Photo: Mohamed Omar

In the directors chair

In Arts & Culture1 Comment

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Six teams have six minutes to pitch their film to an audience of over 200 industry professionals. Oh, and there’s a $10,000 award to develop the film the line.

How’s that for a rush?

For Stephen Dunn (right) and Dillon McManamy, two Ryerson Image Arts students, this is a reality. On Sept. 13, they’ll be selling their film The Marksman in Telefilm Canada’s annual PITCH THIS! competition at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Dunn and McManamy checked in with Colton Eddy to discuss TIFF, legends and getting to class on time.

EYE: So what’s The Marksman about?

SD: It’s about a failed young hunter who turns to the dark magic of an enchanted bullet to prove himself to his lover’s family, but he soon finds that the bullet has plans of its own. The bullets will shoot what he is aiming at, but eventually the bullets start abandoning his command and reflecting his internal desires, which is ultimately slaying everything that is in the way of the woman he loves.

DM: It’s a classic folk story that we’re trying to update into a modern thriller. We’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from stories and local legends that we heard as we were travelling.

EYE: How did you two get started on the film?

SD: Dillon and I met at a film course at Ryerson and I was writing what was a short film called The Marksman. Our writing styles worked really well together. We then travelled to Newfoundland together, [and travelled from] the East to West Coasts to research the project.

EYE: When did you first develop a passion for film?

DM: I grew up in Toronto and my dad works in studios as a carpenter, so I spent a lot of time as a child on set.

SD: I was a child actor was when I got my first exposure to film.

EYE: What’s it like juggling school and your independent projects?

SD: It’s really hard, honestly. Some teachers really understand, some don’t. I find it very difficult to find a balance with studying. It feels like I’m working all the time. It’s time consuming but I know that, in the long run, it’s totally worth it.

DM: I find Ryerson to have a really unique environment that attracts a lot of great multitasking individuals. Being a film student is so time consuming. There’s all the hours you put into the program, like 80-hour [weeks when] you sleep in the studio. The program has this format where we’re still expected to be on time in class to get the grade, but there’s also the focus on production of films. But when you’re off somewhere in Ontario shooting for weeks, it’s hard to get to class.

EYE: What advice would you have for an up-and-coming film student?

DM: Write your scripts for your budget.

EYE: How does it feel to be part of an internationally recognized festival?

SD: It’s a huge honour and it’s a very cool opportunity. We’re about to shit our pants. We’re on a platform talking to hundreds of industry professionals and they will hear our story, hear our ideas. Whether we win it or not, we feel like we’ve already won on some level.


  1. Is this event open for the public to attend? Or is there another way of watching the pitches?

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