A beautiful Sunday morning to sip coffee and reflect back on the past week. I want to start with a tribute to a wonderful woman who was like a second mom to me when I was a wee lad. Marie DeFord was my daycare while my mom worked and my dad was in the National Guard. She was my Monday-Friday from when I was a little baby until about five. She had two older boys Jon and Dane, whom I interacted and learned from. From them my interest in model cars, Universal Monsters, music and cartoons grew. Marie gave me my love of books and animals. While many young children fight nap time, it was always exciting for me. I would sleep surrounded by cats and dogs. At 88 years of age Marie passed peacefully. I’m beyond happy that I have reconnected with both Jon and Dane, and the latter has joined us on a few filmmaking adventures now. I attended a wonderful service and lunch where many shared the same kind of special stories of Marie’s love of people. One person said it best, she spoke to children as if they had something to say. She had that special ‘something’ that Mister Fred Rogers had. She loved everyone and was always there to listen, help and nurture the people in her life. So many special memories that I will cherish and again so happy to have had her be part of my early upbringing. I also discovered only at the memorial that she too was a Sexton Big Red graduate! RIP Marie.
Since maybe about the age of 5 or 6, I’ve been playing the game of futbol/soccer. The ‘teamwork’ aspects is one of the things that this great sport has taught. I’ve played overseas and club soccer most of my life. My detour to the community college before attending Michigan State University hindered my soccer journey. I likely did not possess the skills to make it to the highest level of the game but I’ve always loved it. It is one of the special things I get to share with my brother. He convinced me to play this year in the Over 40 league versus the Over 30 which I’ve played since I was 29. This was my second year in this age bracket and had us joining the ‘Williams’ brothers over to their team. We ended up placing 2nd in the season and we WON the championship beating the one team that had defeated us twice. Old man soccer is no joke. There is nothing more aggressive than a bunch of older gents trying to prove they still got it. On the rainy Thursday we came together and became the new reigning champs. I wanna thank all the warriors in that league who help one another stay active, in-shape and competitive.
- The final FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH artwork is being approved for the 10/4/22 DVD and streaming release. We’re all really excited to have this roll out to all of you. I think we’re doing a 10/1/22 premiere in Owosso, MI just waiting on final approval.
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is moving down the post-production line. Music and sound design are being done while color grading and VFX work also gets worked upon. A NEW theatrical trailer is being worked on and we’re starting to line up participating theaters. We plan to premiere in December in Algona, Iowa followed by a theatrical roll out. We’ll also be setting up a premiere in Michigan, likely in Owosso. We’ve already got the interest for the film to come to Lansing and Grand Rapids. We will work on getting it to Detroit as well.
- BESTSELLER and BEST YEARS GONE will be going to Broadcast and ad-based video on demand 9/1/2022 but both can be seen now on Amazon Prime, Google Play, iTunes and more! We would love to hear your thoughts so please do post to imdb.com and/or any review platforms. We have a few upcoming reviews coming on both films.
- SMOKE & MIRRORS might get a FREE release to our CDI Youtube that has many great videos. Trailers, behind the scenes, promos and more…I think this just might be the spooky treat for October from your friends at Collective Development Inc.
- Following the Halloween season we’ll be heading for the holidays. The Quest Trilogy always enjoys a nice increase in family watching over the holidays. Have you seen FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER? The films take a great look at some of the stories from the Bible from a unique perspective. It is not heavy handed and many non-religious folks have really expressed how much they enjoyed the thought provoking stories.
- HARSENS ISLAND REVENGE – This story will film in 2023 and we’re already starting advance development work. Location scouting has started and will get more serious in the coming weeks. We’re looking to put in place a few major creative pieces before we start casting and crewing. It is another awesome period piece and CDI will again rise to the challenge. A teaser poster will be worked upon in the coming weeks also.
- I’ve got ‘Screenwriter’ paperwork in process on another ‘period piece’ that will just be epic to film in 2024. I’ve been researching the history for weeks now and I’m excited to write this story in the weeks to come. I want to do a teaser poster for this film also and we’ll do some PR once the ink is dry.
- 2023 is also going to see some of the past CDI library coming once again to market. Right now we’re doing some prep on GHOST TOWN, our smoky mountain western that will be coming next year. We’re about to have the film uprezed to 4k and a new trailer cut. That will go out this week and we’ll start to get our delivery elements together.
- I need to circle back and see how the Uprez of KNIGHT CHILLS, is coming. We have an arrangement for a BluRay release likely in 2023. We will also be releasing to streaming with DeskPop Entertainment. Audio book, video game, sequel? Lotta cool things in development with CDI’s first feature film.
