“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “thoughts

New ideas, thoughts, processes and appreciations were born in 2020.

I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and want wish a Happy Holidays to all of you. Welcome new readers and subscribers from UK, Trinidad, Tobago, Philippines, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and Africa, France and Ukraine. I left my cup to you all and give you my best wishes for a productive 2021. I’m wearing a nice new pair of warm pajamas and I feel blessed to have been gifted an assortment of love gifts. I also got some new technology that will assist with my 2021 business. I have a new JBL Charge speaker meant for speaker calls. I also have new apple I-bud things which I hope fare better than my past Bluetooths. A few new clothing items and an assortment for fun items. I enjoyed gifting and spreading some happiness to folks. I still have a handful of people to catch up with but I will all in good time. I love all the holiday wishes and I hope everyone had a safe Christmas. We went like Santa and did short drop off and visits. We did the zoom opening of gifts and while different and not the preferred celebration, we had fun. In person would have been better but until our elders in our family get the vaccine it was a smart call. We want them all around for the holidays 2021.

This is the time of year when I start to clean up and organize all my actor/filmmaker materials. It is also the time of year for LLC state file fees, end of year corp tax work and other non-sexy but required work. I for one am excited and pumped up for the new year. This is the time to create your goal lists for the incoming year and to see where you fell on your last years goals. I actually did quite well with my 2020 TO DO list and having all that extra time not meeting in person allowed me to get a LOT done. That said, I’m reading to be meeting at the ole fort again to plan new adventures. So use this time to wrap up 2020 and prepare for the year ahead. Write it down. Visualize it. Plan short goals on the way to greater goals. DON’T be afraid to fail because even failure will give you much needed experience.

SOME OF MY 2021 GOALS

  1. Do a 2021 select/fest run for LOST HEART and perhaps MBF who’s fest run got Covid squashed.
  2. BEST YEARS GONE is scheduled to be completed in June but we’re on schedule with about an hour edited. By the end of the year we hope to have a rough cut and locked cut by end of Jan. What I saw was amazing and I am beyond happy with what I’m seeing.
  3. This has to do with BEST YEARS GONE but I think we’re going to do a virtual Battle of the Bands that will end up seeing a song go on the soundtrack with a music video created by CDI. I have some interest from a few legit judges that will help in the process of deciding.
  4. CDI Merchandise Division will launch in earnest in 2021 pushing out with new BEST YEARS GONE swag. Try this one: https://www.ebay.com/itm/DVD-DOUBLE-FEATURE-Figure-in-the-Forest-2002-Heavens-Neighbors-2005-movie-/363016656566
  5. I plan to get WILD FAITH‘s TV series HASTINGS launched. Ideal filming would be 1st half of 2021 but if our timing is off we’ll swing it around to Spring 2022.
  6. We also plan to film SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA back half of 2021. Casting for our German-speaking actors is underway. We will announce heavily once we assign the last few units. I’m working on the writer/director script with Tony Hornus (MBF).
  7. Smoke & Mirrors short will be finished and we’ll take it on festival circuit for fun. But I’ve started my new work on Code Name: ASH the feature film version from which the short was taken. I’ve loved all the research for the new feature script.
  8. We are preparing to do the final filming on FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH documentary film. I’ll be putting the paperwork together for our next phase.
  9. I’m excited that we’re streamlining and updating our dispersement process at CDI. That’s a good thing because we’re getting larger and I still write every check by hand. This might not always be the case and I might invest in a few stampers but I still love it. On BEST YEARS GONE, I again had the pleasure of giving an actor their first paycheck ever. It’s a big thing to actors, a milestone and I remember it well. To get paid for your art gives hope. Hope that a path could be what was meant for you. The “shells and beads” is just a way of expressing appreciation for ones work and contribution.
  10. Writing- During the lock down I wrote the first season of Hastings allowing us to start development work such as assign directors, casting and some scouting. A few of my goals with writing in 2021 is to finish CODE NAME: ASH and my first real Sci Fi endeavor SEAWITCH is what I’m calling it as a working title. I know that development work for 2022 will also be underway. Development works at several levels and can take a few years to many years pending fate and filmmaking.

