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

Posts tagged “writing

FOUR Secrets of Filmmaking – Plus CDI Updates

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

DJ

 

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Thoughts On Casting and December Updates.

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So with the weather change in Michigan from bitter cold to wet and warm, my sinuses were bugging me this morning. I also had to play ref for doggie wrestle-mania. Also with the snow melting I had to do some puppy proofing in the yard. Little Finn is starting to explore, dig, patrol and eat sticks, bark, mud. I had to harvest up the remaining wild grapes because grapes can cause kidney failure. He started some puppy classes and Daphne, our older dog has been teaching him good and bad. Before Luke got sick Daphne and he use to play fight every day. She is a touch out of shape but Finn is making her exercise daily. They are quickly becoming good siblings. Our only regret is that Luke did not get to take on a parenting role with a new little one.

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In between playing referee and doing work we’ve had TCM playing and I’ve enjoyed watching the many classic films. It is funny now how we can watch the credits and so many names are lost to me. I’m a lover of film and I still don’t recognize certain names that I’m sure were common household names at one time. But that is why we seek to make a few classic films that stand the test of time. To create those few roles that people will talk about for decades to come. I feel like I’m just coming into my prime as a storyteller both as an actor and producer. I also feel like my writing is finally being acknowledged and that’s a gift. But all the recent success is built upon many years of hard work.

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The symbol of the KNIGHT CHILLS franchise.

I think 2019 is finally the year to do the EARLY YEARS OF COLLECTIVE DEVELOPMENT which will be part film education. I would like to include the four first CDI films and the BTS and maybe a few retrospective interviews which might go on the social media. But before Michigan had a film boom it was truly a barren landscape with just a few filmmakers making a go at it. But KNIGHT CHILLS, FROM VENUS, HEAVEN’S NEIGHBORS and FIGURE IN THE FOREST were our learning years and we paid close attention to the business. I would like to package them up into a definitive collection.

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Signing for fans at the 15th anniversary showing of IN THE WOODS

Another area that I want to focus on is merchandise with our films. It’s something that I truly enjoyed throughout my life and I would like to be part of that tradition. I’ve had big ideas but like most filmmakers I’ve always been under financed. That is changing and I would love to put some of those plans in action. So feel free to drop a note here about any ideas for merchandise that you would like to see.

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This week many projects were taken to the next level. In 2019 we’re going to see three CDI films move out strongly into the marketplace. We’re now on the front lines of a new theatrical partnership our distributor has put together. I’m awaiting the home video dates on WILD FAITH that has been delivered to the distributor. Tomorrow the re-mastered theatrical version of WILD FAITH will go to the theatrical partners. I’m in hopes to have a much more detailed announcement next week. We are still putting the final touches on a few deal points. But it will be all worth the wait.

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MBF has had a good showing at the first film markets. The feedback I received was commenting on the professional quality and strength of the story. Our first trailer was put together somewhat in haste due to a sudden demand for a first look after Mipcom. It was decided to spruce up the AFM teaser and release it as a first trailer. I’ve had many people reach out who support our military and/or dogs to comment on the story. This will be a wonderful film with a strong message and we look forward to bringing it to everyone. There is an initial interest in a limited theatrical release – more to be discussed once we get the film further done the line.

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THE CHRIST SLAYER – If you’ve watched FORTY NIGHTS and traveled into King Herod’s lands in CHASING THE STAR, the next journey is coming. The Quest Trilogy will be complete with part 3. We’ve been working hard in the studio and the film is now sounding great! The picture is just epic and now the music is matching. Sound design is so much fun adding wind, animals, crowds, creaks, sails, swords and the list goes on. We’re adjusting dialog where it’s needed to create great from good. Post is a serious process that really seperates the professional from the amateur. It takes time to get there and those watching our films would notice a steady progression. Now when we sit in the IMAX watching it on the big screen I’m always taken back to those early days. Keep moving forward.

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LOST HEART is the film that is slated to be on deck for Spring 2019. A funny heart-warming drama that also deals with a few serious topics. Add a large dose of Michigan charm and I think we’ll have another great film. It will again be distributed under our deal with BMG. I’m also looking at Summer and Fall films and I know it will be a productive year ahead. I think we’ve found a few of our actors and some are returning favorites. We’ll be posting on this film as we enter the new year.

