A beautiful pic taken by one of our talented crew on set of #wildfaith
It has only been roughly a week since I’ve returned home and it has been a whirlwind of settling back in, winterizing the homestead and handling all the business at hand. The business at hand is…well exciting to say the least.
I cannot elaborate completely because paperwork is underway and you don’t want to talk about deals before they are closed. What I can say is that the deal affects all our G, PG, PG-13 type material in our CDI library. I’m preparing reports and first returns on “40 Nights” to our investors. What this film, the trilogy and the new “Wild Faith” film has done is brought an opportunity. An opportunity to take everything to the next level. In this new deal “40 Nights” will be the first property to benefit as a new, larger push is about to be put behind that film. We did not have big P&A money behind that film and so it came out into the marketplace without a bunch of proclamation about the film being this or that. But the film has struck a chord with many people and now a larger corporation wants to step in and elevate the awareness of this film, the trilogy and beyond.
This deal will benefit some of the past films in the library for sure such as the “Wicked Spring” re-release that I had an opportunity with not to long ago but decided to hold. That will turn out to be a good choice. I see several films getting a new push into the marketplace. I’m glad that we spent the last couple years prepping the library because when opportunity knocks. (You know the saying) Now I was harping on actors in my last blog about not being prepared. I had a lot of people thank me for this common sense advice. If someone was going to get a job at a park as say a life guard. You would need to work out your own transportation. Your Parks & Recreation employer would not send a driver or pay your bills so you can…work. It sounds silly even writing it but that stuff happens in our industry. The rumor that our career field is a dumping ground for broken, misunderstood souls that don’t fit into the norm is only a romantic fable. You can be quirky, unique and artistic but you must have a common denominator of respect and ability to get-it-done and NOT be a flake. I’ve met so many of those types who want to act like the art is all that matters. Well, when using other’s money and having timelines that other businesses plan and spend around – flakes are quickly removed. My advice – don’t be a flake. If you commit, follow through. We’ve talked about that before – once I commit it doesn’t matter if I agreed to $100 or $10,000 you will get my very best. I’ve corrected people who have said, they only got paid this amount so they’ll only returning this amount of effort is acceptable. WRONG. Acceptable way to remove yourself from the climb. Why? Steps behind you is a passionate, struggling artist(s) willing to give everything they have. The day I don’t give 120% on-screen is the day some other artist would have been the better choice. I pick projects and roles I love. I bring the passion every time and so should you if you want to succeed.
I always talk of the team building because I am building a team of positive artists that in a well-organized setting their best work can come forth. After “The Christ Slayer” this spring the budgets will start climbing. Rates will nudge up and some departments might add depth. I’m not a person who steps over people – I develop people. That’s part of the deal that is happening now. As we grow, if our working relationship was good positive and drama-free that invite will likely come again. Ask yourself if you were a sail or an anchor to a project. As highlighted before in pre-production one potential hire didn’t like the pay rate and rather than just a polite pass they decided to burn the bridge. I know a few other producer/directors who worked with this person and I’m curious as to their experience. I actually felt a touch bad for this person I don’t know. Because I know when too many doors close that person is often faced with finding something to support themselves with and also try to maintain happiness in a non-filmmaking field. So when presented with a paid opportunity that has the possibility of making you happy, embrace it, they are rare. Many will never make it in our industry and will be faced with that reality of “what do I do with my life” – In hindsight, I considered granting this one person a special thanks. Their public rant actually helped us making more people aware, willing and wanting to work for a sub-contracted rate, actual pay. We were offering much more most, what so many often endure and again we paid. Not just in food or copy of finished film (if ever completed) or IMDB credit. We weren’t asking other artists to CROWD FUND our movie. We simply did what we could do financially – fairly and across the board. Again I will use the life guard job as an example. If you were looking at getting hired at the public swimming pool and what they were offering didn’t work for you – would you politely decline or would you spout off to some Parks & Recreation Coordinator killing your chance of ever working there? Right…Filmmaking should be given the same respect – producers talk and “black listing” is really just coming to a sound conclusion to avoid potential troubling issues be it a poor customer service vendor, an unprepared cast member or negative or unprofessional crew. Again…be a sail NOT an anchor.
Onto other updates
CHASING THE STAR
We talked about what is happening with “40 Nights” and obviously that will also benefit the other two films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Met on Friday with Dennis Therrian our composer and sound design and he was thrilled by the new directions taken in this film. Bret Miller and Dennis Therrian came at the project from two different places but once they met in the middle – something beautiful happened. This is true artist collaboration at its best. It stems from RESPECT. Give it, to get it. Easy lesson but many cannot grasp it. The film is in sound design and VFX and the trailer is getting close. It’s really gripping and powerful and I’m excited for audiences to see it.
Footage is being organized and I have it on good word that the first few scenes are being assembled and it’s exciting. We’ll be preparing a sneak look for our new corporate partners. The direction of creating our series took a few major steps forward. NOTE: It would be about a four-month commitment of time to produce ten shows. So we will see how this unfolds but what a great thing for Michigan if it happens. I’m so proud of the cast and crew.
The film that I acted in and helped with is making its debut at the AFM next week. If you’re a buyer looking for a cool NYC based action/thriller this film should be looked at for licensing. Look up Adler Entertainment and arrange a sit down.
Post-Production and New Development work is underway. Stay tune for many new developments.
Be good to one another.
I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the early morning here in Michigan. We had a nice relaxing day up North after a very busy week of business. I want to welcome some of our new blog followers from India. Our international readers might enjoy some of the updates as we work to get more of our films to you.
