Good day to all of you out there. I hope your week was a productive one with some enjoyment along the way. I wanted to take a few moments to blog with all of you out there. I see again we have new international readers. We had a bit more heat this week in Michigan and that slowed the roll on yard work that I’m going to make up today. This week I finally hung a large theater sign in the office that I’ve had for a long time. I can say that my office is really getting there with organization of stuff. It is funny how I can chart my life by what film I was doing at a given time. I did an interview Q&A for the “Dead Quiet” movie that is saying it will show 1st quarter 2015. That is also the national DVD/VOD target for “Ashes of Eden”. I also think that “Bestseller” will be moving into theaters about that same time.
BESTSELLER – I’ve been a tad quiet on this film as it moves down the post line. I had the pleasure of watching the new cut of the film a few times this week to give notes. Most all my notes were on how pleased I was with how the 1st round of suggestions were incorporated. I’m excited because the pick ups and the trims to the film have me very excited. It is a tense and exciting film and Michigan is showcased in such a beautiful way. I can’t wait to see it on the big screen. More PR will be forthcoming as we approach an end-of-the-year premiere. Great job cast and crew!
ASHES OF EDEN will start a theatrical run in the Detroit area (Canton & Novi) in September and I’m excited for people on that side of the state to be able to see this fine film on the big screen. We got a great review from one of the TV networks I’ve dealt with before and so I think we will license there. Also a few foreign territories are moving forward with negotiations. I’ve enjoyed this collaboration and look forward to the next one with Shane Hagedorn.
We also will see other CDI/CDI associated films heading to the big screen and several have new distribution opportunities opening up. We will be meeting this week to discuss more of this and I have some distribution offers to consider. What films would you like to see on the BIG SCREEN? Re-issue of films? Feel free to let me hear your thoughts.
http://www.indieflix.com is the home of the first 3 shows of “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” and so check it out if you like tropic places, reality TV and/or bikini babes.
A TV pilot I did a few years ago in Canada may become a feature film. It is a comedy and deals with stock car racing and so that could be fun.
I’ve been having some great talks with my management about placement in a few larger studio films. I had materials sent yesterday on a film that might be in need of a strong supporting man. I really liked the director and so I gave my interest to go ahead with the send off. I know at least one studio project I’m slated to be in but I have to keep that quiet until they are ready to PR. I’m enjoying finishing up stuff that is on my plate. But I do have one eye on the future. We’ve had some great development talks and I see a few of our films moving ahead.
I want to close this chat early and go do some yard work before it is way too hot. I have observed all this world news with water buckets, racial tensions and pending war with Isis. How do I feel about it all? See we provide escapism from all these highs and lows in life and I know everyone has different views. I like awareness for diseases but also know how desperate others in the world are for water and to just see waste everywhere… Racial tensions/police tensions – time will tell the story. Isis – challenging the USA is well…not real smart. A common enemy is what often unites Americans and when that focus gets redirected…
So I’m going to return to some yard work. I plan on grilling and chilling a bit. A soccer match tomorrow and time with my brother and friends. I hope you all have a good week. I’m sorry to a friend or two who hit me up with indiegogo/kickstarter stuff – I don’t believe in that funding for profit earning films. For a non-profit or fan film – perhaps an exception. I just see more asking, asking, asking for unreasonable amounts/budgets that don’t/won’t usually get funded. I give to charity where I see fit and no challenge is going to change that. And I don’t play any online games. So if you have recently requested any of these things I politely decline.
And with that I bid you all a good day!
It is a wonderful Saturday and the dogs are watching some Scooby Doo as I’m doing some morning film work over coffee. This was a week full of announcements, many business calls and exciting updates. We will look at some of those updates and discuss a few situations surrounding them.
I think last week we talked a bit about the temptation for struggling artists to take on parts that aren’t right or tasks that they are not suited to do. It was announced this week that CDI http://www.cdiproductions.com will be the new management/production company on the Michigan-based feature “Bestseller”. Due to my association with the lead Melissa Anschutz I was in the knowing on the journey she was undertaking. I was privy to all the bumps, blunders and lack of organization. I was aware of who was solving problems and who was creating them. I let most of it roll off with a shake of the head because it was not my issue. Even so, it disappointed me greatly. Any hardworking filmmaker will tell you how hard it is to finance a film. That’s because of the large number of potential investors who have been burned or who associate with those investors who have been burned. By burned I also mean – unfinished films or films that have had such bad business done that they are not able to be taken to market. If someone truly puts their BEST EFFORT (That legal term from last week) into a project and it still fails that might be a different story. But when someone doesn’t put a best effort forward and they fail – where is the accountability? Many want to take accountability when things are looking good. When the PR releases are spewing hype or one is prancing about set playing “Hollywood” looking busy BUT when things go wrong they are the first of the finger-pointers. You MUST “own” both the good and the bad if you are in charge. If you are a chaotic mess that is the ripples that you will send forth from you. If you radiate a calm center that too spreads throughout a production.
