Good morning. The hazelnut coffee is flowing and needed this am. I awoke to my furry Daphne daughter throwing up my Minnetonka Moccasin slipper she put a chew on when I left her watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE vs her Cartoons. From there the morning has slowly unfolded as I worked to shake off the Michigan morning chills. WINTER IS COMING.
Now with winter many people moan and groan but I have always loved snow. If it is going to be cold we might as well have the pretty aspect too. Now the other thing I love about winter is the limiting of my yard work so I can focus on my desk work. This season is special because it marks the start of another phase of CDI development.
First, the ink is dry on a deal for me to adapt a book manuscript to a screenplay and for CDI to produce it. Even the title has been left open on the book to see what ‘title’ arises. The reading of the book which is the 11th book for this author I believe. His name? Wait for the press release:) I might have a title by that time. But the characters are very well developed and I can already see the scenes forming in my head. This project will be late Summer/Early Fall shoot in Michigan. I look forward to a week of reading and after that my writing will begin. I’ve been taking lots of notes while moving through the reading.
Additionally we have things firming up on the 2021 WW2 project. It was shelved several years ago but recently that script kept coming to mind. So I followed my instincts and it seems like many variables including financing are firming up. This would shoot 2021 in the fall out of the state of Michigan. We will be doing some exciting announcements with this project maybe around Christmas:)
We’re exploring a collaboration in AZ with a filmmaker friend and we’ll see. It is a western genre script. Speaking of the genre – I had a fan reach out this week on GHOST TOWN. He watched that film after seeing our WILD FAITH movie. He was asking for more CDI westerns so between us seeking finance and distribution partners on the Wild Faith TV series and these possible collaborations, CDI western fans might get your fill.
Holiday blessings manifested last week as the films saw flow from our distributor. We’ll be doing an end of the year dispersement where it applies. AFM (American Film Market) is underway and the films are being represented and sold. I have a sit down in two weeks to discuss what new platforms, territories and networks are playing the films. The business part of it all is the grit and grind that it takes to be professional. Like the accountants and legal that keep things inside the lines. I had a wonderful gift this past week from one of these individuals/companies that help allow us to do what we do. I will not bog this down with details but I really appreciate all the support staff and producers who help keep all the ships sailing. Filmmaking is a team effort and our collective artists are all appreciated.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – The positive response via email to this film has been wonderful. We have some of our team that will be attending the Equus Film Festival. We will await to see if any nominations fall upon us before we doing any PR. This is a great Kentucky based festival that will happen this December.
Now our film is DOG themed but they have a section that is ‘Going to the Dogs’ but also due to today being the official release of THE HORSE OF MY DREAMS in Jackson, Michigan. Here is our editor/author talking about the release – https://jtv.tv/book-event-for-horse-lovers-sunday/
LOST HEART – I had meetings with our post supervisor Dennis Therrian over the transfer of locked picture which is targeted for Jan. 1st. Our first rough cut should be done by Thanksgiving so we are getting close. Audiences will enjoy this film. This week we will start moving element art over to the distributor so they can start conceptual cover art.
With the mass of social media making things very confusing – we’ve had many people see one or two of the films and insist they must see the others. We’re going to be inviting the masses to join us this holiday season.
So enjoy with your own family or GIVE the gift of a good story to someone else. I’m going to leave this here so I can finish up and get back to my reading. I hope you each have a wonderful day and a great week ahead. My thoughts also go out to friend/co-star Austin Two Feathers who recently lost his beloved. The entire CDI Tribe has you in their thoughts.
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.
