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

Posts tagged “state

Advanced News on MBF, Wild Faith and Others

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As promised, I’m here with my trusty coffee beside me. The hurricane is now hitting the tip of Florida. I think every one of us have family, friends or associates in the state. As I stated before, as dangerous as the crisis is at least I see Americans helping one another versus throwing their anger. You know how you defeat hate? By doing acts of love, compassion and caring. I know it’s just starting so I hope that the people who remained can safely ride out the storm.

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Today my mind is on the first of our soccer playoff games. May the force be with us:) My alumni school Michigan State University had a good showing yesterday. My brown furry buddy Luke is doing much better and on the mend after a good check up. Another week and they might start to reduce his meds if all stays strong. The office siding is now all up and only the rafters to cover. This week ‘Ida’s Wine’ will likely go to bottle and will be a nice holiday treat. I will also be harvesting the hops either today or tomorrow. So my day-to-day has been productive but let’s look at film.

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FILM UPDATES

I’m happy to report we finally have agreed upon our first “Wild Faith” poster. Once they polish that up we’ll roll it out to all of you. I’ll be getting an update on the music this week and that really leaves only the VFX to finish.

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“Chasing the Star” is making its way out to audiences. I’ve started to get some really nice communications about the film. The best way you can express your gratitude is to VOTE and REVIEW on IMDB.com  and whatever retail site you used. EXAMPLE: Amazon, Christian Cinema…

NICE REVIEWS (FEEL FREE TO SHARE)
DOVE FAMILY SEAL OF APPROVAL
My Favorite Review to Date from Bible Blog

As THE QUEST TRILOGY gains awareness people are also looking back to FORTY NIGHTS and ahead to THE CHRIST SLAYER. Watching the trailer with all three films is really quite humbling. It represents story ideas that formed in my head and was brought to life by a small army of artists. Please take a look –

This trilogy of films has increased my confidence to tackle another trilogy that is in development. Also the TV series behind “Wild Faith” which I’m in talks on.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend)

Our foundation business is in place and our targeting of cast and locations is almost done. This next film by CDI is one of my scripts and really touches upon some very important themes. We have many military folks involved and with military vet treatment highlighted we’re proud to have them involved. Additionally shelter dogs and the plight of many of them is our other major theme. I’m going to be pushing hard to get our investor commits these next couple weeks so we can hit our window this fall to shoot. I’m most excited because I think I have found the core of my character in the film. He’s a wounded warrior and I have been studying brain/nerve injury. You also know you represent the actual soldiers but unlike “Wicked Spring” (Our Civil War film re-releasing in 2018) those soldiers are still with us. But I put down three sketch reads and I was actually moved emotionally. It is a very vulnerable character and I like it when I’m a touch afraid to tackle a role. Trust me – I was afraid at the beginning stages of “Forty Nights” playing Jesus. So I think I’ve found the heart of the character and I also think audiences will feel for him. I’m excited that Jesse Aragon looks as if he will once again join us as our talented Director of Photography. We’ll be announcing our director this week and from there collecting LOI’s from talent and announcing them. The decisions have been hard as we’ve seen some wonderful performances. Stay tuned for many more exciting developments.

Thank you for your time and I hope everyone has a productive week.

DJ

 

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Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ

 


Crowd Funding Space Stations & Clowns Killing Our Industry

I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee before starting my day. I will be up North without my computer tomorrow and so I thought I would write my weekly blog update in advance. I want to thank all those who follow the blog on here from 13 countries. I enjoy using this as a way to praise, inform, vent and offer insights to our entertainment industry. The lessons discussed can be used in various industries but I speak about what I know best. Let see where to begin…

MEDIA

Let’s talk about our local entertainment media, not all, but some of them. I find it absolutely crazy that some projects get immense spot light when they have no chance of launching. You don’t see someone wanting to open a new steak house begging for donations so they can first buy the building (For 175k) and after that beg for an additional million plus dollars to put the… (business?) (venture?) I’m not even sure what to call it so let’s call it a pipe dream, in motion. This approach is so unreasonable. Since when is a begging venture worthy  of being spotlighted in the media? Sadly  that defines what is happening in our area. With so many newsworthy projects due attention someone deemed a begging project, that won’t even achieve the 1st goal, worthy. Thankfully I saw  that this project doesn’t take any money if it can’t raise all of it. It only has a few days left and is not even close. But why was this even attempted? Did these people honestly think that they would be successful? No accountability to perform. Unreasonable budget. No real track record. I had a better chance of digging up Templar buried treasure in my back yard. Despite that some media got behind it as did various industry people. It must have been on the off-chance it succeeded those people might get considered for work. It makes those people look as film uneducated as those trying to do something way beyond their reach. Are all these folks just playing ass kiss –  being too afraid to just speak it plain? If you’re factoring business logic into it all – it’s no different from community theater. As I’ve said, there is a time and place for that but these people are in hopes that someone will plop down hundreds of thousands of dollars on a whim. When was the last time someone wanted to do Shakespeare at the local theater raised a hundred thousand dollars plus for their show? Exactly.

