Good morning my friends. I’m sipping the sweet hazelnut coffee on a sunny morning here in Michigan. Once again I want to welcome our new readers from Spain, Ireland and France along with our international friends already following along. What an amazing week of developments on so many fronts. Let’s start with the ongoing success of THE QUEST TRILOGY. Part 1 “Forty Nights” continues to grow an audience on Amazon Prime and other fine platforms. If you still love DVD’s like I do you can also but on Amazon. The second film in the trilogy “Chasing the Star” just played the ICFF (Essentially the Christian Oscars) and from 5 nominations we WON ‘Most Inspirational’ film. This is my favorite award because it speaks to the hard work of everyone involved and we did what any storyteller can hope for – inspire people. Both of these films are so worth a watch and the part 3 “The Christ Slayer” will release in theaters during the holidays this year and will release wide on home video Easter 2019. Look for us to release the theatrical trailer in June of this year. Congrats to our entire cast and crew of CHASING THE STAR!
WON ‘Most Inspirational’ Film at ICFF following last year’s win with “Forty Nights”
With four nominations “Wild Faith” was in competition and WON for Best Leading Actress – Ms Lauren LaStrada and also WON 2nd place “Runner up” for Best Film. Now I know what Ricky Bobby would say but we’re very happy to accept the second place spot. But this horse (Kentucky Derby references) is still running hard. We have play dates right around the corner.
And we will not stop there. We’ve got many venues we’re still in discussions with. But I wanted to thank ICFF for their acknowledgement of our hard work on both films. We’re also in serious home video discussions on “Wild Faith” and I should have home video release dates in a week or two. But if you have friends in Holland or Grand Haven, MI or in Gibsonton, FL make it a point to see this fine story on the big screen.
Let’s talk “MBF” or Man’s Best Friend, our next film. We’ve almost finalized the cast (waiting on the last few offers to close) and we’ve started work on hotels, flights and such. Have some patience as we start getting the cast and crew agreements in place. I’m beyond excited at the talent we’ve got attached. The script has drawn great praise and personally I’m almost where I want to be with the character I’ll play. I’ve been immersed in the role and I’m excited by the various exchanges I’ll have with some other very talented actors and actresses. I’m even more excited by the positive light we can shine with our collective storytelling.
In my casting discussions on the west coast I’ve identified a few other notable talents to work into the tribal fold. CDI will be entering into a production deal to help us create more often with less down time. The idea of a TV series or sequel to “Wild Faith” is a real possibility on the table. I’m sincerely thrilled to be where we’re at as a production group. Those in our crew circle should soon be able to enjoy some consistent work on projects that steadily get larger in scope. It’s all team building and we’re starting to get there.
I’m about to go throw the first mowing of the year on the yard. I love the zen of the back yard and watching birds, squirrels and other beautiful wildlife gives me daily peace. The garden will get tilled this week since right now only weeds are growing. I have another soccer match today. Last week we fought to a 4-4 tie in a great battle. We’ll see how today plays out but I’ll be ready to attack the week. In a few short weeks we’ll be on set storytelling again.
Be good to one another.
We have our first readers from Iraq and Spain and so welcome to ‘Clawing our way to the Middle‘ blog. I’ve got the hot coffee in hand and seeking the right words here. Last night I was having a few old friends over to the office to sit by the fire and talk old times. Just before people showed up I heard news that my dear friend Rance Howard had passed away. We met in Benson, AZ while shooting on ‘Miracle at Sage Creek‘ and bonded over breakfast at Denny’s with his wife Judy. Rance later went on to join us on “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” whereas he played the father-like figure to my character. Rance loved our church scene in that film. Here is a few clips.
