30 min can reboot you. Sometimes when flustered people will say, I don’t have the time to take a rest. What results is often mistake-ridden, half-ass work versus taking a few moments and getting better results.

I’ll get my rest on soon enough but I wanted to get some updates out to all of you. BEST YEARS GONE, might have 1-2 more special events planned but it’s now spreading out to different areas of the world on home video.

OTHER UPDATES:

  1. Going to PR the release dates and info on the premiere for FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH, once locked in.
  2. VFX, Color Correction, Music and Sound Design on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is in full swing. Interested theatre chains are starting to give their interest. We have to lock down details on the Algona premiere this month. A new theatrical trailer will also be coming in advance of the premiere.
  3. HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE development work will continue in full. We’ll be looking to lock our dates for next year. Some scouting will happen this year also – so exciting to be able to tell this story. This is another epic period action/drama and it will be one fun ride.
  4. I am debating a few moves on SMOKE & MIRRORS, our short concept film. We might just post it for everyone to watch. It’s a really cool, stylized piece and I think folks will really enjoy it. We will get around to this feature script in the near future.
  5. BESTSELLER, the thriller from the mind of Chris Knight is playing to home video audiences. We have a few reviews and interviews coming up. This film really keeps you on the edge of your seat once things start rolling. If you enjoy these kind of spin-chill films, take a watch.

I’m not going to carry on and on today as I need to unpack and catch up on a few things, rest being one of them. I’m glad that I’m making the effort to slow down and enjoy some of the wins. God knows we’ve had our losses. But I’m really starting to realize that these things happen in their own time. I’m trying to be better at being happy for the personal wins. I’ve found in the past that personal recognition often came with resentment and some form of negativity from others. I found it interesting that after winning that ‘Best Actor’ award which was a nice metal medallion on some olympic-like neck strap. Without thinking about it, I just slipped it into a pocket and carried on. I did not wear it around. It wasn’t a decision with myself – should I wear it? Yes? No? I never thought that. I believe I was thinking about the second half of my burrito that the lunch waiter accidentally threw away instead of wrapping up. My acting might be good but my hand communicating isn’t. “Wrap it up in foil please,” came out as “toss it out” please. Okay, I’ve wandered. My point is, that if my getting recognized gets more eyes to watch our collective art or help projects get made, I’m happy. Does my ‘self’ need the personal recognition? It doesn’t appear that way but maybe deep down, I’m sure it does. The writer in me is really proud of all these stories. I’ve had a few nominations on my writing and I do recall that feeling good. Honestly, I did not expect to win. I mean, come on, it’s Gil Gilles. BUT, folks do seem to like ole, Gil. So from Gil and I, I want to give one more whole-hearted thank you. I’m going to go unpack and try to get my flow back in order. I’ll be back with you all on Sunday, our normal day. Until- Coffee Cheers!

DJ


2021 Hiring Advice – Casting Updates, Film Progress – Development

I’ve awaken to the foggy chill rolling over a Michigan morning but have the hazelnut hot coffee to combat the cold. I see that many more circles of people are suffering losses from the Covid. Again the toll that it’s taking on all fronts will cement this year into the minds of many. I hope the that year ahead brings comfort and better fortune to many who suffered. But the losses of family and friends gone will be more apparent. Businesses that collapsed will have to be re-tooled and for many that means starting over. I hope we can get politics to disappear into the rear-view mirror as the energy between parties and people has been downright shameful. But for the many times whereas I turned off any news and turned on music = JOY. I’ve rediscovered or introduced myself to lots of new music. I’ve pulled myself away from the world of digital text/email communication and enjoyed phone calls again. That has effected my personal and professional relationships in a very positive way. I hope that what we all bring forward is a deeper appreciation for one another. Kinder communication is needed and will enhance all endeavors.

