I’m sipping on my morning coffee and happy to be sitting down with all of you. Again our reader BASE jumped this past week by a substantial number. Many new countries joined us in our read. Maybe the subject matter hit home with some of you. Either way I want to welcome all our new readers. So grab your favorite relaxing beverage and join us. I hope you all in the path of the storms stayed safe. Michigan got some but our home town of Lansing was not too bad. We’ve had much worse in the past years.
I’m excited to see all the new year projects that are coming together. This is also the start of a new decade and I’m excited to see what our creative tribe will produce.
I’ve been working away on the new script. The book I’m turning into a screenplay is coming along great. I’m at the half way point and after a read through with one of our development producers, I feel great about it. I found a character I related to and decided to write from that characters point of view. It is a 300+ page book so limiting the POV is helping me to target the 90-100 page mark. I’m currently called it “Best Years Gone” which is more reflective of the script. The book may ride out under a different title which is just fine. Same story but two different approaches – I like to find those unique takes on a story. I will have the script completed this month. This will be a 2020 CDI production. We got some good news about one of the locations we may use to tell this story. It is a piece by piece building of what will be another CDI story.
The Sat reading event of …
…was cancelled due to the severe weather and will be rescheduled for May I’m told. I will pass along any info I get on that new date.
We have 4 other script/projects in various degrees of development. One of them is the new project that MBF director Anthony Hornus will helm. It is another CDI period piece that takes place during WW2. Distribution interest is in place and we’re building the funding pieces as we speak. Once I get done with my current writing I will work on the directors draft with Mr. Hornus. We will be putting a call out to actors of German ancestry who can speak German.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – I’m excited to have all three of these films in the marketplace. I want to try and work on a TRILOGY trailer that pitches all three films at audiences. They are meant to be seen in order and together so I think that TRILOGY aspect has to be reenforced to our audience members.
WILD FAITH – We’ve almost finished putting some presentation materials together for ‘Hastings’ the WF TV series. I will be working with a new mgt company in trying to find the right home/partners for the series. This TV series would shoot in MICHIGAN! If you have Amazon Prime this film is free to watch. Please do and leave your review and comments on the Amazon/IMDB sites.
MBF: MAN’S BEST FRIEND – This amazing little film is also now free if you have Amazon Prime. We’re also seeing more DVD retails places since 1/7/2020 so I do recommend adding the DVD to your collection. It will play in Feb in Bedias, Texas and a handful of festivals and events. ICFF will be one of them and perhaps our home town festival CAPITAL CITY FILM FESTIVAL. We are planning on additional showings this year including in Hollywood for our amigos there. The response to this film continues to make me smile. Thank you to all of you that have reached out.
LOST HEART – So this past week we say edit 2 of the film. We have a watch and talk through session at the studio with Dennis Therrian who is prepping to do the music and sound design. The movie is REALLY GOOD. I’m excited for all the artists involved to see the final results. We’re prepping to do a bit of music work in Nashville in the coming weeks. The film will release late Summer or Early Fall is my best guess. We might have some art work to show soon and a trailer is next once we lock picture and move it to post audio.
I might bring this to a close. We have protein waffles almost done in my Death Star waffle maker which was a gift. I’m been outlining scenes for the script writing to hit hard again on Monday. I’m lining up a few meetings for next week at the fort. This week I plan to outline and assign some of the development tasks to our CDI producers. Updates to the CDI website including some casting announcements. http://www.cdiproductions.com
Aside from that I’m just getting ready for a decade of great new projects. Have a wonderful Sunday and week ahead.
OK. Pre-Star Wars I was SPEED RACER, MR. ROGERS and SCOOBY DOO.
I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from a ornate Star Wars mug with various scenes upon it. Like many in the storytelling business around my age some inspirational credit can go to George Lucas and the original Star Wars film in 1977. In anticipation for the last in the Skywalker story, yes we have tickets, we’ve been watching them all in story order. IF I was 7 years old and Part 1 of the Prequels was the first film I might have still liked the ships, lasers, etc…but ‘A NEW HOPE’ was just gritty and did not dumb things down for kids. We could take it George including Han firing first. When we went from the three prequels to SOLO, such a difference in the world and story telling. The prequels felt like video games with planned segments that really felt like watching your friend play a video game. But SOLO is like taking the best parts of James Bond and Mad Max put into a gritty ‘New Hope’ like world. ROGUE ONE again just better character development in a world that felt more grounded in reality.