I spoke about some “uninvited drama” last week. It has been put to rest. You have to seek to do that. Actually the less attention and energy you give it the better. I have a friend that I’ve known a long time. They seem to be going through an adjustment and break from a TOXIC relationship. I do note that they get into these long drawn exchanges of words. Now as someone who writes this blog, I know how much time they take to write. When people take all this additional time to debate what should not be debatable, it eats huge amounts of time with no payoff save frustration. DELETE and move on. Consider not posting things that will end up wasting your time if you are unable to IGNORE. To apply that to my life – if I was to take every critical personal attack to heart and waste all this time defending – little would get done. But in the time it would take to read or address these negatives – I’ve landed a new distribution deal. I’ve written another script scene. I’ve combed through a budget. Even a “Charlie Brown” (Whoa is me) statement will often bring a bunch of sympathy responses. Answering all those with a polite retort can eat a morning up or afternoon. So be careful what you throw out there. Someone who is feeling down and engages in such behavior risks only feeling down again for lack of productivity. Now push those feelings aside and get a list of TO DO’s done and I promise you will feel better. An issue might still exist but you did not feed it. You did not allow it to consume you. You controlled it and TCB baby! (Took care (of) business) Next time you feel like writing a short novel spewing the frustration over someones actions you can’t control – try ignoring it and taking care of yourself. Tackle that task that you’ve been putting off and I promise you – you will start to feel empowered. Less talk – more action!
To the FILMS…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – What can I say? My goal is that all three films will become a holiday tradition to watch. I think they have the power to do so but we will see in 20 years now won’t we. Family Video has joined our growing list of retailers and rental houses. Here is a new review that was sent over today –
I’ve heard of people watching the film multiple times for an uplift. I’ve been told of the DVD being given as a gift. I’ve enjoyed hearing what joy has come from the little film we artist created.
The second “Chasing the Star” should have its second cut. We will be reviewing this week. Things are in line with music and we will be addressing our INTRO and VFX soon! It is exciting to see it all come together and I’m so proud of our team.
I’ve started the hunt for the director of our third film, “The Christ Slayer” which despite the harsh title is a beautiful story. We’ve been dealing with returning cast and also starting to look at new artists. I will be excited to finish this trilogy next year.
Many of our CDI/CDI Associated films are expanding. Every couple of weeks we’re announcing new pathways. Let’s look at a few developing.
- “Locked in a Room” is moving into a secondary distribution including a few new foreign territories. It is already in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it will be expanding again it looks like. This is a unique thriller by the awesome twisted mind of director Larry Simmons.
- PR this week will be announcing the return of the “Knight Chills” franchise. The new Facebook page is up although not much to it yet save the new trailer. It will release in 2017 with the book that is complete. https://www.facebook.com/KnightChills/?fref=ts
- 2017 will see several new releases as our deal making continues.
- “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” continue to widen their circle of availability. This past week we announced FAMILY VIDEO carrying this trio of films.
- The CDI Classic library is now digitized and so in 2017 some of these films will enjoy their first On-Demand or Blu-Ray releases. Some special edition DVD releases will also happen in 2017. (Wicked Spring:)
We discussed “Knight Chills” and while we’ve been keeping it under tight wraps – the sequel is in active development. We’re tweaking the teaser trailer for the sequel and we’ll be doing some strong PR on this exciting event in the near future.
A Jesse Low directed western project is in active development and nearing pre-production status. It’s inspired by a project we tried to launch during the writer’s strike years ago only to have it die a slow painful death. Yes. I too have failures. The heart of the previous story will beat strongly as we move forward with this new creative team. We will have some strong announcements concerning this project in the coming weeks.
- YES both the projects could provide some Michigan casting opportunities. So as I’ve said before – we like looking at “game footage” so get your acting reels together.
Men out there, words of wisdom – IF you plan to audition for a western (which we are trying to shoot this year) LET IT GROW, LET IT GROW! Same with our biblical films as we DO NOT like fake beards/hair etc… I think it comes from one project I had an association too – it was fine enough drama but it was so distracting because it looked like someone glued beaver pelts to people’s faces. I think that scare of all that hard work suffering because an actor can’t make the commit to grow hair/beard when required. So…there you have it.
Here is another little gem with casting at CDI anyway…always feel free to send an updated reel or clip to me. But to put minds at rest – if we’ve hired you before to no issues. (You trouble makers know who you are) Providing you brought your performance A-game and you were a sail NOT an anchor, you will be considered. You are often hand delivered under the nose of a director. My phone always rings more during casting times than non but I love you all the same. I just want some of you who don’t get called to know you were likely considered. Your location vs budget, age, look etc…all can factor into decisions but ole DJ remembers his co-stars. Some of you can attest to getting the calls out of the blue – sometimes years after a discussion. But keep your materials strong and current.
While on casting let me point out one other observation. I think this is important to many of those tween talent growing into adulthood. I follow a handful of promising talent that I am impressed by but waiting for the right project. I caught a glimpse of an actress I’ve followed and almost worked with – going through a public store with a couple co-stars. They were loud, obnoxious and created a few messes. Now, I’m not a saint and I’ve been kicked out of a few stores in college BUT I was not away on business representing a project and a company. I was just disappointed because I, as a company owner look for professionals that reflect well on our casting decisions. These young ladies I’m sure had no problems talking about their project but I felt like I was watching an episode of JACKASS. I guess this works for them and they might all be great actresses but I do think they will lose out on some roles because of how they paint themselves off camera/on set and off camera/off set. Yes. Wrap is called and it’s your free time but I think some professional behavior is desired by some productions. Like ours.
Alright, I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m going to go have another coffee and enjoy the day. Another soccer battle today. We won the last game so we’ll see if we can earn another victory.
I’m experiencing culture shock as I’m in some ritzy hotel in Charlotte NC trying to catch up on this blog. People, people, people, people…city, cement. It was just hours ago, I was nestled deep in the mountains of Maggie Valley at a special place called Robert’s Roost. I’ve always felt a draw to mountains and the Smoky’s in particular. It was almost ten years ago that I spent so much time there prepping, filming and promoting our “Ghost Town” movie. It was wonderful to spend time with friends very near and dear to my heart. I also missed some of the souls no longer with us. Their dogs Gator and Ben, the rooster Sampson and panther-headed cat Toby have all passed. On the first night we arrived at the dinner hour and after relaxed with a bon fire and the best relaxing gifts including a peach whiskey of the white variety. The next day we traveled and explored the Blue Ridge and another night of laughter and remembrance. In my guest room filled with 1800’s treasures which included sleeping each night under the tanned hide of a buffalo blanket. They’re heavy and extremely warm, so I now understand why they were in such demand to fight the frontier cold.
