Well, well, well – we are an official wrap on SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. I’m sipping the hazelnut coffee trying to chase away the cobwebs. It has been several weeks of less than perfect sleep. During production you always have so much on your mind. Always trying to look ahead and anticipate issues and needs. Lines. As an actor you are always keeping those in your head until they become living moments on film. I’m happy to say that Col Lodell is wrapped. The high and tight haircut and sharp uniform can now be relaxed and retired. Last night we finished filming in the woods around WILD HAVEN. It was a great joy to have everyone together and to bring the ship in. Now we’re going to prep the camp to break in the morning. It will take a few weeks to get all the business finished. The puzzle will begin to be rough assembled. The footage will be prepped for the edit. What an adventure. One for the books to be sure.
I’m looking forward to sleeping in my own bed. I’ll have to start to prep for winter and get some of the yard stuff stowed in advance of that snowy white stuff. We are having a little Thanksgiving at our house and I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful that we all safely made it through our shoot. I’m thankful for the great group of artists we worked with on both sides of the camera. I’m thankful that we could capture this story so that it will not disappear, lost in time.
I’m not 100% sure what is next but we have many irons in the fire. I’m looking forward to doing some more writing in the coming weeks. Just me, my coffee and my imagination. I would love to talk more in depth but right now I need to let it all seep in and marinate. I will be back to writing on Sundays again starting next week. I’m sure I will have a lot more to reflect upon at that time. Right now I need to go fill the coffee cup and start to pack up my stuff.
BEST YEARS GONE will be playing on Lansing, MI at the Celebration Cinemas the week around Thanksgiving. If you haven’y yet watched the film and live in the area, please do.
Until we speak again next week – be safe.
Good morning from WILD HAVEN in Algona, Iowa! I want to thank you all for understanding my move to Saturdays for our little chat and update. I’m waiting on the coffee maker to kick out our Kona Blend Coffee which has to have a splash of Hazelnut for good measure. I will try to brainstorm some of the top highlights of mine from the week. It will also paint a nice picture of the amazing endeavor we are undertaking.
- Our friends at Heritage Park made the first four days enjoyable and productive. Also thank you to the Winnebago folks for allowing us to store our vehicles in their garages. We were thankful to Robert Bradley who immediately knew how to start and drive many of these older clutch vehicles. But they looked pretty amazing on camera so again thank you to these owners helping us capture history.
- Our staging area/base camp (Ranger Station) is quite the sight to see with all the period clothes, props and period vehicles. Our artists in these departments are doing such an incredible job. I have loved seeing the civilian clothes and the military and PW outfits. The job is not easy under any circumstances but this film challenges them to give their very best. We appreciate them so much.
- It was so great to reunite with some great actor friends that I’ve not seen in a good while. Charles Powell and I worked together on “The 8th Plague” and later CDI’s “Dean Teaster’s Ghost Town,” makes his return to the CDI Tribe with a powerful role. Charles was quiet and polite until it came time for ACTION! David Reardon (MBF) also returns with a brilliant character that will surely thrill his fans. Garry Nation came ready to play and it’s always fun to see him work. We actually have some scenes together in the days ahead.
- Today MSU plays football again and we’re looking for another win. Speaking of MSU, I’m excited to have Carl Gilliard, a fellow MSU alumni with our cast. He and I have some great scenes together. I plan to do a little PR shoutout to share around the MSU news outlets. Go Green!
- The German actors all hit the scene and WOW! We have such a great group of actors overall but these German’s help tell a good amount of our story. They were really all so appreciative of the script and are here because of the story. I got to have a short chat with all of them. I was really taken by our PW antagonist Ben Schnau who’s isolating on-set process resembles some of my own process when on a shoot day. When I have intense work to do on camera I tend to get quiet and lost in myself/my character. I have had fellow actors be quite shocked to find me very personable off set. It’s because I always have so much going through my head either as talent or as a producer. But catch me at the fort for an informal meeting and you get a very different DJ.
- I’m so happy with our young lead ‘Samuel’ in from Texas. He found our midwest cold bitter but he’s getting thicker ‘midwest’ blood now. It’s a joy to watch someone at that age who is getting to ‘make believe’ on such a grand scale. At his age we had couch cushions and our imaginations. His parents were both actors at one time and his mother Stephanie, still acting, will be participating on this story as well.
- Speaking of mother and sons, we have my brother from another mother Josh Perry in with his momma Connie. We are so excited to have Josh back again with us and this role will be a challenge to see him lean into his anger. I know he will do a great job and I’m excited for the cast and crew who haven’t worked with him to be given that opportunity.
- The excitement and assistance of the community has been wonderful. The other day we had to stop at the Dollar General which also serves as a mail center and as a flatbed went by with our troop transport truck everyone rushed to the windows to watch. This story is this area’s history and once we finish this the story, the event will never be forgotten.
- On Sat the 13th on our day off we are doing a specially sponsored Smithfield Foods BBQ and a screening of BEST YEARS GONE in the local theater. A great thank you to our hard working cast and crew.
- We had a couple of VIP guests from our on-going distribution company visit. They loved seeing everything in action and the visit gives them an idea of the hard work that goes into the films they market. It makes the circle stronger and allows us to more easily tell these stories.
Speaking on the BEST YEARS GONE we have another Lansing, MI theatrical run at Celebration Cinema Lansing starting Nov 24th – 28th so people returning home for Thanksgiving can catch the movie. We were laughing putting together some promo – “Funniest Movie since Earnest Goes to Camp” – the film is funny and heartfelt. So far audiences have enjoyed the film theatrically and in a few months it will release worldwide. I’m going to wrap it up here as we have a tech scout at a few locations for next week. For those who don’t know what that is – you are not only looking at where to film a scene but where to stage a small army. I look forward to sharing more reports with you next Sat. Thank you for your support and know we are working to capture the powerful scenes so that next year we will have another great CDI release for you.
(One of the locations for the forthcoming week)
Be kind to one another.