“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

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Discussions on Compensation and Advanced Release Dates

Good morning and welcome including our new readers from Bahrain. It is a peaceful morning with hazelnut coffee and a sleeping puppy. Michigan is foggy but without snow currently. I’ve been balancing all my post work, development work and family activities. First I will comment on a request for insight on a work question in-state (Michigan) in regards to compensation.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

The first film CDI did KNIGHT CHILLS was unpaid cast and crew with us spending money on gear, food, props, FX (we crashed and blew up a car). Everyone was in the same boat. We were not even sure if we could shoot a feature film but intended to give our best effort. In the beginning a group of people with little or no resume experience may group together to take that first step.

On our second film we started paying cast and crew. Not extras and not PA’s but everyone else was paid what the budget could support. I will tell you that paying artists cast and crew is one of my favorite things to do. I remember an actor crying in a van when I handed out the first week paychecks. For this person and many it was the first paycheck these people had every received for their art. The act of paying was more important than the numbers scribbled on it. It was giving artists hope, pride and dignity after countless rejections in our business. In 1999 the film scene (Ha!) was much different. The opportunities many have now just did not exist. The only benefit I saw from the tax incentives was the acceptance of the “Film Business” in Michigan as a legit careeer path.

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To this day we pay all our cast and crew but not PA’s and Extras. We feed and take great care with the extras and that’s where we meet many future cast mates. We create tiers for keys and department crew. We also have a two tier pay for union and non-union talent. Our feature rates are lower versus commercial rates. As I noted last week I believe one is an investment and one is a service. We’ve had a few outspoken crew people spoiled on a few good commercial payouts complain about rates. To these people – just pass. Don’t torpedo your ship because you can’t make a rate work for you. These people might have debt, high cost of living (beyond your means) or any other reason why they need to say no. But that’s not everyone. Also the positions on feature film sets are earned early on and crews often grow with the company. Those people who say “I’ll catch up later when you have larger budgets” often won’t. Because loyalty does mean something. If you’ve been the Director of Photography when they had nothing they will likely want to keep that DP as they move into larger budgets. Often if a crew gets out of line there are hundreds that would jump at the opportunity. But you have to be a company that finishes and releases films. People grow tired of putting blood, sweat and tears into a project that never finishes. I’ve got a couple of films I’ve been paid for but they never finished. A waste.

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I like to say we will be defined by what we say NO to. I say NO a lot but politely as some people are just not where I would like them to be creatively. I know other companies and producers who do things very differently. Attacking them isn’t going to help and until you’ve raised funds and been responsible for millions of dollars – your opinion is pretty weak. That said, if you want to make your projects better, paying experience up front will keep you from paying for mistakes. Experienced actor means more options in editing versus that’s our one good take. Out of focus camera. Things left on set because art department last looks didn’t see something. Lack of hair or clothes continuity – all lack of experience.

My goals aside from making our days and getting our puzzle pieces (scenes) – I want every artists to 1) Have a lifetime experience that they will fondly recall like going to Summer Camp. 2) Become more effective in their craft and/or communication 3) Have pride in the final art

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I’m not following anyone else’s business model but what we’ve developed over two decades seems to work well. I do think that audition notices should discuss compensation up front. Artists should not waste valuable time reading scripts, memorizing lines and putting down reads for something they will not participate in because of no pay. I will not work for free. I have a few times in the beginning because I wanted to get the experience and I wasn’t bringing the experience. But now I bring experience and distribution opportunities for any film I’m in. Like many of us I have life bills so I no longer work without compensation. I also like when a project is compensating everyone because the quality is almost always higher. I don’t really want to act with someone’s Uncle Phil that they threw in because he had the day off.

Like many in today’s society it’s easier to cast stones. I often see condescending messages back and forth that really is just strutting for an audience. If you don’t like the way things are done be the change. Raise the funds and do it right. Lead by example not by running your social media mouth. Bad producers will quickly get a bad reputation and when nobody wants to work with them, they disappear. I know many in this state that if they disappeared from the scene things might be better. Some bad eggs have already left the state because they burnt all their bridges and need new grounds to BS. If your experience is beyond a production not paying, just give a PASS. This allows a new talent/crew an opportunity to step up and learn. But people do pay dues. No certificate from a film school or program is going to automatically get you in a key position. Doing a great job will certificate or not. Now they have many great programs so the students come out with experience. But they too might have to work free or discounted to get the experience needed to move forward. OK. Enough on that subject.

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BULLET POINT UPDATES AT COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT INC.

