I see that several new readers have joined us from India. Namaste my friends. A handful of years ago I co-starred in a great spooky thriller in India entitled “Karma: Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” – what fun. It played in theaters but did not make it here. When we get the streaming part of CDI up I want to try to get that film on our platform. It stars Carl Weyant that others will see this Christmas in our third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”. Speaking on this film, I’ve seen the first music draft of the trailer and now color corrections and final tweaks are underway. It is exciting to have this film preparing to meet the world around Christmas with a large targeted release next Easter. We also just had a bday for my co-star Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry! (Fist Bump)
GREEN LIGHT. I’m also proud to announce all funds are committed and MBF (Man’s Best Friend) was announced in Official Pre-Production. It will film in May/June in Michigan with an amazing team gathered around Anthony Hornus as director. I’m playing a title role in this film and I’m EXCITED about being able to watch the performances. We have a tech scout this coming week and I’ll be reaching out to possible crew.
In a matter of days the music video I participated in entitled ‘My Ghost’ by musician Trey Connor will release around the 14th. I am trying to see if I can arrange it to play before “Wild Faith” on one of these special screenings. I’m very happy with their work and the story put forth in those few minutes is really powerful.
Let’s talk about “Wild Faith” for a moment. I always knew if this film could ever be made it would be powerful. I’m so glad I stuck to my guns all those years ago. I feel bad for the dishonest folks in CA who almost killed this project. I’m so very happy that the power of the story would not die. It’s a different movie from the original screenplay which you can read via the novelization. In many ways things in the story changed but the heart of the story survived the transplant. Budget is the #1 reason why we had to go from page one through the script. Names were also changed to fit the new players of our story. I’m so proud that the story made it into existence. The response is more than I could have asked for. Sold out shows. Listening to people laugh and cry in the theater has been touching. I love that people are now understanding it is a FAMILY movie. A history class full of middle school children set up a special screening at Celebration Cinemas. How amazing is that.
If you want the film in your area you need to 1) Contact your local theater and request “Wild Faith” and 2) Get an email/name of the manager of that theater. 3) Get us that contact info. The film is now moving to Novi, Michigan near Detroit thanks to our friends at Emagine Theaters. It starts playing on April 6-12th and if that first weekend is good we’ll likely get another week added. We’re in talks to try to bring it to Hastings area where we shot. Also we’re in talks with theaters in West Virginia and South and North Carolina. I can see Texas and maybe GA in our future. We’ll bring the film wherever the demand is and the business makes sense. I do know that it will be traveling to Florida to play for audiences at the Christian International Film Festival. We’ve been nominated for several awards and many of our nominees will be present.
One of the main films “Wild Faith” is up against is part 2 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – “Chasing the Star” which also has Dennis Therrian up for Best Score, myself for Best Screenplay and the overall ‘Most Inspirational’ which “Forty Nights” took last year. If you have not seen these two films both can be found on Amazon Prime, Christian Cinema and many other platforms. With this being Easter weekend both these films are a wonderful watch. “Chasing the Star” is more adventure and can be watched at anytime. There was no snow, jingles bells or Christmas carols. I know “Forty Nights” is playing Parables TV tonight I believe at 8:30pm not sure if that is EST or what so check your listing.
“Wicked Spring” is a beautiful Civil War era drama that our team produced many years ago. It can now be watched on Amazon Prime or the DVD has a great 44 min making of for those aspiring filmmakers. Joining this classic is “Ashes of Eden” which is now also on Amazon Prime. I really do appreciate all the fans that are now enjoying our past library.
I could go on about development and such but I will leave that to next week. I’m just going to again talk about collective compromise. Every great endeavor is usually the result of mixed collaboration. Led Zeppelin 12 years of compromise and collaboration. Individually or paired Page and Plant are still not the same as Zeppelin. I think too many people want/need to win so absolutely that it comes at the expense of the whole. Same side of the table negotiation. Whereas both parties walk away with some degree of satisfaction. These same ideas can be applied in all areas of life personal and professional.
Poor communication usually leaves both parties unable/unwilling to look for that common ground. Good communication starts with respectful communication EVEN if the opinions differ. Most people fail right out the gate with condescending communication which just says that they never entered with an attempt to collaborate. Many want to be heard but don’t care if they’re understood. That is failure. When I see people shouting at one another or vicious text communications – I just see venting. Good maybe for the person unable to cope but it does little to advance any understanding.
So now I try to see with compassion that people are so under their own self-inflicted negative rage. High blood pressure, anxiety attacks – people build their own prisons emotionally. So to bring this full circle – take yourself out of crisis-mode. Empty your cup of opinions and learn the art of good communication. Learn to collaborate with others and you’ll see amazing things happen. Life is too short to be angry all the time and for many this is just a phase in their lives. Whomever you are – be that someone in your actions and words that inspires others to be like you. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Try treating and speaking to others in the respectful manner you would like to be addressed. Before letting that “Conservative POS” or “Snowflake” comment fly from your irrational angered mouth or key board – STOP. Take a deep breath and be open to communicate, collaborate and yes, compromise.