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I’m going to also use the winter to finish a few of my other scripts including my Sci-Fi script. I’ve had a few people talk to me about commercial and non-commercial projects in the new year. Again if your script is good. You’re financed and compensating your talent, and you think I fit something, run it by me. I know, I’ve offended a few people with passes on projects in the past, but it was done politely.  We are defined by what we say NO too. When I say YES, I put my all into it. I’ve got a few projects that I put a lot of myself into and they never got finished. A couple were well compensated projects but still the art is buried. So I look for quality and people who can finish.

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Speaking on this. I recently saw a project that looked interesting but before someone rearranges their day or even does a read, especially as a co-star or major role, I think signing a non-disclosure to read a script is in order.  If I have not worked with the group before, I do ask that the project be funded. Because reading, really reading can take 1-2 hours and if that time is spent, it should be worth it. There are exceptions, but I’m talking cold auditions for unknown parties. The response of “compensation is pending role and will be discussed if role offered” or “script provided only if cast”…whoa! What if the talent dislikes the script. Hours driving, memorizing, reading only to drop out after a read because of a poor script/blueprint. I don’t like my time wasted or to waste other’s time but will often do a quick “sketch” off sides if the story interests me. If they like the sketch the next step is to read the entire script if the film is funded. Nothing like those inexperienced filmmakers trying to raise 3.2 mil to do their first film. That’s like me and a few buddies building a spaceship out of lumber and junk to fly to Mars. Not likely. So, I’m going to remain open to working with some new folks but if you approach please do have your ducks in a row. I’m happy to see that happening with some of the Michigan groups. I’m beyond happy to see the success both in business and storytelling.

And with that…I’m going to make some lunch and do a few things around the house ands get ready for another great week. It has been a great mix of business and catching up with family and friends. I hope you also enjoy your day and have a great week ahead.

DJ


October Coming to a Close – Updates

Hello,

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Boo!

 

 


Schedules – Finishing – Starting Productions – Hello Autumn!

First I want to welcome the new readers from Hong Kong and Singapore. It is a wonderful Sunday and I’m sipping coffee on this chilly morning. Yesterday I did a one-armed mow for the second time. The wrist in a splint and getting stronger each day. The flexibility will take a bit to return but happy it is healing well.

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This week I’ll be watching a new visual work link of THE CHRIST SLAYER with most of the VFX inside. Sound design passes are done and we’ll keep refining plus ADR were required. We’ve been releasing new promo as we head into fall here getting prepared for a premiere, theatrical and home video release. Broadcast and digital will be 2/4/18 and DVD 3/4/18. Who is excited to see part 3 of THE QUEST TRILOGY? See part 1 FORTY NIGHTS and part 2 CHASING THE STAR to catch up.

FORTY NIGHTS

https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537709132&sr=8-1&keywords=forty+nights

CHASING THE STAR

https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1537709274&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+the+star

Each one is a stand alone adventure but they also have parts that tie into an overall story.  It will be fun to see who gets the stories that unfold throughout the three films.

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WILD FAITH

This week had a good conversation with a prod/distribution studio over the series and we might be putting a few of the older titles down a new distribution channel. We’re working to put a narrator on the front and end of the film that would tie into the tv series. We’ve been working this hard so we can close this home video deal. But just like everywhere communication (or lack of) can slow things. But we’re close to wrapping this up and that will allow us to move forward. It will also move us as a company onto bigger and better things.

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MBF: Man’s Best Friend

We’re still rolling out some official stills and this coming week our director and DP will be adding some pick up shots. The opening intro has been recorded and they’re working on that. We should have a first cut (edit) end of October and a locked picture in November. I’m excited that our film will be showcased on a new ANIMAL PLANET show called ‘Amanda to the Rescue’ this fall. Here is a story in PEOPLE magazine.

https://people.com/pets/animal-planet-show-amanda-to-the-rescue-amanda-giese/

We hope to have the first teaser for you before Christmas:) Ho! Ho! Ho!

