Q:Fantasy: Who is Director Will Horton? Growing up… which area of New Orleans did you call home? What type of kids did you hang out with? Were you a good kid?
A:Director Will Horton: Will Horton is a visual storyteller and a student and fan of knowledge. You can never have too much, of both.
I grew up in the Hollygrove area of New Orleans between Interstate 10 and Airline Drive where the new Job Corps building is located. It’s a small community. Back then, everybody knew EVERYBODY. You always had an extended family for support and rearing. I remember on my route walking to elementary school every morning, the neighbor Mr. Brule’ would quiz me on my timetables. (chuckles) Very humble beginnings. If you played football, then we were instant friends. Schoolyard tackle football before NORD Playground sports was my thing, until I tried a shot at break dancing. (chuckles) Unfortunately, when the crack epidemic struck the city, I lost many childhood friends to violence. I still appreciate the memories and fun moments of being kids with them. I was quiet and soft spoken as a kid, always observing and surveying my environment. The invaluable lessons learned growing up in the hood teaches you to be resourceful and deal with adversity. When my friends and I didn’t have the money to buy what we wanted, we would build it ourselves. Be it a wooden scooter constructed from 2X4 boards and skate wheels or a pinball machines with a piece of plywood, nails, rubber bands, and a cat eye marble as the ball, we made the best of what we had at the moment. That McGuyver-esque aptitude transcended into my professional career when I worked on low budget projects.
I was a very inquisitive kid. I think that’s a good thing. (laughing)
Q:Fantasy: In your opinion…were your parents strict? When you caught woopings… as you screamed to the top of your lungs whose name did you call out (daddy, grandma or Jesus)? Have you ever been asked to bring your mother a switch from the tree or had an object thrown at you? Did you catch woopings____________. A: extension cords, B:fresh out of the bath tub with a leather belt or telephone wire, a Daniel green slipper, whatever your mama could get her hands on. Do you feel that these particular methods of discipline were effective? Would they help today’s children?
A: Director Will Horton: According to my parents, I was a sneaky kid who dodged whoopings by covering up my evidence. For example, I blew a wall plug once by attempting to remove a stuck cord from an electric socket with a steak knife. I quickly wiped the black soot from the socket and then tossed the frayed knife on the roof before my dad got home from work. I didn’t tell him until after college. (chuckles) I watched my older siblings and cousins get whoopings all the time. So when my grandmother stared at me with a look that pierced through my soul, I knew I’d better reassess my situation at the moment. (laughing)
Whatever method of punishment parents use today should include positive reinforcement. Back then, we were scared straight by the power of vested in the the belt, extension cord, switch, etc. (chuckles)
Q:Fantasy: You have students… what are they like? What about their personalities do you recognize within yourself… when you were their age? Who was your favorite high school teacher? As children we all have a secret crush… who was yours? What did you do to get her to notice you?
A:Director Will Horton: : My students are awesome. What I recognize and identify with is the passion in their eyes for visual arts. They are first and second year college students who already know what career path they want to travel. You can’t ask for a better group of young individuals to help guide.
Every classroom I sat in while attending John F. Kennedy High School in New Orleans housed my favorite teacher.
In elementary school, I had a huge childhood crush on my 4th grade classmate Ametriaus. I bought her a red faux leather wallet as a surprise Christmas gift to get her attention. It didn’t work. My swag starter kit needed a boost. (laughs)
Q:Fantasy: ? When did you begin filming? Did you ever imagine just how much spreading your passions would impact so many?
A:Director Will Horton: I owe an innumerable amount of gratitude to Bill Scallan, my high school Television instructor, for placing the first video camera in my hand. I was just a young kid practicing what I love to do. It wasn’t until later when students would approach me and acknowledge that I am “the reason they enrolled in film school.” Actor Anthony Mackie stopped by my house (the day before he left the city to enroll in Julliard Arts School in New York) to tell me that my short film “The Wake Up Call” helped influence his passion for acting. Chike Ozah (Director of Kanye West’s “Through the Fire” music video) mentioned that he studied my music videos while in college.
I always advise teens that I mentor “be mindful of your actions, because you never know who’s watching you.”
Q:Fantasy: For our audience members that have seen your work and had no idea that it was yours… lets jog down memory lane for a second and scratch the surface of some of those projects if you will .
