Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday! I’ve got the cup of hazelnut Joe (Coffee for non-Americans) sitting beside me. It was a productive week for sure and I’m really happy about the flow of things. I’ve had some great new talks over product (films/scripts) and I’m looking forward to the new endeavors. Yesterday I had a great opportunity to attend a family event. My Uncle Jerry IS a great storyteller. When we were children he would weave tales of Cloe the Ghost, numerous BigFoot stories and made even mundane events exciting. My draft of the bigfoot script “SAVAGE” that played Chiller TV was based on his stories. His name can be seen in the end credits of the film with a special thanks for inspiring my imagination. He came up through the auto factories in Detroit but once we got around a fire at the cottage in Harrison he was full of stories. I was so happy to spend some time with my Uncle, Aunt, cousins and that side of the family. They were my “cool” cousins from Detroit into cars, rock and roll and such. We were brought up a touch more strict as kids. I recall going musically from Men At Work and Rick Springfield to being introduced to AC/DC and KISS from my older cousins. I’m not sure how the movie thing all played with them as they just knew their cousin who played with the video camera. We’re all older now and I’m just so thankful I had their influence upon me. My Aunt and cousins seemed excited about “Wild Faith” as westerns are some of their favorites. I think we all must have those people in our lives who inspire us. My Uncle Jerry was/is one of those people. Cherish them.
Soon we’ll be prepping for the run up to the Christmas season with the release of “Chasing the Star” in September (5th) and we’ll be pushing the first in the trilogy “Forty Nights” also. You can purchase it here.
Pre-Order sites for “Chasing the Star” will start appearing soon. DVD will be for sale until the new year when streaming will kick in.
“The Christ Slayer” is moving right along. We had a great meeting with director Nathaniel Nose last week. We also announced the talented VFX artist we brought on board. Read about it here –
This week I’m suppose to see a first run of the first teaser trailer. That means it is not far off for audiences waiting to see it.
“Wild Faith” is moving along nicely. I have to go in Monday to the studio and throw in a few wild lines. Sound is almost complete and music is about to start as VFX work continues. BTS and a new trailer are also in the works. The poster work is underway with many ideas flowing. We will release one very soon. Also the film is a derivative of an early script (larger budget) that was novelized into a book. That manuscript is being formatted for release as we speak. More on that later.
Also the “Knight Chills” book is set to release very soon from author David Hayes and Source Point Press more on that very soon. I’ve had three screenplays turned into books. It is important to note that “Knight Chills” screenplay also written by Jeff & Juanita Kennedy.
Off to do a few things this morning before I return and write new developments:)
As mentioned we have a new script that we’re looking at putting up-end of the year. We have several things in development but this script working title “Man’s Best Friend” is rolling ahead. We’ve been tightening the story and doing some initial talks with distribution. We’ll be focusing on this more in the weeks ahead.
The new CDI website is official under construction. More updates on that as it happens.
Some evaluations this week on possible new collaborations. These are “In associations” whereas their company brings the finance and we bring production, casting, distribution to the table. It just all has to make sense business-wise but we’re open to such endeavors.
Looking for young actors 12-20 years of age so get those reels updated. We do cast national but will be looking in the Michigan area first for several roles.
Okay my friends. I’m off to do a few things around the house before a soccer match providing the rain doesn’t wash the fields out.
Have a great day.
So I’m able to attract a distillery sponsor but still no coffee. Well, I’m sipping a nice dark coffee flavored with…you guessed it, hazelnut. I’ve been working hard to catch up on business and get back into the flow. I’m just about there.
The Easter month has brought the beginning of our release schedule with The Quest Trilogy. We’ve started with the new release of “Forty Nights” – See here to buy the remastered DVD, digital stream to rent or own.
Funny story. Many themes are spotlighted in these biblical films. Several of these themes addressed are what works against organized religion to the everyday person. You have all these branches of the tree that all want to claim being the roots. But the tree has but one seed. While people argue to own divinity so much is missed. One retailer who deals in “Christian” merchandise passed on carrying the “Forty Nights” DVD. I found it amusing that here’s a gatekeeper who believes they have some sort of authority to judge. Meanwhile the film has been nominated by an international Christian body for several awards including “the most inspiring film” yet…
Therein lies the issues I have with the “status quo” of organized religion. The beauty of these stories produced by amazing artists will reach beyond the small genre audiences. They’ll reach audiences worldwide and not just the Christian audiences. I’ll be having conversations with our distributor about the possibility of another slate of biblical period films. I cannot see creating an inferior product just to appease one retailer gatekeeper. Make a film that people want to watch and empower those retailers that DO carry the title. I saw some of the communications and it put my artistic self directly against my business self. Now I’ve always said, we create the best art within our business lines. But, without a strong script you cannot get strong artists on board. You end up with watered down product and that’s not what I do.