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NEW DEVELOPMENT

Development work is underway. If WILD FAITH had been all wrapped up with our narrator and to the distributor that would give some peace of mind. This deal is more complex because it sets the table for the TV series and more. I’ve been slowed in my personal life slightly with my wrist now out of the cast and in a splint for 3 more weeks. It is slowly getting stronger. Also our furry boy Luke has been undergoing cancer treatment since we were in pre-production on MBF.  But I did use the time to prep one of the new scripts working with our distributor BMG. I finished the first draft and have been doing a fine polish. For me this is making it all flow – painting a picture in the mind of the readers. This helps when it comes to translating from page to screen. I’m still looking at a few other writing projects and talking with possible lit agents for a good fit.

I’ve been reading a few in-house scripts and looking at the options. If I can close up the WILD FAITH deal in good time I might look at a winter project but more likely will be spring project. LOST HEART – the script I’ve been polishing is looking like a fall 2019 project. I don’t want to rush it into production we know what happens when that happens. But with THE CHRIST SLAYER premiere and release and end-of-the-year business taxes, I will be busy. I like to take Thanksgiving through Jan. 1st for family activities. My goal is to have TCS ready to premiere by Thanksgiving.

Today I have family over for a cook out and a close friends Bday so I’m going to go get after a few things. I hope you all have a great finish to your weekend and a wonderful week ahead!

DJ

 

 

 


Ancestry, New Awards and Announcements

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Good morning. I want to welcome new readers from Belize and Qatar to our little weekly circle. Lots of interesting things to discuss but while I’m welcoming people here it makes me think on ANCESTRY. For Christmas we decided to do our DNA test and see what our family history actually is. Here is my breakdown – EUROPE WEST – likely German 46%, Great Britain 33%, Ireland/Scotland/Wales 16%, Europe East 2%, Finland/NW Russia 1% and for trace amounts under 1% – Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal), Asia South (India and surrounding region), Europe South (Greek) and Scandinavian (Viking). So I’ve enjoyed discovering the trace amounts and think it is completely amazing that we’re so connected. This kind of enlightened knowledge can make the mindset of people more unified. I knew the first three but  I’m happy to know what else lies in the past family tree.

This week also was great for writing. I’ve been working on the script for what will likely be our next CDI feature film. I’ve been sitting out on the patio surrounded by hop vines and sipping coffee. The story is starting to really flow and I’m excited about where it’s all going. This week will include more time spent with the imagination.

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It was a week that saw a few good meetings at the fort. A few new meetings including a local director. Always fun to get to know someone and see where their journey is taking them. Also had Curran Jacobs out this week. He’s one of my co-stars in MBF: Man’s Best Friend. He also resenting became the World Champion for Catch Wrestling, the premium style pre-WW2. It’s making a come back and I’ve enjoyed watching the matches on SNAKE PIT’s Event site. Curran was battled MUCH bigger opponents. I watched these monsters go from no respect to major respect. That is because respect is earned. He earned respect. That is what we must do in all our engagements. I’ve seen in our industry circles people with a bit of success who withhold or fail to give others respect. They view them as unimportant and with little to nothing to contribute. I respect everyone until they give me a reason not to. From top to bottom on our cast/crews EVERYONE is important. I’ve observed people acting this way to others and that alone is reason to keep them at an arm’s length. Life is too short to have toxic people in your circle even if they have access to something helpful. No when to say no, because that is what will define you and your work.

FILM UPDATES

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As the holiday season is around the corner we’re looking to market our trilogy, getting people to enjoy Forty Nights and Chasing the Star before we release part 3 The Christ Slayer. Part 2 just won a silver Crown Award at the ICVM this month. The theatrical trailer for part 3 released a few weeks ago. If this looks interesting please do go back and watch part 1 and part 2. This films could be enjoyed if you never stepped one foot in a church or never cracked a bible. It is the age of style of the parable of telling stories that gives something back to the audience.

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WATCH/BUY ‘FORTY NIGHTS’

https://www.amazon.com/Forty-Nights-DJ-Perry/dp/B07555FR6R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532268175&sr=8-1&keywords=Forty+Nights

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WATCH/BUY ‘CHASING THE STAR’

https://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Star-Yancy-Butler/dp/B074PWBBYP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532268463&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+the+star

THE CHRIST SLAYER – trailer 

The film is having music and sound design work done and I’m looking forward to that. Our composer Dennis Therrian will bring forth a powerful and inspirational score.

