The last few days have been beautiful in the Michigan. My time has been spent on prepping the new home office and working development on “Ashes of Eden”. Our PR announced the project last week. (See http://www.cdiproductions.com to read story) We’re locking in many of our leads and talking with key crew members. More cast announcements will be forthcoming this week. We will be setting our firm start dates here in the next two weeks. The locations, scheduling and other pre-prod duties are being knocked down now that may allow for a shorter official pre-prod time. As for the other task of building my new “Fort Perry” it has been a wonderful experience so far. I’m excited to have the new space to store old files/paperwork and having a place to meet with all the artists I do business with. It will serve a few tasks just like the old “Fort Perry” did. I want to thank all those who have given a hand in the process this far.
“Deadly Renovations” had the start of its release on the 21st of August and I think a good many folks are checking it out. We’ve had DVD signings in Yuma, AZ that went very well. I’ve had friends say they rented it at Blockbuster and are having watch parties. Others have added to their collection buying it off Amazon. I’m not sure if Netflix has it up yet but they should soon. (Just call the number they provide and ask) Also what would be a release without the haters:) You have to love those fans. I saw someone with the 50 accounts trying to throw up their (1’s) and a something that passes for a review. (barely) With a little closer of a look that account shows it is just another frustrated film school grad that gets in the real world and can’t make a film. What? No school to give me lights and grip equipment? No school to provide a sign out camera? Nobody to believe in their script/story? BUCK UP CAMPER:) Welcome to the real world:) You have to sell people on you. Your passion has to push the story. It is like the new STARFLEET grad who thinks they are going to get the command chair on the USS MOTION PICTURE. I guess they’re stunned when they are handed a red shirt and assigned to shuttle crew duty. It’s that “I’m owed something” mentality of many young people today. NOT ALL! Many. I just note that many of those people who carry that negative attitude seldom get a project off the ground. Their personality does not inspire investors to get behind these folks. Investors are thinking, if I don’t like this persons outlook others likely won’t either and chances are the project will fail. Those negative people of course think the investor is stupid and all those who get their projects made are inferior artists. They spew- if they had done it…STOP. You did not do it. And with a certain bad attitude you will not do it. They are reduced to slamming others work in hopes that the feelings of failure will go away. So try some respect in your life and see where that gets you. I respect “doers” even if I don’t LOVE their work. I also understand “subjective” which is something many artists fail to grasp. Many times things are not better just different. Some will like this and some will like that. So it was almost fun to see some of those negative folks again like the crazy uncle at the family reunion. Don’t be that guy/girl:)
I want to give congrats to Gabrielle Stone who GPI has chosen to be my co-star in the 2nd Philippine feature “The Beast” to shoot in 2013. She and I have met on another set and also I know her momma. I’m looking forward to working with her and telling some good story.
“Benjamin” is playing the LONG ISLAND FILM FEST INTERNATIONAL
So check out the times and catch it before worldwide distribution!
Same with “Darkest Night” that will play the FACINE festival in San Francisco this fall!
“Donors” and “7 Stones” is post. I have a final ADR session for “Locked in a Room” before we send mixed master to distributor. I can say the deal is signed and it is a great mini-major studio. I’m happy about all this and I hope to have some exciting news to share over many of the other films. I think many of the foreign fans will soon be very happy.
I’m looking forward to shooting “Ashes of Eden” because it will give me the core of a Michigan crew. We’ve got other film projects launching both inside and outside of Michigan. If you have interest in seeing a sponsor package for “Ashes of Eden” let me know. I’m off to look at doors and windows this morning. Last night was a recharging (blue) full moon and I feel great and ready to go forth into Sept. and ride out 2012!
Have a great day and thank you for your continued interest!
The rain has been falling like crazy playing catch up for the poor crops here. The garden will surely drink all this up and we should have more harvest soon. We’ve been having a few tomatoes ripen here and there and so those are being enjoyed. We broke into the first bottle of the “Green Goblin” our fall harvest wine from last year made with green tomatoes and ginger root. It was a hit at our dinner party save for my mother. She’s picky – what can you say:) As I was told recently – at least I know where I get my brutal honesty.