My mind and spirit needed the short get away. One full year of prepping, shooting and posting “40 Nights” which released (April 5th). This film released just as we were shooting the follow-up film “Chasing the Star” – which we just put into editing. To adjust to the less hectic phase of development and post production was a welcome change. While many people highly enjoy the filming journey, which I do, it’s also when you’re on alert for any number of issues that could arise. I always breathe easier once we’re in post and things are much more controllable. I didn’t want to slow development, so upon returning from Yuma, AZ – I immediately finished the first polished draft of the third film in the Quest Trilogy entitled “The Christ Slayer” shooting spring 2017. I know that this fall could also see us in production so it was a needed pause, a reset and deep breath. PEACE.
I’m going to try to use the last few days here to catch up on some calls and communications. Our thriller “Bestseller” will start releasing to nationally retailers like Family Video and also online rental/retailers. Here’s a place where our “special edition” version can be purchased.
“Bestseller” showcases the wonderful talents of Mrs. Melissa Anschutz playing the lead role. People have met her recently as Dana in “Ashes of Eden” and Mother Mary in “40 Nights” and I’m so honored to have such a talented, hard-working actor/producer following in the footsteps of the other CDI tribal members over the years. So look for this exciting thriller at your favorite retailers/rental outlets!
More Links to “Bestseller” will be appearing in these coming weeks.
If thrillers are your thing “Donors” is another film one of ours that released recently. Buy it here at one of these retailers.
Stay tuned for new updates on “Chasing the Star” and several of our upcoming projects. I feel very blessed to be on this journey. I’m aware how the years move steadily forward. I’m appreciative to be working with such talented groups of artist making these life lasting stories. I’m blessed to have met so many great people in my travels. To be blessed to see so many beautiful places. I hope that people will continue to enjoy our collective storytelling. I’ve heard from many of you directly or in reviewing our films and I’m sincerely touched. Thank you. I’m going to end this blog for today and soak up a few more quiet moments in North Carolina.
Be good to one another.
So I’m back from running around this morning. We are doing some upgrades in the house bathrooms and so we’ve been looking at options. We had breakfast while out since our like new coffee maker is acting up. We’ve only had it since Christmas so I need to check into that. Now we’re back from our errands where one of the nicest surprise was seeing an old friend of mine while out. I had that kind of day yesterday where at a certain point I was done with the business calls and emails. I made a few calls and caught up with some old friends that I had not spoken to in a while. It was nice to just chat about life and not be talking just about film business. We actually talked about DIPPER GOURDS and the garden. Last week I had a good amount to say on a few topics like social crowd funding and I’m just realizing that people usually want the easiest path. In my experience those paths rarely lead to success but maybe best they just find out themselves. Let’s discuss a few projects underway now…
“Ashes of Eden” is about to release news today or tomorrow of our expanding theatrical release and also note that we are in negotiations on our domestic DVD/VOD release for 1st quarter 2015. In is interesting to note that director Shane Hagedorn and I have been having more development discussions on what we want to do next. Here is a great recent review of the film from Canada.
As I type we have editing going on with “Bestseller” our upcoming thriller. I actually need to type an email outlining some of the work flow ahead. The pieces are all in and creative re-working of edits are underway. This will be an exciting film and I think audiences will enjoy it. We have big plans for this film which will become known to others as we move ahead.
I’ve been enjoying splitting my time between post work/distribution and development. I’ve been doing a lot of this while recharging my batteries by strengthening my connection to nature. The gardening, berry picking and general organizing has been great for me. I’ve said before that picking veggies in the garden while taking a business call usually brings good energy to both. Beyond the haggle over shells and beads there are people, artists who embrace the storytelling tradition. But they must also embrace the business. Show Biz is a tradition itself and if you don’t learn that biz side you aren’t truly IN IT. You just aren’t and if you disagree it is because you don’t get it and I’m not going to waste valuable time trying to light a candle underwater.
On that same topic we are on the cusp of several projects moving ahead to production. That is another reason I feel bliss in having no lines in my head. I’m not sorting through the complex emotional layers of a role and becoming…THE ART OF BECOMING
Many have asked what school of taught method of acting do I follow. The art of Becoming is a good name for it. Or BE THE BALL DANNY as I like to call it. “Caddyshack” fans will understand. As a lifelong martial artists I agree with the idea that every person has a unique martial art that is best for them. We are all unique and so we all should take/leave what works for us but I think focus and commitment to character is the key. Some of my bests scenes I don’t recall being there as I was living it not playing it. I know some co-stars of mine would say I have strong method ties to my process. I will always remember Mark Lacy on “Wicked Spring” bruised from me carrying him through the forest. I have a strong grip and he had bruises. To physically save someone there is no middle ground. Ask a firefighter – there is no gentle life saving carry. It is you versus exhaustion with a goal at hand. TAKE 7 – ACTION! So I have a few roles ahead that will require powerful concentration. So I’m enjoying the warm breezes and the freedom of nothing in the places where these characters are developed and grown.
Well, speaking of – I want to get outside on this beautiful day. I could go on about other issues abound like petty jealously that some of the new partners are now having with their new success. I had hoped some of these new partners would be spared what I went through a decade plus ago but sadly they are experiencing some. I shared DVD units moved on one of our titles which was 250,000+ . I simply told them that the small sample of jealous people throwing stones at you or posting negativity is nothing more than spit in the ocean. Five films from now you will still have those who regret your success so just use hate to motivate. So it doesn’t matter what field you’re in just rise above that negativity. Some who speak negativity the loudest are just attention seeking. They can’t create so they hate. Pick your side as an artist.
Off to enjoy the day. Be good to one another!
