Good morning from WILD HAVEN in Algona, Iowa! I want to thank you all for understanding my move to Saturdays for our little chat and update. I’m waiting on the coffee maker to kick out our Kona Blend Coffee which has to have a splash of Hazelnut for good measure. I will try to brainstorm some of the top highlights of mine from the week. It will also paint a nice picture of the amazing endeavor we are undertaking.
- Our friends at Heritage Park made the first four days enjoyable and productive. Also thank you to the Winnebago folks for allowing us to store our vehicles in their garages. We were thankful to Robert Bradley who immediately knew how to start and drive many of these older clutch vehicles. But they looked pretty amazing on camera so again thank you to these owners helping us capture history.
- Our staging area/base camp (Ranger Station) is quite the sight to see with all the period clothes, props and period vehicles. Our artists in these departments are doing such an incredible job. I have loved seeing the civilian clothes and the military and PW outfits. The job is not easy under any circumstances but this film challenges them to give their very best. We appreciate them so much.
- It was so great to reunite with some great actor friends that I’ve not seen in a good while. Charles Powell and I worked together on “The 8th Plague” and later CDI’s “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town,” makes his return to the CDI Tribe with a powerful role. Charles was quiet and polite until it came time for ACTION! David Reardon (MBF) also returns with a brilliant character that will surely thrill his fans. Garry Nation came ready to play and it’s always fun to see him work. We actually have some scenes together in the days ahead.
- Today MSU plays football again and we’re looking for another win. Speaking of MSU, I’m excited to have Carl Gilliard, a fellow MSU alumni with our cast. He and I have some great scenes together. I plan to do a little PR shoutout to share around the MSU news outlets. Go Green!
- The German actors all hit the scene and WOW! We have such a great group of actors overall but these German’s help tell a good amount of our story. They were really all so appreciative of the script and are here because of the story. I got to have a short chat with all of them. I was really taken by our PW antagonist Ben Schnau who’s isolating on-set process resembles some of my own process when on a shoot day. When I have intense work to do on camera I tend to get quiet and lost in myself/my character. I have had fellow actors be quite shocked to find me very personable off set. It’s because I always have so much going through my head either as talent or as a producer. But catch me at the fort for an informal meeting and you get a very different DJ.
- I’m so happy with our young lead ‘Samuel’ in from Texas. He found our midwest cold bitter but he’s getting thicker ‘midwest’ blood now. It’s a joy to watch someone at that age who is getting to ‘make believe’ on such a grand scale. At his age we had couch cushions and our imaginations. His parents were both actors at one time and his mother Stephanie, still acting, will be participating on this story as well.
- Speaking of mother and sons, we have my brother from another mother Josh Perry in with his momma Connie. We are so excited to have Josh back again with us and this role will be a challenge to see him lean into his anger. I know he will do a great job and I’m excited for the cast and crew who haven’t worked with him to be given that opportunity.
- The excitement and assistance of the community has been wonderful. The other day we had to stop at the Dollar General which also serves as a mail center and as a flatbed went by with our troop transport truck everyone rushed to the windows to watch. This story is this area’s history and once we finish this the story, the event will never be forgotten.
- On Sat the 13th on our day off we are doing a specially sponsored Smithfield Foods BBQ and a screening of BEST YEARS GONE in the local theater. A great thank you to our hard working cast and crew.
- We had a couple of VIP guests from our on-going distribution company visit. They loved seeing everything in action and the visit gives them an idea of the hard work that goes into the films they market. It makes the circle stronger and allows us to more easily tell these stories.
Speaking on the BEST YEARS GONE we have another Lansing, MI theatrical run at Celebration Cinema Lansing starting Nov 24th – 28th so people returning home for Thanksgiving can catch the movie. We were laughing putting together some promo – “Funniest Movie since Earnest Goes to Camp” – the film is funny and heartfelt. So far audiences have enjoyed the film theatrically and in a few months it will release worldwide. I’m going to wrap it up here as we have a tech scout at a few locations for next week. For those who don’t know what that is – you are not only looking at where to film a scene but where to stage a small army. I look forward to sharing more reports with you next Sat. Thank you for your support and know we are working to capture the powerful scenes so that next year we will have another great CDI release for you.
(One of the locations for the forthcoming week)
Be kind to one another.
Good morning from Algona, Iowa! I’m sitting looking over a small private lake with an abundance of wildlife. This state on the other side of the big lake is not so different from Michigan save being more flatland and corn. Our director and main producer team from our upcoming SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA film has been here on a scout. Our trip in was hampered by delays and a few mishaps that are almost worthy of a comedy film. But once we arrived our stay has been incredible with so much support from the community. Tonight we are having a special BBQ by an award winning chef with the mayor and area dignitaries. We have been also getting incredible support from the area businesses all excited to have us here. Smithfield Foods is one of our international sponsors and our host on this trip. I’ve learned a few new pork grilling techniques that I’m excited to try when I get back home.