I’m sure a good balance will be found. But this example is why I don’t get too high on the praise or the criticism. It just amazes me that some feel empowered to judge believing they have some real power. Actually the only power this one retailer had was over greed. They can try to impose their will by refusing unit buys unless it fits their view. I also thought about how commerce often works against spiritual when “Christian reviewers” where just hammering the film NOAH. Now I like Russell Crowe and thought the film was just okay with many “over the top” events but like I told one person in private – If it inspired one person to go read the source material and put them on a path towards God, would the film not be a success? After I make a film I strap on my business armor and enter the fight. The haters will always exist and they really don’t have much of an effect these days. I think this one situation bothered me because fresh off of playing Jesus I tried to get to discover the core of the man and his beliefs. What would he think of someone censoring in his name? It hasn’t stopped many from doing just that. I think much like the table tossing in the temple he would walk into their offices and crack the whip.
But I believe these parables were created to unite people not divide. So I hope audiences do continue to connect with the material and seek it out. Those like the censoring retailers will likely get forced out of business in time. The daily fan mail tells me that many are reaping the rewards of the positive messages. If you want to see “Forty Nights” and the other films demand them:) Seek them.
Chasing the Star
So the film was watched and listened to again by multiple ears and eyes in studio last week to prep for the theatrical lay off. We’ve got a couple of weeks before our Grand Rapids premiere on the 22nd. After that they’ve announced my home town of Lansing, MI as the next stop. The play dates will be on the 24th and 25th of April at Celebration Cinema. More cities will be announced as we move forward. Again Sept 5th is the national DVD/Streaming release and it will be a wonderful Christmas time film for the entire family. I know the marketing team at BMG is already working on the release.
The Christ Slayer
Here is the video that our director posted with his SELECT shots from the film.
Sound has been married to picture and Monday editing will begin. I will be giving many more updates and you can join the FB site and follow us.
Our western is now in discussions over VFX work before we can lock the picture. We’ll have discussions with director Jesse Low this week. I will also be discussing poster art and marketing. The TV show is a real possibility and will be part of my business discussions this week. A busy week ahead.
We’ll be looking at the CDI library to possibly re-release some of our other films into the market. A few foreign sales talks are heating up and I will be exploring that. I’ve recently undergone a major hair cut to be ready for soccer that starts this month. I’m in good fighting shape thanks to the deserts of Yuma, AZ. I’m going to go refill the coffee cup. We’ve been getting the yard around and soon the garden ground will be tilled. We’ve got many new projects that are just seeds. If we plant them in fertile grounds with a little TLC I’m sure we’ll have new projects sprouting soon.
Have a beautiful day and week ahead.
What a week. This was my first week of my new year after my birthday on the 23rd. I have to say I felt blessed by all the kind communications I received. I had a few birthday moments and got to spend it with some of my favorite people. It was a humbling week because of soccer. We’ve won our last five games or so and last week on Father’s Day we had a match. A very good team who came with numbers in the 90 degree heat. We had just enough players to field a team and two of our players were nursing injuries. Since some of the “fathers” absent we played a long, hot, fierce battle and lost. The next day swollen knee which has happened at least one other time. So I felt like I needed a cane like Billy Idol in the 1980’s. But I went with a compression support and today the swelling is gone and aside from stiff – okay. Can I run on it? Don’t know. But wearing a compression sleeve is going to be a regular thing. Almost two hours running, sprinting, stop and start – takes the toll on these traveled knees.
The TOP interesting story and lesson from the week. We do have a commercial division and have done some high end videos for select clients. We were contacted by supposedly a company from the UK opening offices in MI and wanted video work done. Vetting verified the company, emailing party etc… So a quote was given, accepted and they were invoiced. It all seemed very easy – which I’ve had easy deals close before but…”if it seems too good to be true – it usually is”
A priority envelop came with a money order that exceeded the deposit. FLAG. The check looked 100% legit, bank checked out – but…why add INVOICE to the check line? Some vetting and a call to the bank. (No Ph# with the bank on check is a giveaway) the check was signed with the name of an actual former exec from the bank. It was a FAKE. The scam is an overpay and they want you to send the difference back. My guess is that the check is good enough to give the bank pause and they hope you move quick and send off theirs. IF these people read my blog maybe they can pack it in and go on the run before the FBI comes calling. We vet everything strong at CDI and so should you. Respect your time and make sure others do too. Poor guy had his name and company being used in a scam. Now he knows.
