Award-winning filmmaker King Jeff took some time to discuss his most recent movie and more with INFLUX
King Jeff and his brother Gorio are award-winning filmmakers who continually make movies on their own terms.
With the release of their most recent project, Troubleshooters, King Jeff sat down with INFLUX to answer some questions about this latest project, his process, and much more. We previously reviewed Troubleshooters on INFLUX. Read the interview, check out the review, and watch the movie.
INFLUX: From conception to completion, how long did “Troubleshooters” take to finish?
KING JEFF: Was this the planned timeline? It took about a year to finish, which could’ve been shortened by months. We started in January 2022 without a full script, but these were scenes that we knew would be in the film so we got them done, if nothing else, to see what the concept would look like. We filmed according to my and Gorio’s days off from our jobs. We went about 3 weekends then stopped for me to finish writing on the script. Then we would film sporadically. We stopped filming in June to late July to act in a Mahal Empire production filming in Texas starring Kevin Sorbo, Eric Roberts and Daniel Baldwin called Devil’s Knight. We didn’t want to pass up that opportunity as actors. We resumed filming later in winter so that the footage would match what we had shot already. A lot of stuff was outside, so we didn’t want the continuity to be off with trees having no leaves in winter, then being full of green leaves in summer. So we waited until winter.
INFLUX: When watching this movie, there are storyline comparisons to be made to films like “Blade Runner” and “The Terminator” and their take on technology. Were any of these (or others) a direct influence on this project? If so, which movies and how so?
KING JEFF: Let me first start by saying that in spite of the Blade Runner comparisons in a lot of the movie’s reviews, I have NEVER seen the movie. It wasn’t an influence at all. Nor was ‘The Terminator’. The influences were the first and second ‘Star Trek’ original series pilots, ‘The Cage’ and ‘Where No Man Had Gone Before’, because of the rawness of those episodes as well as a few other episodes from the first season. Another influence was the tv show ‘Adam-12’, where two uniformed police officers answer call after call while in their patrol car. Other influences included ‘Star Wars’, Steven Spielberg’s earlier films and some Quentin Tarantino stuff. But no ‘Blade Runner’. I’ll have to watch the movie now to find out why all the comparisons keep coming up. Haha.
INFLUX: Independent Filmmaking is always an adventure and you definitely seem to be a creator that meets the challenges head-on. What were some of the greatest challenges of “Troubleshooters” and how did you overcome/deal with them?
KING JEFF:I really don’t have filmmaking challenges on my productions, because we always know exactly what we are going to do. I only shoot what I write and storyboard. It is rare that we make any unexpected changes unless it is with a bit of dialogue or a camera angle change, but other than that we are always prepared in advance for what we are going to shoot, which cuts down problems. The only issue we had, which didn’t cause any delays or anything, was when we filmed on Thanksgiving Day, I spent the entire day drinking about 6 sodas and a half a bottle of water. After running back and forth on the set under hot lights, the next day I was dehydrated and stayed in the hospital for that weekend as they ran checks to rule other possibilities out. I knew it was dehydration though, which it turned out to be. We resumed filming on the next scheduled day. That was the only problem, which won’t happen again because it’s water from now on.
INFLUX: With all the recent discussions on the development of artificial intelligence, ‘Troubleshooters” is very topical. Is this a movie with a message about the development of these technologies?
KING JEFF: Can you explain? A lot of filmmakers would answer that question with some type of philosophical answer about the scary direction the world is going with all the technology and A.I. stuff and all that. But the truth here is…..I just wanted to make a cool sci-fi movie about cool characters blasting deadly robots.
INFLUX: You have a regular collaborator in your partner, Gorio. Tell us a bit about how the two of you work and create together.
