Coffee Cheers. I’m sipping a steaming cup of coffee and sitting here pondering the business from the past week. I’m a person who attacks things in private. You don’t or won’t find my nose stuck in a video game for hours. A five minute time out to play ROBOTRON or JOUST is an occasional occurrence. I fight everyday to gather the funds for new endeavors and to keep the business of all the other films moving forward. I’m feeling good about everything and had a few things happen this week that could be good lessons for whomever reads this.
First – CDI is not a company that pays just a few and seeks out free help in places that require highly skilled individuals. We hire as wide as we can afford which has been limited in the past few years. Increase in days expands costs across the board. We do things that others do not like lodging. Commuting when reasonable is okay but long trips on each side of a shoot day can burn someone out quick. Actors in the day before helps them to settle and focus before entering the ‘world’ we’ve created to film in. These are all costs. Over the years I’ve learned to simplify my life so that I could focus on the stories. Our money negotiated to the max with the help of many who love stories, including our sponsors, makes this possible.
Along these lines, we only can hire so many people. The producing staff often works much harder for less when and if hours are broken down. Often the effort is not worth it if the accumulation of shells and beads is the only measuring stick one has. Producers sport a point of two from the back end which is like a lottery ticket bought just in case the universe wants to reach out. It also is a badge of honor that they were part of a the “officers” who made the film happen. At CDI even an “associate producer” title is honored. Other outfits may throw around titles but at CDI is means something. For us at CDI is means representing the company. Attitude. Motivated. Experienced. As one who has coached here in the USA and overseas and as a martial arts sensei and still always a student – when someone is deemed ready they are approached. Filmmaking with tribeCDI is just that- a team, a community and a group of film warriors ready to problem solve daily to win the pieces of the puzzle.
My budgets restrict how many artists I can develop with a paycheck. Even the ones who would PA (Production assistant) free the costs are still additional with each person. We like to try and really feed people. I recall one set in Nashville in the 90’s that had a few loaves of white bread, a pack of lunch meat, mayo, mustard, ketchup and a stack of paper plates. This was for a large cast and crew. I ate it without any issues but I could see what certain actions did for a project. That one 15 min producer call that gets a sponsored meal from some great establishment is so worth it. My mind often is filled with ways to give our cast and crew a better experience. In return I just ask for their very best at their task on either side of the camera. The cast and crew can see the care and work we’ve put into our productions. Bottom line is we do care.
So in summary -I never once could demand to be on a team. I had to show my skills, develop my mind to the game and make them want me to start by my performance. In martial arts I focused on my skills and tried to effectively communicate to students below me. In time you become so valuable that they want you representing their tradition or organization. I see many lack the patience for many things of worth. It is a hard skill and one that I deal with still daily. Don’t let past failings or short-comings hold you back. That is your earned experience. Don’t be looking ahead too soon in hopes of being seen as more important. Be in the present. Be excited to learn the new lessons. Get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses. 2020 was a year to test that discipline and practice what I preach. Be present. Be patient. Become the best version of you.
Another example that provides me with a nice lesson to share is – When life gets you frustrated with all the external issues turn within. If I’m out-of-tune inside, everything I try to do fumbles. I don’t see the pokey dog bone which I kick. I can’t get a software to work right (I can’t get me to work right)…you all know what I mean. Meditation. Prayer. A nature walk. Thirty minutes on a heavy bag. Tai Chi – tend your inner fire. I DON’T HAVE TIME, some will scream. But you must or time will be wasted. Like in healing there is treating the symptoms and treating the source. Focus on that inner-fire and watch how everything starts to turn around. BALANCE is achieved and by stoking the fire of the internal the external starts to change. I’ve used all this solo time to really increase that fire stoking. Take 15 or 30 minutes to change your frequency and watch what happens.
BEST YEARS GONE – The second pass now with director Shane Hagedorn‘s refining is underway. A few notes we’re passed from the circle of co-producers to our director. I’m more inclined that maybe the first look should have came after the second pass where the director is now engaged. A rough cut is built from director notes and editor’s eye. Now a large % of my notes would be stuff that our director will address. After the director and editor do their cut I will give it another look. I look for mistakes but recognize subjective versus a mistake. I have to have confidence in my directors. Their own subjective choices play strongest – the too many cooks in the kitchen issue can exist. I’ve seen it happen but if I respect the boundaries, it sets a standard. Sometimes the closer the role is the farther I might want to be from nuisance choices in editing. That is why you take the time to match the right script to the right director. The writer and the director work through the story fully. Do not underestimate the pairing of the right story and the right director. It is a skill unto itself.