We were curious as to the availability of props in the area and we were happily surprised that almost all the props required- right down to WW2 wheelchairs and more will be available to us.
Even the period vehicles are all falling into place. I’m going to keep this short as we are about to go scout more locations today.
BEST YEARS GONE is racing around the track and heading for the checkered flag and finish line. Here is your advanced notice that if you go to NCG Owosso website and your buy a ticket for one of the two shows. Tickets are just standard pricing. The afterglow party will be free for every ticket holder. We’ll be doing PR on all this when we return this coming week but I wanted to give you all the first announcement. We’ll be doing a producer watch soon and after will be the final mix.
As noted we’ve been all over this area of Iowa and meeting so many people that either have seen our films or after meeting us are excited to watch our films.
WICKED SPRING – the HD campaign is about to roll out. I saw an early draft of the thumbnail poster art and had some comments on it including incorrect rifles and clothes that appeared a touch modern. Some alternations were made but they rolled with the wrong rifles and such and I told them the re-enactor/living historian crowd would hammer that poster and they are. To the casual Civil War enthusiasts it might fly but to my friends that live and breath the era – not. So my apologies for the inaccurate guns but that distributor marketing is not all under my control. But I do hope that you watch and enjoy the HD enhanced film. It is still a favorite of mine to this day.
Next week I should also be seeing a first cut of our documentary ‘FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH‘ and our short concept film ‘SMOKE & MIRRORS‘ and I’m excited to see these both drive towards a finished film.
I might be missing a few updates but I’m going to wrap it up. I need to eat something quickly before hitting the road. But this is an exciting time and we’re very happy with the progress we’ve made every day preparing to give our artists the support needed to tell this amazing WW2 story.
Have a great week and we’ll chat next week.
Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
Again Michigan is covered in a blanket of white snow. I know that many of you are from various parts of the world. Welcome readers from S. Korea and Burma. How wonderful that all these artistic people have found our little corner of the internet. My hazelnut coffee is going down easy and I’ve got a list of updates on several of the projects. This morning I did take a stroll through the Facebook which has kind of replaced the newspaper sadly. I usually find science articles to read and enjoy certain animal posts that highlight how intelligent and soulful animals truly are. Where to begin?
I commented on a fellow filmmaker’s vent this morning. In short – a disdain for people who have more resources or who falsely claim experience. It’s a problem but one that usually works itself out. We use to lovingly refer to it as The Oregon Trail. For us older people it was a TSR-80 game. But in real history it was a rugged journey that resulted in many dying and being buried along the Oregon Trail. We use that saying to describe the many in our business who perished along the trail.
Many people have long-wondered what the “trick” is at CDI to producing their content. First, there is no trick. It is a logical checklist of work that must be done in a particular order. You can refine that over time but this takes an effort. Good management of people is something that you cannot buy for yourself. There is no piece of equipment you can purchase that will motivate good work flow. Some of the secrets, if you wanna call it that are…
- Hire artists firsts not friends – you can become friends (True definition not Facebook’s) through shared art, dependability, accountability and positive collaboration. But to assign/hire someone unqualified for a crew or cast role out of friendship hurts the collective endeavor and often the friendship. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t let preventable failure lower the quality of your projects or worse yet – kill it. I think for young filmmakers that is where these 48 hour film challenge things help. With a youthful generation of highly creative, technology-adept youths INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION is a learned skill. It is easy to be disrespectful, behind a computer. But these comments in the real world to a real person, can get you kung fu’d, fired or create a poison in an otherwise productive creative atmosphere.
- Chiefs. I’m talking to company owners. I’m talking to producers, director and keys. You all set the tone for the environment. Define the roles ahead of time. Don’t figure it out as you go. Producers have months or years of development work before any camera roll – use it. Creative MUST respect the Business machine and the business must respect the artistic contributions that will elevate it above being a mere formula genre film. Only strong leadership can walk this balance between the two and enforce this kind of collaboration. NEED vs WANT…KNOW the DIFFERENCE.
- Follow Through – this means the same in micro as in macro – for anyone in the chain of execution. You NEED people with follow through or they’re simply a negative – excuses not withstanding. It does not matter what the creative potential of an individual is if they’re not able to follow through. This should always disqualify/limit a person from leadership. Now you can put creative slackers under a disciplined key so they can be exposed and maybe learn from leadership. Ego will sometimes make them reject the chain of command if they feel they are a superior artist. The best artist in our world has follow through and a “best effort” positive attitude. Again, the best artist is not always JUST the best artist but the best artist with follow through. If a creative caterer made half a crew lunch = fail. Someone at go time had collected only half the props = fail. Wrong instructions as to where to park support vehicles = fail. Hundreds of things a day can cause strife on a film set if your team is not properly prepared. Be prepared.
