‘SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA’ Director’s Screening plus ‘Harsens Island Revenge’ pre-PR Updates and more…
Good morning to you all. I was up past my bedtime a touch yesterday, so the hazelnut coffee is much appreciated. We did a special directors screening kick off showing of SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, our true event WW2 film. We had two screenings yesterday and we all went to an afterglow at Romas, next to the NCG in Owosso. This is back in our home state and while the film had a Michigan premiere at the Celebration Cinema, I was at a funeral. My family finally got to see all our hard work. We had a strong first showing at 4pm and I’ve heard from and seen posts from many friends who went to see the film. I like all filmmakers want a good showing, technically and being outside my area, that raises my temp. We had a super chilly last few days in Michigan, record breaking. I dressed well for outside travel but was too hot for crowds, pictures and such. I even wore a lighter jacket. I should have traded by beanie hat for something less hot. But, enough of the heat talk. It was HOT with enthusiasm, even walking up to the theatre ran into a fellow actor/filmmaker from the Detroit area who had just watched the 4:00 showing. He was sincere in his compliments and that set the tone. Iowa LOVES this story because it is their story. But the greater story makes it ALL OUR STORY. Our history. On the edge of Owosso, MI there is a race track once a PW camp like Algona. Many towns have this kind of history but many are unaware.
This month we’re pulling together the film for home video in the fall. We’re entering the deal phase and we’ll get the enhanced version to the distributor. When we saw it on the big screen, you always can notice things that if you can, you would change. A tweak of color correct here and there. Some enhancements in a few CGI plates. Subtitle tweaks. But these are artistic nuisances that many never see nor notice. Some errors may exist in period – we work hard to achieve this but it is all smoke and mirrors. Many enjoy trying to find these spots. In Star Wars you can see Kenny Baker inside R2D2 in a scene. In GLORY you can see the squib (fake bullet hits) lines running up the legs of some actors. MOVIE MAGIC. We try to transport you to another place and the audience is asked to relax and bring your imagination.
Last night I think people were taken to that time period. People will get to enjoy the film until Thursday and I hope we our powerful attendance last night they will move us into other cites with NCG. I am going to try and bring it back to N. Lansing at the Eastwood NCG. I will let you know. Again people are calling their theatre managers and asking them to book the film. They want your business so call and their bookers will reach out. They are reaching out every week. Also http://www.imdb.com is a place that is used in part to help the expansion of the film. We’ve had hundreds of beautiful comments and the attendance and growth speaks for itself, but many of a certain age do not use the computer much. Or as little as possible and so sometimes the best comments and reviews don’t make it to the official data bases. If you saw it go ahead and go to http://www.imdb.com you can vote (10 best) and leave a review or message about the film, and what it meant to you. I love reading all the stories of grandparents and their interaction and connections to the German PW’s.
We are going to keep the film traveling and hope to play a few festivals. Many of the big ones want a first ever premiere and this film is traveling so that isn’t a fit. But we are looking to play in Hollywood so we can highlight our amazing German cast. I’m damn proud and having a good dose of German in my heritage it’s another thing I’m proud of. This movie is spreading some love, understanding and compassion. I heard many times last night that people loved the story and we need more films like this. I agree. That takes me into-
Above – DJ Perry, Karl Manke, Carl Weyant
HEAR YE, HEAR YE
Harsens Island Revenge – Last night was both a celebration of the present expanding release of our WW2 German PW film but also a toast to the future. We are in official pre-production which means our business paperwork is all in order and we’ll be opening the bank account this month. We will start official pre-production meetings with our director Mr. Carl Weyant. Carl has worked independently and with the CDI Tribe on both sides of the camera. Many will know him from starring as Longinus in part 3 of The Quest Trilogy, entitled The Christ Slayer. I met him in Otty, India in 2008 where we co-starred together in a film there. He has been working several years as a director and director of photography on various projects from music videos to feature film. After months of discussions with the CDI producer team, his stylistic vision and kinetic style will lead the direction and vision of this action-packed film. I, as the writer worked several weeks with Carl, to get a final polished shooting script. This process happens with all our directors. We’ll be discussing many wonderful aspects of this film and casting will take place likely end of the month. We plan to run duel cameras on this project and that will allow us to capture more of the action, more efficiently. Carl and previous director of photography Travis Hayward (Best Years Gone) have been working in tandem on several projects both feature and music video. They were first brought together on the CDI produced music video for ‘Revolution‘ by DEEP FALL. You can watch that here-
Travis Hayward will serve as the Gaffer (cool lighting) and run second camera. I knew they would be a good pairing and I was correct. Our goal, as always, is to have a lot of fun telling yet another great story. Lessons. Always lessons to be illustrated via story, but it a very exciting way. WW1 veterans. Purple Gang. Bootlegging. The CDI Tribe is going into the Roaring 20’s, again taking on a wonderful book written by, Karl Manke. I adapted the book into a screenplay and I’ve very happy with the end product. We have had a positive reaction from a few guest stars who want to participate in this story. It will be a wonderful blueprint for all our artists. We’ll do some official PR in the next two weeks on the project. But, you all get the first drop of developing info just for tuning in and stopping by for a read. We’ve also had several more subscribe join here – so welcome! You can subscribe to our CDI Youtube and http://www.cdiproductions.com is going to be updated so follow us there also.
