GOOD MORNING! I’m sitting here with the hazelnut coffee trying to get my thoughts around. It was a super productive week. I want to welcome all the new readers from Panama, Denmark, Germany and more to our weekly get-together. The winter chill has been brutal but we’re getting some 50 plus degree heat today. I’ve been so ready to start doing some spring clean up on the yard but it is still frozen. The wood supply is dwindling and should make it to the end of winter. Let’s talk about some films –
BEST YEARS GONE – This past week we officially announced our next CDI film. You can read about it here. We’ve been casting all winter as I’ve been putting the final touches on the script.
This project will again be shot in Michigan. Part of the process as a screenwriter is for the writer and director to talk through all the characters and go through the script scene by scene – line by line. This resulted in many of the scenes strengthening. One of the characters got folded up into another and every line has something to say directly or in the subtext. I’m proud to have this work represent one of my pieces of work. This is made even more special because it’s a reworking of another artist’s work in our medium.
See with CDI, once the writer releases the script to the director it is his vision. He is who actors and crew should go to with creative questions. On some sets having the writer there can cause much conflict with a director, confusing folks and slowing the entire process. So we get all that talk out of the way with meaningful talk about the characters and moments. After a full day of Thai food and typing we now have a director’s draft.
Director’s draft? Who is the director you say? We’ve worked once prior with this director in a collaboration. The film got strong reactions from audiences because of the character study aspects of the story. A few other past projects were considered with this artist but either the art or the life schedule did not allow them to take the chair. (Directors) So who is this person? We’ll be doing an official PR release next week but for those who join us here – advance intel. This person that we’ll call S.H. directed a film called AOE. Do you know who it is? I’m excited to tell this story. Our IMDB.com page is open and we’ll be adding cast and crew names in the coming weeks. Some of our keys have been brought on and more to follow.
IMDB page (Join us here)
Watch for more additions to the team.
This week we’ll start putting end billing credits together as we move along the post process. I have seen the trailer music (composed by Dennis Therrian) put to picture. Once our director Jesse Low marries the master trailer audio with the master visual, audiences will be in for a treat. The film breaks some new ground for CDI while keeping the magic that we’ve gotten known for. So I would say about mid week we’ll be releasing the 1st trailer. I’m excited to hear everyone’s responses. The distributor is excited to have the trailer so they can start pre-closing some deals. Stay tune for a lot more updates on this film. Check out this films IMDB.com and Facebook page. Thank you for your support.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This beautiful film has been expanding its distribution and gaining ground as one of the top dog-theme films on Amazon and TV stations like Valorous TV where MBF was listed as #1 Best film for 2019 and #3 was WILD FAITH. Both also are now on Amazon Prime, Tubi and other streaming outlets. DVD’s are also available for people like me who like their physical media. We’ll be announcing more event showings for both of these projects.
We’ll soon be announcing some official development on HASTINGS, the Wild Faith TV series once I can get some pen to paper. If all goes according to plan we will shoot in the Spring 2021. This will provide a lot of opportunities for Michigan artists.
THE QUEST TRILOGY (FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER) – This Easter we at CDI invite your family to watch the trilogy that is making its way around the world and becoming a holiday tradition. Available wide on DVD and streaming take a watch with your family!
I’m going to take advantage of the sunshine outside and get a few things done. The warm weather also has me thinking about soccer season! Soon. I hope you all have a great Sunday and week ahead. Work hard and make some time for your family and friends.
Fellow filmmaker friend Nate Quinn put this pic together after a recent hang.
NEW JOURNEY AHEAD
Happy Sunday my dear friends from around the world. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ mug and thinking about spring. I’ve just finished last week the next CDI script. I was engaged to translate a book to script and we’ll film it this May. With on-set pre-prod we’re looking at April 26-May 21st in Michigan. I’ll be doing some final edits this week before sending the script to others on the producer team and a few keys. We’re in talks on a director so we’ll see how that unfolds. This week I’ll be working the numbers and getting our battle plan together. We had a good meeting a week ago with our 1st AD Nate and we did some crew reviews. We hope to get most of the crew back together but we’ll have to make a few adjustments I’m sure either due to schedule conflicts or from our producer review, we’ll have a few changes to the team. We’ve got many who have expressed their interest should we need to bring new folks on board. It is hard as our budget only allows X amount of crew and our cast is limited to our story. But this film has committed funding, distribution interest and now we have our blue-print (script). I’m excited that we’ll be able to put so much in place in advance of our shoot. It will allow us to make this journey even more smooth.
