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Deronte Smith - Prosper

KingWolf catches up with Filmmaker Deronte Smith to talk about his passion for filmmaking and his most recent Supernatural Thriller, PROSPER.

1. Let’s talk more about your most recent film: PROSPER. Where did the idea come from for this compelling story? And why was it so important for you to tell this story?

  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak with your audience. The idea for the story originated several years ago. It was actually the result of attempting to practice a certain discipline of meditation called Kundalini allowing you to access specific energy or spiritual point in the body. It really is a very deep thing and isn’t for the faint of heart. I can tell you it opened my mind, body and spirit taking me places I had never experienced before. I often call it an out of body experience which was the catalyst to the origins of what eventually became Prosper.

  • I felt the story was important to tell because it weaves fiction and reality together in a way that fascinates the mind to take us on a journey into something strange and uncomfortable pushing the boundaries for how we think of modern day horror. I’ll be the first to say the movie isn’t for everyone. While the movie has premiered at the Cannes Film Market and to audiences around the globe with much fanfare, been praised as a creative masterpiece, and selected as one of the best horror movies of the year by leading publications, others consider it trash because it is a slow burn and veers so far from the typical horror flick. I say, to each his own.

2. Filmmaking is a laborious job, so what keeps you motivated?

  • Filmmaking is the most taxing thing a person can image doing especially if you’re working with the limitations of having an ultra small budget. It’s funny, these days I find myself mentoring filmmakers from around the globe and they generally have some things in common; they think they’re going to knock it out the park with their first film and they think it’ll be a much easier process than it is. And before I take their money I am always compelled to burst their bubble because neither of those things is likely to happen. In fact, it’s usually just the opposite because they haven’t thought through their plan of action, and with that the likelihood for failure increases exponentially.

  • The trick is to expect a marathon and not a sprint, which is a matter of conditioning your mind and retooling your expectations. It’s setting up obtainable milestones that will keep propelling you forward because without them it’s easy to lose focus, lose hope, and lose interest. And lastly, about motivation that is, as I mentioned, I meditate a lot. I’ve found it gives me clarity on those days when it seems like all I’m doing is putting out fires and the world is burning all around us, and there are many.

3. Do you think directing a film is the toughest job while making a movie?

  • I’ve had the fortune to work as a director, producer, EP, associate producer, and all around gopher. Without a doubt a director’s job is tough although I don’t know that I would say it is the toughest on the set. Let me clarify. An experienced director surrounds himself with a quality team and entrusts them to do their jobs. The better the department head the better they will handle the problems and needs that arise.

  • That’s an experienced director. But most first time directors get caught up in trying to control everything. They don’t trust their department heads and they run ram shot over them which leads to distrust, resentment, and poor work ethic. Consequently, the project suffers. Frankly, I think the producer’s job is every bit as tedious and maybe then some. The producer is on the hook for delivering the film on budget and to the specifications of the studio, distributor, or investors

4. What, in your opinion, is the most important quality of a film director?

  • Probably the most important job of the director is to share his or her vision for the script while being amenable to his talent who have their ideas, his crew who often have time saving suggestions, his staff who can help avoid unnecessary pitfalls, and his creative team who help craft the story; the director is the puppet master of the collaborative process guiding his or her team through the landmines and chaos of trying to make this thing we call a movie to culminate with a quality finished product. After all, movies are products meant for consumption.

5. Who are your film-making influencers?

  • I have many influencers in the film industry. If you’re speaking of horror specifically I’d say Kubrick and Hitchcock. If we’re talking overall content creator, I would say Rodriguez. I hope to emulate his success in crossing genres from drama, to art house, to kids/family, he has a knack for finding his audience.

  • And most recently, I would even say Jordan Peele. Jordan has perhaps become my favorite filmmaker as of late because he originated in comedy with his sketch comedy show but branched out to find himself with horror. I love that he pushes the envelope and takes risks that aren’t normally associated with horror concepts. That’s exactly what I attempt to do as well, I take risks in most of my work that you wouldn’t ordinarily see in an effort for a greater payoff for the viewer’s experience.

