Hazelnut cheers to you all out there. Greetings to our new readers from Germany, China, Thailand, Ireland and more! In Michigan we’ve had another warm up before a small cool off coming this week. It was an exciting week full of new developments. On the home front it was a week of yard work and today will be the first mow of the season. The chickens have been laying eggs and that is exciting. They love their greens especially dandelion greens which are extremely nutritious. I tried some last year and while a bit bitter they could make a good meal. I have not seen any morels yet just inktip mushrooms. I’ve been harvesting catnip and soon rhubarb for wine-making. We are blueberries but they will not fruit this year. But the apple trees look full and the black raspberry and mulberry look like they will be abundant. This week we assembled two large stand up planters that we’ll use for veggies since the old garden became ‘Chicken Land’. I also worked on the steps coming across the wood bridge and the steps leading into the office. I hope we might be able to have a few CDI and family gatherings this year.
Having my two Covid vaccinations out of the way and no I did not have any side effects save maybe a touch more tired for a day. This allowed me to attend one of my first out-of-town business meetings which would have included a boat ride but the weather would not permit. But it’s exciting that the ice is breaking and projects are starting to move ahead in strength. I feel deeply for places like India having a major crisis and I’m happy to see the world stepping up to help where they can. Michigan too has had their issues but my hope is that things will slowly move towards a more normal.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA announced two more cast members in Charles Edwin Powell and The Ponceman. This week we’ll announce two more actors. Both have been leads for us bringing their unique presence to the film. My hint is that both actors were in MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’re adding to our crew weekly and one area that we’re looking to add depth to is our AD department. I had talks with a few last week and I want to keep exploring so when we get to projects like a TV series we can have the crew we need. If you are an AD please do reach out. AD is assistant director and work as the foremen of the set working to keep the schedule. We are also launching our sponsorship and product placement this month for those wanting to align their product and services with this WW2 holiday story.
BEST YEARS GONE is progressing as planned. The dialog edit is complete and next is sound design and music. We will also be going through the final Battle of the Band submissions and looking for our winner. The plan is to shoot a music video and play it at the premiere. We have a great plan for a premiere and will be looking to do that in July or August. The trailer for BYG is underway by the talent Nathaniel Nose who edited the feature. It should be done by end of the month! Merchandise beyond the auto stickers and such will be coming soon! Watch the merchandise site on http://www.cdiproductions.com for new items! Our distributor will start working on poster art soon which is also an exciting time.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – is in editing and the teaser should release soon. I’m excited to see all this come together and it might be the first in a series of documentary films.
SMOKE & MIRRORS is also finishing its post process. It had no real deadlines so it has moved slower than if we had investors to make happy. This gothic, steampunk short will be finished this year and the feature script is being worked on by yours truly.
BESTSELLER – This Christopher Knight book turned into a thriller will be released with BMG under its new general market label. This mystery-thriller stars Melissa Anschutz, myself, Ralph Lister, Lana Wood, Terence Knox and Taylor Nichols. I’m looking forward to this film getting a wide release into the marketplace.
LOST HEART is a pleasant surprise for many who think the story is another run of the mill Hallmark film with country music and redemption themes. It has Bigfoot, ufo’s and even the Devil’s Crossroads which appeals to its own market. So the General Market release will have different art and title but will be the same wonderful tale. The film is up for multiple nominations at the ICFF this month in Florida with our own Melissa Anschutz, Victoria Jackson and Don Most scheduled to attend. I will be riding post here in Michigan but I might get away to a fest later in the year. Nashville maybe? We will see.
I want to thank all the fans who have been watching the #tribeCDI films and reaching out with kind words for Man’s Best Friend, Wild Faith, Lost Heart and The Quest Trilogy (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) among the many. Go to the page associated with Amazon and IMDB and leave a message. It helps to expand the viewership and offset the trolls who like to hunt films. Anyway, thank you so much for your support. You all are why we make the stories. To hear how well they’re being accepted and also affecting your attitudes so positively is a wonderful thing for the artists to hear. Most of the films can be seen free with ads on Amazon, Tubi, Pluto TV and Youtube (Encourage TV) so take a watch.
