A Testament to Hard Work and Vision: Filmmaker Jahmar Hill
Jahmar Hill is an award-winning director and current star of new film, Fourth Quarter. He’s currently on the board at Warner Brothers Studios, and is a true testament to hard work and vision. In our conversation we discussed his career path, inspiration, and advice to creatives. Check out his faves and our conversation below.
Filmmaker: Tyler Perry
Movie: Love and Basketball or Love Jones
Actor: Denzel Washington
Song: Simple Things by Usher
Athlete: Kobe Bryant
State: New Jersey
Now I know you started with dreams of the NBA. Tell me how your passion for basketball transformed into film?
It was during college. The first movie set I’d ever been on was a film with George Clooney called The Men Who Stare at Goats. The crew let me be an extra, and I built a connection with people on set. I ended up not graduating from that school, and when I left I didn’t really know what I wanted to pursue. I was doing music and a lot of other things while still trying to pursue the NBA. I ended up meeting a film director who got me into acting. After being on set as an actor, it wasn’t long until I decided I wanted to be a creator and tell the stories.
Was filmmaking new to you? How did you study or prepare for it?
My first cinematographer had worked on a lot of major projects so his guidance helped. I didn’t know what to do in the beginning, I thought the cameraman provided the people and equipment. I didn’t even know I needed a whole crew, but as time went on I learned. Movie making is learn as you go. You can go to college, learn to edit, or learn to shoot; but being a creator is a gift. I think you really have to be something special to create great stories.
Creators are definitely special. Speaking of, how did you balance the financial and creative side of filmmaking? Usually these are two very different personality types.
Before moving to California, I worked with autistic kids in New Jersey. I was getting paid well, and I was saving. I was in a great position, and it’s like window shopping. You prep and see how much every expense is going to cost, and I really was saving. I wasn’t getting haircuts for months. My co-workers were probably looking at me crazy. I shot half of the film and attempted to use IndieGogo to fund the second half, but people weren’t really supporting. However once I put the trailer out, a lot of people started responding. I had so many celebs and people sharing it. The rest is history, from that point I finished the movie and ended up winning awards at film festivals. I got distribution from Amazon prime, other platforms, and even a TV run from my first film.
How do you balance being such an independent artist, working at Warner Brothers, and living in LA?
People get to Los Angeles and put so much pressure on themselves, they end up not accomplishing what they wanted. My goal at Warner Brothers was always to network, and I did that. I started off as a security guard, and ended up getting a promotion to the production department on the series Lucifer. Now I’m on the board at Warner Brothers, but it was a process. Everything in this business is. You can have the best idea, or all the money in the world and it won’t matter if the timing isn’t right. You must have patience and a plan.
You’re mentioning the power of networking a lot. What was the transition like moving from the East Coast to the West Coast, and how was it meeting new people?
I’m not going to lie, it is difficult. I think people have the “LA expectations” beat into their minds. The culture is a lot different, but my mindset was always that this is a job. I’m here for a purpose. When I was a security guard, I met and spoke with everyone. I even talked with Ellen once! You just have to remember what the goal is. We can always go back home.
What suggestion do you have for creatives who struggle with networking?
Go where the people in your field are so you can learn. That’s one thing about me, I’m self-taught. I learned from watching others. Study the people and study the culture. Secondly, find yourself. When you know yourself, you know your mindset and no one can stop you. I’m not taking no for an answer, and that’s whats helped me.
What is Fourth Quarter, and how can we support it?
Fourth Quarter is a classic, I’ve gotten really good reviews from it. Imagine Save the Last Dance, but a thriller. A white girl comes to the black community and falls for the basketball star, but in this film it was one-sided. He was just being friendly, and she got the wrong impression. When she realizes the truth, a fuse pops for her and it gets crazy. It’ll be in New York theaters Dec. 21 – Dec. 23 and then it’ll be on digital platforms.
Make sure to look out for Fourth Quarter on your favorite digital platforms, or support it in theaters if you’re in the New York City area. Keep up with Jahmar on social media platforms at @Jahmarhill.
Written by: Kirby Carroll Wright