Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pure Inspiration

James Hunter is the Founder and CEO of 1st Dibz Productions LLC. He resides in Florida now, but he is originally from Brooklyn New York. He is also an alumnus of Full Sail University with a Bachelor’s degree in film and a Master’s degree in entertainment business. As a Hip-Hop artist, his aspirations were cut short when he was shot three times causing him to become paralyzed from the waist down. He changed his focus to film once he enrolled at Full Sail University. He was injured again significantly when a truck ran him over. In addition, medical complications from both unfortunate incidents greatly plagued his college career. Regardless, he remained determined to accomplish his dream of building his own film production company.   

On October 5th 2012, at 6:00 p.m. on a rainy Friday afternoon, I was interviewing James Hunter at his home in Orlando Florida. He was having a Heineken and I was drinking bottled water on his patio.  The first thing I noticed about James was his incredibly charming personality. His voice was filled with enthusiasm as he used his hands when he spoke. It was very easy to become captivated listening to him, so much that I completely forgot he was half robot. He figuratively stood across from me just as a man sharing his industry experiences and personal obstacles that he obviously turned into opportunities. Our interview consisted of him sharing some of his negotiation experiences in order to get some of his films produced. We focused on three areas of negotiation: Leverage, Mutual Benefits and Tricky Tactics.

The first opportunity for James came when he was looking for investors for the production of his first film “Juxed”.  Unfortunately around the same time, his wheelchair malfunctioned as he got half way across a busy street and a truck hit him. One of the doctors he developed a friendship with while being in the hospital for a year, was on the fence each time James asked him to be an investor. One day during one of James’s many surgeries, his doctor thought he had made an irreversible mistake; because of the friendship between the two men, the doctor’s wife compelled him to explain the situation to James. After James listened to him, he suppressed his true feelings of anger and blindly forgave his doctor. Luckily, the mistake was caught in time sparing both men possible legal issues. This time James jokingly reminded his friend of the potentially diverted malpractice lawsuit, asking once again, 
“ So doc, what’s up with you investing in my movie?” Without hesitation the doctor accepted James’s deal proposal and became an investor for “Juxed”. The two men are still friends today.

Mutual Benefit
Another opportunity for the Production on James’s short film “Juxed” began before he graduated from Full Sail University. He met Sean Nelson though a childhood friend, which is a Hollywood actor whose industry resume includes movies like “The Wood, Fresh with Samuel L. Jackson and HBO’s The Corner”. He explains to me, how he was willing to negotiate hiring Sean Nelson and Duane Finley as lead actors for about $1,500 to $2,000. But once Sean read the script, he wanted to negotiate being a co-producer as well as one of the lead actors in exchange for zero payment. James gladly accepted that deal and finished production of his movie once he graduated from Full Sail University with his film degree in 2010.

Tricky Tactics
In 2011, James was recommended to co-direct an independent film but after conversation with the filmmaker James realized he would be better suited as the producer. According to the hundred-page script, the amount of money he started his negotiation with was $15,000 in addition to 7% on the backend. The deal was agreed but not signed due supposedly to attorney backlog. After several assuring meetings but no signed contract in hand, James decided to confront the filmmaker. James learned that the filmmaker was stringing him along; meanwhile, using another company to produce the film for only $10,000. The day before Christmas, the filmmaker was unsatisfied with his decision and called James back. James successfully negotiated and signed a different contract that helped the filmmaker correct problems previously made by the producer he chose over James. 

Retrieved from Interviewee, James Hunter, 1st Dibz Production LLC,

Dr. Steve Adkins, Full Sail University Professor,

Google images, Retrieved from

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