Okay here we are and it’s later in the day versus when I normally publish. I was lost in the day and I got to see many of the people I hold most dear. It was a simple day with no thought to the cost of a rain out on the day of pick ups. Yes. Since November when we had to bypass a series of scene shots due to conditions. What conditions? COLD. And we have action involving water. Long short was that from Nov until last week we worked away but knew we had left a man behind. That’s right – one of the story telling pieces was still needed/wanted? Either way we wanted to go that extra little mile for maybe an extra “Ohhh” or “Ahhh” to the viewers. I have to say that it ran smooth like clockwork. We had a skeleton crew about 1/3 the size. We all missed the other crew being there but this was the shuttle crew being sent down with a mission. Well mission accomplished. AND we might have gotten some great footage for our opening title sequence. So in a nutshell it feels good to have gathered that missing piece. Now with task completed and my onscreen character officially purged (Save any ADR if required) I felt and still feel great because when a project succeeds it directly benefits a slew of the artists involved. I think when you associate with quality and demand quality from yourself this opens you up to more quality opportunity. I see many people devoting high amount of energy to things that are improbable at best and more often impossible. I’m for all this growth. I’m happy when I get to work with young people who embrace both the arts and business. Many of the friends I had early on in the business fell to the road side or now reside in places of standing. Be kind to one another. Business… they can never take the art from you. But to survive as artists your work or the collective work must set you apart and create a demand. This leads me to again how proud I am of the “Ashes of Eden” crew. After an extended theatrical run in Lansing and ongoing in Grand Rapids we will soon be announcing Detroit area locations and perhaps a few other cities. We have started to have some contact from theater owners asking about our film.
“Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” shows 1-3 launched on Indieflix.com’s Afterdark Channel. Because the hot tropics might be too much for a few of you. I’m told we have an 85% approval rate and so the bikini angle worked:) Thank you all again!
A few other films we have moving through post production. The previously mentioned “Bestseller” should be assembled at month’s end and ready for final music and sound design. We did watch a rough cut and I think – well I think, it will scare people. Frightening movie my mom with probably not like it:)
“Dead Quiet” is sure to scare some folks. I’ve been trying to wait patiently for a trailer and my only guess might be they are targeting Halloween.
Also my man Jon Osman should be getting “The Terrorist” about complete. It is a slick film and I also think audiences will truly enjoy this NYC thriller.
“Donors” might be playing a festival or two this fall while we talk to distributors on that film. If you get a chance to come see Doctor Savior – please do:)
I will also leave you with this news – FACT – Some of the CDI library may be heading towards new releases. FACT – Jeff Kennedy, DJ Perry and Michael Walton have all had recent talks about KNIGHT CHILLS. Remake? Sequel? A TV Series? What is HAPPENING?
I’m actually excited as an actor that I don’t have any set obligation at this moment. I had talks on a few things but just not the right fit. I have to truly be inspired by the story and the character. So I’m enjoying the weekend. Don’t forget to give yourself a break once in a while. Enjoy those around us.
I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and the sounds of geese and morning birds are singing. Yesterday I got the back yard all mowed up and today we are working on the flooring of the office/fort. The pond, the garden (which has its first bean sprouts) – all these natural wonders that I try to surround myself with as I go through my day-to-day. Yesterday also included a meeting over ASHES OF EDEN distribution on a patio with sushi. I’m happy to say we have our first distribution offers on national domestic on the table. Now comes a process of looking at pros and cons and looking at our entire battle plan. We also have some foreign interest that could turn into solid offers very soon. One of the things I felt really good about was the comments that they gave on the production value that they stated was extremely high. They deal with a 100 films a week in submissions and it was a great nod to all our artists. You have to find folks with the talent and inspire them to give their absolute best. Every time I hear ACTION! I give nothing but my very best. It doesn’t matter if I’m being paid $1,000 or $10,000 you still give it all. When a group of artists all do the same thing the results can be well…
“BESTSELLER” is a great example of REPEAT! Not a crime drama but a dark thriller but same breed of passionate artists who again are inspired to turn out quality. The 1st trailer has gotten lots of exposure and the 1st distribution interest. We now have our shot list of pick ups and that will be budgeted and we will schedule this one day pick up. I’ve been getting myself back into my previous role and I’m excited to play Mr. Franklin one more time. It will be nice to be up North and see friends again while completing our art. Our music and sound design deal is in place and we are ready to bring this one home by years end. Look for a fall premiere!
Advice taken from my dealings – If you’ve made a deal on something in writing don’t try to re-visit in the 11th hour. Also live by what the final deal is. Example – I knew a writer/director/filmmaker who was submitting around a business summary. In it was a bio whereas the filmmaker had himself credited as a Co-Producer on some large projects. So I had people vetting (background check) this person and nowhere could these credits be found. As I sincerely liked this person I confronted them about this. His response was about ghost writing and a verbal on a co-producer credit…blah, blah… I told him that nobody knows all that drama and if that was the deal it should have been put in writing and done deal. When someone cross checks and they don’t see a credit on a film, movie/poster billing block they just see a liar. Don’t be that person. Many won’t care about you enough to even bring it up but if you are trying to get someone involved and they find false info – look to be rejected. This also applies to name dropping. If I had a dollar for every time someone name dropped and I know the person – I mean can call them – I would have a nice handful of cash. Just be real. I’ve read websites whereas they encourage people to try underhanded tactics. Actor wants footage – get to know the editor. HINT: An editor that releases footage without production permission is open to being fired, sued and black-balled. Nice advice website – and the actor could get the same treatment. I’ve never worked with an editor that foolish but I guess they exist. Actors desperate enough to try it – ah many…but don’t. Patience. You are not part of a hobby 48 hour film short contest. These are business ventures with marketing and distribution plans and lots of money on the line. You want your footage while the film is still being edited go do a student film. That is what they are for but I’m just saying actors – be wise.
I had a nice talk with a director over a comedy film. We talked schedule and such and it may work out. But you want to sincerely connect. Initially I was talked to about two roles. The script was sent after I did a sketch read – meaning a few choice lines NOT 14 pages. They will not invest giving me a script until they like my reels or a sketch read. If they like that I ask for a full script. Why? Because if I don’t like the full script or think it will turn out poorly I would rather work in the garden instead. Ask to see a directors reel – they want to see yours. It’s a two-way street. Now if you like the script make sure you connect with a character. Back to that example – after reading the script one role didn’t feel right to me. The other I really felt I could bring something to the role. I’ve often chosen a supporting role after being offered the lead because it fit better. So I’m not sure if it was a surprise but when I said I would not play the one lead role even if offered I think it strengthened my given interest in the second role. It wasn’t a game I was dead serious. I want them to make a good film. I want to perform a great role. It all has to fit together. Some people will take anything just to belong and I’m just not about that. When I sign on I bring all my energy with it. I don’t take that lightly.