Be good to one another. Happy Easter.
So again this morning I enjoyed watching our squirrel friends eating the strawberry tops and some aged bread. My desk now looks out over the favorite feeding spot for our furry friends. Our yard is already a haven for wildlife with our acorns, mulberries, edible mushrooms and our garden full of abundance in the season. This winter we had a few cold days coupled with a heavy snow here or there but overall not too bad. This week I might bottle up the next batch of wine “Frankenberry” which was a use up of fruit taking up freezer space. We have a lot to celebrate as of late and I foresee more toasting in the near future.
This weekend started with a nice surprise bday gathering at a local place called DUSTY’S CELLAR. I had a great blond ale that tasted a lot like the last beer I made. Also had some aged ribeye that was wonderful. The full moon also allowed me a few indulgences. I eat junk food (donut, cake, candy bar, ice cream) only during 24 hours of each month. It makes those things a little more special and keeps my sugar/junk intake very low. To anyone who might try – it was only hard the first month or two. Sugar addiction is real and while I seldom partake I know it can be a real challenge. My funniest moment that night was walking into the wrong private room. “Someone order a stripper?” Just kidding – it was funny for sure.
This Sat I had a chance to see BLACK PANTHER and it was cool to see an exotic take on the superhero genre. We always see the NYC-type big city so it was great to see a story based in Afrika. My brother got to join us and that is always fun. A good movie in my opinion. I did re-watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” this week while doing some desk work. That is truly a great film in my book. Okay, we’ve come around to talking about movies. I guess we can discuss our movies.
This week saw “Wicked Spring” premiere to digital streaming and remastered DVD this past week. It is on various platforms but Amazon Prime is the big one. Read about it here – https://www.prlog.org/12695043-digitally-remastered-cdi-civil-war-epic-wicked-spring-hits-amazon-prime.html
The Amazon link is here – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HWQQKC/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1519913275&sr=8-3&keywords=Wicked+Spring
This film is the one we cut our teeth on as producers. This is a wonderful primer as we’re about to premiere our new 1800’s action/drama “Wild Faith” this month. We did a great Showbiz Weekly radio show and we have more PR leading up to the March 16-22 run at Celebration Cinemas in Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets can be purchased now online –
You can also read an earlier version of the film here – I would appreciate any reviews-
Book your tickets here –
This past week and the week ahead will be important meetings for the film and possible TV series. I’m just excited to have family, friends and fans watch this film. Those that have gotten the advanced look have raved about the balanced blend and pacing which is a hard thing to achieve. On the indie level I see that people often become close friends with all the talent and there exists pressure not to cut certain scenes. This can be because of an insistent writer. Or not wanting to hurt feelings – but the overall film needs to be a deciding factor. I think those involved will be very happy. I’m also excited to have friends from out-of-town coming in to see the film.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
As the 3rd film “THE CHRIST SLAYER” is being worked on we’re about to put the Easter push on the first two films “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” which are great adventures to watch at any time. But families gather at the holidays and these films are built to be enjoyed by the whole family. Have you watched these films? They can be found on Amazon Prime and several major platforms or on DVD.
MBF – We made some good advances on Man’s Best Friend, and we’re so very close to moving into pre-production. We’re into a slight push from our ideal time and so the sport theme in the film may change but it does nothing to our story. We’ve had some great strides made by the Red, White and Blue Project non-profit that is sponsoring some of the military vets so they can do some educational events as well as filming. If you want to see how your company or you can get involved feel free to reach out to me direct.
Aside from all these endeavors I’ve been looking at future acting possibilities and preparing to cut some checks back to investors. A few new deals underway and I’m just flowing with 2018. I had updates on a few projects I thought had faded out but apparently not. One could mean a script sale this year so we’ll see how that works out. Always good to have a few irons in the fire. But a few of those irons are RED HOT. Soccer season is also soon upon us and so I’m going to be increasing my conditioning. I had a good winter of healing last year’s battle wounds and I’m ready to go at it again. With our few nice days I was able to get a lot of yard work done. I’m excited for Spring.
Have a wonderful day. If you feel like supporting feel free to watch some of the films at your leisure at home or experience them on the grand screen. We will be announcing other play dates throughout the Spring/Summer for “Wild Faith” – have a great day!
Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
I’ve got the hot hazelnut coffee by my side as I ease into writing these few words to share with all of you. New readers from Spain – welcome.
