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Jul 2, 2018 4:26 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

'Killer Bees' Documentary Filmmakers, Producers Present Former Student With New Laptop

From left, filmmaker Orson Cummings, executive producer Glenn Fuhrman, Bridgehampton alum Jamari Gant, his mother, Lakisha Gant, school board members Lillian Johnson and Cat McClellan, and longtime coach Carl Johnson. The Bridgehampton School Foundation presented Gant, who is studying computer science at Fredonia State, with a new laptop on Friday. CAILIN RILEY
Jul 3, 2018 12:53 PM

When brothers Ben and Orson Cummings set out to make “Killer Bees,” a documentary film about the Bridgehampton High School boys basketball team, they wanted to make people aware of a hoops program that has been the heartbeat of the small year-round community in a town known mostly as an exclusive summer enclave for the rich.

But as Executive Producer Glenn Fuhrman said, being aware “is not even half the battle—it’s just 2 percent.”

To that end, Fuhrman, the Cummings brothers and other backers of the film showcased their long-term dedication to the community and the tiny public school by announcing the rejuvenation of the Bridgehampton School Foundation on Friday.

They did so by presenting former student Jamari Gant with a new computer. Gant, who graduated in 2017 and was a member of the basketball team, just finished his freshman year at Fredonia State University, where he is studying computer science. The new computer is specifically designed to help him pursue his interest in video game programming.

Fuhrman and Orson Cummings were on hand at the high school on Friday afternoon to present Gant, alongside his mother, Lakisha Gant, with the new laptop. The soft-spoken teen had a smile on his face for the duration of the presentation, speaking with reporters and also receiving congratulations and praise from other community members, including longtime head coach Carl Johnson, who retired at the end of the 2016-17 season.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “Like, you don’t even understand.”

Jamari’s mother purchased him a laptop when he went away to college, but he fell asleep one night while working on it, and in the morning he discovered it had fallen to the floor from his top bunk, and no longer worked. At that point, he said, he was forced to rely on school computers that weren’t up to the task of what he was working on.

The new computer has extensive memory and storage, which will allow him to dive even deeper into video game programming. It’s a dream come true for Gant, one of four children and the first from his family to go to college. His mother said he has always been interested in computers and gadgets in general, jokingly calling him “a little hacker” while speaking about how he likes to tinker with almost anything, from smartphones to microwaves.

Cummings said that helping Gant parlay that natural aptitude into a long-term career was part of the motivation for providing him with the laptop.

“We didn’t just want to walk away from the film, having that be it,” he said. “We have people of means who are used to offering up economic support, and the school had a foundation already that had been a little bit dormant. So this was a way to jump start it.”

Fuhrman admitted that, like many other people who did not grow up in the area, he too was unaware of the legacy of the basketball team, and the history of the predominantly working class, African-American community in Bridgehampton.

“My eyes were opened in the process of making the movie,” he said. “And then as people saw the movie, everybody was, like, we’ve got to figure something out other than just making the movie. Is there some way we can also help the kids get to the goals they are setting for themselves?”

Fuhrman said that while the recent infusion of money into the foundation will most likely be spread around to programs and initiatives that will benefit the entire student body, individuals like Gant who have a compelling case will be helped as well.

Gant was not a star on the team during the one season he played, his senior year. But his and his family’s story of working to overcome financial hardship was certainly one worth telling, and was featured in the documentary. In the film, Gant referred to going to college and being the first in his family to do so as “the first real accomplishment I imprinted on my family.”

For Fuhrman, Cummings and everyone else associated with the school and the film, the gifting of the computer has a similar feeling.

“It’s a great first way to spend the money that was donated,” Fuhrman said. “Hopefully, he will be a real success story to come out of the film. He’s struggled, but he also strived to succeed.”

“Killer Bees” will be released in select New York City and Los Angeles theaters on July 27, and will be available to download through video-on-demand platforms, such as iTunes, on August 7.

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