He could not join us on “The Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” because he was working with his ole friend Andy Griffith. But when The Quest Trilogy came along he grew a beard for the first time in many years. He was excited to play “The Devil” after a lifetime of good guys. Play it he did in all three “Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” out on Amazon Prime now. His devil turn in “Forty Nights” won him best lead actor at the International Christian Film Festival. I’m proud that we still have “The Christ Slayer” coming in 2018 but I’m a touch sad that he will not get to see it. I remember on “The Christ Slayer” the two of us in that boat in the middle of the night – holding hands. We shared so many deep talks both about the role and about life. To pass at 89 years of age – working right up until the end is an inspiration. He was truly a mentor to me. One man who had truly been there and done that and he actually cared about my career. Very few people take that kind of time and nurture but you can see that manifested in his own family. He was supposed to play a funny role in “MBF” and we had always wanted to do this “Algona” WW2 POW/Xmas script but that was not meant to be. He was my source expert when I was writing. He was a dairy farmer and had first hand experience of WW2 so his input was vital. I know that Rance touched many people’s life and made us all feel important. He would walk between working with Russell Crowe followed by DJ Perry and never made you feel any less. Actually the opposite, as he made you feel great about being a storyteller. He was deep with his characters and he always came with lots of notes, ideas and intuitions. He will be greatly missed.
Where do I go from there…?
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star has been getting a great holiday push here in the US/Canada. Chasing the Star has been licensed to Netherlands to a network called Family 7. Forty Nights might be right behind it. Also the films are looking to invade the UK and I will have more details on that soon.
The Christ Slayer is just finishing all the VFX and final edits preparing to move into post music and sound.
Wild Faith is preparing to come out of post sound/music. The VFX are all in and end credits are being tweaked. The last step is color correction along with the audio mix. I’m excited to roll this film out and I feel good about our chances of rolling a series out behind it.
MBF – now has the bank account open. We need to start collecting paperwork and checks and also drum up the final investment units. We’ll be announcing more castings in the run up to Christmas. A lot of wonderful support for this film.
If yesterday put anything front and center for me it’s to keep following your path. I don’t know how many films I have still in me but I’ll keep creating and moving forward. Cherish those mentors in your life while you can and remember to turn around and mentor those around you. The holidays have been filled with joy and today we will decorate the beautiful tree.
Be good to one another.
Good afternoon everyone. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Spain. See there are artists like ourselves in every corner of the planet ‘Clawing the way to the Middle‘ – and we share some of the same challenges. I’ve often referred to these films like children and it is true. As an actor/producer I have found myself often divided about what I want and what is best required/wise for a project. In those cases you put the child (Film) before your personal. I’ve been working hard with our CDI team on the new film knowing we would roll into pre-production/production either before the holidays or after. From a company owner – to film before means we could be filming something else after the holidays. From a producer stand point – more prep is always good. Flights after holidays will be cheaper versus before, schedules and such. From the actor point of view I’ve been working to “peak” at the right time. Those into athletics will understand the peak. It could be both physical (looking a certain way for a role) and mental (getting more tuned in to that life). I was prepping for the first possible shoot window. We have a work flow that we follow that is based on best chance success for the film. We’ve been bringing on the financial backers and we’re roughly half solid. But with required prep time to bank everything plus cast/crew contracts, travel etc…we have an evaluation deadline of Monday. I will evaluate everything at that point and decide if we will move focus to after holidays.
People might be surprised that I too feel the same creative itch every other actor feels. I feel like the ‘Call to Races’ has sounded and I’ve been brought to the starting gate. Now…do we get to run or do we get led back to the barn for a few more weeks? In these situations – I’ve seen projects fly together in six months and I’ve seen development hell that dragged for a dozen years. Faith in the knowledge that a story WILL be told when it’s time for that story to be told helps. I’ve seen other groups ill-equipped to launch a ship do so anyway, led by passion. Note, many ships have ran aground the rocks because of lapse in judgement and passion. So at end of business tomorrow the course will be set. I’m actually starting to feel better as the actor if I have to return to the barn for a short stay. I bottle up that energy and use it for when I do get to go into ACTION. I’m so excited by this new story and that grows harder with each film. After you’ve played so many roles – you’re looking for that one moving role. Paul Landings in MBF is that role. If an “after the holidays” shoot turns out to be the case – audiences will get to meet our upcoming cast week by week in our PR. Our talent will enjoy the holidays while sinking into their upcoming roles. You’ve been introduced to Tim Abell and Tony Becker in our last press release. Two amazing actors and just wait until you meet our other artists. This project is gaining strength as more people are exposed to our powerful story. It is the way of things.
