Star Wars Talk & CDI Film Updates
OK. Pre-Star Wars I was SPEED RACER, MR. ROGERS and SCOOBY DOO.
I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from a ornate Star Wars mug with various scenes upon it. Like many in the storytelling business around my age some inspirational credit can go to George Lucas and the original Star Wars film in 1977. In anticipation for the last in the Skywalker story, yes we have tickets, we’ve been watching them all in story order. IF I was 7 years old and Part 1 of the Prequels was the first film I might have still liked the ships, lasers, etc…but ‘A NEW HOPE’ was just gritty and did not dumb things down for kids. We could take it George including Han firing first. When we went from the three prequels to SOLO, such a difference in the world and story telling. The prequels felt like video games with planned segments that really felt like watching your friend play a video game. But SOLO is like taking the best parts of James Bond and Mad Max put into a gritty ‘New Hope’ like world. ROGUE ONE again just better character development in a world that felt more grounded in reality.
I actually can speak into this having done a trilogy of films. It was important to try and keep the world cohesive despite the changes in style from director to director. Also because I have been looking at promo material personally and as a company, I’ve been playing The Quest Trilogy behind my accounting work. It’s very satisfying to have the linking storyline. It was always my goal to see if I could take some “obscure” stories from the Bible and tell them in a ‘Star Wars’ type fashion. The stories actually adapt over quite well and when you add what I call the “Chuck Heston – bible film effect”, you have our style.
I will say that it is a pretty sure bet that we’ll return to this genre again. One script is complete and the other two outlined stories are forming up. I’m not sure when all this may happen but we will see.
I also put my first SciFi script to pause while I finish writing the script for “Hope for Heaven” which is my working title. We are working with a few different titles but I need something when I write. It has many of the great qualities that ‘Lost Heart’ had by way of characters and story. I’m a good many pages into the story and how it starts can sometimes be the hardest. But it’s flowing and when I did do my first test read with one of our development people, it was strong. This film will shoot in late summer/early fall in Michigan. The nice part is via a few agent talks we might have a good lead on a very important casting aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing the writing this week.
LOST HEART rough cut by Scott Magie working with our director Jesse Low is looking good. I talked about the view last week. This week we’re prepping some things for the music and sound design to follow. I know that poster/DVD artwork is starting and that will be exciting to see. Again just proud to have this be part of the Tribe CDI films.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Following our premiere we saw a “best film” and “best actor” nods at the Hollywoodivine Film Festival and won ‘Best Film’ at the Equus Film & Art Festival. 2020 will have many more events and showings as the film moves out deeper into the world market. I’ve had several people reach out this week about how this film touched them. I’m so proud that it is becoming a voice for veterans and dogs. Two groups that truly understand loyalty and service. Watch it yourself on Amazon and other platforms and if you enjoy it add it to your DVD library.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Help us start a family holiday tradition with the telling of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. (All on Amazon and many platforms)
It has been a true joy to receive an abundance of fan mail on these films from around the world. I saw the breakdowns and the films are making their way to you. Some all our friends in other countries be patient, the CDI films are coming. Many of you already know that because you can watch the films on TV and DVD. If you have watched them feel free to vote and leave your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com and remember these are films.
WILD FAITH – This film also continues to be enjoyed and shared by new audiences. I had some fans from this movie also communicate this past week. They were Civil War era fans and so I had them seek WICKED SPRING. It was a Civil War film we produced back in 2000. It can be watched also on Amazon.
I’ve been taking meetings and looking at filming the balance of our production slate for the next 2 years. We have many scripts and it just depends on several factors as to which gets moved into active development or pre-production. We’ve had a few wonderful meetings and with the new management involvement in 2020 I’m excited to see where it leads. I’ve been working on a few ‘Character Reels’ and a new 2020 sizzle reel along with what will be a CDI showreel.
Next weekend our first family Christmas starts and so I have a bit more shopping to do and we’ve been enjoying the season. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday season with your family and friends.
Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates
Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!