The hazelnut coffee taste so good on this chilly Sunday morning. We got a record setting 13 inches when the snow storm came through. We might get a bit more later in the day. I for one love the beauty of the snow but I’m ready to move on to Spring. We had a “Viking” day chopping wood to keep the wood stove roaring. I’m excited to implement many new improvements to the property this year. Our moving of veggies and herbs to raised beds and turning the garden into chicken land has been fun. They are fun to watch like little Dinosaurs.
I want to say that everyday that I read about someones untimely passing it reminds me to love what I’m doing and the people I’m doing it with. That is professionally and personally. I know friends and family that have lost pets, parents, grandchildren and even one past film peer was announced to have passed away. I was not extremely close with him but exchanged communications over the years when either of us has a new success. The sad thing about the last mentioned loss was that it may have happened by their own infliction. I’ve had a few friends over the years that fight real mental battles with themselves. I think on some levels we all do but some cope poorly where others eventually find their way out of the forest.
I’ve had dark days in my past whereas my parents divorced after 30 years putting me in the middle and my acting career was struggling. Michigan’s film scene in the late 80’s and into the 90’s was lacking. I see folks complaining about a lack of opportunities today and chuckle. Today is like a sea of opportunity versus the 90’s. Also post tax incentives the term filmmaker became legit to the common everyday person. Much of my darkness was knowing what I wanted but not having any guides or mentors in that field. My dearest mentor, my father, was rightfully concerned. I had essentially came home and told my father I was going to be an astronaut. Again something made more realistic thanks to the billionaire space race. But he knew how easy life could be if I took the easier road, the practical road. His concerns came after several years yielded very little, in his mind. Failure can affect people different.
A certain amount of punishment and failure can break some and force them into a secondary or pie-life. Pie-Life is when you work X amount of the pie to earn shells and beads ($) so you can freely enjoy the remaining part of the pie, your life. A few years in the real world and most have sufficiently built a standard of living prison around them that forces them to stay the course with the survival job, pie-life. For others of us that have “it” (passion) bad and refuse to let go no matter how much rough ground they’re dragged over. I felt like Indiana Jones being dragged behind that Nazi truck hauling the ark. (Raiders of the Lost Ark) I climbed hand over hand up the whip, climbed on the truck’s bumper, over the side, kick in the doors, punch and throw the driver out and took over the truck. BAM!
If someone can do something else occupational and be happy living the ‘pie life’ or even something close to contentment, do it. But if you are stricken with that passion that will not leave you, embrace it. By that I mean stop being half-ass and whining and do those things you were afraid to try. Pull your confidence, self-worth and inner fire from your own personal well and don’t just try to pull energy from people. When people feel your personal geothermal-like creative energy, they will be drawn. People who draw energy from the masses is a slave to the masses. Now artists create for the masses but often to show a perspective. Life is all about perspective and perception. What we perceive can be seen via positive or negative filters. A failure might be seen as negative but in deductive reasoning it can be a positive. An elusive goal might have just been made easier to obtain as certain roads are found to be dead-ends. No more time wasted or spent. Although some will get caught in that loop, beware.
So the negative of loss that I see each day ever since we’ve all become so much more inter connected as a society, can be a positive fuel to live and pursue dreams and goals. I’m so proud of one of my associates who set out to write and take a few children’s books to market and he has. Tomorrow isn’t promised. A beautiful and haunting statement. Life is a mysterious and short phase of existence and so I would ask that those out there questioning, stay the course. Ride life and learn whatever lessons you can but best of all is learn to be the best you. I’ve said this before, the path to your dreams sometimes lies in helping others with theirs. I know some people will say I’ve helped their journey immensely and others will say, I have not. The truth is you can’t help everyone. You can inspire by your actions to pass it on. I’ve had mentors and I try to mentor. But I come from that martial arts background and sports. To take valuable time from some teachers you have to be prepared and focused, ready to learn. You can apply that lesson to teachers in school. Respect that they are there to try and teach you.
Let’s bring this around to movies, my favorite medium. It also includes some of my favorite artists, filmmakers. Last week we were treated to the announcement that BEST YEARS GONE was multi-nominated and won a few awards. The biggest award being BEST PICTURE which is great because it embodies the collective effort.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is soundly in post. A BTS (behind the scenes) video is being worked on and the first look teaser is being outlined. Meanwhile the feature is being cut with the first rough being done by mid March. We’ll keep rolling out some new photos while we wait for these first videos.
