You can’t put Hunter Hopewell in a box.
Is he a filmmaker? An actor? Impressionist? Musician? Entrepreneur?
“That’s part of what I’m trying to figure out right now,” the 20-year-old UNLV graduate says.
For now, let’s just call him the complete package. An artist on the rise, Hopewell’s filmmaking career began in his teens, and since 2011 he’s collected dozens of awards, including a first-place prize for his anti-bullying film Numbskull at the Peace in the Streets Global Film Festival in 2015.
As creative director of his family-run production company, Rock*Comedy*Film, Hopewell continues to produce short films and comedy sketches, and has taken on commercial projects for companies such as Crayola and Marriott.
This year (remember, he’s 20) he’ll start shooting his first feature film, Clicking Ovation.
From a hotel room in Los Angeles, Hopewell talks about his first forays into filmmaking and performing onstage, and how his family shaped his budding career.
What kind of home did you grow up in?
I’m an only child. My dad worked on the entertainment side of McDonald’s Corporation for 35 years, and my mother works as the vice president of a bank. Growing up, I had different influences about what I should do with my life, kind of like the practical side from my mom and the creative side from my dad.
What was your first camera?
When I was 12 years old, my mother got a MacBook and she couldn’t figure it out, so I got it. It had a webcam, and I just started making silly videos for my friends. That was the first real indication that [filmmaking] was not only something I enjoy doing, but something other people enjoy seeing me do.
Talk about your first stand-up experience.
I did it at the E-String Grill and Poker Bar in Henderson. They were having an open mic night and my grandmother and her friend were in town. It was two hours of watching comedians say the filthiest stuff in front of my grandmother, and my act was as clean as can be—it’s mostly impressions. At the end of the night, they had the audience vote for the best comedian. I ended up winning first place and $50.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Probably a lot from my dad, I love collaborating with him. Literally every other morning he’ll write me an email—even though we live in the same house—that says, “Son, I woke up with this idea!” There’s a 40-year age gap between us, but somehow it all works.
Why do you do what you do?
I guess I’m trying to make some sort of lasting impression on the world—like films from the ’30s that we’re still watching and are still remembered. I’d love to do something iconic that’s preserved forever.
How many hours of sleep do you average a night?
Last night I got one hour of sleep. Maybe six hours average, not enough. But then once a week, 11 [hours].