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.
Today I’m getting a touch later start to my blog because we went out to the flea market. It is great when character building for a role. I seek little things that the character might carry. The items may never show on screen but that trinket pocketknife or lucky coin can add a lot.
We’ve had a few nice days that are more summer-like versus winter-like but today is suppose to be rain storms. It was a busy week in the film business while the background noise was upset GOT fans. Not all of them but some of them. This business of petitions to re-write or re-shoot films or seasons is just silly. I use to think I was reading The Old News Boy or The Onion, both of which are comedic news. Fact is funnier than fiction in some off these cases. I say, don’t watch something if you don’t like it. Raise money behind a script and tell your own story. I personally have really enjoyed this season of GOT. I also really have enjoyed the newest Star Wars installments. I did not like the prequels, so I don’t watch them. I don’t discuss them. They are just…not worth the energy. If not your cup of tea, move on. But so many have been brought sheltered from the world. A world where opposing priorities can exist without anyone being wrong. Those conditioned to getting their own way are having huge issues coping with disappointment or things out of their control. Adult tantrums that result is little change and lots of anxiety. I’ve seen it in people and in their desperate outcries. I’m “offended” by lots of this but I choose to just ignore it. I don’t give it any power over me. If I don’t like certain music it doesn’t find my ears. I don’t read books I don’t like. I don’t watch films that don’t interest me. If I don’t like social media spewing or whining, I scroll on, or disassociate myself with it. People tend to trigger themselves. It goes against the basic goal of KNOW THYSELF. As with any artists – he or she that earns the right to tell the stories via hard work and business.
Now some people take on the anxiety of trying to change things like – SAVE THE RHINOS or CLEAN WATER – all good. But spending time to change other artists art is well…silly. Wasted time. So instead of trying to put a square peg in a circular hole – just find your square. Violence offends you – don’t watch it. Too sexy offends you – don’t watch it. Unhappy endings ruining your week – watch something else. Take care of YOU. Watch your world improve as you take care of you. As you stop triggering yourself and trying to change what others enjoy – happiness might follow.
OK. Onto some film updates?
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I’m not sure how much I covered this in last week’s post but I’ll explain. Our distributor for our family/faith content BMG partners with myCinema on select films. With THE CHRIST SLAYER and WILD FAITH the home video was already in place and the theatrical had to dance around those dates. Now with MBF they can set the theatrical and follow with the home video set up. I’m happy to say that upon review of our work-in-progress, myCinema will be rolling out MBF. I think this film with themes of military and adoption dogs will play well to audiences nationally. I also got to watch the film with first passes of sound design done. It is looking and sounding great and the theatrical company thought so too.
WILD FAITH – If you find our Facebook page, we’ve been updating with pre-order DVD retailers. Right now you can digital purchase the film from Amazon. On June 24th you can digital rent and July is the DVD release. If you’ve seen the film and enjoyed it please share a few lines of review at your favorite retailer or IMDB site. We’ve been invited to screen at two western festivals and I’ll be following up on that this week. One festival in AZ and one in VA, so stay tuned.
FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER are all released and can be seen back-to-back. Enjoy this adventure series that brings classic stories to life by presenting them in a new way. The Quest Trilogy is worth checking out when you get a chance.
LOST HEART is going to be moving into Official Pre-Production this week. We’ve had good discussions with our team including director Jesse Low. Our production meetings will be on a regular basis and this week we’ll also start discussing crew. We’re all very excited to shoot this movie in July. It will be another wonderful ‘Made in Michigan’ movie brought to you by Collective Development Inc. (www.cdiproductions.com)
Knight Chills 2 – some very interesting discussions here.
We’ve got a good slate of possible projects. It all depends on how development rolls. But you start chipping away. Little by little. It all starts to come together.
I’m going to leave this all here until next week. Lots of work to be done but things are all moving in the right direction. Soccer, darts, yard work have been filling in the gaps between all the meetings and work related tasks. I hope you all had a great weekend and carry that over to the week ahead.
Happy Sunday to all of you out there. I’m sipping at the Michigan Cherry coffee and trying to recall some of my events of the past week. I ended up sleeping in a touch this morning. This week I did lots of yard clean up after the long winter. We’re shortening the garden, moving the outside chimera pit and stabilizing the floor on the garden shed. The last one included driving some 12 inch spikes in various places through multiple blocks of wood with a sledge-hammer. I did have an amigo over to trade-off with the hammering. I felt like John Henry the story on the man who hammered his way through the mountain beating the machine before expiring. Yesterday, the second day after I was SORE! I worked my core, front and back to the max. It is funny how I am use to swinging the axe but the hammer was a new addition. But that is what keeps the ole body strong. Filling bird feeders, gathering wood and I still have a list of things to do this week. After being chained to the desk for several hours there is nothing like a good work in the yard. But I’m sure you did not come here to hear about yard work. But once you do the work and put it out there to the universe it is a good way to not watch the pot waiting for a boil. A good fire outside or in the wood stove along with some hardy ‘viking work’ is good for mind. Last night I watched my Spartans play in the Final Four. They lost a hard-fought battle, playing hard to the end. I would be happy if I had one of the top four films in the country. I think the only time we did that was with Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town we were the #1 western rental in the US for 7 weeks. (Rentrak) and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks. Let’s talk movies.
