“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “Willie Nelson

Misty Morning Michigan Updates

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“In the misty morning on the edge of time, we’ve lost the rising sun – the final sign” – I think that was Ronnie James Dio lyrics but outside in Michigan reminds me of that. I’ve got the hazelnut hot and ready as I chase the haze away from the brain and ponder the past week and the week ahead.

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This weekend has been one of quiet recharge at the fortress of solitude. I’ve been prepping the office for more meetings ahead this week as I work hard to finalize our commits on “The Christ Slayer” shoot. The ship is almost built with many of the cast and crew falling into place. The week ended with me getting the paperwork around so that the bank account can be opened and we can start fueling the ship for our voyage. It’s exciting that we’ve found two of our new leads and I plan to announce them tomorrow. One I’ve known a good handful of years and we’ve played opposite each other a few times but in an antagonistic way. No! It is not Terry Jernigan, he was our John the Baptist. I’m really looking forward to working with this individual and he will be great in the role. Opposite him is a wonderful actress who brings the perfect mix of emotions we were looking for. We’ve actually read several ladies for this role over the last couple years but she stood out strongest. I’m excited to introduce them to all of you. C.W.C.S. that is my hint to all of you on the identity of these two talents stepping into the third film. In the supporting roles we’ve been looking at many wonderful talents and we’ll be making offers soon. That is part of all the business work so we can actually do that. I wanna thank my entire team that works so very hard to make all these things happen.

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“Forty Nights” is being remastered and delivered for the 4/4/17 release date. I know that the paperwork delivery in underway and we should have new artwork in the coming weeks.

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“Chasing the Star” has just completed color correction and I saw the concept art for the teaser/theatrical poster. We’re looking at this film hitting select theater’s shortly after the “Forty Nights” release and will release on digital and DVD in September.

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“Wild Faith” is moving along and we will be getting close to an edit here soon. Music and sound design is just finishing “Chasing the Star” and so once that film is complete “Wild Faith” will move in. We’re going to start having some story meetings and develop our series package once I finish the business tasks at hand. I’m really excited for everyone to see this much-needed story of unity and hope. It would be a great series and if it is meant to be – it will. Also it would shoot in Michigan which would give me a great opportunity to work with many of our Michigan actors.

Aside from all this pre- and post film business I will continue to get in my daily writing. I’ve got many scripts finished but always good to keep moving. I truly enjoy writing and it goes so well with coffee.

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Today I’m going to a memorial for my Aunt who was spunk right into her 90’s with a love of Willie Nelson and technology. My heart also goes out to another good friend who lost his wife. It is not really my place to promote that loss so I won’t, but she was a good woman and will be missed. I’m going to wrap this up and get a jump on some of my Monday business.

Be good to one another. We’re all on this spaceship Earth for this short ride together.

DJ

 


Updates and Director Announcement

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Francine York & Elvis

THOUGHTS

I’m sipping HOT coffee on this freezing and frigid day in Michigan and I’m going to enjoy a few moments chatting with all of you. The New Year is underway and even one week into the new cycle I’ve observed several things. First 2016 did see several iconic people pass on. I lost an Aunt a few days after Christmas after a long 90+ years of life. She is the one I arranged to meet with Willie Nelson and she got sick the night before. If you haven’t heard that story – I met Willie and his troupe in Eureka Springs when filming “Book of Ruth” because he and Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty were old friends. On that same note Dan passed on in 2016 and that was a sad day. There was discussions with a studio of my involvement in helping to revive his popular series. It was not meant to be.

But overall 2016 was a great year business-wise with two new feature films in the “can” and a new deal between CDI and a distribution studio BMG. In the new year my father lost another brother – an exemplary kind and generous family man a few days ago. Additionally, I had worked on “Miracle at Sage Creek” with Francine York, best known by my dad for “Girls, Girls, Girls” with Elvis but she has a long and impressive resume. She and I were in a scene together and I remember in the make up trailer she kept looking at me. I asked if something was wrong and she replied, “If I was a 100 years younger” and laughed. She told me a few Elvis stories and signed a picture for my dad’s man cave. I followed her social media posts as she loved to watch old movies and tell great stories. When she passed I posted a simple note about the passing of a classy lady on her FB site. People (fans I assume) or more like one in particular just started ranting. PROOF! PROOF! Now in this day of fake news and false reports of death I understand but this person was just crass. That just brings me to the point of social media 2017. I was born well before social media and I view that as a strength. Let me try to explain…

