I’m sitting in MY chair with a hot cup of hazelnut coffee. Outside is my first Michigan snow. For me if it’s going to be cloudy and overcast, give me snow. It’s pretty and brightens everything a tad. Now I know I have friends here from VERY warm places that don’t get snow. Now snow is quite magical and that first one always brings thoughts of those days as a kid and will various pets that made that so special. Catching snowflakes, snowball fights, snow angel and sledding. I have a few stories of drunken skiing with my cousin Jerry including one epic fence-destroying trip to one of the small ski mountains. The key to snow is being prepared. This means layers and layers and mind the gaps. -By that I mean where pant legs and boots meet. Where coat sleeves and gloves meet. Where neck might be exposed and of course a solid winter hat. We learn that as a young child from bus stop stays. This continued to elementary school recess that was always an outdoor adventure of ‘king of the mountain,’ snowball wars and snowy football games. In our secluded ‘Lord of the Flies’ neighborhood even more snow games were abound. Sledding was legendary that included a few ramps/jumps that would make Evel Knievel smiles with pride. The afterglow of our cold adventure was a round of hot chocolate, marshmallows optional. At night the even more fun and dangerous snow mobile pull of the sled around the plowed fields nearby. Kind of like being pulled on a tube behind a boat but the bumps and trees made for quite the challenge. I recall at least one time staying too long in the frigid and having to run my hands under warm water, the ache returning with feeling. I hope for my friends living in the no-snow zones I painted a little picture of living with frozen water.
In Algona while filming “Silent Night in Algona” #SNIAthemovie we saw our actual first snowfall. Iowa and Michigan are alike in many ways but have their differences. We seem to have more variation in our landscapes where Iowa has lots of corn. To their credit I did see some hilly places and the sky there was just amazing. Maybe it is the less pollution or any number of factors but our location photos and our film itself captured these many awesome skies.
This project was ambitious as most of the #tribecdi projects are. I believe you have to reach to grow and so we often pick projects with various elements not easily obtained in independent films. Or with independent budgets might be a better term. Any project that takes us from our home state is more expensive. We found basic logistics to be a challenge and in hindsight a better battle plan can always be seen. The script could have been a touch shorter and we did tighten in a few places. The script was the final version that I had consulted heavily with my friend/co-star and mentor Rance Howard. He was a stickler on the farming techniques and perspective of 1940’s citizens. We went in with a battle plan and a tribe of artists. We spent months casting the “right” actors from around the country. This is a big part of directing and our producers work hard with our director and it showed in this production. But we had a large cast and with flying and lodging this is a major cost also. But the actors that signed on were there for the story. As a screenwriter I’ve never been more proud of all the feedback on the script. It was from 14 years earlier and is not perfect (is any?) and even in my own scene study I found a few ‘subtextual’ issues that I corrected. But we had the pleasure of knowing what was coming from the auditions. Now put those same amazing actors in proper wardrobe, locations and – MAGIC! MOVIE MAGIC!~
The actors were all on point and we captured some incredible cinematic magic. By capturing I mean our amazing crew. At CDI we work hard. Movies are hard. Bad movies are hard to make which is why I always give points for even bad films. Finishing deserves credit. Finishing with quality that passes worldwide QC (quality control) is worthy of kudos. But creating something handcrafted that has the story power to last decades is – a reward that you receive only after audiences have celebrated a story for many years. I think this film will be one of those. We at CDI are shooting for nothing short of a holiday classic. We made our go at that with THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) three biblical stories told together from a unique perspective. These films have been growing an audience for many years and are on their way to becoming a classic. You can watch the three films streaming on many platforms and in many countries.
