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

Posts tagged “tumor

Losing Luke Brown and Seeking New Balance

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This Sunday has been a change for me. Balance is such a key to happiness and we all seem to strive for that balance daily. In filmmaking – my main artistic medium, it’s about giving your all to a story and after recharging. There is more time spent in development, pre-production and post-production after filming. How you spend that time can do much to influence your productivity. My family, friends and my furry pack have always helped give me peace and recharge

We proudly had the ‘Brady Bunch’ pack consisting of three cats and three dogs. Almost two years ago we lost our elder dog Joplin. She lived a long 15.5 years, longevity for a Rottweiler. Two months ago, we lost Jameson, our eldest cat who grew from a shy, scared cat to a chill-relaxed adventurer. He passed after a long life and was joined by his brother Dmitri, whom I affectionately call the gray rat.  Last Monday what we thought was a tooth infection turned out to be much worse. So Monday at the day’s end, he was laid to rest next to his brother.

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My life was/is changing. Some who know me well, know that our silly, funny, happy boy Luke (Our youngest dog) has fought various life threatening illnesses for the last three years. We gladly sacrificed many social outings and gatherings so we could tend to and enjoy our borrowed time with our buddy. Monday night Luke’s journey started to get harder with the onset of some more serious neurological issues from his tumor on his head. As we treated him over the last 5 months his quality of life was very good. His attitude was always happy and adventuresome. He loved his walks in the woods and his couch cuddles. He never feared the hospital and remarkably brought joy to everyone there.

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He was strong, brave and loyal, and I took lessons from him everyday. He had beat the odds so many times and after the second illness I prayed that his body would know health again, and for a while he did. But when in pre-production on MBF: Man’s Best Friend we discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his sinus. Here I was producing a story inspired by my ‘Mr. Brown,’ that showed the positive effects dogs can have on all of us, especially our wounded service men and my boy has what? I did love watching the incredible cast and crew work hard to capture our story, but my heart was breaking. It worked for my role of Paul, but with so much work to launch a film, it was an ironic shame that I could not fully enjoy it.

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Soccer season this year also brought my 1st ever bone injury to my right wrist. That slowed my roll with typing and all activities requiring my right hand. So at the homestead we’ve got the one-arm gimp and tumor-head, taking care of each other and getting by. The new script LOST HEART was going slow, but I worked it with my buddy beside me. I often read aloud to him and while his feedback was limited, it always helped me. I know that a Fall shoot means a last paycheck for all our cast and crew before the holidays. But while Luke’s decline in health was slowed by treatment, I could see the direction of it. We knew the battle was for time, not a total win. There was no way I could leave my loyal buddy to go off and film. I know it was selfish when I looked at the whole but it’s what I had to do. I hope others will understand. If you don’t understand, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing something.

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Luke had a wonderful past couple weeks that included walks at his favorite nature park, which was a Sat. morning ritual. A Sunday cookout with his grandma’s, which he loved so much.  Last Monday is when we lost our Dmitri, and that is also when Luke had his emerging issues intensify. The location of the tumor and the meds used to help were also likely hindering him. Vision and coordination loss started to develop, with episodes lasting longer, more often.  By Weds, the fight was real. So many times he had bounced back. His body was still so strong, so maybe – HOPE. His will was there to fight a bit longer but it was not meant to be. A great dinner of venison and rice followed by an unexpected walk to the park. (His idea) He had not wanted to go to the park, or perhaps could not, for weeks, but that night he did. He wanted to lay out in the warm breeze, listening and smelling the birds, squirrels, the wind in the pines, the softball game cheers and kids laughing. It was really nice.

What followed was a rough night and thankfully the next morning was the most beautiful Fall day. He was done fighting and was resting peacefully. We had a doctor come to the house and with cool breeze blowing in the windows, wrapped in his favorite blanket, head on his most beloved stuffed animal, he opened his good eye looking at his momma holding his head, daddy holding his paw – he put his head back down with full love and trust and left his broken body behind. He also left a huge hole in our hearts and daily life. Everyday was a smile, a tail wag and something silly that always reminded you not to take your setbacks to serious. He was an inspiration on how to live each day.

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I’m happy that his frustration over a body that no longer wanted to respond was very brief. At the end he had peace with his two remaining sisters and his momma and daddy with him. I will miss all of our furry pack that we’ve lost but Luke taught me so many lessons that I will hold onto.  My final polish on the ‘LOST HEART’ script as I read him each line, was almost done. I had stopped to devote my full time and attention to him. I slept with him on the floor for the last few nights because his vanishing sight made our brave boy nervous. I’m sad but filled with new motivation moving ahead. We never took any of his good days for granted. I will carry that into my future day-to-day where I do cherish each interaction, be it business, friendship or both.