Screaming is NOT communication and shows weakness and frustration by the party doing so. I know personally an associate in the insurance realm who had to also deal with this chaotic force. I heard the stories from multiple people about this communication. You tie that with the lack of pre-production work and the picture is perfectly clear. Now on a personal level – I’m offended by people paid to guide who use inexperience against others to try to disguise their own shortcomings. A film set is full of challenges but the only ones you should be facing are those things you could not control with good pre-production work. I’ve halted shoots and pushed start dates when I saw a ship was not yet ready. If I see a place where leadership is lacking in a department – be it in the director, AD staff, office, anyone – I will rearrange or replace someone. You don’t just watch a boat fill with water and do nothing. If you are a lead producer or that staff – It’s your JOB to fix things that are broken. It’s your JOB to anticipate what could/or may break down and try to prevent a breakdown. It’s your JOB to fix something quickly, quietly with the least amount of attention or distraction. That means that this is not a dramatic “LOOK AT ME FIX SOMETHING” moment. The best producer work is often never seen or heard. It is known by the experience the cast and crew had and the final product they captured.
Now this situation on “Bestseller” is not isolated and this issue of poor management seems to be a pattern. Sometimes one doesn’t hire enough artists to properly execute a job or make sure that money truly finds its way onto the screen. You also don’t start playing “Hollywood” George Jefferson because you are connected to a large bank account. You treat those funds like your own funds and stick to the budget. Overruns are poor planning. A producer team is responsible for the hard work of all those artists. You represent how people will look at our state’s artists. Are we seen as capable leaders or forever doomed to feed on the scraps of others coming into our state. Now I did not have anything to do with this situation. As a matter of fact I turned down earlier invites on acting and producing. That rejection was based upon the fact that fires were already burning in PRE-PRODUCTION crisis mode. I also knew that much misinformation was flying everywhere either implying deceit or disorganization – both bad. Bottom line – I don’t like fixing other’s messes. The problem seems to be that while I’m hard at work finishing projects (2 features (Donors, Ashes of Eden) and 1 TV series (Supermodel Showdown) – someone else is at the local film festival mixers smoozing up any starry-eyed potential investor or novice filmmaker with a budget – selling a skill set they do not possess.
Now potential investors – YOU have a responsibility to vet people out and not get stung by the BUYER BEWARE. This “Bestseller” ship was professionally parked and the responsible parties removed. After that my company was recommended again to come manage. With a clean slate I listened and the deal was made. The ship is now being refitted and we will make one heck of a movie I can promise you that. I can promise this crew and cast will have an enjoyable experience filled with hard work but will be rewarded with respect. Those that know me can vouch that I take my film jobs very serious. I turn down lots of work because it must feel right. In this matter I wanted the truth out there. The fact that I don’t wander in many social circles I thought this direct statement best. I will say this to anyone out there unqualified to produce or unwilling to make the Best Effort – Stick with what you are good at and don’t muddy the waters. The sooner that the proper artists align in Michigan and the BS artists are benched – great things will come from our State. As we have more stories of success vs screw ups investors will start to take our artists more serious. So I ask you all to please clean up your act. For those who don’t – I would gladly testify at any arbitration or legal proceedings on how a film set should be ran. Enough of people giving half (if that) efforts and poisoning the money wells here in Michigan. I’ve been personally part of 2 projects that went south because of false promises from people. It hurt our momentum as a company but luckily our productivity outshines those few dark moments. One bad deal can kill others momentum and ruin dreams all together. And just how truly sad is that? I’ve made many friends in this industry around the world because of respect that grew from doing what was expected. I’m not in this industry to make friends first – I’m here to tell stories with other hardworking, passionate artists. Friendship and respect is earned. Period.
Okay, I’m off my soap box now. Other updates –
– It looks like I finally got my German invoicing all complete. It has been a good learning experience doing these foreign sales.
– “Ashes of Eden” new trailer is a week or so out from release. The trailer looks great. The film is having the dialogue polished and is almost done. Music and sound design is on deck.
– “Supermodel Showdown” I was in search of a few B roll tapes that we feared missing but I think those have now been recovered. The show is coming together and is looking great. Not as fast as I would like but there is no script. This is truly a reality show.
