The New Hollywood North: Stephen Dunn

The New Hollywood North: Stephen Dunn

The Closet Monster director on his big break, his favourite films and what movie he’d make with $1 billion

Known for: Closet Monster, a horror film about homophobia

First filmmaking experience: “In Newfoundland, at Holy Heart of Mary High School, I made a very bad film about LSD for a student film festival. It was called Lucy.”

Why you decided to become a director: “I directed Cats the musical for my Grade 2 talent show, and I’m pretty sure I heard a classmate’s parent call it ‘a masterpiece.’”

Your big break: “Getting into the TIFF Talent Lab. That’s where I learned how to navigate a career as a filmmaker.”

Something every young director should know: “Everyone has something to say, so don’t be afraid to access yourself in your work.”

Desert island movie:The Piano. It’s my favourite movie of all time, and it’s beach-themed, so it feels right.”

Movie you’ve watched the most times:Black Swan. I watched the film over and over when I used footage from it to make a parody music video for Rebecca Black’s song ‘Friday.’” 

Favourite director: “Jane Campion. She can put feelings and emotions on screen that I can’t articulate with words.”

Hollywood star you most want to work with: “Sarah Michelle Gellar. Buffy the Vampire Slayer saved my life when I was younger. It’s a very queer-coded show, and I found it empowering.”

Most memorable celebrity interaction: “When I was eight years old, working as a child actor in New York, I met Sarah Jessica Parker while she was performing on Broadway.”

Favourite cinema snack: “Super buttery popcorn with M&Ms dumped in the bag.”

One simple fix that would improve the film industry in Canada: “Funders should be bolder and take bigger risks creatively.”

Someone gives you a $1-billion budget. What movie do you make? “I would make a survival-adventure film about a mother and daughter who get displaced in a floating house during the Newfoundland resettlement.”

Would you rather win an Oscar for best director or direct the highest grossing film of all time? “Highest grossing film. I think awards are great, but they’re also very subjective.”

Your next project: “I’ve got a TV show called Daddy in development at Amazon. It’s a thriller set in the elite world of New York theatre.”

The New Hollywood North