Good morning my friends – coffee cheers. (Above: Movie lunch pails – one day:) I loved seeing all the readers that dropped by last week and from so many different countries. Interesting talk recently that the artists in all countries likely exist in an alike mind space. This started from watching the live action Mulan. I really enjoyed it. Of course I’m a martial artists and I also love the history and traditions of the asian countries. The media backlash was over some of the film being filmed in areas of China where the treatment of some people there has been in question. My point is that I can assure that most of the artists in China are not the ones committing these actions. Politicians and corporations are where the differences often lie. Again I think that art is one of the best forms of communication still working. I think it is through storytelling and art that people try to change things by changing the hearts of the people. Iran. That was brought up and I am sure that there are many wonderful Iranian artists and many are likely not in step with their government. Artists have been persecuted in many places over the corse of history for illuminating people in a way that often goes against the agenda of politics. Don’t get me wrong, artists have their issues and running a country of diverse people is never easy. But the film Mulan had beautiful locations and maybe that is why certain things were filmed at certain locations. Story-first we call it. In telling our story we try to do what is best for the story not politically motivated. Also I do understand financial reasons for location choice. I just like to look at the sum of the parts. In any endeavor using many people – having a story to focus upon brings out the best in each person. Their best artistic qualities end up showcased. Again that’s why we embrace the ‘collective development’ of individuals versus a ‘cancel’ mentality. On our sets a respectful attitude is required and any course corrections to transgressions would be attempted and often the flow is resumed. In a few situations we’ve let people go but when that has happened I’ve owned that as a miss or a loss. A kid who had to be sent home from summer camp because a staff couldn’t nurture the good kid within. A student who quits never to return to the dojo is on the sensei – he failed to nurture the student properly. An athlete who has to be removed from a team shares that failure with his coaches. Just a few thoughts. I’ve had beautiful fan mail and invites to visit their countries from people all over the world. Those places I would be honored to visit but being honest, some places have me nervous. The nervous apprehension is not stemming from the artists. So in conclusion, if a group of people geographically create something in an area where some in power have misstepped should all the people, all the artists be held accountable? And yes. I’m sure the artists in some of these places object to things they don’t agree with, much like here in the USA. But many elsewhere are met with bullets in response to their objections. So let us praise positivity in story wherever it’s told.
Onto some film updates. First this week we starting to announce some of the ICFF 2021 Nominations which is for films of faith, family and inspiration. Positive stories:) We were fortunate enough to again be chosen for several nominations with LOST HEART. First is my favorite award nomination next to ‘Most Inspirational’ which THE QUEST TRILOGY garnished. BEST FILM – I love this because again as mentioned earlier it represents the collective artistry of the tribe.
On a personal level I’m enjoying the collecting of these screenwriter nods. When acting was my main push and I guess I would say it still is. I use to downplay the screenwriting not wanting to be seen as a screenwriter who acts. But these days I’m 100% confident is just being the artist I am with multiple avenues to create. As an actor, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to utter some pretty bad dialog in some questionably written scripts. Often by some good directors who’s art of screenplay wasn’t on the same level. But that means a director directing and actors acting with a poor blue print. To have a chance at executing a good story you need a strong blue print. This is why I’ve done less and less outside work. I KNOW great material is out there and good teams to execute production but getting those circles to all align can be difficult. There is so much that can hinder a film production the script should not be one of them. So I’ve been poking about and having a few discussions on literary representation. I would like to see a few stories go be created by others. To have other artists and tribes make a go at telling a great story because of a solid blue print. We can only create so many stories as a company. So I look forward to creating a few wonderful vehicles for actors and teams out there in the world.
Congrats to Jesse Low. One of the other instinctual things a producer(s) have to do is try to marry the right story to the right director. It is an art. Just like management. Casting. Crewing. If working as many with a zero budget it’s making the best hand with what you have. On the low budget you do have choices. In a way the best choices, because you will only attract artists who love the story and/or filmmakers. Also development – after several features – the relationship flow with Jesse Low has become tight. Coffee Cheers to many more!
A film will LIVE or DIE but the leads. So many wish the opportunity but it is not easy. It is why I cringe when someone says, “I might try acting, sounds fun.” Acting is more a calling (or a disease) versus a fun thing to try. The medium of film requires even more focus as things are often in random order and the multiple takes can be draining. Many actors and actresses don’t have the endurance to do it. That is why shorts are a good build for cast and crews. Features are a longer journey and requires pacing, prep and hyper-focus.
Melissa Anschutz went above and beyond – allowing audiences via her national PR appearances to hear about her personal battles immediately following filming. This reached, touched and helped many people with alike tragedies in their lives. She is very deserving of both these awards so a big congrats to Melissa and thank you for all you do to help the tribe of artists. You’re an inspiration to many out there.