– I have agreed to play a role in “Bestseller” now that we are officially “in association” because with myself starring in 3 thrillers in the last 10 months it really boosts distribution. With CDI’s involvement I can say to all the artists that the film will get a release in several countries.
There is a possibility of another film shooting prior to “Bestseller” going into production but next week will tell. We have a window because of schedules and so will the chips fall right? That is the question:)
I hope you all have a great weekend and keep Clawing your Way to the Middle:)
So today is the cusp of the BIG MOON, the closest full moon of the year. I’m sipping the hot coffee and looking forward to the day hanging with my brother and his girl. Upon finishing this post I’m getting the smoker going and going to have a relaxing day. It was a crazy busy week as many have been lately and I’ve just continued to sail the ship forward. “Donors” http://www.donorsthemovie.com film has moved to Yuma for final sound mixing. “Supermodel Showdown” is looking great as we are chunking in footage on the 3rd show and I’m extremely happy with what I see. “Ashes of Eden” is having the sound/music review meeting next week and also starts color correction. I also might have a few upcoming announcements on projects the start of July. Final approval on German distribution contracts for three of the films underway. “Darkest Night” PR is in full swing next week as we head towards our VOD and DVD/TV releases in July. I want to discuss a few attributes that apply to activity this week. It also ties in to what we discussed last week.
KNOW YOUR ROLE
I’m in a stage of possibly signing onto a couple of films as CDI associated producer and talent. In these situations you must first stand your ground and use your experience. IF someone wants to work with you it is because they are buying your experience. The things you’ve done right and wrong. To avoid pitfalls and follow well-traveled paths whereas they will maximize your chances of repeat success. What I look for always in a partnership is LISTENING. I can tell if the cup is already full of ideas and thoughts often based not on experience but opinions. Opinions are like assh%#%! everyone has one and… You know the saying. I try to base my decisions on reason, common sense and some gut feeling. I always try to fully explain the reasoning. If someone isn’t listening and you can tell – that relationship will be a painful one that will mostly bring frustration and regret. I avoid these situations because if you want to make mistakes or non calculated risk decisions, I would rather not be along for that ride. I’ve been there, seen that and got the T-shirt:)
Now for a film crew to work effectively or any group dynamic – each person must know their role and respect one another. This is even more important with your above the line executive team. I have one project that is close to a go and I’m set to be the ship captain (producer) but before we set sail the ship needs to be ready. First and foremost is for WRITER, DIRECTOR and PRODUCER(s) to know their role, their scope of power and how decisions will be made. I’m very good at this and that is why I do the business I do. I respect and enforce these divisions otherwise chaos will grow. Chain of command is very important and especially where writer and director are concerned. Once the script is handed off the new creative leader IS the director. Business decisions from a producer can trump but only if they are legit and not subjective opinions. I’ve written screenplays and for me it is easy to let go. I think it is because the actor in me surrenders to a creative director and I just focus on my role. As a producer I watch the ship and make sure that the overall vessel stays the course. But as a writer I’m flattered and inspired when someone adapts a story of mine from the page to the screen. A writer too close to the material can become a nightmare and slow a project, killing schedule and budget over subjective topics. I always tell my producers when they get caught line stepping that it appears they are heading for the directors chair BUT this is not your ship. So I address these issues right up front while the ship is in port. I don’t wait until 2 weeks in when so much frustration has built and the tensions are high. I will risk someone saying this doesn’t look like it will work, I will readily agree with them. I’m not getting on a ship that is going to become a floating emergency out at sea. As I stated before too many people will bite their tongue and say nothing because they need the work that bad. I would rather stay and work the garden, brew some beer and sell some films in our library versus going on a nightmare cruise to shit island.
This week I also met some artists with one of my friends filmmaker Nathan Quinn. I’ve actually met quite a few of the artists growing in Michigan after several years of being semi-reclusive. I’ve just been away from the film social scene because honestly I can’t take the fake sincerity and one-up attitudes I often observe. Do you art and be unique. Do so with the least amount of drama save what you put on-screen. Always give more than what you were paid for. Don’t compromise your best and be willing to let a project go knowing the universe will bring to you what is meant to be. Find your faith and hold on to it. Don’t EVER grab for the dangling carrot and become someone’s puppet. Many have wondered why I won’t work with them. If you bullshit you will lose my attention almost immediately and seldom do I revisit these folks. Many act on their best behavior when they want something but it is only a matter of time before their true nature returns. Take a deep look at yourself and see if these traits exist and if they do – sincerely, spiritually purge them from your self and live as the best you that you can be.
I wish you all a great weekend!