I’ve had some new business people reach out about more film ventures and we’ll see where that leads. I’ve been flowing with things and just working it step by step and things are happening. I’ve been having some great talks and texts with some industry friends – discussing their plans. I am continuing to seek a path literary-wise and slowly pulling my actor materials together. I’m not against outside projects at all even though I have turned several down. It just has to be worth taking my eye off the assortment of projects at CDI. Just like the re-assigning of BESTSELLER to BMG it is an effort to keep looking for opportunities for past stories while finishing the present ones and planning the future endeavors. But I truly love the people I get to work with.
Soccer season starts this week and I haven’t been doing the kind of running soccer requires. My cardio has been heavy bag work at best and so we’ll see how the gas tank is this week. I imagine a good amount of post-game soreness but for some reason that always feels so good to me. I’m going to let you all go so I can get the lawn mowed and might have to fire up the grill. Stay focused on your plans and don’t let small set backs derail you. Those failures are steps towards success if you keep at it. Experience can only be earned so don’t be afraid to do once you’ve evaluated the situation. I look forward to talking to all of you next week. Be good to one another.
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Coffee Cheers! Again if you own a coffee roaster and want to get your brand name out reach out and we’ll use your coffee in our upcoming production of BEST YEARS GONE. I’ve been having the same issue with brewery and distillery options. We’ve always made product sponsorship deals with various companies and showcased them in our films. But they are slow to commit on this go-around and I have to guess that its the Covid effect on their businesses. If I don’t make a deal it will become just a created label. So whatever your business is if you want to discuss our sponsorship program reach out to me on here and we can talk.
I got my Covid test back that was super easy at Walgreens from my car. I’m clear. So I will report to the hotel this weekend under our new corporate deal with Tru Hotel/Hilton. Speaking of sponsors I want to thank The Candleberry Company for their sponsorship. Lerma Transportation is onboard to assist with the craft service. And it looks like BIOCLEAN will also be a sponsor again and in these times it’s good to have them on board. We are going to run a very safe set because Covid is not the only enemy. The flu and common cold is also a hinderance so we hope to keep everyone healthy. We have more cast to reveal including my old amigo Terence Knox (St. Elsewhere, Tour of Duty) and another CDI alumni from “Chasing the Star” will be joining us! I’m excited about the team of artists and we’re going to have a great time telling this story.
BUT…we have another movie rolling out as we’re starting to film. LOST HEART had a successful cast and crew screening in New Era at The Double JJ Resort. Music, interviews, food and fun followed by a wonderful film. Weeping, laughter and everything in-between. I was happily surprised by how engaged the audience was. We had a good number of local randoms mixed into our crowd. Bottom line is I think we have another hit. The local, regional and national media is kicking. From smaller reviewers like Noah Kaser below to Mike Huckabee who will be hosting Melissa Anschutz, Don Most and Victoria Jackson in Nashville. The film is truly funny and has heart warming messages about dreams and family without being heavy handed. Please do tune in Nov. 7th and 21st on ENCOURAGE TV (A Free app) to watch the premiere event and the film. It will start 7pm EST on those two dates (Nov 7, 21). Won’t you please join us? Noah below said he’s reviewed 200 films this year and LOST HEART is in his Top 5! We hope it makes your list also:)
Once we get past the premiere showings on the 7th and 21st of November we should know where the film is headed. Likely an exclusive run on a network before it goes wide. It will also start making its way around the world.
I’ve had a few good meetings over our Mid-Western WILD FAITH turning into a TV series entitled “Hastings”. We have interest on a few fronts and if everything works out we’ll film 8 shows this spring. It will be a wonderful thing to see the beloved characters back in action. Several sites are streaming it but Encourage TV alone is closing on 3 million. Add in broadcast TV and foreign and we have a large and growing audience. I’m excited to put this in motion and to bring BEN LILY back into action.
SMOKE & MIRRORS is just looking awesome and sounds just as amazing. We are having some VFX work done and after credits – Shazam! Done:) Finishing up the feature script is on my things to do this winter.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – We have Veteran’s Day approaching and I’m so proud that this film is making the rounds. Much of the festival and event play got squashed by the lock down but the film itself is growing via word of mouth. You can watch it free via Encourage TV yourself and leave your thoughts. I see that Brazil now has MBF.
