We had the privilege of sitting down with the exceptionally talented Hunter Jackson. Hunter Jackson is a local videographer, photographer, actor, and musician in the DFW area. You can check out some of his work here. He has been photographing since he was a kid and since then has developed a love and passion for film, video, photography and music.
Actor. Videographer. Musician. Photographer.
Lindsey: Okay, are you ready?
Hunter: I think I’m ready.
L: Okay, first question, Dogs or cats?
L: Favorite ice cream flavor?
H: Oh, man. That’s a hard one. Maybe…maybe cookies and cream?
L: Are you sure?
H: Yeah, yeah.
L: Can you rap?
H: Not very well.
L: Do you wanna try?
H: Um…”Walking down the street, I -” yeah, no I can’t. I’m not good at it.
L: Okay. Do you have any secret talents?
H: Secret hidden talents…I can make the Chewbacca noise?
L: You wanna prove it?
H: *imitates Chewbacca*
L: That’s awesome. I can’t do that at all. I sound like a dying cat when I try.
H: There’s an art to it. You don’t use your tongue. You use that little thing that hangs from your mouth and you make that thing move.
L: Country you most want to visit?
H: Oh man. I want to go to Iceland!
L: Do you have a specific reason why?
H: It’s just really picturesque. I want to go there and shoot photos, go to their hot spas. They’ve got this natural spring, and it’s really green. Plus, after I saw the Bon Iver video, Holocene, it’s just amazing.
L: How many push-ups can you do?
H: Probably 30?
L: Favorite song right now?
H: Favorite song right now? Oh my gosh, that’s really hard. I would probably say my favorite song right now is “Modern Drift” by Efterklang.
L: Last book that you read/remember reading?
H: I was reading Visions From Heaven, I believe.
L: Can you keep a plant alive?
H: Mm…I don’t know.
L: Have you ever tried?
H: Yeah, and I don’t think I did very well. So, no.
L: I tried to keep a lavender plant alive once, and it lasted a day and a half, and then it all just wilted.
H: Oh man!
L: Okay, last one – what’s something you’ve always wanted to do.
H: Man, you know what would be really cool? To have an awesome band and just tour around the country and have thousands of people coming to your show. And be really good. And not just be another band but play music that really impacts people. Like Coldplay status.
Either that or make a movie – make a feature film.
L: Be in a feature film?
H: No, direct it. I guess write, direct, produce. I can’t really pick one.
L: Or you can write and produce your own movie about the cool awesome band that you have touring the world.
I’m Hunter Jackson. I’m 37. I am from Dallas, Texas. I work full time, freelance. I own my own film business
L: Okay, so why don’t you tell us your name, where you’re from, a little bit about yourself, what you do, etc.
H: I’m Hunter Jackson. I’m 37. I am from Dallas, Texas. I work full time: freelance. I own my own film business – Hunter Jackson Photography, hunterjackson.com. I do photography and I do video work. I do mainly portrait work and head shots. I’ve done a little bit of fashion. I also do a lot of product photography for my family’s company, Jacksons Home & Garden, or Jackson Pottery. I also do videos, so I’ve shot industrial stuff: demo reels for actors, short little scenes, short films. I also used to work as a grip electric and do camera editing in the film industry for four years when I lived in California.
L: So you would say filmmaking is your passion?
H: Yeah, I’d really love to make a film. I think my number one passion would be music, though, even though I don’t really do that as a living. I would love to make a feature film because I feel like God’s given me a lot of good ideas for stories. It’s just a matter of disciplining myself to sit down and write them.
L: Can you remember the first photograph or film that you remember taking?
H: First photograph I ever took? That’s little hard because I always had little disposable cameras when I was younger. I don’t remember. I just took random things. I don’t really remember. That’s a hard question. I do remember the first short film I ever did. It was in college. It was called “Shad Gizzard,” and it’s pretty terrible. I actually acted in it as well. I wrote it and kind of produced it/directed it. It’s about these people in Arkansas who get kidnapped. This guy is named Shad Gizzard and he turns them all into like zombies, but not like real zombies. He drugs them with the water. They have to do whatever he says and they become his slave. So the whole premise is my (Shad’s) girlfriend disappears and I go after her to this city. I try to find her and ended up getting kidnapped by these guys. Then I escape with her from the camp and stuff. It’s really terrible, though. It’s really bad.
