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Belton Mouras Jr.: Behind the Beats

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Belton Mouras Jr.

We featured Belton Mouras Jr. in this year's Behind the BEATS magazine alongside three others who have found success beyond music. He shared with us his passion and experience in filmmaking. Only a portion was included in our magazine, so please enjoy the entire interview below.

Allen Kepler: Which grabbed your interest first… film or music?

Belton Mouras Jr: Wow—great question.  It’s probably a draw between film and music, despite the fact that I have played piano all my life.  And here is the backstory to my answer: The first film project I became involved in was a feature film, Jakes Corner (in 2006).  I ended up becoming an executive producer in the film and had a small acting role in it.   I found out about it through a friend of mine who had a good friend who was the main producer in the film.  Because my friend knew I was a musician and had some interest in the film world, he invited me down to the set (in Arizona) because he knew that the multiple grammy award winner B.J. Thomas was going to have a minor role in it, including performing music in the movie.  I spent several incredible days on set hanging out with BJ and many of the other talented actors.   I was completely hooked (ha ha—“hooked on a feeling”  by BJ)!  It was an awesome, life-changing experience for me-- and the magic of music and film together--become inseparable for me.

AK: What similarities (if any) do you find between writing / producing a film and writing / producing a tune?

Belton Mouras Jr: I have faith that the creative energy inside me will flow out of me onto the screen or paper for either endeavor.  I haven’t always had that faith, but now- after enough successes-- I totally rely on it being there.  I grew up playing music in the “flow” or the “zone” as most of us musicians know.  Then I started painting twenty years ago and found that same zone.  It was only when I began writing the screenplay for my first short movie, "Mickey's Tree,” two years ago, that I began to enter that same magical zone place—which I now know as my divine inner spark.   

It would probably seem obvious, but one other major similarity I have found is that I must show up at the piano or computer keyboard to write or compose and be committed to starting the process.  I must have my hands/fingers ready to write, play, etc., with whatever spark comes up.  Sometimes that inner urge comes pouring out of me—sometimes I have to sit there a while and be patient and know the creative process is moving around in me and will soon flow out of me. My hands become the messenger ready to capture the creative energy.  I often tell people the whole trick to being an artist is to do one thing—"use your hands”—pick up a paint brush, fingers on an instrument, fingers on a keyboard to write (or “feet” ready to move to dance), etc., At that point,  I like to say my “most high” inner source can take over helping me to express those unique creative musical or artistic gifts I have inside of me.

AK: Tell us about your process for selecting music for your films?

Belton Mouras Jr: Another great question.  I believe music is the “juice” of a film and pretty much leads the film along.  Scoring a film is probably my favorite entertainment activity to work on. If I have written the story/screenplay and/or directed the film, I know intuitively the feel and direction I want musically for the film and I will often begin composing music ahead of time. If someone else has written and directed, then I familiarize myself first with the story and spend time with the writer and director before and/or during the filming.  Once the film is wrapped and in post-production, I will review the film clips as they are coming in from the editor and begin syncing up music scene-by-scene. Syncing is always a fun process but does require a bit of experimenting with different sounds and songs, trying best to capture the feeling and tone of each scene.  I will compose music spontaneously while syncing it directly into the film, but also find that composing music separately and bringing it into sync works well sometimes.  I also always try to work on a central theme that ties the film together holistically.  


AK: How do you balance your focus between filmmaking and being a smooth jazz artist?

Belton Mouras Jr: That has flowed easily for me.  First, the films I work on only come out once a year or so, at the most.  There is a lot of time in between each film.  Films are very intense time-wise from the start of pre-production—through post-production—often many months.  But in-between could be many months—in which there is plenty of time to compose and produce music.  

AK: What’s coming for us in 2024?

Belton Mouras Jr:I am very excited as we just launched our new company Belton Mouras Entertainment and it’s giving me an opportunity to share my passion of storytelling through film, music, and art with the world.  

I’m wrapping up a new six song Smooth Jazz EP that is being released in early 2024.  Stay tuned for some other very exotic new compositions.  A couple of new musical videos are being planned.  We have greenlit a very very funny 10-minute short film coming out mid-2024.  We also have two feature films being developed, one will be filmed in Costa Rica and the other in Northern California.

Learn more about Belton Mouras Jr. and his work here or his latest short film Mickey's Tree here.

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