Sunday, November 23, 2014

Another Year, Another Reel (J. Horton Director's Reel - 2015 (Drama))

Thought I'd throw together a couple of different reels this year.
The first features a few of the more "dramatical" type moments in some of my flicks.

Here's a few clips:

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Congregation set to warm some hearts in 2015

"Coming to America" star, Shari Headley, is the queen of mean in J. Horton’s latest film, The Congregation.  

Over the top personalities and mayhem ensue in this quirky comedy about life at church.  Rain (Courtney Harris) every so lightly introduces us to the church that she loves, a church that has been scarred a couple times recently with sex scandals involving the pastor. There’s a new pastor in place, but it’s pretty clear from the get go that not everyone is quite ready to move on from the trauma and the drama of the past.

Shot in Pasadena, CA, the Step Kids production   boast of a talented cast including Jerome “Ro” Brooks, of “Tyler Perry’s The Have and the Have Nots” and Linc Hand of ABC’s “Revenge”. 
The Congregation’s producer, Kikala Diallo, said, “I can’t wait until people get to see this project. It’s refreshing to have an ensemble cast as talented as we had come together the way that they had. Their chemistry lights up the screen.

The upbeat, light-hearted comedy was created by writer Camara Davis, will be distributed domestically by Green Apple Distribution and is slated for foreign distribution through Summer Hill Films in early 2015.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cover Box Casting

So, you come across a movie in Wal-Mart or Rebox that you've never heard of, but the art looks pretty cool and it stars a pretty decent past A or B-lister or listers. So, you take a chance and rent or purchase the movie, take it home, put it in and... besides the fact the movie is absolutely horrible, the actor you got the flick for is hardly even in it. One producer I know calls these his "gotcha" titles.

Making and selling indies in today's climate is increasingly hard. It's hard to raise the money. It's hard to get crews and cast to work for lower rates. It's hard to find locations you can afford. It's hard to just hold it together. Then if you are lucky enough to finish, it's super hard to make decent money. It's no wonder that certain producers resort to unsavory tactics to ensure their movies make a profit.

To make things worse there's a prevailing attitude amongst many indie producers (and I'm talking about the fringe cats making movies on the regular for under 50k) that it's cool to just throw projects together to flip for a quick buck. They cast, find locales, crew... everything last minute and with little regard to quality. I honestly can't think of a good reason why. All these tasks cost the same whether you start 4 weeks in advance or two. Worse than that though, there's a trend of COVER BOX casting. This is when a producer casts a "NAME" actor, with no real regard of whether or not that person is right for the part, just to make a quick sale. The producer knows that with this actor and some decent cover art, the movie is almost guaranteed to make it's money back and then some. Sometime, the actor is right for the part, but the production can only afford the actor for a day or two, which almost always means the actor's part will be little more than a cameo and the cover art for the movie will have the actor's name front and center. Or the actor will film something like 30 rushed pages in a day and the work will suffer. Again, keep in mind these movies are costing under 50k. Another problem with this is the cost. The producers are shelling out over 30% of an incredibly low budget to cover the cost of the often inappropriate talent. It makes for an incredible disproportionate use of funds. This isn't like Universal paying Tom Cruise 30 million of a 100 million budget where they still have 70 million to make the movie. This is spending 6 to 10k of a 30k budget and not having enough left to produce the movie on the basest of professional levels. Then they usually try to make up for this by shorting crew on their rates, or eliminating "non-essential" crew all together (like AD's or Script supervisors).

I totally get the short term thinking. In the first year these movie, even when they're terrible, make their money and then some. The sad thing is, with a little more care, communication and organization, these movies could be better. But time and time again, the producers wait til the last minute, cover box cast (giving little or no attention to the non-name cast that fills it out) and treat crews poorly.

 ****Full disclosure. I've directed several movies that are guilty of cover box casting. I've even produced one. However, I've made a decision to no longer take part in this kind of bait-and-switch.

Friday, May 30, 2014

New Trailer for the Congregation

Just finished up post on my new comedy The Congregation written by Camara Davis and starring Shari Headley (Coming to America).

Friday, May 16, 2014

New Zapruter Pictures Reel.

Just put together a snazzy new production company reel.
All the features included where directed by either myself or one of production partners James L. Bills.
Pretty much if you like it, it was me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anything You Can Do...

In ten years of directing features, I've yet to have been on a set where at least one person didn't think they could do my job better than me. And, hell, who knows... Maybe they could. Point is, they don't have my job. I do. And they have theirs, and usually both are for good reasons.

I worked my way from college, to assistant editor, to editor, to writer, to director. I paid my dues over the course of the last decade and now direct features on a regular basis. I've fought and scraped my way up to bottom rung of independent cinema and have earned every job I've ever gotten. But there's always at least one, under experienced, over ego'd person in the cast or on the crew that thinks they can do better and are entitled to the opportunity. Hey they've seen a lot of movie. They've shot some really keen shorts and youtube videos. So why do producers hire me rather than them? Because I got the fucking experience and track record to back my shit up. In short, I get it done. My movies get finished, get released and make money.  As long as that continues to be fact, I will continue to find work,  And, I continue to grow as an artist. Not every flick is creative slam dunk. But I learn from my mistakes and I move on to the next. while the haters will just continue to talk about how they can do better.