CDI has been blessed to have many very successful artists join our tribe and storytell with us. These folks have such great projects behind them that when they branch out to work with anyone they take a real chance. At CDI we don’t play ‘star’ that is for the red carpet for those who wanna play that – this is storytelling. I’m so appreciative of the artists who bring their very best. No phoning it in. They BRING IT. I do love how Tarantino brings great names from previous successful stories that maybe haven’t been seen in a while and showcased fresh, powerful new performances. We do that. We work hard to provide the most professional experience and to encourage the best set to create. I’m so happy for Victoria Jackson and Don Most for their nominations in the supporting roles. If you watch the film LOST HEART you will realize how deserving them are. Often a fest might give a nod because of the star power it brings but these nominations are right on. They both give performances that audiences will remember for years to come. It shows that Happy Days and SNL were just early stepping stones and they are still the artist they ever were and with experience, even more talented now. Congrats.
Now we come to this. I want to say that I have to get better about accepting such things. I truly enjoy other people getting recognition so that they will want to come out and play next time asked. Last year I was nominated for ‘Paul Landings’ as the Best Actor in MBF and took great pride in that since Paul represents our wounded military vets. Now ole ‘UFO Worldwide’ Reporter Niles Cass doesn’t seem as dramatic or deserving but I am still deeply honored. Two different tone films which is made more interesting since at ICVM at NBR (Crown Awards) in June (Texas) they have narrowed down to 5 top films nominated for Best Film and MBF and Lost Heart are going head-to-head because of the Covid lockdown last year. Proud of both stories just very different.
I wanted to share another special recognition that LOST HEART received. Congrats to my brother from another mother Ponceman. Working with Ponce a second time was just a pure joy. Might have to make it three times;)
I could do some additional updates but it is getting late and I need a shower after waking up and pushing myself in the strongman contest. This coop was MUCH heavier than I thought but the Amish don’t play. This is not like the previous coop which was nowhere as heavy duty. New chickens arrive next weekend.
Casting and crewing talks have been going great on the WW2 drama. This week we’ll announce two more leads in the main family joining actors Curran Jacobs and Cassie Dean. One is a beloved tribal member and the other a wonderful actor who will work with CDI for the first time. Our German reads have been exciting! We have other roles locking in and many to still explore.
BEST YEARS GONE is going to be traveling this week to our post studio with Dennis Therrian. Nathaniel Nose has done a wonderful job. We’ll know this week if he’ll be cutting the trailer. The Battle of the Bands runs until the end of April and we’ve had some great submissions. I plan to announce another judge this week joining Joe Pullin and John Two Hawks. I’m so excited to get onto this next phase. I look forward to spending some time at the studio in the pines. I think I might have to be on grill duty also.
I’m going to wrap it up here. I know I likely missed a few updates but I think we hit upon enough. I was a bit behind last week on emails, calls and even contract review (Monday:) But this week will be a good catch up. I hope each and everyone of you have a productive week. Be good to one another.
(Chilling at the new post studio – in the pines)
I’m sipping the coffee on this beautiful Sunday. The last couple days have been partially used to start the yard clean up. Some more wood logs got chopped up ready for the next cold day. The garden is going to become the new ‘chicken land’ along with some raised bed veggies and new blueberry plants to join the others we have. Every year different new yard endeavors are put into play. The zip line has not yet been installed.
In the office I started moving pictures and paintings around after I acquired a new painting of an ancient soldier. Once I started moving things around it became an afternoon of trying to get it just right. The nice part is all this can happen while taking business calls. I had one day where I was on the phone 10:30 to 2:30 straight – but lots of good business was done. This is also festival and awards season for us. We’re very selective about our festival selections. You can spend a lot of time and money pushing out to all these tests. Let’s start with the fest updates-
International Christian Film & Music Festival – Lost Heart is up for overall BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR (Jesse Low), BEST SCREENPLAY (DJ Perry), BEST LEAD ACTRESS (Melissa Anschutz), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Don Most), BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS (Victoria Jackson) and the PEOPLE’s CHOICE nomination for ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (Melissa Anschutz) and ACTOR OF THE YEAR (DJ Perry)
I’m so happy for the film and the growing response to the film’s story as it makes it way out into the world. A big kudos to Melissa Anschutz who took lead on this film with a career defining performance.
ICVM Crown Awards this year happening at NRB in Dallas Texas in June both “MBF: Man’s Best Friend” and “Lost Heart” have been nominated as one of the 5 finalist in BEST FILM UNDER 250k plus they might result in some personal nominations in the 18 categories.
Again we’re appreciative of the recognition. Many of these festival submissions are done by our distributor but we sometimes do a few select submissions. All the monthly and small online festivals are just revenue gathering models. I’m not against these just not something we chase. If more people become aware and watch the film I guess that is the goal.
BEST YEARS GONE the last set of notes is being sent over this week and those will be implemented and the film will travel to our post studio. The last inserts of footage and such will happen there before music and sound begins. I’m going to try and make the studio hang once a week to review and enjoy this process. The BATTLE OF THE BANDS has been getting some great submissions on the FB page contest. We are announcing another celebrity judge in Mr. Joe Pullin who has worked on all levels of the music industry. His full bio will be posted this week! Merchandise is starting to creep out with a cool auto sticker set and soon iron on Tee shirt logos! Go to http://www.cdiproductions.com and go to the merchandise section. We plan to also start an artist showcase and sell other artists goods for a commission. That is in thew works also!