(This is how my boy Luke helps with the tree clean up * Sorry no thumbs)
Welcome readers from Costa Rica and Hungary! Another week down and we had a few beautiful days last week with a mild breeze. Even today which is heating up to be a scorcher has a nice breeze. It will be low 90’s during the peak of the day at 4:00 pm about when the whistle will blow on our soccer match. So I’m taking in water and catching up with all of you. This past week our dead elm started dropping more branches and it is right over the path to the office/fort. So when getting a bid this week they offered to return within the hour. Ruby’s Tree Service did a great job and they chipped up 80% of the branches at no added cost. Everyone else wanted a major bump to chip up the branches. After they left I worked for three hours moving some 300lb+ pieces about. I had to leave a few until I recruit an additional lifter, but I got lots organized Friday afternoon and Saturday. I did feel a bit beat up on Saturday from my lumberjack efforts. I eased up until Monday since I have this game today. But I am happy that I have no fear of falling limbs and the garden is getting a major additional in the sunshine department. This tree adventure replaced my bottling of the Irish Stout so that will happen this week. Okay. Let’s look at a few film updates in no particular order.
Accounting Paperwork went our to Forj Digital and putting together the agreement for the ‘Chasing the Star’ soundtrack. NOTE: ‘Bestseller’ and ‘Forty Nights” soundtracks are available on iTunes and other music outlets.
This week PR on the DVD artwork for ‘Chasing the Star’ was released and so Sept 5th will be the national roll out. Some pre-order sites will start to appear in the coming weeks. Also artwork for the above mentioned soundtrack is also underway.
PR from this week
“Forty Nights” keeps rolling with more disbursements to our backers. I was also sent this review of the film this week. I don’t agree with all of it but that is why it’s a review:) Thank you Dr. Jeff Krupinski for your watch.
Third in the trilogy “The Christ Slayer” will be reviewed this week. We have a first cut and to say I’m excited to watch it is a true understatement. We’ve got big things in motion on the VFX and we’ll be doing some PR on that in the coming weeks. We had a heck of a time trying to get a piece of equipment from New Zealand but that should finalize this week.
(Lana Wood & Darby Hinton in “Wild Faith”)
“Wild Faith” watch through was exciting and as the film moves towards completion we keep pushing on the business end. The film is exciting to watch and I’m happy to once again be working in this genre. I do LOVE westerns!
I was able to get quite a lot of writing done and I’m closing in on a first draft of a new screenplay. I’m also working a few deals that could have me selling or doing work-for-hire writing. I really do enjoy the writing experience and enjoy seeing how the story gets translated from page to the screen. If you’re looking to hire a writer feel free to reach out and discuss.
I’ve been keeping my eye out for that next character/story that captures my attention. Rolling out in the near future will be Jesus (The Christ Slayer) and Ben Lily (Wild Faith) so I’m seeking. If I don’t find a role that I connect with well, that script is almost complete.
(Old release poster “Knight Chills”)
This week we did another pass on the temp website for CDI and discussed more on the roll out. Also a few of the books I want to release are getting closer. One exciting book project is the novelization by David Hayes of the “Knight Chills” script. I’ve seen the cool cover art and they’ve been typesetting. It will be a hardcopy in stores and on the Comic Con tour with Source Point as well as an Ebook. I’m excited by the possibilities here including talk of a graphic novel and the sequel script which is complete. Sir Kallio rides again. Pretty cool:)
Well USA is about to challenge both Norway (Women) and Mexico (Men) and at 4:00 we take the field. I love the game. The garden is doing great for those who asked – actually eating lettuce on our sandwiches as I finish this. I hope you all have had a good week/end and that you have a great week ahead. I know a few people dealing with hardships and losses so appreciate each day and keep chasing your dreams.
Be good to one another!
USA, Australia, Brazil and China are the top four countries where our readers are from. I’ve not been to any of the last three but I’m appreciative to you all. I’ve had films released in all three of those territories – following the USA. What I do love is the community of artistry. We’ve had a lot of rain this week but also signs of the coming fall. MSU football is getting close to kicking off and that is excitement. With my boy Luke on recovery the squirrels have come in force stripping roughly a third of my apples off the tree and making a play for the garden harvest. I cannot blame theme but we’ve got more than enough for them to eat without their garden raids.
