The Secret of ‘Fire’ ‘Music’ and ‘Know Thyself’ – plus a few film updates…
Good morning my friends. I’m sitting by our new electric fireplace near my chair. Our old one died during the holidays so a new one has replaced it. I’ve got my steaming cup of hazelnut coffee with me as I ponder the past week. I want to thank all the new readers from around the world for stopping by to take a read. I hope there is a few nuggets of wisdom you can pull upon. I had so many good calls this week and 2023 business is underway. I have new goals and already I’m knocking some of them down. I’m sure this year will come with wins and losses as that is the way of life. I’ve reminded a few people, to stop. Turn around. Look at how far you’ve come. Be happy with what you have done, not just fixate on what you have not done.
This week I’ll be gathering up end of year tax stuff to generate any 1099’s for the films. We also do K1’s for all the investors. I was able to get all the check dispersement written and sent out. I only had to resend two as addresses had changed. I’ll also get things around for our company and myself. These are the needed but unsexy parts of the film business. It is so much more than playing with the camera. There is a massive amount of work that goes into each and every film. This is the biz side of show biz.
I’ve been told recently, and not the first time – that I work people hard. I ask artists to dig deep and to put their very best forward. I’ve dedicated my entire life to telling stories, and while we have much fun, we also work very hard. But when the artists finally see the final product, 9 of 10 times, that creative endeavor is one of the best, if not the best, endeavor that artist was involved with that year. They take family and friends to watch the stories and they’re proud to have been part of the stories telling. I’ve got family who have not yet seen our recent film. Our holidays were disrupted by a loss in the family. In my hometown they played the film for several weeks but I still did not get out to see it. But many did! We’re working to set up a special SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, screening in Owosso, MI with NCG. For our Detroit area friends, we’re working to set up screenings there also. Our new theatrical division at CDI Distribution has been launched!
Let’s looks at some of the updates from last week-
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA– We had several new theaters open. We had a projection bump at a new theatre screening in Iowa, after they moved the film from the test theatre. Much like home systems, many theatrical houses have different set ups, some older and some newer. They rarely update everything at once likely due to cost. But, I know at the one location it was worked out and the film is playing. People are requesting to managers who contact bookers-who contact us. The film is in 20 theaters and we have another 13 going up. And many more still approaching us from different states. Keep it up, you people are making the film travel. I expect the film to travel theatrically into March or April. We are also exploring a few select film festivals and we want to screen in Germany. Many good plans in action. We are working on a few special marketing deals while moving towards the home video window.
- MERCHANDISE– We’ve done some test marketing of some merchandise but we’re starting to really look at a stronger launch of this division at CDI. I can also say that a MUSIC DIVISION, is developing. That will allow audiences access to the amazing soundtrack scores created by Dennis Therrian. These two areas are on CDI’s 2023 developmental goal list. Do you all have a favorite music score? I would love to actually do some runs of LP records. Any participating record pressing companies? Please reach out. RECORD LABEL? Not there yet:)
- MOVING FORWARD- Harsens Island Revenge – This film exits development and will enter pre-production next month. What does that mean- that means that the film foundation (legal paperwork) will all be executed and the project funded. At that time we’ll be announcing our director and some of the attached cast. The script having undergone several sessions of writer/director polishing, it’s ready to be broken down. I love this stage because you go over every line of action, description, dialog and discuss. In this case I got to perform several scenes with our director, to get the flow ands feel. Most of the tweaks were minor but took strong scenes and made them even more powerful. It is a very cool story and what a time period to play in. Primary casting and crewing discussions will start in the coming weeks. Our producers already did a location scout trip and another one will be planned. We just created 1944 and now we’ll enter the 1920’s, artists are you ready? Next week, we’ll look to set hard shoot dates after Labor Day 2023. Get ready for some new teaser art as well!
