Hazelnut cheers! A beautiful snowy morning here in Michigan. I want to welcome all the new readers from Germany, Sweden, Germany and China. I appreciate you stopping by to take a read and apply what you can – where you can in your own personal journey. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the unity topic we’ve had for a few weeks. My fireside meditations led me to the analogy of a spending train. We’ve got so much developing here at CDI we’re thundering down the track. The occasional hater throwing rocks out of boredom or a need for attention. If a few people threw rocks at a speeding train what would happen? They would bounce off the steel hull and be gone down the tracks. The train had places to go, people to see and things to do. They would never stop the train to debate or waste time – they would stoke the fire and full speed ahead.
In this time of Covid it’s a great time to stoke the fires of passion within. Build up your reserves of energy and get yourself in your best shape. Do all those things that often get neglected because you have others things to do. How many hours saved by not spending two hours in a car commuting back and forth to work places. More time to read. More time to update. More time to plan. From March 2020 I have been putting this into practice. While I could list so many things missed in 2020 I could also make a list of the things I got done using the extra time. Again as I write on such topics of motivation and such I say again that I am not better than anyone. You have the ability to make changes in your situation and it starts with a thought. Thought powered by the imagination, focused by the will, held strong by faith in yourself and your life purpose.
This week was very productive against a backdrop of ice and snow. Let’s see if we can do a TOP 10 updates from the week. Refill your coffee and let’s take a look.
- Additional “end of year” tax materials supplied for the fun part of filmmaking. We’re streamlining this process all the time to try and better the overall process.
- Our WW2 Christmas drama Silent Night In Algona is now formed as a corporation. We’ll open the account soon and start bringing on the funds. We still have a few units to assign but within 60 days of entering into pre-production. Casting has been full speed ahead with a national casting for our young lead. We’ve also been doing a lot of casting within the tribe of talent we’ve used before. The audition reads have been great to see the words ALIVE! I’m excited that we’ve almost got our lead family cast. We’ll announce that in a few weeks likely dripping them out or in pairs. This project will be a great story of love and unity set in small-town USA in 1944.
- I had a wonderful call from Darby Hinton, an actor best known for playing the young lead on the Daniel Boone TV show but has reoccurred or guest starred on many of the great shows of Hollywood. He was our ‘Gerald’ the shopkeep in WILD FAITH. He was one of the folks I offered a read on season 1 of ‘Hastings‘ the Wild Faith TV series. He called to tell me he wasn’t blowing smoke – he has read and been part of shows with great writing and THIS (tv series) is great writing. He said he reads at night (like myself) and to his wife’s regret he had to keep reading. He asked if I had writers meetings, other writers…to which my response was just me and the voices in my head:) I would ponder and spill notes out onto paper. From those legal pad notes I just dive in and start writing. I’m going to get the 8 shows edited up and ready for outside presentation. If you haven’t seen the pilot feature do yourself a favor. A fun film with a powerful message.
- Best Years Gone – So this week we prepped the new audio studio and I’m beyond thrilled that it is amongst the pines and forested fields that we’ll breath the audio and music into these stories. We will be rolling some new still photos out this week. I just might have a Valentine’s Day gift for our cast, crew and fans and I think we’ll give it to you on Sat. the 13th on the BYG Facebook page. Are you already part of that? If not come on over. We have some exciting things still in store including merchandise that is coming and the BOTB. (Battle of the Bands) I’m working to get that launched. We are also soon to have the next draft of the film edit now that Shane (our director) has given his new round of notes and adjustments. This film is heartfelt and will be funny for sure.
- The CDI website http://www.cdiproductions.com is undergoing updates. First you can now subscribe to the tribe which will become a center of updates. I even thought of my blog existing as a weekly send out. But the film pages are updated. Streaming is now connected to our distributor’s ENCOURAGE TV. Merchandise is slowly coming together with a few new items. This will explode by year’s end. We will also be doing artist spot lights and have some of their work on consignment. If you have any ideas feel free to drop a comment. From those subscribed we might start looking at pre-orders and that could allow some larger piece orders. Lunch box? Bobble heads? Posters?