This week was full of ups and downs but steady movement forward especially with post work and development work that is about to go full pre-production. I will speak briefly about one encounter. I had a business intro call that was set up to make introductions and set the foundation for future business. This was to be with an executive at a well-known company. Just because you are dealing with a larger corporation does not make them BETTER organized. It had been many years since I had to deal with attitude from someone. But, I always go in with respect and professionalism. That said, when someone line steps you sometimes have to put them into check. But, you must be willing to lose the business. The best business is not when someone tries to discount a property to leverage the best deal. I love when they are honest with what they really like and express a wish to do some same-side of the table negotiation and create a WIN-WIN. That is the difference between true leaders and those who were in a position and gone in 8-18 months. These people also represent the BRAND. I take great pride in our artists on both sides of the camera. I would rather develop the right personality versus working with an ass that may be talented but makes the journey sour. This one individual had a couple of possible reasons for their odd behavior but most stem from low self-esteem. He had another young female executive on the phone call and was trying to be manly by being confrontational. Well, that conversation did not go exactly how he planned it. Remember this people.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
YOU MUST EARN RESPECT.
Many think that a name tag, door plaque or desk moniker will automatically give respect. Initially people will respect the office but if the personality is unfit they become a joke. That only enhances their need to try to feel powerful by treating people poorly. I’ve had many people over the years treat me well only to have me observe them treating others they feel below them, poorly. Don’t be this person. I respect everyone on our projects from DP to he or she who makes the coffee. This person will likely continue to hurt their branding. Don’t hurt YOUR branding.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – As we move towards finishing Part 2 “Chasing the Star” more people are introduced to our biblical world in “40 Nights” – Also had the pleasure recently of taking several meetings over our third upcoming film “The Christ Slayer” which despite the attention grabbing title is a beautiful story.
“Chasing the Star” – some amazing new stills will be rolling out. A poster, a trailer – all these great promotional items will start rolling out as we close in on the finish line.
“The Christ Slayer” – The returning cast are very excited by the third installment. I’ve been looking at and developing some of the important foundation elements of this story. I will enjoy the final trek into this world one more time as Jesus. A swan song to a beautiful role which has brought smiles to many people. I thank all of you audiences for that.
“Wild Faith” – Our team has started to line up our cast and crew for this 1800’s story that takes place in Michigan shortly after the Civil War. I’ve been engaged in discussions with key artists and we’ll have many more announcements soon. This week we announced Melissa Anschutz and Lana Wood joining the cast. I’m excited about the additional announcements. I love Michigan in the fall. I love westerns. I love my fellow artists who will join in telling the story. Each cast and crew is unique. I’m excited to be prepping to play a role in this film and to work with all these fine people telling this story.
I’ve got much more I could ramble on about but instead I’m going to pick from the garden and do a few things around the homestead. Be good to each other. Keep following your dreams. Keep clawing.
I’m sipping at the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the early morning here in Michigan. We had a nice relaxing day up North after a very busy week of business. I want to welcome some of our new blog followers from India. Our international readers might enjoy some of the updates as we work to get more of our films to you.
I spoke about some “uninvited drama” last week. It has been put to rest. You have to seek to do that. Actually the less attention and energy you give it the better. I have a friend that I’ve known a long time. They seem to be going through an adjustment and break from a TOXIC relationship. I do note that they get into these long drawn exchanges of words. Now as someone who writes this blog, I know how much time they take to write. When people take all this additional time to debate what should not be debatable, it eats huge amounts of time with no payoff save frustration. DELETE and move on. Consider not posting things that will end up wasting your time if you are unable to IGNORE. To apply that to my life – if I was to take every critical personal attack to heart and waste all this time defending – little would get done. But in the time it would take to read or address these negatives – I’ve landed a new distribution deal. I’ve written another script scene. I’ve combed through a budget. Even a “Charlie Brown” (Whoa is me) statement will often bring a bunch of sympathy responses. Answering all those with a polite retort can eat a morning up or afternoon. So be careful what you throw out there. Someone who is feeling down and engages in such behavior risks only feeling down again for lack of productivity. Now push those feelings aside and get a list of TO DO’s done and I promise you will feel better. An issue might still exist but you did not feed it. You did not allow it to consume you. You controlled it and TCB baby! (Took care (of) business) Next time you feel like writing a short novel spewing the frustration over someones actions you can’t control – try ignoring it and taking care of yourself. Tackle that task that you’ve been putting off and I promise you – you will start to feel empowered. Less talk – more action!
