Jesse Wolfe ’89 Makes Directorial Debut

June 04, 2012

Jesse wolfe '89
Jesse Wolfe ’89 on location in Georgia shooting his first feature film, Eye of the Hurricane.


It’s been seven years since Jesse Wolfe ’89 first began thinking about Eye of the Hurricane, the feature film he later wrote and directed. Born and raised in Winter Park, Wolfe studied theatre at Rollins and was a regular on the Annie Russell stage. In the years that followed, he moved to New York, continued to act, launched an off Broadway theatre company, moved to LA, wrote a play, and acted some more.

You won’t find him acting much these days though. “Acting was the first thing that was presented to me in the arena of film and theatre. I had some natural ability and it was fun,” Wolfe said. “But as I learned more about acting, I started to realize that I wasn’t ever really acting, I was directing myself. I was more comfortable being in my head and thinking about all aspects of the production than being in the character.”

So Wolfe enrolled in the American Film Institute and got his MFA in directing. “I have tremendous respect for acting, but learned that I am a better writer and director. I had been playing the right sport but I was in the wrong position.”

In 2005 he was chatting with one of his film school friends, Susan Johnson, when he shared the idea for Eye of the Hurricane, a story about a young boy who loses his eye during an epic storm. “Susan loved the idea,” said Wolfe, who had since moved back to Orlando and had been teaching at Rollins and UCF. “Five years later, I finished the script and I sent it to her. To my surprise and delight, she said ‘let’s make this.’” Susan came on board as the film’s producer and the duo started raising funds.

While most of the film’s $800,000 budget came from a handful of private investors, $27,550 was raised through the website, a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to contribute money to projects they deem worthy of their cash. The movie, which stars Campbell Scott, was filmed in south Georgia in the fall of 2010 and has already started screening at film festivals across the country. Worldwide distribution rights have been picked up by Entertainment One, the same company that released the Twilight series.

It’s not certain yet whether Eye of the Hurricane will be released on movie screens or on television screens, but whatever happens, Wolfe is extremely proud. “Certainly it hasn’t been perfect. I wish I had another week to shoot and another 10 percent in the budget,” he said. “But you make the film you can and for some reason the remedies to the problems presented to us always turned out to be better in the end.”

By Kristen Manieri

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