  • Visit us at http://www.cdiproductions.com
  • MBF: Man’s Best Friend is closing in on a 1st rough cut of the film. The first trailer was well received and the distributor is already talking theatrical.
  • We are planning to release a BTS for MBF on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as a thank you to our cast and crew.
  • WILD FAITH will have a PR announcement later this week. We will be announcing a new wider theatrical release – they’ve been working on creating the short marketing trailers. The film will release into theater’s starting March 1st I’m told. More info here soon.
  • WILD FAITH poster art is being worked on by the distributor. TV/Broadcast release will start 4/1/19
  • WILD FAITH digital purchase 5/6/19 on Amazon and other platforms
  • WILD FAITH DVD sales will be 5/27/19
  • WILD FAITH digital rental with be 6/24/19 * day after my bday:)
  • Streaming Networks SVOD (Netflix) and AVOD (Hulu) in early 2020

Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER was announced with release dates. Here is the PR release from this past week. Read about it here.

https://www.prlog.org/12744411-the-christ-slayer-poster-and-release-dates-announced.html

Our distributor also released the poster art.

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The film is looking and sounding amazing. It is one of the largest production value films we’ve tackled. The music honestly is some of the very best I’ve heard in our projects. But Dennis Therrian our long time composer is growing like all of us at CDI. We’ve just about got all the dialog and sound design completed. Here is me in the studio fixing a few lines.

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This past week has also been development. We’ve got a few 2019 projects coming together. LOST HEART is being prepped for a Spring shoot. Talks on finally shooting KNIGHT CHILLS 2 have advanced. Also a few other exciting scripts that are being polished to possibly be put in the production line. Some exciting news about all this in the new year.

I’m going to go make some breakfast and go explore a bit with the new furry son Finn. Luke would have been very proud of this little gremlin:)

Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.

DJ

 

 

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Thoughts On Casting and December Updates.

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So with the weather change in Michigan from bitter cold to wet and warm, my sinuses were bugging me this morning. I also had to play ref for doggie wrestle-mania. Also with the snow melting I had to do some puppy proofing in the yard. Little Finn is starting to explore, dig, patrol and eat sticks, bark, mud. I had to harvest up the remaining wild grapes because grapes can cause kidney failure. He started some puppy classes and Daphne, our older dog has been teaching him good and bad. Before Luke got sick Daphne and he use to play fight every day. She is a touch out of shape but Finn is making her exercise daily. They are quickly becoming good siblings. Our only regret is that Luke did not get to take on a parenting role with a new little one.

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In between playing referee and doing work we’ve had TCM playing and I’ve enjoyed watching the many classic films. It is funny now how we can watch the credits and so many names are lost to me. I’m a lover of film and I still don’t recognize certain names that I’m sure were common household names at one time. But that is why we seek to make a few classic films that stand the test of time. To create those few roles that people will talk about for decades to come. I feel like I’m just coming into my prime as a storyteller both as an actor and producer. I also feel like my writing is finally being acknowledged and that’s a gift. But all the recent success is built upon many years of hard work.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

I think 2019 is finally the year to do the EARLY YEARS OF COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT which will be part film education. I would like to include the four first CDI films and the BTS and maybe a few retrospective interviews which might go on the social media. But before Michigan had a film boom it was truly a barren landscape with just a few filmmakers making a go at it. But KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS, HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST were our learning years and we paid close attention to the business. I would like to package them up into a definitive collection.

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Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Another area that I want to focus on is merchandise with our films. It’s something that I truly enjoyed throughout my life and I would like to be part of that tradition. I’ve had big ideas but like most filmmakers I’ve always been under financed. That is changing and I would love to put some of those plans in action. So feel free to drop a note here about any ideas for merchandise that you would like to see.

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This week many projects were taken to the next level. In 2019 we’re going to see three CDI films move out strongly into the marketplace. We’re now on the front lines of a new theatrical partnership our distributor has put together. I’m awaiting the home video dates on WILD FAITH that has been delivered to the distributor. Tomorrow the re-mastered theatrical version of WILD FAITH will go to the theatrical partners. I’m in hopes to have a much more detailed announcement next week. We are still putting the final touches on a few deal points. But it will be all worth the wait.

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MBF has had a good showing at the first film markets. The feedback I received was commenting on the professional quality and strength of the story. Our first trailer was put together somewhat in haste due to a sudden demand for a first look after Mipcom. It was decided to spruce up the AFM teaser and release it as a first trailer. I’ve had many people reach out who support our military and/or dogs to comment on the story. This will be a wonderful film with a strong message and we look forward to bringing it to everyone. There is an initial interest in a limited theatrical release – more to be discussed once we get the film further done the line.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – If you’ve watched FORTY NIGHTS and traveled into King Herod’s lands in CHASING THE STAR, the next journey is coming. The Quest Trilogy will be complete with part 3. We’ve been working hard in the studio and the film is now sounding great! The picture is just epic and now the music is matching. Sound design is so much fun adding wind, animals, crowds, creaks, sails, swords and the list goes on. We’re adjusting dialog where it’s needed to create great from good. Post is a serious process that really seperates the professional from the amateur. It takes time to get there and those watching our films would notice a steady progression. Now when we sit in the IMAX watching it on the big screen I’m always taken back to those early days. Keep moving forward.