(Mr. Joe Pullin – our next celebrity JUDGE)
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Tis the Easter season and so we’ll ask that you put your sandals on and travel with us to the desert. Forty Nights, Chasing the Star and The Christ Slayer can all be watched on various platforms Amazon Prime, Encourage TV, Tubi, Pureflix just to name a few.
WILD FAITH/HASTINGS is doing great and now that funding on another project is complete we can pour more effort in the direction of the TV series. We have planned to put the series in the Spring 2022 slot as we’re still getting past Covid and I’m needing more time to put this TV deal together. With eight 44 min shows this is a larger endeavor but one that I think will be coming soon. I have several follow up communications.
IN OTHER NEWS:
A CDI co-production “Locked in a Room” has gotten a new re-issue as AMERICAN LIAR now available on Amazon Prime. It is an R rated thriller with greed being at the heart of it. Shot in Detroit by writer/direction Larry Simmons – congrats to all the artists involved! Take a watch but watch out for “Mr. Creepy” 🙂
Discussions are underway for BESTSELLER to finally get out to a wider market. Knight Chills has multiple opportunities for a new release. WICKED SPRING is being worked on to release in HD.
WRAP UP: Many people are trying to navigate the storms of isolation, financial insecurity, stress, parenting and more. My goal is to work hard to create something stable. People feel “behind” as if a year has been stolen from them and in many ways it was. Now I’ve focused and worked very hard to keep my balance and in turn provide balance to the other artists struggling. I stated this week that I push forward with my “best efforts” daily, always. I try and not put any expectations beyond as it just adds stress because it is out of my control. Everyone is feeling the urge to RUN after the world Covid lockdown and that is creating a ME and NOW vibe rippling through society. Again I feel we make the greatest gains working together but everyone needs to pay attention to their own fire from time to time. You are no good to a circle of people if your own personal fire isn’t burning bright. I’ve tried to change as little as possible save what we had to for safety to give people an experience. In 2020 BEST YEARS GONE was that. This year is getting better Covid-wise but it still shadows over endeavors and people’s moods. But we will again do what we do and that is all we can do. Please be kind to yourself. Don’t hold your progress up to the same non-Covid standards. Don’t lean into what you do not do but what you were able to do. And be good to one another. This has been hard on everyone with some having it better and some worse. Help someone out this week in some way, shape or form and you will feel the joy of it. I’m going to carry on and we have lots of exciting announcements coming in the weeks ahead. Starting with more cast and crew will be announced for SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA. Also business sponsorships will start this April and that is no joke!
Have a great week ahead.
Good morning my good artist friends from around the globe. I saw many new readers from Peru, Ireland and Cuba just to name a few. I don’t know how it is in your part of the world but here in Michigan (Southern Canada) just kidding – the ice and snow started to melt showing us patches of earth. Spring is in the air and the wood bins are full for the final blasts of cold. Plans are being made for the Spring already with an expansion to the chicken-land enclosure and maybe an outdoor gazebo. Within the office I’ve been doing some tinkering here and there all while jamming to some good tunes. I think that is what led to the idea of the Battle of the Bands. BEST YEARS GONE which is closing in on a final cut will soon move into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. But we’ve used many featured artists on past films. WILD FAITH used Trace Adkins narrating vs singing but we’ve had several artists join us. On LOST HEART we got to hear John Carter Cash and his wife Ana with The Cash Collective and Roanoke featuring our young lead Taylor. Anyway, this was an idea to take a few of my music artists friends higher on the ladder and give them a chance to experience some of the other great artists out there looking to have their voice and stories told. So if you have original songs that you own all the lyric and music rights, submit the song(s) to the wall at – Facebook
In April our Judges will listen to the finalists and give their comments. From there our director will review and a winner will revealed. So submit your songs – rock, rap, country! Good luck!
LOST HEART has still been getting lots of national PR and on streaming sites like TUBI it has been climbing joining WILD FAITH. Critics are what they are but here is another review-
We have some exciting ideas bouncing with our distributor. The film seems to be hitting well with the female audience but isn’t drawing in men as much. BUT when men watch they are actually enjoying be causing of the fun UFO and Bigfoot elements in the story. So we might be designing some artwork that reflects some of that because it is a really fun movie. Like I’ve said, I challenge you to watch it and not laugh somewhere. Cry is a good possibility too. I had some fan mail that thought they were in for something lighter in tone like a Hallmark film but were surprised by the power of the drama.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also on the rise and the distributor thinks it can go even further with a new campaign so I’m looking forward to see new art, trailer and PR push. This film is really making the circle through the military friends and families marching towards 1 million viewers on Encourage TV and playing many more channels.