To the FILMS…
THE QUEST TRILOGY
40 Nights – What can I say? My goal is that all three films will become a holiday tradition to watch. I think they have the power to do so but we will see in 20 years now won’t we. Family Video has joined our growing list of retailers and rental houses. Here is a new review that was sent over today –
I’ve heard of people watching the film multiple times for an uplift. I’ve been told of the DVD being given as a gift. I’ve enjoyed hearing what joy has come from the little film we artist created.
The second “Chasing the Star” should have its second cut. We will be reviewing this week. Things are in line with music and we will be addressing our INTRO and VFX soon! It is exciting to see it all come together and I’m so proud of our team.
I’ve started the hunt for the director of our third film, “The Christ Slayer” which despite the harsh title is a beautiful story. We’ve been dealing with returning cast and also starting to look at new artists. I will be excited to finish this trilogy next year.
Many of our CDI/CDI Associated films are expanding. Every couple of weeks we’re announcing new pathways. Let’s look at a few developing.
- “Locked in a Room” is moving into a secondary distribution including a few new foreign territories. It is already in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and it will be expanding again it looks like. This is a unique thriller by the awesome twisted mind of director Larry Simmons.
- PR this week will be announcing the return of the “Knight Chills” franchise. The new Facebook page is up although not much to it yet save the new trailer. It will release in 2017 with the book that is complete. https://www.facebook.com/KnightChills/?fref=ts
- 2017 will see several new releases as our deal making continues.
- “Ashes of Eden,” “Bestseller” and “40 Nights” continue to widen their circle of availability. This past week we announced FAMILY VIDEO carrying this trio of films.
- The CDI Classic library is now digitized and so in 2017 some of these films will enjoy their first On-Demand or Blu-Ray releases. Some special edition DVD releases will also happen in 2017. (Wicked Spring:)
We discussed “Knight Chills” and while we’ve been keeping it under tight wraps – the sequel is in active development. We’re tweaking the teaser trailer for the sequel and we’ll be doing some strong PR on this exciting event in the near future.
A Jesse Low directed western project is in active development and nearing pre-production status. It’s inspired by a project we tried to launch during the writer’s strike years ago only to have it die a slow painful death. Yes. I too have failures. The heart of the previous story will beat strongly as we move forward with this new creative team. We will have some strong announcements concerning this project in the coming weeks.
- YES both the projects could provide some Michigan casting opportunities. So as I’ve said before – we like looking at “game footage” so get your acting reels together.
Men out there, words of wisdom – IF you plan to audition for a western (which we are trying to shoot this year) LET IT GROW, LET IT GROW! Same with our biblical films as we DO NOT like fake beards/hair etc… I think it comes from one project I had an association too – it was fine enough drama but it was so distracting because it looked like someone glued beaver pelts to people’s faces. I think that scare of all that hard work suffering because an actor can’t make the commit to grow hair/beard when required. So…there you have it.
