He is a PRODUCER, ACTOR and STUNTMAN. This particular Texas cowboy has worn a lot of hats during his career, but ultimately Jeff Caperton wants people to know, “I’m just a guy who really enjoys the art of storytelling”.
He’s been a part telling great stories, since the early 80s, when he was an extra in the movie Urban Cowboy. He says, “You know, being on set with Barry Corbin inspired me to want to stay in this business. So, I kept going. I wanted to do more.”
And he has done a lot more interesting work. Caperton’s IMDB is filled with appearances on 80s TV shows: Moonlighting, Remington Steele and Who’s the Boss? … followed by NCIS New Orleans, Queen on the South and Deep-Water Horizon. In 2021, Caperton played one of the gamblers in John Schneider’s Poker Run. “That was pretty surreal and a lot of fun… working with Schneider, someone we’ve all known since the 70s.
When stepping behind the camera, Caperton produced the feature “Dog Eat Dog” with Nicholas Cage. “I have great memories working with Nicholas Cage and the whole crew.”
These days, Caperton has put together crew for a whole different project. He has his own video PODCAST, called TEXAS BACKSTAGE PASS, which made it’s debut earlier this year on streaming platforms Spotify and Apple Podcasts. “I come from the world of news. I appreciate great interviews. This platform gives me a chance to ask questions and talk to people and understand their approach to acting and filmmaking.
We talked with Jeff Caperton recently asking him questions about his own approach the work that kept him in and around the industry for over 40 years.
Jeff, how has the film and TV business changed since you first started acting in the 80s?
It is a completely different animal!!! Both what we watch and the way we watch it!! Obviously with all the new venues to watch, and the massive amount of content being produced to reach and entertain every audience out there, there are more opportunities for actors, producers, crew, etc. and certainly the technology has changed production and given even small productions the ability to use better cameras and light, great effects and produce high-value content on a budget.
Do you feel like the money is there like it used to be?
No, it’s not, at least unless you hit something huge like a big-budget feature or network series. There is so much content out there that the audiences are smaller, many shows cater to a boutique audience so the revenue is spread between a large number of productions. Fortunately, entertainment revenue is not a finite number, it’s ever-growing and expanding and productions are able to reach so many more people through these new venues, TV, Cable, Streaming, Podcasts, Youtube, etc… People are making really big money, but it’s a smaller percentage and more opportunities are going to those who get out in front of the trends.
At what point did you decide to get into the producing side of the business?
Starting in news I was on the production side, working in the newsroom and later in the field covering stories nationwide, then working on specific shows like World News Tonight, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America, and others. So that’s really what I’ve always done, I did expand into acting and stunts a few years ago but my real talent is being the guy who makes the trains run on time.
Would you care to direct? Why or Why not?
I would like to try, and I think I could do a good job if I had a strong team with a really good DP and 1st AD, but I have no training and there are technical things I don’t know when it comes to do’s and don’ts so it’s hard to say how that would turn out, but I think it would be fun to see if I have that creative side and the ability to pull performances out of the talent.
You had guest spots on some of the best loved shows and movies, early on in your career. Can you give us specific memories from being on any of these sets?
That was a lot of fun, and it’s fun now to look back on these when the rerun’s come on. Some of the more powerful memories are things like the episode of “Mr. Belvedere” in which they address the issue of a child with Aids. This was a big deal in 1985 and this show was one of the first to do it at the network level. Others were things like Remington Steele, being on the set with guest star Louie Anderson and just having too much fun to be at work.
Was there ever a moment you felt like you had made it?
I don’t think I’ve ever felt like “I made it” but there were a lot of times I had moments when I felt “what am I doing here”! I remember at 19, working at the ABC Television Center in Hollywood and walking across the lot to the commissary to get lunch and just looking around at the big studio barns and thinking how did I get here??? I still feel that way sometimes, I was just in Florida for a month doing stunt driving for a car chase scene and it was 2 am, on a section of highway that was closed off for our chase, sitting in the stunt car about to shoot and thinking to my self, I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this!
Were there stars who gave you some help or guidance along the way?
Yes, definitely, big and lesser-known. I did a movie called “Blaze” with Ethan Hawke and he gave me a lot of tips and advice, Mark Walberg, Brett Cullen, Danny Trejo, John Schnieder, and mentors and friends like Mike Gassaway, Joe Perez, Mike Rodriguez, and others, have always been more than supportive and generous with their advice.
What’s the best part about having your own video podcast show?
It’s mine! At the end of the day if it’s good or bad it’s mine, I get to make all the decisions, which can also be a bad thing! Working as a producer for other people can be a challenge when there are creative differences. But it’s been fun and I hope to have a lot more time to spend on it very soon!
What would you like to see happen with your podcast?
I would love to see it grow into something recognized and which gets me access to more industry events and production. I also hope to build the website into a resource for industry professionals and a place where they can post stories and advice for others.
What are your career goals in this chapter of your career?
Really right now to work my way back into bigger budget productions, after Covid, I had to step back a bit into smaller and lower budget productions, but the wheels are turning and there are some very exciting things just around the corner.
What current projects are you working on, that you can talk about?
Currently, in Post-production, I have a film called “The Squad” which is a film based on the Latino Squad of the Houston Police Department, which was inspired by true events and is an important look at how community policing has changed and evolved over the past few decades. We also just finished shooting a film that is the 3rd installment in the Amazon Joe Haladin franchise, “Joe Haladin and the Case of the Missing Sister”, and the best part is we just wrapped on “Ambush” staring Aaron Eckhart, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Connor Paolo, and directed by my business partner Mark Burman. This has been a passion and a challenge as after years of development and hard work we were 3 days from shooting when we were shut down by COVID. It took two years go the get the band back together, but we did it, it’s in the can, and looking amazing!
Keep up with Jeff Caperton by visiting jeffcaperton.com or following him on Instagram @Jeffcaperton
Photo Credit: Mikki Chernoff-Moore