One of our films that we produced with our former sister company Lionheart was WICKED SPRING. That film now managed by CDI is 20+ years old and is still entertaining audiences. It’s also getting a new release on HD/streaming and is a good example of a film that is a true classic. Unique in its perspective with roses and rocks thrown at it but a story that has kept audiences coming back from the earliest days on VHS and network TV. (I still have a VHS copy from TV with commercials)
WILD FAITH is another film on the way to classic status. We can cement that with the production of the WILD FAITH: Hastings tv series. We are adding the film to the title to help assure our tens of millions in fans can find the upcoming series. I’m looking at back half of the year to produce the 8 shows that make up season one. I will be getting on that business asap once I can get caught up on my SNIA (Silent Night in Algona) business. A few discussions were had but again the #1 thing is that the story is told proper. This project has suffered from bad studio/network notes in the past and has moved past those to become a film loved by many. So we will stay true to our story and find the right partners. If it isn’t broke don’t let others try and fix it. We will get this made and audiences will see some of their favorite 1800’s characters back in action. Giddy up!
LOST HEART versus BIGFOOT, UFO’S & JESUS – this film under both titles is doing really well with audiences. The film is such a charm that it has so many levels and layers of story that really should appeal to most audiences. It was kind of an experiment but so far I think it has been good one. It is another great holiday season watch. It also has some great music in the film from Roanoke and The Cash Collective (John Carter, Ann and their family). Worthy of a watch if you are trying to catch up with some of the CDI films. Melissa Anschutz shines as the lead and Josh Perry shows his dramatic and comedic mastery.
RETURN TO ALGONA-
Melissa Anschutz and Josh Perry are both back in SNIA. They both bring such fascinating characters that will once again inspire. Josh Perry left people in tears with his performance which isn’t a surprise at all. Josh doesn’t wave a “Down syndrome” flag ever but I’m just so damn proud of him. On two occasions I’ve observed individuals with Down syndrome observe Josh and you could see boundaries in their minds fall. Josh ‘The Ponceman’ Perry is a movie star make no mistake about that and these young people saw what they could achieve. Josh is an inspiration by his actions not his activism. Maybe there is a lesson in that.
I had a chance to meet more fans of MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND and I’m so pleased that the film sits so well with veterans. I hope that all of you will take a chance to watch this CDI story told by ‘SNIA‘ director Anthony Hornus. One of the hard drives is being sent to our editor Nathaniel Nose who is also supervising the VFX. Our director is upgrading his computer to allow better footage review. Our DP Dan Chipman is doing some rough assembly to seek out and identify some of the pieces of the story caught on the fly. Also the first batch of photo stills is being drawn out and color corrected to help become a color template for the films final look. We have been rolling out BTS stills captured by many of our cast and crew but the real GOLD is coming.
Also this week I’ll be taking a hard look at the feature projects in development. We plan to shoot a CDI feature this Spring before we roll into pre-production on the WILD FAITH TV series. I started to have some first talks about the next CDI feature which could become plural, features pending a few discussions. I have a few development meetings that will nudge things one way or another. But with both SNIA moving into post as BEST YEARS GONE continues its theatrical (last day today in Lansing at Celebration Cinema) before prepping for home video. Also FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is in final post mixing before we start a release schedule on this documentary. We will have a meeting over this property this coming week. We should be doing a final watch through in a few weeks. From there a premiere will also be discussed. But…not until it is done. And we just might be doing another documentary in 2022. As this year closes a new one lies right over the horizon. This week will be tying up more loose ends on SNIA, planning 2022 schedule, end of year dispersement and tax prep and writing. I love to write when it is cold and snowy and I know I have some days ahead of me. I have several properties/scripts I’ve been working on and a few possible work-for-hires so we’ll see with all of that. We have the Christmas tree up after I donned winter warrior Michigan gear and saw. Today we might add lights and another night the bells and whistles. I might go light a fire in the stove at the fort to finish settling back in. I have totes everywhere as I prepare to stow the gear until our next film adventure. Stay warm and be good to one another!
Morning has recently left us for afternoon and now after some reheated grilled chicken and salad I’m ready to blog with you all before I go give the yard a mow. When soccer season started about a month ago I overused my tendons outside me knees. It is the back and forth motion without having them conditioned for that strain. With weekly games it has been hard to get a full recovery but they are getting stronger. That Covid time off did not do me any favors.
