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!
The coffee is fresh and hot and I’m sitting here in the lazy boy with all of you on this fine Sunday morning. I want to welcome new readers from the Czech Republic to the blog. I love that as the movies expand our circle of artists expands. The garden got some much-needed rain and is growing fast. We’re already enjoying lettuce for salads and on sandwiches. Also the large dead elm tree we had dropped is finally cleaned up. I spent a few meetings going outside and slowly feeding the outside chiminea and organizing the logs. Wood does not get wasted with the wood stove in the office and in the winter you need it. Also the siding is purchased and has been picked up to do the upper part of the office. I have a small bday/CDI gathering coming up so I did not want to try to do that this week. It will be a nice bday present to myself. I got to watch two good films this week that we’re not my own. One was “Wonder Woman” and I really enjoyed the film. It featured great action, locations and the production design for WW1. I also finally watched “In the Heart of the Sea” directed by my good friend’s son Mister Ron Howard. A great peek at life during that time period and how some thrived and fought to survive by the sea. It was said to be the inspiration behind MOBY DICK. I might have to try and tackle that book again. I fell asleep many times with that film on my chest trying to read it. Two very different films but both had great glimpses into other periods of time.
Let’s talk development first. I’ve been working hard to put everything in order here at CDI as all these great films roll out. Even other older titles are finding new life as people discover our films and potential $ still locked into some of them. The new slate of films I’m working on with the studio is coming nicely but I require another 12 month slate of smaller films until that deal can get going fully. So I might use this time to produce a few films that distributors have been asking for.
Knight Chills the film that kicked off CDI in the late 90’s has grown into a bit of a cult classic. It has been turned into a book that will release on paper and digital this Summer. It will be sold at Comic Cons as well with Source Point Press. I’ve written three sequel scripts now but the first two were too high of budget for what that small little film did. I did discover that it sold with Spectrum Films much better than we thought. The company liquidated and went under and we never recouped all our profits. The film sold again with another minor horror distributor and released to several countries. The bottom line is that a friend of mine in the Comic Con circuit via films, comics, books and graphic novels was a big fan of the film. He asked to write a book off the screenplay and we set up distribution with his Source Point Press. I’ve always thought the entire ‘idea’ could be a great franchise. I think this winter we’ll shoot the sequel. It’s a fun romp in the vein of TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL. They want to do a book on the sequel and expand into graphic novels. Not bad for a little film thought up by the Kennedy’s and I all those years ago.
I’ve also finished a first draft of a new script we’ll produce either this Fall or next in Michigan. The working title is “Man’s Best Friend” and I feel it’s a powerful piece that will find a broad audience. We’ll soon start doing some advance casting trying to find a few of the required roles. I’ve been identifying the 3 new films in THE CONQUEST TRILOGY the BMG follow-up to THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer) that will film once again in AZ. I’m also setting up talks with a few entities about the Wild Faith TV series. A few discussions also over literary representation after writing/producing the last 4 films. I’ve done several work-for-hire writing jobs in the past including adapting books to script. Soon I’ll be throwing my hat into the ring with some large production companies. I love to write and so I might get the right team behind me.
Let’s look at a few new updates on the CDI film front.
Forty Nights – I’ve had several buyers, promoters and PR companies contact me over this film and our trilogy and I’ve directed them over to our distributor. I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg with these films.
The Christ Slayer – This past week we got to see the 1st cut of the film. It was moving to see the 3rd film in this trilogy there on the screen. The film with no color correction, minus VFX and with minimal sound clean up was still beautiful. I also got to see the difference between Jesus in “Forty Nights” and now “The Christ Slayer” to fully see the evolution of the character. That can be said about several of the characters. They have started building some of the VFX modeling since we brought on our VFX folks. We had to get a special piece of equipment from New Zealand and that finally got worked out. Two scenes are still being worked but it will be a worthy add to the trilogy.
