“Nerd.” “Ugly.” “Dork.” “Loser.” “Loner.”
Negative notes left in 17-year-old Hunter Hopewell’s locker multiply and spread onto the walls and grounds of Coronado High School. As Hopewell runs from the whispering and snickering of other students, he looks down to see that the notes have become etched in his skin. There is no escape.
This was Hopewell’s anti-bullying PSA, “Alone,” which won third place for Documentary of the Year in the 2012 Teen Video Awards’ Great American No Bull Challenge.
Hopewell’s love of directing and filmmaking started when he created a YouTube channel called Rock*Comedy*Film. At first, it was just a channel where he and his friends could upload amateur films.
“I wanted to incorporate the three things I love — rock, comedy and film — into something that could be entertaining for all teens,” Hopewell said. Now, however, he has bigger plans.
“I really want to turn Rock*Comedy*Film into a club where teens can be encouraged to show their creative and artistic talents and develop them,” he said. “I want to start the club right here in Vegas by 2014.” In November, Rock*Comedy*Film became an officially registered trademark.
In addition to making YouTube videos as a hobby, Hopewell is enrolled in theater and broadcast journalism classes at Coronado High School. He has been part of the broadcast journalism team for three years.
“Acting in theater was a great experience, but I realized broadcast was a better fit for me,” he said. “It’s exciting to create my own art and share it with everybody.”
His decision to pursue a film career was set when he was the only freshman to win first place at the 2011 Clark County School District Broadcast Awards. He went on to win first place at the 2012 Broadcast Awards for a commercial and music video, as well as best film in the 2012 Las Vegas Film Festival. Hopewell also won the Best Director Award and third place for Best Documentary of the Year in the 2012 Teen Video Awards for an anti-bullying PSA.
“It was because of broadcast that I realized my love of film,” he said. “It is an art form that is permanent. Even when I’m gone, a piece of me will still be here because of film. Wherever we go, there is art. I just want to capture it for everybody to see.”
Former Coronado broadcast journalism teacher Michael Clark certainly sees a bright future for Hopewell.
“I love the look he gets in his eyes when he is embracing a new project,” Clark said. “He maps it out in his head more thoroughly than any student with whom I have been associated. Then, when he goes to shoot it, he will not settle for a mediocre take. He does it until he achieves perfection and sometimes only he knows when that perfection is reached. The finished product is always amazing. He knows how to make videos that are crowd-pleasers.”
Hopewell’s most unforgettable experience was when he met Conan O’Brien last spring.
“I’ve been watching Conan since I was 4 years old,” he said. “When my aunt told me that she won a meet-and-greet sweepstakes and was going to take me, it was just unreal for me. Even meeting him was unreal. He was so sincere and personal and genuine, and much taller than I thought he would be. I showed a video I made for him. When he signed an autograph, he wrote, ‘Be sure to hire me someday.’ That was the best moment of my life.”
Hopewell also is student body vice president at Coronado High School. As vice president, he is in charge of pep rallies and rousing more school spirit. He hopes that his leadership experiences will help him in his pursuance of a film career.
“He is fun, exciting and comes with many new ideas each day,” said Cresen Swenson, Coronado student council adviser. “His support toward Coronado can be seen not only in his broadcast class here on campus, but also in his own personal videos and music that he produces himself. With talent like that, Hunter has been able to help us out with what is one of the biggest and best-spirited years yet.”
Hopewell will enroll this year in the film department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His dream is to become an Oscar-winning director.
“I don’t know if Spielbergian is a word,” Clark said. “That’s how much potential he has.”