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH: BATTLEFIELDS
The first doc FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH is now set up in the market place and just starting what will be a nice long run of being introduced to new audiences. Even those not wishing to rent or buy it can watch it via TUBI and other ad based video on demand. Meaning-you watch for free but you watch with ads and we get paid by advertisers. It is a major rev stream these days. Ground work and talks with potential donors has begun. The Red, White & Blue Project Inc. is the non-profit we are working with. This next project will expand upon part of the original doc. It leans even heavier into the military history and Catch Can’s influence in all of that. Curran Jacobs is directing once again.
SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE – We’re close to moving into the next development phase of this project. I’ve had some good talks about the history of the story and I think we’re on target. Some of the folks involved are not always prepared to read scripts which require imagination and practice. Very unique medium that I liken to poetry and trying to say as much as possible with as few of words as possible. To invoke imagery and to carry the readers (soon to be viewer) through the story. A journey to be sure. I am working to try and keep this on schedule for a 2024 filming. One brick at a time.
BEST YEARS GONE – Now that Covid lock down and virtual festivals have returned to in person – we’re going to enter BEST YEARS GONE into some comedy festivals. We did not want to attend virtual (I spend enough time on a computer) but now it could be a better experience. MAN’S BEST FRIEND, LOST HEART, WILD FAITH, THE QUEST TRILOGY exciting marketing as the films keep growing in audiences. New posters. New trailers. Interviews. Promotional videos. Merchandise. Oh, yeah. It’s all coming.
WRAP UP AND THOUGHTS FROM THE WEEK
Man! I’m still coming down from last night. Again, it was a treat to hug and shake so many hands. We don’t get to meet our vast audiences like live performance. We have 3-5k in social associates and from that maybe 300 that we are in direct contact with. But a film is being viewed by millions to tens of millions that we never meet. We were just talking about the joy we get when someone is surprised and they get to meet someone from a movie that moved them.
We are occasionally accused of being ambitious with our storytelling and we truly are. I’m proud of this last SNIA journey because it was our hardest yet. Harder than most even know. On SNIA, we had our directors mother hit with Covid days before shooting and just days after his best friend died of Covid. Pappy, who passed, was a long-time member of this tribe working several times with CDI on both sides of the camera. A shameful loss. One of our main producers came to set with her own oxygen tanks after her own bout in the hospital with Covid. Simply put, CDI HAS WARRIORS.
I hear of businesses that can’t get employees to show up or stay employed and CDI has folks, so dedicated that it would take – well, a damn lot to keep them away. We are accused of working hard and we do. To make something that might be seen as great by some, you have to work hard. VERY HARD. If hard work and trying to create greatness isn’t for you, CDI isn’t for you. I’ve told folks that something ‘short form’ and not as hard, might better suit some for their talents. Being away for weeks is hard and it’s a sacrifice all our artists have made to help tell that story. We know how special these stories are too many out there, because you’ve reached out to let us know. You are why we sacrifice and do this.
