The sun has come through the clouds and I’ve got my coffee here with me. Welcome new readers from New Zealand, China, Philippines and more. As we ride out this event as one many things have changed. For the first time in the world we’re dealing with something as WE versus ME. I think it’s the first time in my lifetime and maybe everyone’s lifetime where this unified perspective prevails. These next couple weeks are suppose to be hard on the population. It is interesting how as this ramped up everyone was asking each other if anyone knew an infected person. In a matter of days the answer became, “I know someone who knows something and a day later we all knew people. This event will effect everyone either by loss of family or friend.
With the virus attacking my concern goes to the more venerable. I have been making a few calls a day to catch up and check on friends. I’ve been meaning to circle back with a friend and associate Ray Nikolaison whom I produced ‘Book of Ruth’ with a handful of years ago. He has been having health challenges but steadily getting better and we last talked of a few film projects in development. I was planning to check with him this weekend when I was sadly informed he passed away. I’ve not confirmed that the virus did this but was told it was a possibility.
Ray and I talked for years before ‘Book of Ruth’ came together exploring all kinds of funding options. Ray was a deep voiced, dry humor man who worked slow and steady towards a goal. He would call and always ask if he was talking to THE DJ Perry. We shared many mutual friends like Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty who passed a few years ago. We had some lengthy conversations over scripts, distribution and acting. He joins a growing group of artists who have left the game. No more struggles to tell a story. RIP Ray and thank you for creating with me over all these years.
I’ve been blessed to receive such great fan mail from all the people out there watching our films with their families and solo while in isolation. WILD FAITH is getting known as a story that plays equally well for kids and adults. MAN’S BEST FRIEND is bringing the plight of wounded veterans and dogs to the masses. THE QUEST TRILOGY (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER) is a perfect watch/re-watch for the Easter season. The films are all on Amazon, Tubi and many TV networks and platforms. I know UPTV just included THE CHRIST SLAYER amongst the Easter classics, must see’s for Easter. That was our goal to create some new watch traditions for families for many years to come. WICKED SPRING, 7 STONES…feel free to explore the entire collection.
I’ve been doing some watching myself and on SHAMELESS I’m seeing many old friends like Charlene Amoia from TANGY GUACAMOLE. Sammy Peebles whom I worked with on MAN’S BEST FRIEND. I hear rumor that Josh and Scott Perry from THE CHRIST SLAYER are on that show. A commercial comes on and there is Denny Doyle, Bob Shepherd…fun. I’ve been sorting through all my paperwork from 20+ years. My emails and folders are slowly being sorted also. This is the time to catch up on everything that has piled up over the last few years. I’ve also found all kinds of interesting PR news stories, pics and tidbits from this crazy journey.
We’ve been working post-production on LOST HEART and prep work on upcoming BEST YEARS GONE. We’ll be announcing more of our cast and crew this week. Our schedule is being tweaked and we’ll be ready when the storm passes. I’ve been having lots of fun developing this new character of Gil.
We’ve also been looking at several other possible projects to follow. HASTINGS the Wild Faith TV series has lots of good things starting to line up. I had another network exec watch WILD FAITH and comment on what a great series it will make. It will. We will. It is all about visualize and taking steps every day.
Aside from all that I’m getting the office and yard in order. I might be adding a nice outside gazebo for outside meetings as well as inside. The garden is being prepped for a new season. I saw the first growth of rhubarb and the popping of violets. Soon the mushrooms will be popping followed by mulberries, raspberries and strawberries. I have to trim the apple and mulberry trees. Maybe strawberry wine? Maybe. I might also do a run of beer also. I just need one final thing to brew that up.
I’m not going to wax on and on but the point is this storm will pass. Will you be right where you left off or way ahead due to organization, planning and implementing? I plan to be the latter. One of the secrets to success is self starting and time management. Reels. Bios updated. Use this time wisely, don’t give in to worry and waste. Be kind to one another and stay safe. I hope we all appreciate one another after this. I also hope that other world issues that affect all of us – ocean/water clean up, air clean up and wiser use of natural resources. Cures for other diseases such as cancer if the entire world focuses and shares. I see lots of good acts being born of this crisis. Be the change you want to see.