Hazelnut hazelnut coffee of mine you warm my belly and make me feel fine:) I have to say it was a busy semi-chaotic week due to some of the elements floating about. The week had some great high points which include a screening of the rough cut of “Ashes of Eden” which was actually a very powerful watch. It is the performances that really make this film stand apart from 90% of the indie films. That was a comment by our DP and it is true. More times than not casting is not always giving the attention that it should. I also see trends in Michigan that will unfortunately keep our talent’s value low. It is the excitement of being offered a job at the lowest possibly fee and the talent and management way too eager to just say YES, YES, YES. What they need to realize is that those producers/directors want the best for their film knowing that talent is key. Why pay big money for a talent and surround them with the lowest fee taking/limited experienced talent? I had one film in Louisiana talk to me as a co-star but in response to a small counter offer they went with someone’s friend who volunteered. Now maybe that will turn out okay or maybe they will get just what they paid for.
I recently did a film at scale to help a friend/filmmaker out and that was because I liked the material, the lead talent I would be working with and it only took up 2 days. Now scale is about 1/10 of my normal rates and I’ve been paid considerably more. Why? All of you fans out there. That is right – after 40+ films playing on numerous networks in various countries and millions in units/sales – I have a beloved group of fans. I’m not talking about Facebook friends or twitters – I’m speaking of the people I don’t know that are reflected in the units moved, VOD watches and viewers on TV. I’m careful with choices I make these days because I’m thinking of them/you. I want to make good choices and help tell good stories. I do understand that different folks like different films and due to my work across genres not everyone might like all my films. My mother is not a fan of my horror films. 🙂 I’m not talking about these ego building “fake it” folks playing Hollywood. I’m talking about being true to yourself, your audience and in turn demanding true compensation for your art and followers.
Tuesday was a watch through on “Donors” with a full music score and it is always great to see how the images take on a completely different vibe once the haunted atmosphere is added. It is an artsy thriller and I found my attention captured and trapped right along with the films lead Niki Saletta. This film is getting closer to being complete.
Weds was a day of reworking the business summary for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV series in post. We have several interested parties in this series and I’m enjoying watching it all come together.
Chaos exists until the order within can be seen. So I wanted to express a few feelings on CHAOS. Recently an aspiring producer who I think bit off more than they can chew made a comment to an associate that “You know how chaotic production is…” as an excuse. If you worked on the recent CDI associated film “Ashes of Eden” or previous CDI films (especially the more recent) you will recall challenges but not chaos. I’ve been at this 17 years and I have achieved zen and peace in my personal life. Drama causing folks will be put outside the zen zone until they get their energy straight. I bring that calm onto a set because if you are in chaotic reactionary mode you’re always barely getting just what you can get. With strong pre-production and the right leadership – you get a peaceful fertile garden to grow new and exciting moments on-camera. IF you are existing in pure CHAOS something is very wrong and it starts at the very top. Even capable keys need that leadership glue – again there is no manual to teach some of these things. Either you have those qualities and possess the ability to align mutual respect in the most productive path for a given project or you don’t. One recent project I know of is operating in chaos. They are in total reaction mode and they have a serious cart before the horse issue. Also if you are producing always deal in truth. I know the reputation that some comically give producers as slimy car salesmen played by Steve Martin, telling everyone what they think people want to hear. I disagree – truth only. I vet everything out hard these days. When you discover things said to be untruthful it really destroys any confidence in a project. Producers-in-training in bad need of a paycheck should not accept or sell themselves on jobs they are not qualified. This has caused issue on our projects when I refuse a credit to a crew member. The last thing I want is someone to hire someone after seeing they possess a credit on a CDI project only to find this person NOT qualified once they hire them. This is how films go off schedule, off budget and poison investor wells because someone unqualified sold a skill set that doesn’t exist. Now I’ve had my set backs in this industry but it always has fallen on the integrity of 3rd parties. INTEGRITY once lost in this business is nearly impossible to get back. It is a very small world. Over the years I’ve seen many come and go – buried along the filmmakers “Trail of Tears”. Yesterday I had a phone call and a nice card from two investors on a previous film who had recently gotten checks. I love writing people checks. It makes me feel good. I know it is odd but I do. Be true.
Now I will get off my soapbox – We had 4 films in contract stage for Germany but one of them had to be taken off the slate after they realized it was a 44 min short. All the others are feature films but I was still disappointed. Not just the $$ loss but I was excited for German audiences to see the work of these artists. That film will find a home in various countries but I too get disappointed. But I had to look at the positive of the 3 films going to Germany. I’ve had some previous releases in Germany and due to “The 8th Plague” selling well over there we are doing a pre-deal on the “Soul Eater” prequel.