- Pen has not yet found ink, but I’m deep into talks on a CDI associated film to be shot late 2023 and early 2024. To recap what a CDI associated film is- it’s a film whereas someone else is bringing the capital $ to the table but want the experience of CDI behind it. As a producer, I remove the ‘supervising’ role and become more or less, a consultant. CDI will bring other assets to help but the main responsibility is on other shoulders. I’ve been asked to co-star in the supernatural action-thriller, and I’m feeling it. I hope to be able to call the film by name and run some PR about the new arrangement, in the near future. It is always best to work out all these details in advance so there is no issues later. This is a KEY to success. Have the hard conversations now and get everything in writing some it’s there. I still have 4-5 films out there in the film post abyss, they might finish one day. I sincerely hope they do. NUGGET: If possible, you actors, pick production teams with a track record of finishing.
- SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE – This week the script will go out to some historians and some friends in the Native American community. I think, I have written a powerful and balanced script, with lessons about loss, revenge, understanding, love and unity. It is not sugarcoated in any way and contains a few scenes that left me shaken after writing them. I had to go immerse myself in some nature and beauty, away from the truth of our shared history. I will be putting the script forth after this round of notes, and we’ll be putting together the Phase 2 plan. Phase 2 will be the development work in Iowa to prep for a 2024 shoot. I’ll also be having some teaser art put together. This will be a great return to the 1800’s storytelling for CDI.
- I want to thank and encourage all of you to keep exploring and watching the CDI library. I’ve had fans reach out and thank us for The Quest Trilogy, MBF, Best Years Gone, Lost Heart, Wild Faith – you can even watch many free on TUBI or Encourage TV. I actually enjoyed The Quest Trilogy, playing while I was doing work. Again, even when not watching I love the music. But the amazing scenery (Yuma, AZ) and the story often gets me distracted for a few moments. More so, when I see friends on screen who are no longer with us. TRIVIA: Who was the voice of ‘God’ in FORTY NIGHTS? You can leave your answer in the comments.
- Speaking of the CDI library, we will be looking to set up several of the old films, in HD at BMG. I had to look up dates for GHOST TOWN, which will be one of the new set up preps. Also AN ORDINARY KILLER, FIGURE IN THE FOREST and KNIGHT CHILLS are all being worked on.
- Animated Division of CDI is in the works. CDI did an “in association” feature THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ, which is being re-rendered and conformed for a release through BMG. But, we’ve got a few shorts and features in development. I’ve always loved cartoons and such, so getting involved in that direction feels natural.
- We’ve got some good interest in creating video games off some of our films. You might know KNIGHT CHILLS, Dice Don’t Lie, video game has been in development. Once the final render is done of Sir Kallio, we might start some 3D printing.
- This week I also plan to meet over the next FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH, doc. I’ve already started to talk with a few folks and if all goes well the team will shoot it this Spring/Summer. I think we’ve got a great overall summary of the history in the first film but now we can go into segments and define parts of it even further. Wrestling, grappling fan or not, this film will entertain you and educate you in the rich history.
The holidays were unconventional with the death in the family but the spirit of the season kept on. Aside from the loss, the beautiful snowstorm and the slowing of our day to day for a few days of family and reflection, really helped to recharge my batteries. The finishing of projects and the beginning of new. Again the seasons of our lives as creative artists. And while, sometimes the stories pull me away from my comforts for a time, the stories we tell are timeless.
It is also a time where we artists re-unite. CDI has been a home for some and a stepping stone for others. I like to think we instilled some good qualities into the folks who’ve moved away and into their own respective fields, sometimes in the arts and sometimes not. I tell people, CDI is like any other endeavor, you will get out of it what you put into it. For many, it means being a part of something great that nobody can take away from you. To do that takes hard work. Very hard work. And I only like to work with people who care about what they put their name on. Craftsmanship. Whiskey. Cars. Films. Life is too short to not care about what you work on. The Quakers (Look them up) made amazing furniture and wood crafts because they believe they’re honoring God by their own hands with their craft. I think that is a good mind set and the results are something infused with- love.
