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

Posts tagged “town

FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.

Frame_015

While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.

3-stooges

Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.

  • Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
  • Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
  • Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
  • Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone.  For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.

2nd AD directions

Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.

IMG_1732

MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 9.47.14 AM

The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.

I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.

Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.

DJ

 

Advertisements

Wild Faith-Mania and Another Film Preps To Shoot at CDI

So it’s quiet here on Saturday night and I’ll be releasing this in the wee hours of Sunday. We had a nice family gathering to celebrate several birthdays and we’ve got two more days of more such celebrations. Before we get in too deep – welcome readers from Uganda. It has been a whirlwind of business both development, promotion and post-production.

IMG_4465

Grand Rapids, MI appearance with Shane Hagedorn and Melissa Anschutz

It’s been wonderful to first see all the cast and crew from “Wild Faith” and following that – to have audiences enter this world we’ve recreated on-screen. We had a solid run in both Grand Rapids and Lansing. Lansing, Lansing, Lansing… I’ve always been proud of being from Lansing and still call it home to this day. I’ve always felt somewhat that the saying you can’t be a prophet in your own town, applied to me. I understand it. I think it applies to many artists.

IMG_4473

But, the power of a story is proving me wrong. We’ve been selling out “Wild Faith” all weekend and so tomorrow Celebration Cinema jumped us from one showing to four. This after several fine folks were unable to attend after the shows sold out in advance online. I went to run errands this morning and heard people talking about the film. Often we as the filmmakers can grow tired of the story after the long post production phase. But I’ve enjoyed the handful of theatrical showings I’ve attended. I’ve enjoyed the laughter most of all. To hear a full theater laugh together at certain moments is priceless.

IMG_4467.JPG

I think with the last several films I’ve played emotionally heavy characters. It was a pure joy to be Ben Lily. A tribute to a character with more bravery than brains. With my trusty half-native sidekick, or am I the sidekick? Either way, creating with these two characters was special for me because of the humor intertwined in the performance.  I also know that my old friend Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty would have approved with a hearty laugh. I do wish old friend Rance Howard could have seen the final film. He loved the trailers and truly loved the genre. The film will continue to move and play. If you want the film call/email your local theater and request the film to play. We’re in talks with several new venues and may announce new screens as early as this week. But if you can – treat yourself tomorrow. 1875 Michigan.

SUNDAY ‘WILD FAITH” SHOWTIMES AT CELEBRATION CINEMA  (LANSING) 

10:45, 1:05, 6:00, 8:05

MBF_PR-Image_Finalfinal jpeg

In other news, Collective Development Inc.‘s next film MBF/Man’s Best Friend has been given the green light. All funds are committed and being pulled in as we prep the ship to sail. We’re working on setting our schedule and I’m also proud to have ‘Paul’ front and center again. This script is another story I’m extremely proud of. I’m challenged greatly by this next role and I find that exciting. If we’ve spoken to you as cast and crew just be patient as we move down the TO DO lists. We’re working hard to create that environment to create within. I’m excited to share this film next year with audiences. In the meantime…

Masterw:RLfix.PNG

The Christ Slayer is now in color correction and audio with Nathaniel Nose, director and Dennis Therrian, composer. I like to use that example of kids who get together after school to play. They have ideas, they get excited and they play. Inside the imagination play is what drives the process forward. This film will be a gift to audiences at the Christmas season. Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy will pull it all together.

CTS_laurels3

Working backwards – Chasing the Star is playing the big screen at the International Christian Film Festival up for five awards. It was nice to catch up with director Bret Miller at a “Wild Faith” screening in Grand Rapids. We got to toast a beer to the adventure in the desert we called “Chasing the Star” CTS. This film is moving into more foreign territories and platforms.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 12.40.51 PM

Forty Nights” is being promoted heavily going into the Easter season by our distributor. It is such an inspiring story I can see why it was recently chosen to kick off their Easter promotions. I will admit here, of all the ICFF awards “Chasing the Star” is up for I hope we see another ‘2018 Most Inspirational‘ take home to honor our amazing cast and crew.

I can say I’ve been enjoying experiencing the reaction to this films. I’m appreciative that these stories are giving some entertainment and comfort to audiences. I’ve been writing weekly and plan to get even more focused. Wheels are in motion.Master copy Several scripts that have been waiting for their time just might find it. Some exciting developments underway that will lead to many more years of stories been told at CDI. The tribe is on the move to create and we appreciate all your support. We cannot thank you enough.

Be good to one another.

DJ

 

 


Premiere Report and Fundraising Advice for Filmmakers

A beautiful and slightly chilly Sunday here in Michigan but I have the hot java to warm things up. Grandpa Jones playing the Bluegrass tune Mountain Dew on STING RAY music. It reminds me of some of the wonderful mornings at Robert’s Roost with my dear friends Robert and Ralphene in N. Carolina. Today I’m going to give the yard its first mow and rototiller the garden. Grilling is on-deck along with a little chilling later today.