I’m also excited as we enter the holiday season to start pushing THE QUEST TRILOGY. This adventure trilogy is shot using the “style” of the original Star Wars films. You can see it in FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. It was filmed in the Yuma desert where RETURN OF THE JEDI filmed. It is a unique series of films and again is not preachy but thought provoking. Watch them all together to get a greater story and enjoy them with your family.
FEW QUESTIONS FOR MY READERS–
- Has anyone read my story in the cat book released this fall? Thoughts?
- Who has seen “The Quest Trilogy” all together and what were your thoughts?
- I’ve got several past thrillers and horror films perfect for the Halloween season, favorites? Scariest?
- Would you be excited for a WILD FAITH tv series? Favorite characters?
- MBF – Who do you agree with? Again a real thought provoker.
- Have you ever used a Candleberry Co candle?
This past week has been getting warmer wardrobe around and a few rehearsals on BYG film. We picked the last of the beans from the garden. The crockpot with beans and additional veggies and a pork roast will be filling the house with good smells. The Autumn Ale has been enjoyed at a few meetings. The chickens are doing good with the coming of the colder weather. We took a nice nature walk with Finn yesterday and I just love this season. I’m just feeling great about the coming week and I will be seeing some close artist friends that I usually only see when filming. Get yourself artists with a positive attitude and that vibe will transfer to the story.
Thank you again to everyone at The Double JJ Resort. It is a wonderful place to visit for golf, horseriding, waterpark and more! I’m going to get back to a few pre-production things today and I’m thinking of doing these next batch of blogs on a Monday since our filming for the next few weeks will include Sunday. So I might be doing a delayed blog OR I might do a video blog recap which might be easier. We will see said the wise man. Be good to one another!
So one of those inspiring movies to me growing up was the original CONAN the barbarian. I also would love to do a fantasy movie – sword and sorcery at some point. But first, Arnold, I read his bio from his soccer playing teen years into body building – to America…pretty inspiring. Also the film had edge and lessons seemed to be buried in there. (The Riddle of Steel) Add one of my favorite musical scores of all time by Basil, and you have a classic film.
As young filmmakers we loved the barbaric wisdom spewed – CRUSH YOUR ENEMY, SEE THEM DRIVEN BEFORE YOU, HEAR THE LAMENTATIONS OF DA WOMAN.
Who was the enemy? Hollywood? The Man? Corporate Studio? The struggle is fun when you’re climbing. Many get stuck in the mud and frustration builds. As the middle age filmmaker to the young filmmakers out there – look within. See your enemy – YOU, your lack of confidence, your insecurities, your jealously, your frustration – DRIVE IT BEFORE YOU – do not let it rule you, blind you, corrupt you and bring out your worst traits. Now I’m not sure how the last part fits in:) If you rid yourself of your worst character flaws I don’t think anyone will lament that.
This week was full and I felt a touch behind all week despite paddling as hard as I could. Sometimes you have to let the current take you. Let me see if I can hit upon some of the weekly highlights.
KNIGHT CHILLS book/film deal is done. Also they are on board with the idea to participate in the sequel film. It is very close to having a first draft I’ve just been pulled in various directions.
AN ORDINARY KILLER – We’re about to do a high quality run of this film that has been newly remastered. I was prepping it for 2016 VOD release and likely BluRay. New ART WORK is done.
WICKED SPRING is also heading the same direction. I picked a different direction for the film which delayed our new release a bit.
FIGURE IN THE FOREST will be the Dec. 17th film showing at our artist mixer at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI. We have an event page just opened today. We have a good time watching some of the older films and talking about the challenges we faced at that time.
Release dates nationally
DONORS (Feb 2nd)
ASHES OF EDEN (April 1st UplifTV, Parables TV) April 5th national)
BESTSELLER (May 3rd)
This week I’ve had a couple scripts to get through and another is on the way. I often have to use my writing time to read so my writing progress slows slightly.
40 NIGHTS – The film should have the VFX and intro in this week. We watched the entire film with the dialog and sound design work done. It was moving and I love how nature plays so strongly into the film. The music is underway and soon we’ll start color correction.
CHASING THE STAR – We’re organizing the business entity. We’ve got our first official script that will start to be sent around this week. Our revised schedule is done and this will help me finish what I need to do. Casting has been in full swing. We announced Logan and Anthony (Tony) as part of our cast this week. I’m excited to bring together this group of artists.