Here is another little gem with casting at CDI anyway…always feel free to send an updated reel or clip to me. But to put minds at rest – if we’ve hired you before to no issues. (You trouble makers know who you are) Providing you brought your performance A-game and you were a sail NOT an anchor, you will be considered. You are often hand delivered under the nose of a director. My phone always rings more during casting times than non but I love you all the same. I just want some of you who don’t get called to know you were likely considered. Your location vs budget, age, look etc…all can factor into decisions but ole DJ remembers his co-stars. Some of you can attest to getting the calls out of the blue – sometimes years after a discussion. But keep your materials strong and current.
While on casting let me point out one other observation. I think this is important to many of those tween talent growing into adulthood. I follow a handful of promising talent that I am impressed by but waiting for the right project. I caught a glimpse of an actress I’ve followed and almost worked with – going through a public store with a couple co-stars. They were loud, obnoxious and created a few messes. Now, I’m not a saint and I’ve been kicked out of a few stores in college BUT I was not away on business representing a project and a company. I was just disappointed because I, as a company owner look for professionals that reflect well on our casting decisions. These young ladies I’m sure had no problems talking about their project but I felt like I was watching an episode of JACKASS. I guess this works for them and they might all be great actresses but I do think they will lose out on some roles because of how they paint themselves off camera/on set and off camera/off set. Yes. Wrap is called and it’s your free time but I think some professional behavior is desired by some productions. Like ours.
Alright, I’m sure I missed a few updates but I’m going to go have another coffee and enjoy the day. Another soccer battle today. We won the last game so we’ll see if we can earn another victory.
It is raining here in Michigan as the heat wave is still moving past us. Soon will be Fall, MSU football and cookouts. We might even have a film, or two – to shoot:) Let’s look at some of those developments but let’s take a moment for me to illustrate something from my life balancing work with living.
It has been an interesting week (or two) as we have been promoting the films now released, post-production on those to come and developing the new. It’s a lot of work and much more than what most people see or realize. It’s funny that when I was first starting out the naysayers were mad that I thought I could. Now I occasionally get those that are upset because of what I’ve actually done.
Unrelated to movie-biz – I turned down a personal request because it wasn’t possible and even if it was – not something I could just decide on a dime. It also concerned a third-party and so I politely said – No. Well, that set off an explosion of misdirected anger – that I didn’t do it because I was a “big shot” – Wrong. I’ve always stayed humble – it was because it wasn’t within my rights to make that call. Anyways, a few hurtful things said by someone I once enjoyed and considered extended family. I simply responded that the years grow shorter, life goes fast – be the best person you can be, always. Did that kind response help? No. More hate from somewhere deep that directed itself at what I do – who I am.
Bottom line is that when you have these toxic elements around you – they can have an effect on you – because you care. I have kept the toxic relationships off the board because I don’t tolerate that. It allows me to climb the steep hills. So, I’m closing a chapter and wishing this person the best. I’ve shared laughter with this individual on many occasions but have no time to deal with drama and others insecurities. I will choose to remember the good times, the good person and move on. Learn this lesson and you will be more productive and happy.
Onto some film updates?
“40 Nights,” “Bestseller,” “Ashes of Eden” and “Donors” continues to expand their availability. Many artists work very hard on these stories so if you get a chance to watch On-Demand on add our DVD to your collection we would be appreciative.
“Chasing the Star” – I watched the first full cut and I was pleased. This week I will watch cut 2 which has been tightened and music beds are being worked on. I’ve been pleased how our director Bret Miller has been collaborating with our post team. This movie will be enjoyed and we hope will become a mainstay around Christmas. The story is powerful and heartfelt. I’m happy that we’ve been given this opportunity to tell such a dramatic story versus fast-buck, feel-good movies. I always say, if JUST chasing the dollar is what you are about there are many easier ways versus filmmaking. But if you want to leave a lasting message our medium is second to none.
A few months ago we talked about CDI’s 1st film, “Knight Chills” shot around 1996 – hence our 20th Anniversary DVD release. We will be going On-Demand with it. But most exciting is the releasing of the book by author David Hayes. The soundtrack might also release if we can resurrect it.
