The Horror and Comedy of Election Night 2016 — Q and A with WEIRD FOLK Writer/Director Scott Dunn
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Scott Dunn: I grew up in Mahomet, Illinois — super small town. We lived out in the woods pretty much. It was beautiful.
Film Courage: Are your parents supportive of your decision to be an actor/filmmaker?
Scott: Very supportive. They’ve indulged me since I was a young boy. They used to set up a camera for me and my friends so that I could direct them in my very own retelling of Batman Returns… which I never got to see until I was older. My parents used to say it was because it was too dark a film. I was like, “Well turn up the brightness on the TV, let’s watch this thing!”
Film Courage: In high school, you should have been voted most likely to…?
Scott: Probably most likely to make a movie? My friends and I used to make hour-long movies and show them at someone’s house. We had whole parties where people would come and watch. It was great
Film Courage: When did you move to Los Angeles?
Scott: There was a big chunk of time where I was just moving constantly. From Illinois, to Florida, and finally to California. That was back in good ol’ 2010.
Film Courage: Any interesting/weird or funny story when you first arrived in LA?
Scott: I lived with 4 dudes in a studio apartment… It gets smelly. Ultimately that kind of environment either makes or breaks you. Luckily I feel like it made me more open to anything goes type situations.
I DO remember a time where one roommate woke up our other roommate and things escalated to where they ended up making a huge whole in the wall from a fight. We had to clear the apartment so that the management could check for asbestos or something like that. We had to crash in my car for the night…it was chips for breakfast that morning.
“My acting teacher, JD Coburn, used to say, “Listen, take it personally, and respond instinctually… That’s the direction in which to go.”
Film Courage: In your first feature film SCHLEP that you also co-created with Gina Gomez you have a “returning home moment” where you relive your childhood. Do you ever do the same in real life? If so, any thoughts on why this is important?
Scott: That whole returning home thing in Schlep was born out of reality. When I would come home I would watch old home videos and get this sense of wonder. I mean, there’s a little version of myself on the screen. I wonder what he would think of present-day me. I loved putting that in the film because it’s true to what I used to do.
Film Courage: If you could take one deceased celebrity to dinner, who would it be? Where would you take them?
Scott: I’d really love to go to a buffet with Heath Ledger. He was a super actor. I wonder what he would put on his plate. Would he even want to go to a buffet?
Film Courage: Where/when did you meet your writing/producing partner Gina Gomez?
Scott: We met as actors on a short film called “Apart”. I remember seeing a head shot of her from the director and thinking “Wow, she’s pretty.” Then we met in person on set (which was the studio apartment I spoke of earlier) and I was infatuated. We were playing boyfriend and girlfriend and I remember talking about Gina after she left and just yeah… couldn’t stop thinking about her. Today she’s my fiancé.
Film Courage: What inspired the story for WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: A lot of things. The debates that were happening during 2016, creepy pasta stories, headlines… It comes from a soup I was cooking up for the last year in which a lot of pop culture and my own pinch of salt combined to make Weird Folk.
Film Courage: When did you finally start writing the script for WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: Gina and I live together so anytime one of us is cooking up something, the other one hears about it. I was originally writing it as an episodic thing. I was toying with making a sequel to Schlep where it would be told in short episodes. A webseries I guess. But as time went on it kept morphing into something darker and more edgy than Schlep. The episodes I wrote turned into a different series all together which then turned into a feature script for Weird Folk.
Film Courage: How much are the two of you always thinking of dialogue or referring to real-life situations?
Scott: We get pretty goofy in our little hub of creativity. Constantly talking about things that happened throughout the day that were funny or annoying or whatever. I’m constantly trying to make Gina laugh with fake conversations I make up.
Film Courage: How important is having a similar sense of humor in any partnership?
Scott: It’s important. When you’re trying to build something together, it’s important that everyone uses the same blue prints. I love different perspectives but it’s important to have a common goal in mind.
Film Courage: On the Kickstarter campaign page for WEIRD FOLK you say the film is not really about taking sides politically but more about “the horror that humans can inflict on one another. It is about the ugly monster inside us all.” Can you touch on this topic a little more?
Scott: It’s easy for us to look at the President or the government as a whole as the bad guy. Very easy. “My side’s better than yours” and vice versa. But sometimes it’s hard to look in the mirror or to your neighbor or to anyone else that’s not an elected official and say, “What are we doing to stop this craziness around us? Are we all pulling together or are we just engaging in division and blaming each other? This movie is about how we’re looking for a boogeyman to blame our troubles on but maybe we should look inside ourselves.
Film Courage: For your first feature film SCHLEP, was there a moment (or moments) where things became stressful and you had to think on your feet? What happened and how will you plan to prevent it for your next shoot?
Scott: Where do I start…we shot a 90% different version of this movie in Tucson, Arizona. 12 days there and 2 days back in LA. When I got home to edit the footage, I realized I didn’t like what I was seeing. I wasn’t rooting for any of the characters.