Hey DJ, it ain’t all love:) Listen, the sprinkling of hate and bashing doesn’t provoke hurt in me but actually more sadness. Every negative comment that is tinged with dark emotion cries of dreams unrealized and often never even attempted. They’re afraid to try because they know someone like themselves is waiting, who might throw a stone at their passion or dream. A good example- I don’t love stage musicals as a whole, but I don’t go out of my way to trash them. That is someone’s jam, singing Annie Get Your Gun or something, just not my jam. And that’s fine. I’m just always amazed how little people value their own TIME. IF I enjoyed something I might go out of my way, spend my time, to make my opinion known, because I’m sharing some positive energy. IF I don’t like something – that LAST thing you will get from me is my TIME. I can just scroll on. I can choose something else. I have turn content off but I never ran to a keyboard to trash something. Why? Not worth my watch time not worth my type time. But how others spend their time is their business. But many negative barbs are sadly from fellow artists struggling to the point of collapse and wondering, why not me? My script? Where is my funding? When you put your mind in the wrong place you widen the gap. For when they are manufacturing hate, we create. Which fuels the negative feelings and the cycle continues. One path makes you sicker with the poison you spread and digest. And the other path, it inspires – you think you can do better? Get some of your most loyal, trusted, creative friends and DO IT! Like film itself, SHOW don’t TELL. You will have fun and learn about yourself. Give 100% of your TIME, on your path and see what happens.
MORE FREE ADVICE
I’m amused only slightly in those situations where people lacking the true experience try to speak loudly into something they know nothing about. They become ‘know it alls’ quickly and are unable to take on any new knowledge and experience- their growth stunted. Some opportunities given can inspire maturity, accountability and responsibility and spur personal growth. In others they can be become drunk and delusional with newly gifted power. We’ve had examples of both. I’m always cheering for SPUR versus STUNT but ultimately they control that outcome.
Every project moving forward is living evolution through experience. I work hard to develop people and give opportunities for self growth but sometimes people reach their limit on learning. You always have risk empowering people and when they grow in the right direction – wonderful. Wrong direction- just like the apple tree, it needs to be pruned. Giveth and Taketh Away
POSITIVE. RESPECT. APPRECIATION. SINCERITY. LOYALTY. – these attributes have to already exist within someone and can be nurtured. I often say, I will always work with a slightly less experienced person with the right long term attitude, versus the opposite. We can provide experience and adventure with some of the best artists I’ve encountered on my path. We say at CDI meetings, that a door closing brings us to a new door opening. CDI has grown into a multi generation of artists and we’ve got grand plans to keep moving up the mountain. As I’ve said before, it is not how high you climbed on the mountain it is who you traveled with, that will matter in the end.
I’m a tad tired from being up somewhat late and might need a short cold winter nap. The sunshine is out and that feels good, so maybe time to play cat. Thank you to each and every person who came out last night and to all the shows. It had been a few since I had seen our film play. A touch of distance is nice and gives you a fresh perspective upon viewing again. Having our family and friends there made it special, especially my parents. Both, had funny comments of having created me. They were not so quick to take that same credit after the numerous knuckle headed things I did growing up. I’m already excited for the coming holiday season when SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA will be out on DVD and streaming. We will have just finished filming Harsens Island Revenge and into editing. And so the storytelling cycle continues. Thank you to Karl Manke for trusting us with his story. His book HOPE FROM HEAVEN became BEST YEARS GONE. Read the book. Watch the film. Giddy up as Gil Gilles would say!
I’ll talk to you all next week. I hope you all take giant steps towards your endeavors.
NEW Casting, Premiere and Development Updates
Good morning everyone. WOW! Lots of new international readers from around the globe. Coffee cheers. This month has been a kick into a new gear as we’re preparing for a cast and crew premiere this weekend followed by two virtual premieres via ENCOURAGE TV (Nov 7th and 21st) and the start of filming end of this month on BEST YEARS GONE.
We’re looking at filling the new holes we have in our cast and crew. I know this environment has some people cautious and rightfully so but good communication is still a must. I had situations where I was chasing a few people down to try and get answers on availability. At the same time we had others (and still do) awaiting an opportunity to join the Tribe CDI on this next journey. My reminder is just for all of you to use good communication. I do NOT want artists I have to kick in the butt – CDI is full of aggressively passionate artists and that is what we are looking for. That said, many communicated very timely and I thank you. We are still looking at a few camera support and grip & electric roles. A few castings are still being discussed but the schedule is about done now and will start getting dispersed this weekend and start of the new week.
Along those lines I want to announce the additional of a humble Hollywood legend who is joining BEST YEARS GONE. My dear friend Lana Wood (Diamonds are Forever) will be playing a very funny part in the film. We’re all looking forward to seeing her and creating another wonderful story.
Our sponsors are starting to roll in also and with CDI films getting millions of eyes of exposure. This is becoming a great way for our partners to showcase their brands. I want to thank Lerma Transportation Inc. again for traveling with us again with their generous sponsorship. More to follow!
