Good morning my friends. I’m sitting by our new electric fireplace near my chair. Our old one died during the holidays so a new one has replaced it. I’ve got my steaming cup of hazelnut coffee with me as I ponder the past week. I want to thank all the new readers from around the world for stopping by to take a read. I hope there is a few nuggets of wisdom you can pull upon. I had so many good calls this week and 2023 business is underway. I have new goals and already I’m knocking some of them down. I’m sure this year will come with wins and losses as that is the way of life. I’ve reminded a few people, to stop. Turn around. Look at how far you’ve come. Be happy with what you have done, not just fixate on what you have not done.
This week I’ll be gathering up end of year tax stuff to generate any 1099’s for the films. We also do K1’s for all the investors. I was able to get all the check dispersement written and sent out. I only had to resend two as addresses had changed. I’ll also get things around for our company and myself. These are the needed but unsexy parts of the film business. It is so much more than playing with the camera. There is a massive amount of work that goes into each and every film. This is the biz side of show biz.
I’ve been told recently, and not the first time – that I work people hard. I ask artists to dig deep and to put their very best forward. I’ve dedicated my entire life to telling stories, and while we have much fun, we also work very hard. But when the artists finally see the final product, 9 of 10 times, that creative endeavor is one of the best, if not the best, endeavor that artist was involved with that year. They take family and friends to watch the stories and they’re proud to have been part of the stories telling. I’ve got family who have not yet seen our recent film. Our holidays were disrupted by a loss in the family. In my hometown they played the film for several weeks but I still did not get out to see it. But many did! We’re working to set up a special SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA, screening in Owosso, MI with NCG. For our Detroit area friends, we’re working to set up screenings there also. Our new theatrical division at CDI Distribution has been launched!
Let’s looks at some of the updates from last week-
- SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA– We had several new theaters open. We had a projection bump at a new theatre screening in Iowa, after they moved the film from the test theatre. Much like home systems, many theatrical houses have different set ups, some older and some newer. They rarely update everything at once likely due to cost. But, I know at the one location it was worked out and the film is playing. People are requesting to managers who contact bookers-who contact us. The film is in 20 theaters and we have another 13 going up. And many more still approaching us from different states. Keep it up, you people are making the film travel. I expect the film to travel theatrically into March or April. We are also exploring a few select film festivals and we want to screen in Germany. Many good plans in action. We are working on a few special marketing deals while moving towards the home video window.
- MERCHANDISE– We’ve done some test marketing of some merchandise but we’re starting to really look at a stronger launch of this division at CDI. I can also say that a MUSIC DIVISION, is developing. That will allow audiences access to the amazing soundtrack scores created by Dennis Therrian. These two areas are on CDI’s 2023 developmental goal list. Do you all have a favorite music score? I would love to actually do some runs of LP records. Any participating record pressing companies? Please reach out. RECORD LABEL? Not there yet:)
- MOVING FORWARD- Harsens Island Revenge – This film exits development and will enter pre-production next month. What does that mean- that means that the film foundation (legal paperwork) will all be executed and the project funded. At that time we’ll be announcing our director and some of the attached cast. The script having undergone several sessions of writer/director polishing, it’s ready to be broken down. I love this stage because you go over every line of action, description, dialog and discuss. In this case I got to perform several scenes with our director, to get the flow ands feel. Most of the tweaks were minor but took strong scenes and made them even more powerful. It is a very cool story and what a time period to play in. Primary casting and crewing discussions will start in the coming weeks. Our producers already did a location scout trip and another one will be planned. We just created 1944 and now we’ll enter the 1920’s, artists are you ready? Next week, we’ll look to set hard shoot dates after Labor Day 2023. Get ready for some new teaser art as well!
- Pen has not yet found ink, but I’m deep into talks on a CDI associated film to be shot late 2023 and early 2024. To recap what a CDI associated film is- it’s a film whereas someone else is bringing the capital $ to the table but want the experience of CDI behind it. As a producer, I remove the ‘supervising’ role and become more or less, a consultant. CDI will bring other assets to help but the main responsibility is on other shoulders. I’ve been asked to co-star in the supernatural action-thriller, and I’m feeling it. I hope to be able to call the film by name and run some PR about the new arrangement, in the near future. It is always best to work out all these details in advance so there is no issues later. This is a KEY to success. Have the hard conversations now and get everything in writing some it’s there. I still have 4-5 films out there in the film post abyss, they might finish one day. I sincerely hope they do. NUGGET: If possible, you actors, pick production teams with a track record of finishing.
- SPIRIT LAKE MASSACRE – This week the script will go out to some historians and some friends in the Native American community. I think, I have written a powerful and balanced script, with lessons about loss, revenge, understanding, love and unity. It is not sugarcoated in any way and contains a few scenes that left me shaken after writing them. I had to go immerse myself in some nature and beauty, away from the truth of our shared history. I will be putting the script forth after this round of notes, and we’ll be putting together the Phase 2 plan. Phase 2 will be the development work in Iowa to prep for a 2024 shoot. I’ll also be having some teaser art put together. This will be a great return to the 1800’s storytelling for CDI.