I actually can speak into this having done a trilogy of films. It was important to try and keep the world cohesive despite the changes in style from director to director. Also because I have been looking at promo material personally and as a company, I’ve been playing The Quest Trilogy behind my accounting work. It’s very satisfying to have the linking storyline. It was always my goal to see if I could take some “obscure” stories from the Bible and tell them in a ‘Star Wars’ type fashion. The stories actually adapt over quite well and when you add what I call the “Chuck Heston – bible film effect”, you have our style.
I will say that it is a pretty sure bet that we’ll return to this genre again. One script is complete and the other two outlined stories are forming up. I’m not sure when all this may happen but we will see.
I also put my first SciFi script to pause while I finish writing the script for “Hope for Heaven” which is my working title. We are working with a few different titles but I need something when I write. It has many of the great qualities that ‘Lost Heart’ had by way of characters and story. I’m a good many pages into the story and how it starts can sometimes be the hardest. But it’s flowing and when I did do my first test read with one of our development people, it was strong. This film will shoot in late summer/early fall in Michigan. The nice part is via a few agent talks we might have a good lead on a very important casting aspect. I’m looking forward to continuing the writing this week.
LOST HEART rough cut by Scott Magie working with our director Jesse Low is looking good. I talked about the view last week. This week we’re prepping some things for the music and sound design to follow. I know that poster/DVD artwork is starting and that will be exciting to see. Again just proud to have this be part of the Tribe CDI films.
MBF: Man’s Best Friend – Following our premiere we saw a “best film” and “best actor” nods at the Hollywoodivine Film Festival and won ‘Best Film’ at the Equus Film & Art Festival. 2020 will have many more events and showings as the film moves out deeper into the world market. I’ve had several people reach out this week about how this film touched them. I’m so proud that it is becoming a voice for veterans and dogs. Two groups that truly understand loyalty and service. Watch it yourself on Amazon and other platforms and if you enjoy it add it to your DVD library.
THE QUEST TRILOGY – Help us start a family holiday tradition with the telling of FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER. (All on Amazon and many platforms)
It has been a true joy to receive an abundance of fan mail on these films from around the world. I saw the breakdowns and the films are making their way to you. Some all our friends in other countries be patient, the CDI films are coming. Many of you already know that because you can watch the films on TV and DVD. If you have watched them feel free to vote and leave your thoughts on http://www.imdb.com and remember these are films.
WILD FAITH – This film also continues to be enjoyed and shared by new audiences. I had some fans from this movie also communicate this past week. They were Civil War era fans and so I had them seek WICKED SPRING. It was a Civil War film we produced back in 2000. It can be watched also on Amazon.
I’ve been taking meetings and looking at filming the balance of our production slate for the next 2 years. We have many scripts and it just depends on several factors as to which gets moved into active development or pre-production. We’ve had a few wonderful meetings and with the new management involvement in 2020 I’m excited to see where it leads. I’ve been working on a few ‘Character Reels’ and a new 2020 sizzle reel along with what will be a CDI showreel.
Next weekend our first family Christmas starts and so I have a bit more shopping to do and we’ve been enjoying the season. I hope you all have a holly, jolly holiday season with your family and friends.
Welcome new readers from Vietnam and France! We are in the Christmas swing here in Michigan. The house is very festive with the tree and wreaths up, a few outside lights and our holiday candles lit! (Thank you Candleberry Co) We’ve taken a few shopping trips out and about but also spent just some good family time including watching some of our favorite holiday shows. Rudolph, Raphie and his BB-gun and just a slew of good spirited content. Speaking of…
So go to Amazon or any of your favorite platforms or purchase a DVD and take a family watch. I would love to answer any questions you the fans might have. Let’s look at a TOP 10 from the past week developments.
- I had another great talk with the author of the book I’m translating into script format. A deep, insightful person and the script is now underway. I’m enjoying the story I cannot think of a better way to spend time while forced inside by the cold.
- Another film project that is looking to shoot in 2021 with lots of prep in 2020 is moving along. I’m excited about this project but until we are 100% green lit I’m going to just sit on those updates. I will say that it is another period piece:)
- I had meetings over another film that is developing nicely. It is tied into one of our past CDI projects. Some of the business is coming together and even some camera tests this weekend.
- Yet another film perhaps in development – a western perhaps. We did a script read this past week and it gave us a look on where the story needs to be tightened.
- I concluded some accounting/payout on a recent commercial project that we did and this week we’ll be dispersing $ to the investors on two of the CDI films. Also more revenue rolled in so we’ll just keep the train moving into the new year.
- I did some recording for an audio book by another author friend. It was the sections of the story that surrounded the Civil War. So fans of that time period might enjoy this when it is completed.
- I’ve been working on putting some promo materials together for a new management relationship I’ll be entering for 2020. It will cover acting, writing and some producing. I’m excited to be working with this new company.