Chasing the Star – the film is delivered to our distributor and it is already creating positive dialog. See – http://lenovotips.net/news/The-Star-of-Bethlehem/
I’m excited to see this film pushed during the Christmas holiday season. It’s truly a biblical adventure that I think will help make that story seem more based in reality. I’ve said in many interviews that I wanted to take people behind the figurines of 3 wood or plastic nativity scene wise men and make them breath. I think we’ve done just that and while the film is darker in tone it paints the picture of why a celestial Messiah was sought after. Pre-Order this title when you can and prepare for an adventure.
Wild Faith – VFX work and sound design has been underway. Once music is applied this film is truly going to be something special. I love the film also because of all the special people involved in the making. We stayed in little lake side cabins and created this beautiful story. I do sincerely think that this film is a beginning of something more.
Well, I have a full day. A short flea market stop followed by a visit with my dad. Later if the fields hold we have a soccer match to play. I want to wish a Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-like figures out there who mentor and guide.
Have a great day and be good to one another.
Well last week we had a nice jump in readers and I’m not sure exactly why that was – maybe people like the more random format? I just came in from the second full day of working in the yard. I gave a good mow with trimming and we put in the garden. Also built a new garden entrance and basically just got the summer stuff into full swing. As noted before the HOPS are growing like mad and we’re about to have raspberry explosion. The mulberries are also prepping to ripen soon. This year we did more tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers and more. It makes for some really nice salads and sandwiches. This year we’re also trying some various lettuces. I’m also going to plant some gourds and will try pumpkins again. The pack has enjoyed the outside time. I hope to also be putting the last of the upper siding on the office in the coming months. I’ve been doing a lot of organization and rearranging. I’m just trying to get ready for the projects that lie ahead. Let’s try the random updates again.
The book for “Knight Chills” is on target to release this year and I was given the book art that was commissioned by the distribution company and it is COOL! I will look at giving a sneak peek in the weeks ahead.
A deal for the other CDI books might also be in the works so some of the other scripts that had been novelized might be heading to you. Ghost Town, Wild Faith – might be a few to get things rolling.
I also saw a first mock-up draft of the new CDI website. I’m excited about all the interactive attributes that will allow for a much better experience.
I’m beginning talks with a few other distributors for R-rated content within CDI. The thrillers and horror films past, present and future need to have the same flow as our family/faith distribution. So those talks will be happening this Summer.
“Forty Nights” continues to bring some great and inspiring fan mail. The film just went up on Amazon Prime and will continue to expand.
On set “Chasing the Star” with Logan Kishi
“Chasing the Star” was delivered to our distributor BMG this past week to prep it for the Sept. 5th national launch. Exploring some new theatrical runs as the Michigan run came to a close.
“The Christ Slayer” has a first edit! We’ll be reviewing that this coming week. We got to watch a select scene from the film as a teaser and I was very happy with what I saw. Trailer and poster will be up next.
“Wild Faith” we’ll be reviewing the sound design this coming week as music is preparing to go full speed ahead. This trailer and film is generating a lot of hype. The film is deserving as you’ll all see once it’s released. We’re exploring all the possibilities for the ongoing series.
I’ve been working hard on making writing time and I’m closing in on a feature script that I feel strongly about both creatively and business-wise. I’m also in talks on a few possible paid work-for-hire gigs. I am looking forward to getting back in front of the camera just looking for the right role. After coming off “The Christ Slayer” I’m looking for a really strong script/role to sink my teeth into.
I hope you spend some time with family and friends. I have a few more gatherings with just that tonight and tomorrow. I think I might need to shut down for 15 minutes. Just a quick checking of the eye lids for holes.
Be good to one another.
Welcome Poland, France and Australia. They’ve been following the blog and even readers are now hailing from China. I’m excited that so many artistic individuals are finding a community around ‘Clawing my way to the Middle’ blog. I’ve just gotten back in from running around including visiting my mom which has been fighting a cold. Actually many around me have been sick from my sister-in-law, niece, nephew and the list goes on. A party for my step-sister who just became a doctor MD was shortened due to illness. I just try to keep moving past it all and so far (knock on wood) only slight sniffle or cough first thing in the morning and fine after that. No soccer today because of Mother’s Day. I’m going to get to see an old friend of mine who flew in today but only because his mom is sick. So I’m going to finish this up and I think go till the garden. This week we worked on finishing the flashing and chimney cap on the office/fort plus some wood trim in the bath. It has been somewhat cold and wet the last few weeks but sunshine is on the way this week. I hope those of you able to- shared a few moments with your mothers or took time out to think about them. Let’s look at some of the week updates.