We’re deeply evaluating CDI film #2 which will shoot fall/winter timeframe. It would likely be a fall shoot if in the Michigan and maybe winter if we go out west to shoot in AZ or Nevada. Slot 3 the 1st half of 2021 is being currently held as a possible WILD FAITH (Hastings) tv show. We would be working to finalize the season 1 scripts. The idea of revisiting the Wild Faith world is very exciting. Giddy up! If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do take a watch on Amazon Prime. It is a wonderful film for children also so I hope we reach more kids.
Ole Ben Lily might be back in action in ‘Hastings’ – coming soon?
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is now out in the marketplace and we’re starting to see that wheel turn. We’ve had lots more retailers and platforms pick up this title. We’ve got many events and showcases lined up this year with MBF. You can watch this film in your own home now on Amazon Prime. If you take a watch much like all the others, we encourage you to leave a review on our Amazon and IMDB.com page. I appreciate all the great feedback on the fight scene. I credit John Lennox for working with me on the fight arrangement. I also credit Graham Turner my practice partner and my co-stars in that bar scene. I’ve hurt an actor on set who would not focus and follow instructions during an action scene rehearsal. He was clowning with some actresses when we were going over a fight scene. On ACTION I pulled his shoulder out of socket because he turned the wrong way. So I was extremely happy and impressed by the focus of all those actors we worked with. John Lennox got them up to speed and we made a good sequence. I might consider a project with more action but that is not what I’m looking for. I seek strong stories to tell. Anyway, take a watch and if you like it, tell a friend.
Wrangler Robert Bradley faced a hard job with those dogs:)
LOST HEART is now in post audio with the amazing Dennis Therrian. He will be composing the score and sound design. The new locked edit is strong and I’m proud of Jesse Low and Scott Magie for their masterful work. The film will be delivered in June to BMG for distribution. I’m anticipating a premiere in the Whitehall area where we filmed. We’re now working on DVD art work with the distributor and the first trailer. Soon we’ll be able to give audiences a first look. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew for telling a beautiful story.
Who’s is this knucklehead? Niles Cass:) I really enjoyed this film because many of my scenes are with my brother from another mother Josh Perry. This film will start a slow build of PR towards a fall release.
EASTER season is upon us following a great Christmas with THE QUEST TRILOGY. I’ve had lots of great conversations over the three films. These biblical adventures create lots of good conversation. I’m excited how they are making their way around the world. These three films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER should be watched together. Amazon Prime search these films and take a journey full of adventure.
WRAP UP THOUGHTS
Last week while enjoying a visit with an old friend and his son, I took a call. It was an FYI that someone in our local market was speaking ill of CDI and a few folks, myself included. Oh, I’m not perfect, never claimed to be, but we work very hard at what we do. I take our storytelling very serious and I’m doing it for what I feel are the right reasons. It seems, one of the talented people that we’ve worked with several times was approached and during conversation with this person, several negative things were apparently said about our organization. The issue is that the person being spoken to, knew the truth having worked with CDI many times.
Had their experience been truly negative it would have ended at one film but this person has worked with us multiple times. So my reaction to all this was a shrug.
“ACTIONS speak louder than any words.”
Find me a group that works as hard as we do and creates on our level or beyond and that is someone I or CDI might work with one day. RESPECT. But, while others talk toxic wasting breath and time, we’re creating and constantly moving forward. So decide to be a person of ACTION, not just talk. To know the truth of a matter look at the ACTIONS not the talk. So, keep the drama on the screen and sail forth telling the world stories and leaving a legacy for your artists. We’re prepping another ship (Film) for another great CDI journey so casting and crewing will be in the weeks ahead. We’ll be making announcements soon but you got the news here first.
Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.
And where do I even begin to describe last night? If you are not up to speed we had our Michigan premiere for our recent CDI film “Man’s Best Friend” at the NCG theater in Owosso, MI the home turf of our director Anthony (Tony) Hornus. In all my years I’ve been to premieres where after a showing people have all kinds of polite things to say. What I’ve found is that the screening itself doesn’t lie. With 270 people in each show you had a sea of viewers. The crying, laughter and even the occasional murmur such as “Shits about to go down now” give truth. We sit in our little studio mixing and watching with our small producers group but to witness a full theater absorb and react is…an artists dream.