KING JEFF: Gorio is actually my younger brother, which is why we get along and a lot of reviewers say we have great chemistry in our films. We have our own way of creating movies that a lot of people on set find unconventional. Gorio is also a writer on several of our projects. He is very detailed with each script, whereas, I can spit out a script in a month if I’m not interrupted. He is also the technical one of the two of us. If something happens with the sound or camera, 9 times out of 9 he finds the problem and corrects it. I, however, just buy two of each equipment and when something goes wrong pull out the back up. Obviously, he is the patient one of the group. He is a very subtle actor and has stood out in several reviews as that guy. I have as well, but it is not a competition with us. It shows that we are bringing our A-game to the table each time on set. Our method of creating a project is simple, whoever is directing that particular project is the boss. But we both respectfully offer our ideas that we feel would improve upon a scene or camera angle or whatever. No egos.
INFLUX: As an indie filmmaker, working with limited budgets, we understand that there are always monetary issues to overcome. How do you approach these types of financial challenges when making a movie?
KING JEFF: Rule number 1: Never write a script you can’t afford to make into a movie. It all starts with the script. I only write for the budget I have or know I’ll be using. I don’t write the script first then try to raise the money for the film. I always have the money already, before filming. The trick is what you do with that low budget to make the film interesting to viewers. But above all, always pay your actors and crew. Unless, of course, you are the crew. Haha.
INFLUX: You are a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to creating your content. Tell us about the many roles you took on with “Troubleshooters.” Basically, the same with all the films I’ve written and produced. I wrote the script, storyboarded it, co-produced the film with my brother Gorio, was the director, the director of photography and lighting, and co-camera operator with Gorio, I composed the music after editing the film, I designed the costumes and created the look of the robots, I played all 5 robot characters in the movie (even the one that I shot in the beginning of the film) and I was the set decorator on some locations. Gorio has done the same thing on our various projects.
INFLUX: And, as a filmmaker, which of these are your favorites and which ones do you do primarily out of necessity to see the project to completion?
KING JEFF: I honestly couldn’t say which is my favorite. I really love the acting part as well as the behind the camera stuff. I love creating camera angles as the cinematographer and I love doing the music when all the editing is done. So, it’s a tough call as to which is my favorite. As the producer I do all of these things out of necessity to see the project to completion, which means keeping the budget down. If I had to pay someone for each of the roles that I take on it would require a much higher budget. If I had a larger budget then maybe I would hire more crew members.
INFLUX: “Troubleshooters” leaves an opening at the end. Any plans to continue this story down the road?
KING JEFF: Yes, that is definitely the plan. It all depends on how this first one goes. I also am writing a sequel between the intended sequel and the first one and then tie them all together. However, I can do the post credit episode next and omit the in between installment. I just want to have some scripts and story boards ready to go in the event it takes off.
INFLUX: Where can our audience find “Troubleshooters” if they would like to watch the movie?
KING JEFF: Currently, it is on Tubi TV and Reveel. The Tubi TV link is: Watch Troubleshooters (2023) – Free Movies | Tubi (tubitv.com) The movie was just acquired by Apple TV as well as Cineverse and may go live next month.
INFLUX: What’s next for this project? How will you continue to get eyes on it?
KING JEFF: When it goes live on Apple TV, we will do another marketing round to let people know that it is there, like we did with Tubi TV. We just signed an agreement with an online screening portal company in the UK, that showcases TV content from around the world and where buyers can find information about ‘Troubleshooters’ and view a screener of the film. I think being in the sci-fi genre will get it some attention from buyers.
INFLUX: What’s next for you? What are you working on currently? What will we see from you in the coming months?
KING JEFF: I’m writing the possible sequel(s) to ‘Troubleshooters’ and I’m also working on a feature film that I will try to make into a recurring series somewhere. It falls into the paranormal/thriller genre and will be filmed in minimal locations. I’m also trying to get our murder mystery feature film into the hands of a possibly interested network. I may be involved as an actor in a Mahal Empire sci-fi feature film later this year or early next year.
INFLUX: Is there anything else you would like to add or share with us?
KING JEFF: Thus far I’m very proud of what my brother Gorio and I have achieved as filmmakers with our company JeTi FILMS as well as acting in Mahal Empire films with actors like Michael Madsen, Kevin Sorbo and Robert Lasardo. I look forward to seeing what’s next for us.