Sneak a peek at the new trailer before we announce this in the coming week.
Speaking of resurrection – the sequel development is underway. We’ve been pulling all this together and we will release the sequel a few months after the re-release of the 20th Anniversary. Stay tuned!
We are also making some last script tweaks to a western film that we’ll be shooting with Jesse Low (40 Nights) once again in the directors chair. Some PR will be rolling out soon along with some possible casting opportunities.
In 2017 we are also planning to shoot the final chapter in The Quest Trilogy. The earlier locations ground work will be starting soon.
Today if the many storms don’t wash out the fields we will once again be battling on the soccer pitch. So keep working hard my friends at whatever you’re striving for.
Until next week.
I’m once again sipping the hazelnut coffee and feeling good about the week’s accomplishments. It has been a hard week in some ways simply because for me it is A) Keep business as usual moving, which is on many fronts with our library of films B) Promote the most recent releases C) Prep the new projects about to launch
It has been trying in some ways because I’m dealing with the pre-hiring practice of discussing deal points. Here is that point where after explaining the business model of three nearly identical films in a series – people want to try and go outside that model. You have to have people who really believe in a project and want to put forth their very best. Some people got the call to see if they wanted to return and work on the second film. Some are returning and others are being replaced. In this industry people wait for that opportunity to step UP because someone else stepped DOWN. That is often the way. Are you going UP or DOWN?
After this Quest Trilogy is complete we will be adjusting our slate to larger budgets. I had a few people say, maybe when you have more funds in the future, contact me again. I was just honest, No. I will likely be working with the team we develop during this “team building” phase. They must trust in our path and be willing to grow with us. I’m not asking for volunteers, free help or paid with credit – this is offered work. I’ve been doing this a long time and I firmly believe what is to be, will be. Casts in development may change but once a film is done you could never imagine anyone else in that role. Crews create the “perfect storm” with their collaboration and determination. They win those daily battles that give them the holy grail of movie puzzle pieces. Those battles are the tales of old men many days from now. I’ve looked back on battles fought 15-20 years ago. I’m damn proud of most of the artists I’ve ever worked with. We share history, life and collective art. Once done – you can’t take that away.
We had a great compliment while in a meeting this week. Someone in our circle had recently worked a larger million plus dollar film and it was hectic and chaotic. They said, they didn’t fully appreciate the experience of working with CDI until they worked on that film. I’ve heard that story from several people and I’m proud of that. We work to TRY and achieve that but you must go that extra mile. It shows that money will not buy RESPECT, ORGANIZATION or RESPONSIBILITY. How much money was thrown at problems that were emergency reactionary because proper planning was not done? Probably enough to make a movie:)
I’m also trying to develop the next group of artists who want to make a living at this. It isn’t about the short game I can tell you that. A recent conversation – on public relations. Early in my career I tried to promote our film endeavors more within the state (Thank you Michigan Vue – miss you) but back in the day, the feature filmmakers were few. Newspapers and magazine wanted to follow more theater and any number of silly trends but seldom gave filmmakers a serious spotlight. As our success grew elsewhere with newspapers, magazine, fanzines and such taking interest in our work (I have storage crates full of paper PR from around the world)- It also gave rise to some local Michigan dreamers unwilling to invest in the hard work. For many years, anywhere I would go for a drink or to socialize, everyone had a great idea for a movie. You got a script? No. Money? No. The story repeats itself.
These “ideas” came from all places including some family/friend connections. Filmmakers are seldom at a lack of “ideas” it is money they lack. My Uncle Bob was in the film business but due to trying to hide his actual age from some in-laws, he gave me the arms length treatment. I wasn’t asking for handouts, I was ready to work. Even some REAL advice would have been helpful. But years later the tables had turned – Any chance of hiring him? I guess, I didn’t really give it much thought.
