For George Henry Horton, 2020 promises to be a big year in which his two latest feature film projects will be shown to audiences. The British filmmaker has not restricted himself to one format and has proven that he is very versatile and capable, whether he’s acting, directing, producing or writing.
In his indie psychological thriller Ground Floor, he has written, produced and directed; while in the bigger budget production of Project Dorothy, a sci-fi horror film, he does all three and also takes on an acting role.
“JesterLads” is his viral YouTube comedy channel and production company that has received wide coverage in America and has had tens of millions of views since first appearing in 2013.
George Henry Horton’s early life and career
Born in Kent, England, Horton describes himself as a book worm and a nerd. His dream as a child was to become a surfer and actor/writer in LA, but he never thought that it would be possible. While studying Religion, Philosophy and Ethics at King College in London, he met James and Austin and got involved with them making comedy videos. When one of these videos went viral, Horton had his big break and continued his studies at the prestigious American Film Institute.
His comedy channel “JesterLads” was featured on ABC’s Today Show, NBC’s Good Morning America and RudeTube on Channel 4.
The shift from comedy to the other genres has paid off and he was commended for the story and message of his 2017 short film, Dreadspace. In the film, a disabled veteran tries to connect with his neglected grandson through a virtual reality game and the directing was also commended.
George Henry Horton has often spoken about his restlessness and love of making movies. He is not prepared to wait around for years for the development of a perfect script. That is why he has embraced the horror genre which offers him the ability to make films that are relatively inexpensive and fun to work on.
George Henry Horton in a candid interview
We met in downtown LA and George Henry Horton openly spoke about many aspects of his talented self.
George, speak to us about your current productions
Ground Floor is a psychological thriller which aims to unsettle. Sophia, played by Stacy Chu, leaves her stressful life in the US to settle in the English countryside. As parts of her home start vanishing, Sophia has to determine how to survive and what is actually real around her.
Project Dorothy is a sci-fi horror story of two criminals who botch a robbery. When they take refuge in what they think is a vacant scientific facility, little do they know what is about to awake within it. We were very luck to have great cast including veteran Tim DeZarn (Fight Club and The Cabin in the Woods), Adam Budron (High on the Hog), and Alexander Flores (The Maze Runner).
When did you realize that you would be able to achieve your childhood dream of becoming an actor and writer in LA?
It was when I realized that I was having more fun making those YouTube videos than studying Philosophy and Theology at King’s College. I was actually neglecting my studies and when one of our videos went viral, we were invited to appear on Good Morning America. I couldn’t make it because of exams, but soon landed a gig in Canada to help a producer, who convinced me to apply to film school in LA. I’m sure that it’s not necessary for me to say that I didn’t need much convincing!
Was there any one particular movie that you watched that made you want to become a filmmaker?
Definitely. I still remember watching Alien, and then thinking what fun it would be to make a film similar to that.
What other work have you done before entering the film industry?
I was rather undecided before film found me. I had an offer to study politics at NYU, but I also worked as a cop in London and at an insurance broker.
What would you tell people who say they don’t like the sci-fi genre?
I would say that if they haven’t watched the genre before, they should give it a try before deciding.
Do you watch television and how does it compare to film?
Of course, I do watch TV. Television offers more of an investment for the viewer – it can last years. Just look at the dedication of Game of Thrones fans! Movies can offer that through franchises of course, but often their beauty is their ability to tell and conclude a great story in a bitesize chunk.
Do you have a creative process that helps you come up with ideas for your projects? What about for the filming?
I incorporate pragmatism and other experiences of my own with concepts that I dream up in my imagination. I enjoy writing and directing, but for me the production side is what I studied and what comes naturally.
I find that I am currently building my films around a specific location. In Project Dorothy, we got the abandoned car factory that was used as the location for free. My next idea is a little different and is a zombie film, where the characters will be on the move.
When on set, I prefer to work in a collaborative and flexible way without development plans. In Project Dorothy for instance, we only had the car factory for a month and we had to co-write and work fast. Even though this stresses most people out, I find that it’s the type of pace that suits me.
Can success be guaranteed in the filmmaking business?
Success can never be guaranteed in any career. Filmmaking, like most other work, requires that you be friendly, outgoing and you need to build a strong network. You need to constantly be out there, shooting, exploring ideas, finding creative solutions and presenting beautiful visuals.
When does someone know that they have achieved success in this business?
A growing production company would definitely be one indication. Another would be making content that entertains, inspires and gets mentioned. Finally, recognition from within the film industry is the ultimate form of recognition that we all seek.
How easy is it to raise money for your projects?
My business model is based on my company raising the funding for our projects. That’s why you see that I work with smaller crews and lower budgets, which ensures a better chance of making a return.
Finally, did you also achieve your dream of becoming surfer?
Well, I do have a surfboard in my apartment, but hardly ever use it. I think I get more pleasure out of [hopefully!] offering viewers escapism through films.