THE ONION

People do not slowly get to know one another anymore – like peeling the layers of an onion. Getting to know people use to be like reading a book slowly learning things they share or differ upon. Now it’s more like a resume of everything all at once. Like online dating – I almost did it once at the start of it but it seemed too odd. What happened to opposites attract? With all the peer pressure created by social media I’m not sure this happens anymore. Compatibility matches? I mean, if someone just had all their attributes listed something is going to run against the grain. Oh, my God! They like rap music. Oh, they love cats. Oh, they like boxing or guns – barbaric. People can get accepted or disqualified by their lists which leads to segregation of people into groups. In the old days you could be friends with someone for weeks, months before you found out that they were Muslim or Jewish, as if it mattered. People are more often looking at how they are different versus alike and often attack those people who are different. You hate this person’s politics but what if they are a good parent. Maybe they give dinners to the homeless and volunteer…I think when you just try to look at a person as a list of LIKES, DISLIKES and GROUPS you don’t get the full picture.

Judgement is EVERYWHERE. That kind posting I did honoring my peer/acquaintance passing away was JUDGED. I don’t have to prove anything – I was just leaving a note to HER, like signing an obituary board. I don’t know how anyone has real friends anymore with everyone so judgmental. And people putting themselves out there on social media to strangers lures judgement. I have always liked the statement “He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones at others.” I hate to tell you but we all live in glass houses of the self. All I see is the rioting of glass houses smashing left and right. Judgement is often fueled by hate and we’re all human and make mistakes. Hateful, judgmental people wait for any opening to attack someone. It truly is sad and I don’t see this trend going away if people participate. Another small example – my mother is new to the whole internet experience yet she enjoys the interaction with past friends. She sent me a story that Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island) had passed away. She knew as a child I enjoyed that show and she did it out of love. Now Bob died many years ago and I was going to crassly point that out to her. (Pause, think, feel) I erased it. I almost took something done out of love and judged it with a negative. Instead I thanked her and pointed out he had passed some time ago. But others had already jumped to point out her lack of research. I guess in 2017 I’m going to participate even less in the social judgement. I have grown to love the UNFOLLOW button. I kind of have a three strikes of negativity rule and GONE. You cannot remove all the negativity but you can create your own sacred space and create positive good from there. Time better spent enriching people, lifting people and understanding people.

Try it and see how your life changes. If you took all these social media “rants” and put them together in a year’s time…I know people who’ve talked of writing a book but tell themselves “That’s too big a task – I could never…” yet at year’s end they’ve written a book worth of repetitive negativity and judgement. So when you wonder how I get so much done it’s just about my use of time. Use your time to create not just spread hate. Anyone can point out the obvious but it takes a powerful person to bring real change. Be that person.

FILMS

I spewed on for a while above but I think that storytelling is practicing what I preach. Tell a story- entertain, educate, enlighten people. That is what we try to do here. Let’s look at a few updates and I can let you get about your day.

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Actor Dean Teaster (Preacher Collins) in #wildfaith

WILD FAITH 

Above is an official STILL from the movie. It is my friend/actor Dean Teaster and his character represents much of what we spoke about in our opening. He is the preacher in the small town of Hastings but he has become blinded by emotional pain. This film has the opportunity to be a great force for unity and positive change. We might have a rough cut by month’s end. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew. Stay tuned!

THE QUEST TRILOGY

FORTY NIGHTS

After our digital and limited release in 2016 with Lightworx we’ve penned a new release deal with BMG for a worldwide release. It will start rolling out on 4/4/17 and new artwork and a digital remastering is underway. We were under a rush with Wal-Mart on the first release and so we’re happy to have this larger opportunity.

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Editing on #Chasingthestar

CHASING THE STAR

This follow-up film is almost complete. VFX and credit work is underway and we’ll be meeting this week over the rollout. I’m thinking maybe May theatricals and our wide release with BMG will be in September. I’m so very excited about this story. The film cut is powerful and shines a light on events that have passed into myth. Next week after our meeting I’ll have more to share on this film.

