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Monday, September 2, 2013

Creating Jobs and Positively Promoting Michigan

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a gentleman, who suggested changes to Never Can Say Good-bye without having read the script, business plan, or seeing anything beyond an early pitch video.

According to him, I needed to change our ethnically and age diverse cast to one that was primarily African American and young. The locations needed to be moved from Northern Michigan to the Detroit area. Instead of the logging industry, the story should be focus on the automotive industry or another based in the Detroit area to take advantage of the current political controversy. The name should be changed from Never Can Say Good-bye to "Ghosts of Detroit--to have the metaphor of the ghost city for your ghost story" This is a film he could sell. The problem is that it is a totally different film than the one we want to produce.

His suggestions would have turned a paranormal thriller that combined romance and suspense into to a pop culture niche market film with political over tones that demographically limits its appeal and marketability, while adding in unnecessary controversy and shorting its relevancy.

Whether it be age, gender or ethnicity, a diverse cast means a diverse audience. Audiences like characters they can relate to as friends, family or the person they see in the mirror. Focusing heavy on one aspect of humanity excludes the rest.

Our characters range in age from 70 to 3. Amanda Ramsdell, who will be played by Dyan Canoon, carries the guilt and secrets of the past. Michael, a man between the ages of 45-54, believes he has found his lost love only to learn he made the same horrible mistake. Elizabeth, who will most likely be cast by Lauren Holly, is a woman who has runaway from life only to find herself back at the beginning and no longer able to run. Shane, Michael’s wife, is a woman in her mid to late twenties, who was given a second chance at love and redemption. In the past, Sara Jane and Randolph are more than soul mates, they are a mated pair whose love goes soul deep. But their time together is cut short when her father's vengeful actions causes Sara Jane's death. To save their newborn son, Randolph marries Audrey, but his heart still and always belongs to Sara Jane. Unable to manipulate Randolph into loving her, Audrey murders the child she see as standing in her way. His death causes a cascade of violence and revenge that spills over from into the next life. The question is, "Can they overcome their tragic past or will they be doomed to repeat it?"

Never Can Say Good-bye is set in the 1950's when the Michigan lumber industry was waning, but still vital and in present day when all that remains of the glory days are the mansions, the memories, and the ghosts. The story and the characters only fit in a rural or semi rural area. It would not be realistically in an urban area. Although there are some very large houses in the Detroit area, they do not have the look or feel of the mansions created by the lumber industry.

Michigan might be primary known for the automotive industry, but it was the lumber that turned common men into millionaires. As the timberline receded under the ax and saw so did civilization move north. Never Can Say Good-bye will be filmed in the northwest corner of the lower peninsula, primarily in Traverse City, Manistee, Bear Lake, and Torch Lake. Although most of the lumber baron homes have been converted into apartments, B & B's and businesses, they remain mostly intact. They are the perfect settings for a ghost story as well as a metaphor for an industry and lifestyle that was, but will never be exist again.

He did have two good suggestions that I had used, but had not focused enough on-- job creation and product placement. I had pitch both, but did not followed up. Since our conversation, I have been focusing more on the quality and quantity of the jobs we will be creating. We are a union picture, but we will be Taft-Hartleying those who need to be. We will be filling most of the 77 crew jobs from Michigan. I can't guarantee a specific number or percentage, because we are still going to hire the best person for the job.

Several of the primary characters have been cast. We would very much like Lauren Holly for the role of Elizabeth. We have talked with her people and did have an LOI. But we need to be funded to keep her. Kimberly Estrada, Dyan Cannon, Bill Hayes, and Sean Harmon have all been cast in roles. We had spoke with Adrian Paul's people for the role of Michael. Although we are still interested in him, his people aren't interested enough to return emails or phone calls, so we have opened up the role to other actors. If we can find an Michigan actor with an established record, so much the better.

The primary and featured roles we have yet to cast are:

Sara Jane: actress 18-20 who must look like she could be related to Dyan Cannon. She must also have good chemistry with Sean Harmon, who will be playing Randolph.

Shane: actress age 25-30 who must look like she could be related to Dyan Cannon. She must also have a good singing voice.

Jefferson: actor 25-30, any ethic background, but he must have a good singing voice.

Elaine: actress over 40 of any ethnic background

Judy: actress 49-53 who must look like she could be related to Dyan Cannon. We are considering Michigan actress Linda Pacic for this role or for the role of Elaine.

We will also be hiring most of the day players and all of the extras from Michigan.

The number of jobs we will be creating are:
9 person supervisory staff
77 member crew
5 character primary cast
8 character supporting cast
12 day players
200 paid extras

Our product placement will be two fold. We will be embedding family friendly products and services into the film, which will also be promoted in our marketing strategy. However, we have a separate campaign called No Where Else Like it, which will require a separate crew. We will be taking our cast around the state to show the uniqueness of Michigan. The sponsors will act as guides, hosts and in some cases fellow adventures as we explore the locations that are best known to natives. We will be going to the normal tourist locations, but we will not be producing a travel logs. Instead we will be having adventures, chatting with those we meet, and having a good time. Two of our locations are said to be haunted. We will be teaming up with a ghost hunting group and finding out if this is true. The videos we produced will be release on online through video sites and on social networking groups, as well as on the DVD's and with the downloads.

What he suggested is at the root of the decline in the entertainment industry. There is too much compromise in character and plot to make an easy sell. Instead of believing in the project and becoming a trend setter, they have been playing follow the leader. Those who follow are always behind the curve--always singing to someone else's song--always playing by someone else's rules. The gentleman on the phone said that there was nothing special about Never Can Say Good-bye. It was just a ghost story. But he is wrong. Never Can Say Good-bye is a ghost story, but it is far from being old hat. It is a fresh story with new twists. We are a trend setter that combines the old with the new not only with storytelling, but production and marketing techniques. We have intertwined Michigan's history with its present as we entwine the lives of three people in love, loss, and revenge.

  " Instant Karma is going to get you."
                                       John Lennon

Have you ever met someone and suddenly  felt love or hate? Yet for the life of you couldn't remember  them.  Would you want to  remember? Would you want to know if it could save  your life?

Never Can Say Good-bye is a paranormal thriller  feature film with the  logline love and hate survives death

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Courage isn't the lack of fear, but the ability to set it aside and  focus on what is truly important


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