FIRE– I’m going to get after a few things today including getting some firewood around for the office stove. I do want to try some lump coal like my buddy uses in his stove. Longer burning and more heat. I’m also on a mission to organize even better this year. I will be putting everything to digital for back ups. I keep being asked about a podcast ‘Around the Fire’ at the fort. I am thinking about it. But I like the fort being a place of low tech and around personal synergy. Knights of the Round Table. Vikings in the Lodge. Monks in the temple. Development at CDI is not just projects, it is people. But people have to want positive change. Self defeating, self associated talk will draw all the negative to you and lower your own personal power. Birds of a feather, flock together. Misery enjoys company. Also believe to achieve. Positive perspective. Creative visualization. The mind is a powerful thing that can assist or hinder. That is why the KNOW THYSELF, rings so powerful. In the new year if you are struggling, fight to take control of the self. Start with your words. What are they? Sounds. Vowels. Symbols. But powerfully attached to our innermost self. MUSIC is a wonderful tool that can lead the mind in the places you want to go. I said, GO – not where you are. If depressed, there are many songs that will not help. But, certain songs help lead our mind. To use a modern term, learn your own triggers and trigger yourself in a positive direction. And DON’T trigger yourself by playing music or putting yourself in a situation, you know, you won’t react well too. Depressed. Don’t play depressing music. Steel drums and island music often puts a big ole smile on my face. Just something that I like to use as a tool. Music puts the mind in a different state and allows you to tune oneself. I use guitar playing the same way. If I’m feeling ‘out of tune’ a few strums can put me not just back in tune but vibrant. I’ve had many great business calls right on the heels of a guitar/energy tune up. FIRE. KNOW THYSELF. MUSIC. Three very primitive and useful tools one can use. I’m not sure if any of this will help anyone, but if it helps one person.
Until next week, coffee cheers!
Week’s Top Eight Updates
Good morning to all of you out there. I’m happy to see all the readers from our Canadian neighbors, Germany, China, Australia and more… if you think someone might benefit from a read please do share our blog site. I’ve been sipping the coffee this morning as I ponder what I should discuss. The holidays are now truly behind us. The beautiful Christmas tree is now seasoning by the woodpile to give fire starting material as the last years tree does now. We had a touch of warm yesterday that melted some of the snow and had all the animals out enjoying the day and gathering food. I’ve been sharing some old peanut butter holiday cookies with the squirrels each day. Now they look in my windows as if to say – hey now.
So this week has been full of steady work and so I think I will random a few of these updates out there.
- End-of-the-year tax work on the movies. It’s not the most fun you’ll have in film but it comes with the territory. If you aren’t doing that work you’re likely a hobbyist and aren’t accountable for anyone’s money. Hobbyist is fine but when you do start working in film professionally do your required work. I see people who want to just play and I understand that but paying people (which requires tax work), union, insurance, state filings… the biz of showbiz. I want to thank my hardworking team. I’ve said it before, it is not easy to do things right and even with best efforts we make mistakes. But when people don’t even try…
- We’re banking more capital on CDI’s next movie MBF (Man’s Best Friend) and still in talks to assign the final units. We’ve got several projected plans pending what happens in the next few weeks. People think raising money is easy and it is not. Even when you stay on budget, schedule, assured distribution to the marketplace, talented artists – it can still be difficult. I think with the tax change it had many pausing until the new year. But we’ll lock it up soon.
- So “Chasing the Star” has been submitted to ICFF and the Crown Awards by our distributor. It was a strong Christmas season and we’ll start to feel that in the next few months. The biblical adventure is a worthy watch at any time of the year. As Easter approaches BMG will keep pushing both “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” we also are expanding into more foreign territories. I think Germany was most recent. Also what a great fan responses over the holidays. Thank you for all the communications.
BREAKING – So a good case point/example. I was sipping coffee and typing to all of you when I got a communication from one of my producers asking for additional info for our tax reporting. Forty minutes later – I’m back. But it’s why I don’t run the streets hard like I did as a younger man. Business pops up and you have to try to be prepared to keep the train a rolling. More coffee vs whiskey and more tea versus wine but I do still enjoy the sip with company. Being well rested is another key. Many people openly brag about how run ragged they are and how little sleep and such. It’s worn proudly like a badge of honor. But I don’t see a badge nor honor. I see a person admit that their time management is not good and likely most of their endeavors are wrought with mistakes and oversights due to being “tired”… put a spin on tired if you want but it still just plays as tired. Look how hard I work! Maybe look how smart I work is better. It’s the angst of the living artist. Look at me I’m suffering. Yes, when dreams are just outside your reach there is suffering. Usually self-induced suffering because we look at what we want and don’t have versus what we have and use that as steps to a new place. So in 2018 if you’re one of those who takes on too much – do less and do it well versus more and tired. I think you will like the changes it makes around you.