The LOST HEART project is so exciting as we get ready to show the world our next story. The cast and crew premiere has opened up some restriction-wise which is now allowing a few more to join. Our outside premiere will have a large drive-in like screen which will be a unique viewing. I go up there this Thursday to start the planning. After this event the national PR will continue and the film could play a few theater chains. I know they are hurting and we would love to help them if we could.
WILD FAITH and HASTINGS TV Series is gaining traction as the film keeps bringing 100,000’s of views a week and the 1st season of the TV series is almost planned out. I have a few meetings over the series in the coming weeks. We hope to roll cameras in the spring. Make the time to meet the WILD FAITH characters and enter into the world of 1870’s Michigan.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Thank you to all the good people reaching out after watching this film. The best thing I can say is leave a review and recommend it to friends and family. And the on-going question is will I showcase my martial arts in another film? If the right story calls for it is my best answer.
Speaking on that – I do have some new discussions about representation on outside films. My schedule is a bit busy but I do love the joy of just going off to act in a powerful story without the producer responsibilities. We will see this year is about full. Playing Gil Gilles in this next film will take me right to the holiday season.
One of my favorite things about the family and friend holiday season is THE QUEST TRILOGY. We did a unique trilogy of biblical adventures part 1 being FORTY NIGHTS, part 2 CHASING THE STAR and part 3 is THE CHRIST SLAYER. The distributor is doing a new trilogy trailer and I’m excited to see it! I think you will find these films different than many of the other films out there on this subject matter. So take a chance and take a watch this holiday season.
Also if you like the spooky and the haunting stories of the season I’ve done my share in my days. A few of the more frightening might be The 8th Plague, GPS, Deadly Renovation, Darkest Night, Bestseller, Darkest Night and if cheesy monster movies are your thing my first starring film IN THE WOODS might be your cup of tea.
An early CDI film that has a great fall look is FIGURE IN THE FOREST starring Dean Teaster and Mary Jo Cuppone and can be purchased on DVD with HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS (Aaron Jackson/DJ Perry) in a limited run double feature. This is part of the CDI Classic Collection and will make a great stocking stuffer.
I want to do the same thing with CDI’s 1st and 2nd films KNIGHT CHILLS and FROM VENUS next year. I will start having it authored over the winter and will release it next year. If you haven’t seen the film KNIGHT CHILLS a good read and watch go hand in hand so consider buying the book.
Talking of books and stocking stuffers – the Cat book I participated in can be purchased now.
I’m going to wrap this up. I will say that the AUTUMN ALE has made an appearance at some of the meetings and was met with approval. It has a NEWCASTLE like taste if anyone is aware of the beer. We’re still harvesting from the garden and it’s about time to harvest another round of green beans. Who knows with the tomatoes a new batch of The Green Goblin? Maybe:)
SOON WE WILL SET SAIL! I’m going to update my master TO DO list and get things rolling for this coming week. I hope each and everyone of you enjoys the new season. I’m prepared for some hard work to get this next story in the can as we use to say when shooting film. Stay safe and be kind to one another including folks that have different opinions and perspectives than you. I will keep doing what I do and who sits in the White House will not change that for me.
Until next week. Coffee cheers! Coffee Sponsors?
An Amazing Week ‘Stay on Target’ – Focus and Place Your Energy Correctly
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee as a gentle rain falls outside. The morning started with bacon and eggs and that can’t be bad. I’ve had a very rewarding week and have been basking in a glow for much of it. Lots of good business unfolded this week but the highlight was a producers watch on the film at the media center on the big screen. It was epic and Michigan looked just incredible. It was the first time all us producers had been together in a good long while. And it was a watch full of laughter, tears and joy.
We’ve had a few ‘outsiders’ to the production circle watch the film and I really believe this film has something for everyone. We will use the next few weeks to set up as many theatrical, drive-in and other such event screenings as possible. I feel as we’re evaluated by several TV networks that someone will take an exclusive window before the streaming and DVD home video rolls out. UpTV, Lifetime, Hallmark, ABC – battle of the network stars. Just joking although we use to love watching that TV special.
If you want it to play in your area you need to reach out to the venue and get the name/contact info for mgt. We will be doing a few premieres and I really want it to play LA deeper into the year. Not sure with the state of things it will happen but we will see. I know we will be playing in the area we filmed in White Hall/New Era and would love to play Muskegeon too. So LOST HEART is about to be on the move and whether you see it on the big screen or your personal big screen we hope to bring you a few smiles.
