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

Posts tagged “spartans

NEW BLOG: If it was easy everyone could do it…

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(Robert Bradley & Austin Two Feathers set for “Wild Faith”)

Hello everyone,

It’s afternoon now and I’ve returned to sit and sip the last of the hazelnut while writing to all of you. The Lions are playing and yesterday our MSU Spartans had it out with the Fighting Irish. I’m trying to relax a touch from the pace of the past week but my mind is calculating, creating and problem solving as pre-production work continues. For those not up to speed from the previous weeks we’re departing from the biblical films for a beat to do a great family western, “Wild Faith”.

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Several of these great production value areas do not have ideal support staff. I loved an 1800’s Copper town in the U.P. of Michigan but services required for a small army just did not exist. It is finding the sweet spot between all these various variables – all of them important. So a balancing act that requires negotiating and compromising. Right now we’ve got so many open ended deals but things are starting to close. Tomorrow we start loading the “rations” onto the “ship” for our upcoming voyage.

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On an in-state adventure like this I have to start packing 1) biz stuff 2) character stuff 3) DJ hotel stuff 4) props – I recall coming home from “Bestseller” in a car that looked like THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

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Melissa Anschutz & Lana Wood set for “Wild Faith”

Sincerely I hope the TV series spins off from the feature. I saw lots of great talent that I would love to see work into future shows. We’re down to the last few castings and those should close this week.

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Pureflix On-Demand

A copy of “40 Nights” and “Ashes of Eden” have recently been donated to a library of a large homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas. I hope those films inspire the hearts that check them out to watch. I recall when we were in Yuma, AZ we borrowed a large beat up many-cup coffee pot from the shelter. The pot started leaking and so production bought a new pot to donate to the shelter. When I went to drop it off I saw many men beating the heat watching the original ROCKY. I watched for a few moments and realized the power of the words in that film. I saw and felt the hope in the room as they watched a “bum” reach down deep to show what heart they have. If our film(s) can help inspire minds and hearts that is an entirely different return.

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“Chasing the Star” trailer and poster are underway. The music, sound design and VFX are being worked. I’m excited to share more pictures from this powerful film. I’ve been exploring many options with the last film in The Quest Trilogy. It has to be a perfect fit.

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This weekend we announced David Gries, Anthony Hornus and John DeMarco adding to the “Wild Faith” cast. We have many more cast and crew to announce in the days ahead.  Well, a few short hours of rest before a week of prepping the ship hard.

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Have a great weekend wrap up and a productive week ahead. Remember if it was easy everyone could do it. Chase that dream!

DJ

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Secrets to Casting & Crewing at CDI

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The morning chill made it perfect to sip the hot coffee and talk about my past week. The week was busy with every source of communication jammed with “checking in,” “catching up,” and other “forget me not’s” that have become the pattern when we’re casting and crew a new film. Let’s talk on these two things – CASTING and CREWING.

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Casting – One thing I never understood when I did in-state castings. It was people always saying “They don’t want to see a reel(s)” to which I was always thinking WHAT? In football terms – what coach thinking of recruiting to his team would not want to see game footage? Performance when it is game time. Look at that production value and often an entire production trusting on this individuals performance. I said it before, so few people have their materials around and so agents don’t use them because it makes all the non-reel people look bad. So let’s ignore the most experienced talent because all these others don’t have a reel. We watch, identify and try to keep the hoop jumping to a minimum. I hate cattle calls like everyone else and luckily have not attended one in many years. But we try to focus on what we really need so not to waste anyones time. Make the most of every opportunity.

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Crewing – like acting – if you accept a job at that point the pay becomes non-important. If I’m paid $100 or $10,000 I will still give everything once I’ve committed. Don’t be one who notices problems but be one if offers solutions. Every crew member is a paid PROBLEM SOLVER. We pay for SOLUTIONS. Never QUIT. Quitting is a character flaw and that flaw will hinder you for a lifetime if you don’t outgrow it. All we ever ask is professional from call to wrap. If you’re being housed – professionalism is further required. I will note that because we try to do things right on our projects – it is much harder on staff. It’s harder to do things right. Understand and sympathize with your fellow crew and cast. Because at the end you’re working together on something that will stay with you for a lifetime. The friendships, the hardships and the final story. The best way for crew to find their way to a CDI project is to be introduced by an existing crew member who will vouch for your work. By work I mean not just what ends up on the screen but how that happened. Stressful, unorganized, behind schedule, attitude – you will not remain part of the crew long-term even if the work was acceptable on-screen. The journey is as important as the destination for the people on the journey.

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Casting is almost complete and we’ve already starting talking to targeted crew. Soon we ride!

OTHER DEVELOPMENT & POST

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Knight Chills 20th Anniversary

“Knight Chills 2” this project has some good business forming up behind it. We plan to do some camera rolling this winter. Also look for the 2017 release of the book and original film.

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“The Christ Slayer”

I’ve recently sat down with several key individuals that could help bring this trilogy to a conclusion. We’re about to start location scouting in AZ with our ground team. I’m very excited to be returning to this world one more time. I think this will be a great end piece to “Chasing the Star” now in post.

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My body has about repaired from a brutal soccer season. Now I’m enjoying watching the Lions and MSU Spartans beat themselves up for the victory. I’ve been doing my company and production work and getting prepared to bring a new character to life on-screen this October. Many of those that have been cast I’m proud to call friends. I also look forward to adding new friends to my circle. Today is more end of summer yard work getting all that ship-shape before I go playing cowboys with my friends. Spend some time with family and friends and enjoy the long weekend. Our staff continues to pass reels, reads and resumes between our team.

