As a kid, Jason Hewitt had big dreams of making it in the movies. But before hitting it big in Hollywood, Hewitt, born and raised in Louisiana, decided to try a more attainable career in the technology industry.
In 1994, Hewitt, now 37, founded a Web site creation and marketing management company called Planet Symphony. His company produced some of the first-ever live broadcasts, including one depicting Mardi Gras in three different cities.
A few years later, Planet Symphony split and was acquired by two separate companies. Hewitt knew it was time to try his hand in films.
He said there’s a “secret” to getting started in the movie industry: just show up on a film set and offer to do anything to help. And that’s exactly what he did.
“I went to a film set in L.A. I found the first assistant director right away — he was the one telling everyone what to do,” Hewitt remembered. “I introduced myself and said I would do anything to help out, and he didn’t have to pay me. Within five seconds, he gave me a radio and put me to work. I’ve actually been friends with him ever since.”
After gaining experience and making connections in the industry, Hewitt moved on to producing films, completing his first one in 2006. He’s since produced more than 20 films, two of which he also wrote. In 2005, he created HK Pictures with George M. Kostuch.
Soon, Hewitt thought it was time to take the helm as a director for a movie. However, it wasn’t the first time he thought about taking on such a large task.
“I’d had opportunities to direct earlier. But you know, I didn’t go to film school,” Hewitt explained. “I needed to get comfortable with what the demands of directing would be. I wouldn’t do a distributor or audience justice until I was ready.”
A few years ago, he was in a meeting with Lionsgate about an action title he was helping to produce. He was told they were really looking for a good “dirty cop” movie. Hewitt decided to take that idea and run with it.
What resulted was “Blood Out,” Hewitt’s directorial debut, which he also wrote and produced. “Blood Out” is the story of Michael (Luke Goss of “Hellboy II: The Golden Army”), who has an estranged relationship with his gang member brother David (Ryan Donowho). David comes to ask Michael for his help — he wants out of the gang so he can get married. Before Michael can help David, he is murdered by the gang leader Zed (Vinnie Jones of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.”). Michael first goes to his colleagues at the police station, but Detective Hardwick (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) says the crime was just gang-on-gang violence. Frustrated, Michael decides to infiltrate the gang to get his revenge for his little brother’s death.
Hewitt has quite the cast, which also includes Val Kilmer and AnnaLynne McCord from “20210,” for his first time out as a director. And, according to Hewitt, “it was magic how it all happened.”
They originally had another actor to play Michael, but he ended up backing out because of a scheduling conflict. Hewitt’s first reaction was to turn to Goss.
“I loved how he pulled off the bad boy character in ‘Hellboy II.’ We called his agent, Luke read the script and fell in love with the character,” Hewitt said. “He told us he was definitely in.”
Hewitt was also thrilled to get British actors Jones and Tamer Hassan to sign on.
“These guys can’t walk down the street in London, they are that well-known,” he said.
McCord was targeted from day one to star in “Blood Out.” Hewitt had wanted to work with her in 2010’s “Burning Palms,” but McCord had a scheduling conflict with “90210.” And as for the famous rapper-actor, McCord and Kilmer called and texted 50 Cent asking him to join on as the police detective.
“Blood Out” is wrapped and ready for release in April, and Hewitt is very proud of the project.
“We delivered a compelling story,” he said. “I was very excited and thankful to work with some incredible actors, filmmakers and crew members.”
Hewitt currently has three other movies he produced or co-produced (“The Courier, “Escapee” and “Carjacked”) in post-production. This week he started working on a long-form music video with Lenny Kravitz. Next up: “Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse” based on a book by Victor Gischler, a fellow Baton Rogue resident.
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