PA native Kaylon Hunt, Viola Davis produce film

Published 5:02 pm Friday, November 13, 2015



Port Arthur native Kaylon Hunt was always the quiet one in school, a studious young man who excelled academically while harboring a desire to go into performing arts. His timid nature prompted the student body of his 2003 Memorial High School graduating class to vote him “Mr. Quiet,” at the end of his junior year, and kept him from having the confidence to enroll in high school theater classes.

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Now, 12 years later, Hunt is drawing on his introverted nature as the basis of a live-action short film executive produced by Emmy Award winner Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon. .

“The Brink,” will be launched on JuVee Production’s new YouTube Channel on Sunday. The short thriller centers around two stranded survivors in an endless wasteland who clash as they unravel the truth of what led them there.

“It is very personal story that explores how people deal with their fears, but also has a genre element that makes it entertainment,” the actor said Thursday from his home in Los Angeles.

Hunt, 30, has worked with Davis’ company for the past four years after graduating from the University of Southern California of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. There, he produced a number of projects, including Turbo in 2009, which won an Emmy Foundation’s College Television Award.

While at USC, Hunt immersed himself in the study of acting at Milton Katsalas’ Beverly Hills Playhouse where he trained for several years.

While still in school, Hunt was introduced to Davis and her husband Julius Tennon, who were in the process of starting their own production company.

Hunt said he met Davis just after she completed filming “Doubt,” a 2009 film whose four main actors, including Davis, were nominated for Academy Awards.

Hunt made an impression on the couple, which said they would keep him in mind when they were ready to start the company.

In looking back at his hometown, Hunt said it was hard to explain the path that took him from Port Arthur to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of working in the performing arts.

“The interest was always there, but I was a quiet guy so I did not start pursuing it until I got to California. Once you put yourself out there, you just never know where it will take you,” he said.

“The Brink,” which Hunt wrote, produced and starred in, explores the themes of self-empowerment, of overcoming obstacles that block one’s path.

“It is a very personal story about how I dealt with introversion of fear of sharing my art or work with the world,” he said.

The most difficult part of the project was writing a script that could tell a powerful story in seven minutes, he said.

“The script was five pages, so it is a lot to cover in just five pages” Hunt said. “I wanted to stay concise and entertaining, each moment had to be very specific in telling a story,” he said.

Davis and her company, of which Hunt is creative executive, chose to launch the film on YouTube to connect in a different way with audiences.

“It is the future. Audiences are more and more watching things from their devices; it is an easier way to access I think,” he said.

JuVee Productions just released the company’s first feature film in July, “Lila and Eve,” starring Davis and Jennifer Lopez.

The company is in development with HBO/Dreamworks for a movie about the life of Harriet Tubman.

“It’s still in the script stage,” Hunt said.

In 2012, Hunt made his directorial debut with a self-written and produced comic book inspired short film. “Hero Story” premiered at the Comic-Com International Film Festival, where it gained press recognition for its visual effects, original characters, and fun take on the superhero genre.

Though his career in Los Angeles keeps him busy, Hunt finds time to come home at least once a year to visit family here, his parents Roland and Andrea Jackson, a sister and “all my aunts and uncles,” he said.

“I have nine aunts and uncles,” he said.

Hunt said he has fond memories of his parents helping to run Triangle Soup Kitchen, a charitable organization founded by the late Exie Simon that fed the hungry.

“I have my roots in Port Arthur that formed who I am,” he said.

And, while others may picture him living a glitzy life afforded actors and producers, Hunt said he planned to view “The Brink” at home when it debuts Sunday on YouTube.

“I will probably be home alone; that is the glamour of the business. It is 99.9 percent hard work and .01 percent celebration,” he said.

Looking ahead, the hard work has just increased.

“We have been very busy since she (Davis) won the Emmy. There are a lot of people who her message resonates with and want to be in business with, so it has been very exciting for all of us,” Hunt said.


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