I’m here to announce that CDI has entered into “an association” deal to develop and produce a feature film with local Lansing filmmaker Shane Hagedorn with his New House Entertainment. The working title is “Road to Eden” which may or may not remain – but we’ve been having all the foundation meetings to put key elements into play. This project will provide a chance for a mix of old CDI guard and new upcoming folks to work together. I will be producing and playing a role in the film. I was not expecting to dig on this one character as much as I did. Sometimes a character jumps off a page and right into your head. So we will be doing an official PR release this week but you heard it here first.
I also did a read on “Kinship of Death” the TV pilot to shoot after Thanksgiving and before Christmas in the Philippines. I was so surprised and really excited about bringing the character to life in that show. He is a cool antagonist and I think it will showcase a new side of me while also playing to my strengths. If network numbers are strong we will shoot an entire season early 2013. I hope to have some updates on “Darkest Night” here very soon for fans out there.
“Deadly Renovations” in 10 days – August 21st so get your copy on any of the various retail outlets. Blockbuster is one of the newest additions. I’m also hearing that an in-store signing will happen at THE HASTINGS video store in Yuma, AZ with director and producer. Here is a good interview I did last week that centers on “Deadly Renovations”.
“Locked in a Room” has isolated a distributor deal they like and are doing some back and forth to get all parties happy. It is a good company and will get a strong push. This will announce very soon so hang in there.
I’m hearing the wildly popular “Benjamin” has been invited to participate in another major festival – 29th annual LONG ISLAND FILM FESTIVAL. September 18, 2012 to September 29, 2012. Stay tuned….”7 Stones” is still in final post, “Donors” still in post – “Realizism” now in post – some good pics coming forth now. I still have had a little drama from certain members of that team but I’m trying to just write it off as just inexperience and leave it at that. These kids will find out that the world doesn’t owe them and everyone doesn’t always win. Things aren’t always followed by juice boxes, cookies and pats on the head. A few of them I will likely see on film sets, maybe even ours – but more than most will realize the harsh truth that few will work in this industry of ours.
I still have the new draft of “The Beast” to read and another Philippine script with an acting offer attached. I also have some work to do on “Road to Eden” pre-prod. so I think I will draw this to a close and get back to some work. Thank you one and all for sharing your morning with me.
What a solid week it was for business and such. I love my Saturdays sipping coffee and giving you all a peek into the life I lead. I’m often one for just staying focused on what I need to do and not engaging in too much outside back and forth. My last few blogs that centered on the film “Realizism” (the default title since director Mitch had his hands tied on that issue) whereas I was ASKED to point out things that I saw that could be improved upon. I’m happy to see from the high traffic that the words were heard. And if those words help one or two students move to the next level – great. Job done. If some read only what they want to read – and take their own skewed meaning – I can’t control that. Anyway – they wrapped principal photography and I think we put some professional work down on camera. They had a wrap party yesterday and I hope they do pat each other on the back but also look at where they could improve. I was told that my words of truth offended a few people. Well, we self evaluate every shoot and look at what we did right. Those things often become policy and what could be improved upon is noted without hurt feelings. These kids will be moving to the real world and I hope they are ready for a different set of challenges.
We’ve been in full speed ahead mode for distribution. “Deadly Renovations” is getting some good reviews and retail buyers are taking to the film. It releases August 21st and this week saw us get picked up for online/in-store buy with BLOCKBUSTER. We will be bringing you VOD information in the coming weeks.
“Locked in a Room” is in negotiations and I’m excited about the release being put together nationally on that film.
“Darkest Night” is negotiating US/domestic offers and working some foreign deals. In one of our meetings I was told of the wide South Korea release being put together. Also a Philippine theatrical where they are talking about me going there to promote the opening after Thanksgiving. While there I will be playing the bad guy in the TV pilot for KINSHIP OF DEATH. It is their AMERICAN HORROR STORY and it has a network time slot and if ratings are good we shoot the 1st season in early 2013. I also got the new script for “The Beast” which is the next GPI/CDI feature film.
A new CDI associated film has been in the works and next week we will have some announcements. I will be helping one of my peers produce and playing a role in a powerful story. I’ve already got some major interest in the soundtrack and have started distribution talks. This month is development, next month starts pre-prod and October should be our shoot month. We’ve started some initial cast and crew talks while we finalize our company deal. Stay TUNED!
I’ve also had a good amount of interest in me participating in upcoming film roles. I’ve had casting directors from the west coast in touch with me this week. I’ve also had some direct talks with directors and producers. Many options. What is meant to be will be. But it looks like I will stay in the USA for late Summer/Early Fall and end the year in the Philippines.