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LOST HEART is the film that is slated to be on deck for Spring 2019. A funny heart-warming drama that also deals with a few serious topics. Add a large dose of Michigan charm and I think we’ll have another great film. It will again be distributed under our deal with BMG. I’m also looking at Summer and Fall films and I know it will be a productive year ahead. I think we’ve found a few of our actors and some are returning favorites. We’ll be posting on this film as we enter the new year.

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I’m going to also use the winter to finish a few of my other scripts including my Sci-Fi script. I’ve had a few people talk to me about commercial and non-commercial projects in the new year. Again if your script is good. You’re financed and compensating your talent, and you think I fit something, run it by me. I know, I’ve offended a few people with passes on projects in the past, but it was done politely.  We are defined by what we say NO too. When I say YES, I put my all into it. I’ve got a few projects that I put a lot of myself into and they never got finished. A couple were well compensated projects but still the art is buried. So I look for quality and people who can finish.

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Speaking on this. I recently saw a project that looked interesting but before someone rearranges their day or even does a read, especially as a co-star or major role, I think signing a non-disclosure to read a script is in order.  If I have not worked with the group before, I do ask that the project be funded. Because reading, really reading can take 1-2 hours and if that time is spent, it should be worth it. There are exceptions, but I’m talking cold auditions for unknown parties. The response of “compensation is pending role and will be discussed if role offered” or “script provided only if cast”…whoa! What if the talent dislikes the script. Hours driving, memorizing, reading only to drop out after a read because of a poor script/blueprint. I don’t like my time wasted or to waste other’s time but will often do a quick “sketch” off sides if the story interests me. If they like the sketch the next step is to read the entire script if the film is funded. Nothing like those inexperienced filmmakers trying to raise 3.2 mil to do their first film. That’s like me and a few buddies building a spaceship out of lumber and junk to fly to Mars. Not likely. So, I’m going to remain open to working with some new folks but if you approach please do have your ducks in a row. I’m happy to see that happening with some of the Michigan groups. I’m beyond happy to see the success both in business and storytelling.

And with that…I’m going to make some lunch and do a few things around the house ands get ready for another great week. It has been a great mix of business and catching up with family and friends. I hope you also enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

DJ


Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 


“Wild Faith” Rides Into 4 New Cities – Several Development Updates

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I’m sipping the hot hazelnut (coffee) on this frozen Sunday watching the squirrels eat the left over squash and strawberries from last night. I want to welcome our readers from Chile. We’re glad to have you with us as we recap another strong week of updates.

Let’s start with the music video I participated in as camera talent. I was approached about acting in ‘My Ghosts‘ a music video.  I was taken by the story/concept script for the music video. The artist (Trey Connor) was strong in his genre and style and the director (Tomaki Boaz‘s) previous work showed he’s a strong developing storyteller.

I was trying to match their premiere date with one of our “Wild Faith” showings to give them a nice plug. The dates did not work out and they released the music video yesterday. I’m proud when I see young people not just interested in ‘playing‘ with the camera but developing their business. One wrong variable can decrease overall production value if not addressed properly. I enjoyed seeing the happiness these young filmmakers had in presenting their final work yesterday. The producer was proud of producing her first music video, as she should be. Of course friends and family first rush to give their congrats. And I see one individual whose response was something like “Umm do you want my honest response?” – First by logic alone, anyone who references an honest response is ultimately saying that usually they are not honest in their responses. But this “bait” was an obvious setup for someone to go against the grain just for attention.  This producer wasn’t commenting on the video but the process of taking something from concept to final product. It’s a skill sorely lacking in many circles – you know who you are. So you’ve got this guy wanting to throw stones at young people not playing filmmaker but actually doing business as filmmakers. I usually stay out of such things but I had to call him on his withheld opinion. What enlightening words is he about to drop with his honest opinion? EVERYONE has or should have an opinion on everything – that’s called thinking. It doesn’t make anyones opinion any more special.  Many have been brought up in the age of “say anything behind a computer” where class, politeness and sincerity is often overlooked. If this person had something truly caring and constructive to offer they would offer it in a private discussion versus a public tease of offering judgmental, opinionated honesty. ** NOTE: This individual clarified their post and brings up good points on “bandwagon liking” everything out there. I’m glad to be wrong here but know the rock throwers will emerge. That too is a skill artists must learn – to suffer the slings and arrows of critics. I say don’t ride the rollercoaster of up’s and down’s – steady as she goes is the best policy.

