Lansing (MI)-based production company Collective Development Incorporated, with whom Mr. Hornus has collaborated with for 19 years didn't have to look far in choosing the best, most personally-connected person to direct 'MBF' (formerly 'Man's Best Friend'), CDI's powerful upcoming character study.
Joining Mr. Hornus at the creative helm of 'MBF,' is the incomparable Los Angeles-based Director of Photography, Jesse Aragon. Mr. Aragon, is building an impressive resume, having DP'd CDI's last four films over three years. This includes all three edgy, biblical adventures in 'The Quest Trilogy' ('Forty Nights,' 'Chasing the Star' and 'The Christ Slayer'), and the post-Civil War drama/adventure, 'Wild Faith.'
Mr. Aragon, affectionately nicknamed 'Smooth' by his friends and colleagues at CDI, is becoming well-known to audiences worldwide through CDI-produced films. His eye captures breathtaking and beautiful vistas, gritty as well as burnishing hues and stellar character performances through his lenses.
"Jesse 'Smooth' Aragon has become part of our CDI storytelling tribe and we've all grown from our beautiful collaboration." - DJ Perry, CEO Collective Development Inc.
When Mr. Hornus (prefers Tony or just 'T') graduated high school in a small Michigan town, the war in Southeast Asia was still raging. The anti-war protests and confrontations over racial inequality on the homefront were becoming seemingly evermore violent and deadly (Four dead in O-HI-O, Kent State, 1970).
Mr. Hornus, whose number was 185 in the first year of the Selective Service Lottery, was not drafted. But the death and destruction of the Vietnam War, broadcast into homes nightly on TV, will never leave him.
"I had two good friends who died in Vietnam," explains Tony. "One was a Marine, one was Army Airborne. They didn't have a choice of enlistment or branch like our military does today. They were scared 19-year-olds who yet, when called, had the courage to serve our country in very dark, dangerous, conflicted times. I knew them well. And there were tens of thousands just like Donnie and Dwight who stood up to serve with honor and distinction."
During an illustrious 32-year career in journalism at a Michigan daily newspaper, Tony earned 14 honors from The Associated Press for newswriting excellence in breaking news, opinion/commentary, investigative reporting and human interest profiles.
"Some of the most interesting stories I worked on came from veterans," he enthuses. "World War II vets - guys who were in the Normandy invasion, Battle of the Bulge, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, an uncle who was on a Navy tanker in the Pacific; a soldier who survived a year in a North Korean POW camp; a Vietnam vet who survived the battle of Hue, another who was at the fall of Saigon; stories of those who fought in Desert Storm; and of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. Their stories fascinated me. And you always honor the story. To be across the table from men and women of such character, what a privilege."
On most of CDI's films, Tony, who wrote and co-directed the true crime film, 'An Ordinary Killer,' for CDI (based on his book) is a producer and when the role fits, an actor. He was on the team that helped three young directors – Jesse Low (twice, with 'Forty Nights' and 'Wild Faith'), Bret Miller ('Chasing the Star') and Nathaniel Nose ('The Christ Slayer') – put their creative fingerprint on CDI feature films.
Tony smiled, "Now it's the old man's turn. If you've lived it, crossed paths with and know all the players and types in the story, been a writer and story teller your entire adult life, maybe you've earned the trust to lead a great cast and crew in telling this story.
'MBF'' is tagged as "an engaging tale that draws parallels between the treatment of many wounded military veterans and 'last chance' shelter dogs.
The story touches upon an array of societal issues. From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other emotional and psychological challenges; physical wounds and horrific disfigurement of wounded veterans; homelessness/
The uniqueness of MBF is its redemptive reach for balance. It strives to expose the darkness of man's inhumanity, yet embraces the goodness in the hearts of others.
Tony previously embeded with U.S. Forces in Afghanistan while filming the critically-acclaimed and award-winning documentary 'Outside the Wire: The Forgotten Children of Afghanistan' (2011) and directed the award winning short 'Standing Post' playing military-themed festivals now.
"Whether or not that's just from being around a longtime, our goal with this film is to enlighten, educate, empower and perhaps inspire." - T. Hornus
Casting and other business on MBF continues by CDI producers in the desire of late October-November 'Principal Photography' in mid-Michigan.