L: Is it like when you finish a song and you look back a couple years later and you’re like “what was I thinking?”
H: Ye-no not really. I mean, it’s still very entertaining. But I wouldn’t, y’know, try to pitch it to someone and say,“hey, you should fund me.”
L: So you mentioned you have a lot of stories and God dreams? Tell us a little more about that.
H: What’s funny is I feel like dreams change over time, and there are different dreams that come. For a long time I really wanted to do, and I still do, a lot of worship and travel. That was a big dream of mine, but I think now if I could do anything…I feel like the Lord has given me a lot of stories. One of them is a story I got when I was younger. I would listen to music. Music has such an impact on me and opening my eyes to ideas and taking me places. They just have such a powerful way to take you there in imagination and creativity.
Music has such an impact on me and opening my eyes to ideas and taking me places.
So I was listening to this music, I think it was Moby, and I wrote this little story. It’s kind of like a modern day Paul story, but it’s a sci-fi. I’ve got a lot of sci-fi movies, ha. This planet is dying and it’s moving towards the Sun of that Solar System. A long time ago these people were sent there to go to the planet and see if it’s livable, but they become divided. One group wants to follow the General’s orders, but the other one doesn’t. The people that wanted to follow the General end up going under the planet and hiding, but the people that stayed on top stayed above the surface and became really evil. Then, this human guy gets sent there to go rescue the general’s people which are basically God’s people. It’s a really long story. It’s an adventure story.
But then recently in the last couple of years, I was in the prayer room and I had another idea for a movie. It’s basically to expose people to the idea of Heaven and the reality of God and life after death. It’s about these astronauts going to space, and they’re sent on this mission, but what they’re not told is that they’re not going to return. They are going to die out there and they’re probably not going to come back. In the process of dying, they end up going into this planet that symbolizes Heaven. They’re seeing loved ones and they’re seeing other people that they knew. There’s also this opposition that some of them don’t believe in God and some of them do. There’s this city that they can’t go into but others can. It’s so much deeper than what I’m telling you. But God’s given me these really detailed in-depth stories and I hate to see them go to waste, y’know? I’d love to see them come to fruition.
I think the biggest thing that holds me back from writing is that there’s a fear or hesitancy that maybe it won’t be as good.
I think the biggest thing that holds me back from writing it is the fear or hesitancy that maybe it won’t be as good. Like when I try to write it, I won’t be able to express everything that I’ve seen in a way that’s going to be effective. It’s also like, hey if I write this, do I give this to someone or do I try to produce it myself? If I give it someone else they’ll try to add their own junk to it – things that aren’t the intent of my original idea. I think it’s just taking the first step and trusting God with these dreams and these ideas and writing them down. Start writing them in script format and doing everything to be the best at what I do like maybe taking more workshops about creative writing or screenwriting.
I’ve been trying to do more stuff with shooting. I’ve been shooting for actors to try and get in the flow of staying active with film stuff. I’ve been taking acting classes. I have an agent. I’ve been trying to do more acting so that it can help me become a better director so that if I end up directing I’ll be able to work with actors and helping them capture the vision, or the emotion, or the feel of what’s going on. I’ve been doing some of the groundwork as far as preparing for all the production stuff, but the preproduction side and the marketing side I’m not strong at. There’s just so much that goes into it. I feel like I have all these dreams and all these ideas, but it’s just surrounding yourself with the right people. It has to be the Lord, too. I don’t want to strive, y’know, and try to force something? But I think there also is an element of discipline and really sitting down and forcing myself to write these ideas and dreams down that God’s given me.
It’s kind of the same with music. I felt like there has been a huge writers block with music, too. I have an album that I produced in 2012, and I didn’t market it well. It’s a great album. The songs are awesome, and it’s really well produced, but I didn’t market it. I didn’t make my money back. It’s hard when you want to spend all your energy on something if it’s not going to have a return. You plant seeds and they don’t grow. So if I do write this script, and I end up shooting it, I would need to be really smart about marketing it and networking it and all that stuff to try and get it out there, but it has to be the Lord. In areas that I’m not strong, it has to be the Lord coming beside me and being a part of it.