- I want to thank and encourage all of you to keep exploring and watching the CDI library. I’ve had fans reach out and thank us for The Quest Trilogy, MBF, Best Years Gone, Lost Heart, Wild Faith – you can even watch many free on TUBI or Encourage TV. I actually enjoyed The Quest Trilogy, playing while I was doing work. Again, even when not watching I love the music. But the amazing scenery (Yuma, AZ) and the story often gets me distracted for a few moments. More so, when I see friends on screen who are no longer with us. TRIVIA: Who was the voice of ‘God’ in FORTY NIGHTS? You can leave your answer in the comments.
- Speaking of the CDI library, we will be looking to set up several of the old films, in HD at BMG. I had to look up dates for GHOST TOWN, which will be one of the new set up preps. Also AN ORDINARY KILLER, FIGURE IN THE FOREST and KNIGHT CHILLS are all being worked on.
- Animated Division of CDI is in the works. CDI did an “in association” feature THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ, which is being re-rendered and conformed for a release through BMG. But, we’ve got a few shorts and features in development. I’ve always loved cartoons and such, so getting involved in that direction feels natural.
- We’ve got some good interest in creating video games off some of our films. You might know KNIGHT CHILLS, Dice Don’t Lie, video game has been in development. Once the final render is done of Sir Kallio, we might start some 3D printing.
- This week I also plan to meet over the next FOR THE LOVE OF CATCH, doc. I’ve already started to talk with a few folks and if all goes well the team will shoot it this Spring/Summer. I think we’ve got a great overall summary of the history in the first film but now we can go into segments and define parts of it even further. Wrestling, grappling fan or not, this film will entertain you and educate you in the rich history.
The holidays were unconventional with the death in the family but the spirit of the season kept on. Aside from the loss, the beautiful snowstorm and the slowing of our day to day for a few days of family and reflection, really helped to recharge my batteries. The finishing of projects and the beginning of new. Again the seasons of our lives as creative artists. And while, sometimes the stories pull me away from my comforts for a time, the stories we tell are timeless.
It is also a time where we artists re-unite. CDI has been a home for some and a stepping stone for others. I like to think we instilled some good qualities into the folks who’ve moved away and into their own respective fields, sometimes in the arts and sometimes not. I tell people, CDI is like any other endeavor, you will get out of it what you put into it. For many, it means being a part of something great that nobody can take away from you. To do that takes hard work. Very hard work. And I only like to work with people who care about what they put their name on. Craftsmanship. Whiskey. Cars. Films. Life is too short to not care about what you work on. The Quakers (Look them up) made amazing furniture and wood crafts because they believe they’re honoring God by their own hands with their craft. I think that is a good mind set and the results are something infused with- love.
FIRE– I’m going to get after a few things today including getting some firewood around for the office stove. I do want to try some lump coal like my buddy uses in his stove. Longer burning and more heat. I’m also on a mission to organize even better this year. I will be putting everything to digital for back ups. I keep being asked about a podcast ‘Around the Fire’ at the fort. I am thinking about it. But I like the fort being a place of low tech and around personal synergy. Knights of the Round Table. Vikings in the Lodge. Monks in the temple. Development at CDI is not just projects, it is people. But people have to want positive change. Self defeating, self associated talk will draw all the negative to you and lower your own personal power. Birds of a feather, flock together. Misery enjoys company. Also believe to achieve. Positive perspective. Creative visualization. The mind is a powerful thing that can assist or hinder. That is why the KNOW THYSELF, rings so powerful. In the new year if you are struggling, fight to take control of the self. Start with your words. What are they? Sounds. Vowels. Symbols. But powerfully attached to our innermost self. MUSIC is a wonderful tool that can lead the mind in the places you want to go. I said, GO – not where you are. If depressed, there are many songs that will not help. But, certain songs help lead our mind. To use a modern term, learn your own triggers and trigger yourself in a positive direction. And DON’T trigger yourself by playing music or putting yourself in a situation, you know, you won’t react well too. Depressed. Don’t play depressing music. Steel drums and island music often puts a big ole smile on my face. Just something that I like to use as a tool. Music puts the mind in a different state and allows you to tune oneself. I use guitar playing the same way. If I’m feeling ‘out of tune’ a few strums can put me not just back in tune but vibrant. I’ve had many great business calls right on the heels of a guitar/energy tune up. FIRE. KNOW THYSELF. MUSIC. Three very primitive and useful tools one can use. I’m not sure if any of this will help anyone, but if it helps one person.
Until next week, coffee cheers!
I’m sitting and sipping hazelnut coffee while admiring the Christmas tree from last week’s harvest. I just realized when cleaning out my email messages that I missed a Christmas event/party I had planned to attend. DOH! I’m finally well-rested and attacking my TO DO’s with strength. It took a good part of a week to get caught up on my rest. I got most of the production totes stored and everyday we work hard to tie up the production loose ends from our previous SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA (SNIA) film shoot. This week will also be full but I hope to get some more winterizing done. Several things in the yard need to get put away for winter. One of the nice refreshing things from last week was spending an afternoon with my dad and meeting my cousin for lunch. We meet so that I can pick up venison which is one of the main meats I eat. I actually made some venison steak chili yesterday that turned out great. My cousin and his boys are avid hunters. I enjoy nature and have hunted but I don’t find enjoyment in it. It is a very lean meat and healthy, something that the midwest hunters have enjoyed forever.