- LOST HEART & MBF are the most recent releases. Both are growing their audience nicely and I so appreciate all the fan mail from folks. We’re not big festival folk at CDI but like to select a few. In my experience and opinion the festivals best serve if someone from your team can attend. But with everything going virtual you are essentially paying to have them do a free streaming of your work. But new circles of exposure and if people are truly impressed you can have lifelong fans. I’m a person who in the last handful of years I’ve not attended industry mixers and such. But with the absence of even my few – I’m looking forward to talking film and the arts not by phone or zoom. Again get up to speed with the CDI stories with a watch on these two films. Do you have a favorite CDI film? Comment and let me know.
- THE QUEST TRILOGY – The CDI Tribe earned their desert stripes with this trilogy of biblical adventure stories. I’m excited that PUREFLIX (Sony) is going to do a big push as a series to their viewers. Now with ad based Video on demand everyone can take a watch and experience the CDI films. These films have the trademark style and quality that you’ve come to expect from our storytellers at CDI. The bible is full of stories many untouched because of the R or X rated material suggested within. We haven’t tackle those stories but did find “unexplored territory” to address with our speculative storytelling. I think this is more interesting versus retelling the same handful of stories. I do have my next trilogy of stories to tell back in the sands but that is a way down the path.
- This year we will have SMOKE & MIRRORS finishing. This has no deadline so it got moved down the release line. But this decision allowed us to make some more aggressive choices on VFX work. I LOVE this short and I’m excited to see it develop into a full feature. I am retooling the feature based on the short film. Knowing locations really helps in planning the story. David Gries and Melissa Anschutz are MUST SEE in this film. But those that know their work will not be surprised in the least.
- ‘FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH‘ – the CDI associated with Red, White & Blue Project doc will start shooting again this month. I think we’ll have some sort of promo video for this documentary in the coming weeks.
- We also have something special coming from one of our crew/associate producer Nate Robertson. Nate was our foreman on the last film that set sail through the storm of Covid. Nate took a job that already had pressure and had it magnified by Covid procedural pressures. As a show of how our system at CDI is strengthening. The producers create a bubble of harmony for the set to exist within. Inside the set, the flow is controlled by the AD. The flow was there, time was managed and Nate was able to express some of his artistic self via a BTS video of sorts. I know we’re excited to see it. I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
If I forgot anything it will have to wait until next chat. I’m going to make some good food and watch the football contest and the commercial creativity. I have a few emails/calls I might make to get a jump on my week. That is another good secret – work with people you truly enjoy. I never roll my eyes or stress over phone calls. They are always good touching of bases between fellow adventurers in life. We discuss our separate ventures, our shared ventures, and those yet to be made. I don’t have a close relationship with everyone as time won’t permit. But those who do know me truly, I think would speak well of my intent. My intent is to see dreamers win. I want you to break poor patterns and do better by yourself. If the artistic path is a true calling that calling grants faith in yourself and a purpose. The latter is priceless and exactly what is missing from many people. People who check many ‘success boxes’ yet still are unhappy. To me it’s like the moment when Obi-Wan puts the helmet on Luke to further test him against the remote droid. Reach out. In those moments of sensory deprivation if the calling is heard – have faith. If you don’t know ‘Star Wars’ you are now assuming I have had a stroke.
If storytelling is a great road winding up a mountain – many people are at various places some higher and some lower. What I’ve always prided myself on is being in good company at wherever place I’m at on the road. Climbing higher only changes the view but it’s still about the laughter and fellowship that accompanies the climb. And when my time comes to leave this world where I’m at is where I’m at. Always a work in progress. So the secret is enjoying the early struggles of beginning filmmakers or the challenges of the mid-road struggles – have friends on the journey of storytelling. Have friends outside the journey of storytelling. Have these things and your journey while unsure at times will not eat at you with stress. Living by ‘Best Efforts’ will allow one to laugh off the failures (with friend), toast the wisdom learned (with friends) and forever be the better person. Getting along with a little help from my friends.
Be good to one another.
Flea Market Finds!!!
I’m fresh back from one of the local flea markets. I love to find past treasures that often end up as props either for a film set or a character. Not just for me but for others also. I’ve been just on cloud nine with the soon-to-release LOST HEART. I was really happy with the writing blend and even more on how Jesse Low and the cast and crew all performed and captured the story. I was heavily influenced by Spielberg when I was growing up. I think LOST HEART has a good mixture of humor and adventure and leaves you with a ‘feel good’ vibe. A film like MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND could not do that and keep the message strong. WILD FAITH had that uplifting ending as did FORTY NIGHTS and even THE CHRIST SLAYER. But CHASING THE STAR was written as the ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ of the biblical adventure trilogy. I’m excited that for this holiday window (Thanksgiving to Easter) they will be pushing the trilogy as a whole. They are best when seen all together. A new TRILOGY trailer will be edited by our distributor.
