I’m listening to the icy rain outside – thankfully I got most all the yard winterized. I had a GIANT branch larger than most trees, trimmed. (Ruby’s Tree Service in Lansing) It had grown over the house and path to the office. It was big enough that the roof and house might slow it down if it fell. That said, it is now down and while part of the yard is littered with logs I will have lots of firewood for the coming seasons. I had a Viking Thursday that started early with stowing all the yard stuff under the deck and ended with a little whiskey sipping around the wood stove with a few ole friends. Let’s look at a few updates from a week of business.
- AFM (American Film Market) is over and we had both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR being pushed. We have deals underway with several foreign companies/networks for release. Asia, UK, Netherlands and more…stay tuned for news as they close. I have to say it is nice to have good reports coming in vs the sad song many past distributors would cry about how bad the market was…blah…blah… It’s all about the people and the integrity of doing business.
- Amazon likes Chasing the Star as a possible featured film in December. Here is their directions to assist us – Ask as many people as you can (who have Amazon Prime) to watch CHASING THE STAR on Prime’s streaming service (here’s the web address: https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWRYWF/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= ) … if they’ve already watched it elsewhere, they can just play it all the way through while they do something else (no fast forwarding), then write a positive review and rate it highly. They don’t need to get carried away with their comments – just be truthful and positive. Those end to end views of the film, followed by positive reviews, help drive the Title to locations on Prime’s homepage which make it easier for others to run across it and (hopefully) watch.
- Forty Nights is playing on the BIG screen TONIGHT in Bedias, Texas TONIGHT Nov. 12th see INFO here – https://www.facebook.com/events/177914439433028/
- The NEW Collective Development Inc. website will be launching Jan. 1st and we’ve got lots of great things developing with that endeavor.
- Development talks at one of my favorite studio/networks has begun. We will see, I don’t want to jinx anything but initial pitch had some initial interest.
- Discussions on development with CDI and certain Indian/Bollywood entities continues. Both to release CDI product and create new film product.
- Wild Faith VFX work is in full swing and the first low res drafts were VERY good. I’m happy to report that in the next week or two that the visual will be locked up including VFX. End credit work has also started.
- The Christ Slayer VFX work (much more) is moving right along and I got to see some of the newly altered scenes. It looks like major studio work and I’m excited to see if finished.
- Staying on The Christ Slayer film- the first official poster is almost done. I’ve seen all the previous versions and so I’m excited to see our final.
- MBF (Man’s Best Friend) solidified another investor unit this week and we announced three of our actors. One being a tried and true we’ve worked with many times (Dean Teaster) and two young actors that will be working with us for the first time. Shooting is still targeting March 2018. A shout out to all those who served in our armed forces.
Aside from that, it was a week of disappointment in my alumni school Michigan State University. In football we’ve been doing good but Ohio hit us like Mr. T’s Clubber Lang in Rocky 3. We will see if the Lions do better today. The house Halloween stuff got put away and the Thanksgiving stuff is out. Soon the Christmas tree and I for one can’t wait. I love having a tree in the house. I find it inspiring. So those of you in the reach of the cold, stay warm. I hope you have a productive week and spend some good time with friends and family.
Be good to one another.
We had a nice day of sunshine yesterday and that allowed us to get outside and do a little bit of yard clean up. Today the weather is back to wet and overcast but tis the way in Michigan. In a few short weeks we’ll be back in Yuma, AZ to film our third installment in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Let’s examine those films and the journey that these projects take.
The Christ Slayer
The bank account is open and the finalizing of people’s paperwork and getting their investment into the bank is always a task. People are busy but we work on tight timelines. We only have a few units to assign before we’re a fully functional battle station. Paperwork between crew started this week and next week some paperwork on talent will begin. Right now rooms, flights for the pre-prod team are the priority of the production office.
On cast we’re waiting for our schedule this week so we’ll know how many days talent will be required. Casting has been mostly a joy but you always get to those few hard choices. This past week we came to a few casting decisions after some healthy back and forth. We finalized casting on one of our last co-stars, a supporting role and a few featured roles from the AZ area. Each artist brings their unique talents to the screen. I’m so excited about the casting choices that were made.
