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Stephen Dunn – Interview

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Stephen Dunn is an award winning film maker from St. John’s Newfoundland.
He is currently in his last year of Film Production at Ryerson University in Toronto.

He was the youngest person ever selected for the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Talent Lab where he won two of TIFF’s RBC International Emerging Filmmaker Awards.
His films have screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner, Toronto, Miami, Atlantic, Enroute, NSI and St. John’s International Film Festivals.

Last fall he was invited to give a motivational TED Talk Lecture.

 

 

I spoke with Stephen over the phone last week to talk about his up coming project with Gordon Pinsent “Life Doesn’t Frighten me”.

 

1.  WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH GORDON PINSENT?

He is very generous with his time! I must admit I was a little nervous about working with him at first. He’s always been an idol of mine.   However, after meeting him and breaking the ice, I was so excited to get this project rolling.

He’s even agreed to free rehearsals with us, which is rare for an actor of his caliber. Everyone’s so excited, we’re shooting in a month and can hardly wait!

 

2.  YOUR TEAM SPENT A TON OF TIME FUNDRAISING FOR THIS PROJECT.   HOW HAS THE RESPONSE BEEN?  HAVE YOU REACHED YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS?

57 hours left and we’re almost there. The original goal was $9000 and we reached that in 12 days! After some surprise expenses came up our budget jumped to $14k.

For example we have this key scene in the film where we needed to pay rights for the “Happy Birthday” song. Who would have thought the rights to it are owned by Warner Brothers! We also commissioned SUFJAN STEVENS to write an amazing musical score for us. There were more setbacks like that, it made me nervous at first. Right now we’re only $900 away from our revised budget and this film will get made!

The response from donors has been fantastic. All of our donations have been from individual people who believe in the project. We’ve had massive support from Newfoundlanders: David Healy donated $2000. Furthermore, we were surprised at anonymous donations from all over the world. One woman from Cyprus donated $1000!

We’ve set it up so that all the donors get some sort of credit for their help. Donors get a perks such as post cards,  thank you posters signed by the cast, etc.

For $250 – or more you get on the credit roll. $1000 or more you get executive producer credit. It’s all listed on the website.

This type of help from all over the world has given me a new found hope for independent film makers.

 

3.  WHEN WILL THE MOVIE BE RELEASED?

It will be finished by may and the first (un-official) screening will be at Ryerson in June.  Then distributed and submitted to all the major film festivals worldwide, fingers crossed!

 

4. HOW’S THE RYERSON EXPERIENCE?

Access to top notch facilities has been an asset. Everyone works together, no competitive vibe, people are very supportive.

 

5.  WINNING THE RBC INTERNATIONAL EMERGING FILMMAKER AWARD…HOW DID THAT FEEL?

Great! It gave me some money which was used for expenses on projects. These type of awards keep things rolling for us little guys and so extremely important.

It solidified my confidence in myself, I felt accepted on a professional level.

 

6.   STARVING STUDENT, LOOKING TO MAKE IT BIG. WHERE DO YOU PLAN TO LIVE IN THE FUTURE TO TAKE YOUR CAREER TO THE NEXT LEVEL?

Not sure… wherever the work takes me. Maybe NY, LA, I love Toronto. Make a lot of my work about Newfoundland still. Last summer CBC paid for me and Dillon McManamy to travel around the province to do research for The Marksman film. I find this province has such beauty it never ceases to amaze me. Each location has its own dynamic, my heart is always at home.

Where I live in the future could change on a monthly basis. I hope that work will take me all over the world, be a traveler, explorer and see the world.

 

7.  WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT HOME?

I miss mom’s cooking!

Missing friends, miss the landscape, and the special people in my life every day, that made a difference.  I miss the magic, mystery and beauty that the province has to offer. Toronto has its perks, but the views suck!

By: Darrell Shelley
COPYRIGHT 2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED THE SCENE

 

To learn more:

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Stephen Dunn

The Marksman Film

 

LIFE DOESN’T FRIGHTEN ME: Promo from Stephen Dunn on Vimeo.


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