I KNOW how bad many of you WANT it. What is IT to you? Expression of your art, words, craft? Fame, money and appreciation? I’m here to tell you, don’t sacrifice everything. I recall being tethered to a pager back in the day. It always came first. I see that behavior in the upstarts of today with cell phones. It’s like a self-imposed tether – like what people wore after legal trouble. It’s like people have forgotten that the phone is a tool that works for you, not the other way around. Gather a ‘TO DO’ list and do all your phone and/or computer work all at one time. Aspiring actors/filmmakers can get requests from all time zones often bringing the Hollywood pressure of dangling opportunities.  Whereas someone “needs something like yesterday” only to have something sit on a desk for weeks. What was sacrificed to get that summary to that desk to sit for weeks? A sports game of a sibling or child? Storytelling around a kitchen table with family? Hanging with lifelong friends?

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Since I was a young boy I loved telling stories. Upon discovering that a lucky few could actually create make-believe as a job, cemented by direction, gave me my dream. But I could never sacrifice everything else for that dream. I did not move to Hollywood, NYC or any of the other places that people always said I had to go to in order to MAKE IT. Why? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what I do as an artist but I did not love it more than the people in my life. So, a battle to compromise and do both was and IS a battle worth fighting for. I want to create memorable stories and characters in timeless movies but I don’t need to climb onto any A lists to feel accomplished. Many climb very high only to find themselves alone. Think on all this.

We’re adjusting to life whereas our past stories, memories and lessons are what we have left of Luke. Next week LOST HEART will get the final polish. The wrist is almost healed and getting stronger. I look back and feel like I did right by my buddy as he would have for us. I feel full of grace, compassion and appreciate for life and those we share it with. It’s again why you should examine your circle and remove negative, toxic elements and be the change you want to see. Lot of drama in life amplified by social media and 24/7 ‘Breaking News’ environment. Unplug. Listen. Communicate. Laugh. Be loyal like a DOG to those around you. Trust, is a learned behavior and if you’re a tribal leader of artists – take this role serious. Don’t let the lure of shortcuts hurt or kill what could be lifelong friendships. Ask anyone who has joined a team of CDI artists in telling a story and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Beyond making our days, I want to make lifelong memories for cast and crew. Laughter and Love.

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Next week I will have more updates on the films. THE CHRIST SLAYER, WILD FAITH, MBF all have amazing things happening. We’re focused on finishing these stories and bringing them to audiences. We’ll be moving into official development on ‘LOST HEART’ for Spring 2019 this month. I want to continue to try and move people’s human-emotional compass in a positive direction.  I’ll be making some great announcements moving forward but today I want to just sit on these words. I’m sorry if you’re here more for the film updates versus listening to my ramblings. Those updates will return next week. Thank you everyone for joining me here to share a coffee and listening.

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Be good to one another. Love one another.

DJ

 

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Scripts, Star Wars and Updates

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I want to welcome our new readers from Malta and Trinidad – I love as we add more artistic folks to this little circle. I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee and reflecting back upon my week. This week has been full of updates as we move forward. Let’s do a TOP TEN updates.

  1. First I was pleased to see the final product on a Voice Over job I did for a commercial video directed by Tomaki Boaz. He also directed the music video I participated in not to long ago.  https://youtu.be/Y6gqlE8BKJ8
  2. The PR announcing the official theatrical trailer to part 3 of The Quest Trilogy has been well received. Here is the trailer for THE CHRIST SLAYER. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqmOL80agh0
  3. Sound design and music on THE CHRIST SLAYER is in full swing with Dennis Therrian at our sound studio.
  4. This week I’m also proud to announce that the home video deal for THE CHRIST SLAYER with BMG was signed. Just waiting on the countersigned paperwork and we’ll have official release dates soon after. We do know that the Christmas season will be our theatrical roll out and Easter season will be our home video.

Devil and Gab w: logo5.  Ongoing work on the WILD FAITH home video deal and beyond deal. But I’m also hearing that we got invited to play at a cool Hollywood-based film festival in the fall. More info soon.

A plot forms6. MBF is officially in post-production and file organization is underway. Also discussions for a first teaser trailer. I’m going to be talking with a few people about BTS promo videos this week. First look stills – soon:)

34481819_2058849274388409_2256370234413809664_n7. I took a story concept from an old script – adding a few great elements and I’m writing a new script. Mainly changing the shooting location while tailoring some of the roles. I’m excited about this story that will likely be our fall film for CDI.  Follow http://www.cdiproductions.com for casting updates.

8. This week we’ll be finishing up the first wave of “visual synopsis” videos for the selling of books for a large publisher. This is one of the CDI accounts we have and so again we will do select commercial endeavors but feature film and TV content is our priority.

9. I had a nice meeting this week with Michigan’s own Taylor Nichols. He’s a quality talent originally from our area but has been calling L.A. home. We finally had a chance to sit down informally and talk movies and possibilities.