THE CHRIST SLAYER

My ongoing deal with BMG is based upon our ability to stay on budget, schedule and to bring a high level of creativity to these films. This starts with the script but quickly moves to the creative captain – the director. On these films, and all films actually, the trick is the right pairing. I know many talented directors but it is about who FITS. It includes their grasp on the material, being producer friendly (biz trumps art) and their ability to infuse the story with their special vision. I looked at many directors and their work. I spoke to a few – some knowing what I was inquiring about and others did not. Jesse Low was the perfect person to bring “Forty Nights” to life on-screen. When I started communications with Bret Miller for the good part of a year – he had no idea I was looking at him as the director of “Chasing the Star” and that was the key. He was never trying to find the right thing to say to land the job. I knew from certain scenes in his previous film that he could bring a mood and tone to our film. With one film left in THE QUEST TRILOGY, I had lots to consider with finding the right director. As always, with a calm mind, I was led to the right choice. I had worked with this director as an actor and he’s worked with me as an editor. His experiences over the last few years in Los Angeles prepared him for this film. His personal experiences led him back to Michigan and after multiple discussions over the material we had found our third director. I want to introduce you all to Nathaniel Nose. He is a fellow MSU graduate and one talented director/editor. We will be doing a press release this week but as always you heard it here first. I’m excited to once again be working with an old friend and he’ll enjoy the great team of artists we’ve assembled. Thank you to Nathaniel Nose for going on this journey with us. I will leave all of you with this news and hope that you’ll all stay warm and make 2017 a great year. Be the best you .

DJ

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Mr. Nathaniel Nose – director of “The Christ Slayer”

 


Attitude, Actor Tips & Appreciation

DonnySS1Another beautiful fall day awaits us all here in the Michigan. If you are not treated to the harvest of plants, the change of leaves and the tastes of cider – you are missing something. I’ve spent a good part of the week taking meetings while burning brush/leaves and getting things prepared for the coming winter. I’ve had a lot of time to think upon many things happening in my career, in our state and in the overall career field. I often bite my tongue on many subjects and it is one of the reasons I don’t attend too many film functions. Here are a few of my thoughts that I’ve had over the week.

APPRECIATION

Much of my retrospective thoughts are because this Friday in Kalamazoo, MI they are having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS, the 1st feature I starred in. 15 years ago this year it was released in the US/Canada, Germany, France and the UK. At that time in MI only a few people were making movies. There were no “film schools” here. U of M and MSU had some screenwriting classes. There was the occasional audio/video class around but what you had was very passionate artists who wanted to tell story. The editing was expensive and hard and not to mention analog so you could lose quality with every generation dupe you had to do. Cameras were expensive and film was expensive to process. How many of you have worked in FILM? 8mm, 16mm, super16, 35mm, super 35? Not many of you youngin’s. Everyone did not own an HD camera & edit software on their phone.  Now I went to college and graduated from MSU and cobbled together a degree that I thought could assist my efforts. The real learning was the daily grind to make progress in a field that wasn’t everywhere. Here is what I often see in Michigan – and if you fall in this description maybe it will make you rethink something.

Academic arrogance exists in higher learning. I had a wonderful business program for colleges that I worked to set up at MSU but by the time in filtered to the professors it all fell apart. There is much honor in teaching and passing info to the next generation but it is not the same as being on the front lines. It could have been a collaboration but egos don’t always work that way. I may attempt to set that up at some college as it is one of the best programs I’ve seen or heard of. I just haven’t been motivated after having it fail at my own university. President – on board. Provost – on board. Professors -bicker. NEXT.