I’ve been communicating with various TV Networks and companies and I look forward to filming some of these other stories we have been developing. I’m going to have a nice breakfast here and relax into the weekend. I hope all of you enjoy your weekend and prepare for a good week ahead.
Live true, be you and let integrity be your compass in business and life.
JUNE 1st! I woke up this morning and got the fresh pot of coffee going. I did the 1st of 3 interviews for the upcoming release of “Darkest Night”. I’m excited that this story is going to finally release here in the US/Canada. I won’t go on and on about this film as you will soon have many interviews to read and also the film itself. The end of the week has been rain, rain, rain which is great for the new plants in the garden. Let’s get right to some FILM NEWS!
ASHES OF EDEN rough cut is done and we are doing a producers watch on Tuesday to make final notes before Shane Hagedorn makes his final passes on the film’s edit. I’ve seen the scenes individually and I’m beyond excited. The scenes are POWERFUL and I’m so proud of all the artists involved.
DONORS is almost done with the music and so that film is closer to being ready for release!
CDI Distribution team is closing in on several deals for films in the CDI library. It looks like “Darkest Night,” “7 Stones,” “Locked in a Room,” and “Wicked Spring” are heading to Germany. We will be working to finalize that deal this month! Stay tuned for other territories!
“Wicked Spring” and “Figure in the Forest” should be releasing this month on Parables Network my contact is saying.
“Supermodel Showdown” TV series is also looking great. I think it gives a fun, honest look at what goes into a REAL reality show.
This week was great on the development front. I read a few scripts as an actor and I should be making some decisions on summer filming here soon. The picture is getting more clear as I go. On that note – David Gries is working into the tribe here at CDI. I’ve explored his on-camera work this year and we’ve been working on a few projects together. I’m most appreciative for his opinions and work in helping me put together a 3 min sizzle reel that I wanted for a few opportunities. I sent the reel along to a few professionals yesterday and I will share it first on here. Enjoy. This is what actors use to showcase themselves and their diversity. It gets so hard because you end up with so much material. What stays? What goes? So I want to thank David for his help with this.
DJ PERRY 3 min sizzle reel
Maybe this will also inspire you to watch a few of the films showcased. Anyway this is my Birthday month and I’m kicking it off with the new reel. This month will bring great growth and I will continue to move forward on this journey step-by-step. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t look at how far you have to go and let doubt sink in. Just take that step. Take that next step. Soon you will realize how far you have actually gone. Life is a journey and not a destination so enjoy it. You can’t enjoy a breakthrough without setbacks. You can’t have satisfaction without some frustration. You just want to try to keep your balance and tackle each issue as they come. From the struggle always comes growth.
Have a great weekend!
We finally had a few days that were Spring-like in nature. I worked at the biz in the morning and spent a couple of afternoons working in the yard and new office. The dogs loved spending the 5 to 6 hours playing, sleeping in the yard. I build a compost bin after doing some on-line research as well as some yard grooming. The construction of the office really tore up the lawn. We also fired up the grill last night with the 4H pork chops and it was wonderful. I’m ready for another season of grill and chill. Also soccer season will be starting. I’ve done a good amount of strength training but I need to keep working the flexibility. I can see a few sore post game weeks ahead.
On the film front I have some good announcements and a few big meetings ahead. First is TONIGHT! I will be attending the event surrounding a fallen soldier from Owosso with our Afghanistan doc and country music acts. So I will be attending and I look forward to visiting Owosso once again.
We’ve been digitizing and editing on “Supermodel Showdown – Beauty Within” the TV series that is leading the new CDI TV division. I’ve also been reviewing work on “Donors” music score and “Ashes of Eden” editing.
Also we have the national release of “Darkest Night” this July and I’ve been reviewing some key art for DVD release. I’m excited to get that out to audiences. “Deadly Renovation,” “Locked in a Room” and upcoming “Darkest Night” – safe to say I’ve been working to bring you horror fans some new work.
Development work continues with some financial contributions on certain films. We don’t have a full go yet but I think very soon. We are in talks with many new companies/studios over licensing current films and participating in new films.
I’m excited to be in front of the camera again but it has to be the right project – by right I mean both business and artistically. I’m waiting to hear on one film that I really like so we will see what happens with that.
I might be missing a few topics but I have to go to an event with MSU Vet school this morning and then Owosso event tonight. Family birthday gathering tomorrow… BUSY WEEKEND.
I hope everyone had a great week and I wish continued success to all of you in the weeks to come. Be good and don’t look for short cuts. Hard work in gets results.