Chasing the Star 

UICA showing

So as a young actor I use to dread the trek into Detroit traffic and bustle for any meetings or auditions but I always found the “town” of Grand Rapids to be a much easier destination. Well, that has changed as Grand Rapids proper is a CITY no doubt. Our director of “Chasing the Star” Bret Miller, calls GR home and so last night we had a premiere kick off of the film at the UICA last night. It was a beautiful showing that showed the incredible camera work and art on-screen and I’ve never seen Dennis Therrian, our post sound and music supervisor so happy. The 5.1 surround sound mix was amazing and put you front and center of the action. We did a little Q&A after the film before heading to a local haunt which was a small joint with several pinball machines. I am not a fan of crowds and small places and so it was a celebratory king can of PBR and headed back home. I was up later than I usually stay up save being on night shoots on set. We had all three directors of the trilogy at the showing which was a special thing.

IMG_3109 2Jesse Low, Nathaniel Nose, producer Anthony “Tony” Hornus, Bret Miller 

A lot of creative talent between these individuals. (Tony included:) CDI seeks out the wildly original and imaginative artists who also work within a no-nonsense business structure. I also got to share some advice with other upcoming filmmakers, which is always rewarding.

My advice when asked –

First, don’t say YES to that which you cannot do. Unfortunately, many say yes figuring we’ll just figure it out as we go.  NOT WISE. Also, make the best of every opportunity. The question was narrowed to “how to finance your film?”

IMG_3110

It’s hard, REALLY HARD to initially get business people behind you. You earn it by strong preparation, solid execution and staying on a timeline that other business entities (distributors) can rely on.  Also don’t BS just be honest in these pitch meetings. Many of these people have been there, done that and gotten that Tee Shirt so don’t be a used car salesman. Also my advice was work out all agreements amongst production in advance of seeking or spending any investment money.

Why?

Once money does come in people change. People all have other ideas on how to spend budgets. They recall deal discussions differently. Deals cannot exist by hand shakes alone. Maybe at first but paperwork spells it out clearly. How much pay, when you pay and what you expect for that pay. Like bands many good creative teams break up because of misunderstandings. Eliminate that possibility by TCB (Elvis “Taking Care of Business”) before seeking out money. Also be reasonable about what amount you’re seeking and ask yourself if you can you really manage a project of that size. If no seek experienced help. By help I mean – Not “find me money” but “I now have this money can you help me manage my project” help.

Realize Truth

Also don’t make heroes out of incompetent business folk in your circle. I was asked – Why is it so hard for us to raise $? I said, because you all have peers walking about that have poisoned the wells with their screw ups. Yet they are hailed as heroes of their own PR spin. That is not tolerated in many industries but they are allowed to survive and sometimes thrive in our industry. They leave a ruined path of projects and poisoned wells for those that come after. When the area is too poisoned they move on seeking new areas to exploit where their screw ups are not as widely known if at all. The issue is that it’s a small industry overall.

What I enjoyed about last night is once again, the important word is AGAIN, we showed that Collective Development Inc. pulls from a clear well where business artists can invest knowing their investment is getting an A+ effort.

Back to Chasing the Star… 

The film is now heading for Lansing, MI followed by Royal Oak, MI and it was announced last night that the film will return for a run in Grand Rapids, MI at Celebration Cinema.

Celebration C-Lansing

IMG_3102

We’ll announce the GR dates soon! The national release is Sept 5th but if you get a chance to experience this on the big screen treat yourself.

FORTY NIGHTS

3D BMG art

Released by BMG April 4th to home video and will keep expanding its distribution to other countries. Take a watch if you have not and get ready for the third film releasing next Spring.

THE CHRIST SLAYER

A050_C008_0318MHIt has officially moved into editing with our director Nathaniel Nose and we should have theatrical poster and teaser trailer coming soon.

WILD FAITH 

3-stooges

BTS photo (Hagedorn, Perry, Anschutz)

This amazing film was a main topic at a recent meeting with one of our distributors and the interest in the TV series is there. We just have to pull all the right elements together. The feature film now has a picture lock and has moved to music and sound design. Stay tuned for many great updates including the first official teaser poster now in the works.

MISC DEVELOPMENTS

We’re in discussion on several CDI past films re-releasing out into the market. I’ve been prepping development work on new projects and doing some script writing. But right now I have to get to some yard work. Time to refill the coffee cup.

Have a great Sunday and rest of your week. Perhaps I will see some of you at Celebration Cinema on Monday and/or Tuesday for the 7:30 shows in Lansing, MI.

Be good to one another.

DJ