With Shane Hagedorn
The Quest Trilogy
Forty Nights will play Texas in November followed by Chasing the Star on the big screen. We will start to release these cool art pieces focusing on the trilogy starting with Forty Nights, this week. Also I’ve got meetings upon meetings this week concerning Chasing the Star which has numerous PR campaigns gearing up by our distributor. I also know that this week we’ll be putting the final touches on the first of many foreign licenses. I finally got to hold the two DVD’s in my hands. What beautiful packaging BMG did. When I was proofing the films for delivery to Texas I had to just smiled. Watching them play out back-to-back was just eye-opening. I’ve been doing this a long time now and these projects are surely something to be proud of. It feels like just a few years ago I was getting friends together after school with the video camera to make our silly films.
The Christ Slayer is the 3rd film in the trilogy and not long ago audiences were treated to the powerful first trailer. Directed by Nathaniel Nose, this film is having VFX work done and will move into post sound/music in Jan. But I’ve also been lucky enough to see some concept drafts of a new poster. That is on-deck and we’ll have something for you real soon. Stay excited:)
With Tony Hornus
Wild Faith – The VFX work continues and music is now at roughly 60 minutes. I’m excited about watching the next phase with music. It was strong to watch with just sound design and now music will just make it all soar. The goal is to have the film completed by years end.
I had mentioned that we would also start releasing some of the films from the CDI library with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. That is happening and we’ve got a deal before us now. So next week I should have an announcement.
I finished reading the KNIGHT CHILLS book that also has a film link. I cannot say how fun it was to read the book by David Hayes. I’m also in talks to possibly attend one of my first comic cons supporting this book. The book is based on the screenplay by myself and Jeff & Juanita Kennedy. I am trying to move the filming of Knight Chills 2 higher up on the production slate. There are plans in motion:)
OK. Well I’m going to sign off here. I need to look at caulking this roof that covers the firewood. I think the office will be getting a nice wood stove fire tonight. Yesterday my alumni school MSU taught UofM the law of the jungle. I hope everyone has a good week ahead.
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.
Welcome December! I’ve got the hazelnut coffee brewed and I’m ready to have a little chat with the “Clawing My Way to the Middle” readers. First I want to say it is an honor to have each and every one of you take the time to read my journey. I try to present lessons that can help others on their own journey. I wanted to let you all know where many of our readers are from. Of course the USA, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Norway, Thailand, Australia and Netherlands. How great is it that we all reside within our boarders of our country but we are all on this planetary journey together. Storytelling as been helping to shape society and artistic expressions while various all share common traits. I’ve always been drawn to culture that is different. I think that is what is uniquely special in all of us. That is why I could never get the concept of unifying. No one art is better – it is uniquely different. My mind even goes to food and drink when I look at that list of countries. I know all the unique traditions that surround great meals prepared in all those lands. USA is the hodgepodge for sure and that is our thing. But I’m deeply appreciate of food, song, culture, religion (as an expression) and storytelling. I’ve been honored to have worked with a handful of international filmmakers and I plan to work with more. I think my interest in ancient history, martial arts and even the culture of futbol/soccer has driven me to explore and enjoy the diversity we have on this planet. I want to thank all of you readers for your precious moments. I also will make it a goal to get more and more of our films into your territories. Some of them already are but with distribution growing as they say at Disney world “It’s a small world after all.” True words:)
I’ve had a great week both personal and professional. The Thanksgiving family time is past us and now the Christmas tree is up. While not yet decorated it has been a welcome sight each day. The tree will become the fuel of the transformation fire (Fire pit) that will help burn up the winter clutter once spring arrives. I’ve been gathering gifts for family since I will be gone the week before Christmas week. I’ll be in Nevada playing space cowboy in the Valley of Fire. I was informed that as a young child I went there and even saw a few old photos yesterday. I look forward to gathering with these artists and performing with a few actors I admire and have not yet worked directly with. I’m ready save my packing so soon it will be time to shoot in the WASTELAND.
