Paul Hhunter, HSI

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HSI's Paul Hunter recently got back from a two-week respite in Tahiti after a year spent directing his first feature, the Chow Yun-Fat actioner Bulletproof Monk. "It was two weeks too long," says the admitted workaholic. "There was nothing to do and I'm too hyper to just sit around." There's been no shortage of fuel for his addiction. The director who built his rep on visual stunners featuring megastars from MTV and the sports world has returned with more rhythmic Nike fare, like the controversial "Battle," which takes a gritty scenic approach to the basket-and-beats genre introduced in the acclaimed "Freestyle." He's also gone full throttle on videos with the latest from Ashanti, Tyrese and Tamia, and today is on set in Miami directing a clip for Pharrel and Jay-Z.

As for the movie, box office receipts and reviews have been rather disappointing. Hunter says the experience changed him; he's developed a greater appreciation for film and he's now a bit more disciplined. He also got to explore and showcase a side of himself we're not so familiar with - comedy, although when asked what he believes are his strengths, he quickly responds, "Storytelling and humor." Indeed, those skills have started to emerge in commercials like Nike's "Frisbee." The European spot, starring the Stickman character, has all the adrenalized sportsmaneuvers you'd expect, but flavored with the goofy antics of the show-stealing animated figure, whom Hunter actually directed, via an actor in a greensuit. Funny business or not, Hunter is dead serious about getting what he wants on film, whether it be features, spots or clips. "You have to be firm to get your vision through, because if you come in wavering, it just becomes a mediocre mess." He gives props to his crew for keeping the control freak in check. "I'm creatively demanding about the appropriate things, and sometimes I don't have a perspective on how other people are reacting to what I'm asking for. But now I tell my producer, 'Tell me if I'm asking for too much. Tell me and stop me, or I'll just keep going.' "

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