A:Director Will Horton: Since pursuing my passion, I always wanted to be considered as a total filmmaker – not just a music video director or a cameraman. If a story is to be told visually, then I wanted to have the ability to take on any genre of the medium. My first music video that I solely directed was the late G-Slimm’s “Fours, Deuces, and Treys”. My first short film was “The Wake Up Call”, an international award winning film. My first documentary was “The Million Man March.”, winner of the 1996 Cable Ace Award. I received a gold record for my work on Master P’s “Ice Cream Man” music commemorating the sales of the album of the same name. Mystikal’s “Ya’ll Aint Ready Yet” and “Here I Go” music videos displayed my directorial work as well. I wrote and co-directed, with Dale Restighini, D.J. Unk’s “2 Step” music video.
Q:Fantasy: The word “director” has a nice ring to it and your resume’ is extensive. Some of your film and video production credits include clients as such as Harpo Productions, R.C. Cola, No Limit Records, American Cancer Society, Essence, Partners for Healthy Babies, and the list goes on. What would you consider to be your top three favorite projects? (i.e. music videos, concert, movie, etc.)
A: Director: Will Horton: (laughs) With over 300 projects under my belt, it would be hard to choose 50, not to mention 3. I can take pride in knowing that with each project, I did my best and, even though many have noticed a “Will Horton” style in my work, I made sure each concept was fresh and catered to the clients needs.
Q:Fantasy: “Armed With A Heart” made it to B.E.T.’s Lens on Talent. Was the submission of this project difficult? Where did the title come from? Do you plan to create an actual movie using the footage that has been released thus far?
A:Director Will Horton: “Learn to write your own screenplays” was the advice that I received from film director John Singleton when I met him on Tulane’s campus. It wasn’t until grad school that I actually picked up a pen, and the new journey began. Armed with a Heart is my MFA graduate thesis film from the University of New Orleans. It’s based on an original screenplay that I wrote and directed. The Lens On Talent competition was very competitive. Unlike a local film festival, I was competing with filmmakers from across the U.S. With the help of my online supporters, at the competition’s end, Armed with a Heart received the most views by a 400 click lead. My film can be seen online on both BET and Centric’s websites.
I’ve been approached by several film companies and distributors to create a feature from the story.
Q:Fantasy: As a visual storyteller when you open your eyes to each new day what do you see? What do you day dream about? What makes all of the difference in the world?
A:Director Will Horton: Once the film bug bites you, you no longer view the world through the same lens as an audience. Ask any lady I’ve dated (while in college) if they were annoyed by my analysis and dissecting of films on a movie date. (chuckles) As a writer/director, I view the cinematic language as an untouched stone languishing in hopes of being inscribed with new dialects that lie dormant within the filmmaker’s conscious. Armed with the tools of the trade, the filmmaker must find new ways to communicate a well thought out concept in a way that maintains the identity of his single voice. With that being said, there’s a story with every glance out of my bedroom or car window. The key is telling it in an interesting way —that makes sense. What makes a difference in the world to me is when my work is not just watched, but discussed as well.
Q:Fantasy: You’re being nominated at this year’s Nola Hip Hop Awards. You’re receiving a lifetime achievement award how does it make you feel to add another award to your collection? Do you feel that all of your hard work is finally paying off?
A:Director Will Horton: It’s always rewarding to receive a nod for a project that you know you put your best effort towards. The NOLa Hip Hop Lifetime Achievement Award is special to me, because it confirms that my body of work, in totality, has made and continues to make an impact in the recording industry. My hard work paid off the first time someone walked up to me and shook my hand for a job well done. Since then, I strive to be better.
Q:Fantasy: What advice can you give to aspiring directors and everyone that looks up to you and desires to be a part of the entertainment and arts industry? What do you want to be remembered for? How do you feel after being interviewed
A:Director: I would offer that aspiring filmmakers continue to practice their craft. Don’t get caught up in the digital technology. The art of storytelling is a constant and was here long before us. If you can complete a sentence, you can make a film.
Remember me as the guy who took on a recording industry that wasn’t “South friendly” and supplied professional quality images to accompany your favorite artists. Remember me as the filmmaker whose films spoke beyond the story lines and gave a commentary on life’s issues. Remember me as the grandson, son, nephew, brother, teacher, mentor, friend who never hesitated to help someone in need. But, most of all, remember me as the little kid from Hollygrove who followed his passion by using his talents given from our Heavenly Father. This has been the most in depth interview on me. Keiani Model Management couldn’t have picked a better interviewer I enjoy the work that you guys do. Continue the blessings.
“We are passionate about beings that have been blessed with the ability to move mountains with their minds!”