As I mentioned yesterday, Santa was more than generous this year at The Scariest Things. Not only were we granted an interview with writer/director and all around swell fella, Scott Dunn, but we somehow also managed to get a sit-down with writer/producer/actor, Gina Gomez Dunn!
Working as the production half of Team Dunn as well as being an integral part of the creative force behind all of their projects (including their latest movie, Mandao of the Dead), we’re thrilled Gina was able to spare some time from her busy holiday schedule to chat with us.
Without further ado, let’s hit Gina with the traditional opening question…
What filmmakers do you keep a close eye on and/or inspire you?
Scott and I have kept tabs on the Duplass brothers, Linas Phillips, Onur Tukel, and Alex Karpovsky. All those filmmakers started out making their own films with limited budgets. They also acted in their films. We’re inspired by their ability to juggle being in front and behind the camera.
We can all go read the Wikipedia definition of what the Producer of a feature film does, but it would be better to hear it from an actual Producer. What does your job entail?
On a micro-budget indie level, I do a bit of everything. From brainstorming during the writing process, to casting, contracts, shopping for props, location scouting, crafty, social media, scheduling – you name it, I do it.
According to your IMDB profile, your short film, Today (2014), and both of your feature films so far — Schlep (2016) and Mandao of the Dead (2018) — have been made as a team effort with Scott Dunn. Is this a trend you’d prefer to continue or would you also like to take on projects separately as a Producer?
I really enjoy working as one-half of Team Dunn. You see a lot of filmmaking duos like the Duplass bros, Coen bros, Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma Thomas – she produces a lot of his movies. I think we’re stronger as a team and would like to continue down that path.
What about writing? You were co-writer of Schlep. How much creative influence did you have on Mandao of the Dead? On a related note, can we look forward to a Written By Gina Gomez film at some point?
As a creative partner, I would brainstorm with Scott on story and write notes to make Scott’s scripts better. Scott would write a new scene or draft and I would read, takes notes, and send it back and forth for a bit until we got it right.
At the moment, I can only focus on the Mandao film series (we hope to make it a trilogy). I’m terrible at multi-tasking. However, I have a vault of ideas for future films and books that I intend to tackle when the Mandao series is complete.
There’s a scene in Mandao of the Dead where you whap your husband, Scott Dunn, upside the head. It was obviously a well-practiced maneuver. Did that practice come from rehearsals or is that a common occurrence in your house?
We definitely rehearsed that. I’m whapping him as Fer and not as myself. When we’re not in character, it’s about supporting each other.
[TST: You see that? I went for the cheap joke and she took the high road. Way to keep it classy, Gina!]
As an independent film Producer, what do you think of the BlumHouse/A24/IFC Midnight environment where small budget movies can potentially hit it big? Does that add more pressure or provide more opportunities?
I call that environment “Indie-wood.” It’s that place in the entertainment industry where studio meets independent film. Movies made by Blumhouse/A24/IFC are usually made with budgets in the low millions.
We would most definitely like to participate in that space, and would welcome any opportunity for that to happen. I think that atmosphere makes for more opportunities; but, until then you have to be a self-starter.
It sounds like all of your movies so far have been self-financed. Is there a reason you’ve stuck to that method as opposed to crowdfunding or other alternatives?
It seems like crowdfunding is coming into our near future. We have a budget for the production of “Mandao of the Damned” (the sequel to Mandao of the Dead), but we’ll need more finishing funds.
It’s taken us this long to seek other alternatives because we want to give people a reason to invest in us. With the Mandao film series, people can start following our story, these quirky characters, and maybe this time they’ll want to contribute to that.
How do you get your films distributed? What’s that like?
So far, we’ve gone the self-distribution route and it’s been great. When you’re super indie and don’t have any known actors in your cast, it’s not worth selling the rights to your film to a company. It’s better to own the rights to your own IP and build your library. It’s more work, but if you have to market the film yourself anyway, you might as well hold on to your property too.
Is there anything else you’d like to like to share with our readers?
Mandao of the Dead is available on Amazon Instant Video and will be coming to iTunes in February 2019. Go watch it and enjoy the show!
I couldn’t agree more! All you fans of indie horror/comedies should go check it out. It’s a fun story and you can almost hear the tiny budget being stretched to impossible lengths in the experienced hands of Team Dunn.
A big Thank You to Gina Gomez Dunn for spending some time with us today and for being such a great sport. We look forward to hearing more about Dunn productions — including any crowdfunding campaigns — that may come up in the future!
And, with that, I’ll get back to my own holiday cheer as well. You can check out the review for Mandao of the Dead here and watch the trailer below. Thank you again, Scott & Gina!