- Help is not weakness – many people have not learned the many important lessons from managing projects of various sizes and budgets. People need to know when to say NO or to seek out and hire the proper experience. But either greed or fear of loss of power, causes many to sell themselves onto projects that they are truly unqualified for. F- YOU DJ! YOU GOTTA START SOMEWHERE! Okay. Settle down, I hear you:) Now in the beginning, I might have been one of those people. But, I did qualify as a doer of many other things. Some of these things small and some large in other areas of my life. I have always been someone who has a natural drive to GET IT DONE if I’m behind something. Investors saw that eye of the tiger in me. Investor interest seldom comes from a fancy fluff package or a regurgitation of business buzz words – more often that investor see’s or feels something in you that was/is akin to his own inner fire.
OK. I need to save a little wisdom:) But I try to keep a pulse on this Michigan film community. I see positives and negatives. Michigan has always fought the ‘backwoods’ mentality given to us by Hollywood. Funny thing is much of the Hollywood elite is midwestern. But I will say that I see improvements. Tax incentives gone – my opinion – it never should have been about drawing work to Michigan but development of work from within Michigan. But it did help legitimize filmmaking as an acceptable title here in Michigan. Ask old-timers and MI filmmakers from the 80’s and 90’s, about being called a filmmaker. It was like telling your family you want to be an astronaut. It was usually met with a sideways stare and a loss of words.
Now people don’t sideways stare at me they simply want to know when the next film releases. They tell me they have young children interested in filmmaking. It’s great to see the parent support of these young dreamers. I burned out on festivals a decade ago but I respect all the great festivals our state has to showcase, network and nurture our creatives. I watch the yearly migration to the west coast where people learn that the increase in opportunities is usually matched by the increase in applicants. But many have to experience it. I will be out there for a week on some business this month. I’m looking forward to seeing some friends and associates. Oh, and the sun. But after a few I must return home. Home is Michigan.
Shane Hagedorn’s big shoulders to carry his first feature
We master the film off this week and I’ve got some meetings coming up over home video/foreign. The TV series is something that I’ve been aggressively chasing. I think it would be great for Michigan. I know a few other TV series working to get traction. How great would it be to have a string of TV shows happening. We’ve also been hard at work on securing theaters. We’ll be announcing soon as several deals are almost done. I do truly love the genre and I think it would be great to see weekly as a show. Once you watch the movie let me know.
If you cannot wait and need a fix of 1800’s action/drama our Civil War film “Wicked Spring” is getting a re-release 16 years later. 18 years from when cameras first rolled. We shot the pre-war and war stuff in two separate shoots and areas. I’m waiting for the streaming link to go live on amazon. 2/5/18 is supposed to be digital release date. DVD’s on 3/5/18. Here is the new cover that the distributor settled on. It has one of my favorite pics from the shoot and it is of Anthony Hornus, who played the Union commander. Also that’s Michigan’s Brad Egan front and center marching forth.
Look for this cover that has the remastered film. Also the DVD includes a 45 min Making of that is a wonderful look back at producing 18 years ago. Please do take a watch.
Cool look at the TOP Civil War Films
We’ll be posting places you can buy/rent as they go live on
Wicked Spring Facebook
Are you ready for another look at Part 3 of…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Forty Nights and Chasing the Star are working into more platforms and networks. The push will start for Easter sales. I’m excited that the poster and movie trailer for The Christ Slayer part 3 is almost done. As if the excitement of “Wild Faith” wasn’t enough this first full trailer will allow BMG to start promotions. It is amazing the scope of it all and it brings the greater story of the trilogy together and answers many questions.
SIDE NOTE: Forty Nights is part one and if you don’t know I play Jesus. I’m over due on a few character reels but this one was hard. When you’re in about 70 min of a 88 min film or so and you are looking for 2-3 min sizzle it can prove to be…difficult. My actor/filmmaker buddy Shane Hagedorn knew I’ve been very busy the last few years working on the whole. He surprised me with a character reel of Jesus. I will be sharing that with you all in the coming days. I always ask that one good role just gets me one more. This will come in handy as I’ve got a few things in the works hence the LA trip.
Many have asked me what’s next for me on-screen. As we’re always working on delay – this year you can watch me as mountain man Ben Lily in “Wild Faith” and reprising my role as Jesus in “The Christ Slayer” film. I’ve got some good film role options that I’m not at liberty to discuss. It might be the year that several development collaborations pop. I can say that the main focus for me is MBF. (Man’s Best Friend) We’ve accepted collaboration with a military non-profit http://www.theredwhiteandblueproject.org/ that has done some great things in the past for our soldiers. They want to off-set some of our military cast/crew costs and create an educational aspect. That aside we’re trying to complete financing on this project and we’re getting close. I am excited about this project and I think so will you once you find out more about it. Here is our social media site.
I could go on and one but I have some snow to shovel and I’m prepping to do personal tax prep tomorrow. Coffee cup is low.
Be good to one another!
Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.
Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith
Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.
‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.
40 Nights trailer
And the second film…
Chasing the Star trailer
And now the business of development on the third film is starting.
So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.
I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.
Have a great week ahead!