FOR WHATEVER REASON THE PIC ATTACHMENT IS NOT WORKING
Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
Good morning my friends. I want to welcome the new readers from Mexico, China and Canada. We are now well into the holiday season. Thanksgiving was enjoyable and I kept the eating to modest. Having missed the last few soccer games due to my wrist injury has brought my calorie burning down. But this winter I’m getting back into more intense training with my goal being an even better outdoor soccer season.
Since a week ago Friday our household has had a good dose of joy with the addition of Finn. He’s our new puppy that we took in from his foster home and he has just fit right in. We did have a few pre-set play dates to see how he did with his two sisters Daphne and Lulu. Both are warming up to him nicely and he has brought some much needed happiness after the passing of our boy Luke.
We also put up some Christmas lights and cut a Christmas tree for the house. It’s a beautiful addition to the house visually and the smell. At the end of the season the tree is dried and it becomes the fire starter much like the tree from the year prior. We’re keeping it simple because of little Finn’s fascination with trees, sticks and anything new.
Onto some film updates:
MBF: Much of the past week’s excitement surrounded the PR release that announced the arrival of the first official trailer. Read the PR here and watch the trailer. If you like it share it with others that might enjoy this upcoming CDI film.
With the PR we also released the first official poster art.
WILD FAITH – The film now has been remixed with our celebrity narrator whom I still cannot announce until I get the final paperwork. What I will say is that the film is now the debut film in a new partnership BMG has with a theatrical company. It will be going into a wider network of theatrical screenings in March. Home video release dates TBD.
THE CHRIST SLAYER – We’ve been in studio a lot with this film as everything is coming together for final delivery end of December. Last night we had our director Nathaniel Nose in studio to evaluate sound and music. Both are still being worked on but it’s really looking and sounding great. I cannot wait to see the new color correction with final VFX.
LOST HEART – We’ve been pulling elements of this film together and once we get a few of these other films delivered we can devote even more attention at the next film. We saw a few great reads in the past couple weeks for certain roles. More on this film as we move down the line.
I’m going to wrap this up because Finn has been wanting to sit on my lap this morning making typing…difficult. He is currently outside with his momma and so I’m using this time to type quickly. I hope each and every one of you had some special family and friend time. I hope your week ahead with be productive with a good dose of fun. Be safe out there and be good to one another. I hear barking outside. Someone is meeting Gordy the squirrel.
It has been a week of just beautiful days in Michigan. I was able to enclose my wood shed in with logs from the recently fallen tree. I also took the axe to the older logs and so the stockpile for the office wood stove is growing. I want to welcome our new readers from Ireland and Japan. That is what I love about this blog. Artists, perhaps filmmakers but united here by passion. Invite someone you know to share with us.
Now last week was an unexpected loss of a mentor (Rance Howard) and to all those who reached out – thank you. I’m at a loss of exact words but we met over storytelling on Miracle at Sage Creek and that relationship took us through many stories. I will miss sitting on the patio in Yuma, AZ having a nice Mexican food lunch and just talking.
On set “Forty Nights” with Judy & Rance Howard and T (Tony Hornus)
With my experience I find myself being a mentor more often and losing my own mentors. What a man Rance was working right up until his passing. Bill McKinney (Deliverance) was the same way having filmed 2 weeks before he passed away. I don’t think you retire from being an artist. I am sad that I won’t be able to get Rance’s feedback on The Christ Slayer film. He was so excited about the final chapter of our trilogy. It was a major accomplishment and he loved playing the Devil. He also loved that we took an honest look at the ‘being’ and relationship he shared with others, Jesus in particular. But he will be looking down and I hope he is proud.
The Howard boys several years ago –
I do look forward to working with Clint one day and perhaps Ron and sharing some of the great conversations I had over the years with Rance about his family. I will be sending a nice note to both of them with the trilogy once Part 3 is done and released.