As we finish all the wrap up business on SNIA we’re prepping for post. One of the production drives have landed with the editor. We have established a production flow between editor and director. Our DP is doing a first batch of stills to help establish the color palette. He’ll be working with our director and editor in finding certain shots. Meanwhile a few VFX pick ups need to be looked at for a really cool sequence in the film. Dennis Therrian is being prepped on the film as he’ll be doing our sound design and composing our film’s score. Some VFX model work will begin soon in Canada with one of our amazing artists. Anyway the course for the film is being set and I’m excited for everyone to start looking at it.
At CDI we’ve been looking ahead to the future. I’ve been working on the next script for ‘OF SMOKE & MIRRORS‘ my working title on the reworking of the feature script. A short film SMOKE & MIRRORS was finished just as we started filming SNIA. A wonderful commercial piece that we used to do a proof of concept short. I think it does just that- gives a great look at what the full feature will be like. Nathaniel Nose directed the short and he is who we’re eyeing for the feature. The script is the key to everything. This will be a late 2022 or early 2023 shoot from my best estimates.
WILD FAITH: HASTINGS – For those who have seen the feature film “Wild Faith” you’ve been treated to a story for the whole family. Inspirational without preachy just good lessons from a more simple time. Now we have the first season (8 shows) ready to film. It will be part of several talks I will have in the coming weeks. The key with this is CREATIVE CONTROL. We are being selective at how we finance this property so we don’t have strings that will hamper the integrity of it. It will happen and our perfect timeline would be the second half of 2022.
The Spring is always an exciting time coming out of winter. We’ll be doing a feature or two this first half of 2022. We’ve been doing a heavy evaluation of properties and some of these will be included in my distribution talks ahead. But I really think I’ve landed on the right property. It will showcase all your favorite CDI troupe in a great story.
As a side note – this previous news made me think of a recent discussion. The story/script is the most important part of the process. For many filmmakers this is just an afterthought. We need a script and some actors and we’ll get to shoot all this cool stuff. CDI evolved in part because of how poor the scripts/stories were out there. I say this 100% from an actors perspective. That is why I’m always floored by the actors who will emotionally commit before reading a script/story. Anyone can be excited from a good pitch but having that translated to a tightly woven script is another thing. I know many actors who only read their parts and that too is having ‘blinders’ on. I also have told actor friends that you can glean information about their characters sometimes from what other characters say about them. EXAMPLE: You might find out your character has a wife, children or a pet from other character’s dialog. Perhaps gossip reveals that a character previously worked construction before their white collar job, all in the script. The whole story needs to be absorbed from the outside and the inside- internally and externally.
So perhaps a good rule of thumb is A) Evaluate content fully, quietly B) Don’t sign on to anything without reading the entire story and vet the production’s reputation C) Once attached learn the entire story before focusing on just your role’s world/words – important information might exist within the script.
Just my two cents from my experiences. There is a great word EXPERIENCE.
The great GOOD, BAD and UGLY as I like to call it. The goal is to take this accumulated knowledge (Remember Bruce Lee’s – the best way to learn a technique is to get hit by it) EXPERIENCE and translate it and apply it to your situations allowing it to become WISDOM. Now I’ve had my fill over the recent years from some individuals severely lacking experience in certain areas. Yet that want to present from a point of assured confidence that dances in arrogance. Arrogance usually follows someone who has experienced and learned a little yet thinks it gives them license to talk down to someone. A teacher who forgets that he is also a student will be humbled.
From my associates in business I get many complaints about the youth in several areas. (never their use of technology) But I always point out that most of us who have found some success have done so with the assistance of good mentors. For some that starts with a father but not for everyone. It is those special people who come in your life and help shape you. I have had a handful of these people and I’m happy that I recognized by lack and their gain. I emptied my cup and showed patience, listening and learning. I am fond of the old KUNG FU (David Carradine classic) TV show where all the boys have gathered at the Shaolin Temple. They wait and are being watched. Each day they are asked to go home and as time advances and patience is lost – most leave. In the rain those few who remained seem to have the potential for sincere growth. They are invited into the hospitality chamber and served tea. The unmindful who gives into their urges and drinks immediately are asked to “please go home” – shocked the few get up to leave. One is stopped – “Not you, please sit.” When asked why he did not drink he responds that he was respecting the opportunity. He was waiting to drink- being mindful and appreciative of being there. My soccer player/coach, martial arts lifelong student and teacher and a camp counselor all influence how I live. To the frustrated elders know you can influence and guide the youth. To the youth, empty your cup of your perceived absolutes and learn. The journey is a two way street and the glue that binds it all together is RESPECT and LOYALTY. The latter cannot be taught save by example. Those few who observed loyalty and the benefits of the practice and decide to give in to this practice. It is hard for many to give up selfish ambitions mixed with a lack of patience – it often leads to isolation, frustration and hardship that lasts until mindsets change.
