Jordan Hunt and his vision for a St. Maarten film industry – An eye on the future

POSTED: 09/13/13 3:58 PM

St. Maarten / By Jason Lista  – There is something special going on upstairs the DHL building in Cole Bay. The incubation period of what could turn out to be a remarkable chapter in St. Maarten’s cultural development is underway. Jordan Hunt comes downstairs to open the door. The offices of his film and media production company, Eyelander Entertainment Network, are on the entire second floor. The space is large and still mostly empty, but Hunt has his eye on the future.

His personal office is still a space of potential, sparsely decorated. Yet there is one of a few souvenirs on a table in the room that quickly catches the eye, one of those iconic clapperboards that directors use to separate camera takes. It’s from an invaluable work experience on the set of HBO’s The Angel Project. Although the show never aired, “the experience is what counts,” Hunt reflected. He’s also had earlier stints as an intern for MTV.

He is a local young man, with roots from the French side of the island. He went to school in New York initially to study acting at the New York Film Academy, but switched to film production. He later attended the prestigious Lee Strasberg Film and Theatre Institute where he further honed his craft.

When asked point blank whether there is a market for quality film production on a small island like St. Maarten, Hunt replied, “Absolutely,” without so much as batting an eyelid. “The norm here has been very low quality,” he continued, since most film production is limited and usually done by one or two people at the most. Eyelander’s approach is different, with a full range of production services in house headed by Hunt himself, who oversees the total vision of each project.

“We’re doing a documentary on Art Saves Lives,” Hunt said, of Nicole de Weever’s non-profit organization. “We shot the flash mob down at the airport.” He has also worked with Laura Bijsndorp, who is currently on an around the world sailing trip documenting her travels with one of Hunt’s cameras. The two will collaborate when she returns and release a web series as well as a documentary of her experiences.

His company was the local production team for an episode of Magic Man, which appears on the Travel Channel. The show came to St. Maarten during this year’s Carnival and Eyelander Entertainment Network was the logical choice for the owners of the show. “They saw we’re able to deliver. We’re coming to you first,” Hunt said of the international recognition that is slowly building. “It’s growing, interest is growing from abroad.” He was told “we’ll keep sending you jobs.”

That kind of recognition can only come if genuine passion is present in the work. “My two passions have been film and music,” Hunt stated. And he has surrounded himself with young likeminded locals who share his passion for music, film making, and production. If they don’t share that passion, he can sense it immediately. “I’m really good at finding that out,” he coolly replied. He described growing up here with a “love of entertainment and growing business. And I want to do it with St. Maarteners.” In fact, everything his company has done so far “has been done locally with locals,” he proudly pointed out.

After being hired as a production assistant on VH1’s The Ultimate Merger 2, in which an episode was shot on location on St. Maarten, he quickly earned the film crew’s respect when they realized that the kid knew his stuff. He was promptly promoted to production manager, in charge of executing all necessary local arrangements, earning good money in the process.

“The production teams that come to St. Maarten spend big,” Hunt explained. He envisions a time in the not too distant future when St. Maarten has its own international film festival, like the one in Sundance, Utah, or Toronto, Canada. His “end goal is for St. Maarten to become the entertainment capital of the Caribbean.”

It is not as farfetched as it may seem. The ingredients are already there, Hunt believes. St. Maarten is home to some of the most exclusive yachts in the world with some of the world’s most glamorous guests on board. “Now that the causeway is there, all of Simpson Bay can be blocked off from the old bridge down and turned into a festival village,” Hunt envisioned.

“Technology is changing,” and opening new avenues of opportunity, Hunt mentioned. “A $3000 camera can do what it once took a $100,000 camera to do.” St. Maarten, he said, can produce TV pilots for networks at a lower cost than competitors. “We can do multiple pilot shows for so much less.”

Eyelander Entertainment Network currently has a few projects in the pipeline, one of which will be a reality based show detailing the lives of 6 St. Maarteners, both students and recent graduates, living abroad in Europe. It will chronicle their challenges, the ups and downs of adjusting in another place, far from home.

The office where Hunt works from is brightly lit, illuminated by generous sunlight pouring in through the windows. Perhaps it is a sign that there is a bright future ahead for those who keep their eye on it.




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