These three fine stories that I promise you are unique in their genre, are being featured on many sites as a series. Sony/Pureflix is doing a special Easter season push as is many of the outlets and platforms. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. What I love about the first one is that it depicts a time before Jesus started any ministry. When he was still crystallizing his teaching and how to “put the words of the heart on the tongue”. But many people were not happy or content to see a pre-Jesus. The man BEFORE he fully became what others now expect. It’s a unique perspective that some missed. But those who missed are people just looking to ‘devil the details’ and they often miss the lesson altogether. Enjoy the films and let me know what you think and if you see the unique perspective of a man who is a work-in-progress.
DEVELOPMENT & PRE
Several projects are in motion with our doc ‘For the Love of Catch‘ filming the next several weeks. Some VFX post work is being completed on SMOKE & MIRRORS a spooky short that we filmed with the CDI Tribe. HASTINGS continues to advance down the development road. The good news that will be announced this week is that SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA is officially moving out of development into pre-production. We have been casting and will have more exciting announcements including the casting of our young female lead. It’s…
We’ll also start discussing crew and put several tasks in motion creatively. I’m beyond excited to have the CDI Tribe do a WW2 drama. I’m thrilled that this was the script Rance Howard and I spoke so many hours on. Being that this is all ‘based on a true event’ makes it even better that this moving story will be told to the entire world.
WRAP UP – If you are a musician with original music drop it on the wall for BEST YEARS GONE or just go listen to some of the great music being added. I want to thank Mr. John Two Hawks joining Dennis Therrian as our second celebrity judge with more to follow. I spoke with John yesterday which was a great catch up. I blame/thank John for my love of NIGHTWISH. John has played with them on a few occasions and I really enjoy their sound. His full bio can be seen on the FB site where the ‘Battle of the Bands’ is being hosted. IF you have a company that wants to align with either our next release BEST YEARS GONE or our new SILENT NIGHT IN ALGONA WW2 film. If your product was around in 1944 we plan throw back packaging. And if your company was not well, we can make it look in the style of 1944. We will have many exciting supporters and sponsors to announce now that this is moving forward. I hope you all have a great week. Stay safe and be good to one another.
Good morning everyone! I want to welcome and thank all the readers from around the world. I’m sitting comfortably in my Lazy-Boy chair with my hazelnut coffee. Below is just a partial list of where all our fellow artists friends stopping by last week were from. The entire world is pretty united by what we’ve all been facing. I always said it might take an ‘Independence Day’-like alien attack to unite everyone but instead we got a virus. I was disappointed to see the issue weaponized politically over the last couple months. But there is no political spin to the actual science. I have friends that like to look at the stats and minimize the impact. But right now the death toll in the USA is as if our city of Lansing, Michigan was just destroyed or disappeared pending how dramatic you want to be this morning. Now this large nation has many cities and hey it’s just one BUT if it was your city that becomes an issue. And we might lose a few more cities worth of people before this passes. So if we can unify our actions and if this new batch of vaccines rolls out we might find our way back to something resembling normal.
But…we should remain aware of health and safety. We should plan for future unified responses. Federal, state even down to local we were not quite prepared and life accountability was being placed on officials. That’s different than leaning for or against taxes or new laws. So political affiliation aside I don’t fault officials for doing too much. Too much is often better than not enough but in this case every bit of over-cautious (a good thing normally) is causing economic hardships. It is a no-win situation because you cannot manifest a perfect. And on both sides politically they await for each other to misstep so they can blow that up into the next headline. Needless to say I’ve been personally disappointed in how much conflict we’ve participated as a nation. “I told you so” and “cancel” culture mentality is not helpful in growing cooperation. Information is often given with insult that results in the passing of knowledge falling on deaf ears. Most people don’t know that part of my college degree was communications at MSU. Most people are just horrible communicators and don’t even know it. They rush to social media lobbying trying to build support for or against a person’s words or action versus privately and respectfully communicating behind closed doors. With nobody else to hear there is no temptation of grandstanding. Given feedback is exchanged in an environment of respect where the person is respected enough that the meeting happened privately.
EXAMPLE: At CDI over the years, the need to meet with someone for course correction on set has arisen. If you respect that person which you should, you address any issues in private. I’ve seen way too many sets where problems are addressed loudly with finger pointing and throwing people under the bus. How do you think that effects that person and their respect for the company? How does it ultimately effect performance?
These are the things that people fail to grasp. When they want to achieve the same success at running a set as CDI it is done based on principals that starts at the top. A loud mouth, insulting CEO, producer, director or what-not will bring toxic devastation to a project. I’ve seen way to many production companies getting along by using up passionate volunteers and trading them up for the next batch. You are always starting over. Your quality is not increasing as your people’s experience and confidence grows. DEVELOPMENT is a key to success. Not just YOUR development but the development of a tribe of people. Look beyond ME to WE and you’re starting out on the right path.