We do have some great development films that have been submitted to funding sources and we are awaiting word. So 2013 is being planned now. I look forward to bringing fans/audiences more stories. I wish each of you a great weekend. Enjoy!
I’m back at home sipping the hazelnut coffee and watching some soccer on TV. I have to say the past week of shooting was exhausting. It was a combination of many factors which I’ll get into a little bit to share some of my insights with you all. This will be especially helpful if you are just starting out in the film business but I think it will have some good insights for all. First I will tell you a bit more about the project. It is a program ran by Grand Valley University whereas they do a film with students intermixed with professionals. I was approached by the director Mitch Nyberg on set of “7 Stones” about participating. I liked the purpose of the program and myself tried to spearhead a program at my alumni university – Michigan State. I ran into politics not at the top but at the bottom. The professors from different colleges who just could not get along or agree. Film covers a vast spectrum and doesn’t fit neatly into one college or department. Egos are large in that arena and ultimately a program that I feel was superior to all I’ve seen was mucked down in politic mire. Not the first time we have heard of that.
Producing a film can be fun but it is not a game. It is a complex weaving of business agreements that align artists towards a single goal of telling a story and having the proper releases to make it a business entity. IF you are in one of those management positions you have to take it extremely serious. If these roles are not filled by highly motivated and organized individuals the project will fail or at best be like a horse drag over broken glass. On this projects the cracks of disorganization were there from the get go. Like I told the program and film director – this is not an everybody wins community recreational project. This is a program to attempt to prepare students for a chance to make it in the professional film world. 90+ % of these students will end up at TV stations or other smaller media positions that are a far cry from their initial dreams of working in our industry. There are no grades in the real world of filmmaking. No B, C, D – just pass or fail. I had inside info from the director on the state of things and secondly I know. I mean after producing 40+ projects in all formats, sizes and genres – I know. You can’t BS me and if you try I will call you out. If I had a dollar for every time on set I heard “I assumed” I would have doubled my pay. Every student should have been given or required to have a clip board, pen and legal pad. Pre-production meetings were obviously lacking as departments were not always on the same page. Furthermore producers are not hired shoppers. I saw problems that were only solved by spending and then trying to cut corners elsewhere. When you are attached to a learning experience the community participating via sponsorship or gifted use of vehicles, locations, services or products should come easy. You have to get off your ass and make contacts, shake hands, give out biz cards and make the deals. I didn’t see that – I saw them trying to go back to pre-made deals and try to squeeze talent costs. I hate to say it but that doesn’t usually work in the real world. You can’t make a deal for say Martin Landau and then go try to nix his pay because you can’t go get craft service sponsorship. Also contracts are real legal agreements and in the real world there are consequences and they are often costly ones. The hit to your reputation can be worse than the damages from legal actions – as I write now the Grand Valley Film Program is in breach of contract and working on a speedy remedy. They are in breach because of lack of organization. I truly love these kids but see that I had a passion for this industry that some of these kids lack. When I was struggling there was not any film programs like this one available to me. We had to produce up everything. When I see lazy or lack of self motivation it really strikes a chord. I’m a nice person but many in our industry are not very forgiving. Honest mistakes happen via unforeseen events and the best of the best ANTICIPATE these events. Others create issues by “assuming” which as the old statement goes, will make an ass of you and me. Don’t assume! Know! Define! Eliminate gray areas and anticipate!
Technically the folks all worked very hard. They were 20-25% slower than a seasoned crew but that is just a learning curve. I think we captured some great magic on camera and I’m very happy about that. How many will take their errors, setbacks and failures and use them to propel them forward? I don’t know. I saw some fixation on things that created an issue versus just rolling with things. Filmmaking is a TEAM effort. A well oiled production machine is like army ants on a march.