We have had a few days of heat but luckily some storms have blown cooler air in on several days sparing us humidity. The raised garden beds now have the veggies and herbs planted. The chickens have been kicking out the eggs allowing almost daily egg breakfasts. I’ve had a great week of productive moves on the board. Maybe we should do a TOP 10 Updates on this fine Sunday.
Our sponsorship program for SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is being looked at by several major brands for alignment. If your brand feels like exploring marketing with our Christmas Homefront WW2 drama please reach out.
Last week we had a great SNIA meeting with art department and looked at all the challenges that lie ahead. This week will be calls with Jesse Aragon our director of photography. We will look to start locking in our camera, grip and electric team in the coming weeks. Our first schedule is being looked at and soon we’ll pow wow over that and start to make moves. It is so interesting how it all starts to gel and come together.
This week I’ll be seeing the polished draft of the teaser trailer on our doc FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH. It will release on July 4th and give audiences a glimpse at the amazing grapplers we have assembled to discuss their passion.
Speaking of trailers, the official trailer for BEST YEARS GONE is in sound and music with Dennis Therrian and it will release soon. Rumor has it might be on the run up to June 23 someones bday;)
The BEST YEARS GONE film itself is in serious music and sound design. We’ve started assembling the end credits. Color correction should be almost complete. We’re already looking at two premiere events in Sept. One a race and showing at the Springport Speedway Sept 11th and the Owosso, MI premiere date TBD.
The General Market ‘Lost Heart’ release (BIGFOOT, UFOS and JESUS) is underway appearing on amazon and several other platforms. I love the new poster, trailer and movie as a whole. Released to the faith market ‘Lost Heart’ is up for ‘Best Film’ at the Crown Awards this month.
Also one of the 5 ‘Best Films at the Crown Awards is MANS BEST FRIEND. A uniquely powerful film which feels like pineapple to a beet when you put the two films next to one another. Vastly different tone but proud to have both recognized.
I want to give a congrats to VERTICAL BRIDGE who won the ‘Best Years Gone: Battle of the Bands’ and will have their song OFF TO THE RACES in the film. Additionally CDI will be shooting a commercial with the band with Travis Hayward directing, shooting the video. I’m excited for all the artists involved.
We have some interested people looking at the WILD FAITH/HASTINGS TV series pitch this month. That would make a great bday present. If we get the green light we will be shooting next year.
I’m starting to work into some creative script writing. I had a great call about the possibility of writing a screenplay for hire. We will see how that turns out. I have lotta possibilities and the things that are meant to be will come to be.
I’m going to wrap this up without a lot of chit chat because I have quite a bit of yard work to attend to before I have people arriving this eve. The berries and hops are getting closer to fruit. The catnip, rhubarb and several other things are already giving. We’ve been enjoying getting into the wines granted to us from previous harvests. I hope you all enjoy some time with family and friends. We had another out of town family get-together seeing some family we have not seen in over a year. Tomorrow I’ve got a big list of things to get through and I’m excited to get after it. I hope you all have a good weekend followed by a productive week.
I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee while waiting for it to dry out a tad so we can go hit the flea market down the road. I love looking for props and character pieces. It has been warming here in the Michigan and I think we are finally past the morning frost. The newly planted blueberry bushes had to be protected but the apple trees seem to have done just fine. Our ‘Chicken Land’ has been producing a steady 4 eggs a day resulting in some wonderful breakfast sandwiches. I need to get stuff around for the second mow of the season.
The Covid lockdown did not control my mind. I did not fret, complain and concern myself to a point mental hinderance. I acknowledged and redirected to what I could control. Attacking things I had not had time to deal with. This last week we’ve had some good social interactions reminding us of what we’ve missed. I had a good visit with Pa Perry, several in-person meetings and even a social gathering. I do hope the mask mandate for our soccer league disappears. As I work to get the legs back in game shape the wearing of the mask has been cumbersome. This week I was less sore than week one and I hope next week will leave me better yet. Soccer is a game of stamina and endurance and the whole body moves in all different directions. But it feels good to be waging war again on the field.