“Getting deep, Shaolin Monks, kung fu and drinking cups…What? What?” – Gil Gilles
BEST YEARS GONE has recently finished a second run in Lansing, MI over the Thanksgiving week. We might explore a Detroit area and Grand Rapids showing. Also we’re exploring a few key festivals mainly based on places we would like to visit. I’m in hopes that after my next conversation with our distributor that I’ll have some updated info on our home video release. I’m glad that the films are being met with enjoyment and laughs. I loved one review that likened it to STEP BROTHERS and JOE DIRT which I love Step Brothers but Joe…okay I see it:)
THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer)- is now in season with the passing of Thanksgiving. Our distributor BMG wanted myself and Melissa Anschutz to do a promo inviting folks to subscribe to Encourage TV and watch. We were going to use a few places in Algona, Iowa as the back drop when filming but got too busy. We were going to shoot something at the office by the wood stove but decided we might save that for WILD FAITH promo. We shot in front of the Christmas tree, 3 takes- all funny and DONE. While doing some work last week I did play Forty Nights in the background. It was fun to watch and recall all the shooting we did in the deserts outside Yuma, AZ. Take a watch on all three and make it part of your holiday tradition.
I could rattle on about watching all the CDI films…but I’m sure you will get there in your own time as the nights grow longer and the outside colder. A good night to light a candle or fire and watch a good story unfold. I’ve got some yard clean up and some holiday shopping to do so I’m gonna wrap this up here. It was a pleasure to spend this time with you. Until next week. Be good to one another.
The Horse of My Dreams out now!
Good morning! I’ve got my hazelnut coffee here beside me as I sit down to update everyone on our artistic endeavors and to chat about the state of things. Every day I’ve been spending the time organizing and catching up on personal and business calls. Many of the personal calls also reflect upcoming business. I’ve been using every one of these days to get organized. I had totes full of old paperwork some were 20 year old receipts that had faded into unreadable. Some were projects that had died or scripts that were submitted for acting roles and never launched. Either way I’ve kept the office wood stove burning. I’ve also found little bits of CDI history. A forgotten set picture or a lost story treatment – gems. What I did notice is that in the early days the efforts were more spread out and now they are more focused. Also so much paper – which I still remain a fan of in some ways. That said, every cash move was reported on Cash Distribution Forms sent to the office to be recorded to our software. That aspect has gone digital as many things have. I had 6 boxes of 35mm film for one of the movies and so I’ve been rearranging.
Out in Sept 2020 – more contributed writing
Also I’ve been just enjoying all the great music I’m exploring and re-exploring. I watch news 2 maybe 3 times a day. Morning, maybe lunch and dinner and every night I end with a book. I’m always reading about a dozen titles at once but get that phone away and out of your hands. The phone is YOUR tool. It works for YOU. You do not work for IT. Work with it on YOUR time. I’ve helped a few people break this mindset and I think they are living healthier.
This time in our history has the obvious viral and economical set backs but I’ve seen many positive results also. I’ve seen fathers take time to dance with their daughters. I’ve seen family take time to craft up birthday signs for a drive way wishing. I’ve seen people revalue, reprioritize, reexamine their wants, needs, time management, appreciate relationships or lack of, their beliefs, their habits, their forgotten goals and dreams. Many are taking a deep breath and feeling thankful if they can still pull in unhindered air. They are looking behind them and seeing where they’ve been and what they’ve been through. What were the rewards? What were the sacrifice? Wisdom is in the pondering of the past reflection and applying that to decisions and direction moving forward.
Honestly I’ve never been so proud to be a storyteller. In the best of times our stories are just one of many distractions. Occasionally seen and embraced and acknowledged for the experience given. I always have said that if we make a bad scenes or have a moment of disconnect nobody dies on a table. But the power of a story is mighty. Whoever wrote the pen is mightier then the sword was right. Storytelling at its best offers you a near religious experience. People were losing their ability to listen. To really listen to a story – not mental armchair how you could one up some filmmaker. I had a major breakthrough in my thinking a while ago. I always felt this and acted on this but I really understood it once I spoke it.
Should I be more advanced in a medium like motion picture – it doesn’t make me anymore an artist than anyone else. We could love a medium we are not particularly skilled at. By experience that skill can and will improve. But I never see anything less than an artist. We both will have mediums we currently excel at and other mediums we’re passionately working hard to hone. I will judge, as we all do by display of character, actions especially when done quietly and… can’t give all my secrets:)
I look forward to meeting and working with more artists. In the past I’ve observed a lot of ‘flim flam’ artists building paper walls of ego, craving attention more than art. The same ego that drives many to lose their financial integrity versus perceiving the investment to be seen as a war chest used to get this story to the world. I know many projects started and never finished. Sad. But true.
But like the emerging butterfly you can come out of artistic hibernation as a more organized, more self aware, goal defined you. No email boxes should be littered with junk. Folders on the computer. Streamline. Many fail because they truly are not ready when opportunity presents itself. Some love to work tirelessly, looking for that opportunity but once they actually find it they are afraid. We all get scared inside with new situations and I always go back to John Wayne, Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. Something like that, but I think it’s accurate.
