Work hard and work often and don’t give up. This industry will destroy you if you let it, but you have to work hard every day. Be the first on set and the last to leave assist wherever you can.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Paul Allen Hunton, General Manager of Texas Tech Public Media. He serves on the Digital Media Advisory Council for PBS Digital and is also a member of the NETA Production Council. He is a 3 time Emmy-winning nonfiction filmmaker. He has worked at Texas Tech Public Media since 2011.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up in a small town in New Mexico of 12,000 people. My grandmother was a dust bowl farmer in Lazbudie Texas and I’ve always really loved this area on the Llano Estacado in the American Southwest.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was a kid I watched Siskel and Ebert at the movies and fell in love with the process of movies. It was the first time I ever heard anyone talk about the way movies are made. I had only thought of movies as “ I liked it,” or “I didn’t like it.” Listening to Siskel and Ebert was revelatory for me and changed my life at that time.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Danny Trejo once grabbed me from behind at the Texas Film Awards because I had a camera and I had no idea who was there, and then I turn around and it is Machete himself! Haha. I love that story.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
There are many, and they aren’t really funny, but hopefully instructional. I spent a lot of time early on working on projects and for people that weren’t as serious about filmmaking as I was. I wasted a lot of time because I just wanted experience and in retrospect, I wish I would have spent that time working on my own art and creativity
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Working on a documentary about Texas music and art legend, Terry Allen. Its great, Lyle Lovett is in it, David Byrne is in it.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Hearing more stories from more diverse voices helps us empathize and understand the world in better and deeper ways.
Marginalized communities need their stories told in their own voices.
Ultimately, the film is an empathy machine, and we all need more of that these days. Film changed my life, born in a small community but getting to see the whole world through film made me realize my place in it, gave me a sense of other cultures and taught me really important things about justice and honor.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t work for others when you can work for yourself.
- Find the one thing you really enjoy doing it and master it, I spent a lot of time trying to learn graphic design and animation and I hated it and wasn’t good at it. As soon as I gave it up I got better at everything else.
- Work hard and work often and don’t give up. This industry will destroy you if you let it, but you have to work hard every day. Be the first on set and the last to leave assist wherever you can.
- Tell the stories you want to tell. Sure you may not get a million-dollar budget to work with but write the script anyway. You never know who might fund it.
- Network. Meet everyone, find out who is good and who can help you in your career
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Take really concentrated time for yourself between projects to breath and relax.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Just be kind to one another, listen to each other. As a documentary filmmaker I listen to people all the time, it’s practically all I do, and I’ve learned so much about the world and why people are the way they are.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Director Jay Roach of Austin Powers/Meet the Parents/Bombshell fame has always mentored me and given me good advice along the way. I’m grateful he ever takes the time to hear what I’m up to, read stuff I’ve written, watch stuff I’ve made, and give me advice .
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Bernie Sanders will always be my President. He gets it. He’s smart, he’s funny he’s energetic and awesome. He understands this country and our world better than any other leader.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!