King's Tower Productions, Inc. is a United States film and media production and distribution company founded by Jozef K. Richards in 2002, taking its current name in 2006, and registering with the State of Wisconsin in 2009. It is the primary production and distribution company for the films and series of Jozef K. Richards, which include The Amateur Monster Movie, The Wayward Sun, Batman & Jesus, and "Holy Shit", primarily released through Vimeo, Amazon, and YouTube.
2002–2003: Pre-KTP, VHS-C Era
The humble origins of King's Tower Productions start in the summer of 2002 with a boy and his video camera in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Jozef K. Richards was a young writer at 13, creating comics, comedy books, scripts, and cassette tape recordings to distribute among friends. He signed a contract with himself to produce a number of shows on a future television network he would own, which included a show called "Friday Night Fright Weekly". The start of the fulfillment of this contract is what is considered to be the start of King's Tower Productions.
A neighborhood friend of Jozef's from school, long-time collaborator Chris Ouchie, had just inherited his family's VHS-C camera and the two friends would come together with a small group to produce their first comedy short, "John's Shoe Repair", a comedic fake advertisement for a shop down the street. This would inspire Jozef to begin producing his own scripts on video, using many pre-existing characters from his comics and comedy books. Two of the most commonly featured were Fat Steve, played by Richards and featured in his first self-produced short "Fat Steve Cribs", and Professor VanOuchie, played by Ouchie who remains a recurring character to this day. Another prominent collaborator at this time was Erik Jastrowski, another close friend of Richards and Ouchie featured in "John's Shoe Repair", who was best known for his own commonly recurring character, Rupert Hans, a silly prison inmate dressed in pink snowpants. He debuted in what could be considered Richards' first short film, "Sylvester Mann Files Lawsuit on Michael Rent". These early productions were edited by simply turning the camera on and off to make edits and recording titles on computer screens to VHS-C tapes.
At this time, Richards used the name "Hammerhead Productions" at the beginning of his films. September 13, 2002 is considered to be the start of the company when the first episode of "Friday Night Weekly" was produced between September 13 and 14, called "Friday Night Fright Weekly" initially. It featured only Richards, Ouchie, and Jastrowski. Episodes were produced with an increased amount of scripted material until 2003 when recording to Mini DV tapes became viable and computer editing became possible. Content created in this era was never widely copied or distributed in any capacity and was only ever available in private exhibition. Upon learning of an existing company by the name of "Hammerhead Productions", the name was briefly changed to "Black Hammer Productions" (the logo at the time) for one production, but it was not returned to.
2003-2006: Pre-KTP, Mini DV Era
In 2003, recording materials by Richards were upgraded from VHS-C to Mini DV. This format made computer transfers much easier to accomplish using a Firewire cable to upload directly from the camera and computer editing could now be used to improve the quality of the viewing experience tremendously. The first of these productions was to be the start of a new season of "Friday Night Weekly", beginning with a Christmas special that entered production in late 2003. Richards, Ouchie, and Jastrowski were now joined by Rick Herd, Corey Gibb, Mike Potnek, and Adam Baas. Gibb volunteered himself as the show's first editor, initially using iMovie, but after a falling out between some of the team after a Richards-Ouchie-Herd led coup to force Jastrowski off of the show, Gibb left the project and Richards re-edited the episode himself using Windows Movie Maker, making it his first production as an editor. The name "FNW Productions" was briefly used in this episode before "Water Tower Productions" was adapted for the second episode, named for the tallest landmark in Menomonee Falls.
Although called "Friday Night Weekly", it was far from a weekly show. Since episodes were over an hour long, comprised of up to 10 or more individual sketches written by Richards, the second season of "FNW" was only 4 episodes long. The first three episodes were released on DVD, distributed locally, with premieres for each in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin in 2004 and 2005. However, these original episodes contain copyrighted material which prevented their continued release. A fourth episode was recorded but not released at this time.
Richards would also make several attempts at a feature film during 2004 and 2005, most notably with a crime-thriller script titled Cultivated Contingency, but only test footage was ever recorded. A musical comedy, Humble Income, was also written by Richards and announced as going forward, but never went past the initial meetings phase. The opening sequence in The Amateur Monster Movie was written during this time as well.
2006-2011: King's Tower Productions, Mini DV Era
In 2006, Richards decided to end "Friday Night Weekly" to begin taking filmmaking more seriously. Learning of the Milwaukee Spotlight Student Film Festival, he wrote the script for his first edited short film, "Three Suits". With "Three Suits" he would reinvent the company as King's Tower Productions (briefly considering World's Tower Productions in early notes) and adapt the first version of the Spade-Heart-Club logo, a reference in part to the title of this short film.
Upon graduating high school in January of 2007, Richards would make his next attempt at a feature film with a new script, Hidden Morels. The film entered pre-production several months later, but fundraising goals were not met and Richards moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College. Dropping out after his first semester, Richards remained in Chicago for another 6 months in 2008 during which time he produced "Seffy D", "Rodents", and an unfinished third short film, "When the Cats Are Away", working closely with former Menomonee Falls classmate, Quinn Hester, who had also assisted in the last two episodes of "Friday Night Weekly" as well as "Three Suits".