This week business kept moving forward. Several of the films #40nights, #donorsthemovie, #bestsellerthemovie, #ashesofeden continue to sell and expand. Please do support these artists and we’re close to foreign roll out on some of these films.
The soundtrack for “Bestseller” will release here soon. The art work is almost done and the paperwork signed. Following will be the soundtrack for “Ashes of Eden” – and I’m excited, cool tunes by cool artists.
More meetings on a slate of upcoming films this week. Camera tests underway and marketing discussions. Re-releases are gearing up their campaigns and the groundwork for taking CDI sales online is happening. New merchandise and licensing opportunities are being opened up.
Keep taking those little steps. Sometimes you can’t see the success that lies right around the corner. How close that next endeavor is – so don’t give up. BUT, if something is not working – make the adjustments.
It is half time of the MSU game and we’re teaching the Air Force team a thing or two about football. It has been rainy but we are getting back to the nice fall weather. We’re still pulling good from the garden and BLT sandwiches have been great. Tomorrow we have our first round of soccer play-offs. Last week we had a tough game but beat the team 6-4 after losing to them prior by a goal I believe. I had my first goal of the season which was great because I play defense. So we will hit it hard tomorrow and see what happens. We play a very good team. Beatable but very good.
This week was very productive. First, I’m very happy to announce my official first draft of “Chasing the Star” is done. It is the 2nd film in our 3 film deal with Lightworx Entertainment. The 1st movie in the series is “40 Nights” it’s now in post sound. I’m going to start doing some video updates at our distributors request.
The “Chasing the Star” script has the same depth and power that I loved about the first one. And I’ve almost got the third one mapped out. I thought they might be stand alone films and they are BUT…they do connect. I’m excited for a few people from “40 Nights” who might bring roles back in this second film.
A couple of actors who had small parts might be given larger roles in this follow up. We’ve also been looking at and discussing many actors for this film. We are looking mainly in the AZ and CA area whereas talent can drive to our location. Many more crew people will get a 1st look at the script this coming week. Anyway, I’m happy this draft is complete and now some scheduling/budget work can be done.
“Bestseller” is gearing up for an event showing in Owosso, MI take a look here please.
We also have an October 15th event showing of “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town” in Grand Ledge, MI just outside Lansing. An event page will be forthcoming. We will be doing a movie a month and use the time to interact and meet some of the local film community.
“Ashes of Eden” releases nationally Oct. 13th and we should have word on some of the foreign territories we will be releasing to. Here is one retailer releasing it Oct. 20th
I hope to have home video release dates for everyone on “Donors” and “Bestseller” but we don’t have those yet. “40 Nights” would like to welcome THE GARMAX GROUP for their platinum sponsorship.
You will see their logo in front of the film. We might seek one other promotional sponsor for that opening billing. We are starting to look at some marketing. The licensing management deal is done. Also trying to lock distribution on soundtracks. Always something that needs to move forward on the TO DO list.
We also are closing in on finalizing the financing on a western era script. We have to get it done within a certain timeline or else we have to move it to the other side of “Chasing the Star” but we are pushing. I would love to be playing a rugged role in the fall/winter here in Michigan. It just might happen. We are prepping to play as we speak.
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend and proceed on to a great week ahead.
I’m sitting here relaxing and thinking back on the busy week. It was truly a busy, busy week but I’m happy with all the new developments. I’m happy to report that almost all these business actions were all done against the backdrop of our emerging fall. Let’s look at some of the things that happened this week and let’s hope that I don’t forget any.
ASHES OF EDEN – We just concluded our theatrical run in Canton & Novi in Michigan. No sooner had we concluded and we have more good news concerning this film. I know that PR is about locked and loaded to share some of this good news with all of you. I enjoyed the nice comments from all the people who came out to see the film. This film has been a strong showcase for Lansing, for Michigan and for some of the best emerging talent in the region. There may be some new opportunities to see this film – stay tuned.
LOCKED IN A ROOM is getting a new Halloween season release from Echo Bridge Entertainment packaging us with some classics.
BOOK OF RUTH, Journey of Faith is now selling in a 2 pack at major retailers.
“GPS The Movie” that played CHILLER TV is getting a new release in November and heading to the foreign market.
BESTSELLER has started sound work and CGI/Graphic work. We are all excited to have this moving down the post production line.
THE TERRORIST is another film that is in post sound and we hope to have done at the year’s end.