I can tell just by the words people manifest if they lead a positive life that opens new opportunities or a negative life whereas the world is always keeping them down. I’m not sure what this guy will respond with but if I was looking to hire someone – I know which individual will likely be presented with new opportunities. It’s pretty easy to identify the people who will continue to fill themselves with venom and spread it. Social media actually makes it quite easy for employers to get a psychological profile on people. Negativity is a poison that nobody wants in their work environment. If Trey’s music is a far cry from your daily dose of death metal like SLAYER – cool. There are many who don’t get the art of those bands who growl and slam about in mosh pits either but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable for those others who embrace it. I’m just saying, having an opinion does not always require giving an opinion. Sometimes best to say less or nothing if you’ve got nothing nice to say. Honesty can be used to help or hurt, the intention is what I look at. When done to showboat publicly it’s mostly used to hurt. When done personally and privately it’s usually done to help. NOTE IT. Enjoy this music video created by some hardworking young people making their way into our industry. What I love is I don’t have to make any apologies for the work. It’s solid.

Music Video for Trey Connor’s ‘My Ghosts” 

Speaking of young people in our industry – I went to the local Lansing, Michigan CCFF mixer Thursday night to support this event. It is exciting to see so many passionate about our industry. Congrats to all those who work so hard  to provide that experience. It was good seeing a few old friends down there. The coconut shrimp and other eats were wonderful. I hope they have a very successful 2018 fest.

As “Forty Nights” contines to play strong on Amazon Prime and other platforms along with “Chasing the Star” – the 3rd installent is under construction. “The Christ Slayer” trailer is finished save conforming and color correction which will start next week. Soon audiences will get a peek at Part 3 which will be in theaters on the run up to Christmas and home video for Easter 2019. It looks amazing and that is because of all the talented artists led by our director Nathaniel Nose.

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We’ve just completed our Novi, Michigan theatrical run with “Wild Faith” and now we’re about to open in four new Michigan cities. HASTINGS! JACKSON! KALAMAZOO! BATTLE CREEK! These special event showings are happening because of you demanding it. Contact your theaters and get contact info for their management to pass along. We’re working on a dozen new showing locations and we’ll try to get close to you. We’ll keep moving and playing the film on the big screen all Summer until our Fall home video release. But do yourself a favor and go see it on the big screen. I may attend the first Hastings screening on Monday. So far we’ve had a great time touring with our (mid) western and I’m appreciative of our audience’s responses.

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Next month “Wild Faith” will join “Chasing the Star” in Florida for the International Christian Film Festival. Both are up for numerous awards but I’m just excited about more people being able to experience these films on the big screen. Rebecca Lawlor our main EP on all three films in The Quest Trilogy will be there to represent Collective Development Inc. – also attending will be Shane Hagedorn, Lauren LaStrada and Jesse Low – all three who were nominated for “Wild Faith” and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garry Nation attends for his nomination of Best Actor in “Chasing the Star“.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) – We’ve just received the last of our paperwork/funds and once I deposit the final check on Monday the new ship will be seaworthy. We’ll have our shooting script and shoot schedule set next week. Casting and crewing paperwork will be underway in the next two weeks. The process of “finding” the character has been interesting. I’m playing the title role in the film and love the challenges it presents. I’m excited about all the great talent we have gathering on both sides of the camera. This will be another great CDI story to tell. We launch the ship (roll cameras) in May and will finish in early June. Among the exciting developments is a visit from a major cable network to our film set. Let’s just say it has to do with ANIMALS🙂

I’ve also been in heavy writing and development mode – and I’m very excited about that. CDI is in talks on content creation for a few emerging studios. This could mean some very exciting on-going things for the tribe at CDI. We’ll also be announcing a new on-going commercial deal that CDI has with another major corporation. TV series and new feature films are all on deck. I’ve got a few really big meetings coming up this month. I’m actually more concerned with the travel arrangements versus the actual meetings. Talking business and films doesn’t stress me at all but travel and technology has done that on occasion.

I’m going to jump off here to seek some food and also do some creative writing. I hope some of you will make it to the “Wild Faith” showings. I have more meetings this week. I’ll also be prepping for my short upcoming business trip. I wish we had that teleportation technology in action. Enjoy the week ahead and be good to one another.

DJ


Theatrical Kick off and Award Nominations – Updates

Good morning. I want to do a welcome sip of coffee to our new readers hailing from Singapore and the United Arab Emirates. WELCOME. This past week was a whirlwind of organizing theatrical roll-out, development work and more. We also have some announcing of nominations on a couple of our films.