I ended up deciding that we need to do some major surgery on it, and Gina and I rounded up the cast and crew and went to Joshua Tree to reshoot 90% of the movie in a week. 4 days in Joshua tree and 2 days in Los Angeles. I don’t regret anything about that though. We learned that rehearsing will save your butt.
Film Courage: What is the most difficult part about wearing multiple hats on set?
Scott: I think it’s difficult doing your first movie as a director/actor/writer/editor all at the same time. Before Schlep, I was on a kid’s show on Disney XD, and before that it was either student films or movies I made with my friends. So it’s awkward sometimes gathering a cast and crew and making yourself the lead…there were doubts I’m sure. But after a while you let go of that and just show up and have fun and be clear with everyone. I’d do it again…
Film Courage: For WEIRD FOLK, how long did it take you to plan the budget?
Scott: Gina Gomez, my producer, has been leading the charge on things like budget, social media campaigns, PR, and listening to my ramblings about script changes and what not. I noticed that it was easier this time around for us in planning the budget based on our last movie.
Film Courage: How did you calculate what the budget was going to be for WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: We knew a little more about what it would take with our team to make this fast and efficiently. Of course we’ll see what happens, making movies tends to be a humbling experience.
Film Courage: You appear to be using many of the same main cast from your first feature film SCHLEP. Can you share on the importance of having a team of people who know your style and vice versa?
Scott: It’s invaluable. This is the same team who in a pinch came out to the desert and reshot 90% of a movie we all worked hard on. In the process of all that craziness, we kind of became a well-oiled machine who could get through shots surprisingly fast.
Film Courage: How did you get actor Nick Turturro the script or tell him about the role? Did he have to audition?
Scott: I was editing a sizzle of his newest creation, Over The Hill, and he really liked my cutting style. Weird Folk came up in conversation and he asked if he could read the script. He read it and really dug the role of Grant the chiropractor. I’m super pumped about having him on board — he’s brilliant.
Film Courage: How long did it take to finish the script for WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: It took me about 3 months to get a good draft of it. Then I circulated it out to some trusted friends and of course Gina and plugged away at more drafts. It’s on draft 6 now.
Film Courage: Why/what are you crowdfunding for? How much?
Scott: We’re intending to raise our production budget of $47,000 on Kickstarter.
Film Courage: When does the campaign end? Is it a flexible campaign?
Scott: It ends on May 31st so please donate, folks. It’s an all or nothing campaign.
Film Courage: Where/when do you plan on shooting WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: We’re looking at shooting Weird Folk in Los Angeles in August of this year.
Film Courage: What camera(s) do you intend to use?
Scott: We’re deciding between our DP’s 4k camera and possibly renting out a different model. Either way, we’re shooting in 4k.
Film Courage: Who is your audience for WEIRD FOLK?
Scott: Anyone who loves horror, comedy, and anyone who was there on the night of election 2016.
Film Courage: For another first time filmmaker attending a film festival, what should they be prepared for?
Scott: Be prepared to meet other talented filmmakers. It’s all about being around other artists and digging and supporting each other’s work. Also, if you’ve never seen your movie on the big screen, prepare for that cause it’s beautifully weird.
Film Courage: How often do you audition for roles? How are you made aware of those roles?
Scott: I used to audition all the time but ever since my last movie Schlep and with Weird Folk currently, I’ve been focusing on original content and filmmaking. One day I’ll probably be back in an audition room for something but right now I’m super content.
Film Courage: Can you share thoughts on why creating your own work is freeing/empowering?
Scott: I love that I don’t have to wait on someone else. Filmmaking is a team effort but not having to wait for your next feature because you can write it yourself is empowering.
Film Courage: Favorite quote or thought from an acting teacher you previously or currently have?
Scott: My acting teacher, JD Coburn, used to say, “Listen, take personally, and respond instinctually… That’s the direction in which to go.”
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Scott: After Weird Folk I have another feature called Mandao, about a jaded hypnotherapist who uses astral projection to case out homes for robbery. In addition to that, I’d love to direct one of my fiancé’s scripts when she’s done writing it.
Gina Gomez started out as an actor in LA, but shifted to filmmaking with Scott Dunn where she can make great original content. She co-wrote, produced, and acted in Schlep where she was nominated for Best Actress at FirstGlance Film Festival. She will be the main producer in Weird Folk and play a small, but funny role in it.
Scott Dunn grew up in Illinois making films with his friends. He moved out to LA to pursue acting. His first breakout role was in Disney XD’s “Kickin’ It”. He appeared in many shorts and films before switching back to his filmmaking roots. He Directed, Co-Wrote, Co-Produced, Edited, and Acted in Schlep where he was nominated for Best Actor and Breakout Performance at FirstGlance Film Festival. Scott wrote Weird Folk and will wear the many hats he wore in Schlep.
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