There’s such a need in Hollywood for good movies. I feel like they’re just recycling the same stuff over and over again. I see so many movies without a takeaway. At the end, there’s no resolution. You’re left feeling empty and walk out wondering what you just watched. I went and saw Lobster and it was just completely empty and completely pointless. It was basically making humans seem like we were just like animals. We don’t matter, we don’t have emotions, and our feelings don’t matter. This lady jumps out of a building and is dying but no one really cares. It’s programming. I feel like it’s just trying to program our culture. I feel like film and movies have such a huge influence on our culture. More people go to the movies than go to church.
I remember last year I was in Nashville with a friend and we were watching the new Jurassic park, and I was telling the Lord, “God, what’s the point of this? I just don’t see…do you really want me to do this? I just don’t see this happening, and I don’t see the point of it.” And the Lord was saying, “Look around you.” And I looked around the theater and there were all these people there…like a lot, and I felt like He said, “This is their church.” The way culture is being influenced is through movies through media. The eyes are the window to the soul. It’s such a powerful way to impact. There’s a lot of people doing documentaries like God’s Not Dead, Holy Ghost, or Finger of God, and those are awesome! There’s just not a lot of people doing good writing, good stories, narratives films. That’s an area that I feel has a huge need. I mean, there was Left Behind and stuff like that but it’s just so minimal on the target audience. It’s only marketed to Christians. Realistically, I don’t think it’s something that I would watch. It’s not something that I feel like I connect with.
I really want to connect with people’s hearts and emotions. I want when they leave for it to make them think about God, or it makes them think things like, “man, I want to be a better person,” “man, I really loved that person because he was so humble,” “man, that person had the heart to save these people,” or “man, that guy really struggled with depression, but he got freedom because he surrounded himself with people that loved him” I’m just trying to connect with people’s hearts. If you’re not emotionally connecting with people in a film then it’s kind of like, what’s the point?
L: Would you say that that’s the reason why storytelling captivates your heart so much?
H: Yeah, I mean, I think storytelling is important because I feel like emotionally it really has to connect with people. It has to connect with their heart. It has to take them somewhere. It has to relate to them on some level. Also, storytelling needs to, as a believer, it needs to have an impact on our culture, our belief system, our identity of people. There are so many films right now that are not biblically based that are really impacting our culture in a negative way, y’know? They’re making bad guys look cool or good.
L: When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
H: When I was young, I wanted to be a director. A film director. Yeah, I did.
L: If you could give your teenage self a piece of advice, what would it be?
H: Man… I would have told myself that I don’t have to earn God’s love and that I’m loved as I am. I would just really want myself to know who I am in Christ, know that the Father loves me, and I’m completely accepted. I’d really want to explore more, with good boundaries, and to enjoy my life more. I would tell myself not to be afraid of being rejected. I think if I’d known that I was fully accepted and loved by God (and I walked in that) then I think that I would have probably built more relationships with people and would have been less introspective and more…I don’t know. I think I would have told myself to believe in myself. I think I would have told myself to really believe in myself and really keep pursuing my dreams and pursuing my talents. I would have told myself not to give up. A lot of times I was told that it was a waste of time and that it was stupid and Hollywood was going to Hell. I was told, “you’ll never go anywhere with music. You’ll never go anywhere in Hollywood. Acting is stupid and it’s a waste of time.” I think I would have stuck with acting. I think I would have encouraged myself to keep pursuing the things I love and not do it because of money. I think when you pursue what you love instead of pursuing the money then the money will come because you’re doing what you’re thriving at. You’re doing what you love. I think I would have grown more as an actor. I would have surrounded myself with creative people. I know when I was in college, I was around a lot of creative people. I think when you’re around like-minded creative people it spurs on more creativity. Don’t listen to the voice of discouragement. Continue to pursue the things you love, and not give up, even when things get tough. I would have told myself to stay connected to the Father who loves me. I don’t have to strive for that. I don’t have to strive for His acceptance. I didn’t have to strive for His help. He really and truly does have my best interest in mind. I don’t know. Things like that.
I would have told myself to stay connected to the Father who loves me. I don’t have to strive for that.
L: What inspires you?