  • So kudos to Jordan and all of his success, he’s worked hard and he deserves it. I fully expect to work with his one day in the not too distant future.

6. How do you choose a script that you are going to direct?

  • I think every director approaches this differently, or least that’s my experience. How I choose a script that I decide to direct is based on a few things, the least of which is the social media effect which believe it or not has become a thing. Why? Because films are all about buzz, without it the film flops. And I refuse to be beholden to the whims of keyboard critics who don’t know their head from their butts in many cases, but I digress.

  • For me it’s always story first. The story must be the driving force behind the film. It must engage the audience enough to warrant giving up two hours of their precious time. And it needs to do something almost impossible to accomplish these days, leave them thinking about the movie long after they’ve watched it. That’s how you gain notoriety as a filmmaker. Don’t get it twisted, directing has a long runway, it can take years to complete a project and get it to market. So you should always get the most bang for your buck. And when you leave them talking, that’s time well spent.

7. How did you choose the cast for your Prosper?

  • In casting Prosper I partnered with a local filmmaker, Sharon Tomlinson, who had an acting studio at the time. I also met another lady with an acting studio in Buford, Georgia, called the Actors Scene, where we had a cattle call with more than 130 people coming out to audition over two days. The screening process was brutal but I knew what I was looking for. There were lots of seasoned actors who came through and presented fine.

  • But I knew I had to have that raw, visceral talent to cast in particular for my leads that would drive the story. And I knew I needed fresh faces that could carry the subplots and create an air of camaraderie. So creating that ensemble became paramount in that I knew it would be stylized to meet the look and feel that appeals to millennials.

8. How do you motivate your actors to perform better?

  • Motivating your actors is such an instrumental task and undertaking that I spent a lot of time on this. First, since I knew we didn’t have the money to compete with other films in our space I knew we would need to compensate for it in other ways. One of those ways was with regular rehearsals usually twice a week leading up to our shoot date. We did this over the course of about eight weeks, so that when it came time to hit record our actors were confident and comfortable in their scenes with each other and the material.

  • I also encouraged them to go and hang out, spend time getting to know one another. And they did. They would go to bowling alleys, bars, and restaurants until they actually became friends, or at least while filming the movie. So the set felt more like working with family, or maybe extended family, than working with complete strangers. And I think that came through in the film, or at least I’d like to think it did.

9. Do you have any upcoming projects?

  • Yes, I have several projects in the works. I have two docu-series with two young filmmakers that have a clear-eyed vision for their subject matter. One is dealing with a high school basketball star who flamed out too soon, and the other is about the growth of youth league soccer in the US and the cultural influences from other countries.

  • And then there’s my kids/ family content. I have a kids book that came out a few years ago called The Fantastical Adventures of Sleepy Steve, available on Amazon or any book retailer. The book was a hit back in the day and now we’re in development for making it into an animation based on the main character about a narcoleptic boy who inherits tremendous superpowers when he falls asleep.

  • And there’s my daughter’s podcast, All Things Madison, available on all the platforms, that we’re developing for live action. And finally, her graphic novel, The Magnificent Sheroes about three preteen girls who discover their unique abilities and budding superpowers just in time to save their town.

  • Not to mention we’re working to develop Prosper for TV. And they can also check my podcast for filmmakers called The Expert Process Podcast on all the platforms. So, yeah, there’s a lot

10. Share any social media links or websites that you would like our readers to follow.

For anyone looking to learn more about me they can find me @iamderonte on Twitter,,, for my daughter, and ProsperTheMovie on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for the support!

Attention bloggers and pod~casters, for follow up interviews with filmmaker Deronte Smith contact Sharry Flaherty of Samera Entertainment at:


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