Keep clawing!

DJ

 

 

 


Spring Updates, Spartans & Showcases

Usually I’m posting my blog first thing in the morning but I had a full morning of other activities and so now here we are together. I apologize for my tardiness:) I will give a few updates before my alumni school Michigan State University starts their tourney basketball game in a short while. My thoughts have been on spring and so many things are happening that I feel very optimistic about. I will pick a topic that ties into a few events of our own.

FESTIVALS

I love that film lovers can be exposed to product that is not direct mainstream and is often a showing ground for developing filmmakers. What I’ve learned in almost two decades of filmmaking is that they are great networking opportunities. Many ongoing relationships between writers, directors, producers, DP’s, actors and so on – start at festival events. I met fellow filmmakers at a NYC festival years ago and we ended up making a film in Mexico together. So when creative minds meet good endeavors can come about. Now on the other end – overspending on many, many, many festivals in the name of marketing versus going directly to distribution/licensing to start capital investment recoupment can be a mistake. IF a distributor does not like a product it does not matter how many small festivals you won – it won’t help you. There are only a handful of festivals that attracts buyers and even inclusion into those festivals does not assure anyone distribution. As a matter of fact only a very small % at those major festivals get a deal. Now I’m not saying don’t do any festivals because playing to a home crowd who often assisted in the making of the film is good. Targeting a few horror festivals for your horror film is not a bad thing. BUT a grand tour of festival partying that might see tens of thousands of dollars being spent vs returning on the investment is…well you do the math. We’ve seen a surge in festivals in the past few years and so the wreaths or laurels or whatever they call the “award logo” has lost a lot of value to distributors and even to audiences. SUNDANCE and a few others such as TORONTO has kept their value. Others will perhaps grow to become major festivals – I’ve watched that evolution first hand in my own home town with a pair of festivals. I’m proud that our ASHES OF EDEN movie will play first to the local Lansing audience. We used cast and crew from around the state of Michigan but it’s especially  nice that 3 Lansing area companies created this moving film. Often a lot of talk is centered on Detroit or the West side of the state but I think people will start to realize that right here in the heart of Michigan (LANSING) – talented artists exist. With ASHES OF EDEN, we’ve been given the great honor of closing the festival. You can follow here http://capitalcityfilmfest.com/info for updates. I know that we are working a deal for cast and crew and our sponsors to be given tickets but many family, friends and fans will want to know how/where they can buy tickets. That info will be coming to that festival site soon I would guess.

On the same day (April 13th) REALIZISM will play in the afternoon.

http://www.grfilmfestival.com/schedule/short-narrative-block/

REALIZISM, a cool short will a big message!  I truly LOVE my role in this film. It has me playing a touch comedic which is something I really enjoy. Mitch Nyberg directed the film and it is truly worth a watch if you are in Grand Rapids. If you want the double dose you can get in your car and drive to Lansing!

The interest in licensing films from the CDI library and our new arrivals is in full swing. I’ve had great talks last week with a few major TV networks. I can see the doors opening and that is good news for several of our products. You all will be getting many new announcements about our films playing in different territories, TV networks on various platforms. We just got word that the Afghanistan doc “Outside the Wire” is fully delivered for VOD and I will be announcing  where you can watch this powerful piece once I know.

Here is a current example from PR Newswire

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ups-two-week-celebration-of-easter-presents-the-greatest-stories-of-the-bible-251413651.html

BOOK OF RUTH, JOURNEY OF FAITH our hit biblical film is part of a BEST OF two-week showing of faith films with this Atlanta-based network. We might have some other exciting news forthcoming on the biblical film front. Look for some PR from us around Easter.

Also 180 degrees from this news – our Philippine based horror film “Darkest Night” releasing into Germany, Austria and Switzerland on March 28th, next week!

Our sales team is also working on some theatrical showcases that we will be announcing soon. This will basically be a once a week theatrical showcase that will go on for several months. We also have new reps in India and possibly the UK to help facilitate dealmaking in those territories.

“BESTSELLER” is about to start PHASE 2 of editing. This will be an intense polish with our director. I’m looking forward to getting you all a 1st look at a teaser here soon. I’ve got distributors begging for a 1st look on this film as well. I’m extremely happy with the 1st cut and so it is only going to get stronger.

“DONORS” the feature thriller starring Niki Saletta, Russ Clark and myself will have a premiere in May in Yuma, AZ. I will have more details on this in the coming weeks.

Aside from that – I’ve been putting the new desk to work on script writing. I just completed a film I was hired to write and what a joy that was. Another property of mine that’s been optioned by a studio – just paid their next tier option. (This is when a company pays increasing amounts of money for the exclusive rights to a property) They also reported pre-production is close at hand. You know this to be true when the option checks keep coming. Once in pre-production, a full purchase deal is executed, the film is assigned over and they move into production.

Following some of this success, I’m actually looking over the 20 or so scripts I’ve held back. I’m looking to see what films I can sell off. Basically, If I don’t see the script as an acting vehicle  I might as well sell it off to someone. So far this revisiting of script properties is turning into another good business venture. I’m in talks to pen another script as we speak. I’ll keep developing this avenue because I really do love writing.  My coffee, my imagination and I’m good to go. So if you are looking for a certain type of script or need something written or adapted – bring your check book and let’s talk.

OK. It’s about time for me to relax with a RED EYE (Look it up) and get ready to watch MSU! WE ARE SPARTANS! This is the part where I scream and kick someone in the face right into the pit of DOOM!

Have a great end to your weekend!

DJ