One form of communication that has become popular is grandstanding and lobbying. If a person gets an answer they don’t like or that goes against their desired result they are in essence a poor loser. Now I know the example that leaps into many people’s mind. Accepting that our efforts or the acceptance of our ideas has fallen short is hard for many to take. Often these people might seek to vent their issues to others to gain sympathy and in some cases empathy. I use to marvel in Hollywood at the number of artists flocked together in the cheapest drink joint to loudly complain about all the external forces keeping them from their dreams. Seldom did I hear about sub-par materials, motivational issues and the blame always seemed to fall on someone else. To someone not in this ‘trap’ it feels like you’re standing on the banks of a river watching people swirl hapless and pinball down the river. Who walked into the river? Why? Did someone say it was a shortcut? Get out. Dry yourself off. Get your direction straight and set off towards your goals.

I wanted to think of other examples to help folks. I recently read a huge rant from a crew person in our industry. It proclaimed their willingness to work without pay with people or projects they found fun because of friendship. They also ridiculed someone who had offered them a low paying gig. And it was grandstanding at its finest and it worked to grab attention. Did it get the desired result? The friends of this person who had this person often work free were in agreement. But they did not see themselves as part of the problem. The venter also did not see the issue. A person has so many days a year they can earn. Giving up an unhealthy amount of those days can create a financial strain. This frustration stems from giving too much to an unpaid source (friends?) and creates a desperation when bills come. Now said associate(s) come with a paid offer that doesn’t meet the expectations of individual because of their poor time managing. AND so they are basically saying they cannot manage their work to recreational time. And they like to blame others. And they’ll loudly vent their self made frustrations to anyone who will listen. Usually the only ones who will comfort these people are the non-paying friends. And those with resources to pay realize they don’t want to buy that person at any price. They don’t take accountability and they poorly manage their lives – is that what you want to bring onto a project? But people truly think they are doing something positive by claiming justice and righteousness but really they are saying DO NOT HIRE ME. Don’t be one of those people. I’ve seen so many just take themselves out of the game. Maybe that is what they wanted all the time. They believe they need an excuse to bow out making it someone else’s fault. The reasoning is someone gathering funds to pay cast and crew, standing accountable to investors, is gonna evolve and grow faster than a bunch of friends playing. That has always seemed obvious to me but the logic utilized by many people is very strange.

We live in a melting pot of beautiful people in this world. All biologically more or less the same but wrapped with different customs, food, dress, culture, beliefs and music. With most projects or artistic endeavors – the artists involved are from all ends of the spectrum and therefore cannot be rendered into one group. They can be inspired to focus on one story but still all have various backgrounds to be respected. One of the best respectful practices one can give is to listen. Real listening allows real dialog. This becomes healthy communication. In all walks of life and in all endeavors I hope that in 2021 healthy communication becomes a practice. Good storytelling is not condescending, preachy or judgmental and when done proper is one of the most powerful forms of communication. I will continue to practice this form of communication because I believe it most effective and leading by example is best in my opinion. Maybe a year of less talk more action will influence others and the world can shift. Shift to a place of beautifully differences but none-the-less all the same.

Much of this stems from the masses of people wanting 2021 to be very different. Some things are outside your control but are you doing your best with what you can control? I certainly would get an A for effort. Now by the nature of who I am and what I do I’m a self starter. Others are learning this as they are forced to work from home. Work when you decide to work and relax when you decide to relax. Know thyself. Learn to shift gears cleaning. At rest be at rest do not let the mind spin with regret of the past or anxiety of the future – relax. In the present get the recharge and rebalance you need and with a new day adventure forth. You cannot stop age and death but you can control what you do on your journey. Appreciate yourself, others and this life adventure. I try to remain modest in the light of success and view loss and setback as a learning experience. I know of some fighting battles to stay on this journey of life – do not take it lightly. Think through your stresses and remove their hold on you and watch certain binds disappear with a thought. We can imprison or set ourselves free. We have that ability. 2021 set yourself free and be the best you.

OK – enough of the deep ramble… I’ve refilled the coffee cup and the smell of bacon fills the house so let’s get on with this. Onto the movies and other endeavors-

Let’s talk about THE QUEST TRILOGY. The three stories are unique because of the glimpse into how these important and overlooked events in films 1-3 effected or were effected by angels fallen and faithful. Because they are the thread between all three stories and time, space and dimension are powerful aspects of existence slowly being revealed to us, the stories go from PRESENT (Forty Nights) to the PAST (Chasing the Star) and land in the FUTURE (The Christ Slayer). As the new campaign rolls out for the holidays I had to enlighten parties to the fact that the lack on linear was intentional and part of the greater story. So many little nuisances to discover. I had a fan last week talk about with each viewing they discover a new gem. Something they missed prior and so I’m thankful that some are studying the trilogy. If you have not seen these three films please do in the proper order and leave a review for THE QUEST TRILOGY as a whole. I look forward to seeing those reviews so peel the onion and enjoy.

MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND

Available on many platforms – on ENCOURAGE TV we’ve topped 700k viewers with millions overall watching. Now you can watch FREE with ads.

WILD FAITH – As this film makes its way around the world it’s always interesting to see how other countries view a story. Humor is different from place to place as is the general acceptance or sex or violence and just “grasping” the story as a whole. It is interesting because the ‘Civil War’ was the American Civil War although several countries were involved. Here is a pretty good review from the UK that I enjoyed.

Also funding and distribution talks on HASTINGS the spin-off TV show is underway. Season one is written and the budgeting and production flow is being examined. The first round of proposed directors are looking at the scripts for assignment. I have several more talks to have but this next endeavor is coming together and what a win it would be for Michigan. I think we’ll be starting a Hastings FB development site. Also I think my clean face is going away as I let Ben Lily slowly start to creep forward.

SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA The end of 2021 will include the filming of CDI’s 1st WW2 era film. We are gathering our commits before forming the business entity in early 2021. We have almost all our funders in line. We had additional funders jump on board last week and the final few should be on board by year’s end. In the new year we’ll also be talking with various sponsors to travel with us on the film. Right now we’re looking at German or German-speaking actors as several of the leads are German POW’s. If you fit the bill feel free to reach out with a reel on the http://www.cdiproductions.com website (Subscribe to the Tribe) or right here.

SMOKE & MIRRORS – the final VFX work is underway and we’re taking our time and we’ll hit some festivals and a special showing at the Dodge Turner once this virus passes. The full feature is in development with me revisiting the feature script. This is a great turn of the century based story that will star David Gries from the CDI tribe.

FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – this project has completed some early filming but is now preparing to go full steam ahead into 2021 with a series of interviews. We will premiere this later in 2021 another great thing to look forward to.

LOST HEART – This film is like a lighthouse casting its positive light out into the darkness giving laughter and hope to many out there. This is a feel good, thought-proving film and audiences are responding in kind. I’ve been just elated by some of the wonderful pieces of fan mail. What makes its even more exciting is when it comes from peers I’ve never met. I had a nice note from an actress who has watched it twice after it was referred to them by a friend who illustrates for the Jim Henson company. I’ve said it before, I think this is the closest to a feel good Spielberg movie that CDI has done. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on the script but I want to say that without the great performances the writing would not be enough. If you are in need of a smile, laugh and uplift please do watch the film. It is available on most platforms!

I might have missed something but I think it’s time I get on with my day. I have a week of investor dispersement ahead and more development work. Plus each day playing elf wrapping up some love presents. I will end with this tidbit from Nathaniel Nose who is editing BEST YEARS GONE. He reached out one day after reviewing all the footage and complimented me and the cast on performances. He was excited to see me doing comedy (Mike Deeney:) and he thought this was the best performance of my career. Okay that is subjective but it still made me feel good. I left it all on the table as Gil Gilles and I’ve brought some wonderful characters to life (Jesus, Ben Lily, Paul Landings, Stan Reed, Buddy Colt, Lynn Kendall…) so I’ll just take it for what it is – it tells me that if you’ve enjoyed my other roles you might enjoy this one. He also gave very high marks to my co-star Erika Hoveland and that is part of the key. Having great artists to co-exist with and create so thank you Erika/Sylvia.

Have a great week. Lead by example. Seek accountability. Control what you can. Be good to others.

DJ


Destroying the Identity/Self and Film Updates

I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.

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So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall.  I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.

WF_Poster_9.13

WILD FAITH

After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.

THE QUEST TRILOGY

VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.

BMG Master

CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.

MBF

The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.