So many updates so maybe we should get into them:) Several of our team will be present in FL this coming week to attend the ICFF which is a family/faith festival that recognizes artists. It is like the ‘Inspirational Oscars’ I’m told but its all subjective. But LOST HEART is up for several nominations from Best Film, Best Screenplay (I know that guy), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor/Actress and both Actor and Actress of the Year. But walking the red carpet will be several of our artists including Melissa Anschutz, Don Most, Sherryl Despres-maybe Victoria Jackson.
Also this wonderful film will be getting its general market release very soon. The film has two interwoven stories and the A story is LOST HEART and leads out front. The B story runs in the back ground and is greatly entertaining. Much of it follows the antics of Chip (Josh “Ponceman” Perry) and his hunt of the legendary Bigfoot. In addition to Dennis Therrian’s incredible score the general release is also highlighting the musical talents of The Cash Collective and Roanoke. Either way the same great film that everyone can enjoy. As a HUGE fan I feel this film is the most Spielberg of the CDI films. I could be delusional about that but it feels that way to me.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA has been making great strides. Some of the updates were presented by our director in this newspaper release in Iowa. Read here-
Our casting of the Germans is about complete. We’ve been slowly working crewing with many adventurers yet to recruit. Tomorrow we’ll be announcing two more actors. One is yours truly and I’ll be playing the PW camp Commander. It is a really nice fit at this point in my career. Had I been charged with running a PW camp during WW2 I think my approach would have been the same as the character. More of the character study is truly getting into the mind set of that era. What did they read daily in the newspaper? What was spoken about at the coffee shop? What fears did people have? Radio shows. Music. I am enjoying the re-educating myself on my grandfather’s era. I do wish Rance Howard was alive to be in the cast. He was really excited to be in this story. We’ll do him proud as well. The other talent is an amazingly unique actor named Michael Wayne Walton. He was in CDI’s first feature which was ________? 🙂 (Trivia) …and he also appeared in a few other CDI films (Can you name them?) He has been making his unique path in this hard industry and I’m extremely grateful to have Michael coming on board to play a great MP guard who creates ‘bridges’ with the German men he is assigned to detain.
The PR release will go out tomorrow but you got the early scoop here. More casting and crewing and now with the more relaxed Covid rules we can get back to our weekly in-person meetings.
BEST YEARS GONE is in full out post-production push with July/Aug being our finish date. We made good steps on setting up our premiere. We will likely have a meeting this week to look at dates and make sure the location works. I have it on good source that the 1st official trailer is not far away. At the same time – color, music and sound design are all underway.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS – The feature keeps growing its fan base with 4.5 mil at Encourage TV alone. I reached out on a few new fronts working to build our licensing so we can shoot the 8 show TV series next year.
CDI Associated film BESTSELLER has been signed to BMG’s new General Market label. They will build a wonderful campaign for that film and my guess would be a fall pre-Halloween release. WICKED SPRING is the test run in our up-rezing of older SD films to HD. As of Friday it sounds like they might have been successful. I will know this week for sure. If all is good FIGURE IN THE FOREST might be up next. I also got to see the first edit of FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH and boy is it good. So proud of our little team. We’ll final mix for delivery with Dennis Therrian but we have a few months of post I’m guessing.
Funny how the fan mail from MAN’S BEST FRIEND have been asking recently about me participating in other action roles. I think I made note of “sure if the right story came along” and…I did have a script submitted to me. It’s written by a screenwriter who has lots of film and TV series credits of note. The director is also got a wonderful resume of TV and film work. Well, I read the script and gave my interest in a couple of characters. From there it seems we might have landed on one. The film is more action orientated with mafia/western vibe. It would have me playing a pretty kick ass role. Not sure on dates. It will be fine unless it steps on the upcoming WW2 film but I will cross that bridge when and if I need to. I gave my interest and I want to thank them for offering me to come on board. It is good to see so many projects start to move.
I’m going to cut it short here and take a nice walk around the flea market. I hope you all have a great week in your own personal endeavors. Until next week.