Photo by Dean Teaster
Good morning my friends. I’m indeed sipping the hazelnut coffee this morning and taking a moment to type to all of you. Our CDI team has been hard at work capturing the story pieces for our next film MBF: Man’s Best Friend. We have an excellent cast and crew working hard to make each day. This film will surely live up to the standards we’ve been trying to set for ourselves as storytellers. I’ve truly gone to some new places with this character Paul. A wounded war vet who is just trying to find peace. I think many of us are trying to do that and certain things give us that feeling. What happens when that peace is disrupted or taken away? This film is just growing in leaps and bounds gathering worldwide interest. It will be featured on an upcoming ANIMAL PLANET show called ‘Amanda to the Rescue’ this fall.
Me with my boy ‘Luke Brown’
We’ve got military supporters and dog lovers. The hearing impaired and spinal injury activists – all sorts of messages in this story that unfolds in small-town America. Please check out our social media site and join us on this journey. It’s fun to see the lifelong friendships being born through mutual, shared passion in storytelling.
Aside from this we have some exciting news pending on ‘Wild Faith’ pending only until the deal is done. We’re looking at setting up more theatrical screenings this summer as we move towards fall home video release.
I also just saw the new color correction for part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY trailer. Such a beautiful job. The film VFX is still being worked but I got to see some of the digital matte paintings and such inside the feature film. We have this great film about to join ‘Forty Nights’ and ‘Chasing the Star’ in the marketplace. That will happen as ‘MBF’ is in editing.
I’m so very proud of these films done by hard-working artists on both sides of the camera. If you’re a filmmaker work hard to do things right. I saw filmmakers online talking about locations. These are so important and can make or break the look of a film. If you don’t run an organized off-set and trash a location that defines all our industry. I’ve stated before about being accountable. We’ve had some poison-individuals in this state of Michigan who caused quite a bit of damage to projects and their self. Luckily several of them are gone having burned too many bridges. I noticed how several of these toxic people were hailed for…I’m not quite sure. But I do notice that talent especially seem to fear being ‘blacklisted’ for speaking truth. Don’t get me wrong ‘blacklisting’ exists. I will remove and refuse to hire toxic cast or crew. Occasionally one gets on board but they either adopt a new positive way to perform or they are made to walk the plank:) But I will always speak my truth if asked. If I disagree with something said, I will and politely try to explain my viewpoint. I would never fear being blacklisted by any of the people I deem toxic because they could not pay me enough to collaborate with them. Don’t get me wrong, I want these people to change for the positive. Most won’t and they’ll fade away like poorly written story. But some just might decide to try to live as the best version of themselves. But often taking the high road with integrity is harder and many are seeking selfish shortcuts. I was reminded of this behavior just recently in a discussion. You can choose to be part of the problem or solution. None of it really affects my world but I see the damage it does to others working hard to build their dreams. Our tribe honors accountability and that is why we are growing. Try that and see what it does for you and your community.
I’m going to bring this to an end because I have to prepare to film. I promise to have better updates once this ship lands. But sails are about to be raised and another great day of filming lies ahead. Have a wonderful day.
I’m taking these few quiet moments late on Sat night to write versus tomorrow which could be busy or peaceful zen. We’re on location with our pre-production team telling an 1800’s story that proudly weaves a lot of Michigan into it. The mail system continues to be the stress it has been for twenty years. But we’ve done just fine thanks in part to the digital age. It does get hard to digest more and more digital. I’m a paper person. I love trees and all the many kinds of woods and their properties and aromas. Man has survived by wood, paper and pulp. I just cannot enjoy reading a script digitally like I do a book. Our sets become more and more digital communication BUT we do interact as artists, IN PERSON.
We have a wonderful team of people forming up to tell this story. Some are new to our circle and others have been here for many of moons. I’ve known the joy of giving an artist their first ever paycheck for their art. They cried. It is something that I will always remember. Now artists when starting out often do unpaid work to get exposure. When they get to a place whereas people will pay for their art that fulfills something in them.
Now many are ready to suffer and sacrifice for their exposure. In the film world it is the “NO PAY but IMDB credit and a COPY of the film” deal. The first is a database of film work and the second the piece of history that those artists shared – gaining exposure. That is not us, we’ve paid people since our second film at our company in the late 90’s. I can say in all honesty I’ve never been able to fully pay what I think these artists are worth. But, we do pay what we can. We’ve paid many artists over the last twenty some years. I’ve payed what each film can afford and I have many friends that commit onto our films rate unknown. They know I pay across the board the fair price that a project can afford. If you’ve never launched a feature film than you don’t know the true hardships of doing so. When a “playground” for the arts does finally launch and a story is going to be told – it’s a voyage. Now, imagine a backyard football game or capture the flag as a kid with the neighborhood full of kids. There was always that one kid that came into a game complaining about the brand of the ball or lack of this or that – never seeing what is provided but only what isn’t. Half empty versus half full we would say in the martial arts. These attitudes are a character flaw – a cancerous negativity that will cause them great strife throughout their life. On a film set you have to learn to identify and avoid these toxic people. They are not ready. If they cannot balance their own filters they will never find happiness – just flaws. HINT: Life is flawed. The long lesson is that we’ve put literally millions of dollars into the coffers of artists and vendors. Sometimes by big checks and sometimes by small, again what that film can handle, but we always made something that made us collectively proud. Our stories travel into the world marketplace and touch people’s minds and hearts. In a short handful of years the shells and beads earned will be spent frivolously and forgotten and only the art will remain. A lasting display of the story that those people told. Some have not learned this lesson and others never will. Okay enough about those type of individuals as they run their course and after they burn every bridge they settle into a job they dislike and the circle of negativity is full circle. Of course for these people it is always because of someone else.
WILD FAITH – This pilot film has been making some amazing announcements about casting. I’m thrilled about the crew forming up behind this film. It is all team building for moving forward. We will be announcing more castings in the next few days which includes a legend of the western genre and one award decorated actress. Yes. I will be acting/co-starring in this film but I want to get my other announcements out there first. I’m looking forward to “playing” with some other talented actors and an amazing crew being led by director Jesse Low and director of photography Jesse Aragon. We all worked together with our producing team on “40 Nights” which you can check out now.
More updates have been given to me on a pair of other possible network shows that are interested in having me act. One would be a reboot of a very famous series and the other a continuation of a very popular series. I just keep doing my thing and when they are ready to get serious I’m all ears.
CHASING THE STAR – The music is complete and we’re heading to the finish line. Official poster and trailer close to a reveal. Stay tuned!
BESTSELLER – A perfect season for this film. We’re working our foreign set up so all those friends asking overseas – soon:)
40 NIGHTS & ASHES OF EDEN continue their advance into the marketplace with more places to watch almost weekly.
NEW releases of classic CDI films in the works. Development on the next slate of films is underway. Once this film has set sail we will start putting the foundation together on the third and final film in the QUEST TRILOGY entitled “The Christ Slayer” to shoot in 2017.
I’m going to finish my hazelnut coffee and hit the shower. I have a long list of TO DO’s for today’s pre-production. We’re gonna grill out with our pre-prod crew tonight and make final preparations.
Enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.
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.
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.