Back to LOST HEART you say! As I told our team – the film is done. The film is delivered to the distributor. It will be seen by millions around the world. So good job to our team. But we are now fighting for the icing on the cake. The theatrical events and premiere be in drive-in, theatrical or yes, even online. We are exploring a one night online premiere that would allow EVERYONE to participate in the event. The idea we have is a good one and would be DIFFERENT, but could be powerful. Its would include filming the pre and post party and broadcasting that with the premiere showing. The film will also be going to various networks to evaluate for ‘exclusive release’ or a period of time where the film can only be seen at this channel for a month or two. I would enjoy seeing it play on TV a while before the whole home-video release. We will see as talks continue this week. I don’t care how you all see the film we’re just looking forward to it being seen.
This month will be some investor dispersement as several of the films are earning steadily along. There is a fair amount of bookkeeping work that happens so that end-of-the year accounting goes smoothly. Watching the films and leaving reviews is a couple ways you can help small business. Many of you have been supporting us as shown by the numbers and the fan mail and we cannot thank you enough. You are why we tell these stories and we will continue to entertain you for many years to come.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE at http://www.cdiproductions.com
- More talks on the WILD FAITH TV series ‘Hastings’ including with possible partners in a western studio. I’m excited to see the on-going adventures.
- Putting presentation materials together on the new WW2 film slated for 2021.
- NEW poster art and setting up first interviews with our Catch-Can documentary.
- NEW poster art underway and audio evaluation with SMOKE & MIRRORS dir and post-audio.
- Announced make-up department for upcoming BEST YEARS GONE the ladies from Gals and Ghouls.
- Soon to announce some of the first sponsors working with us on the BEST YEARS GONE movie.
- Worked final edits on my new book contribution with editor on ‘Second-Chance Cats’ book and signing deal on the next book contribution which is a book featuring dogs. My story is about my Luke Brown who was my inspiration in the MBF film.
- This and a few other opportunities has me thinking about literary representation again.
- LOST HEART BTS is forthcoming – just wrapping up some paperwork.
Is it MSU football time yet?
I’m going to sign off and do a few things around the homestead and the office. This past week I got to peel off a day and go to a couple of lakes with family. I’ve been getting things around for the beer and wine making and I’m going to get one or both of those going. We have new fall crop in the garden and we’ve started taking tomatoes. We had a few days that reminded us of fall coming. I know that wood stove and chill will soon be in the air. I hope everyone keeps the course and try to have patience with one another. Coffee toast – we’ll talk again next week.
I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my room at the Double JJ Resort. I’m close to being wrapped with my character of Niles Cass in the film LOST HEART. It’s been a great ride thus far with only a few small bumps in the road. Luckily, when you have a great team gathered you address and flow past those issues. We truly do have a great team of artists who are also problem solvers not creators. I was again so proud the other day when we had our new friends Susan and Norm out to set. They are the owners and until recently ran the Double JJ Resort for several years. That duty has largely been passed down but they are the ones who still care deeply for the resort and it’s on-going future. They know that keeping your word, taking pride in your work and maintaining excellent customer service is what keeps people returning. So again it was a pleasure to have them visit and see the ‘zen’ flow of how smooth our set runs. That night it was all chill save the occasional radio communication at basecamp calling the roll out. Like Susan and Norm, we’re making some great contacts and friends in this area and are seriously considering filming in this area again.
Our newest mid-western WILD FAITH, is really heating up now that the DVD’s are for sale including at the Wal-Mart. Here is fellow producer ‘Tony’ Hornus at the Whitehall store. If you have not seen the film please do treat yourself. After if you feel inclined to leave a few kind words please do so.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is delivered to our distributor and is now being prepped for the theatrical and home video run. It will be great to get this story out there to audiences. Paul whom I played in the film is one of my most challenging characters to date. I wanted to properly represent the soldiers who have been wounded, sacrificing themselves to keep us all safe. A premiere is in the planning so stay tune for updates on that and also the other releases.