- Rounding out the 2023 Uprez and releases will be FIGURE IN THE FOREST and AN ORDINARY KILLER. Each one takes a lot of work to prep for re-release so we’re tackling a little bit at a time but we’ll get there.
I’m going to get after a few things in the yard. I’ve been harvesting the hops which have grown in great abundance. Our squash, pumpkins and such are growing nicely as well. I’ve been splitting wood in anticipating of winter. I want to have a professional tree trimmer come in and trim the trees around the fort/office. I need to put a trim on the mulberry tree that has taken off like gangbusters. The squirrels have started their gathering for the coming months. I love to watch them work especially a few of the young ones new to the area. I’m going to refill my coffee cup and get after some of these outdoor tasks. Until we meet again next week I wish you all the best. Remember to keep working hard and following your dreams!
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.
It is a peaceful Sunday morning and I’m sipping the ole hazelnut coffee and about to give some updates on our film endeavors. First, I want to note the earthquakes that are hitting multiple areas around the globe. Also with the new wildfires erupting in the N.C. mountains. I hope my friends there stay safe. Earthquakes and wildfires and that could also describe the political shake up here in the USA. I’m not a politician and as a storyteller I want to enrich the lives of all people. My only note as of late is I’ve never seen positive communication between parties when the volume becomes LOUD and the EMOTION sets in. Ears close and frustration mounts as people feel unheard. Talking is always better than yelling. Trying to hear both sides and seek compromise will always beat out yelling in someones face. I think a majority of people who felt unheard just went silent and let their vote speak. Also as a former soccer coach I’ve noted that many people do not know how to lose. I saw a climate of “everyone wins” grow over the years and many of us know that is seldom the case. Now I’ve had immense amount of set back in my life and I try to waste as little energy as possible on things I cannot change. I try to accept situations and make solid moves from that stance. I hope that the divide which is now more in the open creates good communication, understanding and compromise. Time will tell.
The Quest Trilogy
I hinted at a deal that is going done to take these films and other CDI properties to the next level of distribution and production. We have our first paperwork and are reviewing. I plan to put pen to paper this forthcoming week. I’ve been also prepping the other projects for presentation.
40 Nights – the beautiful comments continue and the new marketing teams will start work to prep for the new 2017 release push. I cannot discuss this too much until we have concluded the deal.
Chasing the Star – we’re entering the final phase of post-production. The first look trailer is being polished up and will be released soon. Audiences will be in for a great journey with this second film in our trilogy.
The Christ Slayer – this film is now moving into active development. We’ll be announcing new developments on IMDB.com and via new PR releases. I will be returning to my role as Jesus in this film. I look forward to completing the trilogy with this heart-moving, thought-provoking film.
Wild Faith – the editing is underway and approaching the half way point. We’re also prepping for one last pick up day that will be flashbacks of our main character. It is a return to shooting some Civil War footage and so fans of “Wicked Spring” will be happy.
I plan to roll out several of the classic CDI films from the library but I’m holding while we work out this new deal. But I assure you we will see several of the films re-release. Some will see their 1st Blu-Ray or streaming/digital deals.
I’ve had several people ask howe they can be considered for CDI films. The first thing I always say is get that showcase reel together. GAME FOOTAGE. On the CDI site http://www.cdiproductions.com we do post what we’re currently seeking. We do sometimes use IMDB Casting, Backstage or other casting notices but as a company of actor/producers we keep our eyes and ears open. When new talent is found that fits – they are brought into the discussion. Also if you’ve worked with CDI with no issue that puts you to the front of the list for consideration. I’ve talked about being ready for opportunity in past blogs but it is important. If you work a day job get one with flexibility. I use to live, and still do, quite conservative. I don’t spend money I don’t have on flash. I try to stay on top of my personal so when duty calls I can transition into business as needed.
I did have one good conversation with an actor aspiring to produce at a certain level. I gave my honest advice which essential was about taking steps. If you’ve only done 5k shorts what experience says you’re ready to manage 2 million dollars? If you’ve never done the 50k or 500k project you’ve missed so many lessons. I liken it to the martial arts whereas you learn in phases. Nobody jumps belts or degrees without learning the lessons at each new phase. I don’t see where people in film think that is a good idea. And if you lack that experience it is easy for outsiders to run amuck with your project. And team building is so important. One bad “player” can damage/kill a project so the team is so very important. If you can make a solid 50k film you will be in better shape to do that 75-100k film. The learning curve is so very important. So if a project, passion or not is too big for you – set it aside and do something smaller. BUILD.
I’m going to go do a few things in the yard to stay ahead of the snow which will find us. Embrace the differences amongst us and communicate calmly. Less shouting. More listening. Smile. Work towards real change. I will keep influencing people with a story. A STORY can change the world.
Be good to one another.