Multiple radio shows, podcast and more the last week to promote the start of our theatrical season with “Wild Faith” our (mid) western. Here is a link to one of them-

Showbiz Weekly 

https://player.fm/series/michigan-business-network/all-star-team-creates-wild-faith-show-biz-weekly

More promotions can be seen at the social media site and/or the website 

https://www.facebook.com/WildFaithMovie/

http://www.wildfaiththemovie.com

Our first theatre dates are March 16th-22nd at Celebration Cinema in Lansing and Grand Rapids, MI (Woodland).

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International Christian Film Festival – This is the Oscar’s of the family/faith genre. Last year we had “Forty Nights” our 1st installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY nominated for Best Film, Best Lead Actor (Rance Howard), Best Score and Most Inspirational (which we won). Watch on Amazon Prime and other platforms.

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This year the second installment “Chasing the Star” about the journey of the magi was nominated for Best Film, Best Score, Best Screenplay, Best Lead Actor (Garry Nation) and Most Inspirational (again) and so we’ll see.

But…like having two children on competing teams – “Wild Faith” our western was also entered this year. It is nominated for Best Film, Best Lead Actor (Shane Hagedorn), Best Actress (Lauren Lastrada) and Best Director (Jesse Low).

There is strong competition not just amongst our two films but from amazing talent like Ray Liotta, Judge Reinhold  and Ashley Judd. I’m honored to be amongst the nominated films and to have two “children” gathering such attention is humbling. So Collective Development Inc. has 9 nominations and that’s something to be proud of.

You can watch “Chasing the Star” right now on Amazon Prime and several other participating platforms. “Wild Faith” will play theatrical events all Spring/Summer (I want to play a drive in) and will release to home video in the Fall on the run up to Christmas. If craving a good tale from the 1800’s please take a watch on our “Wicked Spring” also playing Amazon Prime and participating platforms.

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The 3rd installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY – “The Christ Slayer” will be complete in August and play theaters on the run up to Christmas. Our distributor has the home video release set to target Easter 2019.

A busy season of releasing. But that also means we need NEW product. We’re a touch behind my ideal timeline for our next film “Man’s Best Friend” (MBF) but the account is open and money flowing in. We need the last few units committed before we move forward because once we start we finish.

In additional to that we have several developing projects. I had meetings right up to end-of-the-day Friday which will without a doubt bring new endeavors to the CDI tribe.

Other developments

I’ve never acted in a music video. I was there when it all started MTV that is – and I like to see that the art of storytelling against a song is still going strong. Maybe not like in the heyday of music TV but still alive and kicking. I was approached about being hired to participate in a music video. They provided their earlier work, the work of the artist and a professionally written script. The subject matter holds some meaning to me and it felt – right. So I gave my interest and this coming week I’ll participate in my first music video front of camera. I’ll talk more about it once they are ready. Not my song or production so I’m letting them PR as they will. I’m sincerely excited about the project. I had just said a few weeks ago, if interested in me for something come with a professional proposal. It also worked amazingly with my schedule. It’s only a one day obligation so it really was a perfect storm. I’m looking forward to it.

The writing and deal making will continue this week. I’m excited that first cast and crew will get to see their combined work watching “Wild Faith” on the big screen. My family, friends and fans can also enjoy the film starting this week. (Friday) It’s always good to see one of our movies of with my parents. I think it helps justify all the worry they had in me as a dreamer building those “castles in thin air” teen/young man. It shows that I’m truly happy and doing what I was most passionate about in life. And for that I feel like the luckiest man alive on some days.

I’m going to continue to enjoy this day and rest my mind for the crazy week ahead. I’m not a person that needs all the hoopla of camera and red carpets but I will participate on these few occasions to collectively toast our finished story. I see it like a graduation party whereas we’re sending our “movie child” out into the world hoping it will do what it can to make our world a better place.

Thank you for all the support and I do hope you’ll give us a chance to entertain you.

Happy Sunday!

