by Mellissa Thomas
In Hunter’s own words, Hollywood came to Orlando last night: red carpet, TV interviews, photographers, and all. One year and forty grand later, his independent crime drama, The Breaking Point, premiered at Universal Orlando City Walk’s AMC Theaters with two sold-out showings: one at 7:30 p.m. and the other at 9 p.m. Considering the theater had a 328-seat capacity, that’s saying something.
The ‘Breaking’ Crowd
The entire AMC Theaters rotunda was packed with sharply dressed attendees, film cast, photographers, and special guests, with the red carpet leading straight to the main entry door. Tourists and Orlando residents alike saw the crowd and wondered what was going on. I personally explained the event to a gentleman, who very excitedly relayed to his granddaughter, “It’s a movie premiere, honey,” and pointing several feet to his left at a group of finely dressed men and women standing side-by-side bombarded with flash bulbs, added, “And those are the actors.”
Indeed, Diana Lovell and Erik Grey, the film’s two leading stars, staged a fashionably delayed VIP arrival (for dramatic effect, of course) and electrified the place, which was already filled with excited crew members, cast members and their families, and devoted fans. Special guest VIPs included former Essence Magazine president Jonathan Sebastian Blount, Sea World DoubleTree Suites owner Dr. Richmond McCoy, who hosted the night’s VIPs at his hotel, Caribbean Passport News Magazine publishers Guenet Gittens-Roberts and her husband Sam Roberts, RYSE Media founder and CEO J. Jackson, Sr., Comedian and talk show host Samy Priso, Lucius Baston (who starred in Kevin Hart’s Ride Along), and Florida Civil Rights Association State President J. Willie David III, one of Hunter’s co-producers. Eatonville Mayor Bruce Mount and National Circle of Friends President Paul Stevens were also there.
Most of the film’s cast were in attendance, including actor, director, and Full Sail professor Kevin O’Neill, Daniel Wachs, Shellita Boxie, Tracy Wiu, Wendell Kinney, Reggie Peters, Roy Williams Jr., emerging child star Jackie Dozier, and Alyssia Bateman. Ms. International World Jennifer Rosario, who also stars in the film, was presented the 2015 Woman of the Year Award at the event by the Ms. Latina International and Ms. International World organizations.
Dozens of independent photographers were on site to capture the event, including Hunter’s longtime colleague Navid John Namazi, but DeMarco Films took the cake. At approximately 6:40 p.m., Vincent DeMarco activated his company’s white four-propeller camera drone, which was approved by Universal, and launched it straight upward, holding the crowd’s attention for a solid five minutes as it ascended high enough to nearly not be seen anymore. “I hope that thing doesn’t fall,” Priso joked as we all watched it rise into the semi-cloudy evening sky. DeMarco successfully stole the most awe-inspiring shot of the evening: an aerial that encompassed the entire rotunda, attendees, red carpet, and televised interviews.
I complemented him on the device and remarked on how high he sent it. “Oh yeah, it can go above the clouds, and like five miles away [in any direction],” DeMarco explained.
Red Carpet Rockers
Once Hunter announced that AMC and Universal approved the event to be a red carpet affair, everyone brought their A-game. The men wore crisp, tailored two- and three-piece suits, and the ladies brought out their most stunning dresses, gowns, and shoes. National journalist, entrepreneur, and mentor Dr. Denise Y. Mose conducted the red carpet interviews, looking equally striking in her short one-shoulder red dress with slightly deeper red heels (which matched her nail polish) and fresh coif.
And who could possibly ignore Diana Lovell’s tasseled plunge number? Red is already a demanding color, but the dress hugged her every curve beautifully, daring you to peek behind the curtain – a fitting homage to her character in the film, the aggressive and ambitious Assistant District Attorney Ballard.
The night’s winner was Jenny Rosario, decked out in full ballroom style in a Steven Yearick ruched red sleeveless mermaid dress.
RYSE Media CEO J. Jackson (below, right) kept it simple but elegant in a cafe-au-lait suit adding a just-right pop of color with his pink kerchief.
Actress Kareen Kennedy (next to Jackson above) dazzled in an off-white getup with complementing proportions — the long coat made a great contrast to the short dress.
The Main Event
The Breaking Point clocks in at just over an hour, holding your eyes to the screen minute by gritty, graphic, minute. Erik Grey’s Sean, who narrates the movie, leads an offbeat orchestra of misguided young men and ends up caught in the wrong place at the wrong time – with his younger brother Mike (aka “Slim”), played by Reggie Peters. Sean, whose heart is in the right place, is understandably hard on Mike for quitting school and following him into the streets, and decides to do what’s necessary to make sure his little brother doesn’t end up in jail. Roy Williams Jr.’s TJ (aka “Pop Off”) is the movie’s consistent wild card, living up to his nickname with an otherworldly fervor.
Lovell’s upstart Ballard is assigned to the murder case and does whatever it takes to get the outcome she wants, even if that means obliterating ethical boundaries.
The movie has its share of comical moments as well, which weren’t lost on the audience. Nearly the whole room laughed when expected to.
One word of caution: The Breaking Point is not for kids. In a previous interview, Hunter explained that the movie is PG-13, but its numerous sex scenes, gun violence, and profanity causes it to skirt the R line.
All in all, the movie was entertaining yet relatable, and even scandalous, eliciting several “oohs” and “wows.”
After the Show, It’s the After Party
Though The Breaking Point packed the AMC Theater courtyard, Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom, the event’s meet-and-greet after party venue, was owned. According to co-producer J. Willie David III, Bob Marley’s reported that the after party was its highest Sunday night turnout in fifteen years. Attendees from the 7:30 p.m. show (myself included) headed straight there, readying the staff for the 9:00 p.m. viewing attendees.
Cast, crew, and supporters had drinks, food, and a good time, taking photos galore and congratulating the stars, including Hunter himself. The party lasted well into the wee hours.
The Breaking Point’s Future
Hunter plans to have similar premieres in other big cities, including New York, which is the team’s next stop, and Washington D.C. He aims to raise enough demand to get distributors’ attention so the movie can be seen on a national scale.
A popular pessimistic maxim has been flying around Orlando for several years now: It’s difficult to find support here for independent projects. However, Hunter’s premiere blew that notion, and any rocks Orlando socialites were hiding under, to shreds. Hundreds of Orlando’s best and brightest turned out to support a filmmaker’s dream in fruition, and considering how many hundreds of people Hunter has inspired in his brief Orlando tenure with his tenacity, confidence, and focus, it wouldn’t have happened any other way. As he would say, “Can’t stop, won’t stop.”
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About the Author:
Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.
She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.
She has published four books, all available on Amazon.com. Her most recent release, “Faded Diamonds”, is now available in paperback on all major online book retailers and digitally available on the Kindle, Nook, and iTunes Bookstore.
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