Onto other film news…
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) will be getting a powerful new trailer showcasing all three of the films. The idea is to really start to promote the three together. When seen out of order or not seeing all three does effect the overall understanding of the story. As the window for these films (Thanksgiving to Easter) starts I’m excited. I love all the fan mail from around the world these movies have brought. These biblical adventures are a good watch at any time.
WILD FAITH – So exciting developments continue – apparently the film was nominated in 2019 for several categories at some Red Letter Awards. Nominated for BEST ACTOR (Shane Hagedorn), BEST ACTRESS (Lauren LaStrada), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Darby Hinton), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Christine Marie), BEST SCREENPLAY – (That DJ Perry guy), BEST DIRECTOR and EDITOR (Jesse Low) and BEST PICTURE. Their announcement went unseen and so…just more people feeling the power of this story.
HASTINGS the TV series is under active development and I have a series of talks and proposals that need to go out. As I told our team with the TV series it is WHEN not IF. Stay tuned and some of your favorite characters may be coming back to tell their on-going story.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – So for the first time since all this virus lock down I went for my dental clean. The receptionist is married to the dentist and they have seen all the films for several years now including his daughter. I got my temp taken and they gushed on how much they LOVED MBF and that it was their new favorite. She admitted that tears were shed watching the movie. I have to say this little exchange made my day because it reminded me that daily our stories are having an impact on people. The receptionist was former military and said usually she is yelling at the screen because of the things they do wrong in military films. She exclaimed that we really did our research because it was spot on. Again I’m so happy the military community respects the performance and the film.
SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA – MBF director Anthony Hornus will be directing this WW2 era drama. We’re still in the development phase but things are coming together nicely. We are still looking for German and/or German speaking actors. Also we will be doing a national casting for the young boy lead in the film this fall.
SMOKE & MIRRORS – This is shaping up to be a great little show piece for the forthcoming development of the feature. Directed and edited by Nathaniel Nose (The Christ Slayer) this 12-15 min piece is another great CDI period piece. Early 1900’s – great location, car, clothes and a cast of quirky characters. I have some post discussions this week. David Gries is the lead in this short and again shows the amazing and talented folks we have the honor of working with. The poster art is also being worked on and we’ll release that once completed. A new CDI page will be coming to http://www.cdiproductions.com (Subscribe to the Tribe)
Victoria Jackson returning to the Tribe in ‘Best Years Gone’
BEST YEARS GONE – Were going to be meeting to identify the VFX shots and such that can be filmed before the main circus. We are still targeting end of Oct pre-prod and Nov shoot. Lots of talks with sponsors and such about this film that will be a great addition to the TribeCDI films. We have more cast and crew to announce and we’ll be doing that starting this week where we’ll meet the ladies from Gal’s & Ghouls:)
FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH – CDI is helping produce a documentary film about the history of catch-can wrestling. We’ve got a lot of great people appearing in the doc to discuss their passion for this old fighting art finding a new golden age. More meetings before cameras start rolling. With my love of martial arts this is a pure joy project for me.
I could go on about other projects either getting new releases or new development but I think you have a good picture of the situation. CDI is on the move and will just keep doing what we do. Music, Animation and many other exciting things will be happening at CDI in the near future. We keep adding to the tribe and the projects keep growing in number and scope. I saw a few posts this week about and from a MI company having all kinds of issues with one of their “producers” whose job should be to eliminate issues not create them. But once I saw who they were talking about it all made sense. Again just be careful who you create with. It should be a wonderful experience and not marked by drama and nonsense. As I watched all the LOST HEART cast and crew names scroll down the big screen I was deeply moved. From organizing after-school video camera shoots to where I am now is just…amazing. I am so thankful to be on this journey and with such amazing artists. If you like the style of storytelling CDI has gotten known for you will not be disappointed in CDI’s new offering LOST HEART. We’ll see you soon:)
Stay safe and be good to one another! Have an amazing week. Stay on target. Focus. Direct your energy to what you can control, enhance, organize and don’t forget to laugh daily.
Circle of Life – Saying Goodbye and Looking Ahead (New Poster Release)
I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
First Showings, Winter Snowing’s and What’s to Come!