I’m so thankful that a handful of filmmakers in the area are doing good business! Real honest to goodness film business. I hope these filmmakers help define us as a film community. Because anyone in the business who reads an article like I read will just shake their head with disbelief –  “Ah silly little Michigan wanna be filmmakers.” This is what others do say about us when they read that nonsense. I’ve fought almost two decades against the backwoods mentality people assign to Michigan filmmakers. I feel proud when I see “Gods Not Dead” or any of the distributed films from a small handful of filmmakers. But as for the media – I ask you to embrace these projects that celebrate good art within a business framework. These projects with good management & business plans have earned the right to be recognized. But don’t support silliness.

I swear I am going to start a social funding campaign to do something crazy like build a space station or beg for someone to support me financially so I can try to earn a place on the Olympic soccer team at forty plus years old. I mean if I posted campaign people would say, “Come on DJ” or “That’s unreasonable” –  BUT raising a million plus dollars by begging – sure SUPPORT. LIKE. SHARE. Please…if you can do that UNICEF, The Red Cross or any number of legit organizations would love to have you as a fundraiser. Now nothing personal as I don’t know most of these people and they likely would not appreciate my honesty BUT I would be the one person truly giving them helpful information. Or I could just LIKE something and once the time expires and the campaign fails I’m still just fine. Just a small waste of my time and credibility supporting something that was never going to happen. But when this happens we as a community are not fine. We are just that much more a joke to certain professional circles who are really working in the career field. And people ask why my production circles consist mostly of business-art doers from all over the world and not just from my local area. There is your answer.

LEADERSHIP

I got a good response a few days ago because of a posting about clowns needing to get out of our business. Now many the people I mentioned above are NOT clowns but just misguided artists but we also do have our fair share of clowns. One popped up for a second this week on a project only to spout some nonsense in a voice mail and unfortunately remind us that you are still around. Investors must VET out your management staff. Let’s say that you actually have a business plan. You get investors to back your film plan. You seek out experience to help assure your project is successful but instead you hire a fast talking joker. The blame goes both ways with BUYER BEWARE. I always say, 2 weeks of vetting can save two years of litigation. Now this person doesn’t deserve any communication save from the legal department. This clown is just lucky he wasn’t sued for major damages. In my opinion he should stay under his rock and hope nobody comes after him.

Why DJ are you so unhappy about this? Good question –

If you actually have a person or group that would like to see a film made (maybe the first of many) and they get burned…what happens?  Right. That well dries up and furthermore at every gathering of those with income to invest – IF film investment comes up – likely the response will be A) Stay away from film investment B) Hire someone outside the state because locals are not experienced. So you can see how one film screw up can have a run down effect on your (You aspiring filmmakers) projects. Still those hindered by these screw ups in our area will still endorse, LIKE and accept every move some of these folks make. It reminds me of a saying about SHI#@%# where you sleep. So when there is a lack of work in your region you can partially thank those who helped ruin it. You can’t blame everything on film incentives. Being positive, professional, passionate, hard-working people who turn out good product is what will bring more work to the area.

BACK ON TRACK

Let’s get back to talking about actual business. “Ashes of Eden” finished its 1st theatrical run and we will soon be announcing more theatrical play dates. We also are entering into domestic (US/Canada) talks and I can say we are targeting 1st quarter 2015. Look for additional theatrical and TV play prior to that national release.

“Bestseller” is about to enter medium GRIT editing. If you’ve ever polished rocks you know you have ROUGH, MEDIUM, FINE and POLISH. That pretty much sums up editing work. We’ve captured our required puzzle pieces and now the Medium edit begins. Test audience after that followed by a fine edit. Lastly, we polish up with color correction/CGI and such. It is going to be a very suspenseful film. This film rose above the initial issues and will be the first of a series of great films.

Music work on “The Terrorist” is underway and sounding great from my talks with director Jon Osman.

In talks with a few foreign territories on “Donors” so stay tuned…

Our recent development talks have gone great on at least one project that could have us filming at year’s end. I’ve also been in talks to possible play the bad guy in a Mad Max like film. We will see. Overall I’m just really enjoying working around here on post work, wine making, office organizing and such. I don’t work to just work – it has to be the right project and with the right people. Speaking of such – the yard/garden is looking good and I’ve got to prepare for my short trip North. An old-school soccer buddy will be getting hitched next month and the posse of amigos will be off to a cabin for a few. I do have another soccer match on Sunday so I will be back to do battle.

Have a great weekend and week ahead.

DJ