These are all elements I try to use in my own productions I supervise and I think that is what helps direct these projects towards quality. Throwing a name actor in a wrong role makes others stand up and notice the mess of a film you created. Make a strong film and use that name actor wisely where they are proud of the work and they will always be there for you.
OK. Refill on my coffee and I’m going to get ready for food and fort/office work. We have a soccer match tomorrow and the sun will be shining. Have a great weekend with family and friends.
So I hope some of you had the morning to catch up on my previous week blog. I’ve been taking some family time and hitting a few estate sales that last few weeks. It started with us searching for some antique items for the house and has turned into a fun weekly outing. This week we found a brass lantern light, a cottage rocking chair, brass/wood hour-glass and the list goes on. Some stuff for the office and other stuff for the house or the home bar. This week I’ve also enjoyed the first of the 3rd batch of home-brew shared with Shane Hagedorn during a marketing meeting. Also my banana/coconut wine is fermenting nicely and will make for an interesting wine for sure. I’ve been splitting some time between the computer film work and also doing stuff in the yard as we get ready for summer fun. Tomorrow will be another soccer match and I’m looking forward to that. Last night we had dinner with my brother and his wife and I even held the new niece. It was a nice visit and always nice to see what projects he has going on around there. Okay let’s look at some of the business unfolding in the film world.
First, I’ve left my old LA agency and taken up new management with Myra MacKay. She is a seasoned professional with many good tie in’s to many producers/directors. She also is a fan of my screen work and so we are going to do a trial run this year and see what she can bring to the table. There is already some exciting stuff developing and so I’m ready to see how that all goes.
“Ashes of Eden” is out to a few dozen distributors and in the next few weeks we hope to start engaging in some serious discussions over the next wave of distribution.
The “Bestseller” trailer is about done visually and so music and sound polishing will start this coming week. What that means is distributors and fans will get to see the first looks at this exciting thriller. The feature will have one day of pick ups before we lock up the picture to start music and sound design.
Next week we start the next round of discussions over the next films to be released into Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve also got talks ongoing with the UK and Brazil and our sales team is also closing in on Australia.
I’ve got a feature script to read this week from a director I’ve worked with once already. It is a WW2 script and I’m looking forward to the read.
It also looks like we will have a music video and a few promo videos shooting over the summer. We are growing close to announcing more on a feature film script. The question is what side of summer will it shoot on – the start or end because the location is HOT in the summer. That is not good for cast, crew or cameras so we will see how that all plays out.
Also the first talks on a new CDI associated film are beginning. It is a good script and I think it will be another great project that will continue the great tradition of telling stories for a worldwide audience. More as this develops…
IF you are in the AZ area on may 24th I encourage you to attend the DONORS premiere in Yuma, AZ. I’m excited to see this finished film myself.
I had intentions of discussing a few other things that I’ve observed around me but I’m not really wanting to wade into some of that right now. To address it in a zen like way is to say – “If a man wins a race whereas he was the only one running was it truly a race at all?” Another point to ponder would be to say “An award granted is sincere when it is earned and unexpected but what is the nature of an award when it’s purchased for oneself by oneself?” Just a few things for folks to ponder out there.
I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful weekend. Relax and prepare yourself to have a productive week ahead.
I’m sitting on the couch with the pack (dogs) and sipping the morning java. I have soccer on the TV as I send around the morning emails locking down some casting on our upcoming thriller “Bestseller”. Advice for young filmmakers and for actors. First working a schedule around an actor on lower budget is a kiss of death. When working with limited funds you MUST work the schedule that is best for your production. Only a very experienced crew can make a few adjustments to schedule and it better be for a good reason. Talent that sells you in a certain territory is a good reason but you still have to be so careful. OK. Other end of the spectrum is talent. Now if you are trying to make a career in film and are not yet established giving hard limits on your schedule availability is a fast way to being replaced. I do understand that some people have BIG life events and those things should come first and so accept the consequences. I’ve had aspiring actors miss out on roles because they couldn’t miss a day of class (film). That is funny because I know as someone who went to college (MSU) that class could be skipped for any number of reasons and seldom had any real redeeming reason save friends, beer, girls. Another actor may have a conflict with a play and again nothing against that but you have to know where your career path lies. So don’t expect a production to move all around your best schedule because what is best for you might not be best for a film. The film’s needs must come first.
I had a great chat this morning with an actor friend who has had quite the career and that is Mr. Terence Knox. Terry and I have done a couple of films together, “An Ordinary Killer,” “Ghost Town,” and “Deadly Renovations” and we may add another to that mix. I know I’ve spoken about mentors before but they really are so important to have. I’ve been blessed to have many starting with my own father who was and still is my first mentor. As I get older I use more and more of his lessons. I had another great talk with Rance Howard this week who is another mentor and dear friend of mine. He is always the N. star of good movie business advice. I’m happy to give an advanced announcement that it looks like he and I will be working together again here soon. I’ve been asked to saddle up and star in another western. Rance will be playing my grandfather in the film and together we are supposed to go shoot some camera tests and promotional shots in New Mexico this December. I’m looking forward to a return to the genre and to working with old friends.
For those loving the season of fall like myself I did a promotional push on a “Triple Dose of Terror” highlighting “Locked in a Room,” “Deadly Renovations” and “Darkest Night”. I want to thank Robert Gwinn for the promotional artwork I truly appreciate it. I know that “Donors” is almost complete and I saw a great new cut of “The Terrorist” formerly “Benjamin”. I’m excited about both of these projects. Speaking of the horror films feel free to check out some of the older ones like “GPS,” “The 8th Plague,” or “Blood Ties”. If you are braver still you can go back even further to our micro-budget “Knight Chills” and “From Venus”. Everyone starts somewhere and these were some of the building stones upon my path.
