Akil DuPont – the Film and Digital Media Center’s Award-Winning Producer/Teacher
The Clayton State University Film and Digital Media Center’s Akil DuPont spends his days teaching Digital Film Technician course I and Post Production Film Editing course and his nights dreaming up his latest film masterpiece.
DuPont Productions was named “Best of Tallahassee in Motion Picture and Video Distribution” category by the Tallahassee Award Program. His thesis film for Florida State University, “Underground,” won 21 out of 28 film festivals across the globe and two Student Emmy awards from the Emmy Foundation.
DuPont started teaching in the Film and Digital Media Center at Clayton State in December, 2013, and since then has been involved with five independent sets, and is currently working on five different movie ideas, one television show idea, and possibly a play.
Currently a resident of Jonesboro, DuPont began his road to creating his reality rather than just living it through Florida A&M University (FAMU), where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He moved from his hometown in Tallahassee, Fla., to become a bank manager in Orlando, Fla.
Six months into the job, DuPont became bored with the lack of creativity and began volunteering through FAMU with the college modeling organization Faces Modeling Troupe Incorporated (Faces).
Through his initial side hobby, DuPont became CEO of Faces. However, when the death of DuPont’s father put mortality into focus, DuPont sought to once again chase his childhood dream: to do film.
Three became a lucky number for DuPont. He was first rejected from his lower two choices of school, and then received acceptance from his first choice: Florida State University (FSU), one of the top film schools in the nation, bringing DuPont back to his hometown of Tallahassee.
Perhaps fittingly so, his first two films flopped, and then the third was a hit. DuPont had had the idea before film school for “Underground.” He was inspired by the uniqueness of director Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, seeing this musical as he had never seen musicals done before: dark. He combined this inspiration from the role of Jamie Foxx in director Taylor Hackford’s Ray, which DuPont deemed as, “while classified as a musical, it wasn’t like a musical… it was real.”
Together, “Underground” was born, described by DuPont as: “A slave story told through song.”
After graduating FSU, DuPont returned to banking to regain his financial bearings. He needed to prove to the film industry that he could produce more than musicals or slave films. DuPont soon dreamt up his idea for “Silhouettes,” a film about an artist who sees the world through silhouettes. Using his economics degree and his knowledge of finances, DuPont was able to raise $13,000 from his Kickstarter and other accommodations to begin producing in December, 2012, a year after first fabricated in a dream, his film: “Silhouettes.”
While DuPont had ample skill in the many positions of filming through his time at FSU, he had little practice in writing. He attempted in recruiting James Webb, a theater professor at FAMU, to help him co-write “Silhouettes.” However, the professor declined and instead agreed to mentor DuPont. The experience caused DuPont to further flourish in the field.
“80 percent of these gray hairs are because of Silhouettes,” DuPont jokes, detailing his struggles with a suddenly rainy Sunshine State on four out of the nine days scheduled for production. After working around participants and nature’s timeline, the film had screening by May 2013.
DuPont hopes to bring his successful skill set to the students of Clayton State by firstly having his economics degree instill money basics in film production and in college loan management.
“I love to train people to go out in the industry without fear of debt,” DuPont says, expressing that the banker in him is always there to help beyond his creativity. He is well aware that funding is needed to produce.
DuPont’s second emphasis is to broaden students’ perspective on the importance of every job in the film industry.
“Any image is a combination of all of these positions. Imagine if The Matrix were filmed with everyone in t-shirts instead of leather jackets, what the outcome would be. It would be completely different. Having a multiple position education and real world application of being a filmmaker, help me bring students understanding about the different hats of the industry,” DuPont explains.
The hats are off to DuPont in this case; an instructor who specializes in the art of making his dreams become real. His last advice being, “Keep making new dreams to keep building your own reality.”