I’m staying with my existing battle plan. BEST EFFORTS. I would love to participate in a few outside projects should I connect with the material and schedule works. Let’s talk about that POSTING CASTINGS. I see postings from people just asking for actors within an age but they say nothing about the character, the story or the creative team. And you get desperate actors excited sight-unseen to a project listing. Now to be fair in a few cases the previous work is known which can be a positive and a negative pending quality. I understand the keeping a story somewhat private but you have to give the talent something. I would rather work on development or earning from the existing library versus participating in bad work. To get the best actors you need to get the talent exciting. If you think you have the next best thing have talent sign NDA (Non Disclosure agreement) and let them read the script. I would not participate in too many projects if they withheld the script save maybe a major studio film and even then…come on. So one of my helpful hints to get better talent is take some time in the description of the story. List the director and DP and if you like a talent let them read the script. It’s a two way interview and while it might be a great step for a talent, the production NEEDS to find that great talent to succeed with any quality.

Okay. I’ve talked a bit about my goals for producing with CDI, also myself as a writer and actor going into 2021. I hope we have a soccer season this year. I am stepping up and expanding some of the martial arts training preparing for X project or if I just need to unleash any Kung Fu fury. I might wrap things up here to go eat a little breakfast and go chop some wood. The house is in good shape with no real company but we still managed to create a small holiday mess. But as the new little gifts find their new place I’m grateful for what we have. I’ve got an abundance of the homemade beer and wine. Some great sipping gifts and as things lighten up I’m looking forward to clinking a few glasses and making plans.

Enjoy your new year safely. Cheers to a healthy mind, body and spirit. Think positive and kindness expelling any negative toxins and the spirit will soar. Replace repetitive news with music. Replace hate with create – and lead by example versus condensing communications. Actions are louder than words. All to often when some speak they “feel” empowered but their other actions dismiss their credibility labeling them a hypocrite. But actions are what actions are – a truth. If you give vs talk of giving that is powerful. Practice “green earth” vs just talking about climate change. Practice respectful communication in the spirit of unity.

Unity was the theme of last weeks blog. I had such a great response to my blog last week that I want to incorporate it into an upcoming press release. At CDI the spark of storytelling is a constant and will survive all circumstance until mankind is no more. It is greater than our daily priorities that others try to use and put us in a box of A or B when I am a Z:) It comes down to doing the right thing even if it puts a little loss on the sheets. From A CHRISTMAS CAROL and the heart-opening message of the business minded to CHRISTMAS VACATION whereas the employee bonus check doesn’t arrive. I think we can all look at where we can take less so we can enjoy the benefits that come with the spirit of giving to others. YOU CANNOT take it with you. Another lesson this year was – YOU ALWAYS THINK YOU HAVE MORE TIME (Thank you Steven Anschutz) so follow your passions be it as a hobby, part-time or full-time. Gift yourself that time dancing with your own fires of passion. Write, Read, Watch, Sing, Play, Create…do what you need to do. But spend that time to stoke the fire and it will make you a better person. You will share that feel-good fire with others and they will also pass it along. When faced with two-sided news always give the positive first. It puts someone in a more positive, receptive state-of-mind and allows them to better receive any off news. That “off” now becomes something to work on as we all must continue to do. So MUCH growth has happened in 2020 and while it was a challenge many old models were broken. New ideas, thoughts, processes and appreciations were born in 2020. Let’s put everything we learned into practice in 2021! I will see everyone next year.

Happy New Year!

DJ


The Power of Teachers – CDI Updates

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Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.

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My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.

We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.

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My alumni school

I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.

Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.

High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.

I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.

I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.

I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience.  Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.

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FILM UPDATES

I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.

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LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.

LOOKING AHEAD

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BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.

https://www.prlog.org/12824284-snl-alumnus-victoria-jackson-returns-for-cdis-best-years-gone.html

Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.

  • We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
  • Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
  • We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
  • Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
  • Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects.  We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.

 

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I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.

As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.

Be safe and we’ll chat next week.

DJ

 

 


Production Ramble and Film Updates

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It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.

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We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.

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Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.

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WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.

My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.

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PRODUCTION THOUGHTS

We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997.  In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.

A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.

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I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.

I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.

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I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.

If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.

Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying,  Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.

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I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!

I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

DJ