WASTELAND released Part 1 for FREE! WASTELAND: Tales from the Desert, Pt. 1 is now online and we’re giving away five official WASTELAND posters in honor of it! Just share this post and you’re automatically entered to win! https://vimeo.com/146707702
This work while only taking up a few lines of text has been a boatload. But when I see a finished project it always makes the climb worth it. We’ve got a final Thanksgiving like dinner with family up North. After that the early Christmas gatherings start. So in between the family gatherings it is work, work, work but soon…we will be toasting another finished film. It is time to get into some hot soup and prepare to watch MSU win their big game tonight. Go GREEN! Go WHITE! Spartans to WAR!
The quiet rain outside falls against the colored leaves of fall. My review of budget for the morning puts a cautious smile on my face. The call to set tells me that everyone is working steadily along to capture our last day of week 1 on the thriller “Bestseller”. This is my final action before my pick up to set. Terence Knox came in and was on-screen yesterday and it was good to see an old friend. He has mellowed some in his age and I see moments of tender and sweet – perfect for his compassionate doctor. The gruff soldier and ex-boxer that he was has given way some and I like how he wears it. The previous day was the 1st time I’ve ever had fellow Lansing, MI gone Hollywood actor Taylor Nichols on a CDI project. He was powerful in his work and we had equally strong talent in Ralph Lister, a MI adopted Brit playing opposite him. Today Lana Wood, true Hollywood royalty is once again gracing one of our films. I love her performances and I will be seeing her within the hour. The crew is bonding and I purposely put the hardest part of the schedule up front. Once we are past that it will be settling in for two weeks at a much more operational set with much less breakdown and no true company moves. The emergency vehicles and tighter sets will be shot out and only the large beautiful lakeside sets remain.
I also got to bookend my character this week. My first and last scenes are done and now I truly know my beginnings and end of my arc. So now the story will unfold for me within these fate marks. I’m ready to play and I can freely do so because of the confidence I have in our crew. The hard work was done in pre-production and so it will now pay off in the quality of the work we produce. That brings me to my little soapbox moment of the week. For 17 years I’ve proudly fought the “backwater” stigma that follows Michigan. A reputation of being 2nd rate artists because we aren’t from Hollywood or NYC. It is unfortunate that for every set experience I give to outsiders that leaves them astonished at the professionalism there is a half-dozen clusterF#@% sets that leave people stating “Worst film experience ever” uttered about BRING BACK THE SUMMERTIME a film I almost produced but they refused to listen to reason and I decided to not participate. Sad that it was someone’s 1st Michigan experience and that is the story they will tell. Now I see and hear of other great productions in state. 10 West studios, I don’t know them but I’ve seen their product and it is very good. Rich Brauer, had lunch with him and know his product. These people I see the effort to stand proud as storytellers. On the other hand I see gross neglect and piss poor planning just destroying the film community. Now I work all over and so the state of our local film community really doesn’t affect me completely but I do care. When I see people not only show complete disregard for professional process but brag about it as if it was hip or cool – I feel pity. I feel bad for those so in need of a paycheck or so desperate that they climb on board a doomsday ship. “Welcome to starship screw up – next destination – the sun.” Now I know some of these people or know of them. I see boasts of pushing crews too hard, unreasonable expectations, managing with anger and admission at a full house premiere that they barely had a script and that they were disorganized in their schedule most of the time. This was presented as some kind of joke to be made at the Oscars. I cringed because the product reflected all those things. And to many not in the knowing that is what reflected our State of Michigan and the artists within. To these people – do better. Take some pride in your work and process. Don’t treat our industry like a joke. Because what you don’t realize is that you ARE the joke. You are also giving our State and our artists a bad name. Now in our industry it has a way of weeding out the ASS CLOWNS as I like to call them but not before damage is done. And for some of you out there be careful what circus you join. You are artists to be respected. You are all a vital part of every storytelling endeavor be it in making coffee, pulling focus, last looks, lint brushing to musical scoring. Take pride in your work. Leaders take pride in your product. Art is subjective and not everyone will love it despite the outcome but always give your best efforts.
Have a great weekend. Off to set.