So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.
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.
Well I spent a good day and a half with no wireless internet. Comcast just came and gave the major upgrade/overhaul and now things are working great. I had to stumble through a slew of email business exchanges via my phone and I apologize now for the random misspellings that likely made it seem that I had suffered a stroke. It has been a beautiful week outdoors with only one day hotter than I truly enjoy. Our garden is yielding its 1st tomato’s and after a good mow today everything looks great. It has been a semi-busy week that I tried to balance out with some good downtime just to ponder and think. Never underestimate the power of the quiet mind. You must make that time for yourself to think outside the mind storms that so often threaten to swallow us and our focus.
The more that I’ve refocused energy on my home state the more hmm… disappointed I’ve been on the state of things here. (In our film business) I love Michigan and am proudly, a life-long resident. I think that entitles me to have an opinion. I’ve been accused before of not really taking as much of an interest in my home state’s film industry. I think that is only partially true and comes with a major clarification. I really do feel that I’m in a Collective worldwide with groups of sincere artists. I don’t see lines on a map and boarders of state and country, as much as I see A) sincere storytellers OR B) fame-chasing bullshit artists. I know well the reputation we can get as Michiganders. I’ve got almost two decades working in this business and some years prior as a struggling artists. I’ve taken my journey step-by-step with no shortcuts or huge helping hands. I’ve fought hard by my ACTIONS, not words, to change how people think about Michigan. I know to a circle of industry people they know myself, they know CDI and they know the companies and projects we associate with and that is what they think of when they think Michigan. Our ACTIONS have earned us the positive associate with our state.
I unfortunately have been privy to the other side of the coin. The pecking order, name dropping, fake it until you make it mentalities. Insecurities by many of our state’s artists that create division vs unity. I’ve been made aware of some of the painful decisions by certain individuals /companies over the years. Situations whereas some half-heartedly take on projects without a real clue to what it takes to successfully complete something. As long as they can wear their shades, talk on a blue-tooth and pretend they know what is happening – all good.
Some of the best artists out there are not the loudest talkers because they are in action. They are asking themselves, “How do I complete my art and make it fit into a business world?” Others talk the talk but seldom walk the walk. So I guess my interest/our interest as a company really is on the right collaborative fit and the character of the people, not the place they call home. You would think Collective Development Inc. says that all in its name. As a company we’ve spent millions of dollars outside our state and also a good amount inside our state. Sometimes it is the story that dictates location and sometimes business decisions do play in. I see many frustrated artists sound off because they can’t get any financial traction but they still want to only focus on the art/show/fun vs the business aspects. If you don’t do it as a business you do it as a hobby. Nothing wrong with that either. I make wine but I don’t own a vineyard. I play guitar but I don’t get paid to do so- They are hobbies. If you’re a hobby filmmaker who hates business – I would say avoid investors and focus more on donations like fundraising sites. Make stuff for fun and festival showings. Just don’t create disasters in the investor pools by piss poor management. When a project can’t even make it to market – to fail or succeed by an audiences vote to buy, that is ultimate failure. Now failure in itself can be a positive if you learn from it. If you accept it and embrace accountability and consequences. I’ve been witness as of late to some of this damage done and it really disturbed me. I wasn’t as mad but more sad because I know how hard it is to get established. I also know how small this industry truly is and how a few bad decisions can end careers.
As I pointed out last week – some careers being ended could be good for the whole. When we first started out and were given an opportunity – we gave every ounce of effort we could squeeze out. Even with that full effort we made our share of errors and had to overcome issues and setbacks. Now when you see folks “half assin’ it” (My dad’s favorite saying), it’s just disheartening on many levels. Usually because someone nearby would treat that opportunity like gold. I’ve always done that when I say YES to some project. I always go into every film as if it could be my last. I have come to realize that some people claiming passion don’t really care about the work as much as they just want others to respect them. Hard lesson but still very simple – Respect is earned! You can’t buy it, demand it or find it. It’s earned! Make a movie under respectful conditions and you’ve earned the respect for life. I’ve lost a lot of respect of some folks just by observing, listening, reading and watching. I want Michigan to be respected for the great artists living and working here. You are defined by your character and in turn help define us all as a whole. You will be defined by your actions.
Off the SoapBox – Other Film Updates:)
– Strong movement on “Supermodel Showdown” and with new footage – we’re making it even more compelling. Cool first TV series for sure.
– German sales deal moves into final delivery stages on our 3 films licensing to those territories.
– Awaiting MFO approval on a project – Shoot OR push that is the question. It all depends on how fast these ducks line up BECAUSE pre-production doesn’t happen with a wave of a magic wand. This project if it goes this year will employ many actors. Please do get your reels of previous drama work ready. If it moves ahead we will be moving fast. If you have reels I plan to eliminate many of the hoops and cast from reels with possible interviews. We will treat you as professionals but be ready like professionals.
– CDI announced new production deal on “Bestseller” and major re-organization underway. Some of the previous management on this project inspired some of my opening blog statements. Not all of them. I will also be announcing an on-screen role. I was offered a role in the film and after 3 days of consideration I accepted. I’m excited about this and I think fans will really enjoy it:)
– GREAT movement on ASHES OF EDEN. We had a good 30 country radio interview this past week. New theatrical trailer almost done. Dialogue edit almost done as music and sound design continues.
– Development of new relationships with networks continues. Working on some new HBO development.
– I did get a last-minute call from a director friend (J.B.) shooting some B-Roll in Lansing for a cool UK Sci Fi drama shooting in Michigan. I stepped in and did a great cameo doing something on camera that was a first for me. It was a cool character and a cool scene. I was a little jacked up with energy on Take 1 and gouged my finger fast drawing a pistol. I guess if you ain’t bleeding – you ain’t working hard enough.
I will also be announcing that I have a new run going with a theatrical agent in Hollywood. I wanted a foot there because I am going to work into maybe a studio picture a year. I’ve had many of my A list crew friends working studio films in Hollywood ask why I wasn’t wanting to work on studio films. I’ve been fond of the diverse, unique filmmakers I’ve gotten to collaborate with in the indie world. I keep working based on people who know my work on and off-screen. I don’t play Hollywood BS games very well and so if the best ass kisser is gonna win – well, it won’t be me:) Ass kicker maybe:) But the agents think my art is strong enough and if the studios are looking for a new face – cool. Otherwise I’m just continuing to grow my audience film by film – country by country. Either way is fine or a nice mix:)
“Locked in a Room” is part of a fall “8 Horror Films” set at Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart and other fine places. I think $10 or under and we share billing with several other stars showcasing their scary goods. It is getting scary movie season and I’ve put 3 out there and you can go back and watch even early classics if you so choose.
Some of these notices will be explained in more detail in forthcoming PR but I like to give all of you the advanced scoop:) Enjoy your weekend! Nice job by the LIONS also last night!