This is a time where life has slowed and children are at home. We’ve been excited because many family, friends and fans of past work have been meaning to watch this or that CDI film. The great part is that people have been taking the time. Hundreds of thousands of new viewers and growing on ad sites like TUBI and PLUTO TV that pay us via advertisers so that you may watch for free. Other like Amazon Prime are showing the films. So if you are at home take the time to watch the collection. The Quest Trilogy might be getting some Easter promo with a new trailer and some cool promo gifs. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR, THE CHRIST SLAYER – I’ve had some great fan mail from these films. Thank you. It’s a fresh not overly sanitized look at these little known biblical moments and told in a cinematic heroic style epic involving angels and mankind. We’re talking about setting WATCH PARTIES and having our actors and crew do Q&A after. We’re looking into that and we hope to announce a few sessions.
Here is one of the CDI collaborations with Thunder Toad Animation. If you love the OZ stories this is for you. Beloved characters animated from original sketches and voiced by some talented actor folks including yours truly as…can you listen and guess? From children to grandmothers who doesn’t love OZ. This is the first animated venture by CDI but I will state here now that CDI is exploring the animated division now. THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ also has an incredible music score. One of my favorites – please take a watch and enjoy…
LOST HEART – So everyone is working in their solitary and communications continue. I had talks with our distributor and so we’ll be announcing new updates as we get closer. We deliver the film in June so music, sound, VFX and color correction is all underway. Tally HO!
BEST YEARS GONE – I’m excited to announce that our WASTELAND DP Travis Hayward will be serving as director of photography. Travis has worked several times inside the CDI Tribe and has been developing his reputation for capturing amazing images worldwide. This is an exciting thing for me as an actor having enjoyed my previous working experience with him. He has a good feel for kinetic action and that will play nicely into this story. The ship is continuing to pull everything together. I cannot say when we will sail but we plan to be one of the first sailing once the storm has passed.
I have to say that with all the downtime at home for people I’ve been having productive and enjoyable conversations on all kinds of business. Become the change my friends.
Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.
The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.
This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.
I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest Trilogy – THE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.
I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.
BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?
OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.
So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.
Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.
I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.
I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.
WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut. But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-
Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.
I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)
Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.
Be good to one another!
First I want to start out by raising a cup of coffee and toasting to all the father’s out there. I know my father was and continues to be a strong influence in my life. I laugh at my younger self who boldly told my father “I just want to be an artist, not a businessman like you!” – Well, that turned out different. This morning I was trying to organize my business TO DO for the week ahead. It’s always one foot in front of the other – steady as she goes.
My furry children get a lot of parental type love from me and I can only guess how complex it can get when you add in daycare, school, relationships, work…the worry of it all. I think my father can at least relax in the knowing that I’m doing something I truly love. When he can go to the cinema or turn on the TV and watch one of our films I think it gives him comfort. I still have strong memories of him at the kitchen table with his checkbook and all the bills laid out on the table. I do enjoy staying on top of my business. That gives me a good peace of mind. I look forward to a visit with dad later today. I get almost a weekly visit with him and that’s enjoyable. I can still get little nuggets of wisdom.
As many of you know we just wrapped MBF and I’m almost all caught up on that paperwork. We’re about to assemble a small skeleton crew for a one day pick up of flashback war footage. It is a different ‘Paul’ I’ll be playing. My wounded Paul was a great challenge as I’ve discussed prior. This is before all that – I recall actual wounded vet Bobby Henline telling me of the day he was injured only remembering having coffee that morning. Imagine waking up months later to gruesome injuries, unbearable pain and a lifetime of living vastly different. We all have those sudden changes in life we’re never quite ready for. One of our crew members lost her brother unexpectedly after our shoot. You cannot imagine such drastic changes in life. It is why you need to appreciate each and every day.
My furry child Luke has his last two radiation treatments this week. I do have to say it has made a big difference. We’ve also been using CBD dog treats from CA and alkaline water thanks to my buddy Nate. He has been enjoying life and aside from a few extra hours sleeping and some spotty times dealing with his med “high” he’s doing good. You hate to see anyone dealing with these kind of life issues but we all have them. Keep that in mind as you interact with people throughout your day. That caller on the frustrating phone tree could be also dealing with a dying parent or loss of a child. A touch more compassion never hurt anyone.
Back to films- I’ve had many of our new friends and associates ask about our other films. Please watch and leave a review if you feel entitled to.
- THE ACTOR – https://www.amazon.com/Actor-James-Russo/dp/B07D6Z6BCB/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1529241258&sr=8-4&keywords=The+actor – A struggle of LOVE by director Jon Osman – shot in NYC and starts our upcoming lead in THE CHRIST SLAYER. You will see me in there supporting as a funny FBI agent.
- ASHES OF EDEN – https://www.amazon.com/Ashes-Eden-Steven-Sutherland/dp/B07BLLJ6FN/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241414&sr=1-1&keywords=ashes+of+eden – Directed by our own Shane Hagedorn it stars Melissa Anschutz and Steven Sutherland and yours truly plays an ex-military drug dealer.
- WICKED SPRING – https://www.amazon.com/Wicked-Spring-Brian-Merrick/dp/B079HN718V/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241553&sr=1-1&keywords=Wicked+Spring – This classic film helped define my early career. I star with Brian Merrick in this Civil War tale that has been growing an audience since early 2000’s on TV and home video.
- FORTY NIGHTS – https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241671&sr=1-1&keywords=Forty+Nights – I would say one of my biggest challenges playing a figure so shrouded in mystery. I give my everything in playing Jesus during this little understood time of his life. I co-star with my mentor and friend Rance Howard. It was also one of his favorites where he got to play THE bad guy.