OK. Film updates. Hmmm…do we have any? Maybe a few:)
BEST YEARS GONE – Much of the writing above could be applied to the above writing. We had been funded and ready to shoot this film since March. Much like some of the world leaders in government and business, I was faced with hard choices about when to set sail, safely with the best chance to succeed. Nothing save possibly experience gave me any added insight but like everyone else this Covid was/is a new variable. But I was the last one held accountable for the ship, cargo and crew. We started months earlier reading, studying and developing our safety protocol. The producers including Nate Robertson who is also our 1st AD took this job very serious. I appreciate him because a failure on his part is personal and painful but a failure to me is more direct. I’m responsible for everyone’s actions including his. So to have Nate and all the producers work so hard to prep a safe project meant the world to me.
Beyond that 75%+ of the crew are returning warriors with maybe another new 25% coming on board their first CDI film. I want to thank all the cast and crew for playing by the rules which included masks and face shields, sanitizer, distancing, morning check in’s and individually catering and craft. Over the years I’ve been on projects that were hindered by colds, flu and such. So the idea was no matter your individual feelings about Covid this was about WINNING. Note the goal of “winning” was getting safely to port with all our cargo (film pieces) safely. We also did pre-test and weekly test between our shoot blocks that we spaced slightly to give time to adjust and rest crews a touch more. There are many things we did not like with the added spacing but it worked for this film. We did manage to keep two positive Covid folks from bringing that on set. Two crew members had to await test results when they were exposed on off days between blocks. I’m happy to report the positives are now healthy and the caution hold on two crew came back negative. But our battle plan worked and we have the entire film IN THE CAN. We use to really use that term when we shot film.
Congrats to Shane Hagedorn our director for his calm leadership through it all. Travis Haywards led his department with a friendly demeanor knowing a few short years ago he was the young artists. I remember taking him as 2nd AC with our FORTY NIGHTS camera team a handful of years ago and now he was the DP. Another example of CDI development priority. Every crew member was truly a joy and that is rare as many of you will find out. We’ve found new artists that I’m sure will be ready to roll with the TRIBECDI when the time comes. Check out http://www.cdiproductions.com and SUBSCRIBE TO THE TRIBE. The film is exciting filled with humor and heartfelt relationships. The movie is about family, dreams, love and faith and has an automotive race car theme running throughout it. We’ll be announcing this week the addition of the films editor which is Nathaniel Nose, best known for his directing and editing on Part 3 of The Quest Trilogy, The Christ Slayer. The film will surge forward in post-production and we will look forward to bringing it to you in 2021!
We’ll follow the lead-in above to THE QUEST TRILOGY. A new campaign is launching for the holidays that puts the series in the proper order. The series is much more enjoyable when you watch in the proper order of FORTY NIGHTS (#1), CHASING THE STAR (#2) and THE CHRIST SLAYER (#3) and there is a NEW OFFICIAL “THE QUEST TRILOGY” trailer we’ll be highlighting this coming week.
Our #2 film CHASING THE STAR was listed as Pureflix’s second recommendation for Christmas films. I’ve heard people say that did not like how dark the film was. But under King Herod those were the times. The Magi order as depicted is the order seeking a celestial messiah to save mankind. No elves, jingle bells or snowman but an honest look at a possible internal conflict the three wise man faced. We know the nativity statues worldwide but what do we really know about these men? Very little. So we work to put a face to those men and their quest. Here Pureflix has invited you to watch-
And The Quest Trilogy will also be coming to Pureflix as a series in Feb 2021 running to Easter 2021. Enjoy the NEW trailer here – please share it with family and friends.
IF you enjoy these films do drop us a review at http://www.imdb.com, Amazon.com or anywhere you can. I hope your family enjoys this trilogy of films.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This film keeps growing an audience. I was at the bank doing some business deposits when the teller told me she had cried watching MBF. She noted it was such a beautiful film and she had been telling friends and family about it. If you’re proud of our military brothers and sisters and love dogs this film might be just what you are looking at.
WILD FAITH – This fun and powerful film has been seen by millions of people. Those millions love the world seen at a simpler time with a story of love and faith amongst the Murphy family. Right now we have a handful of companies interested in seeing this film roll out next year as a series. The first right of refusal partner has the proposal and I’m looking to get a green light before the 1st of the new year. If so cameras could roll in Feb./March on HASTINGS. These stories will follow the same tone as the feature and we’ve got a good gameplay forming up. PS: Happy Birthday today to director Jesse Low!
LOST HEART – This amazing film is our new 2020 release. On Nov 7th and 21st we streamed our filmed cast and crew premiere event as well as the film itself for two nights free. After some great national PR topped off with our stars (Melissa Anschutz, Don Most and Victoria Jackson) traveling to Nashville for the Mike Huckabee show, the film will start its licensing run and roll out. The event was filmed and edited by Nathaniel Nose who did a wonderful job capturing the beauty of our state. It continues to highlight Collective Development Inc. as a Michigan company and Lost Heart as our new release. We will plan to stream the event perhaps on the CDI website and CDI’s FB site next week. I would also like to see the event end up on the DVD. IF you watched the film one of the two nights please do go VOTE and leave a review on the LOST HEART http://www.imdb.com page and feel free to request it from networks and retailers. Thank you for allowing us to do a special premiere and share with all of you. Another great film that I’m so proud of. I watched last night with my mom and I will call my dad who also watched the film last night. I’m happy they are both here to see it.