In 2008, Richards resumed college in Phoenix, Arizona, attending The Art Institute of Phoenix. Here he completed three semesters before dropping out again in early 2009 to make a second attempt at producing Hidden Morels. Realizing goals would not be met once again, Richards switched gears to The Amateur Monster Movie as a no-budget comedy instead and returned to Wisconsin. It was filmed between the summers of 2009 and 2010 and premiered as the first King's Tower Productions feature film on January 1, 2011 at Milwaukee's Oriental Theater.
2011-2018: King's Tower Productions, DSLR Era
After the difficulties of having such a large cast and wide range of locations on The Amateur Monster Movie, Richards simplified both by writing The Wayward Sun, an idea that began as a short film idea he had while living in Arizona. The affordability of DSLR cameras made them a logical upgrade for the next project, leaving The Amateur Monster Movie as the final King's Tower Production to be recorded to tape. Production for The Wayward Sun was completed in 3 weeks in 2012 with a team of 8 people. It premiered a year later on August 29, 2013, but momentum had waned since the release of The Amateur Monster Movie, and a lack of an ability to consistently engage with an audience was to blame.
As a remedy, Richards began to experiment with a revival of "Friday Night Weekly". Initially a feature-length collection of 5 comedy short films based on the 5 most recurring sketches on the original "Friday Night Weekly" ("Fat Steve", "Professor VanOuchie", "Prison Posse", "Kids Say the DUMBEST Things", and "The Udderman Family") was attempted but only 2 and a half sketches were filmed before production was halted to focus on the upcoming premiere for The Wayward Sun. In July of 2013, an unscripted version of "Friday Night Weekly" was next-attempted in a talk show format. Richards enlisted Matt Henry as his co-host and an hour-long pilot episode was recorded, but wanting to stick to a weekly format this time and feeling unable to handle that volume each week, that idea was scrapped as too ambitious as well.
After a sold-out premiere for The Wayward Sun at Milwaukee's Rosebud Theater. The next attempt at "Friday Night Weekly" was made and this time would stick. Borrowing from a segment developed for the talk show version of the show, Richards and Henry would make "News of the Week" the initial fixture of the show and bring on Reuben Glaser as producer and editor of his own segment, "The Reuben Report". Later, Makenzie Boettcher would join Richards and Henry as a third co-host of the show. 25 weekly episodes were produced between September 13, 2013 and February 28, 2014, making up the first season, when it was announced that the second season would begin in Colombia.
Releases by King's Tower Productions
|Premiere Date||Release Month||Title||Format||Running time||Original Release Platform|
|September 30, 2017||July 2018||Batman & Jesus||Feature film||1:43:24||Amazon Video, Vimeo On Demand|
|May 30, 2016||May 2016||"King's Tower Quarterly"||Film series||31:58–40:08||YouTube, Vimeo|
|August 2, 2015||August 2015||"Holy Shit"||Film series||18:40–29:12||YouTube (2015-2016); Amazon Video (2016-2018); Vimeo On Demand (2018–present)|
|April 21, 2015||April 2015||"Poké Men & Women"||Short film series||5:05–5:59||YouTube|
|August 29, 2014||October 2014||"Un Jardín Adentro de La Violencia"||Short film||21:16||YouTube|
|September 13, 2013||September 2013||"Friday Night Weekly"||Film series||10:54–21:39||YouTube|
|August 29, 2013||January 2017||The Wayward Sun||Feature film||1:26:44||Amazon Video|
|January 1, 2011||December 2011||The Amateur Monster Movie||Feature film||1:39:27||DVD|
|May 2, 2010||December 2009||"Rodents"||Short film||9:28||YouTube|
|December 8, 2008||December 2008||"And If By Yes"||Mini film||0:42||YouTube|
|September 20, 2008||September 2008||"Kevin vs. Kevin"||Mini film||3:36||YouTube|
|August 24, 2008||August 2008||"Biden My Time"||Mini film||3:17||YouTube|
|August 21, 2008||August 2008||"Kevin vs. Phelps"||Mini film||2:42||YouTube|
|August 16, 2008||August 2008||"Our Favre"||Mini film||2:44||YouTube|
|July 7, 2008||July 2008||"School with Brule"||Short film series||0:28–0:49||YouTube|
|May 31, 2008||January 2008||"Seffy D"||Short film||16:44||YouTube|
|May 2006||May 2006||"Three Suits"||Short film||11:28||DVD|
|September 13, 2002||September 2002||"Friday Night Weekly"||Film series||59:19–1:11:12||VHS (2002-2003); DVD (2003-2005)|
Delayed or canceled projects
Over the years there have been a number of projects started or announced by King's Tower Productions that have become delayed or canceled before production was completed, or in some cases even began. Often this has been due to budgetary or scheduling conflicts. Some of these projects have been officially terminated, while others' statuses remain unconfirmed.
Notable examples of this include what was to have been the first feature film from King's Tower which entered pre-production in 2007, Hidden Morels, which has since been delayed indefinitely, as well as a Friday Night Weekly movie in production in 2013, based on characters from the 2002 series, which was canceled. That film spurred into the short film, "Stand Up, Steve Regis", which also became delayed indefinitely after a critical location backed out at the start of production in 2014. It is mentioned at the start of the "Friday Night Weekly" episode, "Uncle Knows Best" by Jozef, Matt, and Makenzie.