- CHASING THE STAR – https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1529241791&sr=1-1&keywords=Chasing+the+Star – I’m not acting in this second installment of THE QUEST TRILOGY but it sprang from my imagination and research. We’ve seen the statues of the wisemen every Christmas for many years but what is their story?
I thought these five films would give a nice start to people wanting to get to know Collective Development Inc.’s work.
WILD FAITH has a few more theatrical runs in it before it preps for home video. There are a few exciting things being worked on with this film but I will save that for another day.
THE CHRIST SLAYER – Part 3 in THE QUEST TRILOGY is in music and sound design. I got to watch the final cut with temp sound/music and I was blown away. Now that Dennis Therrian is adding yet another powerful score the film will truly soar. I am waiting on the final color corrected trailer to come over this weekend from our DP Jesse Aragon. Once that is ready we’ll prepare the PR and release the theatrical trailer. We plan to have it play select theaters in Oct-Jan and home video on the Easter 2019 lead up. This film will bring all three together and audiences can truly enjoy the weaving of the tale throughout three films. I’m excited for people to see the beautiful dynamic between Carl Weyant and Josh Ponceman Perry. Soon:)
I have started to look at development for the next CDI film in association with BMG. But for now… I’m going to get some breakfast and we’re going to go walk the flea market down the road. This afternoon will be some time spent with my dad followed by a soccer game in this heat. Daphne (our girl) got a new pool and so more swimming lies ahead for her. We also had a day of working on the office/fort and added some additional beams to help stabilize the second floor. I have quite a bit of stuff up there so it was a good call. I have ‘Dan the Druid’ to thank for that fine wood work along with his “Druid Jr.” helper. My brother Adam also came over and restructured the wood arch in the yard. The yard is back to its zen self with beans growing and berries ripening. I think more wine making lies ahead. With the amount of apples even a batch of hard cider could happen.
I’m sipping on the hazelnut coffee and enjoying the sunshine this morning. Welcome readers from Finland – happy to have you here with us. So I returned on Thursday from my trip to LA. I had been wanting to return to LA to see one of my dear friends who now has a little one and wife. Several times I had debated taking the time to go visit but I’ve been in production or post-production for a few years now. Busy does not stop it just keeps going. Well I received an invite to a private family memorial for my friend, mentor and co-star Rance Howard. Rance has always been that voice of truth in an industry that often moves on lies and half-truths. He was a mentor/friend that often felt like a grandfather. He was a script consultant on a WW2 Christmas film I wrote. He was my co-star on several films including THE CHRIST SLAYER that will release to theaters on the run up to Christmas this year. I know that EVERYONE who met Rance loved him. I did not plan on any invite and knew nothing of the planning. I felt fulfilled and secure in the memories of the beautiful relationship we had shared. When working on a role Rance and I were like two ten-year olds playing. His wisdom was always a guiding force and I was content with my quiet prayers to a friend who passed. Weeks later I was surprised to get an invite from his sons to attend a private service. I did not want any stress/expectations around this event as the purpose was to celebrate a friend passing not business. So I quietly left in the middle of a massive snowstorm to say goodbye to an old friend and to visit another friend with new child. Circle of life.
To say that is was a nice tribute would be an understatement. It was a true look back at a farmer’s son who had an undeniable urge to be storyteller. The odds of this small town young man finding success in the industry were very small. I was his friend for a dozen years but I met many who had that gentle guidance for a lifetime. I realized just how blessed I was to have Rance in my life. One after another – family and friends stood up to speak of the qualities of this great man. To hear sons, grandchildren, directors and fellow actors tell their stories of how Rance touched them was beyond moving.
Tony Becker, myself (Slightly Beat up) and Rance Howard on “Ghost Town”
To have an opportunity to speak with his family and friends and share my stories of Rance and our relationship was beautiful. I know that Ron posted some pics and video of the tribute on his official Facebook so you can visit there. That’s what the family felt like sharing. It was interesting to hear the “family story” behind stories I heard from Rance and Judy directly. Johnny Depp retold the story Judy Howard had told us of her trying to convince Rance not to jump from a train at 80+ years old. She tried to get Johnny to talk with Rance but the long/short is Rance did it anyways. To be able to tell the family directly what their father meant to me was powerful. That day remembering Rance is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I got to hear some wonderful comments on our art. The family all knew about our films because Rance had grown a beard, which they lovingly teased him according to Judy. He kept that beard until the end of his life telling me he hadn’t had one in many years but he was enjoying the freedom of it. I was pushing him to go play a Jedi Master. I’m sure his family was also aware of the management/rep craziness when Rance told the X Files producers that a certain shoot date would not work because of Forty Nights. Knowing agents like I have – I bet that was one giant rant of “What the @$#@#% is Forty Nights and who in the hell is DJ Perry?” – He ended up doing both because he stuck to his commitment with us (never in question) and that was that. A free lesson for all of you out there. Don’t have someone’s back only until something better comes along. The “trade up” mentality is a common thing to starving talent who will climb at all cost. But as Rance once said, “if the cost is your integrity – you can’t afford it.” Free advice from one of my great teachers. I will miss my friend and I’ll be always grateful for the stories we told together.