WRAP UP – I’m going to wrap all this up. We’re having the first light snow here in November and yesterday I did some winterizing. I have a few more things to get taken care of. We harvested the last of the ground veggies from the garden. I might bottle up the new wine next week. I finally have almost all my stuff unpacked from filming. We’re going to do pie-drops this week but just gonna lie low with Thanksgiving. We don’t want to get any family sick. I had a pair of close family come down with Covid. One said, he would rather have the flu four times over and said if he had been less healthy I might have been carrying a coffin. This victory of getting BEST YEARS GONE shot and into editing leaves me feeling satisfied. I was looking forward to the holidays and will still work to make it as special as possible but like our film set, safely.
Be good to one another and we’ll talk next week. Have a great Thanksgiving by being thankful you have your loved ones with you. Stay safe and be kind to one another.
PS: I spend a good part of an hour trying to delete copied blocks of text and was too afraid to add photos. I need to roll this WordPress back to non-blocks. I thought I lost this morning’s update so you are getting no pics or corrections but you’ll get the info.
I’m sitting here sipping my hazelnut coffee in my Oswald’s Bear Ranch cup. We were planning another UP Michigan trip when all this virus stuff erupted. Now we spent a good amount of time discussing that last week and so I’m not going to hammer that this week. In Michigan we have had our stay extended for two weeks. I’ll just call it confinement for all the things in my youth I got away with. Again it was a wonderful week of organizing, personal and biz calls and getting things done. Let’s start with our next film up – BEST YEARS GONE.
This week we’ll load in the last financial piece and we’ll be all ready to sail once the storm passes. We’ve got a new schedule to review and I’m putting some fine tuning to the budget now that our day-of-days is more defined. We’re announcing more of our crew and cast and preparing to do a few ZOOM script reads. Shot lists are being prepared and I for one will be ready to get out and tell another story.
I had some productive talks with our distributor and we’re already looking at marketing for the immediate and the year ahead. The Quest Trilogy has been playing strong during the holiday window which runs after Halloween on the run up to Thanksgiving through Easter. Many new countries like Mexico, Brazil and more have enjoyed our three biblical adventures. We spoke of them cutting a great TRILOGY trailer for the next ‘holiday’ season.
NOTE: I also had the pleasure of watching Douglas James Vail’s new film 40: The Temptation of Christ – that also imagines the 40 days of Jesus in the desert. I enjoyed their beautiful locations, camera work and the unique way they handled the temptations. Take a watch if you enjoy these stories.
LOST HEART is just finishing up music and will be turning to sound design this last month before we mix, master and deliver. There is going to be a big need for new content so I think we’ll get a good push with this story. We might have a few other surprises when it comes to this film. This week ahead the distributor is working to lock up DVD wrap art. I would guess we’ll see pre-sales start after a while but we’ll see if we do any exclusive TV runs first. I’m excited to put this fun, heartfelt movie out into the marketplace. – Soon.
WILD FAITH / HASTINGS TV SERIES
The film is gathering fans as the distribution keeps getting deeper. Meanwhile we continue to have promising discussions on the TV series. If you have not seen the film please do and let me know your thoughts on a TV series. Like all the films, I had some fan mail on this film talking about the power of the themes and how nice it was to spend time in a world more simple.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND is also making the rounds thanks to all you fans out there. The reviews and word of mouth keeps growing our audience. I’m so excited that this film is making people ponder and discuss the topics. So watch with your family including the furry ones. As with any of the films just google the film in quotes and it will show where you can buy the DVD or watch the film. Again a big salute to all our service men and women who serve.
At this time my thoughts are with all our family and friends and we all look forward to sharing a few in-person laughs. Soccer season is approaching and I’m in hopes that we can still enjoy that. The blossoms are starting to bloom on the newly trimmed apple and mulberry trees. The hops and rhubarb are also starting to get some size and that is fun to watch. I’m going to use this nice day to get some more outdoor tasks completed. I hope you all have a wonderful week and be safe!
Good morning from HOME! Yes. I’m sipping some coffee after a few puppy cuddles and now I’ll be sharing with all of you some updates and insights. First I want to talk about LOST HEART. What a ride we had. First it was just amazing to go from just a blueprint with the script to capturing magic. This script has been hailed as one of my best pieces of writing. I know that writing is much like a film in that it’s subjective. But the story did a great job of painting interesting characters in unique places and situations. It was my first script with Melissa Anschutz in the lead and she performed beyond all my expectations. Much like Shane Hagedorn in Wild Faith, it was great that my scripts could be used as starring vehicles for my friends/peers.