- MBF just played in Kentucky and is part of the awards show tonight. Thank you to the Equus Film & Art Festival. Watch for a few more events in the new year!
- I’ve been doing some planning on a new biblical adventure trilogy and that is coming along strong.
- Also Wild Faith TV series ‘Hastings’ will be one of the projects being pitched around for 2020. How many out there would like to see a sequel or TV series?
LOST HEART – So I got to watch the first rough cut on the film. As the writer, I was again moved at hearing the words that started in the imagination. To meet the characters on-screen that were dreamt up and have them make you laugh or cry. The story WORKS! It more than works, it is truly worthy to be another step on the Tribe CDI climb. The actors are not just good, many are great. Our cast is just outstanding led by Melissa Anschutz. If you know her you know she takes no prisoners on-camera. This is her most powerful role and that says a lot. Victoria Jackson…all I can say is after this movie you better still take my calls:) Your phone is going to be ringing. Right story. Right words. Right actors. Between now and the end of the year Jesse our director is taking in our notes and will do the last fine tuning cut. This allows him to input his style into the transitions and to fit everything better with the envisioned soundtrack. I cannot say enough about Taylor, our young lead. She already is a star if you’ve heard her sing. I met her as an actress on ASHES OF EDEN (Take a watch on Amazon) first and saw her potential ability. Learning of her musical gift and knowing our story needs, her casting and this story met in a perfect place. You will see. And Ponceman…an awesome talent with an awesome last name – Perry. He has Down syndrome but is not defined by it. He allows himself to be an example and inspiration to others. I’ve seen first hand a child with Down Syndrome in Yuma, AZ amazed and satisfied that we were making a movie and someone like HIM, was the co-star. THE CHRIST SLAYER, part 3 of our trilogy. Part 1 Forty Nights, Part 2 Chasing the Star take a watch. If you haven’t watched you need to so you can see what I’m talking about. Anyway – (call with Jesse Low) Yes. Exciting times. So I’m trying to give a small snippet that reflects tone of our story to our distributor’s marketing team. We are in talks on a music video and we’ll be looking at a trailer for the new year.
I’m going to call it here. We might do something in the holiday spirit again today. Tomorrow will start a busy week with lots to do. I’m ready and excited to get after it all. Writing, distributing, developing and renewing friendships by the office fire over coffee, wine, whiskey or water. I’m grateful for all my family and friends and so reach out and add to your own. In the words of Lost Heart’s Hannah Sweet “Success doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have anyone to share it with.” What wise man wrote that;) Work hard but not to the demise of your foundation, your strength, your roots.
Note: I see lots of cool projects developing in Michigan and that is something. I’ve been Michigan since day 1 and I know the production wasteland from whence we came. I was just reminded that my first starring film IN THE WOODS is 20 years old. That classic put me on the world map and gave me a creative rope to climb. I don’t work ‘no pay’ these days but for those that need to showcase themselves, no pay’s serve a purpose. It surely will weed out the lazy. Knowing your own worth and being lazy could be two sides of the same coin/argument. If people are not biting and you need to be seen – a serious attitude and some dedication can open doors. Or you can spend that on Actors Access send outs. Just kidding AA.
My point is WOW, we have some great storytellers developing out there.
I’m looking forward to Tom Norton’s new film. That MASK project, Lance and team are doing, the hard work shows. Dan Falicki’s DWARFHAMMER film (I’ve loved his painted film style since the ‘cave dancers’ in another piece. NECROLAND had an epic amount of actors, action and extras. I see banter both ways about NO PAY projects and know YOUR WORTH. The fact is I could have held out for “my (perceived) worth on IN THE WOODS and might still to this day be waiting on that starring role. But what he offered was a showcase. As the star, I slept on the couch and catering coming into the apartment was my wake up call. Ultimately the charming film took more rocks than roses initially from critics. We showcased moments of potential excellence in a look, an effect, a mood – we grew by doing. Consistency comes with practice and honing the craft (usually hitting marks, finding lights, know the camera like an old college drinking buddy). If I was starting out as an actor in this Michigan climate, I would be very happy. Invest your time in four or five of these ‘no pay’ (which they do pay with opportunity) showing diverse sides of you. After perhaps consider a move into the competitive ‘Paid Only’ film circles.
So if the ‘No Pay’ part puts you off, triggers you – just walk away. It’s potentially someone else’s chance to shine. Sometimes a more casual, less stressful environment allows talent to gain confidence. That reminds me of another great example. A good buddy Johnny D has played smaller supporting roles in several CDI films. He recently got to star in CONFIDENCE OF A TALL MAN by Lansing filmmaker Michael McCallum. Johnny D was allowed to showcase a deeper range of emotion in a story that he connected with deeply and his confidence grew.