I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Pre-Birthday Reflections, Being Reclusive and New Films

So today is the cusp of the BIG MOON, the closest full moon of the year. I’m sipping the hot coffee and looking forward to the day hanging with my brother and his girl. Upon finishing this post I’m getting the smoker going and going to have a relaxing day. It was a crazy busy week as many have been lately and I’ve just continued to sail the ship forward. “Donors” http://www.donorsthemovie.com film has moved to Yuma for final sound mixing. “Supermodel Showdown” is looking great as we are chunking in footage on the 3rd show and I’m extremely happy with what I see. “Ashes of Eden” is having the sound/music review meeting next week and also starts color correction. I also might have a few upcoming announcements on projects the start of July. Final approval on German distribution contracts for three of the films underway. “Darkest Night” PR is in full swing next week as we head towards our VOD and DVD/TV releases in July. I want to discuss a few attributes that apply to activity this week. It also ties in to what we discussed last week.

KNOW YOUR ROLE

I’m in a stage of possibly signing onto a couple of films as CDI associated producer and talent. In these situations you must first stand your ground and use your experience. IF someone wants to work with you it is because they are buying your experience. The things you’ve done right and wrong. To avoid pitfalls and follow well-traveled paths whereas they will maximize your chances of repeat success. What I look for always in a partnership is LISTENING. I can tell if the cup is already full of ideas and thoughts often based not on experience but opinions. Opinions are like assh%#%!  everyone has one and… You know the saying. I try to base my decisions on reason, common sense and some gut feeling. I always try to fully explain the reasoning. If someone isn’t listening and you can tell – that relationship will be a painful one that will mostly bring frustration and regret. I avoid these situations because if you want to make mistakes or non calculated risk decisions, I would rather not be along for that ride. I’ve been there, seen that and got the T-shirt:)

Now for a film crew to work effectively or any group dynamic – each person must know their role and respect one another. This is even more important with your above the line executive team. I have one project that is close to a go and I’m set to be the ship captain (producer) but before we set sail the ship needs to be ready. First and foremost is for WRITER, DIRECTOR and PRODUCER(s) to know their role, their scope of power and how decisions will be made. I’m very good at this and that is why I do the business I do. I respect and enforce these divisions otherwise chaos will grow. Chain of command is very important and especially where writer and director are concerned. Once the script is handed off the new creative leader IS the director. Business decisions from a producer can trump but only if they are legit and not subjective opinions. I’ve written screenplays and for me it is easy to let go. I think it is because the actor in me surrenders to a creative director and I just focus on my role. As a producer I watch the ship and make sure that the overall vessel stays the course. But as a writer I’m flattered and inspired when someone adapts a story of mine from the page to the screen. A writer too close to the material can become a nightmare and slow a project, killing schedule and budget over subjective topics. I always tell my producers when they get caught line stepping that it appears they are heading for the directors chair BUT this is not your ship. So I address these issues right up front while the ship is in port. I don’t wait until 2 weeks in when so much frustration has built and the tensions are high. I will risk someone saying this doesn’t look like it will work, I will readily agree with them. I’m not getting on a ship that is going to become a floating emergency out at sea. As I stated before too many people will bite their tongue and say nothing because they need the work that bad. I would rather stay and work the garden, brew some beer and sell some films in our library versus going on a nightmare cruise to shit island.

This week I also met some artists with one of my friends filmmaker Nathan Quinn. I’ve actually met quite a few of the artists growing in Michigan after several years of being semi-reclusive. I’ve just been away from the film social scene because honestly I can’t take the fake sincerity and one-up attitudes I often observe. Do you art and be unique. Do so with the least amount of drama save what you put on-screen. Always give more than what you were paid for. Don’t compromise your best and be willing to let a project go knowing the universe will bring to you what is meant to be. Find your faith and hold on to it. Don’t EVER grab for the dangling carrot and become someone’s puppet. Many have wondered why I won’t work with them. If you bullshit you will lose my attention almost immediately and seldom do I revisit these folks. Many act on their best behavior when they want something but it is only a matter of time before their true nature returns. Take a deep look at yourself and see if these traits exist and if they do – sincerely, spiritually purge them from your self and live as the best you that you can be.

I wish you all a great weekend!

DJ