Major: Creative Writing
Julia Hunter ’18 has crafted a unique path in the world of cinema, combining her passion for storytelling with a hands-on approach to film production. Hunter's journey in filmmaking has taken her from the classrooms of Knox College to the heart of independent cinema.
Knox College played a crucial role in shaping Hunter's perspective on filmmaking. Although initially drawn to the writing program, specifically screenwriting, she found herself immersed in a broader range of courses. She discovered her love for the entire filmmaking process, prompting her to pick up a camera and dive into the world of production.
Driven by a desire to be actively involved in the creation of cinematic content, Hunter sought opportunities to learn and work. Recognizing the importance of practical experience, she honed her skills in cinematography, production, and editing. Knox College became the training ground that pushed her to grab a camera and figure things out—a mindset that translated seamlessly into her freelancing endeavors.
Hunter's journey took a compelling turn when she engaged with criminal justice reform journalism in Chicago. Tackling hard-hitting topics, she delved into the Van Dyke trial and the McDonald murder case. This experience laid the groundwork for her work on documentaries, with a focus on issues such as trauma, addiction, and abolition.
“They’re hard topics, but they’re things I’m passionate about,” Hunter explained.
Now, hoping to bridge fiction and reality, Hunter is excited to finally share her latest effort with the world: Everything Fun You Could Possibly Do In Aledo, Illinois. A film shot entirely in Aledo, the plot surrounds a friendship between two women that leads them to rediscover a bucket list from their senior year of high school.
Collaborating with producer Christina Shaver, she assumed the role of director of photography, capturing the essence of the town and its people in a naturalistic, docu-style format. Aledo offered a departure from Hollywood conventions, allowing Hunter to maintain a fluid, improvisational approach to storytelling. She says the community of Aledo was excited for their town to take center stage. Aledoan musician Suzy Bogguss contributed all of the film’s songs, writing three brand new pieces for the movie.
“I feel comfortable doing things independently and being flexible in style,” Hunter said. “This was a great opportunity to work with an amazing team while keeping that independent spirit alive.”
Hunter has taken the project to various film festivals, with screenings in cities such as Chicago and the Quad Cities. She hopes to screen the film in Galesburg since the proximity of Aledo to Galesburg was a massive draw to join the project in the first place.
Hunter and Shaver have since teamed up on another project related to Aledo. With Shaver producing and Hunter directing, the duo is in production on the feature documentary, Gertrude, a lyrical exploration of the surrealist painter Gertrude Abercrombie’s life, work, and posthumous fame.
Looking forward, Hunter remains open to diverse opportunities, guided by a commitment to collaboration. Her experiences at Knox College, coupled with real-world projects, have not only equipped her with technical skills but also instilled in her a deep appreciation for the importance of place in storytelling. Anchoring herself to projects like Everything Fun You Could Possibly Do In Aledo, Illinois, Hunter continues to navigate the world of filmmaking with creativity, flexibility, and an unwavering independent spirit.