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‘WILD FAITH’ 

We’re going to be playing on the big screen at the AMC in Burbank, CA on Sept 8th – please do join us and take a trip back to the 1800’s.

http://www.itsmyseat.com/events/900979.html

We’ve got some exciting things happening for the home video release and things are developing for the TV series. It is still too early to discuss it but it is all very exciting. I would like to see the TV series go into production back half of 2019.

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‘MBF‘ is all on the computers and editing is ready to start in full. We’ve got great ideas for the teaser trailer and will have one to release in the fall. It was an amazing experience and I look forward to inviting this team back together. We’ve just released our first official still and we’ll be releasing 1-2 a week on our FB social media site.  Follow us here! Thank you to all the military and dog supporters who have joined us.

https://www.facebook.com/MBFthemovie/

Additionally I have heard that ‘ASHES OF EDEN’ will be releasing in another country but I will let Mr. Shane Hagedorn announce that once the ink is dry. This film can also be found on Amazon Prime if you’ve not watched it. I really do love the role I played in that film.

Today we have another soccer match. Last week we played a tough squad in the blazing heat and won soundly. This is a good kick off to the second half of the season. I do enjoy the battle each weekend and the second half of the season leading into fall is my favorite. This week I’m looking to bottle the FRANKENBERRY WINE because I need my carboy for the upcoming wine. We have lots of wild grapes growing around the garden. I’ve been researching recipes and I’m excited about trying something new. Thanks to the squirrels we have a few vines of either pumpkin or squash growing around the yard. We had to also shut down the access by a woodchuck under the office porch. I think he has moved on. I look forward to the week ahead – more writing, more development, more post work and more enjoying time with people. Have a great week and be good to one another.

DJ

 


Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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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.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE 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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

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.

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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.

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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-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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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!

DJ


“Wild Faith” Rides Into 4 New Cities – Several Development Updates

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I’m sipping the hot hazelnut (coffee) on this frozen Sunday watching the squirrels eat the left over squash and strawberries from last night. I want to welcome our readers from Chile. We’re glad to have you with us as we recap another strong week of updates.

Let’s start with the music video I participated in as camera talent. I was approached about acting in ‘My Ghosts‘ a music video.  I was taken by the story/concept script for the music video. The artist (Trey Connor) was strong in his genre and style and the director (Tomaki Boaz‘s) previous work showed he’s a strong developing storyteller.

I was trying to match their premiere date with one of our “Wild Faith” showings to give them a nice plug. The dates did not work out and they released the music video yesterday. I’m proud when I see young people not just interested in ‘playing‘ with the camera but developing their business. One wrong variable can decrease overall production value if not addressed properly. I enjoyed seeing the happiness these young filmmakers had in presenting their final work yesterday. The producer was proud of producing her first music video, as she should be. Of course friends and family first rush to give their congrats. And I see one individual whose response was something like “Umm do you want my honest response?” – First by logic alone, anyone who references an honest response is ultimately saying that usually they are not honest in their responses. But this “bait” was an obvious setup for someone to go against the grain just for attention.  This producer wasn’t commenting on the video but the process of taking something from concept to final product. It’s a skill sorely lacking in many circles – you know who you are. So you’ve got this guy wanting to throw stones at young people not playing filmmaker but actually doing business as filmmakers. I usually stay out of such things but I had to call him on his withheld opinion. What enlightening words is he about to drop with his honest opinion? EVERYONE has or should have an opinion on everything – that’s called thinking. It doesn’t make anyones opinion any more special.  Many have been brought up in the age of “say anything behind a computer” where class, politeness and sincerity is often overlooked. If this person had something truly caring and constructive to offer they would offer it in a private discussion versus a public tease of offering judgmental, opinionated honesty. ** NOTE: This individual clarified their post and brings up good points on “bandwagon liking” everything out there. I’m glad to be wrong here but know the rock throwers will emerge. That too is a skill artists must learn – to suffer the slings and arrows of critics. I say don’t ride the rollercoaster of up’s and down’s – steady as she goes is the best policy.