I’m also happy that because of distribution being in place we don’t need to drop any ‘lure castings’ as I call them. That’s less than ideal casting but it’s done with the possibility that it may help grab the attention of a distributor. I understand why this is done but it can have a backlash. Distributors we’ve spoken with will tell you that certain names are known but they’ve become known for less than inspired product. They spoke of the flood of films that basically takes (Insert animal) and (Insert Holiday) add (Insert lure casting) and repeat. Now, I respect the fact that it’s a business model but I need more to invest myself in. I need a story that means something to me deeply.
“On schedule, on budget and our projects bring high artistic value.” That’s how we’re described by distributors and why we’ve been developing our ongoing business. I’ve said it before, you need to streamline your operation so that you can work with marketing teams whose job is to put the film into the marketplace. No excuses.
As I’ve done before I’ll give you a hint to the upcoming casting along with a story. First one of the roles WAS hard to find because it possesses a quality you can’t easily manufacture. In this case it was the “innocent role” which in “Forty Nights” was our T-Rex/Moses and in the upcoming “Chasing the Star” was filled by the amazing actor Logan Kishi. Thinking outside the box led me to looking at a certain spectrum of talent. From there I saw an actor who shared by last name. I looked at his materials along with dozens of others actors but kept coming back to the one with the famous last name:) His humor was right on point with the writing and he had that IT factor people talk about. In moving down the road in the casting process we discovered this talent had a sibling who also is an established actor. Another read for another role and BAM it has become a family affair. I’m excited that these two siblings will get to share in this journey together. People may assume I’m casting from family but I’ve never met these two brothers with the cool last name:) If we are related it’s buried up in the in the limbs of the ole family tree.
Two local actors who’ve participated with us before in Yuma, AZ have landed featured extra parts that while small are very important. (As all roles are) I’m sure they’re excited to be participating and we’re excited to have them.
In summary – We’re moving forward strong. I’ve been spending time with the story and it’s a joy to be able to imagine the talent in the roles on the page I’m reading. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. I am also looking forward to a little sunshine and Mexican food!
Chasing the Star
I’ve been assembling information for our end credits. This week we’ll also start moving over photo elements to the distributor. We should get our street date set in the coming weeks. I’m excited for audiences to get their first peek at the film. I’m trying to make it possible for our friends at Champion Church to see the film before we roll cameras on “The Christ Slayer”. They’ve helped us in so many ways as part of our Yuma team and I like to give them a special treat as a thank you.
The Easter stuff is slowly making its way out and that brings us closer to the 4/4/17 release date. The nice part about this release is that we’ll create a nice flow between the releases of the three films.
Once “The Christ Slayer” releases around Easter 2018 my hope is to see the three films play together or over three nights on television. I’m anxiously awaiting the new artwork which I hope to see this week. Fingers crossed.
Lisa Lauren Smith drives the drama as Haddie in #WildFaith
We’ve had many people reaching out about this film. I sincerely think we’ve got some gold with this film. The energy while making it was just powerful and cast and crew alike brought their A game. This week we’ll be seeing the first full cut of the story. I would say I’m excited but that would be an understatement. Keep following us and I’ll keep you updated after the first watch.
I’m not going to wax on about development at this time. Truth is I have much to turn my attention to and so I will cut this short. All of us artists appreciate your time and attention and in a few short weeks and months ahead we hope to entertain, educate and inspire you with your stories. That is an artist’s hope.
Be good to one another.
Hello friends! I’m happy to welcome new readers from China, Mexico and South America. Artists and especially storytellers share a common thread despite where they hang their hat. It was a fast week because of the holiday Monday. Today we got a nice morning rain that will nurture all the new seeds and plants in the garden and yard. The strong winds brought down a big branch from a Cottonwood tree and luckily nobody was beneath it.
This week I did see a project that caught my interest. I pointed it out to my manager who had a connection to it. We’ll see.
Some new development progress on “Knight Chills 2” and I’m excited about some of the ideas surrounding that project.
This week (Tuesday, June 7th) “40 Nights” and “Bestseller” will be rolling out on the iTUNES platform. The “Bestseller” soundtrack will be joining the “40 Nights” and so I’m happy that we’re getting those out there available to audiences.
Another “On Demand” deal has been made for “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” and we’ll be announcing that in the days ahead.
Foreign sales talks are underway on a few new projects and I’m excited that some new countries will be getting an opportunity to watch certain films.
“Chasing the Star” is in the push for a rough cut. Some music discussions will begin this week with Dennis Therrian who will score and do sound design.