Ah! Nothing like a good steaming cup of coffee on a snowy Saturday. I think I’ve been good at trailblazing ahead in filmmaking and not sweating the nay sayers. I DO care about our audiences and I DO care about the artists I work with. I want them to be proud to be part of a Collective Development project. The films have always been made with passion from the very beginning. So last night on the big screen, we did our first showing for our Michigan-based cast and crew of “40 Nights” that traveled to Yuma. A few significant other and special guests attended but I wanted to keep it intimate and low key. The theatrical version will be a more powerful 7.1 mix but even stereo, the film played powerful. What it will mean to each of you – that is what peaks my curiosity.
I wanted to share that screening with some good people – and we did. Thank you so much to the Lansing Media Center for hosting our cast and crew showing last night. It was great to see it on the big screen. Yuma, AZ-area cast and crew get ready. I’m very excited to show everyone there VERY soon.
Also we’re entering another phase in the filmmaking journey. I compare finishing a feature film to dropping a kid off at the bus stop, ready for their first day of school. At home, you can feed the child all the encouragement, love and preparation before the harsh world has contact. Our child is now on the bus. Creatively, what is – IS. Now the debates can rage – love it, hate it – why didn’t someone fund my film versus this…like I said in a post, “stepping out of the darkness where the masses wait with rocks or roses”-
Audiences will decide. I shift to business mode arranging things that will assist exposure of this film. My biggest regret on “40 Nights” after watching in studio was that it lacked P&A to show in theaters around the world. I thought it would play epic – last night at our first private viewing – it did. Much is credited to the capture of beautiful locations and the skilled hard work of our production team. A special credit to the vision of our director who translated the story from page to screen.
Feel free to sign up your local theater, church or venue for a screening opportunity. The page is on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website.
My upcoming director and editor on the second film got to attend the showing. I wanted to show them for weeks the cut of “40 Nights” as we prepped for part 2 “Chasing the Star” BUT I wanted them to see it EPIC. I wanted them to get to experience the world and I think they did just that. This second adventure will also be one for the books. Getting ready to chase the star:) Building the team.
I’ve talked about this before. I’m blessed with having played team sports from a young age. My father was big into sports and so that was part of my life. You rise and fall together and you participate in witnessing what can be done with proper COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION. Coordination is that synergy between it all and the lines run on professional respect. That is, respect for the story, that will all bear their names. As stated, my goal is to have my cast and crews be proud of the participating. These teams can develop over time but I’ve realized, some don’t really know what a team truly is. I am going to give an example and perhaps it will help someone, somewhere.
Three films with fixed budgets are contracted. A team is hired for project one. Project done. Proposed hirings again for project two from project one – A few want more compensation. (Who doesn’t) But the trilogy was outlined – it is a business plan. Now the end game goal, is to take the three completed films to sell NEW development at a studio or TV network. Or just raise budgets to reflect ROI from the trilogy films and move forward with a new slate. Budget increase will equal pay increase. Okay, everyone should be with me.
As a producer,I HIRE, yet as a writer or actor I’m often, THE HIRED. If you made an offer for a short time commit at lower rates (I did not say FREE nor for IMDB credit). These are rates with transportation, lodging, food and such. Now as an actor, would working under your assumed rate, on a short term project, by a company that hires repeatedly or on a regular basis. That sounds good.
To me, the quality has to be at a certain level for acting consideration, but I think when possible that quality should also be looked at by crews. I know many do pick and choose very carefully where to put their artistic heart. I understand schedule conflicts – why work always wants to land on one another versus nose to tail? It just does. But doing a project, that I believe in for a smaller rate. I’ve done it. And it won’t kill my yearly income by working a few days under rate. I have often nurtured relationships that would grow and expand in scope and budget over the years. The movie BOTTLE ROCKET shot immediately to mind. Several creative individuals that collaborated and still collaborate.
Back to the job offers, I watch people work on a series of free projects and turn around to tell me a rate offered is too low. Do I carry the burden that this person chose to play versus work? Other client(s) that did not pay? Whatever the case, now someone behind in bills, pushes to get more $$. Now, I’ve been successful as an actor because I respect the long game. A career of building respectful relationships that when the large paycheck opportunity comes along that person is happy to give it, because you gave so much when they had so little. Respect is real power. I give people a clean slate to make their own respect. Together I invite people to travel on a journey of storytelling. I’ve dedicated my life to following this path. I will be direct and people understand, I’m looking at the end game. A finished film. A story made by a team of artists. One that I can only hope everyone is proud to have worked on. Enough of this ramble.
I’m going to cut this short as I have some work to attend to and I want to finish a polish on a script. I’m almost there. That script is the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”…
Have a great Saturday! Keep clawing!
Filmmaker Advice and Announcements
I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!