DJ

 

 

 


Keys to a more successful 2018

A101_C001_03254IWell Winter has fell upon Michigan for sure with a good amount of beautiful and chilly snow. If it is going to be cold I really do enjoy snow. It is brighter and I love the look it gives to everything. Yes, it makes the hazelnut coffee taste that much better. Christmas is only a few days off but we’ve been enjoying the season everyday. Where do I even start with all this? STAR WARS (No Spoilers I PROMISE) has been front and center with the media and most folks. I had the pleasure of watching the latest installment yesterday. It was made extra special because I attended a showing with my lady, I put girl elsewhere and some people thought I had a hidden love child. My brother and his wife and my friend of about 40 years whom recently moved back to the area to work at MSU. We saw the original 40 years ago together and to have him there again was very special to me. I enjoyed the film very much. Now as an artist I really try to avoid too much judgement. I’ve been to art museums where a few tin cans  and some string displayed about is called art. I saw a waste of space but respect the decision to present it. I know that for me the prequels don’t work but I’ve enjoyed these new films made by fans of the originals like myself. I think that sometimes less is better but again that is just me. I sat and watched the end credit roll and smiled as we’ve been proofing our end credits on WILD FAITH. For all intent and purpose the movie is complete. We’ll be watching the final proof here soon at our post-house. Color correction was the final tweaking being added and that was almost complete. The film actually required very little due to the quality of the photography from Jesse Aragon and our team. We’re doing the final sound/music on our theatrical trailer. We plan to release it between Christmas and New Year. I was sincerely thrilled by the cut. I watch a lot of trailers as they are one of my favorite things to watch. A visual synopsis and a tease. This movie is exciting and I hope that audiences out there will also enjoy the efforts of many wonderful artists. SOON:)

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The reports have been coming in on the first two films in our ‘Quest Trilogy’ and it is quite amazing. The few off reviews I’ve seen either stem from someone wanting a Hallmark film vs a Chuck Heston style Christmas drama. CHASING THE STAR is our EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. All three films are purposely done in a STAR WARS style with the camera work and epic music. A few that are unaware that it is a trilogy are surprised by our ending of CHASING THE STAR but if you watched FORTY NIGHTS it makes perfect sense. You don’t need to watch them together but they do all fit. Fans of FORTY NIGHTS who were unaware of the trilogy aspect have been thrilled to find out there is three interconnecting stories. 2018 will be the lighting of the PR campaign on the 3rd installment THE CHRIST SLAYER. I think once the news of the three stories being a trilogy becomes wide-spread – many will re-watch with joy – as they pick out the strands that bind them all together. All in all the trilogy is one of the great accomplishments in my life. I’m very appreciative of all the artists who participated. I will be thankful for them my entire life and I hope some of them do take pride in their involvement. We created something special.

Here is the trailers for all three films again.

I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing and prepping for the year ahead. I’m trying to have a smooth end of year tax season with the films. The business responsibilities behind all these projects. When people invest in your endeavors there are many tasks that go along with that. Filmmaking is fun but there is a lot of biz that goes with the show. That is why when people don’t respect that fact I don’t respect them. For many their work ends when the film is done. For the executives it does not end for many years. So next time you’re on a film as cast or crew give a little consideration to those people who make it possible for you to be there working.

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I had a meeting not too long ago where I asked and was informed of the recent work this person had been doing. It almost always comes with a preface that it (the work) was done for a small fee or free because it was for a friend. I’ve found that this is usually said to give some leverage to ask, suggest or hint that they would appreciate more money on one of our next projects. I hear this story year after year from many people. Some of these same people are the first to say something if we overlook something while busy or it did not quite meet their expectations, but have been again paid, paid, paid and paid. But you find out that these people are still waiting on compensation for previous friend films or again worked free as a favor to a friend. Are these people/friends really friends helping to move that person in their career? Maybe. But when they are doing all these low/no paid gigs it puts more pressure on them to push us for more $$. I wonder at what point do I/we earn a bit of give in the name of friendship? Who is helping to pay their bills? Who is concerned with them staying in the game as a working artist? I’m not saying you cannot or should not do favors, I’m just saying that financial hardship from taking too many no pays should not fall upon those who do pay. We pay in tiers equally and not just pay 3-4 people and try to go all volunteer on the rest of the crew with no pay to talent. Our product has a certain quality because we pay for the artists we need. The rates are smaller vs commercial because the crew and cast is MUCH bigger. We’re climbing back to some of the larger budgets we once had but I still occasionally hear the moans. I’m climbing the ladder again responsibly and my advice would be treat those who pay you like gold and do less free projects. My ‘friends’ in the business are those who have compensated me and allowed me to survive and continue to move forward in our difficult business. Just a thought to put out there for 2018. And lastly, this is straight truth advice. NEVER turn down a modest paycheck offer by informing someone you’ll “wait for the larger budgets/rates”… I can say directly that when the bigger budgets are there, those individual(s) who made such a statement will not get that call. Some of those will turn around and again work for no pay again for a friend. In this industry you have to bet on winning horses. Because when those ‘friends’ bottom out and leave the industry – as I’ve seen hundreds do, they will not be concerned with their ‘friends’ – this is truth. Ponder that as you enter 2018. I’m not saying, don’t do favors. I’m just saying ‘friends’ can also be those that allow you to earn and grow in this business.

