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If you missed December’s T.G.I.M. you missed world premiere of Cornell Bunting’s first indie film


Eric Dec 2017 TGIM 01SIf you’re Eric Raddatz, chances are you’ve heard it all. People tell him all the time that they’re making a film, but they never do. They pitch big ideas, but don’t follow through. They talk up big projects, but never finish them. And then there’s Cornell Bunting. He said he was going to make a film, and freaking finished it. Titled A Purpose to Live, the 11-minute indie film Cornell Bunting Photography 01Sdebuted at December’s T.G.I.M.

The storyline revolves around a character who is having a really bad day. First, returning home unexpectedly to retrieve something he’s forgotten, he discovers his wife in bed with another man. Then when he arrives late to the office, his boss tells him that the company is going in another direction and no longer needs his services. At that point, Cornell Bunting at 2017 Grant Recipient Show 03She decides his life is no longer worth living, so he drops into a local bar, orders a beer and pours a vial of cyanide into the half-drained bottle. But then fate intervenes, providing him with a new, perhaps better, purpose to live.

The plot is based on a true story, although it’s not autobiographical. “It is patterned after something that happened to a friend of mine, who unfortunately did take his own life,” Bunting revealed to the T.G.I.M. audience during the Q&A that followed the film’s screening on December 4. But the life lessons he’s derived from his own personal challenges Cornell Bunting at 2017 Grant Recipient Show 05Samplified his reaction to that very tragic loss and contributed to the themes of love, betrayal and redemption that give impetus to the storyline depicted by the film.

In fact, Bunting explores this love-betrayal-redemption growth arc in Lion with No Roar, a children’s book he published in 2016 about a lion cub born without the ability to roar. The late-in-life offspring of the king and queen of Zamundo, the cub (named Buptavius) must find his voice in order to overcome numerous challenges, find his calling and reach his full potential.

Cornell Bunting Video Game 01SEarlier this year, Bunting made the leap from children’s books to video gaming and simulation. With the support of an Individual Artist Grant provided by the City of Fort Myers, he produced a mobile game called Nostril’s Adventure in which the title character, Nostril, undertakes a quest to find a magical cheese that confers immortality.

Rachel Burttram Dishes at Dec 2017 TGIM 01SGiven this backdrop, Bunting’s foray into screenwriting, direction and filmmaking seems only natural, perhaps even inevitable. And T.G.I.M.’s celebrity judges roundly praised the effort and agreed that he shows great promise as both a screenwriter and filmmaker.

“It’s so, so hard to do a two-minute film [never mind one that’s six times that],” observed Rachel Burttram Powers, whose own screen work includes three independent films, Emma’s Fine, World Traveler and Alchemy (not to mention television appearances on Burn Notice as well as regional and national commercials). “All of the footage, the different locations, Ilene Safron Whitesman at Dec 2017 TGIM 04Sthe different actors you had, and the costumes, I know how much work [went into this film] by how many people you had involved. So I say bravo to you for doing that,” especially since the project was a completely local, grass roots production.

Sunday morning Ask an Expert host Tom Conwell echoed Burttram Power’s sentiments, congratulating Bunting on a job well done. “This one hit pretty close to home,” Conwell joked, not because of the storyline but rather because he knows most of the actors in theTom Conwell Does Dec 2017 TGIM 03S film, one being his own attorney. Moreover, one of the film’s shooting locations was an office two floors above his own.

Emmy-winning videographer Ilene Safron Whitesman knows a thing or two about shooting and editing seamless film footage that tells an absorbing story. She found the photography “adequate,” but provided Bunting with some much-appreciated Rachel Burttram Dishes at Dec 2017 TGIM 02Sconstructive criticism on the film’s only real defect, difficulty with sound and audio that sometimes made it difficult to hear what was being said.

Burttram Powers had some constructive feedback for Bunting as well.

“An acting teacher told me this: If I can’t see your eyes, I don’t know what’s happening,” Rachel began, drawing on experiences she learned both from acting instructors Cornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 01Sas well as more than 20 years of performances both as an on-stage equity performer and independent film and television actor. “It’s really easy to look down during emotionally-charged scenes, but when you do, we can’t see what’s going on in your eyes. Actor to actor, I want to see your eyes while you’re going through that heavy stuff. I still felt for your character, but I would have felt it in a different way if I could have seenCornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 05S it in your eyes. So in your next film, keep your head up and tell the story through your eyes.”

And therein inheres one of the perks that filmmakers derive when they attend the screening of their films. Not only do they get to watch the reaction of the judges and audience members, they get gold nuggets of thoughtful, Cornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 04Swell-constructed professional advice. To get the kind of advice and instruction that Burttram Powers imparted, Bunting would have normally been compelled to shell out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for an acting class or workshop, and that doesn’t count the expense of transportation and lodging to travel to New York or L.A.

OCornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 03Sf course, there’s always some good-natured teasing that’s delivered along with the tips and constructive advice. Host Eric Raddatz took exception to the main character’s passive acceptance of his wife’s infidelity. “I don’t know why he didn’t beat the shit out of that dude,” chided Raddatz, drawing belly laughs and guffaws from both the audience and the actor who played the role of the wCornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 07Sife’s paramour. “I know you’re f###ing my wife, but I have to get to the office. Why didn’t you beat the shit out of him. We wanted to see that.” [It’s not likely that Bunting minded the teasing at all. Just seconds before, Raddatz had drawn parallels between A Purpose to Live and Citizen Kane, because of Bunting’s use of Cornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 02Sforeshadowing in both the storyline and script. In case you’ve forgotten, a snow globes falls from Kane’s hand as he is dying in the film’s opening sequence, thereby foreshadowing his abandonment as a child during a snowstorm. And don’t even get Raddatz started on the significance of “Rosebud” or Kane’s childhood sleigh.]

The screening, commentary and post-screening Q&A left no doubt. Cornell Bunting is a man on the move from whom we can expect a lot more Cornell Bunting and A Purpose to Live 06Sin the coming months and years. Keep an eye out for what he does next. You can follow Cornell on Facebook or by visiting

December 30, 2017.


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