JOHNNY B. DUNN: Some Movie Makers Start LIVE


Part of All Out Arts in conjunction with The Wild Project, this LGBT Film Event is part of the East Village Queer Film Festival, sponsored in part by the fresh Fruit Festival

64455_10152547314065526_1048820136_n.jpgFREE RANGE (WINNER: One-in-Ten International Competition) will be shown as a staged presentation of the screenplay by Johnny B. Dunn; presentation directed by A.J. Ciccotelli, assisted by Payton Crispe, and produced by Frank Calo on SUNDAY, AUGUST 26 @ 2:00 p.m. at The Wild Project, 195 E 3rd St, New York, NY 10009. Admission is $10 and refreshments will be served at a reception with talk-back immediately following the presentation.

This is one of three special film-related presentations:

FACING THE BULL – OR THE BULLY: A heterosexual rodeo champion – plagued by memories of past actions – seeks redemption by coaching a group of bullied LGBTQ high school students in his state’s rodeo competition. In a small Western town, national rodeo champion and local hero, Chad Raines, returns home to his father’s ranch after a bull-riding accident to contemplate the end of his career. Father & son are tormented by the loss of Chad’s mother and his brother, whose cries for help went unanswered … until it was too late. Unable to reconcile with his guilt, Chad turns to drugs and liquor.

Reluctantly, Chad agrees to coach the local high school Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) to prepare them for a rodeo. Meanwhile, this rodeo would be pitting another brother against brother. Toby, president of the local GSA will compete against Mark, the president of the Rodeo club. They, like Chad and his deceased brother, don’t see eye-to-eye … to say the least, with Toby battling for respect and Mark, emerging as one of the harassers of the GSA.

With the seminal event (the Rodeo) impending and haunted by the memory of his brother, who – because of bullying – committed suicide, Chad must decide – like his father and the entire town – what side he’s on.

The cast includes Matthew McCarthy, Chris London, Christine Nagy, Andrew Russel, Jeff Maschi, Victor Colasurdo, Claudia Ramirez, Dominik Faruolo, Katie DeBari, Rubin Smyers, Mark Cooper, W. Allen Wrede, David Dotterer, Jere Williams, Gian Carlo Durland, Jeffrey Turboff, Austin Anthony, Glenn Ghirardi, Alain Laforest, Susan McMahon, Eric Hackler.

“Johnny is the most collaborative screenwriter I have worked with in the last twenty years who really listens and works to make the script great.” Jacqueline Adler, Producer Cobblestone Films. Awards include: FREE RANGE. Winner, One in Ten International Competition; SOULS IN A VOID. Winner-First Place, Gemini International Playwriting Competition; FINDING ROOM. Finalist, 2011 BlueCat Screenplay Competition; LOVE RESTORED. Finalist in the Buffalo/Niagara Film Festival screenwriting competition

Director, A.J. Ciccotelli is currently an M.F.A. candidate from the David Lynch Graduate School of Cinematic Arts and Maharishi University. Director, co-writer, and producer of the soon to be released feature, Ripples of Water. Ciccotelli is a multi-award winning, highly acclaimed stage director as well.

37643993_10210694964084835_7821324287138070528_n.jpgSo, tell us about yourself as a writer.

Mr. Johnny B. Dunn, an award-winning screenwriter, prides himself on his unique stories, characterization, and dialogue. He has worked with several producers during the development of his scripts who have appreciated his creativity and strong willingness to collaborate. Many include Hunt Lowry (Donnie Darko, A Walk to Remember), Polly Johnsen (Slumdog Millionaire, Cop Out), Leslie Belzberg (Crazy Heart, Broken Bridges), and Ben and Jacqui Adler (A Home for the Holidays).

Johnny taps into the heart and soul of his Oklahoma roots while crafting quality marketable stories that challenge the human condition without judgement and by leading the characters and the audience through a journey of redemption, hope, and a sense of enlightenment.

Johnny has an MFA in Screenwriting and while completing his degree, Johnny worked one-on-one with screenwriter Larry Gross (We Don’t Live Here Anymore, True Crime) as part of a Knott’s Scholarship in Screenwriting at Chapman University. There, he also received a Cecil B. DeMille award nomination in screenwriting.

Johnny’s produced script COME CLEAN was directed by Ty Sanga. The short received Official Selection in many festivals in the United States. Johnny also assisted in the script development for LAST CALL, directed by Nick Corporon.


Tell us about the project and what was the inspiration in writing it? 

FREE RANGE is the culmination of years of work with LGBT at risk youth that I did with my husband, Daryl, who has been involved with youth work his entire life. During that time, he expressed what youth wanted in an LGBT film. The youth were asking for stories that represented the struggles after coming out for those who sit in the middle of the country.

My attempt with FREE RANGE is not to just show the challenges and struggles for LGBT youth who are out and proud, but to show how their lives impact and change the lives of non-LGBT people. This is true in the script considering the hero’s journey is with a straight rodeo champion who is top at his game and how a small town gay straight alliance (GSA) can challenge his beliefs and others in the town resulting in a new-found respect for who they are and how they live.


The subject matter is highly relevant and sadly might always will be. Do you agree and why.   

I’m vey hopeful with the new generation of youth who are coming on the scene with a sense of fierceness and courage to be who they are without labels will change how others view themselves and their advocates. We are embarking on an age of compassion and unconditional love. It doesn’t seem that way if you watch the news. However, if you look at how millennials are influencing corporate culture, the signs are there. They are a generation of choice. They are taking that position and choosing to work or not work for a company based on inclusion and diversity, just to name a few.

You do have to look at how others react to their demands. Some are threatened by how this will change the world they grew up and live in today. That threat has manifested itself in outbursts and violence.


Were you always a writer or is this a stop in a more intricate journey? 

When I was young, we would visit my great-grandmother on the Choctaw reservation near Wilburton, Oklahoma. She was a very proud and quiet woman. She made her own soap, cooked with a wood burning stove, and smoked a pipe and pinched snuff. There, I was transported to a much simpler and honest place and time. After dinner, she would sit in her rocker and smoke and share stories until the early morning hours.

This sense of story has always been part of my life. In high school I petitioned for a creative writing class, produced poetry slams in collage, and started writing competitions and anthologies in high school and college.

This fed into my interest in not only writing stories, but also telling them. I earned a BA in Theater. In the early nineties I wrote a play that won an international playwriting competition. As the winner my play was produced and resulted in a six-week sold out run in Dallas, Texas. It was a true story of the plight of gay men servicing in the military just prior to the Korean War.

As I write my screenplays, I take my characters though a journey of transformation. They are in a better place when the story is finished. My hope is that I tell the stories in such a way that the audience joins in on the journey and transform with the characters through the experience.

I truly live for those moments of transformation. When someone is in a far better place than where they started on their journey. That’s why my purpose is to inspire positive change for others through my writing and storytelling.


What’s your next endeavor? 

I am currently collaborating with a fellow screenwriter, Georgia Vinson, on a true-life story of Cathay Williams. She was born a slave and was freed at the onset of the Civil War. After the war, she pretended to be a man as William Cathay and joined the Army serving as a Buffalo Soldier for two years before she became ill and her gendered discovered. We are completing the first draft and plan to market the script to producers before the end of the year.