As the edit moves along we’ve made progress on upcoming merchandise and the Battle of the Bands! Exciting stuff. More stills are being batched to release. Our own Dan Chipman is working a BTS so our cast and crew can remember the crazy year of 2020. Our fellow producer and AD Nate Robertson also has a special video being worked on. We’ll be having a story/interview coming out on all that very soon. This movie is heartfelt and extremely funny. In my talks this week with our distributor I was told how much they all enjoy the humorous offsets CDI scripts have gotten known for. Meaning serious topics are discussed and when it gets a little uncomfortable it gives us humor. They used the end of the Wild Faith trailer with Ben Lily and Hester hoping they don’t need God’s help today. I was happy to report that BEST YEARS GONE will have humorous moments. Yeah. maybe a couple;)
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND I’m told has a new marketing campaign they are discussing. They want to get this film more into the mainstream. They feel it’s a great film that has a lot of play in it. The release was going to include theatrical and fest events but the Covid mucked that up a tad. But the film is being well received and has been seen by maybe a million of so people. It will find a much larger audience it just needs a bit more time.
THE QUEST TRILOGY is being treated as a series as it readies its run at Pureflix. I’m so proud of these films and I think general audiences will enjoy them. It’s a distilled down parable trying to remove all the white-noise and paint something where the dots are actually connected. Whatever your walk of life take a watch and I think you will find them vastly different from anything else you’ve watched/heard on this subject.
LOST HEART – If you want to read more on the actors from Lost Heart, see some BTS and read a few PR links please visit the new pages on http://www.cdiproductions.com – thank you David Gries. And if you still haven’t seen this film do yourself a favor. Have a laugh. Have a cry. It is truly a ray of light. Light? Strange lights in the sky? Watch the film and it will all make sense.
In wrapping this up – my week was spent doing end-of-he-year tax stuff for CDI and the films. Thank you to Dean Teaster, Melissa Anschutz, John Mashni and all the good folks at Davison & Associates. We also are working development hard. We only have a few final funding pieces to arrange on the WW2 film before full green light. We also have had more great talks on the Wild Faith spin off HASTINGS. Again it is not IF it is WHEN. We’ve been doing casting for our SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA German’s and our young lead. Are you 8-12 who plays young shoot me a reel it will get looked at. Speak fluent German? Send me a reel. We’ve been having internal casting talks and we’ll be announcing as soon as we move into pre-production. I’m also looking at portfolios for paint on glass or digital matte artists. Fun, fun stuff! Beautiful falling snow. Time for some more coffee. Have a great week.
Be good to one another!
The chilly fall has settled into Michigan making sipping coffee or hot cider even more enjoyable. Now is when I have to start thinking of the winter ahead. The stuff that will have to be put away and stored. The firewood for the coming snow. Even the change of clothes to heavier layers, is a normal process in Michigan. I think last week we discussed something which was the delay in shooting our next feature by a quarter. The funds are there and so many would want to rush to production, the fun part. But, we’re putting the icing on the cake for a wonderful distribution deal on WILD FAITH. It has been a touch slower since I’ve had the joy of working with the Hollywood agent system. But, in the end it will be worth it and will directly have an effect on the TV series. Upcoming 2019 will see the major organizing of the release and push on the series. We are planning to shoot in Michigan. Likely a series of shows shot in a tight production block. It’s new waters for me so I’m learning something new every day.
Tomorrow we’ll announce via PR our recent Crown Award and the Burbank International Film Fest win for ‘Best Faith Film’ and while I would have loved to have it gone against all the films – they work by genres. But WILD FAITH is just an accurate look at 1870’s life. As the screenwriter I did not add any overdue FAITH. People we’re just more living in tune with their faith during that time period. Life was more wooly and I think people had more life and death encounters be it disease, drought, famine, bear attacks – you get the point. I love the faith and inspirational themes. ROCKY being one of my favorite illustrations of that. On his way to the fight – the father priest throws down and few blessings. Yes. ROCKY could be a faith film and it would have surely won ‘Best Inspirational’ as I’ve seen it inspire masses and I’ve been inspired by that film. My point is, I’ve never set out to make a ‘Faith Film’ and I’ve never set out to not make a ‘Faith Film” – I’ve told a story. Characters in almost all stories are confronted by a situation that tests their faith thus the relatable conflict.
Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ must find her faith. Indiana Jones fights to keep his faith versus his scientific reasoning, Men vs shark in JAWS, puts faith out there to be chewed upon as a topic. I think every film made about mankind has faith woven into it. So, is it that the content must have X amount ‘faith’ in it? Judges in chairs that spin around and hit a button if your film has the required ‘faith’? I appreciate it mostly, the acceptance to our films. But because the story, characters, situations, lessons were all something that were touched upon. That shed a bit of light on our faults projected onto a screen, so we can better understand ourselves. Deep. I know. Occasionally, I feel quite grand with my profession, pride like a good woodworker, or any other artist. Mostly, I still feel like that kid, make believing with my neighborhood friends living out our own STRANGER THINGS life.
I’ve changed some in my screenwriting, I’ve noted. My earlier self was darker, heavier and nihilistic. My mom often questioning, why I kept dying in my films. Now, I’ve always had a funny, lighter side to my personality, ask anyone who really knows me. But, most of my writing came in my moments of solitary. Also writers in Michigan benefit from our long winters but the end result is often PSYCHO or THE SHINING writing in nature. Those previously mentioned films are two of my favorite for the season. Another side note: I do want to do another horror film but it has to be good. By good I mean story. Creating horror films in the handful of story formulas is like a rite of passage. The lovers of that genre cannibalize the artists with dastardly reviews. But meet them in person and they’ve always been very nice. Maybe because they saw you on camera foaming at the mouth and swinging an axe. Anyway, I was saying that I enjoy the laughter and smiles. I recall many showings of WICKED SPRING whereas people wept in the theater. We did that with our story. But I see so much negativity and anxiety with people not coping to our new world. A world where we’re more communication-connected than ever before BUT we’re not. FRIENDS have a new definition thanks to FACEBOOK but my definition stays the same. I want to be part of making people think, smile, laugh and still occasionally cry, if that comes with an enlightenment.
The ‘Faith Film’ anti-goodhousekeeping seal of quality is being shattered as more storytellers (without labels) are returning to tell stories that their grandmother, mothers and fathers would enjoy. Ben Hur (The Original) and Ten Commandments (The Classics) were always on TV when we had our family Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter gatherings. There are great organizations that are rising to recognize and award this kind of content. I always worry about censorship, we can choose to watch what we want. But if a demand is there, look at the rise in METV, Heroes & Icons, and the rise of the faith market. People are casting their votes with their rentals and purchases. I feel most honored by the online communications from viewers having powerful emotions invoked from our stories. It is a dream to have holidays where the films play and families bond over a watch. My goal is to make a few classics. All of them might not make it but we’ll give our ‘best effort’ every time.
I was reminded yesterday when inquiring about a director whom a close associate had worked with – their last film isn’t done. It hasn’t been completed in a matter of several years. As an actor, I’ve got two films shot in recent years, one a co-starring role, not finished. I’ve got a call, meeting, catch up with a director friend who’s trying to finish one of two projects we did together in the very distant past. It bothers me occasionally talking someone’s new project(s) when those people have loose strings to tie up. There are many films about that don’t interest me as a viewer, but I always tip my hat to finishing. Finishing is a skill needed in this industry, without it, suffering. But it sounds like my old friend is trying to finish, so that’s a good thing.
This week I finished my first solid draft on our next script with BMG entitled LOST HEART. In meetings with our distributor, they really liked a concept made easier that I had written something in the same vein. But I wanted to apply some of the growth I had made mentioned above. Same log line but different script. I had a wonderful time creating this story and it became so alive with characters and a world, other’s will long to visit. Jeff Kennedy and I, my partner in CDI, semi-retired – always had that as a goal. To create a world and invite people inside it. The CDI first five – really helped hone this craft. You have to BELIEVE in the world. Another 2019 goal is to get Jeff Kennedy back into a director’s chair. I have a few good ideas but they will require a good pow wow or two.
MBF has been in editing. They shot a few pick up establishing shots and transitions this week. Always good to do this once you get into the edit and really see what could be added. This film I’m so proud of. It showcases and pleads for better treatment of our war vets and dogs, that can heal us. We continue to release official stills from this film. For now the spotlight is given to…
THE CHRIST SLAYER!
Find our social media site on Facebook – lots of updates.