The big news on this front was the winning of ‘Most Inspirational’ at the ICFF in Orlando, FL. This is a great nod to all the cast and crew and as storytellers we could not ask for more. If you’ve seen the film and it did indeed inspire you in some way please do go to http://www.imdb.com (40 Nights/Forty Nights) Vote and leave your own story. I do know that foreign sales lie ahead.
Chasing the Star
This film has just concluded the last run in Michigan (For now) at the Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids, MI so thank you very much! We’ll be discussing taking the film out of state prior to the Sept 5th national release on DVD/streaming/VOD with Bridgestone. We’ll be announcing the new DVD artwork soon that BMG developed.
The Christ Slayer
Editing continues as we close in on a rough cut. As I’ve noted before we’ll be working on the poster and first trailer.
The sound design and dialog clean up continues. I hope to meet this week over the poster art.
Development – I’ve been writing and working hard on setting the slate for the upcoming CDI projects. I’ve also been pondering what acting role I might enjoy next. I’m also in talks on a few possible work-for-hire writing endeavors. I’m always open to discussions on writing, acting and such. Just please make sure you’re funded:) I feel like I had a topic I wanted to discuss but for some reason I can’t recall it. I’m remember it half way through tilling the garden up.
Be good to one another and have a great day and week ahead!
Good morn to all of you out there. I’ve got my trusty morning coffee by my side to sip as I interact with all of you. As of late we’ve got a new sponsor with Sanctuary Spirits who make outstanding liquors but that is not what I am into for my morning wake up. But I want to welcome them – they will be gracing the meeting table at some of our pow wow wrap ups. We’ve got several whiskey drinkers in our group so they will be happy. On that same front we might roll out a brand of adult beverage as part of a merchandising tie in. But I’m still looking for that sponsor for coffee. We’ve also enjoyed some beautiful weather almost sixty degrees which after freezing temps days ago is just…odd. We did a bit of yard clean up and I got some wood around in the office for the next freeze. Let’s jump into a few film discussions as I know that most did not stop by to hear me ramble about coffee and booze.
Let’s start with Wild Faith, our mid-Western. We watched the 1st rough cut and I have to say I was just stunned. First this film has been a long time in the making and maybe it is a lesson for patience. A film when be made when it is supposed to be made. The messages contained in the story are so important and powerful for the day we live in now. EVERY actor did an amazing job of bringing something special to the role. I know the vibe that happens with a cast on most projects and that is special. But when the writing flows and the artists behind the camera capture the performances and magnifies it with solid art, wardrobe, camerawork and the coordination it requires to create – I cannot even put it in words. I watched the first time for story and flow and the following time to look at tweaks. I found 5-6 small tweaks that were minimal and so my hat is off to Jesse Low our director who also cut the edit. I’ve been working in biblical for a while so it was a refreshing change to change time periods and worlds. The film will get tightened and prepped to move into music and sound design with Dennis Therrian. I think this film has great spin-off possibilities for television and when I return from AZ we’ll be dealing with this.
Coming out of post-production with Dennis Therrian is our second film in THE QUEST TRILOGY, Chasing the Star – directed by Bret Miller. This story we’ve been low-key on but I assure you it is anything but. I got to see some of the VFX opening sequences and the final VFX will be dropping into the film this week. Final sound design around these drop in’s and the picture will be complete. 5.1 mix will be up next and dropping our credits in. I know that the plan is to do a Michigan premiere in April. I’m trying to have a AZ showing in Yuma prior to shooting the third installment next month. We will set up theatrical and event showings from May -August and on 9/5/17 we release nationally with Bridgestone MultiMedia Group. A poster and more PR will start rolling out as we bring this film to a finish.
The first film in the trilogy “Forty Nights” had a Wal-Mart run last year and Sony Home Entertainment is releasing digital. We’ve remastered the film audio and visual for the new April release with Bridgestone (BMG) and it is exciting to have this film releasing.