Dean Teaster and Shane Hagedorn in “Wild Faith”
Now two days prior to my travels, our final film of WILD FAITH had been completed. Over the past year I depleted energy like everyone else in this hard industry. Often taking three steps forward and getting knocked back two. Raising money is always hard and executing with ever-growing expectations is even harder. But at that memorial I took stock of my own path and journey. I turned around and looked at where I started and where I’ve been. Who I’ve worked with and what we created together. And the most exciting revelation is looking ahead visualizing what I will work to create in the next dozen years. I spent the balance of the trip visiting with friends laughing, recharging and reflecting. I came back home ready to do what I do. Create. So I’m working hard to widen our investor base so we can create more often. The demand is there for our content and so we’ll work hard to fill that demand.
We’ve signed our first theatrical deal on “Wild Faith” at Celebration Cinema and we’ll release the show dates in the next few days. I’m very excited to see this play in the theaters and I’m just so damn proud of all the artists. The talks on home video and TV series are in full swing. I would love to have the TV show move ahead because many Michigan talent would get to be part of this beautiful world.
“Forty Nights” and “Chasing the Star” enjoyed a great Christmas season and I’ve been working with BMG on paperwork for additional foreign sales. BMG entered “Chasing the Star” into a few select festivals. I’m a person who likes to just target a few festivals. They take time and energy and often I just choose to direct that energy towards deal making.
So our distributor plans to make part 3 of Collective Development Inc.’s THE QUEST TRILOGY “The Christ Slayer” their flagship release at the upcoming markets. They got the sneak peek at the soon-to-release theatrical trailer and poster art. Additionally the hype over Mel Gibson‘s development of a sequel to The Passion of the Christ has been encouraging. That proposed film focuses on passover and the days that follow Jesus rising from the tomb. That is exactly the time period and event we focused on with THE CHRIST SLAYER. A final story filled with incredible performances by everyone including Rance Howard shining in one of his last feature films. So I agree this “piece” of the Jesus story is unique and audiences will be able to see our take a good year plus before the other film is set to release. I will be excited to see their take on the story as Jim does an awesome job as Jesus and Mel is one of my favorite directors. Audiences will be able to enjoy our film in theaters leading to this Christmas and home video leading up top Easter 2019. I’m going to let all of you see the theatrical poster HERE before the PR release this week.
Judy and Rance Howard, Anthony Hornus and myself on set “Forty Nights”
I want to also wish a happy birthday to Shane Hagedorn and Anthony (Tony) Hornus – two tribal amigos who share a special day. I’ve created much with both of them and look forward to many more. MBF is growing with more support and I’ve got a few talent I want to approach once all funding is locked. I’ll be back to that this week. We’re getting close but do not start anything you cannot finish. Exert patience and get everything proper with your ship before taking it out to deep waters. So to proposed cast and crew know we’re working hard to allow us to tell another great story.
Myself and Shane Hagedorn in “The Christ Slayer”
I also want to take this moment to thank Shane Hagedorn. I’ve been very busy the last few years. And you filmmakers know the films are like your children. So the films have gotten strong marketing but I have not really pushed my own acting. I’ve had no time to cut any character reels. Shane was kind enough to Christmas gift me with a ‘Jesus’ reel cut from “Forty Nights”. Now when you’re in 70+ min of an 88 min film picking the best 2-3 min can be hard. I’m appreciative that he did that for me. Now if you have not yet watched “Forty Nights” DON’T WATCH the reel. Go to Amazon and watch the film first. But I will use this reel to discuss future work on other projects.
DJ Perry as ‘Jesus’ in “Forty Nights”
I’ve recently had a few west coast projects in my orbit picking up speed. I had a few new updates on C.U.J.O and the western RIFLE development. I cannot speak on these publicly but I hope they both launch. They will be great fun. A few other projects with Reel Frog (Book of Ruth) are advancing on the development board also. An animated venture is coming together piece by piece. Overall 2018, the Year of the Dog (My sign) is upon us. I will keep my tail wagging and trotting along.
OTHER MISC RE-RELEASES
WICKED SPRING should appear for streaming on 3/1/18 like VUDU, Amazon Prime, Hoopla and more. Please do check out this powerful film that we produced 18 years ago.
THE ACTOR – I’m hearing April release.
PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ (Animated for Children) – On Vimeo On Demand and coming to Amazon.
ASHES OF EDEN – has a new market push with a new distributor. INFO SOON
I’m going to sign off and go pour a last cup of coffee. It feels great to be back in my home state and I’m ready to show audiences our new films this year. I’m ready to work hard as usual to make new content. I tip my hat to all of you out there working hard. Do good business. Make an environment to create great art.
ENJOY THE FIRST RELEASE OF THE THEATRICAL “THE CHRIST SLAYER” POSTER
Be good to one another.