In many ways I am living my dream. I’m doing what always made me happy and what I feel confident doing. Last night I got to see many old friends and fellow artists. It was a joy to get beyond positive feedback from folks in the military and the general audiences. Nov 11th is the target date for theatrical in N. America. So if you have a film chain in your area reach out to their management and ask them to book the film. We will be pushing to get it to all the places that are being requested. It is a wonderful film to see on the big screen and kudos to our tech team for doing such a wonderful job. I’m still in morning coffee bliss after meeting so many of you last night. I’ve had several people tell me this was our best film to date and my best performed role to date. I will let all of you be the judge of that. I love them all but recognize the power in this role. I put in the work. I watched and communicated with many actual wounded warriors to create an ‘everyman’ like Paul Landings. All I can say is that I will never forget last night. It was truly special for me and to share it with all of those who came just made it that much more special.
IF this is your first CDI film please do work your way backwards through our catalogue and watch the growth and development of our company. Once again I’m just so proud to have worked with all the artists in front of and behind the camera.
WILD FAITH will ride into Wilcox, AZ this October. We just found out that another Hollywood festival (Hollywood Divine International Film Festival) invited Wild Faith, MBF and The Christ Slayer to participate after being submitted by our distributor. I will get more info out on that event soon. IF you like to stay up on the developments please seek out and join our Facebook pages for these films. I just opened an official folder at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND facebook site for the MI premiere pictures. In the next day or so the pictures will start being posted. So join us at our FB site and follow the CDI films as they rolls out across the nation.
Aside from all the film work we’re doing final music with the amazing Dennis Therrian on a CDI commercial project. We’ll finish that up and deliver to the client. I’m almost done with LOST HEART clean up. We’re about 15 minutes into the rough edit of the film. Jesse Low has given his adjustments and so this week will be refining and digging into the next handful of scenes. This film will be under wraps being worked on while we promote the finished projects.
One of the biggest questions asked of me last night was what is next? Development is underway – rest assured. Stay tune. I’m going to make this a shorter blog today. I’m going to let all this positive energy soak in. I so enjoyed seeing everyone last night. I was up past my bedtime:) Thankful for 11:30 pm coffee:) Speaking of coffee, time to refill the cup.
Have a wonderful morning.
It is a chilly and wet morning here in Lansing, Michigan. It’s been a crazy balance of film and life as we move out of summer. I’ve had a string of fix-it projects with our roof, car brakes, wisdom teeth removal and my computer. Note: I did none of those things directly. The computer hard drive failed and had to be replaced. I was starting to reload files from external drives when luckily the company was able to retrieve the old data. I do have to reload my script writing software which was due for an upgrade. Add on the fact that we’re re-doing a bathroom and that adds up to a good deal of domestic work. We also added a pair of oak book shelves last week that up-ended everything in the house for two days but now looks wonderful.
We’re working on a small narrative book video next week and that will be fun. We stepped out this week and supported Shane Hagedorn in another acting role in the Detroit area. It’s nice to see filmmakers developing and growing in their art. We met some nice people and had an enjoyable time.
Speaking of premiere showings we have one coming on the 14th of Sept in Owosso, MI for MAN’S BEST FRIEND. Tickets go up for sale the 4th or 5th on the NCG Owosso website. Keep up with the MBF facebook page as we’ll be updating there. It is open to the public and we’ll be having my co-stars Don Most, Garry Nation, Tim Abell and David Reardon in attendance. So if you want to see a powerful film about our wounded vets and adoption dogs – come join us.
WILD FAITH is finding an audience out there. This past week I had several people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed Wild Faith with a few having watched the movie multiple times. Next up a group of us will be traveling to AZ to attend the Wild Bunch film festival. Once we are booked we are going to invite our Yuma, AZ family and see if any want to come visit.
My dentist this past week was all smiles after he and his daughter enjoyed watching part 3 of The Quest Trilogy – The Christ Slayer. He shared some of the insights she took from the film. She GOT IT! Because she watched all three films. The movies can be watched as a stand alone but they are meant to be watched all together. So one of our goals this holiday season will be to let people know that the films are all part of a trilogy. I’ve also decided that I will be writing another biblical era film. I have one on deck now but the cost has put it a step beyond my means. But that could change as we expand our circles.
We don’t USE people – We DEVELOP people. I go into every media relationship wanting the same long time relationship I share with several of our #TRIBECDI – Composer and sound designer Dennis Therrian is a good example, he and I go back to about 1997. In media now I hear about how ‘fluid’ people are and hardly keep a job beyond three years. Many are people who cannot deal with any conflict and need to be right all the time. Add to this that our industry is naturally fluid – in it’s flow…(Planning) few folks – (Shooting) army – (Post Work) few folks.