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As for 2018 – we’re getting closer to locking up our business on MBF (Man’s Best Friend) our next CDI film. This week we gathered more paperwork and money and we still have a way to go in the week’s ahead. Additionally we’re developing a couple westerns, a TV series, a new biblical trilogy and a couple animated projects. It will be a good year. This week I’m filming for a non-profit which will be nice. I’m planning to get back on my writing schedule too which has gotten off track.

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Okay. I had to take care of a few things. But again another little observation. A few years ago I met the nicest man working on an animated children’s movie of “The Patchwork Girl of Oz” with his modeling based upon the original illustrations from the 1st public domain book. His passion reminded me of everything good about being an artist. It took a few years of watching, giving notes and tweaking. We polished it with the same music and sound design love we give our feature films. The film is now getting ready to start rolling out to Amazon and other platforms. I do a little instagram promotion and of course some aspiring comic illustrator had to throw a stone. I took a glance to see who this all mighty person was to make such throw away declarations on someones hard work. Not a bad illustrator, but I’m sure unaware of the hard journey and the actual illustrations from the 1913 book. Likely a frustrated illustrator unable to get his foothold in another hard industry. I only guess this because successful people don’t usually throw such negative barbs. They appreciate where they are on the journey and that others are working their way. One of his personal descriptions was “All around good guy” – Hmmm…I guess our definitions are different. Also in our circle – if you watch an old black and white film with subpar effects or whatnot respect and recognize that these people were working hard just like we do now with more limited tools but imagination none-the- less. You can apply that to the new Star Wars films. I’ve seen the haters. If it is not your cup of tea don’t drink it and move on. I like TRAILER PARK BOYS Canadian TV series and have for many years. We use to get bootlegged VHS copies recorded from Canadian TV. Now many years later the show has found its way into the US pop culture. But go watch CART BOY or their earliest stuff. High production values? No. But the heart was there and they evolved – some out there would definitely not find this to be their cup of tea. So move on. So many people want to enforce their opinions but when it is tinged with jealously or just spite it’s sad. Many are just frustrated artists. If they happen to find any success the irony is they will just have their work attacked by people who were just like them.

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Social media has just made people brash. I try not to comment anything that I would not say directly to that person. And also know when it won’t do any good. I’ve seen features that I did not really enjoy by aspiring filmmakers but I KNOW what it takes to finish a film. The art can improve but if you cannot complete a workflow and the film, you will not evolve. So just consider being a bit more classy and a little less assy. I made that word up. Because you could be the stick today and the pinate tomorrow.

I vent these few things only because I truly want to see 2018 be more positive for people. The rise in mental issues/depression that I see touted in the news doesn’t surprise me as the seas of negativity are everywhere. But you don’t have to swim in it. I can promise you that once I hit publish on this blog and it posts I don’t come back checking it each hour for acceptance or to see who dislikes it. I won’t even have the computer back on until the morning when I start in on my list of business TO DO’s. I don’t notice if I lose followers, friends or care how many shares, likes or whatnot. StarMeters up or down, doesn’t matter. I’ll be spending time with family and friends. Laughing, sharing and living. Don’t let life pass you by as you stress over acceptance. Be you. Be good to others. Create don’t hate. Be happy.

Be LOVE.

DJ

 

 

 


End of October 2017 Updates!

IMG952984Good morning fellow artists. A chilly morning made warmer by the hazelnut coffee by my side. 2018 I will get a personal coffee sponsor or I may just start a new business. Collective Coffee – a coffee for all of us:) I did get approached by a tea tree shampoo that wanted my endorsement. More on that soon. I want to welcome all our followers and readers including new readers from Israel. Our readership from Germany and China have increased and we’ll start with that.

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CHASING THE STAR – the 1st film in our biblical adventure series THE QUEST TRILOGY will be releasing to the UK. Actually I’m seeking proof that it may release Oct 30th! I might have found it.

https://www.eden.co.uk/shop/chasing-the-star-dvd-4543645.html

We’ve got new screenings coming up in Texas, Iowa and…in December.

Here is a good PR link if you are unaware of the film.

https://eprnews.com/epic-story-of-three-wisemens-perilous-journey-toward-bethlehem-releases-nationwide-sept-5-139763/

It is on amazon and many others sites. Enjoy! Also we were invited to submit again to the International Christian Film Festival. Forty Nights won ‘Most Inspirational’ amongst some great nominations. We will see if this follow-up will also impact audiences.