10. This weekend I was taken as a belated birthday present to the Detroit Art Museum to see an exhibit that is all on the wardrobe and costumes of STAR WARS. It was a great peek inside the process that surprisingly is very close to what we’ve had to do with all our period films. It is cool to hear the inspiration and stories behind the iconic outfits.

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It was a great week that also included putting some zen to the yard. Some berry collecting for wine – we have wine to bottle now. Some office organization and just putting order to things. Today is July 1st and we’ve had a heat wave but most of that was spent at the art museum in Detroit. No soccer for the day because of the 4th of July holiday. I’m looking forward to a week of business and some enjoyment. I hope you all are spending sometime with your loved ones. Those following our furry son Luke’s radiation journey – he’s healing from the burns but it does look like the tumor and swelling is growing smaller. He’s attitude and health has stayed strong so we are grateful for that.

Enjoy your day and have a great weekend.

DJ


The Return Home – MBF Wrap Up

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Don Most on set of ‘MBF: Man’s Best Friend’

I’m sitting in my lazy boy sipping the hazelnut coffee. It has been nice to sleep in my own bed and be cozy with my family. We have recently enjoyed a wonderful CDI shoot in Corunna/Owosso area and enjoyed great home away from home service at Quality Inn in Durand, Michigan. We got to enjoy many of the fine eateries in the area and filmed at many of the landmarks in the area. Many know that our most recent film was MBF: Man’s Best Friend that had themes of military wounded and shelter dogs. I encourage anyone looking for a good family addition to visit our friends at the Shaiwassee Humane Society. I got to work with the amazing staff and with many of the animals there awaiting you. We had a great visit from Animal Planet and we’ll be the focus of one of the new shows “Amanda to the Rescue” this fall. We had ‘Duncan‘ the two-legged boxer join our cast and what an inspiration. The VFW provided a fish fry that made this non-fried food eater give in just this once.

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Duncan on set with actor Greg Mason

As for the art itself – I was so proud to share the screen with so many incredible actors and to work alongside such a great dedicated crew. (See IMDB.com) In all my years of producing I can honestly say this crew was just on point. I look forward to working with them again. I went to places with this wounded warrior character Paul Landings that I’ve not been on camera. These externally and internally wounded soldiers who live daily with this heaviness pushed me to complete truth. As the role ended I almost felt guilty because for many there is no WRAP on their role. They will still wake up to disfigurement or mental anguish and issues. It is why suicide rates are so high because how long can they carry the heaviness? Now dogs have proven to help carry some of this heaviness and to bring joy back into their lives. Emotionally I gave everything I had and I feel good about that.

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Also when I was coming into our business – I did not want to do 1) Soap Opera or 2) Action films to start with. Both in my mind limited how audiences would look at you. I have a long history of martial arts study and practice but mainly use it for health and to allow me to do many of my own stunts. In this film I showcase a bit of my training and that was truly enjoyable. It actually felt very natural and I was happy that the crew seemed to really enjoy what we captured. Most of my fight scenes in the past consisted of deconstructing so as to not appear trained. I want to thank my fellow actors who performed with me and John Lennox who helped me coordinate the scene. I hope audiences enjoy it.

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Robert Bradley our dog coordinator and Big Poppa aka Brown Boy in MBF

We do have one more pick up day for the film. It is flashback footage and will show war footage and Paul before being wounded. That will be the icing on the cake. We will be releasing this film again with BMG targeting early next year.

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Speaking of BMG we’re in the final stages of putting together something exciting for WILD FAITH. We’re looking at a few more summer theatrical runs before a fall home video release. We also might be playing a west coast festival after being approached. We will know more about that in the coming weeks.

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BMG is also the distributor of our biblical adventure films in THE QUEST TRILOGY. Both FORTY NIGHTS and CHASING THE STAR (2016/2017 ‘Most Inspirational’ at ICFF) are in the marketplace – Amazon Prime and many other specialty sites selling DVD and streaming. Here is one of the many new platforms –

https://faithlifetv.com/items/498080

Read about CHASING THE STAR

https://biblefilms.blogspot.com/2017/08/chasing-star-2017.html

This Christmas part 3 THE CHRIST SLAYER will be rounding out the trilogy with a theatrical followed by an Easter 2019 home video release. The theatrical trailer will release in the coming weeks. Music moves into high gear with the feature starting this week with our composer Dennis Therrian.

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So this week will include getting all the paperwork straight on MBF and catching up on yard work. I’m back to playing soccer today. It killed me to take a few weeks off but as the lead role in a film, an injury would have risked just too much. But today we’re back at it and I’m ready to roll. I hope you all have a great weekend. For those following along with our boy Luke, he’s going to have his third radiation treatment tomorrow on his sinus tumor. He is doing pretty good but of course I wish I could do more. He is still doing three walks a day, eating and drinking well just a tad slower.

Have a great Sunday!

DJ