A freelancer has to make more good choices vs bad choices in a year or they will fail. This industry is based 100% on referrals if you’re amongst the wise. We as Indies have a small margin of error due to budget constraints. If you as cast or crew are doing what you love and YOU see the effort by production to give cast and crew a good ride while working to make a quality story. You should be supportive and loyal to the nth degree because it’s rare. For you under 25 folks you will realize. Many of you from your ‘Office Space’ cubical. Yeah… Don’t let your ego sink you. Before I sling arrows let me admit my biggest WEAKNESS. It has always been that I care about people. I truly do. I recognize that dreamer fire burning in some people. And I’ve seen people who’s willpower cannot match their dreams – let me translate LAZY.
I can see people’s success and fail potential. I see those battles of willpower when the dream becomes hard. Almost impossible until – it happens. I’ve bet on people that they could escape their self sabotage and live their better self. I’ve won more than I’ve lost but I’ve surely lost. The TRIBE works in a very tribal way thanks likely to my CDI partner Jeff Kennedy’s anthropology courses. If you aren’t pulling your weight your peers know. They see the lack of focus. They see the attitude and that person will find themselves pushed to the outer rim. I also will state that CDI is a tribe of artists that live on the alpha end of the spectrum. They are savage in their hunger for success as an artist.
I can tell you as an older lion that surviving in this industry long term is a badge to itself. That said, I love to develop appreciate, hungry and extremely talented artists. When you take away the environment for drama and BS, which is a trap for all groups of humans gathering, these artists potential shines even more. Making great art inside a shit-storm is a hard go. You have to control your artistic studio, workshop, world, set. Do this and watch your project get even stronger. The energy when a crew believes…when they see the world, is amazing.
I offered a script to one of our crew guys on ‘Lost Heart’…NOTE: I like my crew to know the story they are creating. Cast or crew I just would have to know what I’m selling hours of my life to. Okay…but he said he was enjoying piecing it together each day. This ‘interest’ in the art from the crew is what helps to elevates the final story.
If you prove yourself to be untrustworthy, undependable, unfocused, unprepared – you get my point. The crew will often work around you rather than with you. If your drama overly seeps into the set, they might ignore but they remember. See again as a martial artists, I see the hot set as a dojo. I mentally bow when I enter and I bow to my fellow cast and crew. We all stop our own time from ACTION to CUT and live those moments together that is the STORY. That is some intimate shit. And some artsy sounding shit at that. But it’s true.
Back to the topic, I’ve been doing this walk a good long time. I want this to keep creating and so I’m not looking for friends or social peeps, BFF’s or any of that. I’m looking for select artists whereas the Tribe see’s them as a good asset. I can say that of the cards that people have brought to the CDI table over the years to play, the best card was always loyalty. You work to create an inspiring place for artists to develop projects void of time-wasting, energy-stealing drama. That is the goal. How successful were we? We’ll let the projects tell that story as I believe the end product has a lot to do with that production energy. It absorbs into the story just like seasons when you shoot. An October movie always has a strong haunting and introspective vibe. Again that saying, Making great art within a shit-storm is a hard go.
I’ve been working hard to develop people because I think I knew where we were heading. I see the on-going slate of films peppered with a few TV series. That takes talent, dedication and organization. Again, praise to all the good stuff happening in our state. Back in the day there was Lynn Drzick (West Side) and Mike Kallio (East Side) and a shot gun smattering of filmmakers in Michigan. Working to TV stations at nights trying to complete films shot on FILM. Okay. I see movies on Vikings, Detroit Hustle, Firefighters, Sex Trafficking, Body Swappers…all in our state of Michigan. Very cool!
I’m going to slide out of here and get with my day. Be good to one another. Thank you for letting me ramble over coffee. I hope to see some of you Sept 14th in Owosso, MI at the MAN’S BEST FRIEND premiere showings. I’ve heard good things about the theater tests but I’m waiting to be surprised myself. Coffee cheers!
Have a great Labor Day weekend.
I’m sitting here sipping some hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ coffee mug. (See above) As of yesterday I’ve just about got all my gear from my last film adventure settled back in. Like I said before, when I go off I’m packing for myself personal, business and the character I played. I had almost as much stuff for ole “Niles Cass’ the role I played in LOST HEART.
