Stephen Dunn is a Newfoundland native who has brought his love of storytelling and complex characters to Toronto’s film scene. The young filmmaker has been recognized in Canada and abroad, winning awards at the Munich International Festival of Film Schools, as well as locally, with awards from TIFF and  the YoungCuts Film Festival.  His latest short film, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, starring the acclaimed Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, won Best Live Action Film in the TIFF Student Film Showcase and was a 2012 Official Selection in the renowned international film festival. It’s also been selected to screen at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Stephen has been living an artistic life since he was just a child. Because his parents owned a casting agency, he grew up between Newfoundland and New York. Stephen began working as a child actor in New York. He quickly took the reins and began to create on Canada’s east coast, “as soon as I came back from New York I started directing plays.” He cheers Newfoundland’s praises, with its overwhelming number of social programs aimed at the arts, and maintains it is one of the best places for an artist to flex and build their creative muscle. He also claims the province has given him a, “sense of humour unlike anywhere else.”

In 2008, Stephen came to Toronto to attend Ryerson’s film program. He says he learned a lot in the program but the relationships he built were the most beneficial. “The best thing about Ryerson is the peers you meet and work with there.” While Stephen maintains that his time at Ryerson was very helpful, he also thought only making five films a year wasn’t enough. He quickly got “bored” with this format and began video blogging online to keep his creativity flowing. Stephen found a pocket of online fame almost immediately, and built a group of devotees that has been with him for years. He explains that developing and maintaining an audience has really helped his career.

Stephen graduated and moved on from Ryerson. He is now in the second and final phase of the CFC’s (Canadian Film Centre) Directors Program and is preparing to film his final project, We Wanted More, a psychological thriller about a female musician who loses her voice and acquires a child on the same day. Stephen is excited to dive into his new piece and says this new film will be “darker and more mature” than his previous works. Stephen is also preparing to unveil his first full-length feature, Closet Monster. He describes it as a “coming of age family drama.” The film follows a teenager, still carrying the weight of his parents’ divorce many years earlier, “coming to terms with his sexuality as he reclaims his life.” Stephen says he’s excited to show his first feature and that the added length has given him opportunities he wouldn’t get in a shorter format. “I tend to want to get a full [story] arc and a full, meaty character out of each film, and it’s really luxurious to have a full 90 pages to develop a character.”

Stephen Dunn is quickly pushing to the forefront of Canada’s new generation of artists. As a story teller and as a young filmmaker, he is using his astonishing drive and imagination to push himself toward perfecting his craft.

WORDS: OLGA KWAK
PHOTOS: ISAAC ZELUNKA

CLOTHING BY: DAVID C. WIGLEY & DYLANIUM KNITS