While we were filming LOST HEART, WILD FAITH was rolling out across the nation. Wal-Mart’s and other retailers around the country starting carrying the film DVD and the fans responded. I had so many people approach me the last few weeks who had watched several of the CDI films. One day in prep – Shane Hagedorn (Emmett) got stopped by a maintenance guy who had seen Wild Faith. Already thrilled to met Emmett, he was further thrilled to be led into a room where Melissa Anschutz and I worked accounting. His eyes got big and his smile wide as he got to meet Ben Lily and Hester Thickett. This meeting of fans played out several times during our multi week stay. All around town – handshakes and kind words. I’m so proud of both Shane and Melissa – they are true leading talent. Everyone sits around and wishes for a starring role but only a select can really ‘lead’ a film. It’s not easy physically, mentally and keeping that arc requires constant adjustments. These two along with my ole workhorse buddy Anthony (Tony) Hornus made up my senior producing team. We have a great associate producer team that helps us do what needs to be done.
Jesse Low made his third film with CDI (Forty Nights & Wild Faith) and now Lost Heart. Nate “The General” Robertson led a great production campaign. One of his very best to date. We had Nancy Oeswein and Witney Wagner working with CDI for the first time in our office. I think it was a great collaboration and while they had to jump into a very existing system they adjusted and brought some new ideas to the table. I look forward to another future collaboration. Now it cannot be all rainbows so what were some of the issues. Now before addressing that I will again say that prep is so important because it allows a production to aim all its efforts at the immediate problem solving. I see too many businesses run in reactive mode putting a bandaid on something but that in turn causes three issues. Put in the hard work in advance – it pays off. We did this and it was apparent on set and in the final footage.
- Communication – making better communication is always the goal. While we are VERY good we always strive for better. Most small issues arrive from assuming and not knowing. We are all guilty of that at times and work hard to correct that.
- Focus – when we are at work people need to set aside their personal relationships aside and focus on the goals of the day. From Call to wrap a film crew works to get its puzzle pieces (Footage). Time is the essence each day and focusing on task will result in earlier days, less mistakes/damages and make a better final product.
- Representation – When you work for a company you not only represent the film company but the craft as a whole. One of our major locations had someone call and warn them before shooting about “filmmakers” because of a bad experience they had. When asked if it was our company they replied NO. CDI was defended by the owners by telling them their experience had been 100% positive. It is why I am so protective and communicate with locations that all companies are NOT equal. I’m not even comparing subjective final films but how we conduct ourselves while working. I’ve had people try to “drop” my name or our company to gain access to a place. Location owners all know to call us first if approached because if your operation is ‘slash and burn’ meaning getting footage by whatever means possible, that is conveyed. Or at the least letting them know we are not connected. Our team was raking up mulch at one location after the shoot. Pride in how your company/work is looked upon as a fine quality.
- Positive Attitude – This is something especial required of KEYS. You set the department tone. For example at CDI vulgar or aggressive outbursts are not tolerated without being addresses. Those examples again show poor communication and tells others that you’re not in control of your department. We always have a few that rise to the new challenge and fly while a few perhaps need more time under an experienced key. Skillset is only part of the equation – being able to motivate, inspire and lead a team with positive enthusiasm is the sign of a great leader. CDI is about developing leaders.
Once things are running smooth I get to sit back and watch everything. I get to ninja about and observe. I see who treats their gear proper. You should always treat gear as if you own it. Watch someone who does own the gear care for their gear. This is much like the care given to our locations. I can see when outside personal issues intrude upon someone’s focus. I see when personal interactions interfere with work flow and cause distractions. I see when people rush versus moving quickly with care. I see when people are not fully conditioned for feature length shoots either due to lack of rest, poor nutrition and/or lack of prep. I’m proud to say our production only had a few occasions where these things happened. But it is easy to spot on a film set that runs smooth. It is the job of management (producers) to sit back after and evaluate performance. This leads to rehiring or perhaps realizing someone needs more development. Sometimes it was a person was used in the wrong place and would be better suited elsewhere. But applying the 4 principals listed above will improve any production.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – This film is about to heat up! A premiere in the director’s home town is being explored first. The film will be releasing into select theaters and home video in the next few months. We got to do a small private screening in pre-production and…(SMILE) – I cannot wait for people to see the film. It showcases beautiful performances by wonderful actors. The hardworking crew made this story flow and it shows. So get ready for this story that showcases the plight of military vets and adoption dogs to come to the big and small screen.
The Quest Trilogy – The films are continuing to produce even in the non-holiday season. These are adventure films set in biblical times and so they can be enjoyed at anytime. So as we prepare to market for the holiday season ahead – enjoy now. FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER.
I’m going to do final wrap up this week on LOST HEART. We’ll meet next week over post process again and to evaluate the shoot. I have a few acting reels to update – one with Ben Lily (Wild Faith) and one for Jesus (The Christ Slayer). I additionally need to work the final paperwork on the new agent collaboration for my screenwriting/producing. Lastly, I have a week-long vacation in the U.P. coming up. But right now it is about unpacking and also getting the yard/house caught up from week’s away. I hope you all enjoy your weekend and the week ahead.
Be good to one another. Doh! The coffee cup is empty.