With the office we’re getting close to putting the actual siding on. I’m excited by each new phase and I know that folks enjoy meeting there.
I’ve also started looking at literary agents. Following the success I’m having as a screenwriter, I’ve decided to look into liquidating some of the scripts I don’t plan on producing. If you’re looking to pay to have a screenplay written, adapted from a book or purchase a completed script, feel free to reach out. I’ve had some great success in this field and I’m going to keep developing that business. I might be closing a deal on another script very soon.
I’m about to go gear up for our soccer match this afternoon. It is a touch cooler so that’s a blessing. School is almost complete so I hope all you students and teachers have a fun summer.
I think I actually felt spring in the air if you can imagine that. Once the snow goes we have some tree cleaning to finish, fence fix and our gazebo took a hit under the snow and ice. I’m excited to do a few cosmetic things to the new office this year, which is looking great. It is truly the dream office and a great place to oversee the creation and on-going enterprises here at http://www.cdiproductions.com which has been kicking it strong since 1996. If you haven’t poked around the website do so as we’ve put several new updates on there. I also want to thank all our new blog fan adds from Australia. We are even now in talks to get more of our films released there and elsewhere. I’ve been asked to keep adding little tidbits of advice for aspiring filmmakers, actors and writers etc… I think people like the advice because it is brutally honest. No agendas here I just call it like I see it.
Let me see, filmmaker advice – best told by a story.
FILMMAKER CONFIDENCE – I had a good talk this week with a very talented artists on both sides of the camera. He was/is frustrated because of lack of progress and lack of control on moving a project forward. I like something he said – “I have confidence in the project but I lack confidence in myself.” That is a truthful statement but comes from a lack of experience. Imagine yourself a youngin’ standing on the edge of a swimming pool looking at the other side. Now we are talking width of the pool but you’ve never swam from one side to the other. Maybe you have your water wings on or maybe you don’t but you stare at that other side and you muster all the confidence you can. If you stand your ground and never dive in you will not reach your short-term goals. So finally with the right amount of encouragement – you DIVE in!
You swim, swim, swim and behold you make it to the other side. You turn around and you do it again. And again. Pretty soon you are looking at the length of the pool believing that you just might be able to swim the length.
You have to BUILD that confidence with small realistic goals. You build it by DOING. I will find out this coming week if this person jumped into the pool or is still standing on the edge. The point is that even in failure with an earnest attempt – that is success. So you took on some water and maybe you had to swim to the side before you reached the end goal- maybe next time. And next time you will have more confidence.
ACTORS – IF you are at that point where you want to be accepted as a professional – DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Let’s say that all together now. DON’T WORK FOR FREE! Work at a discount if you believe in developing these people but just say no. I see in our own state all these actors working the student films and free projects. That is where new upcoming actors get their experience and build their resume. So if you have experience and a resume that can compete professionally – GET OUT! Now if you are a hobbyist – sure do your community filmmaking deal, but don’t be surprised when professionals don’t take you serious. If you are in demand and you hold out – you force filmmakers to grow. It’s the whole, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Every time a professional actor does a free project – GO TO JAIL (Loss of name value) DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200. An experienced actor beating out a bunch of newbie’s trying to get their first projects under their belt impresses absolutely nobody. Dive into that larger pool.
Now onto some updates! You know I like to give Blog readers advanced updates. So here we go!
DONORS, the thriller I did with Niki Saletta (7th Heaven) is complete. They will screen the film for investors this Sunday and plans will be made to get this ready for presentation to distributors. It is a cool little film that has some serious tension to it.
BESTSELLER released a new teaser poster this week and the rough cut is under review. Our director is making notes for a second round of editing as we speak. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great performances caught by a hard-working crew. We’ve got early interest on the film by distributors and I’m relatively happy with our work flow. The overall film will likely be done in August and premiere in Sept or Oct.
ASHES OF EDEN will also be releasing some new poster art. I’ve been bouncing some ideas with our director on a new opening of the film. We should be done with everything this month save maybe the final mix. It’s exciting because even as strong and enthusiastic as the test audiences were – the final product is so much better. We’re planning a premiere for cast/crew followed by a theatrical test run and that may lead to a wider release via one of our several distributors bidding for a first look. This will be one of the films to watch and it will help put Michigan once again on the map with international releasing.
