Film director Stefan Hunt has been making documentaries, music videos, commercials and short films for the last 12 years but this year decided to reconnect with a lot of other creative mediums from his childhood. We caught up with Stefan to hear about how revisiting creative writing and visual arts while battling with anxiety was the catalyst for his latest project, "We're All Going to Die".
You kickstarted your filmmaking journey by heading to the USA armed with your camera, an ice cream truck and a goal to drive to all fifty states to make a documentary. What was the push towards this adventure and how did your vision come together on this trip?
Before my “formal education” at High School had even ended I was already planning world adventures with my best mate Jonno Durrant. He’d been reading Jack Kerouac’s novel ‘On The Road’ and convinced me the land of the free was the place to explore. We packed our bags, bought a video camera and set ourself the challenge to “surf” in all fifty states of the USA. At the ripe age of eighteen this was the best experience of my life. Meeting characters from all walks of life and falling in love with film making.
You’ve worked across a lot of projects, from music videos to major corporate clients like CocaCola and Google, and your work often reflects your belief that social impact through creativity is important. What has been one of the most memorable projects for you so far?
I’ve been brought up by amazing parents who instilled strong values of equality and gratitude. It’s because of them I feel compelled to leave the world better than I found it. I know that’s such a sweeping statement, but I also know that deep down everyone wants the same. It’s for this reason I try to use my films and projects to educate and inspire an audience, to champion them to be part of that positive change. I’ve been lucky enough to work with charities and organisations around the world on this journey.
I feel like every job or project I also walk away a better person. Whether it’s refining my directing skills (as I’ve never been to film school), or learning life lessons from ancient tribes in Africa, my job constantly throws “pinch yourself” experiences my way and I’m so grateful for it. The most powerful was in 2009 when I made a documentary about an orphanage in Mexico titled ‘Somewhere Near Tapachula’. This project opened to my eyes to our privileges and set me on a path of using my passions to inspire positive social change. I feel beyond grateful for this experience.
You have an upcoming festival COMMUNE presents: WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE, which successfully reached it's kickstarter goal in just 3 weeks! What is the concept behind the show?
We’re All Going To Die is a festival that uses death to shift our perspective on fear, and the role it plays in our lives.
A few years ago I suffered from anxiety, and it sucked. I didn't know what the next chapter of my life was supposed to look like and the unknown crippled me. I couldn't commit to any life decision out of fear that it was the 'wrong choice' and I went into dark brain vortexes.
But one day I penned a poem called 'We're All Going to Die' and my perspective shifted. The small stuff seemed, well...small. I realised that if life's only guarantee is death, then why not take a few risks?
Two years on that poem has become an illustrated book, that book has become a short film AND to top it all off we’re creating an interactive festival. The scale of this project is wild and it scares me daily but I can honestly say I’m looking at fear in the face and saying “give me your best shot”. It feels bloody exhilarating.
What can people expect to see and experience on the night?
The easiest way to describe the festival is “an amusement part for your soul”. Combining a mini film festival, art installations, music, talks and immersive experiences the festival will provoke and challenge you all while making you wet your pants with laughter. How? You’ll just have to take a risk and come see.
Why did you feel the space at COMMUNE was perfect to showcase these works?
COMMUNE is like no other space in Sydney, possibly Australia. Besides it’s beautiful warehouse aesthetic and amazing location what excites me most about working with COMMUNE is their sense of community. They truly believe in the power of connecting humans through art and experiences and their support for this festival has enabled us to dream bigger than we could ever imagine. Being an independently funded art project it’s been crucial that we collaborate with like minded, positive organisations and artists who value community as much as we do and COMMUNE definitely fit that description.
Whats next on the horizon for you?
Sleep and thanking my girlfriend for being so understanding. Beyond that I dream of taking this festival both nationally and internationally in 2018.
Tickets to COMMUNE presents: We're All Going to Die are on sale now! Get in quick and start fearing less and living more.