I also was informed that my 1st feature I starred in called IN THE WOODS is having a theatrical screening to celebrate 15 years since the video release. That is the film that put me on the map first. While it does have a good cheese factor it has become a favorite of many fans out there. For all of you – some special news will be forthcoming! Stay tuned.
I think one of the biggest questions I get is WHAT’S NEXT? My management has been in talks with several casting agents as we try to find the right projects to showcase my acting craft. I’ve been introduced to some amazing production groups working on some amazing films. But I did have one extremely exciting project come to me. In the period of a week this film just seemed to just come together. The ink is dry, flight and hotel booked and I’m excited to announce this week my involvement in a SciFi/Western. I’m playing one of the leads and will be assisting in distribution via a CDI association. The official press release will be coming this week. It will be shooting out west in a famous State park and I’m beyond excited. The 7-year-old in me who wanted to be Han Solo is excited:)
I’m sure I missed a few updates – mostly development talks. We’re close to launching a few other films. Upcoming 2015 will be a BUSY year I can tell already. This weekend will be some fall clean up, football and archery. I’ve bottled up the TROPIC THUNDER wine and I think next week some hard cider might be in order. I’m also almost through my STAN REED SUMMER BREW and so time to get another batch of that going. Michigan folk know how to stay warm.
Have a great weekend!
I’m sipping some strong coffee due to a slight malfunction in the back up coffee maker. It goes perfect with Fall which has arrived here in Michigan. The chilly air and leaves that are slowly starting to change signal this new push towards the harvest. I’ve had a few great sit down meetings this week with associates old and new. I’m a private person who really likes to focus on goals and stay far away from the drama or distractions. To isolate these elements from your life circle allows you to truly add as much creative into your business as possible. I’ve talked about people who tend to use the same variables and are surprised when they get the same results. If you are happy with your direction – great. But if you are not you have to look at your variables and see what is not working. Adjustments in attitude, time management or collaborations can greatly effect the outcome. I’m writing this week within the framework of this – 2 weddings and one funeral for a 18-year-old girl connected to our 4H yearly activity. To see someone who lived fully without any thoughts of a near end and two pair of individuals making a go of it in life can be rewarding. More so when you realize you still are alive and get to meet life’s challenges. It won’t always be so. One day be it tragic or peaceful – your journey here will end. Your children, your art, your words – what will you leave behind? Let’s move to our discussions on film and entertainment…
ASHES OF EDEN – I was proud when I saw the 42 new show dates for our film in Canton and Novi. (See pic for dates) I try not too let pride take hold to often but in this moment, I was. We are not 4 walling or renting the theater – we’re in a partnership much like the major studios. CDI sales team has a new head of theatrical which we will announce. This team will be pushing “Bestseller” and other films from the CDI library out to market. This is a new revenue flow that previously did not exist. A handful of showings were done in days past to avoid the label of DIRECT-TO-VIDEO but it is now a true avenue. Why? The technology and the quality of the product is at a studio level. (Distributor words not mine) Hiring professionals is not enough it’s the focusing of these artists efforts towards telling the best story possible. At the hobby level of filmmaking this is hard because some scenes stay in the film or aren’t cut because someone loved the scene performance, so and so would be mad, the camera shot is great BUT does it serve the story. I’ve seen much growth in this area and I’m humble enough to say I’m always learning both as a creative and as a businessman. You cannot walk around with a full cup or you cannot accept anything new.
I thought I would share some information that was presented recently to a rising filmmaker I sat down with. IF you have some backing and you want to showcase yourself stronger than you have you need good associations. Until you see a department run as it should it is hard to hold yourself to a certain level. We’ve opened ourself at CDI to associations but first it is with whom. Making films is a lengthy process and requires a lot of close collaboration. If your personality runs against this grain of respecting work flow, non-defensive discussions, openness to options – we will pass. I will not argue or deal with big egos. We PR films on a regular schedule but we also don’t attach any entitlement. It is marketing. If you have successfully done certain things you are entitled to an opinion but even that should be done with caution. I see many people not only marketing but believing their own fable. Now I believe that you must have faith in yourself but nothing says confidence like quiet at times. I had someone once ask me after conveying some negative comments about me – if I care? They were surprised that I wasn’t mad but sad for that person. All someone has to do is usually look at the accomplishments of the doer and the complainer and it quickly becomes apparent who is better at using their energy. The sad is for the wasted energy. That circle of negativity can envelop a person or a group. That old “birds of a feather flock together” saying. Seek something better. It doesn’t matter if you are a hobby artist or professional. Who would keep going to a scrapbook club that was plagued by negativity? Play for a team that is chaos and drama? Same in the workplace – people move on from bad work situations or there is a change in leadership. Decide if you want to be a flocking feather or soar with positive doers. Your choice always.
