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Alex Hurt II Talks About 'Death's Wager'

Please introduce yourself and tell us about your education and your interest in cinema.

My name is Alex Hurt II. I am a graduate of Dartmouth College where I majored in political science. Whether with childish playthings such as legos and puppets or with my first camera, I have been storytelling in some capacity since I was five years old.

Seeing and reading what works aroused your interest in this medium, and as a result, what works do you owe your education in cinema to?

Storytelling has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As the son of two Christian pastors, I was regaled early with tales of great floods, garden paradises, and messianic figures. Film became my focus after watching the Matrix. As the first DVD I owned, it was the first time I was able to witness behind the scenes footage. When I learned of film’s ability to fully capture human imagination, I knew I needed to devote myself to this.

Tell us about your first project. What difficulties did you have in the beginning?

I made my first film for public consumption when I was 12 years old. It was a puppet show designed for small children. Almost every technical mistake an amateur filmmaker could make, I did. The biggest difficulty with film is that ninety percent of the hard work is invisible. Other artistic expressions (painting, singing, dancing, etc) the audience has a firm understanding of the hard work involved. Because of this, you could prepare yourself for what is required should you attempt those endeavors. Because most of filmmaking is done behind the scenes, you are not fully prepared for the workload.

Is it more important to have a budget, or to have the mind to find salvation solutions in critical situations?

Very few filmmakers, even large Hollywood icons, have felt that they had exactly how much money or time they needed to fully realize their vision. And yet, they all made due. You must be able to think fluidly and quickly or you are certain to not make it.

Do you think film festivals help filmmakers?

Filmmaking can be a very isolated process. Watching your films only by yourself can lead to an inflated or deflated sense of your talent. It is important to watch your films in the presence of other filmmakers so you may learn, discuss, and appreciate yourself appropriately.

Tell us about film production companies. Can one, as an inquisitive filmmaker, count on production companies?

Production companies can be a great resource as long as your goals are in alignment. It is important to remember that the film industry is just that an industry. These companies are intending to make profit. I would caution you to make sure to understand the intentions of all you do business with.

How much of the future of cinema do you think is in the hands of powerful companies like Netflix?

I believe Netflix and the like will be hugely important in terms of bringing in international cinema. It's a great mechanism to easily sort and distinguish foreign films.

Is cinema, as some say, dead, and should we expect television and Internet broadcasts to be gaining more and more power?

Cinema will never truly die. But it is at a crossroads where it will have to find itself again. Because quality storytelling is now not limited to the theater, Hollywood’s choices were to cower behind pre-existing fan bases or step up their quality and gain new fans. It does seem unfortunately for the majority of the 2010s they chose the first option. As those options expire, they will be forced to refocus on quality and original quality rather than brands.

What skills do you think a filmmaker needs to have?

Is it necessary for the filmmaker to personally understand many specialized subfields? The best skills one can have as a good filmmaker are the same one can have as a good person. Be direct but compassionate. Knowledgeable but open. Demanding but merciful. Surround yourself with people whose expertise you can rely on and whose criticisms you can trust. You should have a layman understanding of all fields but mastery of none. Your primary job is to have a vision, clearly communicate it, and trust others to execute it.

Tell us about your next project, please.

My next project will be a short martial arts comedy film. I want it to be in the family of a Jackie Chan film. It involves a drug deal gone awry leading to a battle where one combatant must also protect drycleaning. It is called Reciprocity and will be beginning production very soon.


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