So I’m going to share something from my process of character creation. I’ve grown comfortable with my long hair and even my beard of various lengths. From Donnie in ASHES OF EDEN to Mark Franklin in BESTSELLER. Add in the identity that comes with playing Jesus or mountain man Ben Lily. The prep for the new role is for an injured military vet. I decided with some time to spare I would destroy the ego/self and go boot camp. I did not serve in the military and not sure that with my flat feet I could have. But holding onto the bearded long-haired look was holding me back. So I decided I was going to remove that. I did not WANT to cut my hair. I did not WANT to go clean-shaven. Especially as the air gets colder in Michigan and in a few weeks snow will fall. I thought about the ego of someone like Elvis who entered service and the pics of his haircut. I needed to break myself down. So I deemed this haircut as a NEED for the character but not a wanted thing. So my significant other helped with possible haircuts military in style. I did not like any of them because I did not want the cut. What I did want was that feeling new recruits went through when they got all their hair cut off and they became part of a unit/team/company of soldiers. So I had the cut done. I felt vulnerable with the shorn hair. I was not happy with my decision but beneath it all I was happy. I was far from Jesus, Ben and all the longer haired roles. See I think my girl thought I was doing it to feel good about myself. Many get hair cuts to feel good about themselves. I did it to destroy my current self. To create a new base to build Paul, whom I will play in the upcoming MBF film. This brought about an interesting conversation about change of looks. I was asked if I ever consider her in my hair choices. The answer was no. It has always been based on movie roles for 20 some years now. I’m always in development of some character. But it was interesting because I think many people do care about how they appear. I only want truth in the character. Does that constant change affect her? Perhaps. I guess because I do it for work reasons I never give it any thought. She asked what if I wanted a pixie hair cut and tattoo on her chest, would I care? I guess I’m open to allow people to express themselves. I like people who wear/look how they want to. I assume she picks styles based on what her work allows and what makes her feel good. Here I am cutting my hair against my own will to break myself down. To strip away the old and allow new growth. Not just in hair but in character. So a lot of credit to those non-industry significant others who have to deal with us and our character creation. So from this point on I’m growing into that new role. I just realized how different I think from many others. I don’t give a rats ass about the brand of clothes. I’ve been to India and I know the real cost of textiles. I know the mark up that these companies put on your favorite garments. I don’t believe the clothes makes the man but the man makes the clothes. I think if you judge me wrong because of a hair style, your loss. The other reason I pushed to do the cut this week was soccer. We won one of the most exciting soccer matches last week in round one of the soccer play offs. A fluke goal at the start put us behind. We settled in and took back control including scoring and making it a tie. With only 2 minutes left they scored. A minute or less and we attacked and scored with only seconds left. A shoot out that went to the fifth penalty shot kick and we WON. Tonight under the lights is the semi-final game. I’ve been using a headband to keep my long hair out of my eyes. Now I have full range of vision and I’m ready to focus on getting to that final game. Okay. Onto some film updates.
After a long wait the first official poster is HERE. I’m excited to finish this film. It will be done this year and if we can get done early enough we will look at a cast and crew screening. The music and sound design is going great. We just have 10 seconds of VFX work that is being worked on.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
VFX is the main push on THE CHRIST SLAYER. We’ll be rolling out the first official poster on this project in the coming weeks. Once VFX is dropped in we’ll fine-edit the picture and in Jan. 2018 it moves into music and sound design for 3 months.
CHASING THE STAR is in the marketplace and along with Part 1 FORTY NIGHTS will get the holiday push. I was looking at all the films on Amazon and it put a smile on my face. I’m so proud of all the artists. If you’ve watched and enjoyed the films leave a review on http://www.imdb.com (Film title) or amazon.com or wherever. I cringed when I saw our director asking on social media because it always brings the trolls, haters and such to leave their mark. But these mudslingers just smack an entire group of artists. I mean even in a bad film clip I can usually pick out some positive. I recently watched a clip edited by an associate I know – it featured some good locations but made me cringe when it came to some flashback footage. It takes as much energy to do something right as wrong. I would rather not call these people out as they’re doing something and improvement comes from doing. I also don’t feel in competition with anyone save our last project. I try to improve the work flow that often improves the final film. This example I’m thinking of was a failure of either the writer or art department. Know what you’re writing about. If I’m playing a Marine in the next film, I make sure it’s CORRECT. And if it is not 100% correct it should be close. Get the right consultants. There are many who will gladly help so that their history is not made a joke on-screen. Trust me as someone who has done many period films – it’s added work but so worth it at the end.
The new project by CDI is in full swing. Our first investors are giving their interest and casting is coming to a close. We’ll be announcing our two major keys this week. Anthony Hornus will be directing with Jesse Aragon serving as director of photography. We held on that PR due to the WILD FAITH poster announcement. We’ll start announcing cast over the next couple of weeks. I can say we have a powerful cast lined up. Stay tuned.
I’m going to call it for the day. The coffee cup needs refilling. I have a few errands to run and I need to mentally prepare for our game today. I hope you all have a great conclusion to your weekend and a productive week ahead.
Be good to one another.