Welcome to the start of the week my friends. I’m sipping the java in hopes of rising above this exhaustion. I had six days of tooth/jaw ache that I thought might be a cavity causing intense pain, lack of sleep, focus – if you’ve had a tooth issue you know. My dentist went out of the state for the weekend and so I tried to manage the pain only semi-successful. Also, the day before Thanksgiving we peacefully put our eldest dog to rest. It had been coming and was sad but also the right thing as it was time. Our pack of family love got a little smaller but I like to think that our past furry children are just scouting up ahead for us all. The night before our last “Wild Faith” shoot I dislodged a pokey seed from behind my wisdom tooth and the sharp zapping pain immediately left. Now the nerves seem to be falling back in line but I have not experienced that much pain that I can recall. Not in martial arts or soccer smashes and clashes and all cause by a little seed. We laughed that it was like the thorn in the lions paw. Okay, let’s talk film.
Shane Hagedorn and Martez Moore on set #wildfaith
Yesterday was our final day of shooting on our family western ‘Wild Faith’ and boy did we go out with a BANG, or many of them. It was our Civil War flashbacks with our lead Shane Hagedorn and Detroit-based actor Martez Moore who played opposite him. We had a couple of great re-enactor groups with us providing wonderful backdrop. The 12th South Carolina and the 4th Michigan brought their A-game. We had a great cannon team out with “Goldie” that shook the ground. I also enjoyed the visit with the property owner Irene Hosking, almost 99 years old. She was a nurse in WWII stationed in Australia and the surrounding area. She was born in 1918 and her first transportation was horse and buggy. Imagine all that she has seen in her many years and our troops gave her a wonderful welcome at lunch. Minus a few stuck vehicles in mud we had a smooth shoot. It was wonderful to see some of the crew back. With Jesse Aragon not able to return for our one day pick up it was wonderful to work with Craig Harmer again from the ‘Bestseller’ movie. The film is now officially in post-production. We will be releasing more behind-the-scenes photos followed by stills. And before Christmas audiences just might get a sneak peek.
‘Goldie’ was quite impressive and put out a blast you could FEEL in your bones.
THE QUEST TRILOGY
Final negotiations on the new 2017 push with ’40 Nights,’ the first in the trilogy. Also audiences were treated to their first look at the second film ‘Chasing the Star’ – so if you missed it – enjoy.
40 Nights trailer
And the second film…
Chasing the Star trailer
And now the business of development on the third film is starting.
So post-sound work will be finishing on ‘Chasing the Star’ as editing moves forward on ‘Wild Faith’ and I’m so very proud of all the artists on both sides of the camera.
I also want to thank Tom Quintana who sent me one of his quality hand-shaped hats. I will be doing a photo shoot for him and I’ll be sure to put a few of those pictures here. It was a wild weekend of emotional and physical pain. It was a weekend of family, friends and filming. The one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to fail. Get out there and make it happen. I appreciate each and every one of you who take the time to stop here each week.
Have a great week ahead!
I’m up early and drinking the hazelnut flavored coffee. What a busy but exciting week. My birthday celebrations have been dragged out due to various schedule issues but they will conclude on Sunday at my father’s with a cook out. A few new items for the office, new soccer gear and many well wishes and wonderful food. I do feel sincerely blessed by all the great people I have it my orbit. I thought orbit would go with my trip around the sun analogy. Let me see what events from last week might allow some of you to gleam a bit of wisdom? Ah yes.
I had a couple of offers that the business of it just didn’t quite add up. When this happens you still want to give total professionalism and grace when you bow out. I also started at square one and I never forget that. My 1st starring role in “In the Woods” was no pay up front. I slept on the directors couch and it was a great first dive into the world of filmmaking. That said, my aged bones enjoy a bed and a quiet place to work lines. And I also need to only consider paid work as my bills don’t take deferred pay or revenue from producer net points:) I know that some of these filmmakers will do their film, grow and move to bigger projects. I encourage them and let them know I look forward to meeting up with them further down the path. It is a small world this business of ours and you should always been polite and professional.
This week we put “Ashes of Eden” in motion on sound, music and color correction. “Supermodel Showdown” is moving along nicely. CDI Distribution that handles CDI and CDI associated properties closed 3 licensing deals on films for release in Germany, Austria, Switzerland. Congrats to “Locked in a Room,” “Darkest Night,” and “Wicked Spring”. We also now have release dates for Parables TV in July for “Figure in the Forest” and “Wicked Spring” so look up the schedule on http://parables.tv/ . This July is also the US/Canada DVD/VOD/TV/Internet release of “Darkest Night”. I’m very proud of all the Philippine artists that will have their talents exposed to US, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and soon many more territories. I’m also proud of our Civil War drama “Wicked Spring” that is finding yet a second life during the 150th anniversary of this horrible war. It truly has moved into the realm of “classic” within the genre. I hope that “Figure in the Forest” will also move to that status in the years to come. I think that is the best compliment any piece of art can get. Reports of spiking sales on “Book of Ruth” are abound and we’re working hard to do more films of this nature.
As the 4th of July weekend comes upon us be sure to use caution. I use to be a fireworks fiend but these days not so much. I made it through my crazy teens and 20’s with all my fingers intact and both eyes so I will call it good. It was brought to my attention that sparklers burn so hot they can melt gold. Who and when did this become the ideal things to give young children. I never liked them because they sparked and burnt your arms. I just find it funny that parents give children these. They do create that cool outline in the air so I will give them that. OK. Well that is all I have for today. It has been a crazy week and I may have some forthcoming news on upcoming projects but nothing ready to share yet.
Have a great weekend!