Part 3 has a bold name. But the title has a meaning that audiences will discover, maybe not what they thought. I’m excited to say that Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy is coming all together. I watched a recent 5k work flow version with 98% VFX. Color Correction and conforming still lie ahead. ADR, music and sound design are steadily under construction. I’ve been working with the distributor and their marketing team as we prepare for release in early 2019. I was really happy with the story, smiling throughout. I love watching artists friends give moving performances. That’s what we want deep down. To captivate and transfer that emotion via story. This will be an exciting watch and so again, catch up – parts 1 (FORTY NIGHTS) & 2 (CHASING THE STAR) on Pureflix, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Christian Cinema, Parables TV….and so on. To our cast and crew, it will be worth the wait.
Okay, time for a pumpkin spice english muffin and another coffee.
Have a great Sunday!
A beautiful morning it has been to kick off 2017. The sun is shining and the coffee is flowing and we just had a modest meal of bacon and eggs. Last night we rang in the new year with some family. I got to share some samples of white whiskey made by wonderful traditional distillers. Also a touch of Sanctuary Spirits HOP TONIC and a few crafty beers. Shepherd’s Pie made sure to soak up most of the bite from the libations. We just stepped outside into the glorious sunshine that is radiating. The dogs played a bit and we reminded ourselves here in Michigan what the sun looked like. Yesterday I completed some organizing getting ready for the new year. Let’s look at a few of the final developments in our film work.
The ACTOR was represented by Adler Ent. and I’m told they will have some news very soon about where this cool NYC based drama can be seen.
I still do not have any updates on DEAD QUIET – things have been dead quiet about the status of this film:) Maybe 2017 will be the year.
WILD FAITH is in editing and on the social media Facebook site we’ll start releasing some actual STILLS from the movie versus behind-the-scenes. We’ll be closing in on a first cut in the weeks to come. The interest is there in a series so those materials will be developed. I will be looking for more key crew members should this series start to take shape. So AD’s, coordinators and other such keys feel free to start sending me a resume to have on file to firstname.lastname@example.org – also if you’ve worked with any of our other crew members please note that. The feature will be done this summer and start showings this fall.
The QUEST TRILOGY
This amazing set of stories starting with FORTY NIGHTS will be releasing this year with our new partners at BMG. The release for FORTY NIGHTS will be around Easter 2017. Look for new artwork and the film is getting a remastering before the new release.
CHASING THE STAR the second film in the trilogy released a powerful trailer at the end of the year. The film is close to be done as we move into credits, color correction and complete the VFX work. We’ll be doing some event showings leading up to the Sept 2017 general release. I’ve seen this film at various stages and I’m excited for us to share this story.
THE CHRIST SLAYER is the third film and as we speak the business paperwork is being pulled together. We’re going to once again travel to AZ in March to film this final chapter. We’ve settled on our director and we start story meetings on Tuesday. We’ll be doing a PR announcement this coming week once they have their bio materials around. We’re looking for a few crew members to fill in on this film and if you are an actor we’ll be doing a casting call soon. West coast talent is actually better on this film due to limited flight budget. We also might be announcing a few cast members soon since we’ve been casting internally for a year plus. I’m really excited about filming this third piece of the story. It should release around Easter 2018.
We’ll be looking ahead at other projects in development. Change in the new year can come from changing old patterns, especially patterns that have had negative consequences. Last year we had many positive things happening and I can only hope to build off those advances. We have a wonderful team of artists and I’m looking forward to creating with them again in the new year.
Happy New Year to all of you!
I’m relaxing after a long couple days of Christmas festivities with family and friends. In a few short hours we’ll watch the good ole Detroit Lions (wearing my new shirt) and see if they can change their long history of losing the big games. The best gift of the season has been our youngest furry son (DOG) is doing good with an illness that has been present for a good part of the year. He still has a way to go in his recovery but he’s doing great and I could not be happier. We had a white Christmas despite the warmth today that has stolen most of our snow. I was trying to ease into holiday fun while also staying focused on the last of the 2016 business endeavors. It has been wonderful to recount all our blessings of 2016 and I hope 2017 will create more happy memories. I feel blessed to have gotten to enjoy the year and this holiday season with my loved ones. I hope you all took that opportunity also.
Film Updates –
The Quest Trilogy
The PR will roll out soon, we’ve finalized our new deal on “40 Nights” which will get a new release push around Easter 2017. I’m beyond thrilled to be entering this new phase with this impactful film.