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FORTY NIGHTS

Hello TEXAS! This film will be playing at the Miller Theater in Bedias, Texas in November. It is very cool to see this film on the big screen. I think all the trilogy films will be enjoyed for years to come around the holidays. I’ve enjoyed the wonderful notes from fans on how this film has inspired them. Inspired to just be better human beings no matter where your faith takes you.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER

I loved filming the other two films. But I have to say I’m REALLY excited for this third film. We have some top-notch VFX work trying to creatively reproduce God’s hand. By that a few events that we could not just easily capture. Our VFX creators have worked on Black Sails, Rogue One and several high quality films and TV series. The STORY is how this was achieved. This film is a sleeping giant. The season now should be about CHASING THE STAR that released Sept 5th. But starting in 2018 PR for the third film will start growing. I’m excited because once again between sacred writings the plausible WHAT IF’s are explored to help us relate, understand and experience something new yet feels so right like an old pair of slippers. I can see the quotes now, DJ Perry said “A good relationship with God is like an old pair of slippers” – OK. I said it. These films are NOT about Christianity per say. They are about simplistic teachings devoid of modern agenda that people can apply to their own path. Denominations of Christianity fight, argue and debate to monopolize the “correct interpretation” of a teaching. I see that the “devil is in the details” because no mortal knows the universal truth. To exalt oneself and pretend you do is…you fill in the blank. This third film directed by Nathaniel Nose is everything I wanted from the film and more. I think as we gather fans of the storytelling style – great minds will chew on it and share in meaningful conversation. That’s a lot in this day and age of rock throwing. It really hasn’t changed in all these years. In biblical times they would stone someone to death and now they stone people with negative social media responses meant to stand out from the masses or attack non-conformers. Set down the stones and just watch to enjoy. We as storytelling artists ask no more. Lastly on this film I’m very excited on the post art developing. I’ve seen three drafts now and it is getting – COOL:)

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Oh, you want to talk cool? Let’s talk WILD FAITH. We’ve been back and forth between a CGI element added into the footage or adding existing footage into our footage. We explored the heck out of the first option and we just could not make the timeline or numbers work. I had a few people gives quotes just too high but wanted to not be disqualified down the line on others films. While not disqualified a sub-contractor will often lose their place in the pack if they step aside. Because if someone does something discounted as a favor those favors are usually appreciated to the point of the next opportunity. Now sometimes a key crew hire is based upon the director. Sometimes their skill set better matches a certain themed film. And I understand having to PASS on some projects for financial, creative or both. Long/short is that we had a few plans to tackle the final few seconds of VFX affected footage. We gave our best at Plan A and now as music is finishing on the film Plan B is going into effect. This Plan B will be in effect while producers start putting end credits together and Jesse Low and Dennis Therrian start their stereo and 5.1 or is it 7.1 now mix of the final film. Color correction will also be on deck while mixing is happening. The bottom line is that the film is almost done. The film was really, really, good without a lick of music and now with that amping up the action on the screen…watch out!

The TV series – lots of interest but everyone needs to see the world, the story and the characters. I think once they do a series will be underway. Now with WILD FAITH looking at a 2018 theatrical followed by a general market release – reasonably the series would not film until 2019. Now we could get a green light before based on early distributor/network screenings which could put us into production earlier. Time will tell.

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Fans of this time period will enjoy the forthcoming announcement that WICKED SPRING will be getting a new national release in 2018. I chose to produce this Civil War era drama from a list of film ideas Kevin Hershberger (Known now for his Legends & Lies and other TV docs) had. It truly was an independent epic with us taking over Ft. Pickett military base. Lodging in the officers  quarters. Our soldiers in the WW2 barracks. We ate in mess halls and relaxed in the officer’s club. A wonderful experience shot in 35mm and 1st released on VHS. It is due a new release to find a new generation of audiences.

Follow along with us here

https://www.facebook.com/CivilWarMovies/

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NEW FILMS

Several projects are being looked at but next on deck is MBF, our film that highlights the plight of military vets and shelter dogs. We announced even more cast this week highlighting some additional military vets working on the film. Read about all the updates here at https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

I’m excited to be working with all these individuals – old friends and new. More announcements next week!

This week we bottled up Ida’s Wine (Rhubarb & mulberry) and early samples were GOOOOOOD. The final harvest has given me what I need for the GREEN GOBLIN 3.0. It is a popular fall wine and I look forward to another run. I cooked up and tried puffball mushrooms, which not my favorite of the shrooms but good. This past week was check writing to investors on one project and prepping assets for distribution delivery on another. I do have issues working with the every changing world of tech. Thankfully I keep wonderful people around me whose skill sets are strong in these areas. Okay, I might have missed an update or two but the bacon is about done. I’m going to go eat and get a few things done.

Have a great day and week ahead! Stay safe and watch out for those little trick or treaters.

DJ