HOT ROD LOVE is the next CDI picture and we’re looking to prep in May and shoot in June. It’s a heartfelt comedy that has many classic 70’s and 80’s influences. We’re putting our investor/sponsor presentation materials together, but the truly exciting news coming this week is the announcement of a director and Dir of Photography- Mr. Shane Hagedorn and Travis Hayward. This re-teaming is building on the previous chemistry of BEST YEARS GONE, coming to home video starting in June. Our #1 goal with BEST YEARS GONE was to have fun filming. The Covid lockdowns had beaten everyone down and the humor and fun making the film translated to the final product. That laughter is the big take away from the theatrical playdates thus far. The world needs more laughter right now.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – More great discussions on this TV series spin off. I have follow ups first thing this coming week. It is going to happen, I’m just trying to follow the best road to production that keeps the integrity intact. Have you seen the feature WILD FAITH? Take a watch. Leave a review on imdb.com or the film’s amazon page and let us know if a sequel interests you. I love the idea of how many folks will be involved should the tv series happen.
The WEEK ahead-
This week is wrapping up end-of-year tax materials for the films. I actually got almost all my personal tax stuff around. This year has been quite smooth so far thanks to our amazing team. I’ve also been keeping my daily screenwriting happening. I’m deep into another comedy script from a treatment I’ve been bouncing around for years. I’ve got my next work-for-hire script/production coming up. It is an adaptation from a book, which I’ve almost finished. I’m really excited about the time period and the storyline. One other work-for-hire script/production is in discussion. Everything in their own time. But I find these cold days are the best for screenwriting.
Last week we talking about video game development and more which haven’t advanced too much in the past week. I got buried in numbers for a few days. But several projects including animation and a music video are in development. It is a busy time but as we discussed prior, get doing- if that is your calling. I have lots to work out in the coming weeks as we’re also in some serious production talks that could be a multi-year commitment. I laugh, because it’s all really a multi-year, lifetime commitment. It’s all a process to try and streamline funding and production. Balance. It’s all about balance. I’m going to bring this to a close. I have some writing to attend to and a few things to do around the homestead.
Be good to one another and coffee cheers.
Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
It is a peaceful Sunday morning and I’m sipping the ole hazelnut coffee and about to give some updates on our film endeavors. First, I want to note the earthquakes that are hitting multiple areas around the globe. Also with the new wildfires erupting in the N.C. mountains. I hope my friends there stay safe. Earthquakes and wildfires and that could also describe the political shake up here in the USA. I’m not a politician and as a storyteller I want to enrich the lives of all people. My only note as of late is I’ve never seen positive communication between parties when the volume becomes LOUD and the EMOTION sets in. Ears close and frustration mounts as people feel unheard. Talking is always better than yelling. Trying to hear both sides and seek compromise will always beat out yelling in someones face. I think a majority of people who felt unheard just went silent and let their vote speak. Also as a former soccer coach I’ve noted that many people do not know how to lose. I saw a climate of “everyone wins” grow over the years and many of us know that is seldom the case. Now I’ve had immense amount of set back in my life and I try to waste as little energy as possible on things I cannot change. I try to accept situations and make solid moves from that stance. I hope that the divide which is now more in the open creates good communication, understanding and compromise. Time will tell.
The Quest Trilogy
I hinted at a deal that is going done to take these films and other CDI properties to the next level of distribution and production. We have our first paperwork and are reviewing. I plan to put pen to paper this forthcoming week. I’ve been also prepping the other projects for presentation.
40 Nights – the beautiful comments continue and the new marketing teams will start work to prep for the new 2017 release push. I cannot discuss this too much until we have concluded the deal.
Chasing the Star – we’re entering the final phase of post-production. The first look trailer is being polished up and will be released soon. Audiences will be in for a great journey with this second film in our trilogy.
The Christ Slayer – this film is now moving into active development. We’ll be announcing new developments on IMDB.com and via new PR releases. I will be returning to my role as Jesus in this film. I look forward to completing the trilogy with this heart-moving, thought-provoking film.
Wild Faith – the editing is underway and approaching the half way point. We’re also prepping for one last pick up day that will be flashbacks of our main character. It is a return to shooting some Civil War footage and so fans of “Wicked Spring” will be happy.
I plan to roll out several of the classic CDI films from the library but I’m holding while we work out this new deal. But I assure you we will see several of the films re-release. Some will see their 1st Blu-Ray or streaming/digital deals.