Staying on the subject of westerns – WILD FAITH. Our Grand Rapids, MI run was extended. I have to see this week if we are still in Mississippi. I was told we are rolling into West VA but I will wait to see. There is a large push in the theatrical world for variety in films shown as seen in a recent VARIETY article. I think that Wild Faith is a powerful and entertaining film with a broad appeal. MyCinema is out there booking it across the country and we’ll see what communities it pops up in. I’m happy for anyone who gets to see it on the big screen as it plays great. I’m excited about the streaming and DVD release in May. I also hear tale that Walmart and other retailers will get it in June/July. I hope it makes it into Meijer like BOOK OF RUTH. Only because they have 1500 stores or so and it is one of my favorites. So if you get a chance to see it on the big screen, please do, you won’t be disappointed. I think you can pre-order DVD’s now on Christian Cinema and it should start appearing at more locations like Amazon, Target, Family Video… If you’ve seen the film hop over to IMDB.com and leave your review. I had a few great development discussions this past week which included talk on the Wild Faith TV series. Giddy Up.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I had talks this past week that might also result in CDI doing another biblical trilogy. I’ve had one in development for a while with three great stories told from a unique point of view. Part 3 of the series THE CHRIST SLAYER is available on DVD and streaming now. If you contact your local theater and ask them to book via myCinema they can put it on the big screen. We might do a special screening here in Lansing, MI on the big screen. My AZ friends please do reach out to Harkins Theaters and request it. MyCinema books through there all the time and our Yuma, AZ friends deserve to see this on the big screen. I’m anxious to see where it appears this Easter season but I’m even more excited to see where all three travel in the years to come.
Here is a great Behind the Scenes of The Christ Slayer
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This week I plan to get an update on where we’re at with the dialog mix on the film. Our director is doing a sound design cue sheet and I cannot wait for music. The film is in that quiet phase while the other films do their thing but soon it will have its time. It is due to be delivered to our distributor on June 30th which is part of the decision for the next announcement.
LOST HEART – is the next film for us. It is a charming and beautiful story of going home. Of finding oneself and examining the mysteries of life. We’re still in talks on the last few investment units on this film. Next week the account will be opened and we have the first checks rolling in. We’ve got a few sponsorship opportunities underway with some great businesses. If you have an interest in getting involved on that end please reach out to me directly. Casting and Crewing is all through the CDI site. http://www.cdiproductions.com and we do have a few castings to go. I’m extremely excited to move into pre-production on this film and with a few more small pushes we will be there. We are targeting rolling cameras in July!
DEVELOPMENT – As was mentioned above we have several projects in development. I’m excited about the stories we’ve told and the stories yet to be told. With the nice weather ahead I look forward to days working on the patio. I will not ramble on with these plans as that’s a little early.
This week I am going to try to step out to our local film festival’s opening night gala and support all the artists pushing to have their vision seen. I don’t feel like a MACK trunk hit me today so that is good. I might do a bit more work in the yard – maybe the June Bday party/CDI gathering might happen. It was postponed last year because my furry boy Luke was near the end of his journey. Our new addition Finn has brought immense joy into our lives and for that we are thankful.
Have a great day and week ahead.
Hello to everyone out there. I’m sipping away at my coffee on this beautiful day in Michigan. It has been a doozy of a week for most as more of our pop culture icons have passed away – Chyna, Prince. I think as we age and we see our actors, musicians and artists pass away if really reframes the world. It is why we as artists must also strive to step up and fill a purpose. A purpose to educate, entertain, comfort and encourage people in various ways.
The past weeks have been exciting with audiences purchasing/renting “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and now “Donors” has been released. I’ve had “fan mail” and communications every couple hours over the films. I think because of the main role in “40 Nights/Jesus” more of the feedback has been about that film but “Donnie/Ashes of Eden” and “Dr. Savior/Donors” are both worth meeting. The Walmart sales have been very strong in pockets but not across the board, so we have to just keep pushing the PR and redistribute stock internally to the stores that are moving more DVD’s. FishFlix, Amazon.com and others have been selling out online but restocking quickly. Ask your local retailers and that will help spread the distribution patterns. “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are now HD Digital On Demand so you can watch immediately.
