The amazingly talented, charismatic and handsome leading man John Schneider is the person fans have gotten to know over three decades. However, the man who is one of Hollywood’s most interesting mavericks since Orson Welles is making his dreams come true. Along for this incredible ride is his family, and a group of talented people, each one having a unique place in his new and exciting enterprise. Sure, I’m teasing, that’s my job, but I have such amazing news for our readers and John’s millions of fans, that I am excited the star chose Highlight Hollywood to tell his wonderful news to.
In addition to leaving Hollywood and making his new home in Louisiana, John Schneider has put together a movie studio, which he hopes to make films in, but also hopes other independent filmmakers will also find his studio the place they can also make their dreams come true. John Schneider at his very heart and soul is a “storyteller,” he tells us in an exclusive interview on set of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” which is currently in production of the best season thus far. John also just last week debuted in Hollywood his incredibly entertaining, humorous and scary horror film titled “Smothered,” which only Schneider was able to bring so many horror-legends together to make this film a reality. [Above Photo of John Schneider In Rocking Chair By: Brian D. Perkins, Perkography]
The one thing over the decades that I’ve known John, that he’s never lost, is his humble and very sincere personality. It’s obvious that being raised properly and learning the ropes in a business where he’s been a smash-hit on screen, both on TV and in films, hasn’t affected him at all. When I spoke with John on Thursday, he was beaming about his upcoming new projects, and the hope of 2015 becoming one of his most successful years in this business. Before we talked about his incredible state-of-the-art new studio, which he’s still improving, and his first film made there, I told him that our readers had plenty of questions for him in his role as Judge Jim Cryer on the hit Tyler Perry series, “The Haves and the Have Nots,” which has become the biggest primetime hit in OWN’s [The Oprah Winfrey Network] history.“I love this show, I can tell you, that it’s going to be one hell of a year, Tommy. If you think the past two seasons were hot, you have no idea where it’s going. None! There are days that I was sitting in a bar in the hotel drained from the incredible scenes Tyler has written and that we are filming right now.”
When asked about Jim’s redeeming quality, he thought for a moment, then smiled and replied, “Jim is passionately in love with his children. He is their protector, even though he doesn’t have the greatest parenting skills. I think at the core of his soul, his intentions are good, though he hasn’t shown us that very much. He’s also a fierce competitor, and in a good way, that works for a man who was elected judge and who is running for Governor. I think he however doesn’t mind leaving cleat marks on anyone who gets in his way, or if anyone harms his family. He does have a genuine friendship with his best friend David, I think. They compete, but at the end of the day, they shake hands and move on to the next project,” the star enthused.
When the second season ended, Jim found himself and his family in grave jeopardy. He’d previously had his mistress Candace kidnapped and tortured by the Malone’s, Jim’s fixers, and he’s fallen for his daughter Amanda’s claims that she wasn’t emotionally falling apart, didn’t buy a gun and he believed her psychiatrist, who said she was okay, just needed rest. His marriage had fallen apart, and he’s paid a man to take the blame for his son’s vehicular homicide. Jim’s thinking was that everything was fine with his family and the world, and he was ready to embark on his campaign for Governor of the State of Georgia. Sure, Amanda’s new pal Quincy worried him a bit, but nothing Jim couldn’t handle, huh? Well, while getting ready to sleep, Jim gets a text from ex-mistress and nemesis Candace to come downstairs to talk. Jim assumes he’s going to laugh in her face again, and prove he’s the man in charge, but as he came out in the night on to his front porch, a gang, literally a gang of thugs kidnapped the judge and placed him violently in the trunk of a car, and drove off. Soon after, deranged schizophrenic daughter Amanda began to run around the upstairs quarters with a pistol and singing a rhyme, and trying to decide whether to shoot her mother, Katherine or her brother, Wyatt. The gun goes off and we have to wait until January, to see what happens to Jim’s family.
So, what is coming up in January? The cryptic, yet exciting answer Schneider gave us was, “Fans will be shocked with what happens this season. Fright from the word go, from the very first scene of the new season things get out of control. And no one could possibly guess what happens. It has taken the cast and crew by surprise. I used to think it was a fallacy to hear that ‘actors take their work home.’ For years, I did not. But this season I have been affected by what we’ve done so far. The first ten episodes are so emotionally draining, that it actually wore me out physically and emotionally. Tyler is at the heart of everything, a great storyteller. And a dreamer. He and I have that in common, and I have to admit Tommy. I’m over 50 now, and I never thought that stubborn me would be learning anything from someone at this stage in my life, and I have learned a lot from Tyler. Right now, starting my studio, I am pushing a snowball up hill, and I know that I have to keep it moving forward, because if you stop, it plows downhill back on to you,” John said of his newest dream.
So, what did his family and close friends think of the fact, that at his age, he’s becoming even braver with his career. It’s obvious that John’s heart is in storytelling, and that is the perfect reason why his studio will succeed, and why smart investors would be beyond wise to make their way to Louisiana, where the state is determined to bring even more TV and movie productions to the Gulf. “Some people just think I’m crazy, Tommy. But, I’ve always believed that lunacy is a key ingredient in success,” the maverick admitted.