“Ashes of Eden” has been undergoing sound design and composing while Shane and I look at numerous drop songs for the soundtrack. The premiere has been put into hold until we know when the film will be finished. Everything is a negotiation and I will not show some “work in progress”. We all want to show the finished film at its BEST! The trailer is exciting folks and we might have some exciting news once we do get to a premiere.
A handful of years after filming in Costa Rica the TV show “Supermodel Showdown, Costa Rican Adventure” has some real legs. The first three shows are done and being looked at by several interested distribution parties. I don’t want to jinx anything but I do think you will see this zany adventure on the small screen sometime in 2014. Staying with the TV theme I’ve been getting my feet wet with development on another TV series. It is funny how lots of talk on development is leaning in that direction. I think with cable making better and better film properties and the continued rise of reality TV – CDI will continue to develop some TV properties.
Yesterday between some prepping and packing we made a stop at the local zoo which was a nice side trip. Today we are having the mom’s over and some family to enjoy some pork loin roast in the smoker with apple glaze and apple chips. Tomorrow a breakfast with my father and after that I’m ready to go tell this next story. What a great team of artists being brought together to participate in storytelling. I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living and give thanks every day. It wasn’t always so and I know the struggles many of you have out there following dreams. You might as well keep chipping away at it until you reveal what was meant to be within.
Let me see – the people who have tried the new AUTUMN AMBER beer have really enjoyed it. Nice complex flavors and has a nice little kick to it. More of the wine has been shared and some great comments from people. I wanted to do another batch of hard cider but we will see. Maybe something upon my return in a few weeks. Some time was spent freezing some tomatoes and last night some wonderful venison steak fajitas. It will soon be time to perhaps restock the venison. Today we will be enjoying pork from our 4H purchase. Okay, I’m off to get some stuff done around the house and I hope you all have a great Saturday.
A quiet morning of sipping coffee and reflecting on the past week. On the domestic front this week saw Lions and MSU football kick off to victory. The garden is giving tomatoes, peppers and some beans in abundance. I bottled up the fall brew beer that I’ve named AUTUMN AMBER and is tastes good and with some age it will get even better. We used the smoker on some chicken and it came out great! So on the personal level I’ve been enjoying the slow transition from summer to fall. Let’s discuss some business shall we.
First I’ve noticed that some of the things happening in the our local film community will evolve on their own. My personal “community” is composed of doers from every state and other country’s creating art and telling stories to enlighten and educate the masses. We’ve discussed many of the issues that our state faces and I’m sure that is represented in every film community in every state. There are some that are chasing fame and working cons to try to grab a foothold. As I’m about to shoot a thriller this Oct. that is a complete re-shoot due to mismanagement I see that some of the individuals responsible are just moving to the next “mark”. Some are following their same game of deceit and bamboozling. I did step in to give warning to one young man who seems bent on getting ahead by any means. I just saw his attempted involvement with two other filmmakers that I call a friend. So I had to bring that to light because I don’t want to see others have their passion films damaged. Be real and build a real career on real effort and work. Not claiming “uncredited” work on studio projects or falsely adding or promoting yourself as being part of something you are not. I gave my warning but for you out there hiring or collaborating – you must also beware. Talk to people who have worked with these people prior. Remember like a job interview they are looking to say what they think you want to hear. A good speaker can bullshit a lot of people and you often won’t realize until it is too late. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way earlier in my career as well. I’ve got a finely tuned bullshit meter but we all can be a victim.
We are about to start signing deal memos on “Bestseller” in the coming weeks. We’ve been in talks with vendors and I’m excited about what this group of artists will create. I’ve been spending some time with my character role and looking forward to bringing this to life. Some of my contacts in Hollywood are now becoming aware of what we are shooting and we will be bringing a few actors in to work with our mid-west talent. They have had some great feedback on our revamped script and we are doing our production breakdowns. This should be a very smooth shoot and a great way to end the year. So prepare for a new website and PR on some of our great talent attached.
ASHES OF EDEN! The film is in final sound design and scoring and we are on course for a November Michigan premiere. Before that audiences will get a strong look at our film via a theatrical trailer which will release tomorrow! I’m excited about showing people a peek of this powerful film. I’m going off survey responses from our test audiences. We also have submitted and may have a few known music artists joining our talented local music acts. I’m excited to again show our interested distributors our new marketing piece. I also excited to show all of you!
BENJAMIN has been re-cut with distributor feedback and retitled THE TERRORIST. All the talk from over there in that camp is that we also have something very special. So this is another film that I’m excited to get out to audiences. Another riveting drama.
SUPERMODEL SHOWDOWN. The question of if this TV series is going to strike a fancy has been answered. We did a promo piece and that was shown to 3 different parties all of which responded positive. One responded so positive that it was a board room showing in London and we have an offer coming in next week. The negotiation process starts but we do have a fun, entertaining show and this might be a great start for CDI TV. Will I end up producing a few reality shows? Maybe. We will see.
I also have a TV series in development with a major studio that could be great fun. This is my first time working within this TV studios development process but I will learn from it I’m sure. If it happens it would have me co-starring in my first TV series. I know I’ve avoided that prior but this would have me on the writing/producing team so I re-considered. It still could fall apart or get shelved but so far so good.
Many of our scripts are in development pipelines being evaluated by money sources. I think 2014 will surely see a handful of these get made. I’m enjoying this time of productivity. Some is from work previously done finally coming to and some are new growth. EVOLUTION is the word I’ve been in meditation on. I can roll with whatever the universe brings because I know that it is all just evolving energy. I see great storytelling ahead.