ON DEMAND – Here are links…
ASHES OF EDEN
Feel free to leave reviews at any of these sites, IMDB.com, Amazon.com as these all help push the films.
You must build bridges. But only with good character people in like minded partnerships. There’s a company that was presented to me by a close associate. This company does various services in the commercial industry. For about 18 months they were presented to me and finally we met. A few guys trying to carve their artistic path out from a sea of creatives. So on a project this company ended up doing two services for us and it was done with quality. A first step in a new relationship. Now a second project follows with a new creative director and only one of the two services would be required. One of the services was being covered as a result of direct negotiations with the director before filming or even hiring. Another advantage is the second task has more time to allow this one service to be done. A second step in a new emerging creative relationship – WAIT! In my opinion, one partner there did the service we had no need for. Now this opportunity would allow whomever does the second service a real chance to shine. This is not high pay but t’s not free, and it surely gives more creative than a commercial project. I’m about people who want the opportunity to participate with our artists but I feel like some of my time was wasted during those 18 months where I was being told these guys were eager for an opportunity to grow with us. So it goes.
MORE ADVICE ON WORKING FOR CDI
Most all hirings come from recommendation and standing accountable. Finger pointing and blame shifting is the worse thing you can do at CDI. There is not much of that because we pull those weeds. Strength comes in admitting a situation got the best of you. By recognizing that it shows strength and wisdom. I’m also looking to put people into a long term working relationship. Some of our people have been with us 16-20 years and counting. Once we work with someone I’m looking at…
1) Attitude – this is priceless. Are they CAN DO positive people? Do they inspire others? This also means sincere talk over gossip/poison. Keep your vulgar jokes and such until wrap and you’re with your friends. If you have experience over someone see that as an opportunity to share/teach not gloat. Be that valuable person.
2) Artistic passion – this is a drive to do something outside the cogs and wheels of society. It’s both divine and humbling all at once. Powerful enlightening stories that can give ease and escape to others in high stress jobs. Humbling in the fact that if you create a poor scene nobody flatlines on a table. Passion is a MUST in all our hires. If you are not passionate about a certain position DON’T do it. If you do it poorly or by dragging your feet, those attributes will be applied to your overall character.
3) Dependability – I once had a talented director work within a crew (Not directing). He failed at his tasks by the worse way – quitting. I like this person just fine but by policy I cannot risk any money behind this person going forward. If they quit at something small they could quit at something big. Another recent example also had a key crew member quit before starting a project in a poor way. This character example again makes him not suitable for re-hire. I like this person greatly and friendship wasn’t taken off the table. But the communications became less (none) because he knew I had less to offer him. On a positive when this person had to be replaced on the fly one of our “tried and true” stepped up into a position they had not done and won. It was an example of stepping up and that is likely why he’s been with us almost two decades.
4) Leadership – The last line I typed above ties into this bullet point. Upon working with us on a film, people will be evaluated in a few ways. Did a KEY step up and problem solve within his department? Did they keep their department on budget? Did they keep their department organized? Did they use all their resources? Attitude? Sometimes we hire a key that in retrospect needs to be placed under a more experienced key on future films. This is usually someone who really tried just lacks the organization skills and leadership, but worked hard. In some non-keys, we realize the hard work and notice leadership attributes that may lead to a promotion on upcoming films. Some people after the fact are evaluated and deemed a no rehire.
NOW if you’ve worked for us on a film and a second call to action hasn’t come it’s often not anything personal. It’s sometimes about finances, such as how many people can be flown here or there. It can be keys that surround certain directors and are requested. I guess I wanted to put this out there because crew like cast are artists. Actors are usually quick to think that something they did or did not do is why they were not hired. Sometimes it is an AGE or a LOOK thing. Crew feels the same thing at times so I wanted to shed some light. Rates of course are another factor but if I like working with a company I try my best to maintain that relationship. When you get out of line someone hungry is there to take your place.
“Chasing the Star”
OK. “Chasing the Star” is in editing and we also plan to have a first teaser in the coming weeks. Here is our new font to put into our teaser poster.
We’ll be having lots more promotional stuff rolling out soon. I’ve just finished polishing the 1st draft of the third film in our QUEST TRILOGY. That has been sent to the first few people to look at. I had great talks with our distributor this week on THE QUEST TRILOGY and I’m excited moving forward. VERY EXCITED!
Keep moving forward my friends. Be the person they want to hire and hire and hire…
Have a great weekend. Our first soccer game is today so I’m ready to do battle again this season. Happy Spring!