John’s self-depreciating style has been part of his charm for the decades I’ve known him and his work. And lunacy, crazy? Those words don’t describe the genius we all know and admire. This is a man, who from the time he was a little boy, he knew he wanted to be a filmmaker, but as he calls it, “a storyteller. Even in my music, if you listen to it, I’m telling stories. That’s something I always gravitated towards in my work. It seems when I turned 18, I began telling other people’s stories on screen. Now? I want to tell my own. When I was 8, 9, even 15, I borrowed my dad’s camera and I made films of my friends and classmates and siblings. That old Kodak camera suited me just fine. Then once I joined ‘Dukes’, it seemed I began using my acting talent to tell other people’s stories. Now I’m going back to my childhood dream, and I cannot tell you how exciting it is.”Yes, John ditched Canyon Country and headed to Louisiana, where his studio is currently growing by the day. But, unlike many studios, even in Tinseltown, John’s building a gym, because he believes the key to success is to keep the physical body in great shape. Maybe that’s why a man close to 54 looks as handsome and is physically as healthy as he was at 18-years-old. Whatever the star is doing, he’s doing it all perfectly correct.
The studio, which he plans to make his new home to film at least two or three of his own films per year, will also be home to any TV and Indy filmmakers as well. “This State is incredible with its incentives. Most times when people make films in Louisiana, they can find the State reimbursements available to them before they even complete post-production. The tax incentives this State is offering makes Louisiana the perfect place for filmmaking, and also, the weather is incredible, and we are doing more improvements and construction all the time,” John Schneider explained.
Louisiana offers a 35 percent tax credit for filmmakers, offering terrific infrastructure and you don’t have to wait a year or even more due to red tape, as we do here in Hollywood.
His latest film, “Smothered,” is an eclectic horror film that belongs in the category of cult-classic. Everything John works on, seems to just have his brand attached. It’s scary without being horrifying, and it tells a story that everyone can understand, and the characters are well-rounded and likeable. The film revolves around, horror legends, who attend a bad trade show, during a very bad weekend, and they get hired to haunt a RV Park for the weekend and they willingly accept that challenge because they can make more money at the RV Park than they could at this really bad trade show. Of course this is a horror film, so it doesn’t go well for any of the characters’ survival!
[Above Photo By: Brian D. Perkins, Perkography]
And this is just the start of Schneider’s work with Fairlight Films. Right now John is also building his company’s infrastructure, finding the perfect people suited for every position, and he’s doing so with a solid business-head. “If you find the right person for the right place in your company, you are beyond blessed. But, if it’s the wrong person, you have to be willing to be the boss and push the person out, if they’re not willing to go on their own. It’s a tough business, but it’s worth it, and we want to be the studio that people come to in the future, when they want to come to Louisiana to work,” the studio chief tells Highlight Hollywood.
A man who long ago mastered storytelling in his music, who shows such amazing range as a filmmaker and writer, is headed to the top again in yet another niche in the entertainment industry. But, John also earlier this year found himself in a new position in his family. “My dad’s death was expected, but it was still hard. I wanted to be right there, I only wish I could have been there to say goodbye. I knew he’d had a stroke and didn’t have long. But just minutes before a photo shoot for ‘Haves’, I got the call from my brother, and I was devastated. I had the photographer [Jeff Cowart] photograph me. He ended up putting the photo on his website with the story about my loss that day. You know what, Tommy? The same thing happened to him. He handed his camera to his assistant, and he told him, take my picture. So, maybe I started another legacy for others. On the day my dad died, I became the eldest John Schneider in my family. I still miss him so much, and I gained my work ethic from him. When someone loses their parents, their life is forever changed,” John poignantly said.
This is a man who has already written 14-scripts, and is ready to produce them. With an average of two-per-year, John Schneider’s ready for seven good years at this new studio, and as he pointed out, allowing others to use his facilities as well. So, for anyone looking for the next big thing, bring your checkbooks to Louisiana, Hollywood. With a state open to new filmmakers, and John’s studio growing every day, it’s only a matter of time before John Schneider’s the new Tyler Perry for Louisiana.
When asked if he’s nervous about his new venture, his new studio? John laughed, “I’ve been a race horse for a long time, Tommy. I know that you have to take care of yourself physically, and I know that you have to work hard to make your dreams come true. You know, I am ready for this challenge, and when I die, I hope I’m holding my grandchildren at the studio, and just drop, doing what I love, that’s what we can all hope for. I’m excited about this new venture, I’m ready for the next level,” John Schneider concluded.
You can follow us on social media at www.twitter.com/HighlightHwd or on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Highlight-Hollywood/193119760769011, and now on Google+ at: https://plus.google.com/+TommyLightfootGarrett90211/about
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: John Schneider/ Brian D. Perkins/John at studio