We started working the new deal on the second film, “Chasing the Star” and we should should have that film complete in Jan/Feb of 2017. That will be followed by premieres and theatrical showings before a Sept. of 2017 national release to DVD/Digital.
“The Christ Slayer” – As we prepare the business behind the third film in The Quest Trilogy, I’m happy to say that we just might have found our creative leader. Once our intent to do business is complete we’ll be announcing this amazing individual. With the holiday season at hand I’ve enjoyed getting into the head space for returning to the upcoming role of Jesus.
The editing is coming along great with 50+ scenes rough cut together. New poster and trailer development will become a priority in the new year. We’ll start sharing STILL PHOTOS vs just behind the scenes. I’m excited about this film and things are looking promising for an ongoing series.
I did get a nice update on C.U.J.O. from the studio and once I can share more on this film I will. Beyond the March shoot of “The Christ Slayer” I’m keeping myself open to the right roles. I have a few projects I’m interested in developing. I’ve been getting back into a nice writing schedule also which is a great outlet. Enjoy the week ahead and prepare yourself for 2017.
Be good to one another and see you next year!
I’m sipping on the coffee, still no personal sponsor but World Market has a great selection. Yesterday was the first actual snow for Michigan. The day prior it was tee-shirt weather and it’s now like 22 degrees and windy. The local SILVER BELLS parade got dumped on by pouring rain and blowing winds. I think the harsh weather is upon us but we Michiganders are prepared.
This week was full of meetings and exchanges that are setting the stage for the years ahead. We are looking at the slate of projects at CDI moving past “The Christ Slayer” the third film in THE QUEST TRILOGY.
I also have returned to my screenplay writing a bit each day. I find it relaxing and a nice escape from accounting and legalese. Unless on a paid schedule I usually write on whatever I feel at the moment. I think that the screenwriting will continue to develop as more people/companies are starting to take notice. I have scripts to finish but I also have had a few great ideas as of late for films I want to write. Winter in Michigan is great for writing as anyone who does it can tell you. I usually write late at night or early am upon waking. And people who ask me for advice on writing, the best answer is to write. Don’t worry about it being good, bad or ugly at first just get in the habit of putting it down on paper. Have you met the people who say, “It’s all up here” – pointing to their head. That doesn’t work good for keeping a team of people on the same page. I know many people who “wing it” without or with a partial script and 9 of 10 times you can fully tell. I’ve seen people beaming as they addressed a room full of people, bragging of making it up as they went. After watching the film, I would not brag. Worst yet is highlighting their own lack of understanding on what tilts the odds in your favor of finishing with a story that fits together like good craftsmanship. There is a reason strong screenwriters are sought after. And actors know the challenge of working with badly written dialog. Tis the season to write, so write:)
“Wild Faith” is in editing and we’ve been sharing several behind the scenes photos each week. Soon we will start releasing FIRST STILLS from the film showing you the final product. I think we captured something very exciting and the chances of a spin-off tv series is good. We’re about to shoot our one pick up day that flashes back to the Civil War. It will be a gritty, cold day and I think it will be perfect for our story. So many people have been involved in this film and it makes me happy to see a community come together over such a beautiful story.
We’ll soon be announcing the next phase of the deal. This month our investors are seeing their first returns. Once negotiations are concluded and the ink is dry I will happily announce what’s next for this film. I’m excited because as our first film in THE QUEST TRILOGY prepares to shift into second gear the second film…
Chasing the Star – is moving towards the finish line. The excited talks this week with our director (Bret Miller) and composer (Dennis Therrian) made me smile. Friday Bret and I shared conversation about what this film could bring the world audiences. I think that after watching this amazing journey on-screen people will have a new idea of the three wise men. If you’re jumping up, raising your hand saying, “I’ve had that shot” – prepare to have new light shed upon these three characters. Get ready to meet the wise men soon – more than just three statues in a nativity scene.
The Christ Slayer – we’ve been starting to look at locations and targeting casting of certain roles. The plan is to shoot again in AZ come Spring. It’s a beautiful story that will book end our trilogy nicely. The business for this film is gearing up now.
2017 lies ahead and that will mean good things for several of our properties. The end-of-the- year work has begun and all good so far. It is that BIZ part of SHOWBIZ that we’ve talked on often. Well, I’m going to get on with my day. I again appreciate all of you who stopped by to share a few moments reading of our endeavors.