4. The Christ Slayer is locking up VFX and will move into studio for sound and music. The trailer will get a mix before releasing in a couple of weeks. The first poster is also looking to release next month. I’m excited to bring the last chapter of the trilogy to audiences and let them enjoy them individually or together.
5) Wild Faith. Yes. Quite the buzz building over this powerful 1800’s story. That time period is a favorite of many of us at CDI. We watched the most recent pass of the color correction with the theatrical 5.1 surround mix. WOW! Meetings this week about the premiere opportunities and theatrical roll out. I’ve had a few more talks on the TV series and I’m feeling good. Good about the fact that once people are brought into the town of Hastings, Michigan in 1875. Once they meet and grow close to the lovable characters in Wild Faith, that a TV series will happen. I am going to talk to broadcast sponsors also. I would love a MI based series as it would allow us to work with many artists in our state. If this is the first time hearing about this film look up the trailers, Facebook page or website.
6. WEBSITE – Collective Development Inc. is revamping its website to take us into the new years ahead. http://www.cdiproductions.com is still under construction but it will be a place for a) better casting info for people b) A streaming community with interviews, film advice, BTS and a movie watching club. c) Merchandise. I’ve been asked over the years about merchandise. I LOVED it as a kid, okay and as an adult. We will be seeking to enhance this area. Lunch box? Action figure? Posters?
7. The animated division is going to get more attention. Why? As a kid I loved cartoons and so why not. “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” is on Vimeo On Demand and will be releasing to Amazon. We’re also in talks on another collaboration that will be animated. More soon.
8. I’m reading a few scripts and I have several to get back to that I started before Christmas. Most are from past collaborators bringing new projects forth to see if I/CDI would be interested in involvement. Yes. I do enjoy going to work on other’s projects – it really is about the role and compensation is also a factor. I’m also trying to do my daily script writing but actually it’s been only a few times a week. Organize that time. I try to take my own advice.
This is me returning a handful of hours later. That business work can take over that fast. I’m sure I might have missed a few updates but some of the deals are highlighted here. I hope you all have a productive week.
Be good to one another.
Writing, Winter and What’s Next…
I’m sipping on the coffee, still no personal sponsor but World Market has a great selection. Yesterday was the first actual snow for Michigan. The day prior it was tee-shirt weather and it’s now like 22 degrees and windy. The local SILVER BELLS parade got dumped on by pouring rain and blowing winds. I think the harsh weather is upon us but we Michiganders are prepared.
This week was full of meetings and exchanges that are setting the stage for the years ahead. We are looking at the slate of projects at CDI moving past “The Christ Slayer” the third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY.
I also have returned to my screenplay writing a bit each day. I find it relaxing and a nice escape from accounting and legalese. Unless on a paid schedule I usually write on whatever I feel at the moment. I think that the screenwriting will continue to develop as more people/companies are starting to take notice. I have scripts to finish but I also have had a few great ideas as of late for films I want to write. Winter in Michigan is great for writing as anyone who does it can tell you. I usually write late at night or early am upon waking. And people who ask me for advice on writing, the best answer is to write. Don’t worry about it being good, bad or ugly at first just get in the habit of putting it down on paper. Have you met the people who say, “It’s all up here” – pointing to their head. That doesn’t work good for keeping a team of people on the same page. I know many people who “wing it” without or with a partial script and 9 of 10 times you can fully tell. I’ve seen people beaming as they addressed a room full of people, bragging of making it up as they went. After watching the film, I would not brag. Worst yet is highlighting their own lack of understanding on what tilts the odds in your favor of finishing with a story that fits together like good craftsmanship. There is a reason strong screenwriters are sought after. And actors know the challenge of working with badly written dialog. Tis the season to write, so write:)
“Wild Faith” is in editing and we’ve been sharing several behind the scenes photos each week. Soon we will start releasing FIRST STILLS from the film showing you the final product. I think we captured something very exciting and the chances of a spin-off tv series is good. We’re about to shoot our one pick up day that flashes back to the Civil War. It will be a gritty, cold day and I think it will be perfect for our story. So many people have been involved in this film and it makes me happy to see a community come together over such a beautiful story.