I’ve been playing clean up on the project. A bit high on expendable costs and damages. It is funny how people think that everything is tied to a faceless corporation when it is not. It is a small group of hardworking actor/producers working to tell a story. We will be installing a policy ‘CDI welcome book’ for future projects. We had a few damages that were not reported as they should. So you get to the end thinking everything was smooth and you find a damaged walkie talkie here and a broken clamp there. That responsibility, accountability is what makes a true KEY in filmmaking. You can know the gear and how to set it up and break it down but attitude (A #1 CDI requirement) and pride in your work (A CDI goal) are so important.
Hard working CDI team in the desert of Yuma, AZ
I see the difference between someone who works with their own gear and someone working with rental gear unless they are a complete professional. By that, I mean treating others gear as yours and making sure that great care is taken because it is your name as accountable. Now I’m now talking about billing people for damages which would only be mildly satisfying. I really care about people and their development. At least in our area there are only so many professional outfits creating content under the proper insurance and conducting proper business. If you are lucky enough to get these opportunities you should always work to leave the best impression. I know that rule as talent. So few regional companies are paying for narrative feature film and if you get that opportunity you want to shine. That means repeat work and if you think that we don’t ask for and get recommendations, it happens all the time.
I was recently disappointed in a friend who does some work for us and must have misrepresented themselves. I got a call about his producer work on a certain project. The problem is that he wasn’t on the producer team. So when I got the call I was just honest but you could hear what the words did. It shot holes all in the credibility of this person and his words. What did it do to my opinion of this person?
CDI Crew working on set of WILD FAITH
So someone who comes up short might just need more development under a more experienced KEY. But poor communication and lack of taking accountability can end the possibility of something long term. It can also add the dreaded “but…” along with your name. Such as “He’s got all kinds of talent but…(insert the short coming here). I’ve also had to deal with gear with pre-existing damage that the responsibility is put upon production. It is why honest and long-sighted vendors are a must. Overall we had an amazing crew and some are on their 3rd or 4th+ films with CDI. Having a handful of those great relationships will assist cast or crew in maintaining a good career. These lessons go for cast too. If you get known for being late, bad attitude or being unprepared – your future is in jeopardy. So always give your best. Take accountability for mistakes. And always strive to increase communications.
LOST HEART is ‘in the can’ and editing is about to begin. You can read back on the previous posts to get all the gushing. It will be a heart touching and funny movie full of fun. I again thank all our cast, crew, investors, sponsors and supporters for making this story happen.
WILD FAITH is rolling out hard to Wal-Mart and other retailers. We had many people reaching out having gotten their copy of the film. It will play Sunday Oct 6th at the WILD BUNCH western festival in AZ. 3:15 is the start time and so if you are in the area you can see our film and many others in the genre. It is also being recognized at the upcoming CONTENT 19 festival for its themes and set design. If you have not watched this film yet – rent it. Buy it. Enjoy it.
Anthony Hornus our director of MBF: Man’s Best Friend is busy working to try and set up the premiere screening in Sept in his home town of Owosso/Corunna. Our tech teams are working to polish the film even further before the theatrical and home video release. The film is really powerful and if you have a soft place for our wounded heroes and/or dogs, this film will be for you.
The Quest Trilogy: Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer. I like to say most people get more holy around the holidays but these films are adventures. You can enjoy them at any time. The reports and checks from the distributor tell me that you all are enjoying the films. I am looking forward to having all three in the marketplace for the upcoming holidays. More people are discovering these hidden gems. Go ahead and take a watch and see if they are something to share with your family during the holiday season.
DEVELOPMENT: We are looking at various projects and discussing the best way to bring them to life. I’m about to take a nice 5 day break from the movies and clear my head. When you are filming you are going 100 miles an hour. Once in post things start to slow quickly to a nice steady pace. When I return we’ll have our in-depth debrief where we discuss all aspects of production. What worked well. What did not. What can be improved upon. Much of this crew building is for future projects including a TV series. We are looking for the right people to move forward with. Money does not buy the qualities and traits we are looking for – those come from within. Production doesn’t really decide if a crew member is a rehire or not. Their own attitude and actions does decide that. If someone is so positive and hardworking and cares about what they are doing you always want that person on board. We just look at what they gave us and make decisions based on that. We know who are the crew people working to be directors. We keep an eye on their development and one day…you might land in a directing chair.
Well, my lawn is finally back under control and things are running smooth. While doing some banking yesterday I stopped at a small garage sale on my way home and left with a couple Blu-Ray copies of ENTER THE DRAGON, KING KONG and the MATRIX trilogy for $2.00 – nice.
“It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon…Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.” – Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon)
Have a great week and as long as I don’t get eaten by a bear on my retreat we’ll chat next week. Be good to one another.