So today is the 1st day of my last year in my 40’s. How is that even possible? Time marches on and I’m blessed to say that I’ve almost hit half a century with only modest setbacks. Thanks to my love of the outdoors, soccer and martial arts I’ve managed to stay healthy. A few creaks in the joints on occasion and recovery from soccer battles might take an extra day or so to heal. I try to eat healthy and keep active and so far, so good. It feels like being a senior in the class of 40’s and soon I will be the ‘freshman’ in the 50’s. I was going to have a CDI/bday gathering yesterday but we cancelled when they called for rain. Well, it ended up beautiful outside. We worked the yard with leisure and put up some new lights in the yard that Santa Claus had brought me. It was a good day and much more relaxed. We will do an October Harvest party with more to be thankful for.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – I was getting my special thanks around and the end credits are being worked on. I will be doing a watch through on Weds I believe before any last tweaks and we start to render for delivery to myCinema and Bridgestone. I’m immensely proud of this film and the topics in highlights. We’ll be starting up PR on this film with release dates in July. Congrats to all our artists involved.
WILD FAITH – TOMORROW June 24th is our DIGITAL RENTAL for those that want to take a watch but not own it. BUT if you like what you see the DVD is for sale starting July 2nd at several locations. Family Video, Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazon… The larger audience will get a chance to meet these wonderful characters in this late 1800’s world. If things progress along the same lines a sequel and/or TV series could be coming in the not-to-distant future. Congrats to all the artists involved.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – People are continuing to enjoy the three films in our trilogy FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. I’m excited to see these three films continue to expand into more countries and onto new platforms.
LOST HEART – My world has been full of the fictional town of Lost Heart, Michigan. A small, semi-touristy lake town. Birthplace of fictional mega Country star Hannah Sweet. We announced Josh ‘Ponceman’ Perry and Don Most to our cast. We still have a few great artists to announce that will be joining us. Our young female lead is an ex-Michigan native now making her way in Nashville. The other is a SNL alumni who is beyond talented and will bring one of our leads to life. Another talent joining us was in CDI’s very first film and most recently in Wild Faith. So stay tuned for more announcements in the next few weeks leading up to our shoot.
We have a great crew shaping up and this is great development for the possible TV series and more. We are working hard to bring CDI production up under a few studios for future work. The number one thing I look for in cast or crew is the right attitude and of course talent. It is easier to develop talent versus attitude. I’ve had many ask me about “secrets” or “keys” to success and I will share this one tidbit.
LOOK AT THE LONG TERM NOT JUST THE SHORT TERM.
So many people ruin avenue’s for lifetime collaboration and revenue for a short term gain. I have people that I’ve worked with since the late 90’s cast and crew. A shoot is usually only 3-4 week commitment tops. I’ve seen people act as if their entire year is based upon those few weeks. I watch the film challenges, the fan films, the fun festival films and know that these are not paid. I see the hard work, the smiles and the final wrap pics. With some you get immense appreciation and others whatever offered will never be quite good enough. If your other choices during the remaining 48 weeks puts you in a place where a lower paid feature is not acceptable you are doing something wrong. I like those good pay days like anyone else. We have a new roof to put on the house but often it might take several smaller jobs versus one big one to get the needed money. If I like the project, the role and the pay is on level with other’s involved I will usually do it. They grow. The pay grows. It is a lifetime relationship of collaboration, art and pay that is being nurtured. Think on that one.
I am where I am by respecting numerous small relationships and collaborations. I appreciate and value every person who has ever put a dollar in my hand. I appreciate and value those who have helped me tell a good story with their blood, sweat and tears. I cannot speak for all the producers out there and I know some have flawed business models in my opinion. Hell, we are far from perfect in our own but anyone close to us will know how hard we work to try and do things right. But until you are out trying to raise money off an idea put to paper – you don’t know. It might be a corporation but it is still a small group of people working really hard. When you are trying to be fair to everyone some bumps in $ across the board can add up to thousands that producers don’t often have. I hear of lodging nightmares of tents, people sleeping in cars, 10 people in a cabin with one bathroom – but we are just as concerned with living conditions as the camera lenses. Now with your first film you might do what has to be done but quickly you see that the added things you do for cast and crew show up in the final product. I’m excited for this next adventure in part because of the cool lodging that our cast and crew will be able to enjoy. This is because we are a team who cares. We care about our artists. We care about the locations we are allowed to use.
- NOTE: To those companies/projects/films that walk behind CDI films at a certain location I sincerely hope that you manage those locations well. We are always invited back but a poorly ran set can close off a location from anyone using it.
While typing above I was remembering what a mess the original BESTSELLER film was before CDI took over and reshot everything. We had to change the minds of many people and we did. Shame on the management that allows that kind of bad reputation to fall on our industry. So PLEASE don’t just look at what happens in front of the camera. What happens behind the camera is equally important and DOES effect what happens in front of the camera. OK. Enough filmmaking secrets.
I’m going to hop off here and get cleaned up. I’m going out to eat and spending some time with family and friends. Tomorrow it is back to work on the LOST HEART pre-production. Thank you to all the kind people who have reached out with birthday wishes. Here is my hazelnut coffee CHEERS to you all. Have a great Sunday and remember to be good to one another. Keep following those dreams.