Justin Hunt is an internationally-acclaimed writer/director of both feature length documentaries and narratives that have made massive social impact across the globe.
To date, he has released three feature-length documentaries, ‘American Meth’, ‘Absent’ and ‘The Speed of Orange’. A fourth documentary, ‘Cardboard Butterfly: The Human Struggle with Porn’, is in post production. The first three have won more than 20 film festivals around the world, and all three have been distributed on a large scale, each reaching over 98 million homes via Video On Demand in the U.S alone.
Justin’s first feature length narrative, ‘Far To Far’, hit theaters on April 3, 2015 and was the #5 movie in the nation, per screen average, in its opening week.
Justin you became the youngest news anchor in the history of NBC and with a road marked with a tremendous future you walked away to follow your dreams. How tough of a decision was that?
Honestly, it wasn’t that tough of a decision. I really enjoyed certain aspects of that career, such as being on air, the relationships created with audience members and the people I covered and the art of storytelling. But the corporate side of broadcasting was a disappointment and, frankly, I felt extremely stifled in not being allowed to let creativity run its natural course.
The heart of your movies are a call for us to wake up and take charge of the world around us. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
There are several facets to what I’d like to leave behind. First and foremost, I want to leave a mark that both pleases and glorifies God. Secondly, I want my children to be proud and see what I’ve done as an example of what working hard and faithfully can accomplish. Third, as a student and great admirer of film, I would like to leave behind a body of work that is long remembered as good film-making. Finally, I would like to think that, by the time I’m done, there are tens of thousands of people, if not more, that have been touched and changed by my work. To be able to say you changed the trajectory of a person’s life in a positive way is a very rewarding thing.
They’re all difficult in their own way. Some because of the time they took, others because of the enduring struggle of trying to finance them. If I had to pick one project as the toughest, I would have to say ‘The Speed of Orange’. Putting one’s family, and all of its history and splendor and vulnerabilities, in front of the general public can be a very tricky thing. Additionally, watching my mother succumb to cancer as an element of the film was a very difficult thing to watch, much less document.
In the movie ‘Absent’ you capture the heart of the father wound that is plaguing our world. In 2013, you spoke to the Australian Parliament on the importance of fatherhood. As a dad what did you learn from tackling this issue?
I honestly think one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it. Having not only heard the stories of so many who were hurt by their fathers, but also those who are extremely knowledgeable in that field, I was left with no choice but to observe and absorb so much life experience. I then bring that back into my own home and it’s so clear what my kids need from me as their father. I feel very blessed to have been able to learn so much from so many and then apply it to the lives of my children.
Who was the toughest interview that you ever had and why?
It would be with my mom, 14 days before she died. The reason why is quite apparent. Not only her physical state, but her acceptance that her time was nearly over.
What is the hardest time in your life when you wanted to quit but you didn’t and why did you keep going? How did that experience change you?
It can be very frustrating, and oft discouraging, to have to do these projects on my own. They take years to complete, tons of work and don’t always get the exposure I’d hoped they would. So, naturally, sometimes you just want to throw your hands up and say, ‘Forget it! I think I’ll just go work at Target or something!’ But, it’s never, ever been in my nature to quit. I don’t accept defeat like others might. As odd as it sounds, I see challenges as opportunity to become stronger.
If you could give advice to your younger self knowing what you know now what would you say?
You’d have to ask my son that, because that’s exactly how I see him and that is precisely the advice I give him on a daily basis. I see him as a younger me, which, in turn, I see my younger self in him. I think back to all of the pitfalls of life that tripped me up, slowed me down, misdirected me and I want him to avoid those issues. I know issues of his own will pop up, but at least he can avoid what was difficult for me in those phases of life. As for what I’d say to myself, I don’t think I’d say much. What has happened in my life up to this point has led me to be who I am at this very moment.
In all of history if you could ask one person a question who would it be and what would you ask?
Great question. Many people come to mind. Oh, they mysteries that could be solved! I think I’d have to go with Jesus. My question would be, ‘Mind if I tag along?’
For more information on Justin and his movies go to http://absentmovie.com/