Independent film: Brunswick-born actor becomes a sci-fi star by playing nine roles in one

Every actor wants more screen time. But sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.

Just ask Brunswick-born actor and filmmaker Samuel Dunning, who is currently starring in the sci-fi short “Tim Travers and the Time Traveler Paradox.“The film, written and directed by Stimson Snead, follows the inevitable chaos resulting from Dunning’s titular scientist who plays around with time and suddenly finds himself faced with nine different versions of himself, pulled from various points in his own timeline. It sounds like the kind of challenge an actor dreams of — or dreads.

“It was a bit of both, actually,” laughed Dunning, who now splits his time between New York and Los Angeles when he’s not visiting his mother in Brunswick. “At first, I was just like, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of dialogue to learn.’ Plus, a lot of it is long techno-babbling monologues.Then once on set, I realized that all the memorization in the shower hadn’t accounted for all the different versions of Tim. Travers, and I thought, “Oh (expletive)”.

Dunning has finally sorted out all of his characters, so to speak. “The way Stimson wrote it, I was able to separate them by their minor differences: one is a bit more aggressive or hectic. One seems to be the dumbest. And then, of course, there’s the future which – well, all time travel stories have their twists, don’t they?

Dunning and the film racked up awards as they worked their way through the festival circuit. “Tim Travers & the Time Travelers Paradox” just won Best Short Film at the Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, and both the film and Dunning won awards at North Carolina’s Nevermore Film Festival. Dunning jokes about being disappointed not to win this festival’s Ensemble Acting award, but you can’t have it all.

Samuel Dunning Photo by Joseph Moran

For 2007 Brunswick High graduate Dunning, acting came later in his career, as his NYU graduation found the Maine native cast for creative direction. Several years working in a “dead end” job at Ralph Lauren led to a modeling career and eventually working on networks like Discovery ID, playing the murderer or occasional victim in the various murder recreation series of this network.

“I was finally pretty miserable,” Dunning said, “not doing anything creative anymore.” So, looking back at her modeling success and her lifelong love of acting, Dinning said, “I thought, ‘Well, they like my look on camera, maybe they’ll like me talking too. in front of the camera. and small, with a 2020 one-episode stint on long-running crime show “Blue Bloods” providing notable experience alongside TV legends Ed Asner and Tom Selleck.

“It was pretty damn cool,” Dunning recalled, noting that Asner, who died last year of a still cantankerous 91, enjoyed having fun on set. As a sleazy guy menacing Asner in a wheelchair, Dunning says that, on one take, the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” veteran decided to let out an unscripted scream upon seeing Dunning at his door. “He earned his stripes,” Dunning said appreciatively.

For Dunning, however, forging a career meant creating his own opportunities, as it was his short Kickstarter-funded horror-comedy “Rick and Ruby” that ultimately earned him greater exposure — and professional representation. “Doing this opened a shocking number of doors,” Dunning said of the film, for which he himself wrote the juicy role of Rick, a mysterious guy in a Hawaiian shirt with an aversion to sunlight and tastes … unconventional. “Managers like to see that you’re not going to wait,” the actor and filmmaker said, “that you’re going to do your own thing, approval be damned.”

On that note, Dunning is currently moving forward with his plans for a Maine-made fictional feature film called “Canoe Dig It?” thing. “It’s one of the dumbest things you’ll ever see,” Dunning said of the sport, which he was exposed to via locked internet scrolling. “It’s funny and quaint, and – no offense – I was just tickled by the whole thing.”

In a trailer posted on Dunning’s website, viewers get a taste of the Christopher Guest-esque vibe of “Canoe Dig It?”, with various eccentric hopefuls all taking something very strange very seriously. . For Dunning, Maine is the perfect place to host such an event, as he outlines his plans to stage and film his proposed comedy at an accommodating Maine watering hole.

“Maine is a wonderfully unique and special place,” enthused Dunning, who calls himself an “unofficial ambassador” for the state as he navigates his way through the movie industry and television. For Dunning, there’s no place like home, especially when it comes to shooting a movie in a place of natural beauty — and local color.

“If I want to be anywhere, anytime of the year, it’s Maine,” said Dunning, who found a producer for “Canoe Dig It?” as he ramps up fundraising and pre-production. Noting that a feature film typically requires a budget of at least “six figures,” Dunning says that, barring an extreme take-it-or-leave-it financing scenario, this Maine mockumentary will be filmed right here in Maine.

“I really mean I’m going to stick to my guns,” he said. “I guess whether it’s going to get the movie or not, I’d probably give in, but we’re going to explore all options before making that decision.” (Just another note from your grumpy columnist: Maine’s lack of movie tax incentives regularly cost us movie business and cause every Stephen King adaptation to be shot in the Carolinas or something.)

Luckily, for natives like Samuel Dunning, Maine keeps calling when it comes to creative inspiration. “Maine is a poster child for the weird and the wonderful, especially when you go up the coast,” he said.

You can watch for free “Rick and Ruby” written by Dunning, bloody and funny on Youtube, while “Tim Travers & the Time Traveler’s Paradox” is currently touring film festivals around the world. To learn more about Dunning and watch the teaser for “Canoe Dig It?”, check out his website (samuelfddunning.com) and his Instagram (@itsfusillijerry).

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.


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