Locally, I grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I went from Northwestern Elementary school to Michigan State University. I have friends from first grade on up and still play in a Men’s soccer league. Years ago when news would hit our local state media, my closest friends or associates would sometimes seem off around me. Maybe having your face in the video stores, posters or on TV makes some uncomfortable. I understand that.
But, actors are just people. But it was odd and annoying for some of those friends/family I’m sure. I was the guy with a beeper and agents calling. Talking about places, people and things my closest didn’t understand. You can explain co-starring in a film in India but unless you lived it…very hard to convey. Now, I enjoy my quiet in Lansing, Michigan. I would say I get much more done than most because of living here. In my many Hollywood business travels, they were always amazed because I was’t just talking, I was coming to them having done. I have many relationships in Hollywood and some still not mined. You want to come at a deal the right way. Many beg, plead, dance, ass kiss and such for an opportunity. My opportunities come on equal ground and where a mutual positive potential is present. The funny thing is for the appeasers in Hollywood and elsewhere, most of their hoop jumping doesn’t even promise results. It’s not a “this for that” deal. It’s “do this and this and this and this and maybe…maybe we can see if anything can be done” lure. Don’t take the bait. Don’t watch the flashy hook being pulled through the water.
And when these people get trampled and burned in our industry they became jaded and hateful. Sad people who live in sight of their dreams but never touch it. They have straight up actor ghettos in Hollywood. Bars that are filled with the failed and broken. Go off the strip of Las Vegas to see another example of this. I’ve seen these circles exist in the smaller markets like Michigan. Social ghettos where struggling artist meet to try and establish some pecking order amongst themselves. Many followers of the fake it to you make it clubs. A mutual life boat of hope that loves to dissect and critique art despite the fact that styles vary and change. People still jump on bandwagons. There was a slew of wanna be PULP FICTION like films after that released. Funny thing is many of the critics, sitting around the craft beer watering holes, were shoving crayons up their noses when we were making films. I have found some very talented young filmmakers and I ask for patience in my dealings with them. What were they doing seven years ago? You can see what we were doing – being #1 western rental. Actually that remained for 7 weeks and stayed in the top ten for 17 weeks.
If someone is going to boast something to me it better be real or based on some actual knowledge, experience or facts. If not, I will call you every time. I’m offended by idiot statements and I’m allergic to stupid. So most of the time I don’t travel in places where I may be forced to be brutally truthful or where the BS is just too unpleasant. In our production circle you are expected to keep the drama on the screen. Only a handful of days to act like a professional on set- after that you can go all Charlie Sheen on your own time.
To bring it back around – I don’t promote as heavily in my own home state. It’s my shelter. It’s where after weeks in the Philippines, I want to come HOME to. I like to be treated as a non celebrity most of the time. I do enjoy some great sponsorships in leather goods, hot sauce, candles and more. I’m still waiting on coffee:) Call me. So I do enjoy a few perks here and there. Our CDI projects we’ve produced are in broadcast around the world, streaming, DVD’s and more. I still get consistent fan mail (emails these days) from people who appreciate our collective works. This blog was started so I could talk about films and my industry, maybe giving the guidance I lacked early on. If you wanna know what is going on with me – you can stop by weekly. If you don’t – I won’t be filling your ears in person with my boasts. I don’t need to – I like this saying. I’m not quoting here. It went – when a person drives a BMW, which is a good car but not a great car, they race around, trying to show people how fast they are. They are revin’ their engines trying to draw attention and tell people they are fast. BUT…When you drive a Lamborghini, you just cruise about. You don’t rev your engine, don’t need to boast and race about trying to show you’re fast. Because you know you’re fast. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that. I’ve always liked that approach and I do feel that confidence. We live quiet but we are capable of great things.