H: What inspires me…man. I would say things done in excellence really inspire me. People who do music really well and aren’t just halfway doing it. They really think about the song and they really think about the pieces of the song: the direction, the emotion, and the feeling. I think things done in excellence…well, you can tell when things are not excellent. I feel like when there’s passion behind things you can just tell. I feel like people’s lives being impacted, that is inspiring. People who lay their lives down for others or give up what looks good to the world to follow God, who are obedient to what God’s called them to do, even though it’s not easy, even though it’s hard, that’s inspiring. I think humility is inspiring. When I see people who are kind and loving, I think that’s inspiring.
A good film that has a good story and a good message, that’s inspiring to me. A film that is shot well, the lighting’s beautiful, the character development is beautiful, there’s a lot of time that they put into it. People that paint and draw. I’m not like a huge artist, and sometimes I don’t really appreciate art all the time, but what inspires me is the time they put into it and the attention to detail, that’s inspiring to me. There’s a heart behind it.
What inspires me is people pursuing what they love. There’re so many people who just do the 9 – 5 job that do not have a heart for it. They just go to work, clock in and clock out to pay rent, to pay their check, but on the inside, they’re dying. I think for a long time, for me personally, I worked with my families business and I did this job that I was miserable doing and I literally felt like I was dying on the inside, and I thank God that I left. It was hard leaving. I mean, I took a large pay loss, but I’m happier doing what I love. It’s inspiring to see people pursuing their dreams, even when it’s tough, even when it’s hard, but they believe in themselves and they believe that it’s going to blossom and bloom and there’s a reason that they’re doing it. That’s inspiring to me, when they’re going against all odds, when they know that they could still fail, but they’re still doing it because they believe in it.
I think that is the most inspiring to me, people that are willing to take risks and do what they love despite settling to do what’s easiest.
L: Well, speaking of payout – pay loss, how would you utilize $1,000,000?
H: How would I utilize a million dollars. Oh man, a million dollars. I would say I’d probably …man I don’t know… I’d probably invest some of it, like in real estate, or some kind of investment that would come into return so that I could make more money, and then use that. Then, other parts of it I would probably give to a cause. Y’know what’s funny? I think I did this one time. I think a third of it I would invest in real estate or some kind of investment, a third of it I would give towards charity, and a third of it I would put towards a film, and making a film.
AND an album. A film and an album.
L: Okay, we’ve talked about this a little bit, do you want to briefly describe how your spiritual life affected your lives work?
H: My lives work? Yeah, for sure. Well, going to this conference Be in Health in Georgia helped me a lot. The biggest thing I walked away with that was believing that God loved me, that He truly loved me, and He wasn’t disappointed in me, and that He’s a good God. I always thought that Jesus was kind, but that God was always disappointed in me, and I had to try and earn his love, and he was never happy with me, and I had to do more missions. It was all performance based, even ministry became super performance based. I think the biggest takeaway was knowing that God loves me and I’m accepted all the time, no matter whether I fail or I sin or I’m doing great and I’m doing all of these things. His love for me never changes, and that was a huge thing for me. ‘Cause growing up in religion, it was all about trying to follow all of these rules so that God won’t be upset with you or you won’t be punished for stuff.
I want to be remembered as a man who loved Jesus and loved people well, and as a worshipper who connected people to Lord.
I used to write a lot of songs. They were great, but they were always from a place of darkness. Not all of them, but they came from a place of pain and trial and struggle. I think there’s so much power in that, but I think when my perspective of him change, I feel like, in my work, I don’t have to strive anymore. I can operate out of a place of peace and rest. It’s such a better place to work from knowing that.
In the past, I would weigh my success on how much money I made or how big of a business I had, and now I feel like I weigh my success on how the Father sees me, so I’m not constantly in this place of striving to make a lot of money so that I’m okay with God.
I would alway think, “I gotta do all this. I gotta shoot a film. I gotta make an album.” It was all this stuff I have to I have to, instead of want to. I think knowing Him and loving Him, it will naturally become a want to instead of a have to.
L: What do you want to be remembered for?
H: Man, that’s so hard. I want to be remembered as a man who loved Jesus and loved people well, and as a worshipper who connected people to Lord. I want to be remembered as a man who loves people well and loves God well, and maybe displayed God’s creativity.