We’ll soon be announcing the next phase of the deal. This month our investors are seeing their first returns. Once negotiations are concluded and the ink is dry I will happily announce what’s next for this film. I’m excited because as our first film in THE QUEST TRILOGY prepares to shift into second gear the second film…
Chasing the Star – is moving towards the finish line. The excited talks this week with our director (Bret Miller) and composer (Dennis Therrian) made me smile. Friday Bret and I shared conversation about what this film could bring the world audiences. I think that after watching this amazing journey on-screen people will have a new idea of the three wise men. If you’re jumping up, raising your hand saying, “I’ve had that shot” – prepare to have new light shed upon these three characters. Get ready to meet the wise men soon – more than just three statues in a nativity scene.
The Christ Slayer – we’ve been starting to look at locations and targeting casting of certain roles. The plan is to shoot again in AZ come Spring. It’s a beautiful story that will book end our trilogy nicely. The business for this film is gearing up now.
2017 lies ahead and that will mean good things for several of our properties. The end-of-the- year work has begun and all good so far. It is that BIZ part of SHOWBIZ that we’ve talked on often. Well, I’m going to get on with my day. I again appreciate all of you who stopped by to share a few moments reading of our endeavors.
Sum-of-the-Parts, Craftsmanship and Updates (of course)
Hello friend, fans, peers and lovers of the artistic journey. It has been cold in Michigan with an early snow and now icy rain is joining the party. Thankfully the coffee is brewing and I’m cozy and ready to share some of the updates and stories from the week. My weeks are often filled with success and setbacks and I think we all have that. Patience is also another quality that takes time to master. I’ve often described it as the difference between a pulse and a ray. A ray requires a steady stream of focus and it drains from the source over time. In the simplified example, “The watched pot never boils”. Now the pulse is putting the focused energy into a focused action and letting it go. If you submit your script, resume, project or whatever to an opportunity – do so and let it go. If it consumes your every thought very little will get done on other fronts. If fate doesn’t make that opportunity happen you have to deal with the rejection or deal just not working out. (I like to adopt the mentality that I will do what I was meant to do) Also you have to rebuild some momentum from zero. But if you are always creating new opportunities you get a constant flow of pulses going. I adopted the idea of taking one positive action a day to further my goals. That has now grown into a day full of positive things done but the returns are real. The opportunities that don’t work out are always balanced out by several things to do work out. Each week it is hard to be disappointed about something that did not happen when so much good did happen. Once you get this flow going it is hard to stop. Honestly only health issues can halt this flow and that is why it is important to spend time to maintain yourself. If you adopt these ideas as your own you will notice major improvements.
I’ve had some great talks this week with motivated individuals doing some great things. Jon Osman, is the director of “The Terrorist” and he is a driven man. You have to be to create feature film. It is even more effort to create good content. It is all about your associations and collaborations. Now he has had his success and setbacks but in the end he will stand tall. That is just how he is and I’m interested to see what he creates beyond this. I’m excited that we will see our collaboration come out in 2015. Some will want to get ahead by taking the low road but I can tell you that while the high road may take longer, the journey will be better.
I’m disappointed often in people’s actions. People who lie in business. People who hoard credit. People who don’t take self accountability. People who are unprepared. People who oversell their abilities.
I often get treated respectfully because I give respect and if you are going to share my space I expect respect. But I do base a lot of my character judgement upon how people treat other people. How does that director speak to that product assistant? How does an actor treat the crew and vice versa? I’ve seen overblown egos in action. It often covers up weakness. I’ve seen the dudes wearing sunglasses inside at night. I’ve seen the girls who expect diva treatment. Weak. Weak. Excessive self E pic = weakness. I’m not sure people really look at why they do certain things. Compulsion? I know people who react the same way in every alike circumstance. They have to twist and make themselves inclusive to a discussion in some way. They wait for someone to stop talking so they can speak. It is like bad acting. They are waiting for a cue to start talking but they have listened and heard nothing. I’ve had weakness in my life and I’m sure I still do. But I live by KNOW THYSELF. I seek to know why I do certain things and if it’s healthy for me? Look at your actions and see if you can become stronger in character.