2015 Distribution Updates
ASHES OF EDEN – Feel free to read a great review of the film. More of these will be releasing leading up to the 2015 national release. I have a goof vocabulary but I had to look up the word they associated with my name. I thought it might mean “Loud and Opinionated” Ha! But I was happy to see that it meant “marked by outstanding strength and vigor of body, mind or spirit.” So please do take a read on the review and we will be getting the film on the market and out to you very soon.
DONORS – Also will be releasing nationally in 2015 – more on this in the weeks to come
WICKED SPRING – produced under Lionheart Filmworks when that was our southern sister company. The companies split ways a handful of years ago and now “Wicked Spring” is under the CDI banner and is getting a 2015 spring special edition release. Also on BluRay!
We will see a 2015 re-release of KNIGHT CHILLS with a novelization release. Likely fall 2015. Also work on a sequel script has begun.
HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST rights are back at home here at CDI and a domestic release set up will also happen. “Figure in the Forest” can be seen on TBN and Parables TV.
BESTSELLER – Early look at FX work is very exciting! I know music work is in full swing. We are looking at a 1st test showing of this film early in 2015. We are getting some early interest from distributors. It is going to be another film that proudly showcases Michigan filmmaking at its finest.
NON-CDI RELEASE INFO
I have a few co-starring/supporting roles in THE TERRORIST & DEAD QUIET and make appearances in DIVISION 19 and SMALL TOWN SANTA (Released now).
Several VERY exciting projects are in development some with partial funding. We’re hard at work with some script work and prep that will lead to more production in 2015!
My last advice pulled from recent events. ALWAYS, ALWAYS give more by way of effort than what you are paid for. NEVER be one of the people who does just the absolute minimum. Maybe at some boring desk job but in an industry that moves on passion you never want to be seen as just a functional piece. Your passion is what makes you an artistic contributor. It is what will get you re-hired. A great example taken from BESTSELLER film shoot. I like to ninja about and just observe people at work. I came up to the grip truck one day to find our key grip Paul Burt busy organizing. Most people were just trying to stay warm and get the shots as this was a wet, cold day on a remote dirt road. I watched him move and arrange. Wipe down and clean C stands and such. When I revealed myself to his surprise – I was met with a smile and asked if I needed anything. My response – “I need an entire crew with an attitude like yours.” I said, hot coffee was ready and he explained that he would go up in a few minutes. This was HIS responsibility. HIS grip truck for this shoot and HE wanted to make sure it was clean and orderly because it was a reflection on him. WOW! I want people like that on our team. That is a reflection of us as a company. That is a reflection of us as an industry. Character is what you are when you think nobody is looking. Pride starts with yourself and extends outward like a pebble thrown in water. Paul Burt’s phone will ring again. Will yours? With only so many people making narrative features and with the way producers get referrals on performance. How many times can someone give just the bare minimum before one of your peers with passion takes that hire away from you? Let me answer that for you – not many. This goes for actors. This goes for vendors. I’ve had companies mad because I continued to get my gear over the years from LOWING LIGHT & GRIP. I even had a trash talking vendor from Detroit once ask how she could steal my business. Her choice of words alone made me say, NEVER. David (Lowing) was there when I first stepped up to fight monsters in IN THE WOODS. He has always been there for me. Like I said about cast/crew, he always gave more goods or service than the dollar amount on the check. That intangible is where loyalty lives. The actor who gives every ounce of themselves – I immediately think of Melissa Anschultz freezing in a warehouse under rain machines while filming “7 Stones”. I already spoke about Paul Bert and David Lowing as examples of crew and vendors. If you desire loyalty from people you better give them a reason. I know people out there get mad (of course at someone else) if they get passed over. We know sometimes it’s just a casting thing or a key crew position that was already in play – but look at yourselves. Are you respectful to those above and below you? Do you give your best effort, always? Do you spread positive energy in your wake? Would you be an example for others to follow? If you can’t answer YES to all of these your time could be limited or your advancement may stall. Stand accountable and watch your career and life experience amazing growth.
Happy Full Moon!