So as you can see I can be concerned about issues in our local circles but I cannot get overly invested. Those overselling themselves to the inexperienced will continue to do so. Those chasing that 15 minutes of fame by the “fake it to make it” technique will continue for some. Others will continue to not see true opportunities presented to them and do things half-ass so they can move quickly to the next venture out of desperation. I was inspired watching a PBS doc yesterday on the torch passing between film and digital. The passion of storytelling by storytellers is the underlying golden thread. That is where I belong. That is who I am. The same child like artist who first picked up a camcorder to start telling little stories. I’ve matured in business from good mentors and experience good and bad. My wanting to bring our art to the wider world that only happens with distribution and dependent upon good business has pushed me forward. So I do care a lot about those around me. But I can only be a compass by example alone. I cannot and will not take part in a bunch of drama that I read about daily on all these social media outlets. While others talk I’ve always been one taking action and I have to stay that course. The artists that work with me will always get my best. I don’t understand and can’t try to understand those others. So I will keep tending my garden, loving and laughing with true friends and family and telling stories. That is all I can do. So I implore those out there to always give more than someone paid you for. Always give your best and use the passion inside you. Don’t sell yourself out for shells and beads or lures of fame. That is all fleeting but the stories you tell. The art – that can live on and on.
Hazelnut hazelnut coffee of mine you warm my belly and make me feel fine:) I have to say it was a busy semi-chaotic week due to some of the elements floating about. The week had some great high points which include a screening of the rough cut of “Ashes of Eden” which was actually a very powerful watch. It is the performances that really make this film stand apart from 90% of the indie films. That was a comment by our DP and it is true. More times than not casting is not always giving the attention that it should. I also see trends in Michigan that will unfortunately keep our talent’s value low. It is the excitement of being offered a job at the lowest possibly fee and the talent and management way too eager to just say YES, YES, YES. What they need to realize is that those producers/directors want the best for their film knowing that talent is key. Why pay big money for a talent and surround them with the lowest fee taking/limited experienced talent? I had one film in Louisiana talk to me as a co-star but in response to a small counter offer they went with someone’s friend who volunteered. Now maybe that will turn out okay or maybe they will get just what they paid for.
I recently did a film at scale to help a friend/filmmaker out and that was because I liked the material, the lead talent I would be working with and it only took up 2 days. Now scale is about 1/10 of my normal rates and I’ve been paid considerably more. Why? All of you fans out there. That is right – after 40+ films playing on numerous networks in various countries and millions in units/sales – I have a beloved group of fans. I’m not talking about Facebook friends or twitters – I’m speaking of the people I don’t know that are reflected in the units moved, VOD watches and viewers on TV. I’m careful with choices I make these days because I’m thinking of them/you. I want to make good choices and help tell good stories. I do understand that different folks like different films and due to my work across genres not everyone might like all my films. My mother is not a fan of my horror films. 🙂 I’m not talking about these ego building “fake it” folks playing Hollywood. I’m talking about being true to yourself, your audience and in turn demanding true compensation for your art and followers.
Tuesday was a watch through on “Donors” with a full music score and it is always great to see how the images take on a completely different vibe once the haunted atmosphere is added. It is an artsy thriller and I found my attention captured and trapped right along with the films lead Niki Saletta. This film is getting closer to being complete.
Weds was a day of reworking the business summary for the “Supermodel Showdown” TV series in post. We have several interested parties in this series and I’m enjoying watching it all come together.
Chaos exists until the order within can be seen. So I wanted to express a few feelings on CHAOS. Recently an aspiring producer who I think bit off more than they can chew made a comment to an associate that “You know how chaotic production is…” as an excuse. If you worked on the recent CDI associated film “Ashes of Eden” or previous CDI films (especially the more recent) you will recall challenges but not chaos. I’ve been at this 17 years and I have achieved zen and peace in my personal life. Drama causing folks will be put outside the zen zone until they get their energy straight. I bring that calm onto a set because if you are in chaotic reactionary mode you’re always barely getting just what you can get. With strong pre-production and the right leadership – you get a peaceful fertile garden to grow new and exciting moments on-camera. IF you are existing in pure CHAOS something is very wrong and it starts at the very top. Even capable keys need that leadership glue – again there is no manual to teach some of these things. Either you have those qualities and possess the ability to align mutual respect in the most productive path for a given project or you don’t. One recent project I know of is operating in chaos. They are in total reaction mode and they have a serious cart before the horse issue. Also if you are producing always deal in truth. I know the reputation that some comically give producers as slimy car salesmen played by Steve Martin, telling everyone what they think people want to hear. I disagree – truth only. I vet everything out hard these days. When you discover things said to be untruthful it really destroys any confidence in a project. Producers-in-training in bad need of a paycheck should not accept or sell themselves on jobs they are not qualified. This has caused issue on our projects when I refuse a credit to a crew member. The last thing I want is someone to hire someone after seeing they possess a credit on a CDI project only to find this person NOT qualified once they hire them. This is how films go off schedule, off budget and poison investor wells because someone unqualified sold a skill set that doesn’t exist. Now I’ve had my set backs in this industry but it always has fallen on the integrity of 3rd parties. INTEGRITY once lost in this business is nearly impossible to get back. It is a very small world. Over the years I’ve seen many come and go – buried along the filmmakers “Trail of Tears”. Yesterday I had a phone call and a nice card from two investors on a previous film who had recently gotten checks. I love writing people checks. It makes me feel good. I know it is odd but I do. Be true.
Now I will get off my soapbox – We had 4 films in contract stage for Germany but one of them had to be taken off the slate after they realized it was a 44 min short. All the others are feature films but I was still disappointed. Not just the $$ loss but I was excited for German audiences to see the work of these artists. That film will find a home in various countries but I too get disappointed. But I had to look at the positive of the 3 films going to Germany. I’ve had some previous releases in Germany and due to “The 8th Plague” selling well over there we are doing a pre-deal on the “Soul Eater” prequel.
I’ve been communicating with various TV Networks and companies and I look forward to filming some of these other stories we have been developing. I’m going to have a nice breakfast here and relax into the weekend. I hope all of you enjoy your weekend and prepare for a good week ahead.
Live true, be you and let integrity be your compass in business and life.
A beautiful Saturday for drinking coffee, eating some peanut butter toast and organizing my communications from the previous week. It was a week of many happenings – first it started with me finding out about the loss of one of my close friends and business mentors. It continued with some great meetings over “Ashes of Eden” which officially announced this week as well. It is a CDI associated film teaming with New House Entertainment and Ahptic Productions. We’ve been in the scheduling, key casting and crewing stage as well as locking locations. We’ve had some resume’s and reels coming forth and will be announcing some of the first attached cast very soon. I will be playing a supporting character named “Donnie” in the film and that led to a newer shorter haircut as I find the character within.