The Christ Slayer is locking up the VFX and edit and preparing to move into post music and sound design with the amazing Dennis Therrian who will once again compose the heart and soul into the story. The first official director’s poster is about to be completed. Also once we hit the new year the PR on TCS will pick up. Right now it’s all Forty Nights and Chasing the Star. They have been doing great over at Amazon and our other fine rental/retailers. Family 7 TV network in the Netherlands will be showing Chasing the Star and soon after I expect Forty Nights. Also I saw some promotional give aways for Chasing the Star to celebrate the release into the United Kingdom. Forty Nights should also be joining our friends in the UK. This time next year all three will be released! Also Chasing the Star will be playing on the big screen in Bedias, Texas at Miller’s Theatre I believe on Dec 7th. I’m very happy about all the developments on these films.
These two knuckleheads from ‘Wild Faith’
Wild Faith – the end credits are almost done. The VFX work is all in and the audio is being tweaked around it while color correction takes place. We did paperwork on all this at week’s end and so if a short time we’ll have all that complete. We will have a finished film VERY SOON. Before the end of the year – Merry Christmas to all of us.
This month we also did some work on other properties to boost them back into the marketplace. ASHES OF EDEN has a few options/offers to rejoin the market. We’ll be making a decision on that this week. A child’s animated feature THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ will be releasing back into the marketplace and FIGURE IN THE FOREST is making a few moves. Our bridge into India is also underway and soon I should have news to report there. In 2018 we will have that bridge open. Many more deals will be put into play.
Where ideas are born…
This week will be several meetings as we bring 2017 to an end. I’m going to cut this short as we’re taking the mom’s to a beautiful turn of the century house for a Christmas event this afternoon. I hope you all get to spend some quality time with your loved ones. Our development work on MBF continues and we plan to move into full preproduction at the end of January 2018.
Be good to one another!
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.
Here in Michigan we’ve been very spoiled with some beautiful summer type weather. Now we’ve got some rain and everything is in bloom. It is a sign that something in the ecosystem is changing. I’m very proud to report that “RED” our redwood tree that was a gift from my brother on his trip to California is alive and well and made it through the winter. The fact that we had a mild winter really helped. After 3 years indoors at wintertime and in a pot on the patio spring through fall – we finally had to put him in the ground. The yard is being cleaned up and the garden is being planned. New growth!
What a week! Change is here and there and although for some the act of change can be drastic (Like Red being put outdoors for a winter) once the roots take hold new growth can take place. For those friends out there going through life change I say embrace it. I’ve changed a few things starting with my hair. It is still long but I had a good deal removed mainly due to soccer season about to start.
So many pieces moving on the chess board. I’ve been having meeting after meeting either in person or on the phone to help move things forward. I’ve made some great new contacts with a few companies that I think will really plan into the whole. For my distributor friends out there we have lots of new product coming down the pipeline. I’m curious to see how “Deadly Renovations” did in Hong Kong at the film market. I’ll be working with others soon making deals on “Locked in a Room,” “Darkest Night,” “Donors” and “7 Stones” as well as a few other properties that I can’t discuss until paperwork is signed.
Development work continues to go well although always slower than what the executive teams desire. I read “THE BEAST” last night that is to be the next GPI/CDI Philippine film. I’m excited to start developing that with my partners there. I’m waiting to see if deals can be made on a few acting roles but I’ve very excited about a deal that will soon be announcing itself. It includes my acting and CDI helping behind the scenes. I can’t wait for the official announcements that might hit next week.
I hope all of you out there are having a good go at your artistic endeavors. It is not always the easiest of paths to travel but the rewards are more than just shells and beads earned. Also remember to embrace change as it happens.
Have a great weekend!
The house is looking a lot like Christmas! I was wrapping, sorting, cleaning and such until the wee hours last, I mean this morning:) We had so many boxes that at 2:30 am I was burning boxes in the firepit last night. With the soft snow and fire the world seemed to slow and I felt the peace. It has been quite a year and while I can go on about the year to come in my next post I wanted to reflect for a moment.