I can tell just by the words people manifest if they lead a positive life that opens new opportunities or a negative life whereas the world is always keeping them down. I’m not sure what this guy will respond with but if I was looking to hire someone – I know which individual will likely be presented with new opportunities. It’s pretty easy to identify the people who will continue to fill themselves with venom and spread it. Social media actually makes it quite easy for employers to get a psychological profile on people. Negativity is a poison that nobody wants in their work environment. If Trey’s music is a far cry from your daily dose of death metal like SLAYER – cool. There are many who don’t get the art of those bands who growl and slam about in mosh pits either but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable for those others who embrace it. I’m just saying, having an opinion does not always require giving an opinion. Sometimes best to say less or nothing if you’ve got nothing nice to say. Honesty can be used to help or hurt, the intention is what I look at. When done to showboat publicly it’s mostly used to hurt. When done personally and privately it’s usually done to help. NOTE IT. Enjoy this music video created by some hardworking young people making their way into our industry. What I love is I don’t have to make any apologies for the work. It’s solid.

Music Video for Trey Connor’s ‘My Ghosts” 

Speaking of young people in our industry – I went to the local Lansing, Michigan CCFF mixer Thursday night to support this event. It is exciting to see so many passionate about our industry. Congrats to all those who work so hard  to provide that experience. It was good seeing a few old friends down there. The coconut shrimp and other eats were wonderful. I hope they have a very successful 2018 fest.

As “Forty Nights” contines to play strong on Amazon Prime and other platforms along with “Chasing the Star” – the 3rd installent is under construction. “The Christ Slayer” trailer is finished save conforming and color correction which will start next week. Soon audiences will get a peek at Part 3 which will be in theaters on the run up to Christmas and home video for Easter 2019. It looks amazing and that is because of all the talented artists led by our director Nathaniel Nose.

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We’ve just completed our Novi, Michigan theatrical run with “Wild Faith” and now we’re about to open in four new Michigan cities. HASTINGS! JACKSON! KALAMAZOO! BATTLE CREEK! These special event showings are happening because of you demanding it. Contact your theaters and get contact info for their management to pass along. We’re working on a dozen new showing locations and we’ll try to get close to you. We’ll keep moving and playing the film on the big screen all Summer until our Fall home video release. But do yourself a favor and go see it on the big screen. I may attend the first Hastings screening on Monday. So far we’ve had a great time touring with our (mid) western and I’m appreciative of our audience’s responses.

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Next month “Wild Faith” will join “Chasing the Star” in Florida for the International Christian Film Festival. Both are up for numerous awards but I’m just excited about more people being able to experience these films on the big screen. Rebecca Lawlor our main EP on all three films in The Quest Trilogy will be there to represent Collective Development Inc. – also attending will be Shane Hagedorn, Lauren LaStrada and Jesse Low – all three who were nominated for “Wild Faith” and I wouldn’t be surprised if Garry Nation attends for his nomination of Best Actor in “Chasing the Star“.

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MBF (Man’s Best Friend) – We’ve just received the last of our paperwork/funds and once I deposit the final check on Monday the new ship will be seaworthy. We’ll have our shooting script and shoot schedule set next week. Casting and crewing paperwork will be underway in the next two weeks. The process of “finding” the character has been interesting. I’m playing the title role in the film and love the challenges it presents. I’m excited about all the great talent we have gathering on both sides of the camera. This will be another great CDI story to tell. We launch the ship (roll cameras) in May and will finish in early June. Among the exciting developments is a visit from a major cable network to our film set. Let’s just say it has to do with ANIMALS🙂

I’ve also been in heavy writing and development mode – and I’m very excited about that. CDI is in talks on content creation for a few emerging studios. This could mean some very exciting on-going things for the tribe at CDI. We’ll also be announcing a new on-going commercial deal that CDI has with another major corporation. TV series and new feature films are all on deck. I’ve got a few really big meetings coming up this month. I’m actually more concerned with the travel arrangements versus the actual meetings. Talking business and films doesn’t stress me at all but travel and technology has done that on occasion.

I’m going to jump off here to seek some food and also do some creative writing. I hope some of you will make it to the “Wild Faith” showings. I have more meetings this week. I’ll also be prepping for my short upcoming business trip. I wish we had that teleportation technology in action. Enjoy the week ahead and be good to one another.

DJ