To circle around again to ASHES OF EDEN – we’ve also signed our National deal for home video and digital. We will be announcing more about that in the coming weeks. In the meantime Shane Hagedorn and I have been busy discussing what will be our next collaboration. If you don’t know Shane he is a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working man who I’ve taught and learned from. That is what a positive collaboration is all about. It was also brought up in a recent meeting (Not with Shane) about the divisions existing in Michigan. East-side, West-side blah blah…I say, we are Michigan. I’ve worked in all corners of Michigan with cast and crew from wherever. I’m looking at their art and attitude not their zip code. Lansing doesn’t usually doesn’t get involved in those film turf wars talks. I mean locally aside from CDI only Jeff Burton and maybe our Ahptic friends have worked at that international level. Still it doesn’t matter. It can be done. Our films can compete just like our cars, wines and other MI products. But to do so you have to make product people elsewhere want to see. You have to make it at a quality level that meets quality control. You have to have all legal aspects tied up so you don’t end up with a big home video for family and friends. This is the reality. If you tried to sell and market an unappealing (subjective) car that couldn’t meet safety codes and compliance – who would buy it? You could cobble together some off-road mud buggy for fun or a zippy little go-cart but you can’t expect it to be highlighted in the car industry. Some films are like Go-Carts and their makers think they can enter the Indy 500 and win. This is not a Pixar cartoon with nitro powered snails:) So be realistic. Set realistic goals. Execute with maximum pre-production so you can handle problems you can’t plan for. Don’t cut corners. Don’t allow your ego to trump the story. Keep modifying your process and watch the success start to grow. Good mentors and associations are also key to success – so if professional is your goal – take the realistic steps.
BESTSELLER – We had a great meeting over this thriller with the book creator Chris Wright/Knight aka Jonathan Rand. He is a self-made man like myself enjoys the journey to success. We made some solid decisions on our distribution flow that I’m quite excited about. If you don’t know him your children likely do may from his AMERICAN CHILLER, MICHIGAN CHILL, ADVENTURE CLUB books and much more. This film is now moving into the sound/music stage with Dennis Therrian and we will have a fun go at finishing this thriller. The 1st trailer has created huge buzz for us in the distribution circles thus far and so in 2015 we will see this film presented on the big screen, small screen and everything in-between. Great job Chad Ice on getting that final edit locked up. He had only done shorts when he approached me during our film shoot about the possibility of editing. I do know lots of editors but in this case having someone already invested in the material was a huge bonus. I think he discovered that a feature is very different animal from a short film. I’m proud that we were his first feature film and I think he gained some great experience and insight while we benefitted from his artistic talent. Much more information on this film will be flowing in the coming months.
THE TERRORIST is on a second pass of music and so they are very close. I really enjoyed this NYC based film and can’t wait to have this finished and in the collection. I think many people around the world will benefit from the messages within the story.
We are funding on a few films currently and with pre-set distribution and some great attachments we should be rolling camera again in the near future. If you have your own funding and want to be considered for an association reach out. If you are a new director without money chances are slim to none that we will slide you into a film that is financed on our end to direct. But if you have your $ support and want to create something that will help you move up the professional ladder feel free to reach out. We do say NO more than YES but it’s all case-by-case basis and much of the decision lies in how collaborative the person is. If you’re NOT a budget-minded/producer friendly director you will not work well in our camp. Same for aspiring actors – know your craft and be production friendly. Actors who have had or tried to produce tend to have a much better respect for the company and work flow. When PR was going around on ASHES OF EDEN announcing the new Canton/Novi screenings – one Detroit-based actor responded to one of our staff that he would support the film ONLY if the actors were paid.
NOTE: We’ve paid our actors since our second CDI film in 1999. It wasn’t much back in the day but it was a wage. It is like this actor was policing productions. The truth is we were likely paying our actors when this fellow was still playing a cloud in his middle school play:) But these jaded mentalities wouldn’t exist if not for shady production companies. We’ve all been there but don’t carry that negative with you from project to project or it will paint you in that negative light. To see what happens to “negative nellies” go back up and read the start of the blog. Okay I’ve enjoyed the chat with all of you. G’Day to our Aussie friends who have been tuned in to this blog. I hope you all have a great day and maybe a line or two of this word spewing can help you.
Keep clawing your way to the middle!