The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) continues to expand and I’m exciting for the upcoming holiday season with all three films complete. I hope that several TV networks pick them up to watch together. All three are available to purchase or rent.
I’m going to go get ready to drop stuff at the office and have lunch with the crew. I’m back on camera tomorrow so I’ll be refreshing myself with those lines. I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday.
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!
I’m taking these few quiet moments late on Sat night to write versus tomorrow which could be busy or peaceful zen. We’re on location with our pre-production team telling an 1800’s story that proudly weaves a lot of Michigan into it. The mail system continues to be the stress it has been for twenty years. But we’ve done just fine thanks in part to the digital age. It does get hard to digest more and more digital. I’m a paper person. I love trees and all the many kinds of woods and their properties and aromas. Man has survived by wood, paper and pulp. I just cannot enjoy reading a script digitally like I do a book. Our sets become more and more digital communication BUT we do interact as artists, IN PERSON.
We have a wonderful team of people forming up to tell this story. Some are new to our circle and others have been here for many of moons. I’ve known the joy of giving an artist their first ever paycheck for their art. They cried. It is something that I will always remember. Now artists when starting out often do unpaid work to get exposure. When they get to a place whereas people will pay for their art that fulfills something in them.
Now many are ready to suffer and sacrifice for their exposure. In the film world it is the “NO PAY but IMDB credit and a COPY of the film” deal. The first is a database of film work and the second the piece of history that those artists shared – gaining exposure. That is not us, we’ve paid people since our second film at our company in the late 90’s. I can say in all honesty I’ve never been able to fully pay what I think these artists are worth. But, we do pay what we can. We’ve paid many artists over the last twenty some years. I’ve payed what each film can afford and I have many friends that commit onto our films rate unknown. They know I pay across the board the fair price that a project can afford. If you’ve never launched a feature film than you don’t know the true hardships of doing so. When a “playground” for the arts does finally launch and a story is going to be told – it’s a voyage. Now, imagine a backyard football game or capture the flag as a kid with the neighborhood full of kids. There was always that one kid that came into a game complaining about the brand of the ball or lack of this or that – never seeing what is provided but only what isn’t. Half empty versus half full we would say in the martial arts. These attitudes are a character flaw – a cancerous negativity that will cause them great strife throughout their life. On a film set you have to learn to identify and avoid these toxic people. They are not ready. If they cannot balance their own filters they will never find happiness – just flaws. HINT: Life is flawed. The long lesson is that we’ve put literally millions of dollars into the coffers of artists and vendors. Sometimes by big checks and sometimes by small, again what that film can handle, but we always made something that made us collectively proud. Our stories travel into the world marketplace and touch people’s minds and hearts. In a short handful of years the shells and beads earned will be spent frivolously and forgotten and only the art will remain. A lasting display of the story that those people told. Some have not learned this lesson and others never will. Okay enough about those type of individuals as they run their course and after they burn every bridge they settle into a job they dislike and the circle of negativity is full circle. Of course for these people it is always because of someone else.
WILD FAITH – This pilot film has been making some amazing announcements about casting. I’m thrilled about the crew forming up behind this film. It is all team building for moving forward. We will be announcing more castings in the next few days which includes a legend of the western genre and one award decorated actress. Yes. I will be acting/co-starring in this film but I want to get my other announcements out there first. I’m looking forward to “playing” with some other talented actors and an amazing crew being led by director Jesse Low and director of photography Jesse Aragon. We all worked together with our producing team on “40 Nights” which you can check out now.
More updates have been given to me on a pair of other possible network shows that are interested in having me act. One would be a reboot of a very famous series and the other a continuation of a very popular series. I just keep doing my thing and when they are ready to get serious I’m all ears.
CHASING THE STAR – The music is complete and we’re heading to the finish line. Official poster and trailer close to a reveal. Stay tuned!
BESTSELLER – A perfect season for this film. We’re working our foreign set up so all those friends asking overseas – soon:)
40 NIGHTS & ASHES OF EDEN continue their advance into the marketplace with more places to watch almost weekly.
NEW releases of classic CDI films in the works. Development on the next slate of films is underway. Once this film has set sail we will start putting the foundation together on the third and final film in the QUEST TRILOGY entitled “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in 2017.
I’m going to finish my hazelnut coffee and hit the shower. I have a long list of TO DO’s for today’s pre-production. We’re gonna grill out with our pre-prod crew tonight and make final preparations.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.