(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)
It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.
Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.
On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.
Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”
Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.
A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.
“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.
This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead. Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.
Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!
I’m sitting in a nice silence after returning from a family birthday event that featured MSU TV. Now my father and I both graduated from MSU and so I like the tradition. I’ve always liked that MSU could beat anyone on a given day but most of the time were underdogs. In the recent years they have become the team to beat. I do like how they keep their humble class and whip ass. I’m proud of how they represent. I was sitting outside on the porch of the office watching the night sky. I see some comparisons to filmmaking. I’ve always wanted to wear pride behind our company name. I try to run a fair ship and make dependable, creative content. I know that many that have worked with Collective Development Inc. have felt the teamwork and professional respect we try to extend. Many haphazard production entities can whirlwind a location or town and create an unwelcome environment for future productions.
The other part of my MSU comparison was just the tenacity that the teams are known for. I feel like that attribute, which existed before MSU, but was further honed by a university that exemplifies these traits. I think MSU has been playing up and down to their opposition. U of M has looked good but the Spartan mentality is not like others. Also with those few seconds I noted those who did not go to MSU start to waiver tonight when the chips were down. But those that went to MSU knew not to mourn until the battle is over. To the last second you fight to move forward. Breaking into the film industry is a battle and one that many lose. But for those who stand at the last twilight of a battle and go that last round – sometimes a foe falls. An obstacle is removed. A challenge is overcome. As I sat looking at the night sky I took several deep breaths and embraced that spirit. Along time ago I drew my sword and started my march forward. Other like-minded people asked if they could walk with me. Respect one another. None of that drama that follows so many of these powerfully, creative egos were allowed to walk with us. If you feed on that strife your path is elsewhere. Films are hard enough and should never be made worse by those variables. So a good team of people who don’t QUIT and you never know.
ADVICE: don’t quit.
It’s a really big read into the character of a person. Before trusting any budget upon an artist you have to know you aren’t dealing with a quitter. I know some talented artists that I just can’t hire. They quit on a task – large or small it doesn’t matter. Only the risk changes. If you give up easy – you’ll be working in some field outside filmmaking – just a matter of time. Filmmaking is not for quitters. They are a breed to themselves. They all have some internal, creative calling. Some will engage creativity where they can and try to keep the storytelling beast in a cage. Others will go full tilt. Here is where you must have a good plan of action or you’ll moth to the flame. For some this is just an illustration for a lifetime of frustration and for others it is literal. See you on the other side Smiling Joe.
In summary – good job MSU!
“Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” kicked off our screening arts mixer every 3rd Thursday at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. It was a good look back at our first western with CDI. It was released with Lionsgate and was the #1 western rental for 7 weeks. Top 10 for 17 weeks. More than all that it featured some great talent on both sides of the camera and was one of the most beautiful places I have ever shot a movie. Maggie Valley/Cherokee N.C. – We will announce the November movie on Monday. If you have any requests send me a shout out:)
“Ashes of Eden” is preparing to announce some news about TV broadcast but you can still catch it in select theaters. It played today and will play again tomorrow at the Sun Theater in Grand Ledge, Michigan. If you have not checked out “Ashes of Eden” on the big screen this is a great theater to watch it in. Classic!
“40 Nights” – I’m waiting to hear this week about VFX updates. Also the film INTRO is soon to be underway. More sound design and dialogue clean up has been done. I’m excited for the musical score to begin. I’m ready to share this film with the world audiences.
“Chasing the Star” – the script is in the hands of several actors. The feedback has been wonderful. We’re looking into locations and preparing to film in Feb 2016. We will start hiring in December once the film is up and running. Our “40 Nights” director Jesse Low is attached to director our western in 2016. This has us looking at several possible directors. The second script in our deal with Lightworx is essentially about the quest of three magi.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event Nov 1st in Owosso, MI. I enjoyed this week at a dental cleaning – my dentist was all smiles when he told me he saw one of my films. I asked which. He said that he and his wife saw “Bestseller” at Celebration Cinemas. He said, “you were really intense – we loved it.” I thanked him for taking the time to go see it and promised him not to trash his office Franklin style. He was happy.
I’ve been closing in on finishing two scripts. One being the 3rd in the biblical film series. The other is Knight Chills 2. Two VERY different film scripts to be sure. I enjoy the writing and look forward to finishing those two up. Additionally just doing some budgeting work and we’re finishing up some other sales work. But I’ve also been enjoying the fall. It is getting frosty and I saw my first snow flakes today. Winter is Coming (CUE Game of Thrones music)
I’m sure I missed maybe an update or two but I need to kick my feet up. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend.
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!
Today will be the last day of our ASHES OF EDEN journey. It has been an incredible journey filled with one powerful performance after another. It has also been captured by a very talented crew. I’ve had my patience tried once or twice over minor issues but all those things fade. What we will be left with is a story that is a testimony to what we cast & crew did this last quarter of 2012. I was surrounded by some of my old warriors and new ones. We attacked each day riding on the enthusiasm from the day before. What is great is that now the holidays are upon us and we can all rest knowing a job well done. The post process will begin with editing and move into music and sound with my supervisor Dennis Therrian. This will be a great experience putting this story together.
The VOD (Video on Demand) sites for “Deadly Renovations” are starting to pop up. “Book of Ruth” in Meijer stores now and I think Wal-Mart also. Tonight is a big showing of “Benjamin” in NYC at the Big Apple Film Festival. I thought it was last week but that is because I was in some odd time warp and got my days mixed up. I’m excited for that whole team of artists that busted in the record NYC heat to capture that film. I wish I could be there with all of you but I know it will be well received.
The old FORT/office is sold. The new FORT office is built and most of the furnishings are there now just packed up. This week it will be about organizing everything. We are still doing the walls in a few places so that limits what can be placed but by 2013 it will be a fully functional Deathstar:)
I’m off to go prep the final payroll today and off to set to hand them out. After that I’m back to Ionia for the night to help breakdown and oversee the production breakdown. The ship will be in the port and it will be time to secure it and unload our precious cargo.
Have a great weekend!