So students are graduating and expect that they are entitled to just GET A JOB. I read where in NYC interns didn’t want to work free to learn any craft/profession. The cool part now days is you don’t have to guess what is on people’s mind because they whine and broadcast it on their social billboards. WHINE – No work. WHINE – at work. WHINE – back to no work. I’ve worked with self-taught and film school grads and while both bring pros and cons the attitude (one of THE most important traits) of the self-taught is usually more appreciative. Film students who got to sign out cameras, sign out lights, sign out edit time…tuition pays – they get out in the world and find out it is a new world. You are no longer playing with monopoly money. I see social clicks that are just an extension of the high school drama. I see popularity contests over trying to get exposure for 15 minutes of fame. I see lazy people who would rather be given fish than taught to fish. (Social funding) The danger lies in lack of any accountability. You give a guy with a food sign on an expressway exit $5 and you have no guaranty that he won’t go to the liquor store and buy booze. How are you going to fulfill the perks of some of these “awards” for giving a donation? No movie = no signed DVD. No VIP seat at premiere. It is protected fraud because it is a donation. The media in our state supports that also. I see 4-5 page spreads in media and people who donate time to kick off parties trying to raise $ for a film. Recently I saw a boatload of hype eating up my news space over a Grand Rapids Christmas movie that after a quick scan you knew (if you have film biz background) that film was never going to launch. Not the way they had it set up and not the money they were trying to raise. So instead of giving a completed film in the area the attention of a media spread they wasted space and people’s time (both reading and working events) instead. Now I’m 100% certain these folks all had the best intentions. I’m just saying as someone who has worked with film crews in many others states and countries that many here in Michigan need to readjust their thinking. I’ve produced several films here in Michigan and I will surely do more but I’ve seen many film communities with equal skill sets and much better ATTITUDES. There is that word again. Positive attitudes translates into good story telling. So this means that producers need to try to be organized and give the best “ride” on a film set as possible. Now it is making a movie – meaning I’ve been on Willie Nelson’s tour bus and while it is nice it is still a bus. It isn’t his ranch house but for on the road – it is nice. I’m saying while a film set will often lack comforts of home we try to make it easier. AND people will still complain. Those people need to get out and go work 9-5 at a tv station or post-house where they can keep their own routine. Money says they still bitch about something almost daily because it is about ATTITUDE. That is the #1 thing I look for in cast/crew/friend and associates. I pay for problem solvers not people who bitch and can point out the obvious. So adjust your attitudes, learn to communicate effectively and be that problem solver. That was my reflection for the week on our state. Now they do have degrees of this elsewhere but I guess I speak up because I do care. I think it is so very cool to see young people have opportunities here. I want you to succeed. Many are afraid to speak the truth because they are afraid their phone will stop ringing. I don’t wait for phones to ring and often I make them ring – offering this or that. So even if a handful of you read this and it changes your ATTITUDE slightly for the better – kudos.

Now the PR hit this week on the next CDI Associated project – WASTELAND. A distant toxic desert world will be our setting and I’m extremely excited. I’ve been a Sci-Fi fan since Star Wars in 1977 and I’m ready to do this. Contracts signed, flights and hotels booked and prop construction is underway in Florida. We will be shooting in Nevada at the Valley of Fire State Park. It was a great thing for Michigan when a 2nd lead was cast from our very own state. Yes. When I see strong acting reels from talent I trust to be professional (yes producers talk) and have that right ATTITUDE (there is that word again) – I can put people right under the directors nose. I did that with David Gries without him ever even knowing it. If you haven’t had someone call you out of the blue because they respect your art – it is a great feeling. No cattle calls. No casting agent favorites. No wasting your time driving all over. More or less it is “You’ve done great work and we want you to once again do that.” So if you ever desire to work on a CDI associated project get your reels together. I use them as #1 because I want to see GAME FOOTAGE at GO time. I don’t want to waste your time because I respect your time. It is easy for someone to say come on in because it doesn’t hamper them. You are a number at a certain time slot. Not with us – you are an artists. Let’s see what makes you unique. I guess I follow that TREAT OTHERS HOW YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED. So congrats to fellow statesman David Gries. I’ll be seeing you in the desert and you better come packing:)

BESTSELLER – Music work underway

ASHES OF EDEN – Coming back to Lansing after being invited to East Lansing Film Festival

THE TERRORIST – Final sound work/color correction in NYC

This Friday as noted earlier Kalamazoo is having a big screen showing of IN THE WOODS the creature feature, at the Alamo Draft House. I think we are doing a TV show Friday morning. Several of the cast will be there for this reunion of sorts and we might have some fun news about where this film can be seen following the screening at the Q&A.

Lastly, I want to again thank my manager for her work as of late. You’ve got me in front of some A projects and I’m proud of how you present me as the unique artist. It only took me 15 years to find that right representation. I appreciate you.

I’m off to enjoy the day and I hope you all do as well.

DJ