“A visionary who creates something from nothing,” James Hunter says without hesitation when asked what his definition of the word artist is. By his own definition, he certainly falls into that category. The new director premiered his first full-length feature film in Brooklyn on Wednesday night last week, bringing together a crowd of supporters from all over to celebrate the culmination of “a passion project that almost didn’t get done,” as Hunter puts it, and the commencement of a bright career. “The Breaking Point,” a dark comedy about the tests of street life, is full of young promising black actors.
Hunter stressed his need to end the movie with a positive message. “I set a bad example,” he said. “Most of my life is about revenge. [So this] can’t be about revenge anymore. It’s got to be about redemption.” Hunter dealt with a lot of the dangers of street life. A Brooklyn native who also spent time growing up in Newport News, Virginia, Hunter is now wheelchair bound after having been shot three times by stray bullets that were not meant for him in an 2004 incident.
One of the bullets still remains in his chest, lodged too close to his heart to have been safely removed. A lot of his experiences and lessons learned are clearly poured into “The Breaking Point,” and we are watching the story unfold through the eyes of someone who has been there and seen it all.
James diverted his attentions away from the streets after the incident landed him in the hospital for over two years. Now, his energies are completely poured into his artistic pursuits. To address the problem of black representation in movies today, he says he’s constantly “attaching myself to stories about the black experience–good, bad and the ugly. No matter what, as long as there is a positive message attached at the end of the day.” “The Breaking Point” was halted in the middle of production after one of his investors dropped out, leaving him without about $5,000. Still, he says, his faith kept him believing that the movie was going to happen, that he would be able to raise the money, so he made a trailer. And a half hour he released it, he had another investor.
He is a concrete example of persistence, of what can happen when you take your dreams seriously. Despite the hardships- or perhaps because of them -Hunter refused the negative route. When asked how he stays so positive, he says “Practice. Keepin’ at it. Being positive doesn’t happen overnight; it’s not conjured up… at the lowest point in my life, there was like a shock through my body. And I just realized there’s always a better day ahead.”
His advice to parents who are dealing with that same attraction to the streets that he had to deal with: “Give them alternatives. Give them something else. Sports, music… fill the void, or negative influences will creep in.”
His interest in film was sparked during a tour of Full Sail University when he was a prospective student. He was looking at the music program, but passed by a tour of the film department and immediately decided to jump on it, never looking back. It’s the audio visual component of film that he feels better allows him to tell stories. “With rapping it’s up to interpretation. With film I can show you what I’m talking about. And I knew that if I did it right, I’d have a platform to reach millions of people.” He was introduced to God at a young age, and strayed away from all he was taught during the years that the rules of the street ran his life. He says of faith, “you go back to what you know” when you deal with such severity in life. He carries that air of wisdom with him around always. His actors speak highly of him; “he always finds the bright side of everything,” says Diana Lovell, one of the lead actresses of The Breaking Point. “He inspires me in my sleep,” declares another actor proudly. The room unanimously agrees. It is clear that Hunter’s dedication, relentless positively and triumphant story has won the love of his audiences, and will continue to do so.
What can we do to show support black artists? “Showin’ up,” James says. “Spreading the word. That’s the only way, because we are underrepresented in Hollywood. Hollywood only respects numbers. When they see that you have a healthy audience, a robust audience… taking the time out to come to premieres or if the filmmaker is blessed enough to get a distribution deal… our struggles aren’t being highlighted on a constant basis.”
Hunter is in the midst of writing his next script, and hopes to continue premiering “The Breaking Point.” His sights are set on Miami, Atlanta and possibly Los Angeles as the sites for the next premieres.
Redemption Is The Theme Of New Black Director’s Life, And His Movie [ORIGINAL] was originally published on theyolandaadamsmorningshow.com
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