And speaking of international releases – following last month’s release of the Michigan-Made “Locked in a Room” to Germany, Austria and Switzerland those same territories will be getting the Philippine darkness unleashed upon them. Yes. On March 28th, “Darkest Night” will release there. That makes three new films released in those territories in the last six months. So congrats to the CDI Sales Team for that. More territories are in the works and we will announce as it happens.
The CDI Associated doc film “Outside the Wire, Forgotten Children of Afghanistan” is also getting a VOD release soon thanks again to CDI Distribution. This is a powerful film by Anthony Hornus. It was filmed while embedded with the US military in Afghanistan. I encourage everyone to check out this powerful film when it releases.
Other random news of events still developing include – a new casting for a CDI film on IMDB which you can search out under “40 Nights”. We will be doing a full PR release on this film in the weeks ahead. It’s a very exciting pet project and I’m happy to see this developing so fast. Actually we have development work underway on a handful of projects including an “Anthony Hornus” feature “Race to Judgment,” the “Soul Eater” film, and a possible new association with Detroit’s AT RISK ENTERTAINMENT. There also might be a theatrical showcase of CDI films coming to the Detroit area so stay tuned for big updates in the weeks ahead. Additional studio talks, new rep from India joining CDI and the list goes on. Enough of all this – get out there and enjoy your weekend!
Welcome one and all to “Clawing My Way to the Middle” first blog of 2014. It was a wild Christmas holiday with the ice storm and even now we prepare for another Arctic storm to come. I had a good friend come and help me cut up the fallen elm tree which I stacked up. I will say that once it has dried I will have a good amount of firewood. I had to do a little make shift fix to the fence until we can really address it. There was a lot of business that finished at the end of 2013 and some that was just on hold. Let us look at the year ahead so top off that coffee cup and let’s take a look.
In December I was filming later than usual in the year with my acting on “Dead Quiet”. It was a cool okay COLD chance to film with some dedicated folks. I’m curious to see what we created although the first look at dailies brought good feedback. I’m also curious to see the Christmas film I did locally renamed “Small Town Santa” which ties into my next announcement. I had almost sold/produced a Christmas script of my own several years ago. It banged around with some majors and would have easily been the largest script sale I’ve made. I had Hollywood try to do a commercial tween rewrite. I was willing to sell but truly hated that version. When that deal did not go through I put that version in a dark vault never to see light of day again. I kept my version inspired by THE WALTON’S versus the AfterSchool special mess. I held onto it in hopes that either I could do it right or that someone else could. I finally had a studio read MY version and loved it. The option/purchase agreement was made and it is very likely that it will launch this year. A press release is being put together so I will hold on details. I’m starting to look at a few scripts that are not acting vehicles for myself and I might consider a sell. Many like the visual style of the writing and so 2014 will see me put some effort in this area. My agent wants me to look at scripts to sell via them also so I guess I will consider. So if you are in need of a script in a certain genre reach out. You better bring your checkbook though.
I’m starting to continue distribution and studio talks that started at the year’s end. I’ve got some legal meetings this coming week over properties. I’ve got a few scripts to read – one being the proposed follow-up to “Ashes of Eden” with director friend Shane Hagedorn. Post work on ‘Ashes of Eden” is almost complete and “Bestseller” is about to dive into editing. This year will see “Donors,” “The Terrorist” making 1st distribution pushes along with the two films above. CDI will look at more associations and continue the tradition of storytelling. The chances are good that I will be doing a follow-up project “The Beast” with Russ Williams (Darkest Night) and the western “Rifle” with Carl Barbee (Resurrection).
As for acting – the hair got a sizable trim and I’m ready to tackle some new roles. I love the family of folks in front of and behind the camera. In 2014 we will create more stories.
After a string of just wonderful days we finally have some rain but for all the blooming plants this is much-needed. This week we did some major clean up on our sticks/tree limb pile after we had some cutting down around the new office. I got to burn, burn, burn this material into ash to till into the garden. There is something very powerful about burning away old dead growth and created new fertile ground. I can apply this in many ways to events unfolding around me. I think that we all carry a certain amount of negative weight built up from people and events around us. I work hard to try to not create negativity myself and keep my energy flow positive. I succeed more often than not and often nobody ever knows when I struggle to eliminate negativity. That flow will not stop if you repeat actions or continue to work with others that generate this negativity.