I had a situation I addressed whereas on a project (Not mine) a mistake was made. I actually saw lots of mistakes while participating but I always look at experiences as learning. I see things right or wrong and incorporate that into my own operations. I do admit I see more wrong than right but that is not always the case. It is a good case example of a project that will be the sum of its parts. All the artists involved will affect the final product. That is why I’m very picky. Now you will give opportunities to someone and they will rise or fall pending their passion and dedication. On this one project I noted how a few artists had been attributed to failure on another project. I was met with a somewhat defensive, even noble defending of their character. I wasn’t passing judgement on character but on empirical evidence. We can choose to not discuss previous actions as someone might rather not hear others shortcomings. That is fine. But they still exist. I use this info in making decisions to create better teams of artists. So this information was not shared and these elements/variables were highly praised and defended as vital in their creative process. Out of respect – I let this topic go but upon viewing the final results – I will stick with my original assessment. In a totally unrelated conversation I told someone – if you keep using the same variables in your equation don’t be surprised when you keep getting the same results. If you’re happy with that equation and results – great. But if you’re not – you need to look at changing variables to get different results. None of it for me is personal. It is my work. It’s no different from when I was coaching a team. Setting goals and having individuals strive to achieve them is no different from when I taught martial arts. Filmmaking is a team dynamic whereas individual artistic ability is blended with others to achieve a goal in storytelling. A film will always be as good as a sum of all its parts.
As we discussed – if you are going to DO you might as well try to do the very best you can. Pride in craftsmanship is something we should all strive for. As we know much of art is subjective but side by side quality often becomes clear. We all have had those moments of frustration – I recall more than one time on ASHES OF EDEN a computer may have warranted an Elvis treatment. He was rumored to have gotten mad and shot out a TV. I guess he could easily afford a new one:) In those moments where you are tempted to say, GOOD ENOUGH. It is those people who suck it up and say, NO. LET’S DO THIS RIGHT. That is what will define character and elevate others to a new level. Get a team full of people like that and you’re end quality will soar. These lessons seem more common sense versus some mystic wisdom but it is funny who it often eludes people. Note that most of the talk here is about the SHOW vs the BIZ. I often talk on the BIZ as many lack that but the SHOW is often the fun part. It is those trying times where it is NOT fun. Example – Ugg! Those lights are in the truck parked down the road and it is snowing. Do you A) Try to bounce some natural light and get an acceptable shot. B) Walk your ass and get those lights. I have people who will often say, “I GOT IT” and they are off. But many will just wing it and when the shot comes out uninspired – well? This can be said about Art Direction, Camera moves and about every position. It might be a pain in the ass to get a small genny up so coffee can be made but how much more productive is a crew with hot coffee in the cold? It might be the thing that makes that person run and go get the light from the truck versus just shoot it as is. It is why passion is so important to our crews. If it is just a job go work elsewhere and make better money and easier work for sure. People who think filmmaking isn’t hard work they just don’t know.
OK onto some UPDATES!
ASHES OF EDEN – This is prepping for our early 2015 release. Very excited to share this film. I’m proud of the craftsmanship.
WICKED SPRING is getting a 2015 Special Edition release. More official PR soon!
DONORS just signed a domestic deal for 2015! More official PR soon!
KNIGHT CHILLS novel for 2015 to go with a new release. A sequel? Maybe:)
IN THE WOODS – 15th anniversary release starting with the UK
THE TERRORIST – Final post work for a 2015 release!
BESTSELLER – Post work is moving good. We expect an early 2015 premiere and theatrical run. Some good early interest!
WASTELAND: Tales of the Desert – This film is in Pre-Production and will shoot the 1st part of this collection of Sci Fi/Western stories in December.
Foreign sales talks are underway and I’m excited to get many of our films to new audiences.
Development on several films are in full swing. We’re excited to be announcing some of these as they move into pre-production but you all will just have to wait:) One reason is because the in boxes get slammed with submissions as soon as word gets out on a new film.
OK. I’m going to get some things done before watching MSU play some snow football this afternoon.
Have a great weekend and even better week!