I see that the French film “Man in Wood” made an IMDB appearance and I hope to have some more details on that film in the weeks to come. On the acting subject – I had an actor who has been touching base over the last year or so contact me upon reading about our next film. I asked for a reel of his dramatic work and he responded by saying it was in the works. I looked back and saw that a previous message had that same reel “in the works” from December 11th, 2011. Anyone who knows me or reads my blogs understands that REELS are the way we like to work. Show me your “game footage”!! – As talent myself, I hate “reads” and seldom do them. Sometimes a producer wants to see if you can play some nuance of a character that isn’t displayed in your reel. But if you’re out there saying “Why can’t I get any work” – yet your materials are lacking… SIMPLE – If you don’t have a reel you go to the back of the line. IF we watch EVERY reel link submitted for a character and cannot find the right actor we may go to cold reads. So I cite that as an example to help you all out there. Also a past associate messaged me with interest in a department – I said send over a resume. It has been 3-4 days and nothing yet. We are likely hiring that key position next week – so again not being ready will likely get you bumped. So if your career is lagging look first to your materials. Check your coverletters, resume, reels, websites…control what you can control.
This week also saw the national release of “Deadly Renovations” and I’m proud of the team. I had to give a notice to some of them stepping up on the stage with their art for the first time. See I’ve found that you NEVER will make everyone happy. Don’t try. Have a glass of red wine, fire up a steak and toast the success of job well done. There will always be a slew of unhappy actors not hired (check those materials:) ready to throw their frustrated opinions. Also aspiring directors, producers and writers who so far cannot get their projects produced, script sold or what not. They often see someone else doing what they want and they see green and red. Jealousy and Frustration- a misplaced anger that can lead to troll activity. I say, ignore their frustration and count them amongst your fans. What is Lex Luthor without Superman? I’m just saying, don’t waste your time in a back and forth, defending your art. While someone is trying to rip down your deeds you are developing new projects. You’ll end up getting yet another leg up and those same folks unfortunately get even more jealous and frustrated. Vicious circle of negativity those people live within. I just wanted to awaken some of the team to the rocks that will get thrown along with the roses. That is how some get attention by going against the grain. “AVENGERS” – Hulk smashes Loki – “it was okay – I didn’t really dig how…” WRONG! Scene kicked ass:) Move on. So I thank all of you that have sent roses and to the rock throwers – I sincerely hope to one day create something that you really like. If you find yourself spewing a pattern of hate, hate, hate…maybe it is your filter/eye and not so much the project. Just a thought…:)
We should have film festival dates soon for “Darkest Night” making its first non-distributor festival appearance in the USA. “Benjamin” looks to wow audiences in NYC again after its first festival showing. Distribution talks worldwide continue on these two projects and so they will find their way to audiences in the near future. “Donors” and “7 Stones” still in post-production and “Locked in a Room” is polishing up for distribution. There will be an official announcement on this in the coming weeks from At Risk Ent. CEO Larry Simmons.
I’m looking forward to making a few exciting announcements on a few biblical era films looking to follow-up on our very successful “Book of Ruth” film. Also looking for some good news on “Long Road Home” so stay tuned for that as well.
OK. I’m going to get back to my Saturday. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
I will bypass my usual rant about my Native friends who always have a slightly different slant on the historic aspects of the day but we will focus on the meaning. For me in this moment it is only a week since I left the circus in Yuma, AZ and my family of friends got larger. Much laughter and hard work and for a group of us we were doing as we were meant to do as storytellers. It has been hard with the way of things but yet we push on.
I’m looking at options to get a few future projects launched. I’m encountering the first wave of new situations that include conditions. The give and take that happens with participation. We are entertaining a few outside the US productions. That could limit my cast and crew and so that makes for some very hard decisions. I do appreciate that we are becoming international and that our possibilities extend around the globe. I will enjoy the holidays and see how these first chips fall and make the decisions that have to be made with the elder tribe’s input.
The wonderful part is that we have fires being lit under several projects. We had a major BUMP in the road on one project that stemmed from straight up dishonesty. I’m happy to say that dishonest entity is no longer doing business. A dishonest business or individual should be worried as our friends are many and our ability to quietly TCB is great. (TCB is Elvis and “taking care of business”)
I’ve been blessed with the Oct. releases of “An Ordinary Killer” and “Blood Ties” both selling their way into the market. Dec. 15th is the DVD release of “Book of Ruth” and my sincere hope is that Pureflix finishes all their wrap up business so we can all be happy in a project well done. I saw a rough cut and was very impressed by the work. Good work on both sides of the camera. BOR family I miss you all as well!
“Karma: Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” had a great festival premiere in NYC on the 15th but I wish I knew more of how audiences liked it. It is a cool unique thriller for sure.
The in-house slate of directors of Kennedy (Wild Michigan), Hornus (A State of Hate) and Teaster (Timberwolf) prepare for 2010 and we have a few new directors seeking a home with CDI http://www.cdiproductions.com Most recently Robert Gwinn dir. of “Renovation” by association joined the tribe and talks with directors Michael Valverde and Renee O”Conner could see future growth. Director John Regan “The Flock” has been talking to me about “Sherwood Horror” (Think Robin Hood and think Vampires) for several years now and so we are looking to see how we could best package it up. It really is coming down to what HIS name as a director can package up. Most likely that would be produced under CDI. You can follow updates here…
They also covered this project in the magazine Creative Screenwriting. Nov/Dec issue. It’s a cool article. Page 13.
Here are a few PR Links on “Renovation”
We will be starting to feature “Renovation” Leading Ladies on Pepper’s fansite.
http://www.djperryfanclub.com watch for new UPDATES!
Well I have to slowly get around to go to Pa Perry’s for Thanksgiving. I hope each and everyone of you finds joy in the thankfulness of what we have versus what we do not. One day of health is priceless, remember that.