I can also say that in our industry seeking “fun” in the most child-like manner is fully acceptable. I always strive to have “fun” on our film sets because it translates to the screen. I’ve trial run with individuals on films whereas some I will not produce with again and others it is a no-brainer. Much of that is if they are listeners. Some people have a need to make the decisions via insecurity and are often not open to advice. Almost all the “associated” CDI features are constructed in a consulting fashion. I feel in any situation the best option should win despite who comes up with it. No pride or ego but this works only if someone is open to all possibilities. I think people and their lack of communication skills often lead to these bad decisions. A good idea presented poorly never gets accepted as the wrong tone/approach/lack of respect gets a defensive reaction and a good idea will go unheard. If you can offer sound advice that could PREVENT issues because possibly you’ve had that issue in the past – it becomes painful if someone doesn’t want to accept or discuss something because it did not originate with them. In situations where this has happened I may perform as talent with the right material and right compensation in the future but I will not produce again with them.
Now also I added to some conversations on the dreaded IMDB StarMeter this week. It is corrupt because desperate talent looking for a short cut have learned to manipulate it. Entire companies have emerged just to feed the egos and play on the insecurities of these people. It is pretty easy to spot and professionals are not fooled. It actually plays against those who cut corners. I’ve been deeply disappointed when I discover these actions but I cannot save anyone from themselves. It is a personal integrity issue and while I cannot control all people’s actions I will work to discourage and eliminate these factors from our dealings. WORK BEGETS WORK. POWERFUL PERFORMANCES WILL GET NEW OFFERS. It is very simple really and I know a large number of people use negative tactics from attempted investor stealing to buying “marketing packages” to boost some ego rating. I just refuse to lower myself or our company actions to those levels. I would rather take the long path and arrive with my dignity and integrity intact. I hope many of you can say the same. If not – consider correcting your path. Character is important to me and others and I’m not talking in a script:)
I had a good couple of days working on “Holiday Miracle” and while they are still developing as a team they worked hard and they were having fun! I can also say that Dean Cain was a friendly professional and being a Michigan boy – of course he is:) I think they will have a great feel-good film! Thank you again to that entire cast and crew for letting me come play with you all.
I did fall behind a bit on script reading this week. I had a few acting opportunities come my way and I’m having good discussions on those. On development we are making some good steps with some new bridges forming with foreign partners. Many of these companies have already realized some success with films I starred in so they have been great to work with. Our CDI Sales Team is starting to get momentum going forward. I had a handful of offers on our films from a foreign source and more are developing. I had a pain sending out a screener to a foreign company and I’m not use to wasting that kind of time – but I will get a process down. Fully developing a sales team will take a bit of time but to have success right out the gate is giving me great hope for this new direction.
I also took a few more steps on the path to personal management. I think this opportunity could speed up timelines, increase revenue flow and prove to be a good way to do a few studio produced projects. I see the path pretty clearly and so it is about visualization, execution and patience. The last one can be hard and I consider myself to have a descent amount of patience. So earlier we talked about people looking for a short cut and that stems from lack of patience. It is hard but if you can control this many more things in your life will flow better. Stressing about things that are not yet in your control will harm your health mentally, physically and make you into a person that others find – unattractive to deal with. This creates set backs and causes patience issues and…a vicious cycle.
So in summary I think the more you engage in sincere respect and compassion to your fellow artists – the more attractive as a working partner. You become a sail to whatever boat you’re upon and not the dreaded anchor of negativity. If it becomes too stressful and you become too jaded I say, get off the boat. This career is not worth it if it turns you into someone who family, friends and peers grow to dislike. I’m here to say that if it ever loses the “fun” aspect for me I will exit this career. I have chosen “Brewer” as my second career:) Often you can protect that “fun” by eliminating those negative influences. You can almost look at the lessons of childhood. The ones who did not share, were bully like in nature or didn’t play nicely with others – they didn’t get the invites to B-Day parties, after-school backyard football games or whatnot. These lessons are the same now so which kid were you? I was usually the one organizing all these activities but I guess that was just my nature. I still have friends from 1st grade on up that I see on a weekly basis so I guess those values have stuck with me. They have carried over into my film career and I will continue to nurture the positive relationships. But if other relationships go negative I will burn them away like dead branches. From Ashes new growth can come forth.
Speaking of ASHES now a shameless plug
Rough cut almost done:)
Have a great weekend.