“The Christ Slayer” has its business almost all done. I want to thank everyone who got behind the financial business as that is what makes projects go. The bank account is filling up and our pre-production team has flights booked for AZ. We have two weeks left here in prep and one additional week in AZ. We had good progress this week with wardrobe and our director Mr. Nathaniel Nose. Casting and crewing is down to the final few – mostly local AZ folks. I’m excited to be stepping back into this powerful role and work with some amazing people. Some concept art has been under development and location scouting has been underway. Full speed ahead!
On other fronts we’ve got a deal on the table for foreign for “Bestseller” so that will be evaluated this week. The library evaluation will lead to some new releases on some of the properties. Our goal will be to keep pushing and bring these stories to you.
“Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith”
I’ve heard that the “Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” film is getting a new General Market push I believe with Universal Pictures. Look for it at more major retailers like Wal-Mart, Kmart and other retailers. I’m sure this is being done on the run up to Easter. One link below –
On the DEVELOPMENT front a handful of projects are being discussed. Some have partial pieces in place (say that fast three times) and soon we’ll be looking ahead. Aside from all this film work I’m looking forward to lacing up my cleats and getting back on the soccer field this Spring. If you are enjoying this sunshine do something fun. If you’re dealing with the storms – keep your powder dry.
Have a great day.
It is a rainy Saturday morning and I got up special to knock out my blog for the week. I found my domain expired and failed twice to get it reactivated. So I’m writing on a document and I’ll copy over later. It has been quite a week and I’m drained. Many decisions can fall back upon me to choose a direction. There are no guarantees usually on a direction so you have to trust your self and make the best one you can.
The EGO of an artist is a powerful thing and often has to be balanced by knowledge. The decision to be made was – should we push ahead with filming this fall or put it next fall behind our upcoming “Chasing the Star” film. Also some changes creatively were being looked at with budgetary advantages.
Change can be hard to swallow when talking about scripts. I think for the most part certain changes are subjective. Is a revised draft different or better? People like to use that word better – EXAMPLE “I like this draft better.” – But that is subjective. Format. Page count. Many things can truly make a draft better. Scenes, locations and # of actors can make it BETTER for production. It is just an interesting world of ART meeting BUSINESS.
Two Cents of Advice-
Now this is GOLD. For aspiring screenwriters – So you’ve written your script draft and you’re shopping. You may encounter those who will say if X, Y and Z changes were made we might be interested to option/buy the script. You can spend much time and energy chasing your tail. Now if you counter with option/buy and I will give you 1-2 rounds of revisions free. Now that is a much better situation. Now you are both involved in the real process of development. You both have skin in the game. This way they won’t give you the run around. Many will turn up their nose but do your self a favor and walk away. It happens a lot. Also sometimes it’s done so that someone can simply put a fingerprint on it.
Now as mentioned prior in this blog, revisions can be made for just reasons. It is a sensitive fine line with writers and often why after they assign the script to an LLC they are not welcome. Writers can be a pain in the ass. Productions can bastardize scripts. It is a game of collaborative artists and at the end of the day. Choose your collaborators carefully.
“Ashes of Eden,” “Donors” and “Bestseller” delivery is underway. “40 Nights” has gone through dialog clean up and ADR is next where required.
Our “40 Nights” licensing deal is about finalized and other good news from a few early retailers who LOVED the trailer.
A deal on soundtracks is happening which will bring all the CDI and CDI associated scores to audiences.
We are concluding a CDI Commercial project for the client to use in Washington DC to represent their industry. We do handle some larger accounts (Not doing used car commercials) and so feel free to reach out if you have a project.
I recently turned down a film role acting because if everything happens orderly we will be shooting a CDI western this fall/winter ending just before the holidays. There are many exciting updates happening with this project. Lightworx Entertainment will distribute the western worldwide. They’re also handling our biblical series and “Ashes of Eden”.
We’re back to battling on the soccer field tomorrow and I think this week I’m going to explore making some more hard cider. The garden is doing great and giving us fresh veggies which is always nice. Enjoy your weekend and week ahead and I’ll blog with you next week.