Many years ago, I saw a greater picture. I didn’t just want to be known for our art in the USA – I wanted to cross lines, build bridges. This work started many, many years ago. Now, this blog reaches 80+ countries and we keep widening our film sales deeper and deeper into the world market. I am not making films for the little pond of Michigan but for the expansive ocean of audiences worldwide. That said, I love and appreciate you all who follow our art. For the peers striving – draw strength from yourself and once you find your audience – their appreciation will feed you. Be smart. Speak less and do more.
I’m not going to go on and on with individual updates on films. We have many films coming out in March, April and May so it will be a busy next couple of months. Read earlier posts if you need updates on releases. We’re about to start signing cast and crew onto the next film “Chasing the Star” which is getting very close to being ready – a few more weeks.
Keep at it people and don’t worry about twitter followers, Star Meters or seeking validation from insecure people. Make your art respecting the business. Seek to entertain and educate your audience. The audiences will allow and inspire you to grow. The source of your strength should not be peers that often are unhappy with themselves and seek to unseat you with words. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER always!
Be a doer not a talker. Okay, I’ve got to get doing so enough talking(writing):)
Another beautiful Saturday. The coffee is now gone and we’ve moved into watching MSU football. I’ve grown to enjoy the game over the years. It is a series of short-term goals versus my game of soccer that is a constant flow with a goal. Our soccer season ended and I really enjoyed the play. Now I let the legs heal and start my strength training. Okay many of you here are tuned in to hear about the films and the challenges making them. Let’s look at some of my recent decisions I’ve been faced with.
Our “Chasing the Star” script (version 1) is done and out to several key players. This is the second biblical film in our 3 pic series. “40 Nights” was the first and that film should be done late November. Now due to script it will mostly shoot in AZ. This film has the commits to finance and so pre-production work will be starting. But due to the heat of the desert that dictates when we shoot. We are looking to shoot a few weeks earlier than “40 Nights” to make it easier on cast and crew.
We have a western-era film we want to shoot in Michigan. It has a good amount of money committed to it but we will only move forward with full funds in place. This is a good policy but required when you have distribution in advance. You want to be reliable for delivering your product. Now we have X amount of producer pre-prod work and also on-location pre-production before the shoot. I wanted to get the film in the can (hard drives) by the holidays. We are getting closer to that decision-making deadline. It is hard because the artists all like to work and the biz of it is everyone getting a final paycheck before the holidays. That’s ham on a table that toys under a tree for people, but the best choice has to be made for the film.
Now if our date comes and we don’t have all the filming fuel we need we will push the film to the other side of “Chasing the Star” in May. That would be a nice time to film and give ample time to close the financing. That is happening but can it happen in our timeline? We will see.
As noted “40 Nights” is moving down the post production line. “Bestseller” is getting ready for the Nov 1st, Owosso, MI shooting. It is also being delivered to the national distributor as is “Donors”. I need to call Jon Osman, our director on “The Terrorist”.
In other news I came off “Chasing the Star” scriptwriting and flowed right into the third film script. It was there and I almost couldn’t stop it from flowing. I’m grabbing legal pads and just scribbling notes at all times. I’m excited about these three but also excited to go finish out a few other scripts.
I will have news here soon on “Knight Chills” book and film reissue. Sound track deal still needs my attention. So I have crossed a lot off my TO DO list but many things still remain. We have “Ghost Town” getting ready to play at Sanctuary Spirits in Grand Ledge, MI and we will be doing this once a month. It is a meet and greet for fans and fellow filmmakers. I’ve been trying to get out and meet some of the other fine talent in our state. This helps in casting and crewing when required. We’ve been reviewing reels for several weeks and are excited by some of what we’ve seen. REELS! Make those reels actors!
I hope to see some of you Oct. 15th (Grand Ledge) we are digging out and selling some classic “Ghost Town” swag. We had an entire product line for a few years at Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, N.C. so that should be fun. Also I will be in Owosso, MI November 1st and I heard author Chris Wright will also be doing an appearance/signing for his Johnathan Rand children’s books (“American Chiller”) earlier that afternoon.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend and go MSU!