Additionally, some people are just NOT good at auditions and are so angry because their nerves get them disqualified from the bigger roles. Now on the other side – filmmaking is making your day and pressure is part of that, so you need players. I mean the basketball term of someone who will make the buzzer shot in pressure but not airball under stress. Be the ball Danny…nananan…
OK. I carried on a few but maybe a few nuggets of insight exist. Keep creating and growing.
So friends this weekend was pretty busy and Sunday was an all day event in Wilcox AZ. Enjoy this vlog so enjoy me rambling in person versus in my writing;) Oh, and Finn says, HELLO.
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.
I hope everyone is having a good week. It was a long week filled with sadness, laughter, success and set back. But with my trusty hazelnut coffee I get to sit here and reflect back on some of it with all of you. First, our household has been much quieter with our reduced pack. Two sisters Lulu and Daphne are spending lots of time together. We will be getting another dog for Daphne to help train. She did such a wonderful job with our Luke. We really want to have a new guardian by the time LOST HEART shoots this coming spring. It might happen on the lead up to Thanksgiving since we will both have lots off time to make a new pack member feel welcome and loved.
Speaking on loved ones, cherish them because our shared time is finite. One of our neighbors from our childhood passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. We got to catch up with childhood friends but unfortunately it came at a visitation. New childhood memories were made with the nice and nephew one night with pizza, pumpkin carving and seed roasting. This coming weekend we’ll have another reunion with my Uncle and cousins but also at a cost. My Aunt lost her short battle with cancer. She was the sun which everything went around and so they’re rightfully having issues adjusting. I am looking forward too sharing stories and laughter with my cousins.
This week I spent a good amount of time communicating with our film distributor as they prepare for AFM. For those not in the knowing it’s the American Film Market. A version of our MBF teaser is going to travel to AFM. The DVD/poster art for THE CHRIST SLAYER is being prepared. WILD FAITH deal is also in the works and I need to find out the details of the theatrical deals.
Part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY – The Christ Slayer is in post sound and music. Also we engaged our colorist for the film’s color correction. That is now underway. We had both Carl Weyant (Longinus) and Melissa Anschutz (Mother Mary) into the studio. A few lines had to be fixed and that process went smooth. We also were treated to some opening music that shows carpenters building wood crosses on the hilltop as Mary watches. With the opening music it is so POWERFUL. I’m excited to have audiences go on this final adventure. Again if you have not watched part 1 or 2 (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star) buy the DVD or stream it from Amazon. Also many other great platforms are carrying them.
WILD FAITH is also heading back into the theaters as the strength and power of this film is being noticed. Our celebrity narrator is looking at availability and paperwork has been sent across. We’ve had various outlets contact us directly over wanting this film. All those communications are being forwarded and soon the entire distribution flow will be announced. Once everything is in their hands we’ll turn our attention back to the TV series.
Also with MBF our military vet/adoption dogs film, I’ve seen about 30 min of the rough film and I’m rather happy with it even in the rough state. It’s a powerful and moving film and something else to look forward to next year. We keep adding more official stills to our Facebook page. Please do stop by to see pics and get updates.
LOST HEART has gotten its first feedback from one of our proposed stars and it was everything I had wished for. We will start moving it out to others to read. I really do love the story and again it is filled with powerful themes.
Speaking of scripts – this past week I wrote a PSA (Public Service Announcement) script and the client loved it. Now I have to prepare a budget because we also might produce it with CDI. Again, we do some commercial work at CDI but it’s selective. I’ve also returned to doing some writing on my first SciFi script, which is beyond fun. I’ve also started to look at a few possible literary agents to help sell a few scripts that I don’t plan to produce.
I also was encouraged to submit to a film shooting in fall 2019 as the bad guy. I sent my materials and if I am what they’re looking at I will read their script and do a short read. I am ready to get back in front of the camera again but it has to be the right project. This year audiences can see me as Jesus again, mountain man Ben Lily and injured marine Paul Landings. I thought maybe the DEAD QUIET film might release this year but it doesn’t seem like it will. This year I did do a commercial gig for “Our Daily Bread” and a music video for musician Trey Conner. I’m about trying something outside my box if the business is good and the project professional. What else will 2019 bring?
One thing I like to do at the end of each year is do a self-evaluation. Look at projects and project your goals for the new year. Look at what goals from the previous year were met and which ones were not. Writing this down so you can actually review next year is a very useful tool. From seed to harvest. Goals, destinations and such are all good but remember to enjoy the journey.
Have a great week and a safe Halloween.