I recall so many great Christmas times growing up. I was fortunate that way. My parents always worked hard to make it special for my brother and I. It is those traditions that have been left to me. Like the little chime/candles that burn and spin these little angels. DING. DING. DING. Makes me think of my Grandma Emerson. I recall fondly how much my Grandmas Swope loved Poinsettias. I miss not having any grandparents with us anymore. I also regret that after thirty some years my parents like so many divorced. Christmas is a bit more scattered with a get-together here and than there but overall it still brings back memories of past joy. Now new joy is achieved built upon old traditions.
You have to forgive me if my writing is a bit off. I woke with a small sinus headache (I think from wood smoke at 3am) but the coffee is chasing that away. I remember many Christmas Eve’s waking with a headache but it use to have beer or booze attached to it. I think I’m getting older:) We have a big dinner and family today and it continues to tomorrow. I also have one of my dearest friends flying into town. His parents live here and we’ve been friends since 1st grade. We usually do a dinner with several friends we grew up with but his trip is short this year. I will enjoy seeing him even for the short time.
Movies – As I watched all the Christmas films on TV while working about the house that is a goal. To make one really good Christmas classic. I think I have the script in “Holly, Jingles and Clyde” which I’ve been so close to getting off the ground on many occasions. If it has elves with axes slicing naughty kids up I could probably get it made faster but so far no dice. So for now I have to settle with Chevy Chase and family, Will the Elf and the Rankin/Bass classics.
I did a marathon of script reading last week. I had a slew of offers and scripts come in and I so appreciate when others invite me to participate is their storytelling adventures. Now I will take a couple days to chill with family and friends and give the work a rest. It is hard for me to do that because I really love what I do. I know that it all happens from hard work and taking the steps.
I will close here by thanking all of you who have faithfully read my blog this year. If you want to give myself and others a gift do so by introducing them to “Clawing My Way to the Middle”. I’ve gotten great response from artists who say the words have really helped them in their own journey. So bring someone new into the fold and perhaps they can also find some inspiration. I refused to believe those who said I could not. The trolls who would rather see others fail for they never tried. The unhappy who sold their dreams away. I’m here to say if you believe in yourself you can find success. It may take a while and will come at various degrees but things will happen. I appreciate each and every one of you so from the bottom of my heart I wish you all a Merry Christmas.
All week I’ve been drinking a variation on my coffee – eggnog and coffee:) Some like it and others do not but I just find it great! This week we also added a mass amount of venison steaks and burger to join the 4H pork and beef in the freezer. I’ve almost got my Christmas duties complete although tonight will be tree decorating. We’ve had the beautiful fir-tree up and enjoying it even in the bare state. The animals really love it and I’ve often come downstairs to find all the animals circled around it sleeping. I know that for many our industry shuts down from about the 15th of Dec. to the 15th of Jan. but in my experience many deals are also done in this time when things are slower and more relaxed.
We’ve recently made an announcement that the CDI associated film “Renovation” has been officially renamed “Deadly Renovations” for the release. The post team is working hard to get the deliverables all around and I for one am really looking forward to the release. I’m going to talk to one of our actor/producers Tommy Lynch about setting up a red carpet Vegas premiere before we hit select theaters. A new website address of http://www.deadlyrenovations.com will be in addition to the old http://www.renovationthemovie.com once the new one is active.
This week also had great talks on several films that could move into PRE-PROD from development. “The 8th Plague” prequel “Soul Eater” is looking good. “Secondary Heroes” is moving forward. Dean Teaster’s “Long Road Home” and Anthony Hornus’s “A State of Hate” both had meetings this week. We even have an untitled Jeff Kennedy film moving ahead slightly on the development trek. Several others are still building their packages and so 2012 is looking strong.
I might sign onto an outside film next week if negotiations go well. I read a script I really liked, connected with a character and I’m working my schedule. If all works out I might have a solid announcement on a new project.
I know that “Darkest Night” is in the post trimming process and will go dark over the holidays to get ready for 2012. “7 Stones,” “Benjamin,” and “Locked in a Room” will also be making their 1st showings in the near future. I’m very excited to see these projects on the big screen.
“Outside the Wire” has a 2012 screening schedule as we continue to have talks on this project. The USO and other organizations will be the focus of some future meetings. I also heard rumor of another doc in the works so I expect some new announcements on that front first of the year.
I hope everyone has a great holiday season!