I’ve had several people ask howe they can be considered for CDI films. The first thing I always say is get that showcase reel together. GAME FOOTAGE. On the CDI site http://www.cdiproductions.com we do post what we’re currently seeking. We do sometimes use IMDB Casting, Backstage or other casting notices but as a company of actor/producers we keep our eyes and ears open. When new talent is found that fits – they are brought into the discussion. Also if you’ve worked with CDI with no issue that puts you to the front of the list for consideration. I’ve talked about being ready for opportunity in past blogs but it is important. If you work a day job get one with flexibility. I use to live, and still do, quite conservative. I don’t spend money I don’t have on flash. I try to stay on top of my personal so when duty calls I can transition into business as needed.
I did have one good conversation with an actor aspiring to produce at a certain level. I gave my honest advice which essential was about taking steps. If you’ve only done 5k shorts what experience says you’re ready to manage 2 million dollars? If you’ve never done the 50k or 500k project you’ve missed so many lessons. I liken it to the martial arts whereas you learn in phases. Nobody jumps belts or degrees without learning the lessons at each new phase. I don’t see where people in film think that is a good idea. And if you lack that experience it is easy for outsiders to run amuck with your project. And team building is so important. One bad “player” can damage/kill a project so the team is so very important. If you can make a solid 50k film you will be in better shape to do that 75-100k film. The learning curve is so very important. So if a project, passion or not is too big for you – set it aside and do something smaller. BUILD.
I’m going to go do a few things in the yard to stay ahead of the snow which will find us. Embrace the differences amongst us and communicate calmly. Less shouting. More listening. Smile. Work towards real change. I will keep influencing people with a story. A STORY can change the world.
Be good to one another.
This is coming the morning after my usual Saturday postings. The delay started with the MSU game here and continued with a few friends watching TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL – cool Halloween flick. So, you’re getting a first thing Sunday morning update. Another thing to note is the large audience I have here for my blog – Australia topped the list of readers this week. I will have to make extra efforts to get more film product there. It would be great to go film over there at some point
By the end of this week I was tired of calls, meetings, emails, proposals and breakdowns. Besides the post work we’re getting ready to launch into CHASING THE STAR our second biblical era film. We’ve been interviewing directors and looking at reels from west coast talent. You want to find that person who has that right blend of experience and passion. Not just a willingness to try but succeed and improve upon our last endeavor. That is always the overall goal to streamline and make the process flow while learning as we go.
I don’t have any deep insights this week. This past week like all weeks are always full of disappointments and also exciting possibility. The disappointment is often in the actions of people. The exciting possibilities also come from the actions of people.
POSITIVE COMMUNICATION! Choose positive approaches to problems and always treat people with respect. Do you know what you get in return? Respect. Such a basic thing but I see people put their own foot in their mouth time after time. They often think they are being passive-aggressive clever but really they paint a sad picture of their personal security and identity. I’ve had people that I’ve watched – speak aloof with little to nothing to truly back it up. Those situations will often bring those individuals face-to-face with future hard realities. That reality is that it takes a team and if respect is lacking – like in sports – they will trade you. You cannot thrive in team environments without respect. I’ve experienced so many people with a wide range of ego. I’ve seen some people evolve into very successful careers while others go one and done on feature films. The universe has away of self balancing itself and things will fall as they should. Be positive. Be kind. Respect others. Your chance at success will be greatly increased.
40 NIGHTS – We’re chugging down the line. This week we will be promoting the page on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website that allows you to sign up for your organizations interest in a theatrical showing. We will be announcing another company partnering with us from Michigan on this project so stay tuned.
BESTSELLER – Looking forward to the Nov. 1st showing in Owosso, MI and I think the film will also be playing in Grayling, MI this year. We’re still trying to set a few Detroit area dates.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just had two showings in Grand Ledge, MI at the Sun Theater and I hope this week we can announce some good news about TV play.
AN ORDINARY KILLER is the film up next for our Sanctuary Spirits mixer Nov 19th with our friends at Red, White and Blue. This based on a true story of amazing detective work that led to the capture of a serial killer at 28 years. Please join us if you are able.
KNIGHT CHILLS our 1st CDI venture is getting a re-release with the new book that will be available both electronically and hard cover. We’re also still in active development on the sequel film.
This has been just a hard grinding week that gave us small moves on the board but important moves. I’m looking for another highly productive week. I was put on notice of another version of the C.U.J.O. script coming my way. It sounds like they are getting closer to setting shoot dates in 2016. I’m not going to lie – I’m getting to that point where I would love to create a character but I’ve just focused that energy on my script writing and wrapping up this end-of-the-year business.
Enjoy the remaining amount of weekend and have a productive week. I’m back to the hazelnut coffee and going to get a few things done.
Until next time!