I discussed some of the silly university politics around film titles and such in an earlier blog. The attempts at censorship really runs against the grain of artistic expression. I saw where a little bit of the University BS tries to tie the hands of the production. If the goal is to try to create a real world work situation than the sanitized, overly cautious attitudes of the few need to go away. Marketing and promotion are real aspects of filmmaking and even though this project is more for festival and limited release – practice as if you are working towards worldwide distribution. You ultimately play how you practice so the program really needs to look at this as a model to professional production/distribution and not a summer camp. Now I always said, I always counted on folks being slack ass so that I could outwork them – And I did. In summary – I appreciate the opportunity and knowing the reputation that we’re given here in Michigan (this holds true for entire Midwest) as being assbackwards. I’ve realized as a MI resident who works mainly outside the state or in other countries that in some ways, okay many ways – WE ARE! I don’t want that reputation and those who have worked on a CDI produced project where we were the parent company in control – know we work hard to not make that our reputation. Sure. We’ve made mistakes but it has to be about wanting to be better. The willingness to work harder to make things better vs the easiest path. The doing just enough or more often not enough. When that happens it is like the human body. If you fall into reactive mode it is like a virus or disease running wild through the body of the production. PREVENTATIVE is always the way to go. It is an Eastern vs Western medicine approach and I think my martial arts background helped me blend ideals. A surgeon knows the task ahead. He has anticipating several possible negative things that could pop up. He has equipment on standby should this or that happen.
Also accountability. IF you are in a position of monitoring for and addressing issues immediately – you must monitor all departments for accountability. I see a lot of friendly friendships that doesn’t allow direct brutal immediate corrective decisions. I’ve become friends with people who started as associates. First came respect for someone who worked hard and took accountability. From that friendships grew because we were interdependent with one another and these were FILM WARRIORS! They worked tireless to make sure the ship was SHIP SHAPE! So when you raised a drink at wrap with ship safely in port – friendships form. But I’ve gotten serious and firm with everyone I’ve worked with at some point and I would say that 98% of them know it is because I care about the ship and all of us on it. Usually if someone is messing up they know where that is happening and accept responsibility and correct it asap. Why? Because it is a TRIBE. One department affects the whole! Each department should strive to be the best they can be. That in turn inspires other departments. An AD will know exactly where a lag is and try to define the issue slowing things up. A UPM works tirelessly to prep for the days ahead. I saw a UPM on this last project who worked hard but was acting like a Key Set PA. They were swallowed in the NOW so how can they prepare (preventative) ahead? The answer is an external office apart from the chaos and getting stuff done. The producer if not needed on set should be taking care of things forthcoming and making sure with the UPM that everything done is business sound.
I think that many will grow from this experience. If you get offended by this blog you are one of those who will likely be working public access TV or not in this field at all. If you take it for what it is – advice from someone who has been there done that on various continents in various genres with various artists who are awesome – you will grow! I collect the daily resumes. I deal with the vendors, the distributors, the marketing departments and as a younger man I didn’t 100% grasp that paying your dues statement. I do know now. I’m excited for the select people out of that student crew that will make the cut and join our ranks. We are the business artists. This is our tribe. Not everyone is welcome. If you don’t pull your weight or take pride in your work and work for the collective whole – move on. That is the heart of motion picture or TV storytelling industry. I always get slightly offended by outsiders who always think they could easily be an actor or crew member. That is like saying anyone could jump on a boat with a few folks and win the AMERICAN’S CUP (Boat race). So if you want to make it. I mean really make it. You have to give it your all. I’m here to tell you if you can be happy doing something else – do it. I’m speaking to those artists that have no choice. This is their calling.
IN OTHER FILM NEWS
I was just informed that http://www.darkestnightmovie.com will get a wide release in S. Korea.
http://www.deadlyrenovations.com releases nationally on Aug. 21st, VOD in Sept and is for pre-sale now!
“Locked in a Room” has an offer on the table that we like and so some back and forth will be happening with the N. American rights. More once a deal is done.
“Benjamin” had a great NYC showing and distribution will follow shortly I’m sure. The interest is already there it is finding the deal that feels right.
“7 Stones” stuck in post audio BUT it needed it. The film is too good to have poor sound so I say take your time and do it right.
Several new film projects about to finalize either in acting, producing or both. Internationally I’m still in talks on films in France, Mexico and Morocco. We will see. Also a few home state Michigan projects brewing so again students could be finding their way to PA positions if they have the right attitudes. Some guys may find their way on to grip electric teams because they impress the right people. HINT: David Lowing helps me crew up most of those departments and I trust David. He knows who hustles and who constantly disappears and is never to be found. So I’m excited about http://www.cdiproductions.com as we expand into more international work. I’m also excited by opportunities to film right here in Michigan.
I hope everyone has a great weekend. And if some of the G.V folks are reading this – hustle on my learning amigos. You could be our tomorrow storytellers and I’m here to tell you the road is hard. Only those with the deepest wells of passion will survive.
I hope to see you in the jungle. The Tribe marches!